In Gen. 15:18 God made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto thy seed I give this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” The word for “seed” is Hebrew “Zera.”
Then in Gen. 17:5 God said to Abram: “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” The Hebrew word for father is “Ab.” The multitude of nations may be understood as followers of Abraham; for the biological descendants of Abraham have not become multitude of nations.
Then in Gen. 17:8 God said: “I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning’s, all the land of Canaan…” Again, in Gen. 35:12 Jacob is travelling from Beersheba to Canaan. At this time God said to him “the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you to your descendants I will also give this land.” The word “Zera” is used in these two verses.
Question is this: Should the word Zera in Gen. 17:8 and 35:12 be read as biological seed as in Gen. 15:18; or it should be read as followers as in Gen. 17:5?
Etymologically both meanings seem possible. The word “Zera” according to Strong’s Concordance means “seed, sowing, semen, offspring” which suggest biological descendants; as well as “of moral quality, a practitioner of righteousness” which suggest moral followes.
Who is ever claiming that Abraham is the father of humanity? No one argues against Abraham having descendants or the people of Israel finding significance in their ancestry with Abraham. A name is a name, it isn’t some kind of scientific fact, so who cares what the etymology of Abraham is as far as determining the origin of humanity?
Abraham was father of the twelve tribes of Israel, i.e. the Jews.
He is the ancestor of the smartest people on the planet – many blessings and many burdens. Isn’t that enough?
Neither was Adam the biological ancestor of all humanity. Adam may be the father of all in terms of bringing the first communication of God and our adoption as God’s children to all mankind – and that is frankly more important than our biological inheritance and genetics which we frankly share with all living things on this planet.
Some questions ask for answers and have no predetermined answer.
Other questions have answers that are known to the one who ask the questions and the purpose of the question is discover who knows the correct answer.
So, which kind of question is “Was Abraham Father of the Jews or of Humanity?” And which kind of question is “Should the word Zera in Gen. 17:8 and 35:12 be read as biological seed as in Gen. 15:18; or it should be read as followers as in Gen. 17:5?” If both questions have answers, then no answer that is not the answer that the author of the OP wants to hear will be correct. Again, which kind of questions are being asked: questions with pre-determined answers or questions without pre-determined answers?
The first covenant YHWH made with Abram was that YHWH promised to give Abraham all the land between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates.
Seems to me that the first issue that needs to be agreed upon is whether YHWH promised to give Abram’s descendants the land between the Indus Valley and the Euphrates or the land between the “Wadi of Egypt” and the Euphrates.
Since, in Genesis 15, Abram had no biological heirs, YHWH’s promises must have been to Ishmael [born when Abram was 86 years old] and eventually to Isaac [born when Abram/Abraham was 99 years old], no?
In the second covenant YHWH made with Abram-renamed-Abraham, YHWH promised the land of Canaan–where Abraham was living at the age of 99 years–to whom? To Jews or to Humanity? Not likely to all Humanity, I think. Try “to the Jews”, for a better fit.
In addition, YHWH broke the news to Abraham that, effective immediately, circumcision would be required of all males in Abraham’s “household” whether born in the household or bought with Abraham’s money.
Clearly, circumcision became the mark of being a monotheistic Hebrew, by blood or ownership.
How common has circumcision been among the Hindu over the last couple of millennia?
Once more, I wonder, at what point in time did Abraham and Ishmael rebuild “the Cube” in Mecca, the holiest Islamic site on earth?
And why doesn’t Abraham’s Allah know that Jesus was crucified. Abraham’s YHWH does.
Indeed, no one is claiming that Abraham was biological father of humanity. But he could be spiritual father of humanity. My question is how do we understand the word “offspring” (Zera) in Gen. 17:8. If we understand this as biological father then the land of Canaan is bequeathed to Abraham’s biological offspring. If we understand this as spiritual father then the land of Canaan is bequeathed to Abraham’s spiritual offspring—that is, all believers.
BILL: Seems to me that the first issue that needs to be agreed upon is whether YHWH promised to give Abram’s descendants the land between the Indus Valley and the Euphrates or the land between the “Wadi of Egypt” and the Euphrates.
BJ: The two questions have an overlap, but it is not necessary to resolve one before the other. We can discuss whether God bequeathed land to Abraham’s biological or spiritual descendants irrespective of where the land may be located.
BILL: Since, in Genesis 15, Abram had no biological heirs, YHWH’s promises must have been to Ishmael [born when Abram was 86 years old] and eventually to Isaac [born when Abram/Abraham was 99 years old], no?
BJ: Maybe yes, maybe no. Because in 17:5 God expanded Abraham’s writ to whole humanity. So it depends whether we rely on 15:18 or on 17:5 in interpreting 17:8.
BILL: In addition, YHWH broke the news to Abraham that, effective immediately, circumcision would be required of all males in Abraham’s “household” whether born in the household or bought with Abraham’s money.
BJ: The bequeathal of the land of Canaan to “men of faith” and requirement of circumscision from his biological descendants can go together, I think.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.
7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
13 A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
No circumcision. no covenant. No covenant, no bequeathal of the land of Canaan.
On the other hand, knowing that Abraham’s Allah may allow what Abraham’s YHWH forbids and forbids what Abraham’s YHWH allows, surely Abraham’s Allah will forgive the uncircumcised and bequeath Canaan to them.