Abraham was born when his father Terah was 70 years old. He had two brothers: Nah or and Haran. The family of Terah is a direct descendant of the Shem, whose line of ancestry can be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve. Before his circumcision, Abraham's name was Abram.
Abram married Sarai, who could not bear children. His father took his family out of Ur in Babylonia and headed for the land of Canaan. Then the Lord spoke to Abram, Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing. With these words, Abram set out for Haran.
Abram prospered there acquiring many possessions. At seventy-five years old, God told Abram to leave Haran. Abram did not refuse God and so he packed his belongings, bringing everything he had, and headed for Canaan, the original destination of his father. At Canaan, he established his camp between the city of Bethel and Ai and built an altar for God.
However, he did stop his travels at Canaan. He continued his journey to Egypt where he told everyone that Sarai was actually his sister. This was done because he was afraid that he would get hurt for his wife, who was very beautiful. The pharaoh, believing that Sarai was Abram's sister, took Sarai into his palace and slept with her.
This angered God and sent terrible diseases on the pharaoh and his officials. The pharaoh confronted Abram saying, What have you done to me? Why didn t you tell me that she was your wife Here is your wife; take her and get out! And so Abram was driven out of Egypt into the southern part of Canaan. Lot, who was the son of his brother Haran, also had his followers. When conflicts broke out between Lot's people and Abram, Lot and Abram decided to separate.
Lot headed east to the Jordan Valley and Abram stayed in Canaan. At Mam re in Hebron, Abram set an altar for God. There God said, I am going to give you and your descendants all the land that you see, and it will be yours forever. I am going to give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them all; it would be as easy to count all the specks of dust on earth! What troubled Sarai and Abram was that they still did not have any children. So Sarai said to Abram, The Lord has kept me from having children.
Why don t you sleep with my slave? Consequently, Abram, who was not eighty-six years old slept with Hagar, who bore him Ishmael. Sarai and Hagar could not get along after the birth of Ishmael and so Sarai pushed Hagar out of the encampment. At ninety-nine years old, Abram made a covenant with God. God told him, I promise you that you will be the ancestor of many nations. Your name will be no longer Abram, but Abraham, because I am making you the ancestor of many nations...
You and your descendants must all agree to circumcise every male among you. Sarai's name was also changed to Sarah. God commanded Abraham to name his son from Sarah Isaac. Meanwhile, Sodom and Gomorrah had displeased God with their sinfulness, and God had decided to destroy the two cities.
However, Abraham begged the Lord that he spares the cities if he found fifty innocent people living in the in Sodom. God agreed. Abraham begged again, this time forty-five. He kept begging until he was done to ten innocent people. Nevertheless, God agreed. When the angels came to Sodom, they could not find at least ten innocent residents.
Therefore, Lot and his family left Sodom and were saved from destruction. At one time, God decided to test the faith of Abraham by commanding him: Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. There on a mountain that I will show you, offer him as a sacrifice to me. Obeying God's words, Abraham set out with Isaac and two other servants. At the mountain, Isaac asked, Father, I see that you have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for sacrifice?
Abraham answered, God himself will provide one. After building the altar and arranged the wood around it, he tied up his son and placed him on top of the altar. When he was about to stab his son with the knife, an angel of the Lord called out to him: Abraham, Abraham! Don t hurt the boy or do anything to him.
Now I know that you honor and obey God, because you have not kept back your only son from him. With a sigh of great relief, Abraham heard the Lord, I promise that I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the seashore. Your descendants will conquer their enemies all because you obeyed my command. With this covenant with God, Abraham set out to Beersheba where he and his family lived.