The Abraham Story in Genesis and the Reigns of David and Solomon

A3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Antti Laato
Editors: Lukas Bormann
Place: Tübingen
Publication year: 2018
Publisher: Mohr Siebeck
Book title: Abraham's Family: A Network of Meaning in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Title of series: Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament
Number in series: 415
Start page: 33
End page: 58
ISBN: 978-3-16-156302-7
eISBN: 978-3-16-156686-8
ISSN: 0512-1604


I have
argued in this article that different stories of the Abraham cycle preserved in
Genesis contain traces of political and religious ideology from the time of the
united monarchy when David and Solomon created a status quo policy in
Canaan which was supported by Egypt. The aim of the Abraham tradition was to
argue that the Israelites should not struggle against other peoples around them,
but rather co-operate with them. Abraham, the ancestor of the Israelites (still
organized tribally), was the paragon for this co-operation. He was presented as
a forefather or family-related figure for all important peoples and nations
around Israel (including the Edomites through Esau and the Arameans through
Laban) and gave an example for David and Solomon’s policy. Subsequent history
showed that peaceful encounters between different peoples could not have been maintained
and therefore new critical elements were developed in the stories. In its
present form, the Abraham story of Genesis is quite a complicated compilation
which contains a lot of reworked material from different historical periods.

I have
argued that it is still possible to trace old material from the Abraham story
of Genesis which was originally preserved in the royal archives of Jerusalem.
There is no need to speculate as to how these archives were preserved through
the turbulent years of the exile because it is reasonable to assume that the
interests in the early history of Israel arose already in Josiah’s time. It is
reasonable to assume that the textual material from the early monarchic period
was preserved in Jerusalem’s royal archives because one and the same dynasty
was in power there.

is significant that the Abraham story contains a positive picture of Egypt
where Abraham and Lot stayed during the famine in Canaan. The exodus tradition
was another early tradition related to the early history of Israel. It contains
a more particularistic ideology, according to which Yahweh was to give the land
of Canaan to Israel and Israel was not to attempt to co-operate with other nations.
The explicit anti-Egyptian sentiments in the exodus tradition are another
significant element which differ from the Abraham tradition. These two
traditions emphasized such different religious scenarios to Israel’s attitude
toward other peoples that they were transmitted separately and integrated only at
a relative late period.

Last updated on 2020-01-10 at 04:28