DAY 4 OF 10
Abraham’s Background and Early Experiences: Genesis 11:10–12:9
You will recall that the stories about Abraham’s life divide into five main steps. First, Abraham’s background and early experiences in 11:10–12:9; second, Abraham’s earlier interactions with representatives of other peoples in 12:10–14:24; third, the covenant that God made with Abraham in 15:1–17:27; fourth, Abraham’s later interactions with representatives of other peoples in 18:1–21:34; and fifth, Abraham’s progeny and death in 22:1–25:18.
The first step of Abraham’s life, his background and early experiences, reported several features of Abraham’s family and the time when God first called Abraham into his service. In general terms, Moses designed this first step to show his original Israelite audience how they could learn about their own family background and their call from God from these events in Abraham’s life.
This first step divides into three episodes or segments. The life of Abraham begins with a genealogy that presents Abraham’s divinely-favored lineage in 11:10-26. These verses establish that Abraham was a climactic character in the family of Shem, a family that held a favored status before God as God’s special chosen people. This genealogy in turn should have reminded Moses’ original Israelite audience that as the family line of Abraham, they shared this same favored status. They were God’s special chosen people.
The second episode of Abraham’s background and early experiences is another genealogy in 11:27-32. In a nutshell, this passage depicts Terah as an idolater who attempted to go to the land of Canaan but failed. Moses’ original audience easily would have seen the similarity between Abraham’s circumstances and their own. Their parents had been involved in idolatry and had failed to reach the land of Canaan as well. So, just as Abraham had to avoid repeating his father’s failures, the Israelites who followed Moses also had to avoid repeating the failures of their fathers and mothers, the idolaters of the first generation of the exodus who failed to reach Canaan.
Abraham’s background and early experiences then move to the story of Abraham’s migration to Canaan in 12:1-9. God called Abraham to the land of Canaan, and Abraham obeyed the call of God despite many difficulties. In much the same way, God called Moses’ original Israelite audience to the land of Canaan, and they were also to obey despite many difficulties. So the story of Abraham’s migration to Canaan had the original implication that the Israelites in Moses’ day were to follow the footsteps of Abraham and migrate as he did to the land of Canaan.
About this Plan
This reading plan explores the account of Abraham's life in Genesis from a distinctly Christian perspective in order to answer questions such as: What did these stories mean for those who first received them? And what do...
We would like to thank Third Millennium Ministries for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://thirdmill.org
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