Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Abraham in the Idol Shop

According to Jewish tradition,  Abram was very young when he came to the conclusion that the world had One Creator. Although it is often said that Abraham discovered monotheism, the fact is that he was not the first personality in the Torah to recognize God. He was, however, the first to try to actively share his world view with others. It wasn’t easy, since few people want to have the basic principle of their life questioned. But Abraham did so anyway. For Abraham to promote belief in one God was particularly challenging, as his father, Terach, specialized in making and selling idols.

The Midrash records two incidents that occurred in Terach’s workshop. The first provides a snapshot of how Abraham would dissuade customers from buying his father’s wares. He would tell middle-aged customers: “Woe to him who is sixty years old and worships something made today...” (Genesis Rabbah 38:13). The second incident was his “last stand” with his father. A customer delivered a plate of food for the statues and instructed Abraham to feed the idols. After the customer left, Abraham took a club, broke all of the idols, and placed the club in the hands of the biggest idol. When Abraham’s father returned, he asked: Who did all of this? Abraham responded that when he put the offering of food before the idols, they began fighting who would eat the food first. Then the biggest idol smashed the others. Terach responded: “What? Do you think you can trick me? Idols don’t have cognition!” Abraham said: “Do your ears hear what your mouth is saying?” (ibid).

Like most parents, Terach was less than happy at what he likely saw as his son’s rebellion.
As obvious as Abraham’s response seems to us today, he was boldly declaring that the foundations of the very society in which they lived were false. That accusation would lead him to the court of Nimrod and, eventually to the Land of Canaan.

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