Chapter 2: Abraham and Isaac: Pioneers of Faith (Section 1)
God’s Call, our Response
The First Patriarch
Polytheism to Henotheism
The Quarrel with Lot
God’s Call to the Semitic Tribes
The events described happened around 1800 B. C. but were not written down for another 900 years, or 900 B.C.
Abram was part of a group of Semitic semi-nomads
These people lived on the outskirts of established communities
Archeologists have uncovered records of Hapiru, or Habiru that likely refer to Abram’s people
Four Promises of God to Abraham
1. New land: Canaan
2. A son (Heir)
3. Many descendants (a multitude)
4. blessing of all nations through him
Polytheism to Henotheism
God’s Call to Abram (later Abraham), and his response can be seen as a model for us
He was from a polytheistic tribe, dedicated to the moon goddess, Nana Sin
Abraham was first to establish a covenant with God ("el shaddai" - god of the mountains)
Father of Western religions
Abraham’s call from God and his response of faith would begin a religious revolution that would lead to monotheism
and the eventual rise of Christianity and Islam
In the Ancient Near East, people were Polytheists: the believed in many gods
These gods were feared and generally did not care for the welfare of humanity
The god of Abraham was different.
This "Most High" God of the Mountain (El Shaddai) cared greatly about Abraham and his family and wished to be in covenant
The great religious contribution of the Hebrews was not just the belief that God was one, but that this God was Good and
Faith Inventory Activity
Directions: break up into pairs (groups of 2).
Quickly go over and compare your answers from the homework.
Attempt to come to an agreement as best as possible. If not, write down exactly the point you disagree on.
After, the two combine with another group of two and repeat above steps
The households of Abraham and his nephew Lot and their combined herds of animals became so numerous the land could no longer
support all of them
To keep the peace, Abraham suggests they split up and become independent of each other
Abraham graciously offered his nephew Lot first choice of land
Lot took the well-watered land east near the town of Sodom
Abraham stayed in Canaan
Because of his generosity, God promised Abraham much land and numerous descendants
Search for an Heir
In this time, only sons had the right to the Father’s inheritance
There was no written will; the Father gave verbal instructions
Jealousy and Promise
Sarah could not bear a child
By custom, she was expected to provide a concubine: a women who is part of the household who could supply a male heir if
needed, but was not a legal wife
Hagar came into Abraham’s household
Hagar developed a superior attitude towards Sarah and Sarah began to treat her harshly
Hagar fled into wilderness where a messenger of God appeared who announced that she would bear a son
This son, Ishmael, would be the father of a multiple of descendents
Ishmael is traditionally recognized as the father of the Arab people
Soon after, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the promised male heir
How did the attitudes and actions of both Sarah and Hagar contribute to the conflict and suffering they all experienced?
What was their motivation for their actions?
Can you think of examples when you acted in a similar manner? What were the results?
The Law of Hospitality
Hospitality to stranger was and is one of the most important quality among Semitic people
This was due largely to the harsh living conditions of the area and the need for people to help each other to survive
It was recognized that few if any could live alone and outside the tribe
Hospitality was a necessity of life in the desert
Read Genesis 19:1-29
This Law of Hospitality would come into play when the Lord appeared to Abraham, not in a column of fire or a voice in the
wind, but as a passing traveler
Three men appeared at Abraham’s household and Abraham provided all the necessities of life: water, food, lodging
Sarah heard one of the visitors say to the other that she would bear a child within the year
By this time, she was already old and past child-bearing age
What is the lesson taught to us in this story?
When and where did you act in a similar way? When did you not act in such a way?
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
The three visitors ultimate destination appears to have been Sodom and Gomorrah, two of the wealthiest and most beautiful
city-states of the day
Abraham is shown bargaining with these angels not to destroy the city.
Eventually, Abraham gets them to agree to spare the city if 10 good people could be found in the city
There, these divine messengers (angels of the Lord) come to Lot and his family
There, Lot’s hospitality was similar to that of Abraham’s
Sodom is described as a very sinful place that greatly upset the Lord
The "sins" of Sodom included a lack of hospitality and sexual immorality
Abraham’s Supreme Trial
Isaac’s birth and Ishmael’s expulsion
With the birth of Isaac, Sarah convinced Abraham to drive away Hagar and Ishmael which he did reluctantly
Although unfairly treated, Hagar and Ishmael were cared for by God in the desert
The Sacrifice of Isaac
This story is one of the most artistic, moving, and controversial found in the Old Testament.
Paradoxically, Isaac, the reward of Abraham’s faith, became a supreme test of faith
He was to be offered up as a holocaust: literally a burnt offering
Abraham, the model of faith, must ohave been bewildered
His whole life was one of obedience to God and his will
With Ishmael now gone, to sacrifice Isaac when he and Sarah were so old, had to be difficult
What kind of god would demand this?
Meaning of Genesis 22
The story has multiple meanings
It reflects a transition from child sacrifice to animal sacrifice
Abraham’s faith is still the focus of the story
Shows how faith requires loving trust and personal risk and sacrifice
God was moved to mercy since Abraham showed his willingness to hold back nothing from God
A Wife for Isaac
Abraham was concerned that his son would marry a Canaanite woman and perhaps endanger the inheritance and promise of God
It was common for such tribal people to marry within the tribe (first cousins usually)
Abraham sent a servant back to his homeland in Mesopotamia to find a suitable wife for Isaac
Under the guidance of God, a suitable wife, Rebecca, who was capable of transmitting the covenant, was found