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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit II Abraham and Isaac
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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

Key Terms:

Patriarch -Habiru

Polytheism -Henotheism

Monotheism -Covenant

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 with them

The great religious contribution of the Hebrews was not just the belief that God was one, but that this God was Good and loving

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 Quarrel

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

Abraham’s Visitors

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

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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton