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Abraham Sacrificing Isaac by Rembrandt

Abraham (Hebrew אַבְרָהָם) lived in Ur approximately 1800 BC. His story is told in the book of Genesis. He is credited in the Bible as the father of Judaism and the recipient of a covenant with God. Held up as an example of faith to all Christians, Jews, and Muslims, Abraham migrated to Canaan in obedience to God's command. In the Bible, Abraham had two important children, Ishmael and Isaac. The descendants of Isaac became the Israelites as chronicled in the Bible. The Arabs claim to be descended from Ishmael, although this is not discussed in the Bible itself.

Abraham was married to Sarah, but was childless. God came to him and told him his descendents would be as numerous as the sand on the shore. As time went on and Sarah had still not conceived, Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to Abraham to have children. Ishmael was born from this union. (Genesis 16: 1-5). Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. (Genesis 16:16) Abraham had his son of the covenant through his wife Sarah when he was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90, beyond normal child bearing years at that time. When Isaac was still young, Sarah told Abraham to send away Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham complied.

The most famous story of Abraham dealt with his son Isaac, when Abraham was told by God to take him up into the mountains and sacrifice him. (Genesis 22:1-14) Abraham did as he was told, but at the last moment an angel of the Lord told him to stop and another sacrifice was there to be put in his place, "for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me."[1] Christians see this as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus.

In response to Abraham's display of love for God by willing to sacrifice his only beloved son, "The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said:[2]

I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.


  1. Genesis 22:12
  2. Genesis 22:15-18