Abraham, Our Forefather

As a child you may have sung the song “Father Abraham” about Abraham’s many sons. Abraham is recognized as a forefather in Christian, Jewish and Muslim teachings. Christian and Jews trace their lineage through Isaac, while Muslims trace their origins through Ishmael , the two most well-known sons of Abraham.

While a majority of the population falls under one of the three ‘Abrahamic’ religions, few people consider what an amazing person Abraham was! So called ‘Christian’s’ ask themselves ‘What would Jesus do?’, but you should also ask ‘What would Abraham do?’ as Jesus himself suggested!

“They (Jews/Pharisees) answered and said to him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’”

John 8:39

So, what did Abraham do?! This article introduces you to Abraham, our forefather.

Likened to a Comet, Almost Killed at Birth

Comet with Stars

Abraham was named Abram when he was born to Terah (Genesis 11:27), the right-hand man to Nimrod (Jasher 7:39-41). At his birth, a comet streaked across the sky and swallowed up four stars. The soothsayers interpreted this as prophecy and warned Nimrod that this newborn baby, Abram, would one day cast him out of power. From day one, Abram was a threat to those in power!

Nimrod ordered Terah to kill his own child, Abram. Terah didn’t, but took another newborn, whom Nimrod killed believing it was Abram. Terah sent Abram and his mother away so she could raise Abram without Nimrod learning of his deception. You won’t find this background in the Bible, but you will find it in The Book of Jasher! See Jasher Chapter 8.

Learned God’s Word from Noah and Shem

Abraham spent the first ten years of his life living in a cave hidden away from Nimrod. From there he went to Noah’s House and spent 39 years learning God’s Word directly from Noah and Shem! All grown up and learned in the ways of God, Abram returned to his father’s house and found it full of idols. See Jasher Chapter 9.

Abram the Iconoclast

Abraham knew from the teachings of Noah, Shem and the books of his forefathers that God destroyed the earth with the flood because of violence and idolatry. His father’s house was full of idols! Abraham took an axe to his father’s idols and destroyed them. We turn to the Book of Jasher to learn what unfolded when Terah discovered what Abram had done. To Terah Abraham said:

Abraham the Iconoclast
Abraham mocking his father’s idols

“’I brought savory meat before them (the idols), and when I came nigh to them with the meat that they might eat, they all at once stretched forth their hands to eat before the great one had put forth his hand to eat. And the large one saw their works that they did before him, and his anger was violently kindled against them, and he went and took the hatchet that was in the house and came to them and broke them all, and behold the hatchet is yet in his hand as you see.’
And Terah’s anger was kindled against his son Abram, when he spoke this; and Terah said to Abram his son in his anger,

‘What is this tale that you have told? you speak lies to me. Is there in these gods spirit, soul or power to do all you have told me? Are they not wood and stone, and have I not myself made them, and can you speak such lies, saying that the large god that was with them smote them? It is you that did place the hatchet in his hands, and then say he smote them all.’
And Abram answered his father and said to him,
‘and how can you then serve these idols in whom there is no power to do anything? Can those idols in which you trust deliver you? can they hear your prayers when you call on them, can they deliver you from the hands of your enemies, or will they fight your battles for you against your enemies, that you should serve wood and stone which can neither speak nor hear?
And now surely it is not good for you nor for the sons of men that are connected with you, to do these things; are you so silly, so foolish or so short of understanding that you will serve wood and stone, and do after this manner? And forget the Lord God who made heaven and earth, and who created you in the earth, and thereby bring a great evil on your souls in this matter by serving stone and wood?
Did not our fathers in days of old sin in this manner, and the Lord God of the universe brought the waters of the flood on them and destroyed the whole earth? And how can you continue to do this and serve gods of wood and stone, who cannot hear, or speak, or deliver you from oppression, thereby bringing down the anger of the God of the universe on you?’”

Terah was more concerned about his broken wooden idols than his own son. Instead of heeding Abram’s words, he turned Abram in to Nimrod knowing that the likely punishment would be death!

Jasher 11:39-47

Abram’s Fire

Nimrod response to Abram’s admonishment for idol worship was the same as his fathers. Abram boldly stood in front of Nimrod, the king of Babylon and said:

“O foolish, simple, and ignorant king, woe to you forever. I thought you would teach your servants the upright way, but you have not done this, but have filled the whole earth with your sins and the sins of your people who have followed your ways.
Do you not know, or have you not heard, that this evil which you do, our ancestors sinned therein in days of old, and the eternal God brought the waters of the flood on them and destroyed them all, and also destroyed the whole earth on their account? And will you and your people rise up now and do like to this work, in order to bring down the anger of the Lord God of the universe, and to bring evil on you and the whole earth?
Now therefore put away this evil deed which you do, and serve the God of the universe, as your soul is in his hands, and then it will be well with you. And if your wicked heart will not hearken to my words to cause you to forsake your evil ways and to serve the eternal God, then will you die in shame in the latter days, you, your people and all who are connected with you, hearing your words or walking in your evil ways.”

Jasher 11:56-60
pen Book with Fire

God’s Word is compared to fire, and those were some fiery Words of God coming out of the mouth of Abram! This warning still applies today! There are still leaders who go against God through their idolatrous worship practices. They have not learned from Abram!

You’ve heard of the scenario with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown in a fire for not bowing down to the idol of Nebuchadnezzar, but did you know the same thing happened to Abram?

Nimrod’s Fire

Abraham in the furnace of Nimrod

Nimrod did not take Abram’s admonishment lightly. He immediately threw Abram into prison for ten days. Nimrod decided Abram would be burned to death. When Nimrods fire was ready all the inhabitants of the land gathered to watch the spectacle. Abram was bound and thrown into the fire, but did he die? No, Abram walked around in the fire for three days and three nights. Nimrod called Abram out of the fire and the king and spectators saw he was unharmed. Abram told them not to bow down to him, but to ‘bow down to the God of the world who made you, serve Him and go in His Ways.’ Nimrod sent Abram off with gifts and servants (Jasher Chapter 12). Abram’s fire prevailed over Nimrod’s fire!

Leave Your Country

Abram took his brothers daughter, Sarai for a wife. Abram and Sarai lived in Haran with Terah and the extended family for three years. Then, God told them to leave.

Your Seed will be as the stars of Heaven
God’s Covenant with Abraham

“Now the LORD had said to Abram, ‘Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your fathers house, to a land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make you great; and you shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you, and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3

The account in Jasher is as follows:

“…if you will hearken to My Voice and keep My Commandments, My Statutes and My Laws, then I will cause your enemies to fall before you, and I will multiply your seed like the stars of heaven, and I will send My Blessing on all the works of your hands, and you shall lack nothing. Arise now, take your wife and all belonging to you and go to the land of Canaan and remain there, and I will there be to you for a God, and I will bless you…”

Jasher 13:4-5
A map of Abraham's travels from Babylon to Haran and Canaan

Sarai’s Separation from Abram

They went to the land of Canaan while Terah, his father and his brother Nabor and his family all stayed in Haran. After about 20 years, there was a famine in Canaan, so Abram, Sarai and their household went to Egypt. Abram was warned by God in a dream that the Egyptians would try to kill him because of Sarai’s beauty, and take her for a wife. Abram and Sarai planned to tell the Egyptians she was his sister.

Once in Egypt, Sarai’s beauty did catch the attention of the Pharaoh. He took her to be his wife, thinking she was not married, but at the same time God inflicted Pharaoh so he did not defile her. For two years Sarai was in Pharaoh’s house and Abram was understandably distraught.

Pharaoh eventually made the connection between his suffering and Sarai. Sarai told him she was Abram’s wife not sister. Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram and gave her his daughter, Hagar, of a concubine of Pharaoh, (reference Genesis Chapter 12, Jasher Chapter 15 and the Genesis Apocryphon Chapter 3 in the Dead Sea Scrolls). Later on, this same scenario played out when they went to the land of the Philistines. See Genesis Chapter 20 and Jasher Chapter 20.

Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah

After many years without having children, Sarai told Abram to have a child with Hagar, her handmaid from Pharaoh, Genesis 16. Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. But Abram’s true love was Sarai, who was just ten years younger than he was and barren.

None-the-less, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, God told Abram that he would be a father of many nations. In addition, Sarai, his eighty-nine year-old wife would be a mother of nations. God changed their names signifying the Covenant. Abram became Abraham, which fittingly means ‘a father of a multitude.’ Likewise, Sarai became Sarah, a name which means a princess or queen referring to her being the mother of kings and nations. See Genesis Chapter 17.

One year later, Abraham and Sarah welcomed Isaac, their one and only son into the world. Sarah was ninety years old and Abraham was a young one-hundred years old!

Stranger in a Strange Land

When Abraham and Sarah went to Canaan they were strangers in a strange land. When their names were changed, part of the Covenant with God was that he would give them the land of Canaan.

“And I will establish My Covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you. And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17:7-8

Later on the descendants of Abraham through Jacob, referred to as the children of Israel, lived in Egypt. This was also a strange land in which they were strangers.

“Also you shall not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Exodus 23:9

Have you ever looked around and felt like a stranger in a strange land? We are surrounded by those going against the ways of God, they are entrenched in strangeness!

“Now therefore put away, said he (Joshua), the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.”

Joshua 24:23

Cut Away the Flesh

Another sign of the Covenant made between God and Abraham was circumcision. God instructed all men in Abraham’s household to be circumcised. When Isaac was born, he was the first male to be circumcised on the 8th day as commanded by God. See Genesis Chapters 17 and 21.

Ishmael had been 13 years old when God gave Abraham the Commandment of circumcision while Isaac was not yet born. Many years later, when Isaac was 37, Ishmael boasted of his circumcision at 13 years of age to which Isaac responded:

“…why do you boast to me about this, about a little bit of your flesh which you did take from your body, concerning which the Lord commanded you? As the Lord lives, the God of my father Abraham, if the Lord should say to my father, take now your son Isaac and bring him up an offering before me, I would not refrain but I would joyfully accede to it.”

Jasher 22:43-44

This is exactly what happened.

Tested Ten Times

In the book of Jubilees we learn that Abraham was tested ten times by God, Jubilees 19:7. The test of offering Isaac as a sacrifice to God is the test familiar to most people.

Consider what Abraham has already witnessed up until now. He was saved from death on the day of his birth. Abraham learned God’s Word firsthand from Noah and Shem over a period of 39 years. He survived being thrown into Nimrod’s fire for destroying his father’s idols. Sarah his wife was taken from him more than once, but then returned. He was told to leave his extended family and home to live in Canaan. He witnessed the wars in Canaan, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and rescued Lot more than once. All this while Sarah his wife was barren, yet God made a Covenant with him that his descendants through Sarah would number as the stars of heaven. In all that Abraham did, he trusted in the LORD.

Isaac Shadows a Sacrifice

The sacrifice of Isaac was another test of Abraham, and Isaac too for that matter. In Genesis the scenario goes as such:

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham’: and he said, ‘Behold, here I am’. And he said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of….’ And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, ‘My father’: and he said, ‘Here I am, my son’. And he said, ‘Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’
And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering’: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.”

Gen 22:1-9

In Jubilees the scenario is:

“And the Lord knew that Abraham was a believer in all trials which he spoke to him; for he had tried him in his country, and in the strange land, and had tried him with the wealth of kings, and had tried him again with his wife in that she was torn from him, and with the circumcision, and had tried him with Ishmael and Hagar his maid, when he sent them away, and in all in which He had tried him he was found faithful, and his soul did not become impatient nor did he hesitate to do it, for he was faithful and a lover of God. And the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Abraham’. And he said to him, ‘Behold, O Lord, here I am.’ And he said to him: ‘Take your son Isaac whom you love, and go into the high land, and take him upon one of the hills which I will show you.’
And he took the wood for the sacrifice and put it upon the shoulders of his son Isaac and he took in his hands the fire and the knife, and the two went together to that place. And Isaac said to his father: ‘My father.’ And he said to him: ‘Behold, here I am, my son.’ (And he said) ‘Behold here is the fire, and the knife, and the wood; but where, my father, is the sheep for the sacrifice?’ And he said: ‘The Lord will show me the sheep for the sacrifice, my son.’ And he came to the place of the mountain of the Lord, and he built an altar and laid the wood upon the altar, and tied Isaac his son and placed him upon the wood over the altar, and he stretched out his hands to take the knife to sacrifice Isaac.”

Jubilees 17:17-18:10

A Willing Sacrifice

You can find the same scenario in Jasher Chapters 22 and 23. Something you won’t understand from the biblical account is that Isaac was a full-grown adult and willingly offered himself up. We see this in Jasher that Isaac is most concerned with following the commands of God.

“And Abraham answered his son Isaac, saying, ‘The Lord has made choice of you my son, to be a perfect burnt offering instead of the lamb’. And Isaac said to his father, ‘I will do all that the Lord spoke to you with joy and cheerfulness of heart’. And Abraham again said to Isaac his son, ‘Is there in your heart any thought or counsel concerning this which is not proper? tell me my son, I pray you, O my son conceal it not from me. And Isaac answered his father Abraham and said to him, ‘O my father; as the Lord lives and as your soul lives there is nothing in my heart to cause me to deviate either to the right or to the left from the word that he has spoken to you. Neither limb nor muscle has moved or stirred at this, nor is there in my heart any thought or evil counsel concerning this. But I am of joyful and cheerful heart in this matter, and I say, blessed is the Lord who has this day chosen me to be a burnt offering before him…’
And Abraham took the wood and placed it in order on the altar which he had built. And he took his son Isaac and bound him in order to place him on the wood which was on the altar, to slay him for a burnt offering before the Lord. And Isaac said to his father, ‘Bind me securely and then place me on the altar lest I should turn and move, and break loose from the force of the knife on my flesh and thereby profane the burnt offering’, and Abraham did so. And Isaac still said to his father, ‘O my father, when you shall have slain me and burnt me for an offering, take with you that which shall remain of my ashes to bring to Sarah, my mother, and say to her, this is the sweet smelling savor of Isaac; but do not tell her this if she should sit near a well or on any high place, lest she should cast her soul after me and die’. And Abraham heard the words of Isaac, and he lifted up his voice and wept when Isaac spoke these words; and Abraham’s tears gushed down on Isaac his son, and Isaac wept bitterly, and he said to his father, ‘Hasten, O my father, and do with me the will of the Lord our God as he has commanded you’. And the hearts of Abraham and Isaac rejoiced at this thing which the Lord had commanded them; but the eye wept bitterly while the heart rejoiced.”

Jasher 23:51-64

They were rejoicing because Isaac was acceptable to God. Both Isaac and Abraham passed this test of putting God’s Will first above all. The Spirit conquered over the flesh. God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac and a ram was sacrificed on the altar in place of Isaac. There is much more to this scenario. Consider that Jesus, the Lamb of God, also was the Spirit conquering over the flesh, but in this case, he did give up his breath, completing the sacrifice started with Isaac.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable…
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, ‘That in Isaac shall your seed be called’. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure.”

Hebrews 11:8-19

Sarah’s Death and Burial

The last test of Abraham was the death of Sarah. She died right before Abraham and Isaac returned from the sacrifice. Abraham requested the cave of Machpelah for a burial place from Ephron one of the children of Heth. Ephron offered to give it to Abraham for whatever he wanted, but Abraham insisted on paying the full value for the land. Abraham would not take something for nothing. See Genesis 23, Jubilees 19: 1-8 and Jasher 23:87-24:16.

Abraham lived around 30 more years after the death of Sarah. He married Keturah and had many more sons, but Isaac remained the inheritor of the Covenant. The prophets and Apostles all spoke of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the lineage through which the Covenant passed.

God Chose Abraham

Abraham is the father of many nations. He was chosen by God because he was faithful to God and learned of His Ways, His Will and His Commandments.

“And it happened, that when they that dwelt upon the earth began to multiply, and had gotten them many children, and were a great people, they began again to be more ungodly than the first. Now when they lived so wickedly before You, You did choose You a man from among them, whose name was Abraham. You loved him, and to him only You showed Your Will: And made an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that You would never forsake his seed. And to him You gave Isaac, and to Isaac also You gave Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob, You did choose him to You, and put away Esau: and so Jacob became a great multitude.”

2 Esdras 3:12-16

“Abraham was a great father of many people: in glory was there none like unto him; Who kept the law of the most High, and was in Covenant with Him: he established the covenant in his flesh; and when he was proved (tested), he was found faithful. Therefore He assured him by an oath, that He would bless the nations in his seed, and that He would multiply him as the dust of the earth, and exalt his seed as the stars, and cause them to inherit from sea to sea, and from the river to the utmost part of the land. With Isaac did he establish likewise [for Abraham his father’s sake] the blessing of all men, and the covenant, And made it rest upon the head of Jacob. He acknowledged him in his blessing, and gave him an heritage, and divided his portions; among the twelve tribes did he part them.”

The Wisdom of Sirach 44:19-22 (From The Apocrypha)

To Be The Plant of Righteousness

Abraham is the father of many people, some righteous and some not. Abraham knew that from him would come the ‘Plant of Righteousness’, a people that return to God.

“And he (Abraham) blessed/praised his Creator who had created him in his generation, … for he knew and observed that from him would come the Plant of Righteousness for the generations of eternity, and that from him should also come the holy seed, like Him who had made all things.”

Jubilees 16:20

Moses, a descendant of Abraham, was told by God to write these Words:

“To your seed I will give this land, which flows with milk and honey; and they shall eat and be satisfied. And they will turn themselves to false (strange) gods, who did not deliver them from all their oppression; and this testimony will be heard against them for a testimony. For they will forget all My ordinances which I have commanded them, and will walk after the Gentiles/heathen and after their impurity and after their shame, and will serve their gods, and these will become for them an offense unto oppression and misfortune and for a trap. And many will be destroyed and will be taken captive and will fall into the hands of the enemy, because they have deserted My ordinances and My commands
And they will make to themselves altars on heights and groves/Asherah shrines and sculptured idols, and each one will worship his own idol for sin…
And I will send witnesses to them that I may testify over them, but they will not hear and will slay my witnesses, and they will cast out those who seek the law, and will abolish the whole (law), and will begin to do evil before My eyes.
And I (God) will hide My face from them and I will deliver them over to the Gentiles/heathen for captivity and for binding and for devouring and for expelling them from the midst of the land, and I shall scatter them in the midst of the Gentiles/heathen. And they will forget all My Law and all My Commandments and all My judgment, and they will err in reference to new moons and sabbaths and festivals and jubilees and ordinances.

And then they will turn themselves to Me from the midst of the Gentiles/heathen with all their hearts and all their soul and all their power, and I shall gather them from amongst all the Gentiles/heathen, and they will seek Me that I may be found for them when they seek Me with all their heart and with all their soul, and I will open to them much peace and righteousness. And I will transplant them as a plant of righteousness, with all My heart and with all My soul, and they will be to Me for a blessing and not for a curse, a head and not a tail; and I will build up My Sanctuary in their midst, and I will dwell with them, and I will be to them their God, and they shall be to Me My people, in truth and in righteousness, and I will not desert them and will not deny them, for I am the LORD their God.”

Jubilees 1:7-16

From Abraham, comes this everlasting plant of righteousness! It is a family tree!

What Would Abraham Do?

Today, many are aware of Jesus and think they have received a blessing because of his actions. Few consider that the righteous descendants of Abraham receive a blessing of the Covenant because of the devotion he had to God. Just as Jesus said ‘follow me’ you should also follow Abraham and seek God and His ways just as Abraham did!

So what did Abraham do? First and foremost, he turned to God. He was counted as a friend of God and walked with Him. Abraham turned away from idolatry and the worship practices that are against God. He passed on his wisdom and knowledge to his sons and grandsons. He was tested many times and not found wanting.

Abraham lived as an example to us just as Jesus also lived as an example.

“They (Jews/Pharisees) answered and said to him, ‘Abraham is our father’. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’”

John 8:39

Abraham was an amazing man and we are honored to call him our forefather!

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