Profiles of the patriarchs: Abraham

Born in the Ur of Chaldees about 292 years after the flood, Abram (exalted father), as he was first known, was a descendant of Noah through his son Shem, 10 generations afterward. As a young man, he opposed human sacrifice and was saved from that fate only by the intervention of the Lord, who at the time called him "Abraham" (father of a multitude). (Abr. 1:5-17.) Abraham took Sarah as his wife. His father, an idol worshiper named Terah, took Abraham and his brother, Haran, from Ur of Chaldees to a land they named Haran. Both Terah and Haran died here. (Gen. 11:10-32.) Abraham was ordained to the priesthood by Melchizedek. He also kept the "records of the fathers." (Abr. 1:31.) Abraham was then commanded to go to another part of Canaan where he was promised "I will make of thee a great nation." (Gen. 12:2.) Abraham and Sarah, and his nephew Lot (Haran's son) and Lot's wife traveled to Canaan, where the Lord promised Abraham, "Unto thy seed will I give this land." (Abr. 2:19.) But famine soon forced them to move on to Egypt, where Abraham's life was again protected by the Lord. He eventually became honored in the Pharoah's court for teaching them astronomy, a knowledge with which he was greatly blessed. (Abr., Facsmile 3) Sarah was given a daughter of Pharoah, Hagar, as a handmaid.

Abraham and Sarah later returned to Canaan, bringing Lot, and so many animals that the land could not support both the herds of Abraham and the herds of Lot. Lot chose to dwell on the well-watered plain of Jordan and pitched his tent near Sodom. (Gen. 13.) After 12 years, during which time Lot became wicked, Sodom and other nearby cities rebelled against a king Chedorlaomer who had conquered and taxed them, but were re-conquered by the king.

During the re-conquering, Chedorlaomer's forces also captured Lot. When Abraham heard of this, he gathered 318 men who defeated the forces of Chedorlaomer, took many goods, and brought back Lot and his family as well. On the way home, Abraham paid tithes of his goods to Melchizedek, king of Salem. (Gen. 14.)

Promised repeatedly that his seed would be numerous, Abraham asked the Lord why he still had no seed. He was again promised that his seed would be as numberless as the stars in the heavens (Gen. 15:5). Subsequently, Sarah gave Abraham her handmaiden, Hagar the Egyptian, to be his wife. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. When Abraham was 99, the Lord promised him again that he should "be the father of many nations" and again called his name Abraham. The covenant of circumcism was introduced. The Lord also promised Sarah, who was 90, that she would have a child. Their son, Isaac, was born the next year. A supreme test of Abraham's obedience was presented when the Lord commanded him to sacrifice his son, Isaac - ironically a human sacrifice such as he had opposed as a young man, and which he almost suffered on pagan altars.

Abraham obediently "rose up early in the morning" to carry out the commandment he was given, but once his faithfulness was proved, an angel stayed his hand and Isaac was spared. The offering of Father Abraham of his beloved son was "a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:4-5.) After this show of obedience, Abraham was again promised numberless seed. He is considered the founder of the chosen people and other nations. After Sarah died, he took Keturah to wife and she bare six sons. He died "In a good old age, an old man, and ful of years." (Gen. 25:8.)

Those who receive baptism and the ordinances of the temple become heirs to the Covenant of Abraham. They are promised eternal increase and the blessings of the priesthood. (D&C 132:30-33.)

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