Parshat Lech Lecha: Why God Chose Abraham

Abraham is the first Hebrew, the founder of the Hebrew nation and the path-breaker who created the Hebrew religion. From this portion in the 12th chapter of the Book of Genesis until the last word of the Book of Deuteronomy, it is Abraham’s Israelite descendants who are the major subjects of the Bible.

Fascinatingly, God commands Abraham to leave his country, his birthplace and his father’s house to travel to the unknown land of Canaan (Israel) without any introduction to Abraham’s personality or his previous connection with God. Indeed, God elects Abraham as the progenitor or patriarch of “a great nation which will become a blessing to all the families of the earth” without any mention of Abraham’s worthiness.

This is very different from God’s commandment to Noah to build an ark, which comes after the Bible has already informed us that Noah “was a righteous man, wholehearted in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). It also contrasts with God’s charge for Moses to lead His people in the Book of Exodus, which comes after Moses left Pharaoh’s palace to empathize with his Hebrew brethren and put his life on the line by slaying the Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a Hebrew slave.


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