cover image Abraham: The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer

Abraham: The World's First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer

Alan M. Dershowitz. Schocken/Nextbook, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4293-5

In this fresh commentary, Dershowitz compares the words and actions of the biblical Abraham to the various historical archetypes of the Jewish lawyer. He asserts that Abraham may be seen as the "first Jewish lawyer," exercising the legal roles of iconoclast, advocate, collaborator, and negotiator. For example, scholars and Bible students have debated how best to understand the fact that while Abraham questioned the justice of God's intent to destroy the Sodomites, he failed to challenge God's command to sacrifice Isaac. In the first case, notes Dershowitz, Abraham acted as a legal advocate, zealous to defend his unrelated and almost certainly guilty client; in the second, when he fails to argue on behalf of his own son, he bears a disturbing resemblance to certain Jewish lawyers complicit, by their silence, in immoral acts against Jews by those in power. At once frank and wry, Dershowitz demonstrates how the Jewish value of the rule of law, and the actions of Jewish lawyers themselves, have contributed to the pursuit of justice. Clear and accessible, with endnotes to please scholars, this book will likely appeal to both Jews and non-Jews. (Oct.)