According to the biblical book of Genesis, Abraham left Ur, in Mesopotamia, because God called him to found a new nation in an undesignated land that he later learned was Canaan. He obeyed unquestioningly the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant that his “seed” would inherit the land.
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The Story Of Abraham In The Bible
Abraham, originally called Abram, was the first of the Hebrew patriarchs and a figure revered by the three great monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to the biblical book of Genesis, Abraham left Ur, in Mesopotamia, because God called him to found a new nation in an undesignated land that he would later learn was Canaan. He is the father of Isaac, whom he almost sacrificed at God’s command, and the ancestor of the Jewish people. Abraham and his wife Sarah taught people about the one and invisible God. His story is told in the Book of Genesis and revolves around the themes of posterity and land.
In the Book of Genesis, the story of Abraham is a story of the conversation between God and the people of Israel. That long conversation begins with Abraham, a great man of faith. When God first called Abraham, he was known as Abram. But God changed his name to Abraham, a name that means, “the father is exalted.”
The Call of Abraham
God said to Abraham, “Leave the land you have always known. Go from your homeland to a new land that I will show you. I will make you and your people a great nation. I will bless you. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. You will lead your people and your name will be great.”
Abraham followed God’s direction and left his home. Abraham, his wife Sarai, and Abraham’s nephew, Lot, set out for the land of Canaan with the people of Haran.
When they arrived in Canaan, God spoke to Abraham, “I will give this land to you and your descendants.” So Abraham built an altar there.
Short Story of Abraham In The Bible
The narrative of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis revolves around the themes of descendants and land promised by God. Abraham is commanded by God to depart the house of his father Terah and move to the land formerly given to Canaan but which God now promises to Abraham and his offspring. Sarah, also known as Sarai, is the wife of Abraham.
God tells Abraham to depart his homeland for a land that he will show him, ensuring to “make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless those who blessed him, and curse “him” that curses him.” Obeying God’s call, Abraham brought his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, and the wealth that they had acquired and traveled to Canaan.
Because there was a harsh famine in the land of Canaan, Abraham and Sarah traveled south to Egypt. On the journey to Egypt, Abram told Sarah to name herself his sister, worrying that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take his wife, declaring, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘this is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” (Genesis 12:11-13)
When summoned before Pharaoh, Sarah stated that Abraham was her brother, and the king gave them gifts, thinking he was a sibling of the beautiful Sarah. It is probable that Sarah received her Egyptian servant Hagar during this stay. However, when God afflicted Pharaoh’s family with plagues, Pharaoh then realized that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and commanded that they leave Egypt.
Ten years after returning to Canaan, Abraham and Sarah were still childless. Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her Egyptian handmaid Hagar, to which he agreed. This produced stress between Sarah and Hagar, as Sarah protested to her husband that the handmaid no longer regarded her as an authority. Hagar fled from her mistress but returned after angels came to her. She then gave birth to Abraham’s son, Ishmael.
In Genesis 17, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God declared his name “Abraham”—”a””father of many nations”—and”gave him the covenant of circumcision. Abraham was given certainty that Sarah would have a son. Three men paid Abraham and Sarah a visit shortly after that. One of the guests told Abraham that upon his arrival next year, Sarah would have a son. While at the tent entrance, Sarah heard what was said, and she laughed to herself about the possibility of having a child at their ages. Sarah soon became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham at the very moment that had been predicted. Abraham, then a hundred years old, named the child “Isaac.” Isaac would go on to become a crucial character in the biblical narrative, fathering Jacob, the eventual patriarch of the Israelites.
10 Interesting Facts About Abraham In The Bible
One of the best-known stories about Abraham is that he trusted God enough to be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac if God wanted him to do so. If you know this story, you also know that God provided a ram to replace Isaac on the altar at the last minute. But here are some things you might not know about this patriarch:
1. Abraham was already an old man when God called him to leave his home.
In Sunday school, you probably learned that Abraham was an old man when God promised him a son. But Abraham was an old man before he even began his journey with the one true God.
At 75, Abraham (then known as Abram) was living in Haran when God made himself known and called Abram to leave. Even then—back when people lived a lot longer than they do now—75 was still a long time to settle into your ways. But God invited Abram into a new relationship with his Creator and into a whole new world and life view.
It was 25 years later—when Abram was even older—that he and his wife Sarah were finally gifted with Isaac. All of which is a great reminder that it’s never too late to submit to God’s plan for your life!
2. Scholars consider Mesopotamia to be one of the earliest civilizations in history.
Scripture tells us that Abram was a native of Ur, a city located in the region of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is credited with being the first known civilization in the world, and according to archaeologists, Ur was a major port city and urban center located on the Persian Gulf.
It was from this seaside city that God called Abram. Having spent his life in a bustling city at the edge of the water, Abram must have found a nomad’s life a big transition.
3. Abram’s parents worshipped idols.
Abram may have been called from city life to remove him from temptations at home. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abram’s father was a worshiper of idols, which likely means that idol worship was familiar to Abram as well. Leaving behind his father’s house meant leaving behind everything that was familiar, including his religion. This new God, Yahweh, must have seemed very mysterious because he chose to communicate directly with Abram, while the false idols of Abram’s youth were understood to be distant gods who did not personally connect. This difference may have been one of the deciding factors in Abram’s choice to follow God’s leading.
4. Abraham’s lies about Sarah being his sister weren’t exactly lies.
Every marriage is full of mistakes as two people become one, but Abraham made some big mistakes and didn’t seem to learn from them! While traveling, Abraham told two different kings that his wife, Sarah, was actually his sister so that he would not be harmed. (Talk about being in the doghouse!) Fortunately, both kings discovered the truth and returned Sarah to her husband.
But was Abraham actually lying? In Genesis 20:12, after being found out, Abram explained to King Abimelek that Sarah was the daughter of his father but not of his mother. Is this problematic? Not necessarily. Mosaic laws regarding marriage among family members wouldn’t be written for another 500 years. In addition, in the Bible, words like “sister” and “brother” were used loosely and could refer to a more distant relative as well as a true sibling.
5. Abraham was the tenth-generation descendant of Noah.
Every human on earth is a descendant of Noah and his family because the flood wiped out every other family during Noah’s time. Abraham was obviously no exception. Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Abraham was in the line of Shem and was a tenth-generation descendant of Noah. Three generations later, Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his wives had twelve sons who became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
6. Abraham helped usher in a promised nation and promised land, but all he ever owned was a burial site.
In God’s first promise to Abram, God told him to leave his father’s household to travel to a new land. Abraham was a great example of faith as he ventured off in obedience to God, yet he never experienced the fulfillment of this promise in his lifetime. In fact, Abraham lived his life as a nomad, constantly traveling from place to place. The only land he personally owned was a burial site—a cave in a field Abraham purchased from the Hittites so he could bury Sarah when she died. This burial site served as a representation of the promised land that Joshua would someday conquer.
7. Isaac and Ishmael had six half-brothers.
After Sarah died at the age of 127, Abraham took another wife, Keturah, and together they had six sons. Their names were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. (Genesis 25:1–2). When Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael buried their father with Sarah.
■ Did you learn anything new? Had you known about Abraham’s six sons with Keturah, or had you only heard of Isaac and Ishmael? Abraham left a bustling seaside home to follow God into a nomadic life in the desert. Has God ever called you out of one thing to follow him into something entirely different?
Overall, we see that Abraham was an exemplary individual, not so much in his piety or perfect life (he had his shortcomings, as we saw), but because his life illustrates so many truths of the Christian life. God called Abraham out of the millions of people on the earth to be the object of His blessings. God used Abraham to play a pivotal role in the outworking of the story of redemption, culminating in the birth of Jesus. Abraham is a living example of faith and hope in the promises of God (Hebrews 11:8–10). Our lives should be so lived that, when we reach the end of our days, our faith, like Abraham’s, will remain as an enduring legacy to others.