The Promise to Abraham

The promise of blessing of Abraham contains an internal and creative tension. Abraham is the physical progenitor of Israel.[1] In blessing Abraham God is conferring the blessing on his descendants, on Israel. Yet, Yahweh surprisingly links this blessing to blessing for all families of the earth. It means the blessing of Israel consists precisely in being a blessing for all families of earth.[2] The special favours of Yahweh to Abraham and his descendants are to make them agents of blessing for all of humankind. The promise is that Israel will eventually discover that Yahweh means it to serve God as servant so that God’s salvation may reach the ends of the earth. Israel will then knowingly invite the nations to share in the blessing.


[1] Cf. E. H. Maly, “Genesis 12, 10-20; 20, 1-18; 26, 7-11 and the Pentateuchal Question,” CBQ, Vol. XVIII, no. 3, The Heffernan Press Inc., Massachusetts, (1956), 255-262, 258.

[2] Cf. A. Van Der Heide, “The Call of Abraham as Read by Jew and Christians,” Concilium: The Bible and its Readers, Vol.1, SCM Press, London, (1991), 13-26, 14.

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