Why did God Choose Abraham over Job?
Avraham (Abraham) and Iyov (Job) were righteous men, but why did God choose Abraham over Job? Both Avraham and Iyov were descendants of Shem and both were found righteous men (Gen 15:6 and Iyov 1:1), but God chose Avraham to make him a father of many nations as He told Avraham, not Iyov, to leave his land to make His Covenant with him.
Iyov was known in Israel as a recognized righteous man, for Ezekiel and Ya’akov (Eze_14:14, Jam_5:11) wrote about him. He was as great-grandson of Esau, and he himself was the son of his father Zerach, one of the sons of Esav, so that he was the fifth from Avraham, as we follow his genealogy from Avraham: Avraham, Yitschak, Esav, Reuel son of Esav (Gen 36:10), Zerach son of Reuel (Gen 36:13), Iyov (who is Iyovav) son of Zerach (Gen 36:33).
Therefore, Iyov was an Edomite (Gen_36:31-34), a descendent of Isaac and Avraham. So, why did God choose Abraham over Job?
The quickest answer would be that YHVH chose the patriarch first, because he lived four generations before Iyov. But the Almighty being omniscient can see through time and space and He could have chosen Iyov, had He considered him fit for being a father of many nations. But He chose Avraham, not Iyov.
To find the answer to our question, we need to go back to Genesis 25 where we find a mother who was deeply concerned about her two children who were struggling together in her womb. So, she went to ask YHVH, and YHVH said to her,
Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be separated from your body. And one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older serve the younger. (Gen 25:23)
By His ultimate foreknowledge, we see that YHVH made the prediction that two nations were in her womb and they would be two separate peoples, as separate as they would fight each other, for Esau was to serve his brother, as YHVH had predicted before their birth.
And so, it was; the historical relation of Edom to Israel assumed the form of a constant servitude, revolt, and reconquest. That constant struggle would last until a later period, when through Antipater and Herod, Edom established the Idumean dynasty over Judea, which lasted until the complete destruction of Jerusalem.
And Isaac likewise said to Esau,
by your sword you are to live, and serve your brother. And it shall be, when you grow restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck.
And Esav hated Ya’akov because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esav said in his heart that when the days of mourning for his father draw near, then he would kill his brother Ya’akov. (Gen 27:40-41)
It is generally accepted that another statement made by YHVH in Mal 1:2-4 is directly connected to the one made in Gen 25:23, as we read thus,
Was not Esav Ya’akov’s brother? declares Yehovah. And I love Ya’akov, but I have hated Esav, and have laid waste his mountains and his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness. If Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, let us return and build the ruins’, Yehovah of hosts said thus: Let them build, but I tear down. And they shall be called ‘Border of Wickedness’, and the people against whom Yehovah is enraged forever. (Mal 1:2-4)
Mal 1:2-4 is interpreted to mean that before the twins were born or had done any good or evil, in order that the purpose of God is to be fulfilled, according to choice, Ya’akov was loved, but Esav was hated.
This widespread misinterpretation of Mal 1:2-4 comes from another misinterpretation of Shaul’s (Paul) writing in Romans concerning Edom, as we read thus,
Yet, before they were born or had done any good or evil – in order that the purpose of Elohim, according to choice, might stand, not of works but of Him who calls. It was said to her, ‘The greater shall serve the lesser,’ as it has been written, ‘Ya’akov I have loved, but Esav I have hated.’ What, then, shall we say? Is there unrighteousness with Elohim? Let it not be! For He says to Mosheh, ‘I shall favor whomever I favor, and I shall have compassion on whomever I have compassion.’ (Rom 9:11-15)
The choice of YHVH comes from the attitude towards Israel and towards Edom. Ya’akov and Esav were unborn twin brothers who had done neither good or evil to deserve love or hatred, and therefore, the posterity of both the Israelites and the Edomites would be treated alike by the righteous Elohim without partiality and favoritism. There are quite a bit number of statements which show that YHVH hates unrighteousness and loves justice, and partiality could not be found in Him.
But it seems to be that this is not the case of the interpretation of Rom 9:11-15, which we must admit, is very widespread among all commentators. In the present author’s opinion, this is a classic example of interpretation the Hebrew Scripture from “New Testament” perspectives; in this case: misinterpretation.
Shaul is not saying in his letter to the Romans that Elohim hated Esav from his birth, much less before his birth. Otherwise, it would sound that either YHVH has arbitrarily chosen Ya’akov, or has shown favoritism, because he was a descendant of Avraham. Bear in mind that we are speaking of unborn babies.
Either way, whether arbitrariness or favoritism, injustice is far from YHVH.
In Romans, Shaul simply quotes the Torah by bringing in the scene in which Mosheh asked YHVH, ‘Please, show me Your glory’. And YHVH said,
I shall cause all My goodness to pass before you, and I shall proclaim the Name of Yehovah before you. And I shall favor him whom I favor, and shall have compassion on him whom I have compassion. (Exo 33:18-19)
Here Mosheh simply says that YHVH reveals His face to whomever He desires, and favors him whom He favors, and has compassion on him whom He has compassion, i.e. YHVH has the authority to do His will. And this is the point Shaul is making here: He had the authority to hate Edom for a reason we will see below, as we advance.
Therefore, we read Romans 9:11-15 in its context of Rom 9:4 that the adoption is to the children of Israel, for they are not all Israel who are of Israel (Rom 9:6), neither are they all children because they are from Avraham like Edom is, who is from Yitschak (Rom 9:7), but those who are the seed of Avraham by promise (Rom 9:8). For the promise will come through Sarah who will have a son (Rom 9:9), and Rivkah will conceive the promised son (Rom 9:10) through whom Ya’akov will come who is of the promise, not Esav who is of the flesh, before they were born, in order that the purpose of Elohim, according to choice, might stand, not of works of Avraham who conceived Ishmael, not of the works of Yitschak who loved Esav, but of Him who calls. Because before they were born or had done any good or evil, [as they had done nothing to deserve love or hatred] (Rom 9:11). As it was said to Rivkah, ‘The greater shall serve the lesser’, as it has been written thousands of years later, ‘Ya’akov I have loved, but Esav I have hated.’ What, then, shall we say? Is there unrighteousness with Elohim to show partiality and randomly choose who to love and whom to hate? Let it not be! For He says to Mosheh, ‘I shall favor whomever I favor, and I shall have compassion on whomever I have compassion’, as He favored Mosheh to show him His face (Rom 9:11-15).
It is true that YHVH told Rivkah (Rebecca) that even before their birth Ya’akov was the chosen one, and he was to serve his brother (Gen_25:23). And accordingly, Ya’akov became the heir of the promise. But that does not mean that baby Esav was considered inferior to his twin brother Ya’akov, much less to deserve hatred for doing nothing wrong in his mother’s womb. The struggle the two babies had in their mother’s womb was not an unforgiven sin, but shadow picture of what would take place in the future.
This is the simple meaning of the text. And no one has the authority to add to the words of Elohim in Genesis and Malachi (read Deu 4:2 and Deu 12:32).
Only we must bear in mind, that (1) with the Righteous One anything arbitrary or partial is inconceivable, and that (2) no explanation is given in Gen 25:23 of the reasons which determined the statement. It was a simple statement whose plain reading says, Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be separated from your body.
Nothing more than that. The unborn babies had done neither good or evil. To say that the fate of the brothers was predetermined even before their birth is to fall into the doctrine of predestination, according to which humans have no choice in their deeds.
Only in Mal 1:2-4 written thousands of years later and its interpretation in Romans we find that Elohim hated Edom.
This attitude on the part of YHVH towards Ya’akov and Esav, and towards the nations that sprang from them, described in Malachi, “I have loved Ya’akov, and hated Esav”, was a continuation of Genesis: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be separated from your body. And one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older serve the younger”.
Malachi does not expressly state in what the love of God to Israel showed itself; but this is indirectly indicated in what is stated concerning the hatred towards Edom. The complete desolation of the Edomitish territory is quoted as a proof of this hatred: Edom is called the border of wickedness. Mal_1:3 does not refer to a barren land, but to the devastation of the land of Edom; devastation of Edom as a result of what?
Why is that hatred? What had Edom done to deserve it? Again, bear in mind that there is a period of thousand years between the statements in Genesis and in Malachi.
And since an unborn baby cannot be wicked, because this is the most innocent human being, therefore, Edom (and/or his descendants) must have done some wickedness in order to deserve the hatred YHVH was referring to in Malachi.
What is that wickedness Edom[ites] must have done to deserve Elohim’s hatred?
First, let us start with the despising the birthright Edom had which he sold for a bowl of lentils. Then, his desire to murder his brother Ya’akov.
Or, what his descendants, the Amalekites did to the Israelites in the desert murdering the weak, the old, the women and children, as soon as we left Egypt. The Amalekites wasted no time when they learned that Ya’akov’s children had left Egypt and made their way to the Sinai Peninsula (Exo 17).
Esav must have sworn his grandson Amalek and his descendants that they would forever remember what Ya’akov had done to him when he stole his birthright, birthright he sold, even if it takes to the end of days. According to Num 24:20, the Amalekites did not come alone to kill Israel, but other nations came with them; this is how determined was Amalek to revenge his grandfather Edom.
What Edom’s descendants did was so hateful in the eyes of Elohim that Mosheh commanded Israel to blot out even the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens (Deu 25:17-19). The reason of this severity is distinctly given because they were very cruel and bloody people seeking to utterly to destroy Israel. (See Exo_17:8-16; Num_14:45; Deu_25:17-19; Jdg_6:3-6; 1Sa_15:33; 1Sa_15:18).
But above all, the most barbarous of all cruelties, that of Haman the Agagite, one of the descendants of Agag, the king of the Amalekites, read Est_3:1-15. Had King Shaul utterly wiped out every man, woman, and child as he had been instructed, there would have been no Haman (Est_3:10, Est_9:24) to avenge the Amalekites against Israel.
Or, what Edom did when he did not let Israel pass over through his land and came against them with many men (Num 20).
Or, when the descendants of Edom along with the Ishmaelites (Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arabs), Moabites (central Jordan), the Hagarites (Egypt), Geval (northern Lebanon), the Ammonites (northern Jordan), the Philistines (Gaza, Hamas), Tsor (southern Lebanon), and Ashshur (Iraq and Syria), will summon in accord to destroy Israel as it is according to the prophetic Psalm 83.
This hostility of Edom arose from envy at the election of Israel and the blessings his father blessed Ya’akov (Gen_27:41), which was transmitted to his descendants. On the other hand, Israel is always commanded to keep friendly and brotherly towards Edom, as we find this in Deu_2:4-5 and Deu_23:7, because he is his brother.
Having said all that, we see that there was a strong reason why YHVH chose Avraham, not Iyov, for His Covenant. Although, Iyov was a righteous man in the eyes of YHVH, he was from the cursed lineage of Esav, which would make him unfit for the Covenant.
However, that does not mean that Esav’s descendants cannot be a part of the Covenant, not at all. But, what it means is that as a nation Esav (who is Edom) could not serve as a nation of priests and be a light to the world because of the hatred and cruelty towards his brother Israel, because YHVH had spoken.
But, as individuals the Edomites can become of Israel, as Kalev (Caleb) the son of Yephunneh, the Kenezite (see Num_32:12, Jos_14:6, Jos_14:14), the descendants of Esav (see Gen_36:2-4, Gen_36:10-12). Unlike Iyov, Kalev chose to be a part of Israel; and because he chose to be a part of Israel, he was blessed with even more: to be a leader in Israel and to enter the Promised Land.
For more insight on the matter, please, refer to the articles “The Time When the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will Exalt Against Israel’s Borders” and “Within Three Years the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is to be Despised” from Prophecy Insight.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.