Hebrew Bible Paper - Abraham
Abraham stands as one of the most important figures in the Hebrew Bible, and is central to the understanding of God’s solution to the problem of mankind. Man, the mysterious creature that God wraught as a semi-experiment, is constantly prone to believe he is self-sufficient and capable of survival without God, the central problem God must deal with in the Hebrew Bible. To solve this problem, God decides to strike fear in the heart of man and to revolutionise his lifestyle by creating laws and empowering a chosen group of people, who will spread the word of God by example. These people are the Hebrews, and Abraham is the father of their race, the man from whom all Hebrews descend. He is chosen for this crucial position because he already possesses all the qualities God desires for his people. God says of Abraham, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment". Thus, a study of Abraham’s character is a study of the Hebrew people’s character, and, ultimately, a study of the qualities God desires for all people.
At the time of Abraham, the world appears to be a violent, immoral place. Chapter 14 of Genesis describes the many bloody wars that are occurring around Abraham, and cities like Sodom and Gomorrah are full of men who are "wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly". Abraham stands as a unique figure for his time, avoiding fights whenever possible and always following God’s orders, meant as an example to the rest of the world. Instead of the mass destruction akin to the flood, God’s new plan is to change the world through Abraham’s and his descendants’ good deeds and righteous living, effectively a moral evolution. Every extraordinary quality that Abraham possesses is desired by God for everyone. A major thread of all these qualities is self-sacrifice for the good of others; through the promotion of these ideals, God is creating a society capable of existing in peace.
One of Abraham’s most important qualities is his complete obedience to God. Abraham, or Abram, is introduced when God tells him "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee…I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee". Abram leaves his home and family, and departs into the "strange land" of Canaan, showing an extreme obedience to God and understanding of his duty to father this great race. Throughout Genesis, Abraham builds altars to God and sacrifices animals. In Genesis 22:2, God tells Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of...