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Abraham

Abraham is the common patriarch of the three "Abrahamic religions"; Jews trace their ancestry from him through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob/Israel, Muslims through his son Ishmael, and Christians claim descent from him in faith.

The story of Abraham is told in chapters 11:26-25:18 of the book of Genesis. It is essentially the history of the establishment of the covenant between Abraham and God: God calls Abraham to leave his land, family and household in Mesopotamia in return for a new land, family and inheritance in Canaan, the promised land; threats to the covenant arise (difficulties in producing an heir, the threat of bondage in Egypt, of lack of fear of God); but all are overcome and the covenant is established. Abraham's story ends with the death and burial of his wife Sarah in the grave which he has purchased in Hebron (a town in southern Judah), followed by the marriage of his heir Isaac to a girl from his own people: these two episodes signify first the right of his descendants to the land, and second the exclusion of the land's previous inhabitants, the Canaanites, from Israel's patrimony.

Narrative in Genesis

Abram's origins and calling

Following the Flood, Terah, the tenth in descent from Noah, fathered Abram, Nahor and Haran, and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in his native Ur of the Chaldees, and Abram married Sarai, who was barren. Terah, with Abram, Sarai and Lot, then departed for Canaan, but settled in a place named Haran, where Terah died at the age of 205. (Genesis 11:27–11:32)

God then appeared to Abram and told him to leave his country and his father's house for a land that He would show him, promising to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless those who blessed him, and curse those who cursed him. (Genesis 12:1–3) Following God's command, at age 75, Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the wealth and persons that they had acquired, and traveled to Shechem in Canaan.

Abram and Sarai

There was a severe famine in the land of Canaan, so that Abram and Lot and their households, travelled south to Egypt. En route, Abram told his wife Sarai, to only say that she was his sister, so that the Egyptians would not kill him. (Genesis 12:10–13) When they entered Egypt, the princes of the Pharaoh praised Sarai's beauty to the Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace, and Abram was given provisions: "oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels". However, God afflicted the Pharaoh and his household with great plagues, (Genesis 12:14–17) and after discovering that Sarai was also Abram's wife, the Pharaoh wanted nothing to do with them. He demanded that he and his household leave immediately, along with all their goods. (Genesis 12:18–20)

Abram and Lot separate

When they came back to the Bethel and Hai area, Abram's and Lot's sizeable numbers of livestock occupied the same pastures ("and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.") This became a problem for the herdsmen who were assigned to each family's cattle. The conflicts between herdsmen had become so troublesome that Abram graciously suggested that Lot choose a separate area, either on the left hand or on the right hand, that there be no conflict amongst "brethren". But Lot chose to go east to the plain of Jordan where the land was well watered everywhere as far as Zoar, and he dwelled in the cities of the plain toward Sodom. Abram went south to Hebron and settled in the plain of Mamre, where he built another altar to worship God. (Genesis 13:1–18)

Abram and Chedorlaomer

During the rebellion of the Jordan River cities against Elam, (Genesis 14:1–9) Abram's nephew, Lot, was taken prisoner along with his entire household by the invading Elamite forces. The Elamite army came to collect booty from the spoils of war, after having just defeated the King of Sodom's armies. (Genesis 14:8–12) Lot and his family, at the time, were settled on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Sodom which made them a visible target. (Genesis 13:12)

One person that escaped capture came and told Abram what happened. Once Abram received this news, he immediately assembled 318 trained servants. Abram's elite force headed north in pursuit of the Elamite army, who were already worn down from the Battle of Siddim. When they caught up with them at Dan, Abram devised a battle strategy plan by splitting his group into more than one unit, and launched a night raid. Not only were they able to free the captives, Abram's unit chased and slaughtered the Elamite King Chedorlaomer at Hobah, just north of Damascus. They freed Lot, as well as his household and possessions, and recovered all of the goods from Sodom that had been taken. (Genesis 14:13–16)

Upon Abram's return, Sodom's King (whom we do not know since the previous king of Sodom, Bera, had perished in Genesis 14:10) came out to meet with him in the Valley of Shaveh, the "king's dale". Also, Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem), a priest of God Most High, brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram and God. Abram then gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything. The king of Sodom then offered to let Abram keep all the possessions if he would merely return his people. Although he released the captives, Abram refused any reward from the King of Sodom, other than the share to which his allies were entitled. (Genesis 14:17–24)

Abrahamic covenant

The word of God came to Abram in a vision and repeated the promise of the land and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram and God made a covenant ceremony, and God told of the future bondage of Israel in Egypt. God described to Abram the land that his offspring would claim: "the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites." (Genesis 15)

Abram and Hagar

Abram and Sarai were trying to make sense of how he would become a progenitor of nations since it had already been 10 years of living in Canaan, and still no child had been born from Abram's seed. Sarai then offered her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, for Abram to consort with so that she may have a child by her, as a wife. Abram consented and had sexual intercourse with Hagar. The result of these actions created a fiery relationship between Hagar and Sarai. (Genesis 16:1–6)

After a harsh encounter with Sarai, Hagar fled toward Shur. En route, an angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar at the well of a spring. He instructed her to return to Sarai for she will bear a son who "shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren." She was told to call her son: Ishmael. Hagar then referred to God as "El-roi", meaning that she had gone on seeing after God saw her. From that day, the well was called Beer-lahai-roi. She then did as she was instructed by returning to Abram in order to have her child. Abram was eighty-six years of age when Ishmael was born. (Genesis 16:7–16)

Abraham and Sarah

Genesis 17 records the inauguration of Abram into God's covenant that was initiated thirteen years ago, as was stated in Genesis 15. Abram is now ninety-nine when God declares Abram's new name: "Abraham, a father of many nations." Abram then received the instructions for the inauguration rite into God's covenant because the time was approaching for him to have a son by his wife, Sarai. The initiation rite was that in order to be part of this "great nation", whether by bloodline or inducted, every male must be circumcised; otherwise it was a breach of contract. Then God declared Sarai's new name: "Sarah" and blessed her. Immediately after Abram's encounter with his God, he had his entire household of men, including himself and Ishmael, circumcised. (Genesis 17:1–27)

Abraham's three visitors

Not long afterward, during the heat of the day, Abraham had been sitting at the entrance of his tent by the terebinths of Mamre. He looked up and saw three men in the presence of God. Then he ran and bowed to the ground to welcome them. Abraham then offered to wash their feet and fetch them a morsel of bread, of which they assented. Abraham rushed to Sarah's tent to order cakes made from choice flour, then he ordered a servant-boy to prepare a choice calf. When all was prepared, he set curds, milk and the calf before them, waiting on them, under a tree, as they ate. (Genesis 18:1–8)

One of the visitors told Abraham that upon his return next year, Sarah would have a son. While at the tent entrance, Sarah overheard what was said and she laughed to herself about the prospect of having a child at their ages. The visitor inquired of Abraham why Sarah laughed at bearing a child at her age, as nothing is too hard for God. Frightened, Sarah denied laughing.

Abraham's plea

After eating, Abraham and the three visitors got up. They walked over to the peak that overlooked the Cities of the Plain to discuss the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah for their detestable sins that were so great, it moved God to action. Because Abraham's nephew was living in Sodom, God revealed plans to confirm and judge these cities. At this point, the two other visitors leave for Sodom. Then Abraham turned to the Lord and pleaded incrementally with Him (from fifty persons to less) that 'if there were at least ten righteous men found in the city, would not God spare the city?' For the sake of ten righteous people, God declared that he would not destroy the city. (Genesis 18:17–33)

When the two visitors got to Sodom to conduct their report, they planned on staying in the city square. However, Abraham's nephew, Lot, met with them and strongly insisted that these two "men" stay at his house for the night. A rally of men stood outside of Lot's home and demanded that they bring out his guests so that they may "know" them. However, Lot objected and offered his virgin daughters to the rally of men instead. They rejected that notion and sought to break Lot's doors down to get to his male guests, thus confirming the "outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah" and sealing their doom. (Genesis 19:12–13)

Early the next morning, Abraham awoke and went to the elevation that looked over the River Jordan plain, at the very spot where he stood before God, the day prior. From his vantage point, he saw what became of the cities of the plain as "dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace." (Genesis 19:27–29) This meant that there was not even ten righteous people in any of those cities. (Genesis 18:32)

Abraham and Abimelech

Abraham settled between Kadesh and Shur in the land of the Philistines. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham openly claimed that Sarah was his sister. Upon discovering this news, King Abimelech had her brought to him. Later, God came to Abimelech in a dream and declared that taking her would result in death because she was a married woman. Abimelech had not laid hands on her, so he inquired if he would also slay a righteous nation, especially since Abraham had claimed that he and Sarah were siblings. In response, God told Abimelech that he did indeed have a blameless heart and that is why he continued to exist. However, should he not return the wife of Abraham back to him, God would surely destroy Abimelech and his entire household. Abimelech was informed that Abraham was a prophet who would pray for him.(Genesis 20:1–7)

Early next morning, Abimelech informed his servants of his dream and approached Abraham inquiring as to why he had brought such great guilt upon his kingdom. Abraham stated that he thought there was no fear of God in that place, and that they might kill him for his wife. Then Abraham defended what he had said as not being a lie at all: "And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." (Genesis 20:12) Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham, and gave him gifts of sheep, oxen, and servants; and invited him to settle wherever he pleased in Abimelech's lands. Further, Abimelech gave Abraham a thousand pieces of silver to serve as Sarah's vindication before all. Abraham then prayed for Abimelech and his household, since the LORD had stricken the women with infertility because of the taking of Sarah. (Genesis 20:8–18)

After living for some time in the land of the Philistines, Abimelech and Phicol, the chief of his troops, approached Abraham because of a dispute that resulted in a violent confrontation at a well. Abraham then reproached Abimelech due to his Philistine servant's aggressive attacks and the seizing of Abraham's well. Abimelech claimed ignorance of the incident. Then Abraham offered a pact by providing sheep and oxen to Abimelech. Further, to attest that Abraham was the one who dug the well, he also gave Abimelech seven ewes for proof. Because of this sworn oath, they called the place of this well: Beersheba. After Abimelech and Phicol headed back to Philistia, Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba and called upon "the name of the LORD, the everlasting God." (Genesis 21:22–34)

Birth of Isaac

As had been prophesied in Mamre the previous year (Genesis 18:14), Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, at the very time which had been spoken. The patriarch, now a hundred years old, named the child "Isaac" (Hebrew yitschaq, laughter) and circumcised him when he was eight days old. (Genesis 21:4) In doing so, the second son of Abraham became the first to undergo the covenant-sign of circumcision at the age God had commanded. (Genesis 17:12) For Sarah, the thought of giving birth and nursing a child, at such an old age, also brought her much laughter, as she declared, "God hath made me to laugh. Every one that heareth will laugh with me." (Genesis 21:6-7)

Isaac continued to grow and on the day he was weaned, Abraham held a great feast to honor the occasion. During the celebration, however, Sarah found Ishmael mocking; an observation that would begin to clarify the birthright of Isaac. (Genesis 21:8-9)

Abraham and Ishmael

Abraham was fond of his son Ishmael who had grown up to be thirteen years old when his son Isaac was born. However, with Sarah, things were never the same with Ishmael's mother Hagar, back in her life. Now that Sarah had finally borne her own child, she could no longer stand the sight of either Hagar or Ishmael. When the teenager was jesting around, Sarah told Abraham to send the two of them away. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac's inheritance. Abraham was greatly distressed by his wife's words and sought the advice of his God. The Lord told Abraham not to be distressed but to do as his wife commanded. God reassured Abraham that "in Isaac shall seed be called to thee." (Genesis 21:12) He also said that Ishmael would make a nation, "because he is thy seed", too. (Genesis 21:9–13)

Early the next morning, Abraham brought Hagar and Ishmael out together. He gave her bread and water and sent them away. The two wandered the wilderness of Beersheba until her bottle of water was completely consumed. In a moment of despair, she burst in tears. The boy then called to God and upon hearing him, an angel of God confirmed to Hagar that he would become a great nation. A well of water then appeared so that it saved their lives. As the boy grew, he became a skilled archer living in the wilderness of Paran. Eventually his mother found a wife for Ishmael from her home country, the land of Egypt. (Genesis 21:14–21)

Abraham and Isaac

At some point in Isaac's youth, Abraham was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. The patriarch traveled three days until he came to the mount that God told him of. He commanded the servants to remain while he and Isaac proceeded alone into the mount. Isaac carried the wood upon which he would be sacrificed. Along the way, Isaac asked his father where the animal for the burnt offering was, to which Abraham replied "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering". Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was interrupted by "the angel of the LORD", and he saw behind him a ram "caught in a thicket by his horns", which he sacrificed instead of his son. For his obedience he received another promise of numerous descendants and abundant prosperity. After this event, Abraham went to Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1–19)

Later years

Sarah, the only woman in the Hebrew scriptures whose age is stated, was 127 years old when she died. Abraham buried her in the Cave of the Patriarchs (also called the Cave of Machpelah), near Hebron which he had purchased, along with the adjoining field, from Ephron the Hittite and laid her to rest in the cave. (Genesis 23:1–20) In Genesis 25, it is said that Ephron was the son of Zohar.(Genesis 23:1–20)

After the death of Sarah, Abraham took another wife, a concubine named Keturah, who bore him six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. (Genesis 25:1–6)

Historicity and composition of the Abraham narrative

In the early to mid 20th century leading scholars such as William F. Albright and Albrecht Alt believed the patriarchs and matriarchs to be either real individuals or believable composite people living in the "patriarchal age", the 2nd millennium BCE. In the 1970s, however, significant new conclusions about Israel's past and the biblical texts challenged this portrait. The two works largely responsible were Thomas L. Thompson's The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives (1974), and John Van Seters' Abraham in History and Tradition (1975). Thompson's argument, based on archaeology and ancient texts, was that no compelling evidence pointed to the patriarchs living in the 2nd millennium and that the biblical texts reflected 1st millennium conditions and concerns; Van Seters, basing himself on an examination of the patriarchal stories, agreed with Thompson that their names, social milieu and messages strongly suggested that they were Iron Age creations. By the last quarter of the 20th century, "respectable archaeologists given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible historical figures."

The patriarchal stories most likely had a substantial oral prehistory. The purpose of oral tradition is not to record history but to pass on cultural values from one generation to the next: historical facts quickly become garbled, events and characters are invented to serve aims, and variant versions develop beside each other. At some stage in Israels history these oral traditions became part of the written tradition of the Pentateuch, the series of five books which tells of the origins of the world and the people of Israel: a majority of scholars believes this stage goes back to the Persian period, roughly 520-320 BCE.

Name and chronology

Abraham first appears as Abram, until he is renamed by God in Genesis 17:5. Both names are West Semitic. Genesis 17:5 explains the name Abraham as meaning "Father of a Multitude", but this is a folk etymology.

The standard text of the Hebrew Bible places Abraham's birth 1,948 years after the Creation (1948 AM (Anno Mundi, "Year of the World"). The two other major textual traditions have different dates, the translated Greek Septuagint putting it at 3312 AM and the Samaritan version of the Torah at 2247 AM. All three agree that he died at the age of 175. There have been over two hundred attempts to match the biblical chronology to dates in history, two of the more influential being the traditional Jewish dates (Abraham lived 1812 BCE to 1637 BCE), and those of the 17th century Archbishop James Ussher (Abraham lived 1976 BCE to 1801 BCE); but the most that can be said with some degree of certainty is that the standard Hebrew text of Genesis places Abraham in the earlier part of the second millennium BCE.

Abraham in religious traditions

Judaism

Abraham's life can be read in the weekly Torah reading portions, predominantly in the parashot: Lech-Lecha ( לֶךְ-לְךָ ), Vayeira ( וַיֵּרָא ), Chayei Sarah ( חַיֵּי שָׂרָה ), and Toledot ( תּוֹלְדֹת )

Rabbinic Judaism faced a contradiction with Abraham, in that he lived before the laws of the Torah had been revealed to Moses. Therefore, Abraham would not have been knowledgeable of all of the Torah's commandments, besides the instruction of practicing circumcision. The rabbis (traditional teachers and interpreters of the Torah), however, interpreted the narratives of the Torah in Genesis to say that Abraham had in fact known and practiced the Law in its entirety, although there are different interpretations as to how exactly Abraham practiced different aspects of the law.

Christianity

In the Christian Bible (New Testament), Abraham's significance lies in his unwavering faith. In Romans 4, Abraham's merit is associated less with obedience to the divine will than in his faith in God's ultimate grace. It is his faith that provides him the merit for God's having chosen him for the covenant in the first place, and the covenant becomes one of faith.

The New Testament also sees Abraham as an obedient man of God, and Abraham's interrupted attempt to offer up Isaac is seen as the supreme act of perfect faith in God. "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called', concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." (Hebrews 11:17–19) The imagery of a father sacrificing his son is seen as a type of God the Father offering his Son on Golgotha.

The traditional view in Christianity is that the chief promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 is that through Abraham's seed all the people of earth would be blessed. Notwithstanding this, John the Baptist specifically taught that merely being of Abraham's seed was no guarantee of salvation. It is not descent from Abraham to which importance is attached; rather, it is to practising the virtues attributed to Abraham in Genesis.

The Roman Catholic Church calls Abraham "our father in Faith", in the Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Canon, recited during the Mass (see Abraham in the Catholic liturgy). He is also commemorated in the calendars of saints of several denominations: on 20 August by the Maronite Church, 28 August in the Coptic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East (with the full office for the latter), and on 9 October by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. He is the patron saint of those in the hospitality industry.

The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as the "Righteous Forefather Abraham", with two feast days in its liturgical calendar. The first time is on 9 October (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 9 October falls on 22 October of the modern Gregorian Calendar), where he is commemorated together with his nephew "Righteous Lot". The other is on the "Sunday of the Forefathers" (two Sundays before Christmas), when he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. Abraham is also mentioned in the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, just before the Anaphora. Abraham and Sarah are invoked in the prayers said by the priest over a newly married couple at the Sacred Mystery of Crowning (i.e., the Sacrament of Marriage).

Islam

Ibrāhīm (Abraham) is an important figure in the Quran, mentioned in 25 chapters, briefly or in detail. Muslims regard him as a prophet and patriarch, the archetype of the perfect Muslim, and the revered reformer of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Islamic traditions consider Ibrāhīm (Abraham) the father of Islam (which is also called millat Ibrahim, the "religion of Abraham"), and that his purpose and mission throughout his life was to proclaim the Oneness of God. When Ibrahim (Abraham) was asked for sacrifice and took Ismā'īl (Ishmael) to the place when he was about to use the knife, God placed a sheep under his hand. From that day onward, every Eid al-Adha ('Īd al-'Aḍḥa - عيد الأضحى) once a year Muslims around the world slaughter a sheep to follow the path of Ibrāhīm (Abraham) that is called Qurbani sacrifice.

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Title: New Hand Carved Marble or Wood Statue of Abraham
Item Number: KRNM-842
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KRNM-842-New hand carved marble or wood statue of Abraham. Finishes and colors to your specifications. Dimensions: Available in sizes 3 feet and taller. Call for pricing....