The theme of 'blessing for the nations' in the patriarchal narratives of genesis
The universalistic promise expressed by a formula with the theme "Blessing for the Nations" in the Old Testament is primarily found in the patriarchal narratives (Gen. l2-35). This aspect of the patriarchal narratives however has not been adequately studied. Previous discussions of the theme, based primarily on 12:1-3, and conducted within the framework of the Yahwist's work, are shown to be inadequate in our survey in shedding light on the positioning and significance of the theme in the overall patriarchal narratives. The survey indicates a literary analysis of these narratives could probably yield more positive results. 2. A. formulaic analysis shows that the niphal form is used at the beginning of a patriarchs career to express a probationary, and the hithpael form to express a reaffirmatory, relationship of the patriarch to the promised universal destiny. Strikingly, the 'seed' plays a prominent role in the destiny. The formula also serves to link the patriarchs' calling to the primeval history and the history of the early formative period of the Israelite people. 3. The Abraham story (Gen.12-.22) is encased by the theme. A double-chiastic arrangement of the narratives (in two groups) shows a movement of horizon from the particularistic to the universalistic. The universal horizon of Abraham's initial call (12:1-3), displaced in the first half of the structure, is reaffirmed in the latter half. Gen. l6 stands out as the nadir and turning-point of the overall story. The notices of Isaac's birth are instructively "positioned' in the universalistic sector of the double-chiasmus. Moreover, the formula is pronounced in narratives which portray Abraham as reversing the negative results of the key events in the primeval history. 4. The Isaac narrative (Gen. 26) is shown to be "demonstration-material" of the initial actualisation of the theme. The narrative is coherently structured around an emphatic divine command, a unique twin-promise, and Isaac's response in a series of movements, climaxing in Abimelech's sudden visit to and significant confession of Isaac's status. Gen.26 is also shown to be a "quintessence" of the Abraham story and forms a critique of and model for Jacob's understanding and actualisation of his destiny. 5. The theme is shown to underline the Jacob story (Gen.25-35), especially in the Jacob-.Esau cycles. Jacob's character transformation and reconciliation with Esau are necessary pre-requisites before the reaffirmation' of the universal destiny to him at Bethel. Significantly, the creation mandate is re-issued to Jacob-Israel the seed of Abraham and Isaac, when a. formula pronouncement is expected. Finally, Jacob-Israel is shown to form a parallel with Abraham whose call also expresses Yahwehs re-affirmation of his creational intentions for mankind.