Pax Hart

Genesis 26: Isaac and Abimelek

This one-chapter interlude interrupts the story of Jacob and Esau and gives some historical asides about Isaac, his relationship with local tribal rulers, and a treaty he signed with Abimelek after disputes over wells.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said,
“Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”

24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

My question is:
Is Yahweh a personal god, like the household god that Abram and Terah took from Ur? A protector and guide who is who is concerned with my day-to-day life? Is Yahweh an all-powerful creator god like Enki; who runs all from on high but has little regard for the affairs of man?

This is the great reconciliation that Abraham struggled with and it reflects our place in the universe: are we insignificant inhabitants in creation or are we unfathomably important and worthy of God’s constant attention and care? The shift is in our own value as individuals.

In the Sumerian culture from wench Abram came, the household god was a protector and interceded on our behalf with the city gods, who in turn interceded with Enki in a of divine hierarchy.

Abraham and Yahweh, through their covenant, were collapsing that model into a single god. Polytheism was becoming monotheism through their intimate relationship. This required an acceptance of paradoxes, Yahweh becoming larger, detached from a city or place, and Abraham becoming both important and insignificant at the same time.