The Puzzle The Solution The Game Kids' Menu Kids & Teens Page

The Story of Abraham

ziggurat illustration

The story of Abraham is told in the book of Genesis in the Bible. He lived about 4000 years ago and was born in a place called Ur, which is in the very south of modern Iraq. Abraham believed in the one, true God, the Maker of heaven and earth, but in the city where he lived, they worshipped the sun, moon and stars. There was a special temple to the moon goddess, the type of temple which today we call a ziggurat.

One day, God told Abraham to leave the city and his relatives, to go to a special land which God promised would belong to his millions of descendants. Abram (as he was called at first) left Ur together with his wife, Sarai (later called Sarah). His relatives must have gone with him, for they all ended up in the northern city of Haran. When Abram's father, Terah died, Abraham obeyed God's call and left for the land God had promised. When he first left Ur, Abraham was 75 years old and his wife was nine years younger. They were childless - how could God fulfil His promise of many descendants?

They arrived in the Promised Land and the years went by without any sign of a child, let alone a son to carry on the family name. Sarah despaired of ever having a child and resorted to an accepted custom of the day. She gave her Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, to Abraham to be another, albeit servant wife. By her, Abraham could have a son which, because Hagar was a slave, would belong to Sarah. (Hagar belonged to Sarah and so anything she had belonged to Sarah too). In this way, when he was 86 years old, Abraham became the father of a son Ishmael.

Abraham was very proud of his son Ishmael and felt sure that through Him God would fulfil his promise of millions of descendants. However, God spoke very clearly to Abraham and told him that when He had promised Him a son, He had meant a son by his wife Sarah. God's promise was to be fulfilled in God's time and Abraham must trust and wait upon God. And so, against hope, Abraham believed in hope. He became the great example, not only to the people of Israel who were his descendants, but also to Christians, of a man of faith.

The years went by and still there was no sign of the promised son. Then one day, when Abraham, at 99 years of age, was relaxing outside his tent after a rather busy day, he espied three visitors coming their way. Quickly he made ready to prepare food and drink so that the visitors could be received with the customary hospitality. On arrival they began to talk with Abraham and one in particular (it was in fact the Lord Himself) seemed to know so much about him and Sarah.

"This time next year," He announced, "your wife Sarah will have a son. Call him Isaac."

Sarah laughed at the very idea; she was far too old. Abraham believed and, sure enough, next year, when he was 100 years old, and Sarah 91, they had a son. They called him Isaac, a name which means 'laughter'.

Isaac grew into a toddler. His teenage half-brother, Ishmael began to torment him and make fun of him. Sarah did not like her son being treated like that and feared that one day in the future, when the lads were older, that the tormenting might grow into something more sinister, even depriving her son Isaac of his rightful inheritance. She pleaded with Abraham to turn Hagar and her son out. After some reluctance, Abraham was told by God that it would be all right with the pair and so, Abraham sent them away.

When Isaac was growing into teenage years, God decided to test Abraham's faith, to show how faithful a man he was. He told Abraham to take his only son Isaac to a certain mountain, three days' journey away, and to sacrifice him there. Abraham prepared to do as God said. They reached the mountain, built the altar, and placed the firewood on it. Then Abraham bound Isaac, laid him on top of the altar and raised his hand ready to plunge a sacrificial dagger into his son's heart. At that very moment the angel of the Lord appeared and cried out, "Do not harm the lad. I know now you will do anything God asks. Look! There is a ram caught in a bush by its horns. Take that and sacrifice that to God as a thank offering. And Abraham did just that.

His son Isaac became the father of Jacob and Esau. And Jacob became the father of twelve sons, who became the ancestral fathers of the twelve tribes which made up the nation of Israel - the millions of descendants of Abraham.

Copyright © CAGH 2011