"I started with Abraham for two reasons. First, he's really the beginning of the story as far as the Hebrews are concerned. He's the guy who makes the deal with the new God. The tradition starts out as a negotiation. That's really the basis of Judaism: this guy negotiates with a new and powerful God, they make a contract - the covenant - and the rest is the playing out of that deal.
He's also really different from how people know him. His story - and those of the people around him - are some of the weirdest in the Bible. Weird sex magick, fighting giants, offering daughters to angry neighbours.
The Akedah is a particularly great place to start because it sets up the Bible's biggest theme: people who sacrifice their children are fucked up. It's time to quit with the sacrifice of the first son and get on with civilization. (Of course, this whole dynamic gets reversed in the New Testament, with God sacrificing *his* first son to *us.*
...Where we get all the weirdness, really, is in how the story is used over the next centuries. I've already gotten shit for talking about this, but the customary interpretation of this story about the sacrifice of Isaac being a demonstration of Abraham's love of God really didn't come into common acceptance until the Crusades. Many Jews felt it was better to kill their children than have them fall into the hands of the Crusaders, who might rape, torture, or simply abduct them.
But to the first hearers, the meaning of the story would have been very clear: stop burning your children to the god Moloch. There has been a change in management, and you are no longer required to do this.
I mean, look at Abraham. In the original Torah text, he only needs to be asked once to kill Isaac. But he needs to be told *twice* to put down the damn knife! "