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

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I haveargued in this article that different stories of the Abraham cycle preserved inGenesis contain traces of political and religious ideology from the time of theunited monarchy when David and Solomon created a status quo policy inCanaan which was supported by Egypt. The aim of the Abraham tradition was toargue that the Israelites should not struggle against other peoples around them,but rather co-operate with them. Abraham, the ancestor of the Israelites (stillorganized tribally), was the paragon for this co-operation. He was presented asa forefather or family-related figure for all important peoples and nationsaround Israel (including the Edomites through Esau and the Arameans throughLaban) and gave an example for David and Solomon’s policy. Subsequent historyshowed that peaceful encounters between different peoples could not have been maintainedand therefore new critical elements were developed in the stories. In itspresent form, the Abraham story of Genesis is quite a complicated compilationwhich contains a lot of reworked material from different historical periods.

I haveargued that it is still possible to trace old material from the Abraham storyof Genesis which was originally preserved in the royal archives of Jerusalem.There is no need to speculate as to how these archives were preserved throughthe turbulent years of the exile because it is reasonable to assume that theinterests in the early history of Israel arose already in Josiah’s time. It isreasonable to assume that the textual material from the early monarchic periodwas preserved in Jerusalem’s royal archives because one and the same dynastywas in power there.

Itis significant that the Abraham story contains a positive picture of Egyptwhere Abraham and Lot stayed during the famine in Canaan. The exodus traditionwas another early tradition related to the early history of Israel. It containsa more particularistic ideology, according to which Yahweh was to give the landof 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 anothersignificant element which differ from the Abraham tradition. These twotraditions emphasized such different religious scenarios to Israel’s attitudetoward other peoples that they were transmitted separately and integrated only ata relative late period.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationAbraham's Family: A Network of Meaning in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
EditorsLukas Bormann
PublisherMohr Siebeck
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-16-156686-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-16-156302-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

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