1. Briefly discuss the concept of a covenant in ancient times, focusing on the content of the covenant with Abraham and including the benefits and responsibilities that Abraham and later Israelites and Ishmaelites had to fulfill.
2. Do you see anything unique about his character such that God would chose him? How does each western religion trace its roots to Abraham?
Let's take a closer look at these interesting questions.
1: Briefly discuss the concept of a covenant in ancient times, focusing on the content of the covenant with Abraham and including the benefits and responsibilities that Abraham and later Israelites and Ishmaelites had to fulfill.
The ancient concept of covenant has similarities to our present view of covenants. For example, a covenant is an agreement between two parties. We have two types of covenants: conditional and unconditional.
(a) A bilateral or a conditional covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant.
(b) An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party. (http://exaltinggod.com/2007/11/05/gods-covenant-with-abram-genesis-157-21-25/)
The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham. Genesis 15:18-21 describes a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, specifically dealing with the dimensions of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants.
See the actual Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12:1-3. For example,"the ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. The only time that both parties of a covenant would pass between the pieces of animals that were being sacrificed was when the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments. Concerning the significance of God alone moving between the halves of the animals, it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it is doubtless to be explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by God. He is the one who binds Himself. God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone" (http://www.gotquestions.org/Abrahamic-covenant.html).
The ancient covenants were about God calling out a special people for Himself through ...
By addressing the questions, this solution discusses various aspects of the Abrahamic covenant. References are provided.