When searching for Abraham, one needs to bear in mind the words Richard A. Freud uses in his book, Digging Through the Bible.
"The search for specific historical figures and places through the use of archaeology is generally a frustrating and often fruitless endeavor....It is like looking for a proverbial 'needle in a haystack' "
These words were meant for this man, as few have shaped world history as much. Yet, the search for archaeological evidence has produced nothing to suggest that he ever lived.
Is he a collected group of legends and myths "collapsed" into one biblical character? Is he as the Bible says? What is known of this great Patriarch comes not from the ground, but from the mouth and written word.
Despite archaeology's inability to prove his existence, three of the world's most powerful religions all claim him as their own. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, all trace their roots back to Abram and his offspring, either Ishmael or Isaac.
He was the founder of Monotheism, the belief in one god, as opposed to Polytheism, the belief in many gods. He was the first missionary, in the sense of serving God in a foreign land. He is listed in the New Testament as a model of Faith, and faithful behavior with obedience to God.
Yet, he is a mystery in the world of history and archaeology. Though it is widely agreed upon that he did exist, the details of his life, and whether what we have today is simply legend developed over time, is still in debate.
It is known that mass migrations did occur, around 1880 B.C.E., from Mesopotamia to Canaan, the route Abram is said to have traveled in Genesis.
It is also widely agreed upon that, whether he existed as an actual historical figure, or a composite of many different stories, him and his family more than likely emerged from a Semitic speaking tribe, located in Mesopotamia, though the exact location is widely debated.
His birth is associated with Ur, of the Chaldeans. This phrase, "of the Chaldeans", has proven to be problematic.
The Chaldeans were not in existence during his time. The Chaldeans were a tribe which lived on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
They did not arrive in southern Mesopotamia until the end of the second millennium, whereas the time of Terah and Abram was much earlier, closer to the beginning of that time period.
Many scholars claim the intent of the author was to identify Ur to readers of the Bible in the first millennium B.C.
However, another theory remains which claims this word, "Chaldeans", is actually a mistranslation of the Hebrew word Kasdim, which is the Old Testament word for Babylonian.
Regardless, the exact location of Ur depends on what perspective one is looking through. To Jews and Christians, Ur is associated with the capital of ancient Sumer.
Muslims, however, associate Ur with Sanliurfa, an area in southern Turkey. Still, others claim the actual location of Ur is unknown.
The Bible is the most complete account of this extraordinary man in existence. The book of Genesis records his movements from the time of God's calling him at the age of 75, until his death at 175.
Bruce Feiler (Walking the Bible) dives into the spiritual side of God's servant in his book Abraham, courtesy of Amazon.com. Feiler provides a perspective on this incredible man from each of the world's top three religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three religions trace their roots to the Father of Many Nations, and Feiler explores the legends of each religion surrounding him, and compares the Biblical Abraham to the Abraham of the Koran in this enlightening and insightful book. Click on the link below to re-direct to Amazon.com and see Abraham like never before!
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Old Testament Timeline : Abraham marks the first point in Genesis where history can attempt to date the Old Testament narrative with any degree of certainty. Debates exist, for sure, about the time period of Abram, but tempting evidence suggests the Middle Bronze Age.
The Story of Abram : This story begins with God's call for Terah and his family to leave Ur. From Ur, Abram would encounter many trials on his way to becoming the Father of Many Nations.
Sarah : As Abraham entered Canaan, his focus became a male heir to inherit his household, and continue God's work. Abraham and Sarah faced many hardships before the birth of Isaac.
Lot : With the death of Lot's father, Haran, his uncle Abram seems to have adopted him. Together, they would encounter numerous adventures in Canaan.
Melchizedek : Who was Melchizedek, Priest of the Most High God? After Abraham defeated Chederlaomer, Melchizedek blessed him in the name of God. Some claim him to be Shem. Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious characters in all of the Bible.
The Sodomite Society : The sin of the Sodomites has been a topic of discourse amongst Bible scholars and historians. What was Sodomite society like? What must their sin had been to draw such wrath from God? Traditions abound describing the depravity of Sodomite civilization.
Sodom and Gomorrah : The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the strongest messages in all of the Bible. Brimstone was said to have rained down from above. In fact, mysterious brimstone deposits have been found all around the Dead Sea area.
Isaac : God provided a miracle with the birth of Isaac. God had proven Himself faithful once again. However, with the birth of Isaac, conflict arose in camp.
The Binding of Isaac : The Binding of Isaac was his father's most difficult test of faith. How could he sacrifice his own son? How could he deny God? Abraham and Isaac both demonstrated remarkable faith throughout the ordeal.
Hagar and Ishmael : Hagar and Ishmael were cast out from Abraham's household. However, God protected them. His promise concerning Ishmael establishing a great nation is seen today in the Arab people.
This man is one of the most important figures in all of the Bible. To
understand the social and historical context of his day, and what God
was asking him to do, is paramount to understanding faith, and what role
faith plays in a relationship with God. Journey into the life of this
remarkable man, responsible for three of the world's top religions, and
gain a better understanding of God's expectations for mankind.
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