Abraham (אַבְרָהָם "Father/Leader of many", (sometime between 2200 and 1400 BCE) Classical Hebrew Avraham, Tiberian Hebrew; Arabic ابراهيم Ge'ez አብርሃም ) is regarded as a patriarch of Israelite religion, recognized by Judaism and later Christianity, and a very important prophet in Islam as well as in the Baha'i Faith. Traditions regarding his life are given in both Genesis (Chapters 11-25) and also in the Qur'an.

His original name was Abram (אַבְרָם "High/Exalted father/leader", Classical Hebrew Avram, Tiberian Hebrew ʾAḇrām); he was the foremost of the Biblical patriarchs. Later in life he went by the name Abraham. There is no contemporary mention of his life, and no source earlier than Genesis mentions him.

Calling of AbrahamEdit

Yahweh called Abram and his family to go to "the land I will show you", and promised to bless him and make him (though hitherto childless) a great nation. Trusting this promise, Abram journeyed down to Shechem, and at the sacred tree (compare Gen. 25:4, Joshua 24:26, Judges 9:6) received a new promise that the land would be given unto his seed (descendant or descendants). Having built an altar to commemorate the theophany, he removed to a spot between Bethel and Ai, where he built another altar and called upon (i.e. invoked) the name of Yahweh (Gen. 12:1-9).

Sarah and PharaohEdit

Driven by a famine to take refuge in Egypt (26:11, 41:57, 42:1), Abram feared lest his wife's beauty should arouse the evil designs of the Egyptians and thus endanger his own safety, and alleged that Sarai was his sister. This did not save her from the Pharaoh, who took her into the royal harem and enriched Abram with herds and servants. But when Yahweh "plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues" Abram and Sarai left Egypt and went back to their old spot. Here he dwelt for some time, until strife arose between his herdsmen and those of Lot. Abram thereupon proposed to Lot that they should separate, and allowed his nephew the first choice. Lot preferred the fertile land lying east of the Jordan River, while Abram, after receiving another promise from Yahweh, moved down to the oaks of Mamre in Hebron and built an altar.

Chedorlaomer and MelchisedekEdit

Some years after this, Lot being taken prisoner by Chedorlaomer and his allies, then warring against the kings of Sodom, and the neighboring places, Abraham with his household pursued the conquerors, overtook and defeated them at Dan, near the springs of Jordan and retook the spoil, together with Lot. At his return, passing near Salem (supposed to be the city afterwards called Jerusalem), Melchisedek, king of that city, and priest of the Most High God, came out and blessed him, and presented him with bread and wine for his own refreshment and that of his army; or as some have thought, offered bread and wine to God, as a sacrifice of thanksgiving on Abraham's behalf.

The birth of IshmaelEdit

Main article: Ishmael Main article: Hagar (biblical)

After this, the Lord renewed his promises to Abraham, with fresh assurances that he should possess the land of Canaan and that his posterity should be as numerous as the stars of heaven. As Abraham had no children, and could no longer expect any by his wife Sarah, he complied with her solicitations, and took her servant Hagar as a wife; imagining, that if he should have children by her, God might perform the promises which he had made to him of a numerous posterity. Soon after her marriage, Hagar, finding she had conceived, assumed a superiority over her mistress, and treated her with contempt; but Sarah complained to Abraham who told her that Hager was still her servant. Hagar, therefore, being harshly treated by Sarah, fled; but an angel, appearing to her in the wilderness, commanded her to return to her master, and to submit to her mistress's authority. Hagar therefore returned and gave birth to Ishmael.

Changing the name of Abram and SaraiEdit

Thirteen years later after the birth of Ishmael, the Lord renewed his covenant and promises with Abraham, changing his name from Abram, or an elevated father, to Abraham, or father of a great multitude. The Lord changed the name of Sarai, my princess, into Sarah, THE princess; that is, of many; no longer confined to one. As a token and confirmation of the covenant now entered into, he enjoined Abraham to be himself circumcised, and to circumcise all the males in his family. He also promised him a son by Sarah, his wife, to be born within a year.

Promise of a sonEdit

Main article: Isaac

Abraham, sitting at the door of his tent, in the valley of Mamre, saw three persons walking by; and, with true oriental hospitality, immediately invited them to take refreshment, washed their feet, and hasted to prepare them meat. When they had eaten, they asked for Sarah. Abraham answering that she was in her tent, one of them said: "I will certainly return unto thee, according to the time of life, and lo! Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Upon hearing this, Sarah laughed; but one of the angelic visitors rebuked her unbelief, by remarking, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? In a year I will return, as I promised, and Sarah shall have a son" (Gen 19).

Sodom and GomorrahEdit

Main article: Sodom and Gomorrah
Main article: Lot

The enormous sins of Sodom, Gomorra, and the neighboring cities, being now filled up, three angels were sent to inflict upon them the divine vengeance. After visiting Abraham, they were ready to departed and Abraham accompanied them towards Sodom, whither two of them (who proved to be divine messengers) continued their journey. The third remained with Abraham, and informed him of the approaching destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. Abraham interceded, praying that if fifty righteous persons were found therein, the city should be spared; he reduced the numbers gradually to ten; but this number could not be found (or God, in answer to his prayers, would have averted his design). Lot, being the only righteous was preserved from the disaster.

Sarah and AbimelechEdit

Main article: Abimelech

Sarah having conceived according to the divine promise, Abraham left the plain of Mamre and went south, to Gerar, where Abimelech reigned; and again fearing that Sarah might be forced from him, and himself to put to death, he called her here, as he had done in Egypt 'sister'. Abimelech took her to his house, designing to marry her but God having in dream informed him that she was Abraham's wife he restored her with great presents.

Birth of IsaacEdit

Sarah was in the same year of Abimelech having his dream delivered of Isaac whom Abraham circumcised according to the covenant stipulation. For several years the two wives and the two children continued to live together; but at length Ishmael became apparently jealous of the affection shown to Isaac by his father, so that Sarah insisted that he and his mother should be dismissed. After very great reluctance, Abraham complied; as God informed him that it was according to the appointments of Providence, for the future ages of the world.


Main article: Beersheba

About the same time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his general, to conclude an alliance with Abraham, who made that prince a present of seven ewe-lambs out of his flock, in consideration that a well that he had opened should be his own property; and they called the place Beer-sheba or "the well of swearing". Here Abraham resided some time.

Sacrifice of IsaacEdit

Main article: Binding of Isaac

God directed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, on a mountain which he would show him. Obedient to the divine command, Abraham took his son, and two servants, and went towards mount Moriah, on which the temple afterwards stood. On their journey, Isaac said: "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the sacrifice for a burnt-offering?". Abraham answered, that God would provide one. When they arrived after three days within the sight of the mountain, Abraham left his servants, and ascended it with his son only. Having bound Isaac, he prepared to sacrifice him; but when about to give the blow, an angel from heaven cried out to him "Don't hurt the boy or harm him in any way!" the angel said. "Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son." Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son. The angel called out from heaven a second time: "You were willing to offer the Lord your only son, and so he makes you this solemn promise, I will bless you and give you such a large family, that someday your descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand along the beach. They will defeat their enemies and take over the cities where their enemies live. You have obeyed me, and so you and your descendants will be a blessing to all nations on earth."

Death of SarahEdit

Several years afterwards, Sarah died in Hebron where Abraham came to mourn her, and to perform funeral offices. He addressed the people at the city gate, entreating them to allow him to burry his wife among them; for, being a stranger and having no land of his own, he could claim no right of interment in any sepulchre of that country. He, therefore, bought of Ephron, one of the inhabitants of the fields of Machpelah, with the cave and sepulchre in it, at the price of four hundred shekels of silver and buried Sarah with due solemnities, according to the custom of the country

A wife for IsaacEdit

Abraham, being reminded by this occurrence, probably, of his own great age, and the consequent uncertainty of his life, became solicitous to secure an alliance between Isaac and a female branch of his own family. Eliezer his steward was therefore sent into Mesopotamia, to fetch from the country and kindred of Abraham a wife for his son Isaac. Eliezer executed his commission with prudence, and returned with Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, granddaughter of Nahor, and, consequently, Abraham's niece.

Last years of AbrahamEdit

The life of the patriarch was prolonged for many years after this event. After the death of Sarah, he slept with a concubine named Keturah and had children with her. He died of the age of 175 years. He was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael, in the cave of Machpelah, where he had deposited the remains of his beloved Sarah

See alsoEdit

Sons of AbrahamEdit

Sons of Abraham by wife in order of birth
Hagar Ishmael (1)
Sarah Isaac (2)
Keturah Zimran Jokshan Medan Midian Ishbak Shuah

Genealogy of AbrahamEdit

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament's Genealogy from Adam to David
v  d  e
Creation to Flood Adam Seth Enosh Kenan Mahalalel Jared Enoch Methuselah Lamech Noah Shem
Origin of the Patriarchs Arpachshad Shelah Eber Peleg Reu Serug Nahor Terah Abraham Isaac Jacob
Nationhood to Kingship Judah Pharez Hezron Ram Amminadab Nahshon Salmon Boaz Obed Jesse David

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