Why did God choose Abraham and his descendants? In post-biblical Jewish tradition, the young Abram destroys the idols in his father’s workshop, which makes the youth a fitting candidate for accepting the call from the one God of Israel. However, Israel’s Scriptures offer no such justification. Instead, the Bible says that it was not the ancestors’ inherent worthiness that led to their election, but rather God’s own love for them that warranted the divine choice. The Torah describes God having a kind of magnetic love for Israel that impels the Lord toward the chosen people.

Moses says of the Israelites, “Only with your ancestors was the Lord compelled (חשׁק; hashaq) to love them and choose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is to this day” (Deut 10:15). Other translations of this verse present the Hebrew word for “compelled” (חשׁק) as God having “delighted” in the patriarchs (NKJV), “adored” the ancestors (CEB), or “set his heart” on them (ESV, NRSV). Yet, these renderings miss the depth of connection that חשׁק conveys between God and the people. The same verbal root (חשׁק; hashaq) appears during the construction of the tabernacle’s pillars in Exodus where it describes the binding of precious metals: “The bases for the pillars were bronze and the hooks of the pillars and their bindings (חשׁוקיהם; hashuqehem) were of silver… and the pillars of the court were banded (מחושׁקים; mehushaqim) with silver” (Exodus 38:17; cf. 27:17; 38:28). This imagery of metallurgy underscores the durability of the human-divine relationship: just as sturdy metals are welded together, the Lord’s infinitely strong love compels—literally, “drives together”—the bond between God and Israel.

Deuteronomy notes that such compelling love has nothing to do with the status of the people; rather, the divine draw towards Israel is a one-sided occurrence of God’s grace. Moses tells the Israelites, “It was not because you were more numerous than all other peoples that the Lord was compelled (חשׁק; hashaq) towards you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; [instead] it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your ancestors” (Deut 7:7-8). God has an impassioned love for Israel that defies a clear rationale. Israel’s ancestors did nothing to merit divine favor, and Abram did nothing to be chosen. This scenario is not unlike the way we might refer to “love at first sight,” and it coheres with the definition of love in 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe Yahweh’s omniscience has something to do with Israel’s selection (or election); Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.’ In other words, Yahweh knew Israel/Issac/Abraham would respond the way they did. Therefore, Yahweh acted accordingly.

  2. Yeshua the Messiah’s omniscience is evident, as well: John 10:16 ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.’

  3. Of course, this is the story as given to Moses but as we know God is fair and loves justice, would it be impossible that God tried to have the same kind of interaction He had with Abram with other peoples as well but He didn’t find satisfaction in their response?

    • Thanks for your question, Ronaldos. Since Scripture doesn’t record God attempting the same kind of interaction with other people, there’s no reason to think otherwise. However, while God chooses Abram and his descendants (i.e., Israel), God also mentions helping other nations to achieve their own “exodus” events (see Amos 9:7). Thus, God interacts with other nations, but sets Israel apart as a special and particular people for God. Thank you for studying with us.

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  4. Also, Abram was a direct descendant of Shem who was blessed by his father Noah, as his firstborn and also for the respect he showed when his father was naked in his tent. So the blessings of Noah were passed on to Abram. Just an opinion.

  5. … well, I rather do love metallurgy … yes, the very elements are forged in molecular conjoining to fuse in strength of an everlasting bond … pardon me, then, for saying that I believe that Israel had the purest DNA & this was the magnetic bond with YHWH … I apologize, but, we now know of the utmost importance & fascinating knowledge of DNA … this is not judgmental or prejudicial of YHWH, it’s just a fact of nature; post Edenic nature … an outcome of a cosmic tragedy that happened to us through Adam & Eve’s transgression that instantly plummeted us into an expulsion from a Divine state, into a Timeline of the 5,500 ‘eons’? … or 550,000 years, or epochs? … so … it’s just been a long journey … as the nose of YHWH … a huge extended travail through time to the final new birth at Resurrection … but, please, please, remember that ‘YHWH is willing that none shall be lost’ … the Door to His Heart remains open, yet a little while longer … now is the time to embrace His Son, our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ; our Messiah … without a doubt, do not delay a moment longer …

  6. Should we say Abram was quick to accept the calling of God? Thanks for this beautiful artical. Blessed be Israel.

  7. Thank you Very much for elightening thoughts. In my opinion, God look into our heart and choose for His service. 1 Abel S/o Adam 2 David as King 3. Saul (Paul) as Apostle Abraham was choosen likewise and hence his decentants. The highest quality of faith as seen in his life. Warm Regards

    • Yes, Jerry. God doesn’t make the choice based on behavior. On the whole, I think Esau’s behavior is much better than Jacob’s, but God chooses Jacob (though God also blesses Esau despite not being “chosen” as “Israel”; see Deut 2:4-5; cf. Heb 11:20).

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