Note: (Research):Abraham - father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27 ) before his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of t he promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his kindred i n his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his father and his famil y and household, quitted the city of Ur, in which he had hitherto dwelt , and went some 300 miles north to Haran, where he abode fifteen years. T he cause of his migration was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no m ention of this first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, i n Gen. 12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205 year s. Abram now received a second and more definite call, accompanied by a p romise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he took his departure, taking hi s nephew Lot with him, "not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trus ted implicitly to the guidance of Him who had called him. Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand souls, entered o n a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing along the valley of the J abbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed his first encampment at Sichem (G en. 12:6), in the vale or oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north a nd Gerizim on the south. Here he received the great promise, "I will mak e of thee a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehende d not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that he wa s the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming had been long a go predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for some reason not mentioned , he removed his tent to the mountain district between Bethel, then calle d Luz, and Ai, towns about two miles apart, where he built an altar to "J ehovah." He again moved into the southern tract of Palestine, called by t he Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine, compelle d to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of the Hyksos, a Sem itic race which now held the Egyptians in bondage. Here occurred that cas e of deception on the part of Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Ph araoh (Gen. 12:18). Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him wit h presents, recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned t o Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and in gold " (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole party then moved nor thward, and returned to their previous station near Bethel. Here dispute s arose between Lot's shepherds and those of Abram about water and pastur age. Abram generously gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp . 1 Cor. 6:7.) He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situate d, and removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated. Imm ediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the promises alr eady made to him, and then removed to the plain or "oak-grove" of Mamre , which is in Hebron. He finally settled here, pitching his tent unde r a famous oak or terebinth tree, called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18) . This was his third resting-place in the land. Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in Chaldea, Palest ine had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, who brought under tri bute to him the five cities in the plain to which Lot had removed. This t ribute was felt by the inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden , and after twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengea nce of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He rava ged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying the inhabitant s away as slaves. Among those thus treated was Lot. Hearing of the disast er that had fallen on his nephew, Abram immediately gathered from his ow n household a band of 318 armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish ch iefs Mamre, Aner, and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtoo k him near the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army , and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to Hobah, nea r Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the spoils that had bee n carried away. Returning by way of Salem, i.e., Jerusalem, the king of t hat place, Melchizedek, came forth to meet them with refreshments. To hi m Abram presented a tenth of the spoils, in recognition of his characte r as a priest of the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20). In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the grandfather o f Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is called "the Amorite, th e son of Abiramu," or Abram. Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already made to him b y God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The word of the Lord" (a n expression occurring here for the first time) "came to him" (15:1). H e now understood better the future that lay before the nation that was t o spring from him. Sarai, now seventy-five years old, in her impatience , persuaded Abram to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, inten ding that whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own. Ish mael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the heir of the se promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen years old, God again rev ealed yet more explicitly and fully his gracious purpose; and in token o f the sure fulfilment of that purpose the patriarch's name was now change d from Abram to Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that the hei r to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai, though she was no w ninety years old; and it was directed that his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Ab raham and his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcise d (Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent door, h e saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered hospitality, and , seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare which Abraham and Sarah p rovided. One of the three visitants was none other than the Lord, and th e other two were angels in the guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occ asion his promise of a son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Ab raham accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The two a ngels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind and talked wit h Abraham, making known to him the destruction that was about to fall o n that guilty city. The patriarch interceded earnestly in behalf of the d oomed city. But as not even ten righteous persons were found in it, for w hose sake the city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fel l upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen. 19:1-28). After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved southward, and pit ched his tent among the Philistines, near to Gerar. Here occurred that sa d instance of prevarication on his part in his relation to Abimelech th e King (Gen. 20). (See ABIMELECH.) Soon after this event, the patriarch l eft the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about 25 mil es to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was born, Abraham bein g now an hundred years old. A feeling of jealousy now arose between Sara h and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael, was no longer to be regarded as Abraham' s heir. Sarah insisted that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. T his was done, although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (Se e HAGAR ?T0001583; ISHMAEL.) At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness were spent at Beer-sheb a. The next time we see him his faith is put to a severe test by the comm and that suddenly came to him to go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all t he promises, as a sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His fait h stood the test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitatin g obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his son, who m he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was arrested by the angel o f Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled in a thicket near at hand, wa s seized and offered in his stead. From this circumstance that place wa s called Jehovah-jireh, i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises mad e to Abraham were again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word o f God to the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and ret urned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he resided for some y ears, and then moved northward to Hebron. Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); a nd there he buried Sarah. His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac , and for this purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran , Acts 7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen. 11:31) . The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son Bethuel, becam e the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then himself took to wife Keturah , who became the mother of six sons, whose descendants were afterwards kn own as the "children of the east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." A t length all his wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 10 0 years after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was b uried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen. 25:7-10). The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the ancient wor ld, and references to it are interwoven in the religious traditions of al most all Eastern nations. He is called "the friend of God" (James 2:23) , "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9), "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).
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