Since the Hebrew Bible—Christians’ Old Testament—focuses on the people Israel, why doesn’t it begin with Abraham or Moses?
The answer is deceptively simple. The Bible makes clear that no one can claim exclusive religious truth. All humanity, children of the same parents—Adam and Eve—can know God. In fact, many non-Israelites do.
Thus the Bible starts at what is truly the very beginning—creation. In citing humanity’s common parents—and their monotheistic roots—the Bible provides instructive commentary on today’s national and global religious tensions that have spurred so much hatred and violence. Read in context and with humility, the Bible makes a strong case for acceptance among and between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Nothing could be more important in a world in which zealots overcome with egoism equate believing differently with being wrong and an enemy of God.
GOD’S OTHERS reveals 25 fascinating, often-overlooked stories of God’s relationships with all humanity. Some non-Israelites in the Bible experience direct encounters with God. These Gentiles in the Bible include Abimelech, king of Gerar; Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian concubine and “grandmother” of the Arab peoples; Balaam, the Midianite prophet; and Job, an Uzzite, who questions God’s justice and “sees” God in a tempest.
Others experience God through history and miracle. The Pharaoh of the Exodus fails to learn from ten plagues and finds disaster in the Reed Sea. Rahab, a harlot in Jericho, protects Joshua’s spies and survives the city’s destruction. (The Rabbis are particularly kind to her, although the Sages produce an X-rated comment as well.) Ruth, a Moabite, clings to her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, and becomes the great-grandmother of King David. (Why does the Bible acknowledge this incursion into the family tree?) Gentile sailors and the people of Nineveh—capital of the Assyrian empire that destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel—teach Jonah about righteousness.
Along the way, you’ll also run into “old friends”—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel; Joseph; Moses, Aaron and Miriam; Joshua and Solomon. GOD’S OTHERS also has much to tell us about their humanity and how it reflects our own.
You’ll also enjoy stimulating introductory chapters probing claims of excusive religious truth and establishing monotheism as humanity’s natural religious state. And you’ll find answers to the question “So now what?” The summary chapter, Beyond Tolerance, suggests that all adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths can find new and effective ways to relate to others.
Told with a storyteller’s flair and enriched by traditional and modern commentary that adds perspective to the biblical narrative—Jewish tradition never isolates biblical passages without providing context—GOD’S OTHERS offers new perspectives demonstrating that we are all children of the same Creator and worthy of equal respect.