Abraham and His Family

By Genelle Austin-Lett

Categories: Patriarchs

  • Abraham is the tenth generation descendant from Noah's son Shem.
  • Abram means "exalted father." Abraham means "father of many nations."
  • Terah, Abraham's father, was a maker of idols. Abraham took a stand against idols in his youth. 1
  • Abraham and Sarah had the same father and father-in-law. The prevailing thought of that day was that being in the womb was a stronger genetic connection and tie to the mother than the father. You could marry a sibling from your father but not from your mother.
  • Sarah was disgraced in the eyes of Terah for not producing a child, let alone a son.
  • If a woman only had daughters, her husband could divorce her.
  • The journey from Ur to Haran was approximately 550 miles (about the same as from San Francisco to San Diego)
  • God's promises to Abraham:
    • Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Gen 12:1-3)
    • And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. (Gen 12:6,7)
    • And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. (Gen 13:14,15)
    • After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:1-6)
    • As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Gen 17:4-8)
    • That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Gen 22:17,18)
  • Nomadic living was an honored and highly respected life style.
  • Abraham was willing to listen to God and obey Him.
  • Adultery was considered more serious than murder, so if a king wanted another man's wife, he simply murdered her husband.2
  • Sarah was so beautiful at age 60 that Abraham told her to tell Abimelech (King of Gerar) that they were brother and sister. (Gen 12:13; 20:2)
  • Abraham was a peacemaker. He settled the dispute between Lot's and his herdsmen. (Gen. 13:7-9)
  • Abraham exemplified the finest traits of Oriental culture. He was hospitable, generous, and courteous.
  • Lot was taken prisoner during the invasion of Chedorlaomer and his confederate kings. (Gen. 14:4-13)
  • Abraham armed 318 of his servants and rescued Lot.
  • Abraham was a military leader and warrior. (Gen. 14:14-16)
  • Melchizedek was King of Salem (Jerusalem) and a high priest.
  • Melchizedek was recorded as having neither mother nor father nor having a beginning or an end of days. [Worth a thorough study!]
  • God promised Abraham he would be a father of nations, but when a child didn't arrive in the first ten years, Sarah took things into her own hands. She gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham to have a child. This tried the relationship between God and Abraham and Sarah. (Gen. 16:1-3)
  • When women selected surrogate mothers, as Sarah selected Hagar, they stayed close to one another. The woman who couldn't bear a child tried to "feel" the experience of the woman bearing the child, even to the degree of sitting on the same birthing stool during the delivery in order to share the pain and experience the joy of giving birth. Sarah and Hagar didn't appear to have this "close" relationship.
  • Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born.
  • Ishmael and Hagar were cast out when Isaac was three years old because Sarah would not share Isaac's birthright with Ishmael.
  • Abraham was circumcised at ninety-nine years of age. (Gen 17:10, 23-27) Ishmael was circumcised at 13 and Isaac was 8 days old (the set time for the ritual). All of Abraham's male servants born in the house or bought were also circumcised.
  • Abraham bargained with God for Lot's safety. (Gen. 18:24-32)
  • Abraham broke with the current beliefs of many gods and instituted worship of only one God.
  • Abraham had incredible patience with God.
  • Abraham was a prophet. (Gen. 20:7)
  • Abraham performed the first healing in the Bible. (Gen. 20:17)
  • Abraham perceived the evil of human sacrifice.3 (Gen. 22:1-18)
  • The phrase "God did tempt Abraham" (regarding sacrificing Isaac Gen.22:1) meant test, try, prove, assay, "…much as we test or assay precious metals to discover their basic purity and consequent value." 4
  • Abraham is the spiritual ancestor of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians. 5
  • Abraham was a wealthy man. 6
  • Abraham was a distinguished adviser and citizen. 7
  • Abraham was a man of authority who was benevolent, not autocratic or tyrannical. 8
  • The Bible accounts refer to Abraham as God's friend. (II Chron. 20:7; Isa 41:8; James 2:23). "Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?" (II Chron 20:7)
  • Abraham was trusting: "Abram's trust in the promise and his move from Haran to Canaan will certainly mean a new level of meaning and life for him. But the God who commands and promises will also change forever as well. Having made promises, and being faithful to those promises, means that God is now committed to a future with the one who has faithfully responded. The text describes not only human faithfulness, but also divine faithfulness to promises made to a specific family. God will never be the same again. By his word, God has created a new family…" 9
  • Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died. She bore him six sons. (Gen. 25:1-6)
  • Abraham died at 175 years of age.
  • Ishmael married an Egyptian woman and had 12 sons and one daughter. (Gen 25:16) [Sounds like Jacob.]
  • Ishmael's sons became chieftains of 12 tribal groups. The sons of Ishmael became the ancestors of the Arabs. 10
  • Ishmael lived to 137 years of age.
  • Abraham's only set of directions was to go by faith. "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." (Heb 11:8) (Is that the reason some men don't ask for directions?)

Bruce Feiler, author of the best selling book Abraham, concludes with: "…Abraham believes-against all belief-that his children still crave God. They still need the comfort of something greater than themselves, still hold on to some gleam of humanity, still dream of a moment when they stand alongside one another and pray for their lost father and for the legacy of peace among the nations that was his initial mandate from heaven. This Abraham is not Jew, Christian, or Muslim. He is not flawless; he's not a saint. But he is himself, the best vessel we've got, the father of all."


1 Thomas L. Leishman. The Continuity of the Bible The Patriarchs. 1968, p. 10

2 Julie Campbell Tatham. The Old Testament Made Easy. 1985, p. 31

3 Ibid. 29

4 Leishman. p. 17

5 Tatham, p. 29

6 H.I. Hester. The Heart of Hebrew History. 1962, p. 85

7 Ibid. p. 85

8 Ibid. p. 85

9 The New Interpreter's Bible. Vol 1 p. 426

10 Hester, p. 93

Bible Characters