The Abraham Cycle
o Abraham must have come from the region of Ur or that which is around Ur.
o God tells Abraham to travel from Ur and Egypt
o God promises three things to Abraham:
2) A nation for his descendants
3) his blessing
o An oath bound relationship with defined expectations and obligations
o Treaty Covenants : Defined and regulated relationships between nations
Charter Covenants: A grant of property and usually a reward for loyal service
Life of Abraham
o Used to be called Abram, but was changed by God as Abraham
o Abraham has a Charter covenant with God.
o Promised to be the ancestor to a great many ancestor, but his wife was seemingly barren.
o God then advised that all members should be circumcised as an initiation ritual o Explains that all members are chosen by God.
o Abraham had doubts regarding his pact because he was wife was barren
o Sarah (Abraham’s wife) offers Abraham a concubine Hagar
o Abraham has a son with Hagar named Ishmael, however Sarah gets jealous and abuses Hagar.
o Hagar eventually runs away in the wilderness and is found by an angel who promises that her son will
be a leader to a nation/people as well, if she submits to Sarah and Abraham.
o She goes back and after many years as Sarah is in old age, she finally conceives a son named Isaac.
o Sarah believes that Ismael should be hidden and not associated to their legitimate son Isaac. God
supports Abraham and Isaac and cast away Hagar.
o Hagar and Ismael leave to the dessert. Ismael found the people called the Ismaiits
o God orders Abraham to sacrifice his favored son Isaac. Abraham obliges, however god stops him and
replaces Isaac with a lamb and announces that “Abraham’s descendants with be many” because
Abraham cast aside all doubt in God and submitted. Genesis 22: Testing
o Some believe that Isaac and Abraham talked ahead of time and Isaac agreed and offered himself
willingly to God
o It is said by some that afterwards Abraham and Isaac never spoke again and Sarah was buried at
Hebron as was Abraham
What Really Happened?
o Lack of hospitality the real sin?
o Only preRoman occupation in the area described is Bab ehdDhra and a few very small towns
o Harris and Beardow believe the cities were destroyed by an earthquake and fell into the Dead Sea
Life of Isaac (25:1928:22)
Mirrors life of Abraham
Divine promises of land and offspring Building of altars
Covenant with Abimelech
Formerly Barren Mother
Two sons equated with two nations
Younger son wins out
o Practiced in the 6 century B.C.
o Performed throughout the early history of Israel
o Two Kings of Israel are known to have made their sons “Pass through the Fire” as in burned sacrifice
o Topheth located in the Hinnon Valley outside Jerusalem’
The Jacob cycle 25:19 35:29 (Son of Isaac)
o Continues themes of the Abraham cycle:
o Three main plot points:
o 1Jacob steals his brother’s birthright
o 2Jacob (mostly) outwits his uncle Laban o Jacob wrestles with God
o Jacob and his brother had a very intense “sibling rivalry” (Twins)
o Jacob steals Esea’s birthright. Jacob is depicted as quite a trickster
o He held onto his brothers ankle, hoping to be the first born
o Jacob has a dream of a “stairway to heaven” where angels reside
o Jacob meets God and is “spared” (Nobody was ever allowed to see God’s face).
o Jacob is told by God that he will now be called Israel
o Jacob undergoes a personality shift
What’s in a name?
Esau, called Edom “Red” due to red hair on his body and “red stuff” that he trades his birthright for
Jacob, meaning “Heel Grabber”
Jacob/Esau conflict likely an explanation for later conflicts between nations of Israel and Edom
during Exodus and establishment of Davidic monarchy.
o Ladder to Heaven (28:1018)
o Wrestling with God (32:2232)
Joseph’s Cycle (3750)
o Youngest son of Jacob and most favored by his father
o His siblings sell him onto slavery to the Ismaiits, because he was most favored. o Taken in as a slave by a merchant and his wife and he grew up beautiful, the merchant’s wife fell in
love, tried to seduce him, he resisted and ran away and was found by the husband. She lies to her
husband and tells him that Jacob tried to seduce her, however there was a witness who says that
because Joseph shirt was ripped from the back, she is lying. Husband tells her to apologize.
o Gossip spread accusing her of seducing Joseph and she invites the gossip ladies to her house and
while there cooking with knives, she introduces them to Joseph, they are so blinded by his beauty that
they accidently cut their fingers and they chase him.
o He runs away and prays to god saying that he would rather spend his life in jail, than with those women.
He gets send to jail, where he meet two men, who he interprets their dreams for them. When the one of
the men get freed and becomes the wineporor for the king and the king has a dream about skinny
cows and 7 fat cows who tell this to wine poror, who mentions that Joseph can interpret dreams. Later
on Joseph gets freed and interprets the Kings dream, moves up the hierarchy: minister (King is happy).
o Back in Palestine, Jacob tells him remaining children to head to Egypt and beg the King’s minister for
aid (food, cuz there’s no harvest).
o Joseph’s brother come to Egypt, but don’t recognize him while Joseph does and does not tell them who
o They mention that they were struggling, Joseph tells his brothers to bring Benjamin (his only fullblood
brother) and they will get their food.
o They agree and head back to Palestine and begged their father: Jacob that Benjamin be brought to
Egypt to Joseph and they swore to him that he would be brought back
o Benjamin and Joseph meet and Joseph reveals himself and have an emotional himself
o Joseph tried to keep Benjamin, but his brothers refused and the Joseph revealed himself and asked his
whole family including his father be brought to Egypt to escape the famine. They oblige and Jacob sees
his son Joseph in over 20 years and proclaims that he can die now, because he has seen his son
o Continues themes of birth order/rights found in the previous two cycles.
o Explains prominence of tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
o May serve to legitimize David who was also a last born son.
o “Shemot” , meanign names in Hebrew