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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 born in the land of Ur of the chaldeans and named Abram. His family was descended from Shem, one of Noah's sons. His father's name was Terah, his brothers were Nahor and Haran. He was married to his half-sister, Sarai. When his father left Ur, Abram left with him. They stopped at the city of Haran, where Terah died. Abram was then called by God to leave his land. God promised that, if he followed him, he would give him land, descendants, fame, and riches. Abram obeyed God and left Haran at age 75, and took his nephew, Lot, with him. They went onto the land of Canaan, all the way to Shechem. He would also move to a mountain, west of Bethel and east of Ai, where he built an altar to the Lord. [1]

He also moved on to the south and dwelt there for a time until a famine came and he went to Egypt. However, when he arrived he was afraid that, because of his wife's beauty, the egyptians would kill him. So he lied and said that she was his sister instead. Unfortunately, Pharoh then took Sarai into his house. Because of this, God plagued Pharoh and his house. Pharoh ordered Abram and his wife to leave. Abram went back between Bethel and Ai. [2]

After he left Egypt, Abram's men and Lot's men quarrelled for land and water for herds. Abram selflessly offered Lot the best of the land to take. Lot chose to live in the fertile plains of Jordan, near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram moved toward the terebinth trees of Mamre, in Hebron. During this time, God renewed his promise of land and descendants. Abram built an alter where he dwelt to the Lord. [3]

Abram was also a skilled general and fighter. When Lot, his nephew, was taken prisoner during a war between the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, and Goyim against the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Belah. Abram ambushed them and fought for his nephew. He won a great victory against them. After the battle, when Abram went to meet with the King of Sodom in the King's Valley, he met with Melchizedek, King of Salem. Melchizedek blessed Abram and God, for he was High Priest of God. Abram gave him a tithe of all he had. The King of Sodom offered Abram all the riches of the victory, which had been won. However, Abram had none of it. After this, the Lord returned to Abram and renamed him as Abraham (meaning father of many nations) and his wife from Sarai (meaning Princess) to Sarah (meaning Queen.) God also made a covenant with him that included a prophecy of captivity for his descendants, and a promise of deliverance and great land. [4]

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."[5] Christians see this as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus.

In response to Abraham's display of love for God by being willing to sacrifice his only beloved son, "The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said:[6]

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.

After that Abraham's wife Sarah, died. Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred sheckels of silver. There Sarah was buried. After that, Abraham sent his servant back to the land where he came from to find a wife for his son Isaac. His servant's way was prosperous and brought back Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor. Abraham also remarried to Keturah and she bore him six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. [7] Abraham gave all he had to Isaac, and sent his sons away east with gifts. Abraham then died at the age of 175 years. He was buried by his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. [8]


  1. Genesis 11:27-12:9.
  2. Genesis 12:10-20.
  3. Genesis 13.
  4. Genesis 14-15.
  5. Genesis 22:12
  6. Genesis 22:15-18
  7. I Chr 1:32
  8. Genesis23-25:11.