Mittwoch, 24. August 2016
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This article is about the Judaic Abraham. For Islam, see Abraham in Islam. For other uses, see Abraham (disambiguation).
"Avram" and "Ibrahim" redirect here. For other uses, see Avram (disambiguation) and Ibrahim (disambiguation).
Abraham (center) in The Angel Hinders the Offering of Isaac by Rembrandt
c. 1800 BCE
|Died||c. 1600 BCE
|Resting place||Cave of Machpelah
The Biblical narrative revolves around the themes of posterity and land. Abraham is called by God to leave the house of his father Terah and settle in the land originally given to Canaan, but which God now promises to Abraham and his progeny. Various candidates are put forward who might inherit the land after Abraham, but all are dismissed except for Isaac, his son by his half-sister Sarah. Abraham purchases a tomb (the Cave of the Patriarchs) at Hebron to be Sarah's grave, thus establishing his right to the land, and in the second generation his heir Isaac is married to a woman from his own kin, thus ruling the Canaanites out of any inheritance. Abraham later marries Keturah and has six more sons, but on his death, when he is buried beside Sarah, it is Isaac who receives "all Abraham's goods", while the other sons receive only "gifts".
The Abraham story cannot be definitively related to any specific time, and it is widely agreed that the patriarchal age, along with the exodus and the period of the judges, is a late literary construct that does not relate to any period in actual history. A common hypothesis among scholars is that it was composed in the early Persian period (late 6th century BCE) as a result of tensions between Jewish landowners who had stayed in Judah during the Babylonian captivity and traced their right to the land through their "father Abraham", and the returning exiles who based their counter-claim on Moses and the Exodus tradition.
- 1 Genesis narrative
- 1.1 Abram's origins and calling
- 1.2 Abram and Sarai
- 1.3 Abram and Lot separate
- 1.4 Abram and Chedorlaomer
- 1.5 Abrahamic covenant
- 1.6 Abram and Hagar
- 1.7 Abraham and Sarah
- 1.8 Abraham's three visitors
- 1.9 Abraham's plea
- 1.10 Abraham and Abimelech
- 1.11 Birth of Isaac
- 1.12 Abraham and Ishmael
- 1.13 Abraham and Isaac
- 1.14 Later years
- 1.15 Family tree
- 2 Historicity and origins
- 3 Abraham in religious traditions
- 4 Abraham in the arts
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
Abram's origins and callingTerah, the tenth in descent from Noah, begat three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begat Lot (who was thus Abram's nephew), and died in his native city, Ur of the Chaldees. Abram married Sarai, who was barren. Terah, with Abram, Sarai, and Lot, then departed for Canaan, but settled in a place named Haran, where Terah died at the age of 205. (Genesis 11:27–32
Abram and SaraiThere was a severe famine in the land of Canaan, so that Abram and Lot and their households, traveled south to Egypt. On the way Abram told his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister, so that the Egyptians would not kill him. (Genesis 12:10–13
Abram and Lot separate
Main article: Abraham and Lot's conflictWhen they came back to the Bethel and Hai area, Abram's and Lot's sizable livestock herds occupied the same pastures. This became a problem for the herdsmen who were assigned to each family's cattle. The conflicts between herdsmen had become so troublesome that Abram graciously suggested that Lot choose a separate area, either on the left hand (north) or on the right hand (south), that there be no conflict amongst brethren. But Lot chose to go east to the plain of Jordan where the land was well watered everywhere as far as Zoar, and he dwelled in the cities of the plain toward Sodom. Abram went south to Hebron and settled in the plain of Mamre, where he built another altar to worship God. (Genesis 13:1–18
Abram and Chedorlaomer
Main article: Battle of Siddim
See also: Covenant of the piecesThe word of God came to Abram in a vision and repeated the promise of the land and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram and God made a covenant ceremony, and God told of the future bondage of Israel in Egypt. God described to Abram the land that his offspring would claim: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites. (Genesis 15:1–21
Abram and Hagar
Abraham and SarahThirteen years later, when Abram was ninety-nine years of age, God declared Abram's new name: "Abraham" – "a father of many nations" (Genesis 17:5
Abraham's three visitors
Abraham and AbimelechKadesh and Shur in the land of the Philistines. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham openly claimed that Sarah was his sister. Upon discovering this news, King Abimelech had her brought to him. God then came to Abimelech in a dream and declared that taking her would result in death because she was a man's wife. Abimelech had not laid hands on her, so he inquired if he would also slay a righteous nation, especially since Abraham had claimed that he and Sarah were siblings. In response, God told Abimelech that he did indeed have a blameless heart and that is why he continued to exist. However, should he not return the wife of Abraham back to him, God would surely destroy Abimelech and his entire household. Abimelech was informed that Abraham was a prophet who would pray for him.(Genesis 20:1–7
Birth of Isaac
Abraham and Ishmael
See also: Ishmael in Islam § The sacrificeIshmael was fourteen years old when Abraham's son Isaac was born to a different mother, Sarah. Sarah had finally borne her own child, even though she had passed her child bearing period. When she found Ishmael teasing Isaac, Sarah told Abraham to send both Ishmael and Hagar away. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac's inheritance. Abraham was greatly distressed by his wife's words and sought the advice of his God. God told Abraham not to be distressed but to do as his wife commanded. God reassured Abraham that "in Isaac shall seed be called to thee." (Genesis 21:12
Abraham and Isaac
Main article: Binding of IsaacAt some point in Isaac's youth, Abraham was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. The patriarch traveled three days until he came to the mount that God told him of. He commanded the servants to remain while he and Isaac proceeded alone into the mount. Isaac carried the wood upon which he would be sacrificed. Along the way, Isaac asked his father where the animal for the burnt offering was, to which Abraham replied "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering". Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was interrupted by the angel of the LORD, and he saw behind him a "ram caught in a thicket by his horns", which he sacrificed instead of his son. For his obedience he received another promise of numerous descendants and abundant prosperity. After this event, Abraham went to Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1–19
Later yearsSarah died, and Abraham buried her in the Cave of the Patriarchs (the "cave of Machpelah"), near Hebron which he had purchased along with the adjoining field from Ephron the Hittite. (Genesis 23:1–20
Main article: Abraham's family tree
|Ishmaelites||7 sons||Bethuel||1st daughter||2nd daughter|
Historicity and origins
Origins of the narrativeAbraham's name is apparently very ancient, as the tradition found in Genesis no longer understands its original meaning (probably "Father is exalted" – the meaning offered in Genesis 17:5, "Father of a multitude", is a popular etymology). The story, like those of the other patriarchs, most likely had a substantial oral prehistory. At some stage the oral traditions became part of the written tradition of the Pentateuch; a majority of scholars believes this stage belongs to the Persian period, roughly 520–320 BCE. The mechanisms by which this came about remain unknown, but there are currently two important hypotheses. The first, called Persian Imperial authorisation, is that the post-Exilic community devised the Torah as a legal basis on which to function within the Persian Imperial system; the second is that Pentateuch was written to provide the criteria for who would belong to the post Exilic Jewish community and to establish the power structures and relative positions of its various groups, notably the priesthood and the lay "elders".
Nevertheless, the completion of the Torah and its elevation to the centre of post-Exilic Judaism was as much or more about combining older texts as writing new ones – the final Pentateuch was based on existing traditions. In Ezekiel 33:24
Abraham in religious traditions
|Feast||9 October – Roman Catholicism|
OverviewAbraham is given a high position of respect in three major world faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Judaism he is the founding father of the Covenant, the special relationship between the Jewish people and God – a belief which gives the Jews a unique position as the Chosen People of God. In Christianity, the Apostle Paul taught that Abraham's faith in God – preceding the Mosaic law – made him the prototype of all believers, circumcised and uncircumcised. The Islamic prophet Muhammad claimed Abraham, whose submission to God constituted Islam, as a "believer before the fact" and undercut Jewish claims to an exclusive relationship with God and the Covenant.
JudaismIn Jewish tradition, Abraham is called Avraham Avinu (אברהם אבינו), "our father Abraham," signifying that he is both the biological progenitor of the Jews (including converts, according to Jewish tradition), and the father of Judaism, the first Jew. His story is read in the weekly Torah reading portions, predominantly in the parashot: Lech-Lecha (לֶךְ-לְךָ), Vayeira (וַיֵּרָא), Chayei Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה), and Toledot (תּוֹלְדֹת).
Main article: Sefer YetzirahA cryptic story in the Babylonian Talmud states that "On the eve of every Shabbat, Judah HaNasi's pupils, Rab Hanina and Rab Hoshaiah, who devoted themselves especially to cosmogony, used to create a delicious calf by means of the Sefer Yetzirah, and ate it on the Sabbath." Mystics assert that the biblical patriarch Abraham used the same method to create the calf prepared for the three angels who foretold Sarah's pregnancy in the biblical account at Genesis 18:7
ChristianityAbraham does not loom so large in Christianity as he does in Judaism and Islam. It is Jesus as the Messiah who is central to Christianity, and the idea of a divine Messiah is what separates Christianity from the other two religions. In Romans 4, Abraham's merit is less his obedience to the divine will than his faith in God's ultimate grace; this faith provides him the merit for God having chosen him for the covenant, and the covenant becomes one of faith, not obedience. I
The Roman Catholic Church calls Abraham "our father in Faith" in the Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Canon, recited during the Mass (see Abraham in the Catholic liturgy). He is also commemorated in the calendars of saints of several denominations: on 20 August by the Maronite Church, 28 August in the Coptic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East (with the full office for the latter), and on 9 October by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. In the introduction to his 15th-century translation of the Golden Legend's account of Abraham, William Caxton noted that this patriarch's life was read in church on Quinquagesima Sunday. He is the patron saint of those in the hospitality industry. The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as the "Righteous Forefather Abraham", with two feast days in its liturgical calendar. The first time is on 9 October (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 9 October falls on 22 October of the modern Gregorian Calendar), where he is commemorated together with his nephew "Righteous Lot". The other is on the "Sunday of the Forefathers" (two Sundays before Christmas), when he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. Abraham is also mentioned in the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, just before the Anaphora, and Abraham and Sarah are invoked in the prayers said by the priest over a newly married couple.
Main article: Abraham in IslamJudaism holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through birth, and Christianity that one becomes a descendant through faith, but Islam holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through both birth and faith. Abraham is also a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Mohammad.
Ibrāhīm is mentioned in 35 chapters of the Quran, more often than any other biblical personage apart from Moses. He is called both a hanif (monotheist) and muslim (one who submits), and Muslims regard him as a prophet and patriarch, the archetype of the perfect Muslim, and the revered reformer of the Kaaba in Mecca. Islamic traditions consider Ibrāhīm (Abraham) the first Pioneer of Islam (which is also called millat Ibrahim, the "religion of Abraham"), and that his purpose and mission throughout his life was to proclaim the Oneness of God. In Islam, he is referred to as "Ibrahim El Khalil" (إبراهيم الخليل), meaning "Abraham the Friend [of Allah]".
Abraham in the arts
Painting and sculpturePaintings on the life of Abraham tend to focus on only a few incidents: the sacrifice of Isaac; meeting Melchizedek; entertaining the three angels; Hagar in the desert; and a few others. Additionally, Martin O'Kane, a professor of Biblical Studies, writes that the parable of Lazarus resting in the "Bosom of Abraham", as described in the Gospel of Luke, became an iconic image in Christian works. According to O'Kane, artists often chose to divert from the common literary portrayal of Lazarus sitting next to Abraham at a banquet in Heaven and instead focus on the "somewhat incongruous notion of Abraham, the most venerated of patriarchs, holding a naked and vulnerable child in his bosom". Several artists have been inspired by the life of Abraham, including Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), Caravaggio (1573–1610), Donatello, Raphael, Philip van Dyck (Dutch painter, 1680–1753), and Claude Lorrain (French painter, 1600–1682). Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) created at least seven works on Abraham, Petrus-Paulus Rubens (1577–1640) did several, Marc Chagall did at least five on Abraham, Gustave Doré (French illustrator, 1832–1883) did six, and James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French painter and illustrator, 1836–1902) did over twenty works on the subject.
George Segal created figural sculptures by molding plastered gauze strips over live models in his 1987 work Abraham's Farewell to Ishmael. The human condition was central to his concerns, and Segal used the Old Testament as a source for his imagery. This sculpture depicts the dilemma faced by Abraham when Sarah demanded that he expel Hagar and Ishmael. In the sculpture, the father's tenderness, Sarah's rage, and Hagar's resigned acceptance portray a range of human emotions. The sculpture was donated to the Miami Art Museum after the artist's death in 2000.
- Abraham in Christian Iconography
As early as the beginning of the 3rd century, Christian art followed Christian typology in making the sacrifice of Isaac a foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and its memorial in the sacrifice of the Mass. See for example this 11th-century Christian altar engraved with Abraham's and other sacrifices taken to prefigure that of Christ in the Eucharist.
Some early Christian writers interpreted the three visitors as the triune God. Thus in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, a 5th-century mosaic portrays only the visitors against a gold ground and puts semitransparent copies of them in the "heavenly" space above the scene. In Eastern Orthodox art the visit is the chief means by which the Trinity is pictured (example). Some images do not include Abraham and Sarah, like Andrei Rublev's Trinity, which shows only the three visitors as beardless youths at a table.
LiteratureFear and Trembling (original Danish title: Frygt og Bæven) is an influential philosophical work by Søren Kierkegaard, published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de silentio (John the Silent). Kierkegaard wanted to understand the anxiety that must have been present in Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son.
MusicIn 1994, Steve Reich released an opera named The Cave. The title refers to The Cave of the Patriarchs. The narrative of the opera is based on the story of Abraham and his immediate family as it is recounted in the various religious texts, and as it is understood by individual people from different cultures and religious traditions.
Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" is the title track for his 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song as number 364 in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song has five stanzas. In each stanza, someone describes an unusual problem that is ultimately resolved on Highway 61. In Stanza 1, God tells Abraham to "kill me a son". God wants the killing done on Highway 61. Abraham, the original name of the biblical Abraham, is also the name of Dylan's own father.
Film and televisionIn the 1966 American-Italian epic film The Bible: In the Beginning..., directed by John Huston and based on the first 22 Chapters of Genesis, Abraham is played by George C. Scott, with Ava Gardner as Sarah.
A 1994 television movie about the Patriarch, Abraham, starred Richard Harris as Abraham and Barbara Hershey as Sarah.
Abraham is portrayed by Gary Oliver (actor) in the 2013 History Channel Drama, The Bible (miniseries).
- Abraham in Islam
- Abraham Path
- Abraham's Gate at Tel Dan
- Abraham in History and Tradition
- Book of Abraham
- Bosom of Abraham
- Gathering of Israel
- Genealogies of Genesis
- Jewish Kabbalah
- Pearl of Great Price
- Table of prophets of Abrahamic religions
- The evil Nimrod vs. the righteous Abraham
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- Ska, Jean Louis (2006). Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch
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