THE greater part of the Book of Genesis is taken up with the history of the Patriarchs. After the confusion of tongues the next great event is the call of Abraham. In obedience to this call he leaves the East and comes to Canaan. What follows is the family history of the progenitors of Israel, ending with the settlement of the whole clan in Egypt. Abraham himself lives the nomad life in Canaan. He pitches his tent at different points from Shechem to the border of Egypt, on occasion going into Egypt itself. Isaac leads a more settled life, being found for the most part in the Negeb or South Country. Jacob is a man of many wanderings, spending his youth in Canaan, but going to the East for his wives, returning to Canaan with great possessions, and emigrating to Egypt in his old age.
The many duplicates in the story and the inconsistencies of its parts cause us to pursue the analysis which we have already begun. It is not difficult to discover the main strands of the narrative, which have now become three in number. The framework continues to be furnished by the Priestly writer, whose fondness for numbers and for orderly arrangement we have had occasion to notice. If we had his book alone, our material would be very limited. In the life of Abraham he begins with a genealogy which gives the Patriarch his place in the line of Seth. The emigration from Ur-Kasdim to Haran and from Haran to Canaan is narrated very briefly. The separation from Lot requires but a single sentence. The only incidents of importance to the writer are: the covenant between God and the Patriarch, which is ratified by the seal of circumcision; the promise of a son, which is followed by the birth of Isaac; and the death of Sarah, which gives occasion for the purchase of the cave of Machpelah. This can hardly be called a life of Abraham; it is the barest outline designed to embody a theory of universal history.