The Beginning of a Nation

I am not worthy of the least of all the stedfast love and all the fruitfulness which thou hast shown to thy servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies.       Genesis 32:10

Many people assume that Abraham was a Jew.  If that were the case, all of his descendants would have been Jews, too.  But nothing is farther from the truth.  There are millions of direct descendants of Abraham in the world today who are anything but Jews. While it is true that Jacob, the father of the Jewish nation, was born of Abraham, so were Ishmael, Esau, and six prolific sons of Abraham’s wife Keturah.  (Genesis 25:1-4)  In short, Abraham is the ancestor of nations that have repeatedly tried to destroy the Jewish people.  The Midianites and Edomites, two of Israel’s most hated foes, were full-blooded sons of Abraham.  Herod – to mention only one individual enemy of God’s people – was a descendant of Abraham via Jacob’s twin brother Esau.

We may casually forget such important Bible facts today, but Jacob, who lived in the very crucial situation, was well aware that there were other heirs of Abraham, and that from a human point of view they all had prior claims to any Abrahamic blessings.  This is what prompted him to explain in amazement the words of our text.  He, the latest and least in the line of Abraham, had fled the ancestral home with only the clothes on his back as his belongings, and returned a few years later at the head of a caravan.  What is more, the “truth” which Jacob thanked God for revealing to him was the fact that this band of people was destined to become a nation of millions.  (28:14)

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