Saturday, May 5, 2012

Students Wonder "Why Abraham?"

Alice C. Linsley

Part 6:  Answers to High Schoolers' Questions about Abraham
This continues the series "Answers to Hign Schoolers' Questions About Genesis."

Part 1: About God
Part 2: About Adam and Eve
Part 3: About the Serpent
Part 4: About the Flood
Part 5: About the Earth

Q:  What made Abraham so special that God chose him?

A:  Abraham is a pivotal figure in the Bible. He is mentioned in 230 Bible verses and is the central figure of the book of Genesis. In Romans 4:1, the Apostle Paul calls Abraham "the chief of our forefathers." Paul explains that non-Jews who believe that Jesus is the Son of God have been grafted by God into the faith of Abraham. Here Paul uses the image of a tree, alluding to Jesus' parable of the kingdom of God as a great tree (Matt. 13:31).  He goes on to say that Jews who have rejected Jesus as the Son of God have been pruned from the tree.

Why is Abraham cited as one who had faith in the coming of the Son of God?  Because his Horite people believed that God would overshadow a virgin from among their ruler-priest lines and that she would become pregnant and give birth to the "Seed" of God who was first promised in Genesis 3:15.

In John 8, God promises to provide through Abraham’s Seed (see Acts 7:2ff.). Paul elaborates that the “Seed” of Abraham, through whom blessings are bestowed on all who believe, is Jesus, not Israel.  Jesus referred to Himself as the promised "Seed" when He foretold his death in Jerusalem. He told his disciples "Unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it cannot give life." (John 12:24)

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ… And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:16, 29)

In the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:22-31), Jesus illustrates that not all who call Abraham "Father" will receive heavenly recognition.  To those who claimed special privilege by descent, He said, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do."

Christians assume that we alone are the recipients of God's revelation of His Son, yet Hebrews 4:2 states that the Gospel was preached to the Apostles' ancestors. From this we gather that that Abraham and Moses shared the faith of their ancestors to whom God first revealed the plan of salvation. We might call this the "Proto-Gospel" concerning the Seed of God who would be born of the ruler-priest lines. He was expected to pass through death to life and lead his people from the grave to eternal life. Until the day of resurrection at Christ's return, the faithful dead rest "in the bosom of Abraham."

When Abraham died at age 175 he was “gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:8). This phrase is used interchangeably with the phrase "gathered to his fathers."  The word for "fathers" is Horim and refers to ruler-priests among Abraham’s people. None of the rulers who were buried with great pomp and circumstance ever rose from the dead, but the Ruler-Priest Jesus did, thus proving Him to the the Seed of God.  (The ancient Egyptians regarded 175 as the ideal lifespan. Here we have further evidence of Abraham's Nilotic cultural context.)

Genesis is the story of God’s dealings with Abraham and his ruler-priest ancestors (chapter 1-12). The other chapters deal with Abraham's descendants before the establishment of a unified Israel under King David. Clearly, the promise concerning the Seed of God by the Woman (Gen. 3:15) does not originate with the Jews. It is much older. The expectation of Messiah's coming into the world was preserved by Abraham's ancestors to whom the promise was first made in Eden, a well-watered region that extended from East Africa to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. This appears to be the point of origin of the Proto-Gospel and the faith of Abraham. It is also the origin of the Christian faith. In this sense, the core of Christian belief may be considered the oldest known religion.

Abraham, Moses and David: A Common Pattern

While Abraham is certainly the pivotal figure of Genesis, he is not the only chosen leader in the Bible. Moses and David are other example. Moses led Israel out of Egypt and David ruled in Jerusalem. We cannot grasp the counsel of God or know why God appoints some to leadership, but by exploring what these men have in common, we discern a pattern.

None of these men were in line to rule. Only firstborn sons of wives ascended to the throne.
Abraham, Moses and David were all the youngest sons. This means that God chose the son who was not the heir.  Each of these men was sent away from home as an adult and forced to build a kingdom as God led him and with God's help. Each man was elevated by God to a position of leadership and strengthened through hardships.  The same can be said for Jacob, the young man who preferred to stay home (Gen. 25:27). After attempting to steal his brother's birthright, we was sent away and endured many trials before he returned to Palestine.

Q:  If God gave the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants, doesn't that mean that He wants the Jews to have it?

This question springs from several false assumptions. First, Abraham was not a Jew.  He was a Horite who spoke a language closer to Arabic than to Hebrew. He lived approximately B.C. 2039-1964, about 1420 years before the Jewish people emerged as a distinct group.

Second, many of Abraham's descendants are not Jews. Abraham had nine sons and only those who descend from his grandson Jacob can be considered Jews. Further, Jewish identity did not exist before the Babylonian captivity (B.C. 587–538). It was formed through that trial where the people suffered far worse treatment than they did in Egypt before the Exodus.

It is impossible to speak of a single direct line from Abraham to the Jews because Abraham had nine sons and their descendants intermarried. The genealogical data in Genesis suggests that Abraham's firstborn son was Joktan, the forefather of the Joktanite tribes of Arabia. Abraham could as easily be described the first Arab, since most Arabs are descended from him through Joktan.

Abraham's descendants by Ishmael are Egyptians, since Ishmael's mother and wife were Egyptians and ethnicity was traced through the women, not the men. Ishmael was not Abraham's firstborn son.

The land was given to Abraham's descendants. Zionists attempt to validate an exclusive Jewish claim to the land by insisting that Jews have always been in Israel. However, Abaham's ancestors and Abraham himself were not Jews. They are best described as Afro-Arabians.

Zionism is a political ideology without Biblical support. It is the brainchild of the Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl, who was not religious and was from a secular Pest family.  The Haredi Jews who live in Israel do not recognize the State of Israel because they believe only the Messiah can proclaim the Return. The Haredi are mostly indigenous orthodox Jews whose ancestors never left the land. They did not inherit the Zionist attitudes of Jews from the Babylonian diaspora.

Q:  What is the nature of the covenant that God made with Abraham?

A:  There are at least two covenants involving the person of Abraham. The covenant concerning Isaac is unconditional since Abraham was not able of his own power to produce an heir. The covenant concerning salvation for the world is conditional since it depends upon the faith of the individual, as it did for Abraham (Gen. 15:6). St. Paul says, "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that He would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith." (Rom. 4:13)

The Conditional Covenant with Abraham and His Heirs by Faith

A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that binds both parties to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party is required to fulfill the expectations of the covenant.

As Abraham was a Horite, he believed that God would fulfill the first promise of the Bible found in Genesis 3:15. This promise involves faith on the part of those who would enter into the promise.  Without faith, none can receive the gift of eternal life that comes through the work of Jesus the "Seed" of God, a descendant of Abraham. 

This part of the covenant is elaborated in the promise of many descendants. God kept this promise is evident in that Abraham had nine sons and an unknown number of daughters. Here is a list of the sons born to Abraham by his two wives: Sarah and Keturah, and by his two concubines: Hagar and Masek.

Sarah, daughter of Terah the Aramean (Gen. 20:12)
Isaac (Yitzak)

Hagar the Egyptian (Sarah’s handmaid)
Ishmael (Yismael), who was Egyptian since race/ethnicity was traced through the mother, as is true even today among Jews.

Keturah, daughter of Joktan the Afro-Arabian (Gen. 25)
Yishbak (His name means "sent away" and he was a sent-away son.)
Joktan – probably Keturah’s firstborn son

Masek, the Aramean/Syrian
Eliezar of Damascus

The promise of many offspring is amplified in Genesis 17:6 where God promises that nations and kings would descend from Abraham, and that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This promise is expanded in the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12.  David's throne was not to pass away.  It would be filled by an eternal King, Jesus the Messiah, of whose kingdom there will be no end.

The Unconditional Covenant with Abraham Concerning an Heir

An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the parties is bound by the terms. Nothing is required of the other party. The unconditional covenant involves the promise of an heir to Abraham's throne by his sister wife Sarah. The enactment of this covenant is described in Genesis 15 where God appeared to Abraham as a smoking furnace and a flaming torch passing between the sacrificed animals halves.

When both parties passed between the animal pieces the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping their commitments. However, in this event God alone moved between the halves of the animals because Abraham was asleep. This is an unconditional covenant concerning the miraculous birth of an heir could be fulfilled by God alone. Issac was born and became Abraham's heir, instead of Eliezar.

Jews speak of the sacrifice of Isaac as the "binding of Isaac" (Akeidat Yitzchak) because their rabbis do not agree on what this story means. Most do not believe that Abraham intended to sacrifice his son. The story of the binding of Isaac suggests that Abraham likely believed that Isaac was the promised "Seed" of Genesis 3:15 since many of the circumstances surrounding Isaac align with the ancient Horus myth.

Consider the following correspondences:

Isaac was born miraculously (Gen. 21:5) as was Horus, who was said to have been born of a virgin queen Hathor who was overshadowed by the Sun, the emblem of God. Issac was not born of a virgin, but as with Jesus, he was born miraculously by the will of God, not man.

God named Isaac as the son by whom Abraham's Seed would be called (Gen. 21:12). His brother Ishmael was banished. Horus was exalted after being abused by his brother who was banished. Jesus will be exalted and those who reject Him will be banished to the fire.

Isaac was sacrificed by the father (by faith) and restored to life (Gen. 22:2-9), since to Abraham he was already given up (holocaust). Horus was restored to life on the third day in an Egyptian five-day ceremony. Ancient Egyptian funerary amulets were made in the shape of the Eye of Horus.

Isaac received the kingdom from his father (Gen. 25:25) just as Horus received a kingdom from Osiris. Jesus receives the kingdom from the Father. In the Horite myth, Horus and Osiris are frequently interchangeable - "I and my Father are one," as Jesus explained in John 10:30.

The miraculous birth of Isaac fulfilled the unconditional covenant God made with Abraham and pointed to the future miraculous birth of the "Seed" of God who would be born of the Virgin Mary.

Q:  How do we know that Abraham was a ruler?

A: Abraham was the son of a great ruler named Terah.  Terah was the son of a great ruler named Nahor.  All the men listed in the Genesis "begats" were rulers.  Further, Abraham's marriage and ascendancy structure is that of the ruler-priests. He maintained two wives in separate households on a north-south axis.  His first wife was his half-sister and the wife of his youth.  His second wife was a patrilineal niece or cousin and was taken before he established a kingdom. Abraham's firstborn son by Keturah ascended to the throne of his maternal grandfather, as was the Horite custom. Isaac, the promised son of Sarah, ascended to the throne of his father Abraham, as was the custom.

Before his death Abraham did two things that tell us that he had become a great ruler. First, he found a second wife for his son Isaac, which was required before Isaac could ascend to his father's throne.  We know that Rebecca was a second wife because she was Isaac's patrilineal cousin or niece. Second, he gave gifts to his other sons and sent them away from Issac to establish their own territories.

Q:  How do we know that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham?

A:  The Horites were a caste.  The ancient world had a strict caste structure. A universal characteristic of castes is endogamy. Endogamy means that caste members marry within their caste, never outside their caste.  The daughters of Horite ruler-priests married the sons of Horite ruler-priests. Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of the priest of Onn (Heliopolis). Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian.  This practice continued to Jesus' time.

Joseph, from whom Jesus inherited his social status and occupation, belonged to the ruler-priest line of Mattai (Matthew). Joseph's family lived in Nazareth which was the home of the eighteenth division of priests, that of Happizzez (1 Chronicles 24:15). The words happi and ntjr originate in the Nile Valley, as do the names of many of the ruler-priests listed in the genealogies in Luke and Matthew.

I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." The author of Chronicles knew that Bethlehem was originally a Horite settlement in the heart of Horite territory. The prophets foretold Bethlehem as the birth place of the Son of God.

Jesus' mother was Miriam daughter of Joachim Son of Pntjr (Panther) Priests of Nathan of Beth Lehem. From predynastic times, ntjr designated the king among the Kushites. The name Panther or p-ntjr meant "God is King."

It is certain that Mary was of the ruler-priest caste because even those who hated her admit this. Sanhedrin 106a says: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” It is said that she was so despised that some Jews tried to prevent the Apostles from burying her body. Melchi, a name that appears twice in Mary's ancestry, means "my image" in Amharic and refers to kings.

Related reading:  The Marriage and Ascendancy Pattern of Abraham's People; The Proto-Gospel: Jesus, the Son of God Fulfills the Horus Myth; The Ethnicity of Abraham and David; Abraham's Complaint


DDeden said...

Alice, can you explain how Moses had apparently 2 fathers in law? (Ruel, Jethro, both Midianite priests) Did he marry twice, or was one name actually a title?

Alice Linsley said...

Though Moses had two wives, he had only one father-in-law. Jethro was a Midianite priest. Ru-el was his royal-priestly title, like "Tera" and "Enoch."

DDeden said...

Ok, thanks. I just now saw this response to Lon, where you mention 2 fathers in law of Moses, did you change your thoughts on it, or get new information?

"Lon, you will find a great deal of information at Just Genesis about figures named in Genesis and Exodus. Reu'el means God of Reu, just as Reu'ben means son of Reu. Reu was a great Horite chief, the son of Peleg (Gen. 11:18). Reu'el designates that Zipporah's father was a descendant of Reu and worshipped the same God as Reu. Reu'el was his priestly name. Jethro was his given name. Hobab, a Kushite name, was likely the name of Moses' other father-in-law."

Alice Linsley said...

When I finished the analysis of Moses' kinship, I concluded that he had only one father-in-law. Moses' Kushite wife was his half-sister and they had the same father, Amram. She was his first wife, as was Sarah to Abraham. Moses' cousin wife was Zipporah. That led me to believe that Jethro and Ruel are the same person.

I'm not sure about the name Hobab. It may be a form of Ha-bab, meaning "the Father." Perhaps they called the priest "Father" even in those days.