By looking at the Abrahamic cycle in the book of Genesis, we can clearly see that Israel’s God is indeed harsh and judgemental. Abraham’s relationship with God is one of the first stories of the Bible and he is the founding father of Judaism. He is only the second human that God enters a covenant with and has a real, religious relationship with. If we point out the different events that happen during Abraham’s journey and connection with God, it is obvious that Israel’s God is very demanding. The only way we can truly understand this is to first know what the Abrahamic Cycle consists of.
Abraham was Terah’s son, Sarai’s husband and Lot’s uncle. God called Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that i will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all th efamilies of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)” Abraham heeded God’s word and took his nephew and wife to Canaan. Once he reached the land, he built an altar there, for the Lord promised the land to his people: “To your offspring I will give this land.
Genesis 13:8)” He then went to Egypt, where there was a famine. He told Sarai to say she was his sister so the Egyptians would not try to steal her from Abraham. Because she was so beautiful, she stayed in the Pharaoh’s palace, and he and Abraham dealt well with each other. However, Pharaoh found out that Sarai and Abraham were married, and sent them both out of Egypt. Abraham was now very wealthy and he and Sarai traveled back up to Bethel, where he built the altar. There he met Lot, but the two were not able to live together. They had too many posessions between them and Lot’s herders did not get along with Abraham’s.
Abraham called for a truce and the two moved to different areas: Abraham to Canaan and Lot to Sodom. God promised Abraham all of the land as far as he could see: “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever… Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for i will give it to you. (Genesis 13:17)” He built another altar to God, this time at Hebron. Soon after Lot was taken captive; when Abraham found out, he led an army of 318 men.
They rescued Lot and his goods and people. Melchizedek, the King of Salem, blessed Abraham for saving his people. Then God came to Abraham in a vision and said “Do not be afraid, Abraham, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. (Genesis 15:1)” Abraham wanted a child more than anything, and God promised him the number of children as were stars in the sky. Sarai suggested that Abraham should try and concieve with Hagar, their servant. However, when Hagar became pregnant, she got mad at Sarai, and was sent away. God found her and ordered her to return, and told her that she would bear a son who she would name Ishmael.
Sure enough, the child was born. When Abraham was 99 years old, God came to him and said “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous. (Genesis 17:1-2)” He promised Abraham wealth and prosperity as long as he kept the covenant, which was that every male should be circumsized as a sign of this covenant. God also renamed Sarai “Sarah” and told Abraham he would have a son by her, who would be named Isaac. Then Abraham and Ishmael went around circumsizing all of the Jews, including themselves.
Not long after, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Lot married and had children. Abraham and Sarah traveled to Negeb, and again Abraham pronounced Sarah his sister to Abimelech. Again they were found out; Abimelech, obeying God, restored Sarah to Abraham and then Sarah became pregnant. Isaac was born and circumcized. Abraham and Abimelech later made a covenant. God challenged Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, which he agreed to, and it was proven that he feared God. So once again God promised him and his offspring all of the land. At age 127 Sarah died and was buried in Ephron.
Isaac and Rebecca wed; by this time Abraham was very old. He took another wife named Keturah who bore him many sons. Abraham passed away when he was 175; he was buried with his wife Sarah. Through the years, Abraham was a perfect follower of God. He was obedient, faithful, fearful, and trusting. He did everything God asked of him without question. Abraham built altars to God and traveled many places to do His work. However, God kept making demands of him. Some things Abraham was asked to do were a bit extreme. Why did God test Abraham so often and so many times?
It was obvious from the start that Abraham was loyal to God. He withstood every test, time after time, but still God was quick to judge him. Probably the best example of the Israeli God’s harshness is when He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. First of all, God gave Abraham and Sarah this son in the first place; why would he even think of using his own people as pawns in some kind of test of faith? Second, Abraham loved his son very much and it was cruel of God to make him believe that his son would really be killed. Last, Abraham had proven himself many times before and it seemed to me that this was unnecessary.