Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

The Life of Our Forefather Abraham

The Life of Our Forefather Abraham

E-mail

Abram’s Family

One of the most important persons at Nimrod’s court in Ur of the Chaldees in Babel, or Babylonia, was Terah, the son of Nahor, a great-great grandson of Eber. Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Abram’s Birth

The night before Abram was born, Nimrod’s astrologers were gathered at Terah’s house. Looking out into the night sky, they read in the constellation of the stars that the newly born child was to become the chief and the father of a mighty nation. This discovery was communicated to Nimrod, who became afraid that the new star might darken his own.

Nimrod’s Attempt on Abram’s Life

Nimrod asked Terah to bring the newly born baby to the palace to be killed. Terah tried to talk Nimrod out of it, but he couldn’t. He risked his life and the lives of his whole family, and exchanged his son with a servant’s child born the same day as Abram. Nimrod did not suspect the ruse, and he killed the baby with his own hands. Meanwhile, Abram was hidden in a cave.

Young Abram Recognizes G-D

Abram stayed in the cave until he was ten years old. During this time he came to believe in the existence of G-d through reasoning. Abram had watched the sun and the moon and the stars coming and going, each in its own time. He had noticed the sun giving way to the moon, despite its apparent divine power, and the moon giving place to the sun in the morning. And so he reasoned that there must be a Power above and beyond all the visible forces of nature, a Power Who had created them, and Who regulated and controlled them at all times. Behind the limited power of all nature, young Abram perceived the unlimited and timeless existence of G-d.

Then G-d made Himself known to Abram and taught him the right way of living. Later Abram went to the house of Noah and Shem. There he stayed many years; there he studied and learned to serve G-d.

Abram Destroys the Idols

Nimrod had long forgot ten the threat of the new star which his astrologers had predicted. He had rewarded Terah for his faithfulness and had given him even higher honors than before. For Terah was clever, and Nimrod took his advice in matters of state. Besides, Terah had always appeared an obedient servant with regard to the new idols Nimrod introduced in his empire. Nimrod had no reason to hold any grudge against Terah, in spite of his astrologers’ predictions.

Abram had been taught the knowledge of the true G-d, and he despised the idol worship of the people around him. He therefore decided to do everything in his power to crush the belief in idol worship. He talked to all the visitors at his father’s house and convinced many that their belief in idols was false and foolish. But Terah refused to listen to his son’s reasoning.

One day, Abram took an axe and destroyed all his father’s idols. Only the largest remained intact. When Terah saw his idols shattered and scattered all over the floor, he accused Abram. But Abram said that the largest of the idols had killed all the others in a fight over an offering brought to them. Terah exclaimed that such a thing was impossible, since idols could not quarrel or fight. Then he realized that his son tricked him into admitting that the idols made of stone and wood could not even move, and he became very angry. Forgetting that he had long ago deceived Nimrod by substituting another child for Abram, he went to the king and reported his son’s irreverence towards the gods.

In Nimrod’s Hands

Nimrod had Abram thrown into prison and condemned to death by fire. Hundreds of people crowded to watch the son of Prince Terah burn alive for disloyalty and disrespect towards the gods. For Abram had not kept quiet when he was brought before the king. He accused Nimrod of reducing his people to the idolatrous state of the generation before the Flood. When Abram was condemned to die by fire, he exclaimed before the court that Nimrod had no power against the will of G-d. The fire could never harm him if G-d did not wish it to, for He who gave fire the strength to burn, could take it away. His courageous speech had spread all over the country, and everyone, rich and poor, young and old, was eager to find out whether Abram was right, or whether he was just a boastful dreamer.

The Miracle in the Furnace

Abram was thrown into the fiery furnace. But G-d was with him and the fire did not touch him. It only burned the rope which bound him.

For three whole days and nights, hundreds of people could hardly believe their eyes, seeing Abram walking in the midst of the flames, without having even a hair of his head burn. King Nimrod himself had to admit that Abram had spoken the truth and that he was a man of G-d. He asked Abram to come out of the furnace. Nimrod then gave Abram many presents and sent him back to his father’s house. But Abram did not go alone. For with him went two hundred men of noble descent, amongst them, Eliezer of Damascus, who was later to become Abram’s most trusted servant. They all abandoned Nimrod and his rich court to live with Abram and learn from him the knowledge of the true G-d.

Abram married Sarai. He lived with Terah until Nimrod sent for him again, this time intending to kill him secretly. But Abram learned of this plot in time, and escaped to Noah’s house, where he had lived as a young man. Terah followed him there, and together they went to Haran in Aram Naharaim, or Mesopotamia.

G-D Commands and Promise to Abram

But the people in Mesopotamia did not worship G-d. They worshipped all kinds of idols and followed the wicked ways of Nimrod and his people. G-d saw that Abram was the only one who was righteous and G-d fearing. G-d, therefore, appeared to Abram and said: "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you."

Abram’s Obedience

Abram did as G-d told him. At the age of seventy-five years, he left Haran, accompanied by his wife Sarai, and nephew Lot, the son of his brother Haran. They wandered into the land of Canaan. Here, near the city of Shechem, in the oak groves of Moreh, G-d again appeared to Abram and said: “This land I shall give to your children.” Abram built an altar to G-d and traveled through the country to spread the knowledge of G-d wherever he went.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (15)
July 16, 2014
It is interesting that sources for the remarks about Terah are never quoted. Assumptions are fantasy, not facts.
Shel Haas
Fort Lee USA
July 16, 2014
Re: Shel
For the most part, and of the stories and information found here, that is not from the bible itself, come from the Talmud and the Midrash.
Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org
July 15, 2014
Where did you find the materials regarding Abram? There is no mention of any of this story in any historical source or in the Torah! The truth about Abram is interesting in that Melchizedek was a priest of God, he gave his visitors meat and milk at the same meal, and his father was not an idol worshipper. Why this fantasy?
Shel Haas
New Jersey, USA
April 1, 2014
Thank you for the teaching.
Anonymous
June 3, 2013
Where did Abraham live
Rebecca
March 26, 2013
If you read what G-d said to Noah after the flood, it was that He would require the life of man at the hand of man. this was in regard to killing the animals for food and sacrifice and man killing man. G-d also told him that man would live 120 years not 70 to 80 years.. it was David who said that. for man using the flesh of Anamels hid life span became shortened as man return to the original diet G-d gave to Adam his spam increases,
Anonymous
March 11, 2012
The Abrahamic faiths
One hears Judaism, Christianity and Islam referred to as the "Abrahamic" faiths. This "history" and the fact that the Muslims claim that it was the other son who was nearly sacrificed, makes it clear that the only thing the 3 faiths agree upon is that there was once a monotheist named Abraham who had a wife called Sarah who gave him one child Isaac, and also had another child called Ishmael.

I first read the above information in a book on the Talmud, and was hoping that this article would give proper references for its sources.
Natalie Kehr
London, UK
October 19, 2011
Abraham
please state were this story of Abraham history came from? according to the bible there is no such record... state your sources
Paul
toronto, ontario
October 15, 2011
Nimrod, Terah, Abraham, "the Binding"
I did NOT know this story before reading this here on Chabad, and since commenting went back on line and in fact, read the same story, about Terah, his relationship with Nimrod, and the substitution of this innocent servant child, bringing the child to certain death.

Nowhere have I read about the significance of "this story" in terms of the binding of Isaac, and it seems so relevant. Surely Abraham knew his father's story, of how he was "saved", and surely Abraham would have recognized the "story" in terms of his being ordered by G_d to sacrifice Isaac. I mean, aren't the parallels abundantly clear?

So then, What WAS the point of all this? I say, murder is wrong, and when a Father tells another father, to sacrifice his child, then this should provoke deep ethical considerations, and angst. There was a precedent and I am sure, Abraham "knew", and his actions HAD to have been informed by this knowledge.

Submission, a sign of LOVE? In caps. Put in caps, put on YOUR thinking caps.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
July 14, 2011
Typo forgot ten
Abram Destroys the Idols

Nimrod had long forgot ten the threat of the new star which his astrologers had predicted.
W.Grace
halandale, fl
Show all comments
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG