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Answered 2010-09-27 23:42:50

When one swore an oath in Old Testament times, one would put one's hand under the thigh of the person you were swearing it to. It's an equivalent of putting one's hand on one's heart in modern terms.

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Close, yet not quite there. Abraham was the patriarch of his tribe. This may be a KJV delicate way of alluding to what he was instructing his eldest servant to do. Which was for him to reach down and grasp his (Abraham's) lower manhood, then to swear an oath upon the seed of their tribe, that he would make every effort to adhere to the promise he was to make.

We find similar oath taking in the ancient courts of Rome, where a man was required to take hold of the aforementioned, with his right hand and swear an oath to tell the absolute truth before the court. The appropriate penalty for perjury was castration. It is from this practice that the word "testimony" derives, as the Latin root "testi" refers to the glans from which the seeds of life, and each man's future progeny/legacy, hails.

Thus, as Abraham required his servant not to take hold of his (the servant's own) groin while making his pledge, but that of Abraham's, it symbolically stood for that of every member of their tribe. He was instilling in his servant the grave importance that Abraham himself invested in what was being demanded of his servant. It may be interpreted as implying Abraham was staking the future of his entire tribe on this one oath.

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