09 April 2017

The Call of Abraham

After the story of the Tower of Babel, the author of Genesis introduces another book of generations--the generations of Seth. This small section is a mere genealogy focused on the most important of Noah's three sons--important because he was the one from whose descendants God would call out his chosen people. Shem allegedly is the progenitor of the Semites--including the Hebrews.

This is followed by another book of generations--the book of Terah. Again, this section is nothing more than an alleged genealogy. This takes their story to Abraham.

For about 500 years following the flood account of Genesis, God remained in silence. The writer of Genesis followed the flood story with an account of the origins of the peoples with who the Hebrews interacted for so many centuries.

Then in Genesis 12, God allegedly speaks. God initiated contact with the people who claimed to be his special, chosen nation.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3 

The Bible does not say exactly how God supposedly communicated to Abraham. Did he appear to Abraham? Or did he only communicate verbally? Neither is the Bible clear on where this communication occurred.

Abraham lived with his father Terah and two brothers, Nahor and Haran, in the city of Ur, located in southern Mesopotamia. Haran died, so the brothers assumed responsibilty for the family. Abraham brought Haran's son Lot into his household. Nahor took Haran's daughter as his wife. Abraham at some time married a woman named Sarah. The father took the family to a trading center called Haran near the western edge of Mesopotamia, where he died. The immediate text suggests God's call came in Haran. But other biblical texts (Acts 7) suggest it occurred back in Ur).

At any rate, God in that initial call to Abraham gave a three part promise: a land in which to dwell, a great nation of descendants, and a source of blessing to all nations of the earth. These promises, and their disputed meanings, serve as the foundations for the three historic monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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