- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
- Included in Naves: Yes
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: No
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: Yes
- Included in BDB: Yes
Father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Genesis 11:27) before his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his father and his family 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. The cause of his migration was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Genesis 12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205 years. Abram now received a second and more definite call, accompanied by a promise from God (Genesis 12:1, 2); whereupon he took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing whither he went" (Hebrews 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed his first encampment at Sichem (Genesis 12:6), in the vale or oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee a great nation," etc. (Genesis 12:2, 3, 7). This promise comprehended not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming had been long ago predicted (Genesis 3:15). Soon after this, for some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again moved into the southern tract of Palestine, called by the Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine, compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Genesis 12:18). Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents, recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Genesis 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Psalms 105:13, 14). The whole party then moved northward, and returned to their previous station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:7.) He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated. Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the promises already 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 under a famous oak or terebinth tree, called "the oak of Mamre" (Genesis 13:18). This was his third resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in Chaldea, Palestine had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew, Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318 armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner, and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook 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, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem, i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the grandfather of Amraphel (Genesis 14:1), one of the witnesses is called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Genesis 13:14). "The word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai, now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own. Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the heir of these promises (Genesis 16). When Ishmael was thirteen years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:4, 5), and the rite of circumcision was instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai, though she was now 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, Abraham and his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised (Genesis 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Genesis 19:1-28).
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Genesis 20). (See ABIMELECH.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about 25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of jealousy now arose between Sarah 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. This was done, although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Genesis 21:12). (See HAGAR; 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-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the test (Hebrews 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead. From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh, i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Genesis 22:19), where he resided for some years, 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 (Genesis 23); and 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 (Genesis 11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Genesis 24). Abraham then himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons, whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the east" (Judges 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Genesis 25:7-10).
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called "the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Galatians 3:9), "the father of us all" (Romans 4:16).
father of a great multitude
Called also Abram.
Son of Terah
Dwells in Beth-El
His questions about the destruction of the righteous and wicked in Sodom
Witnesses the destruction of Sodom
Dwells in Gerar; deceives Abimelech concerning Sarah, his wife
Sarah, his wife, dies
He purchases a place for her burial, and buries her in a cave
Provides a wife for Isaac
Genesis 12:7-8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 18:19; Genesis 20:7; Genesis 21:33; Genesis 22:3-13; Genesis 26:5; Nehemiah 9:7-8; Romans 4:16-18; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23
Ancestors of, idolatrous
(father of a multitude) was the son of Terah, and founder of the great Hebrew nation. (B.C. 1996-1822.) His family, a branch of the descendants of Shem, was settled in Ur of the Chaldees, beyond the Euphrates, where Abraham was born. Terah had two other sons, Nahor and Haran. Haran died before his father in Ur of the Chaldees, leaving a son, Lot; and Terah, taking with him Abram, with Sarai his wife and his grandson Lot, emigrated to Haran in Mesopotamia, where he died.
On the death of his father, Abram, then in the 75th year of his age, with Sarai and Lot, pursued his course to the land of Canaan, whither he was directed by divine command, (Genesis 12:5) when he received the general promise that he should become the founder of a great nation, and that all the families of the earth should be blessed in him.
He passed through the heart of the country by the great highway to Shechem, and pitched his tent beneath the terebinth of Moreh. (Genesis 12:6) Here he received in vision from Jehovah the further revelation that this was the land which his descendants should inherit. (Genesis 12:7) The next halting-place of the wanderer was on a mountain between Bethel and Ai, (Genesis 12:8) but the country was suffering from famine, and Abram journeyed still southward to the rich cornlands of Egypt.
There, fearing that the great beauty of Sarai might tempt the powerful monarch of Egypt and expose his own life to peril, he arranged that Sarai should represent herself as his sister, which her actual relationship to him, as probably the daughter of his brother Haran, allowed her to do with some semblance of truth. But her beauty was reported to the king, and she was taken into the royal harem. The deception was discovered, and Pharaoh with some indignation dismissed Abram from the country. (Genesis 12:10-20) He left Egypt with great possessions, and, accompanied by Lot, returned by the south of Palestine to his former encampment between Bethel and Ai.
The increased wealth of the two kinsmen was the ultimate cause of their separation. Lot chose the fertile plain of the Jordan near Sodom, while Abram pitched his tent among the groves of Mamre, close to Hebron. (Genesis 13:1) ... Lot with his family and possessions having been carried away captive by Chedorlaomer king of Elam, who had invaded Sodom, Abram pursued the conquerors and utterly routed them not far from Damascus. The captives and plunder were all recovered, and Abram was greeted on his return by the king of Sodom, and by Melchizedek king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who mysteriously appears upon the scene to bless the patriarch and receive from him a tenth of the spoil. (Genesis 14:1) ...
After this the thrice-repeated promise that his descendants should become a mighty nation and possess the land in which he was a stranger was confirmed with all the solemnity of a religious ceremony. (Genesis 15:1) ... Ten years had passed since he had left his father's house, and the fulfillment of the promise was apparently more distant than at first. At the suggestion of Sarai, who despaired of having children of her own, he took as his concubine Hagar, her Egyptian main, who bore him Ishm'l in the 86th year of his age. (Genesis 16:1) ... [HAGAR; ISHM'L] But this was not the accomplishment of the promise. Thirteen years elapsed, during which Abram still dwelt in Hebron, when the covenant was renewed, and the rite of circumcision established as its sign.
This most important crisis in Abram's life, when he was 99 years old, is marked by the significant change of his name to Abraham, "father of a multitude;" while his wife's from Sarai became Sarah. The promise that Sarah should have a son was repeated in the remarkable scene described in ch. 18. Three men stood before Abraham as he sat in his tent door in the heat of the day. The patriarch, with true Eastern hospitality, welcomed the strangers, and bade them rest and refresh themselves. The meal ended, they foretold the birth of Isaac, and went on their way to Sodom. Abraham accompanied them, and is represented as an interlocutor in a dialogue with Jehovah, in which he pleaded in vain to avert the vengeance threatened to the devoted cities of the plain. (Genesis 18:17-33)
In remarkable contrast with Abraham's firm faith with regard to the magnificent fortunes of his posterity stand the incident which occurred during his temporary residence among the Philistines in Gerar, whither he had for some cause removed after the destruction of Sodom. It was almost a repetition of what took place in Egypt a few years before. At length Isaac, the long-looked for child, was born. Sarah's jealousy aroused by the mockery of Ishm'l at the "great banquet" which Abram made to celebrate the weaning of her son, (Genesis 21:9) demanded that, with his mother Hagar, he should be driven out. (Genesis 21:10) But the severest trial of his faith was yet to come. For a long period the history is almost silent.
At length he receives the strange command to take Isaac, his only son, and offer him for a burnt offering at an appointed place Abraham hesitated not to obey. His faith, hitherto unshaken, supported him in this final trial, "accounting that God was able to raise up his son, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure." (Hebrews 11:19) The sacrifice was stayed by the angel of Jehovah, the promise of spiritual blessing made for the first time, and Abraham with his son returned to Beersheba, and for a time dwelt there. (Genesis 22:1) ... But we find him after a few years in his original residence at Hebron, for there Sarah died, (Genesis 23:2) and was buried in the cave of Machpelah.
The remaining years of Abraham's life are marked by but few incidents. After Isaac's marriage with Rebekah and his removal to Lahai-roi, Abraham took to wife Keturah, by whom he had six children, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbok and Shuah, who became the ancestors of nomadic tribes inhabiting the countries south and southeast of Palestine. Abraham lived to see the gradual accomplishment of the promise in the birth of his grandchildren Jacob and Esau, and witnessed their growth to manhood. (Genesis 25:26) At the goodly age of 175 he was "gathered to his people," and laid beside Sarah in the tomb of Machpelah by his sons Isaac and Ishm'l. (Genesis 25:7-10)
ABRAHAM'IC, adjective Pertaining to Abraham, the patriarch, as abrahamic Covenant.
(Luke 16:22, 23) refers to the custom of reclining on couches at table, which was prevalent among the Jews, an arrangement which brought the head of one person almost into the bosom of the one who sat or reclined above him. To "be in Abraham's bosom" thus meant to enjoy happiness and rest (Matthew 8:11; Luke 16:23) at the banquet in Paradise. (See BANQUET; MEALS.)