A Biography of Abraham
At the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, the Sumerian capital of Ur was at the height of its splendor. Situated on the Euphrates river halfway between the Persian Gulf and modern Baghdad, in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, it was the most highly developed in the ancient world. For centuries Ur stood as a center of culture and religion with extreme advancement in arts, crafts, and commerce. It later became known as Ur of the Chaldees after the Chaldeans entered southern Babylonia centuries later.
It was here at the height of its splendor, when the famous Ziggurats were being built, that Abram (meaning high or exalted father) was born about the year 1996 BCE.
He left Ur with his family and traveled northwest along the Euphrates to the trade city of Haran. Here at age 75, Abram got a personal call from God to leave his home, family and society behind to follow God. God told him to go into a strange land which God would give to him.
Taking his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot plus his possessions, he departed without a hint of reluctance.
Abraham in obeying God, moved south into the area of Canaan, to Shechem and Beth-el, where God told him that He would give this land to his descendants. Abram had to trust God totally on this since the land was already populated by the war-like Canaanites. It became even more of a test of faith when a famine hit the land forcing the pilgrims into Egypt.
After their return Abram and Lot parted company over sufficient grazing land for their herds and flocks. Abram, as the senior of the two, had the right to choose his territory first, but gave the choice to Lot who selfishly choose the most desirable land for himself. Lot chose the plain of the Jordan valley where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located. This choice was to backfire on him later. Abraham was left with the hills to the west of the plain.
When Lot departed, God appeared unto Abram again and told him that He would give him and his descendants for an inheritance all the land that he could see in every direction.
Lot moved to Sodom and was captured when Sodom was attacked by local tribal chieftains. Abram armed his servants and pursued the attackers and recovered his nephew and his goods.
God reaffirmed the covenant originally made with Abram, when Abram started to get concerned about his lack of offspring. Abraham was advanced in age.
As was custom in the ancient world, when a wife was childless, she was obliged to provide a substitute (usually a servant) to bear a child and ensure the perpetuation of the family. Sarai provided her Egyptian handmaid Hagar who bore a son Ishmael to Abram when he was 86 years old. (The descendants of Ishmael who also had twelve sons, are the Arabs.)
Thirteen years later at age 99, God appeared unto Abram to renew the covenant and expand the promises. Abram was to "walk before Me and be upright." God would bless Abram so that he was a "father of a multitude of nations."
God changed Abram's name to Abraham ("the father of many nations") and the name of his wife to Sarah ("princess"). At this time, God also established circumcision as a sign of the covenant.
God told them that the covenant would not be established through Ishmael, but through a son which Sarah would bear one year from then. Abraham laughed when he heard this since he would be 100 years old and Sarah 90 when she would give birth. God then said the name of the son would be called Isaac ("he laughs").
Not long after, God and two angels visited Abraham on their way to Sodom. God again stated that Sarah would produce a son. Sarah overhearing this laughed since she would be ninety years old and well past the age of bearing children. God asked her if anything was to hard for the Eternal God?
God then told Abraham that He intended to destroy the wicked cities of the plain. Abraham fearing for Lot and his family asked if God would destroy the righteous with the wicked? Starting with 50, he worked his way down to 10 which probably was the total for Lot and his family. God would not destroy the city if He found 10 righteous. Because of Abraham's favour with God, four were spared and heeding the call to flee were taken out of the city before its destruction.
At the appointed time Sarah gave birth of Isaac, the son of promise.
Many years later, God gave Abraham the supreme test. He asked Abraham to offer his only son Isaac to Him as a sacrificial offering. Unknown to Abraham, he was cast into the roll as a type of God the Father allowing the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Abraham trusted God that everything would work out since God had promised this son Isaac and through him would the blessings come. This would be impossible if Isaac was dead. Abraham knew that God could even raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill the promises so he obeyed God without question. Early the next morning he rose early and departed with Isaac.
As Abraham was about to slay his son as an offering, God provided a ram as a substitute.
Abraham passed this supreme test and God made the covenant with him unconditional. It was now irrevocable and irreversible.
After the death of Sarah, Abraham sent his servant to find a suitable wife for Isaac. He returned with Rebekah the granddaughter of Abraham's brother.
Abraham then married Keturah and she bore him six more sons.
At the age of 175 years, Abraham died and was buried with his Sarah in a cave near the city of Hebron. After God's calling, Abraham spend the rest of his life--100 years--as a stranger and pilgrim wandering, but never receiving the promises.
Unto Isaac and Rebekah was born Esau and Jacob. Through Jacob would go the covenant promises. He was to have 12 sons who would become the 12 tribes of Israel.
The birthright promise would go to Joseph while the sceptre promise would go to Judah.
This story and the promises can be clearly seen on the diagrams you will see on this site.
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