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An angel prevents the sacrifice of Isaac.
Abraham and Isaac by Rembrandt
Born Theological figure - traditionally 2000 BCE
probably Ur Kaśdim or Haran
Died Theological figure - traditionally 1825 BCE
Machpelah,[1] Canaan
Spouse(s) Sarah
Children Ishmael
Parents Terah
Biblical longevity
Name Age LXX
Methuselah 969 969
Jared 962 962
Noah 950 950
Adam 930 930
Seth 912 912
Kenan 910 910
Enos 905 905
Mahalalel 895 895
Lamech 777 753
Shem 600 600
Eber 464 404
Cainan 460
Arpachshad 438 465
Salah 433 466
Enoch 365 365
Peleg 239 339
Reu 239 339
Serug 230 330
Job 210? 210?
Terah 205 205
Isaac 180 180
Abraham 175 175
Nahor 148 304
Jacob 147 147
Esau 147? 147?
Ishmael 137 137
Levi 137 137
Amram 137 137
Kohath 133 133
Laban 130+ 130+
Deborah 130+ 130+
Sarah 127 127
Miriam 125+ 125+
Aaron 123 123
Rebecca 120+ 120+
Moses 120 120
Joseph 110 110
Joshua 110 110

Abraham (Hebrew: אַבְרָהָם, Modern Avraham Tiberian ʾAḇrāhām, Arabic: إبراهيم, Ibrahim|Ibrāhīm, ʾAbrəham) is the founding patriarch of the Israelites, Ishmaelites, Midianites and Edomite peoples, as described in the book of Genesis. He is widely regarded as the patriarch of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Baha'is. It is uncertain to what extent Abraham was a mythical figure and to what extent a real historical person.

According to Genesis, Abraham was originally named Abram and was of the tenth generation from Noah and the 20th from Adam.[2] His father's name was Terah, and he had two brothers, Nahor and Haran. Abraham was sent by God from his home in Ur Kaśdim and Haran (perhaps Harran) to Canaan, the land promised to his descendants by Yahweh.

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

In Canaan, Abraham entered into a covenant: in exchange for recognition of YHWH as his God, Abraham will be blessed with innumerable progeny and the land would belong to his descendants.[3] According to Genesis 17:5, his name was changed by God from Abram (probably meaning "the father is exalted") to Abraham, a name which Genesis explains as meaning "father of many nations."

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are sometimes referred to as the "Abrahamic religions" because of the progenitor role Abraham plays in their holy books. In the Jewish tradition, he is called Avraham Avinu or "Abraham, our Father". God promised Abraham that through his offspring, all the nations of the world will come to be blessed (Genesis 12:3), interpreted in Christian tradition as a reference particularly to Christ. Jews, Christians, and Muslims consider him father of the people of Israel through his son Isaac (cf. Exodus 6:3, Exodus 32:13) by his wife Sarah. For Muslims, he is a prophet of Islam and the ancestor of Muhammad through his other son Ishmael – born to him by Sarah's servant, Hagar. (Jews and Christians refer to Hagar as Sarah's servant.) Abraham is also a progenitor of the Semitic tribes of the Negev who trace their descent from their common ancestor Sheba (Genesis 10:28).


Abraham's name first appears as Abram (אַבְרָם, Standard  Avram Tiberian ʾAḇrām) meaning either "exalted father" or "my father is exalted" (compare Abiram). Later in Genesis God changes his name to Abraham, which the text glosses as av hamon (goyim) "father of many (nations)" [See Genesis 17:5]; however the name does not have any literal meaning in Hebrew.[4] Many interpretations have been offered based on modern textual and linguistic analysis, including an analysis of a first element abr- "chief", which however yields a meaningless second element. Johann Friedrich Karl Keil suggests there was once a word raham (רָהָם) in Hebrew, meaning "multitude", on analogy with the word ruhâm which has this meaning in Arabic, but this is purely speculative.[5] David Rohl suggests the name comes from Akkadian, "the father loves." [6]

Genesis narrative

The story of his life is found in Genesis, from chapter 11:26 to 25:10.

Abraham's Departure by József Molnár.

Birth and call

Terah, the tenth in descent from Noah, fathered Abram, Nahor and Haran, and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in his birthplace, Ur of the Chaldees[7] and Abram married Sarai, who was barren. Terah, with his surviving sons and their families, then departed for Canaan, but settled in Haran, where Terah died at the age of 205.[8]

Following the death of Terah, when Abram was seventy-five, the Lord spoke to Abram, telling him to leave his father's house and his kindred and the land of his birth[9] and go "to the land that I will show you", where Abram will become a great nation. So Abram departed Haran with Sarai and Lot and all their followers and flocks, and they traveled to Canaan, where, at Shechem, the Lord gave the land to him and his seed. There Abram built an altar to the Lord and continued to travel towards the south.[10]

Pharaoh and Abimelech

On two separate occasions, Abram/Abraham travels west, where he tells his wife to pretend to be his sister because he fears he would otherwise be killed because of her beauty. On each occasion, the ruler in question, first Pharaoh and later Abimelech, is attracted to Sarai/Sarah and attempts to marry her. On both occasions the Lord and the ruler send Abraham away with great wealth.[11][12]


"Three Angels visiting Abraham", by an unknown Italian artist of the XVIII Century (Sacro Monte di Ghiffa).

Following the period spent in Egypt, Abram, Sarai and his nephew Lot, returned to Ai in Canaan. There they dwelt for some time, their herds increasing, until strife arose between the herdsmen. Abram thereupon proposed to Lot that they should separate, allowing Lot the first choice. Lot took the fertile land lying east of the Jordan River and near to Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram lived in Canaan, moving down to the oaks of Mamre in Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord.[13]

After this, an invading force from Northern Mesopotamia, led by Chedorlaomer king of Elam, attacked and subdued the Cities of the Plain, forcing them to pay tribute. After twelve years, these cities rebelled. The following year Chedorlaomer and his allies returned, defeating the rebels and taking many captive, including Lot. Abraham assembled his men and chased after the invaders, defeating them near Damascus. Upon his return he is met by the king of Salem, Melchizedek, who blesses him. The king of Sodom offers Abraham the rescued goods as reward, but Abraham refuses, so that the king of Sodom cannot say "I have made Abram rich."[14]

During this period, Sarai, being barren, offers her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abram. Hagar soon conceives. Sarai, jealous of this, treats Hagar harshly, forcing her to flee. When in the desert, the Lord appears to Hagar, telling her to return, but promising that her son shall also be the father of a "multitude". Her son is called Ishmael.[15]

When Abram is ninety-nine, the Lord again appears to him and affirms his promise. A covenant is entered into: Sarai will give birth to a son who will be called Isaac and Abram's house must from thenceforth be circumcised. It is promised that Ishmael will father twelve princes, who will become a great nation. Abram's name is changed to Abraham and Sarai's to Sarah.[16]

Soon after, the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah bring two angels down to investigate. Abraham pleads with them to spare the city if first fifty, then forty-five, then forty, then thirty, then twenty, and finally ten righteous men are found in the city. In each case the angels agree that the city would be spared. They enter the city, where they meet Lot, who offers them hospitality. Soon a crowd gathers around Lot's house, demanding the two angels that they may "know" them (traditionally interpreted as a desire to have sex with them). Lot offers his daughters, but the men of the city press forward until the angels smite them with blindness. In the morning Lot is told to flee and not to look back as the cities are destroyed. However, his wife disobeys and is turned into a pillar of salt.[17]

After this Abraham enters into a treaty with Abimelech at Beer-sheba.[18]


A recurring feature of the story of Abraham are the covenants between him and the Lord, which are reiterated and reaffirmed several times. When Abram is told to leave Ur Kaśdim, the Lord promises "I will make you into a great nation".[19] After parting from Lot, God reappears and promises "All the land that you can see" to Abraham and that his seed would be "like the dust of the earth" in number.[20] Following the battle of the Vale of Siddim, the Lord appears and reaffirms the promise. Further, it is prophesied that "your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years." Abraham makes a sacrifice and enters into a covenant, YHWH declaring: "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."[21] This covenant refers to Abraham's descendants through his sons Isaac and Ishmael. The Abrahamic Covenant of Isaac did not pass to all the descendents of Isaac, however. From Isaac the Covenant passed successively to Jacob [27], Joseph [48:3-4], and Ephraim [48:17-19], so that while it was prophesied that the Messiah would come from Jacob's son Judah—i.e. the Jewish people—the birthright of many nations remained with Joseph's son Ephraim. [5:1-2] However the Ephraimites were defeated by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and scattered across the Assyrian Empire, so that their modern-day identity has been lost. Many groups have attempted to claim this identity; however, most of these groups are in America, Britain and Australia, locations which do not correspond to those specified in the Abrahamic Covenant. (See British Israelism.)

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord again appeared to him to reaffirm the covenant and changed his name to Abraham. Abraham is instructed, for his part, to circumcise all males of his house.[16] The Abrahamic covenant with the Israelites through Isaac, would later then be shifted to the Ishmaelites through the advent of Muhammad. [22] [23]

Binding of Isaac

Some time after the birth of Isaac, Abraham was commanded by the Lord to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. The patriarch traveled three days until he came to the mount that God taught him. He commanded the servant to remain while he and Isaac proceeded alone to the mountain, Isaac carrying the wood upon which he would be sacrificed. Along the way, Isaac repeatedly asked Abraham where the animal for the burnt offering was. Abraham then replied that the Lord would provide one. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was prevented by an angel, and given on that spot a ram which he sacrificed in place of his son. Thus it is said, "On the mountain the Lord provides." As a reward for his obedience he received another promise of a numerous seed and abundant prosperity. After this event, Abraham did not return to Hebron, Sarah's encampment, but instead went to Beersheba, Keturah's encampment, and it is to Beersheba that Abraham's servant brought Rebecca, Isaac's patrilineal parallel cousin who became his wife.[24]

Later years

Sarah died at the age of 127, and was buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs near Hebron, which Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite, along with the adjoining field. Abraham, being reminded by this occurrence, probably, of his own great age, and the consequent uncertainty of his life, became solicitous to secure an alliance between Isaac and a female branch of his own family.

Eliezer his steward was therefore sent into Mesopotamia, to find from Abraham's kindred a wife for his son Isaac. Eliezer went on his commission with prudence, and returned with Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, granddaughter of Nahor, and, consequently, Abraham's grandniece and Isaac's first-cousin once removed. Many biblical commentators believe that Rebekah was still a child when she married Isaac, while Isaac was forty years of age.[25]

Abraham lived a long time after these events. After the death of Sarah, he took another wife, a concubine named Keturah and she bore Abraham six sons, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.[26]

Abraham died at the age of 175 years. Jewish legend says that he was meant to live to 180 years, but God purposely took his life because he felt that Abraham did not need to go through the pain of seeing Esau's wicked deeds. He was buried by his sons Isaac (aged about 76 years) and Ishmael (aged about 89 years), in the Cave of the Patriarchs (also known as the Cave of Machpelah), which is where he had deposited the remains of his beloved Sarah.[27]


Abraham is held as a founding father in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. Genesis states that the nation of Israel descended from him through his second son, Isaac. Many Arab nations are said to have descended from him through his first son, Ishmael, and Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad is his direct descendent. An extra-biblical book known as the Book of Jubilees also places the location and identity of the Ishmaelites as the Arab peoples. However, all Biblical accounts do not agree on this. Some references, such as the Book of Jashar, indicate that the Ishmaelites settled in Tarshish.

In Christianity

Abraham Sacrificing Isaac by Laurent de La Hire, 1650 (Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans).

In the New Testament Abraham is mentioned prominently as a man of faith (see e.g., Hebrews 11), and the apostle Paul uses him as an example of salvation by faith, as the progenitor of the Christ (or Messiah) (see Galatians 3:16).

17th century Russian icon of Abraham (Andrei Rublev Museum, Moscow).

Authors of the New Testament report that Jesus cited Abraham to support belief in the resurrection of the dead. "But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken" (Mark 12:26-27). The New Testament also sees Abraham as an obedient man of God, and Abraham's interrupted attempt to offer up Isaac is seen as the supreme act of perfect faith in God. "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called', concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense" (Hebrews 11:17-19). The imagery of a father sacrificing his son is seen as a type of God the Father offering his Son on Golgatha.

The traditional view in Christianity is that the chief promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 is that through Abraham's seed, all the people of earth would be blessed. Notwithstanding this, John the Baptist specifically taught that merely being of Abraham's seed was no guarantee of salvation. The promise in Genesis is considered to have been fulfilled through Abraham's seed, Jesus. It is also a consequence of this promise that Christianity is open to people of all races and not limited to Jews.

Liturgical commemoration

The Roman Catholic Church calls Abraham "our father in Faith," in the Eucharistic prayer of the Roman Canon, recited during the Mass (see Abraham in the Catholic liturgy). He is also commemorated in the calendars of saints of several denominations: on August 20 by the Maronite Church, August 28 in the Coptic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, with the full office for the latter, and on October 9 by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. He is also regarded as the patron saint of those in the hospitality industry.[28]

The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him as the "Righteous Forefather Abraham", with two feast days in its liturgical calendar. The first time is on October 9 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, October 9 falls on October 22 of the modern Gregorian Calendar), where he is commemorated together with his nephew "Righteous Lot". The other on the "Sunday of the Forefathers" (two Sundays before Christmas), where he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. Abraham is also mentioned in the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, just before the Anaphora. Abraham and Sarah are invoked in the prayers said by the priest over a newly married couple at the Sacred Mystery of Crowning (i.e., the Sacrament of Marriage).

In Islam

Abraham, known as Ibrahim in Arabic, is very important in Islam, both in his own right as a prophet as well as being the father of Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael, his firstborn son, is considered the Father of the Arabised Arabs, and Isaac is considered the Father of the Hebrews. The Qur'an does not specify whether it was Ishmael or Isaac whom Abraham was ordered to sacrifice, yet many Muslims believe it was Ishmael. Among the evidence offered for this are two arguments:

1- That Ishmael is older than Isaac. This means that Isaac was never Abraham's only son, while Ishmael was for several years.

2- That the angels whom God had sent to Abraham, had already revealed to Abraham and his wife that Isaac will have Jacob as a son, so Abraham must have known that Isaac's life is guaranteed by that divine revelation.

Abraham is revered by Muslims as one of the Prophets of Islam, and the person who gave Muslims their name as "Muslims" (those who submit to God). Abraham is revered by Muslims as one of the Prophets of Islam, and is commonly termed Khalil Ullah, "Friend of God". Abraham is considered a Hanif, that is, a discoverer of monotheism.[29]

Abraham is mentioned in many passages in 25 Qur'anic suras (chapters). The number of repetitions of his name in the Qur'an is second only to Moses.[30]

Abraham's footprint is displayed outside the Kaaba, which is on a stone, protected and guarded by Mutawa (Religious Police). The annual Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, follows Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael's journey to the sacred place of the Kaaba. Islamic tradition narrates that Abraham's subsequent visits to the Northern Arabian region, after leaving Ishmael and Hagar (in the area that would later become the Islamic holy city of Mecca), were not only to visit Ishmael but also to construct the first house of worship for God (that is, the monotheistic concept and model of God), the Kaaba -as per God's command.[31] The Eid ul-Adha ceremony is focused on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his promised son on God's command. In turn, God spared his son's life and instead substituted a goat. This was Abraham's test of faith. On Eid ul-Adha, Muslims sacrifice a domestic animal—a sheep, goat—as a symbol of Abraham's sacrifice, and divide the meat among the family members, friends, relatives, and most importantly, the poor.

Arab connection

A line in the Book of Jubilees (20:13) mentions that the descendants of Abraham's son by Hagar, Ishmael, as well as his descendants by Keturah, became the "Arabians" or "Arabs". The 1st century Jewish historian Josephus similarly described the descendants of Ishmael (i.e. the Ishmaelites) as an "Arabian" people.[32] He also calls Ishmael the "founder" (κτίστης) of the "Arabians".[33] Some Biblical scholars also believe that the area outlined in Genesis as the final destination of Ishmael and his descendants ("from Havilah to Shur") refers to the Arabian Peninsula. This has led to a commonplace view that modern Semitic-speaking Arabs are descended from Abraham via Ishmael, in addition to various other tribes who intermixed with the Ishmaelites, such as Joktan, Sheba, Dedan, Broham, etc. Both Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions speak of earlier inhabitants of Arabia.

Classical Arab historians traced the true Arabs (i.e., the original Arabs from Yemen) to Qahtan and the Arabicised Arabs (people from the region of Mecca, who assimilated into the Arabs) to Adnan, said to be an ancestor of Muhammad, and have further equated Ishmael with A'raq Al-Thara] said to be ancestor of Adnan. Umm Salama, one of Muhammad's wives, wrote that this was done using the following hermeneutical reasoning: Thara means moist earth, Abraham was not consumed by fire, fire does not consume moist earth, thus A'raq al-Thara must be Ishmael son of Abraham.[34]

Textual criticism

Writers have regarded the life of Abraham in various ways. He has been viewed as a chieftain of the Amorites, as the head of a great Semitic migration from Mesopotamia; or, since Ur (theorized by some to be Ur Kaśdim) and Harran (theorized by some to be Haran) were seats of Moon-worship, he has been identified with a moon-god. From the character of the literary evidence and the locale of the stories it has been held that Abraham was originally associated with Hebron. The double name Abram/Abraham has even suggested that two personages have been combined in the Biblical narrative; although this does not explain the change from Sarai to Sarah.

The discovery of the name Abi-ramu on Babylonian contracts of about 2000 BCE does not prove the Abraham of the Old Testament to be a historical person, even as the fact that there were Amorites in Babylonia at the same period does not make it certain that the 'patriarch' was one of their number. Michael Astour in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (s.v. "Amraphel", "Arioch" and "Chedorlaomer"), explains the story of Genesis 14 as a product of anti-Babylonian propaganda during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews:

"After Böhl's widely accepted, but wrong, identification of mTu-ud-hul-a with one of the Hittite kings named Tudhaliyas, Tadmor found the correct solution by equating him with the Assyrian king Sennacherib (see Tidal). Astour (1966) identified the remaining two kings of the Chedorlaomer texts with Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria (see Arioch) and with the Chaldean Merodach-baladan (see Amraphel). The common denominator between these four rulers is that each of them, independently, occupied Babylon, oppressed it to a greater or lesser degree, and took away its sacred divine images, including the statue of its chief god Marduk; furthermore, all of them came to a tragic end.
3. Relationship to Genesis 14. All attempts to reconstruct the link between the Chedorlaomer texts and Genesis 14 remain speculative. However, the available evidence seems consistent with the following hypothesis: A Jew in Babylon, versed in Akkadian language and cuneiform script, found in an early version of the Chedorlaomer texts certain things consistent with his anti-Babylonian feelings." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Chedorlaomer")

Another scholar considers a relationship between the tablet and Gen. speculative, also identifies but identifies Tudhula as a veiled reference to Sennacherib of Assyria, and Chedorlaomer, i.e. Kudur-Nahhunte, as "a recollection of a 12th century BCE king of Elam who briefly ruled Babylon." [35]

The Anchor Bible Dictionary suggests that the biblical account was in all probability derived from a text very closely related to the Chedorlaomer Tablets. The Chedorlaomer Tablets are thought to be from the 6th or 7th century BCE, well after the time of Hammurabi, at roughly the time when Gen. through Deu. are thought to have come into their present form (e.g. see the Documentary Hypothesis). While Astour's identifications of the figures these tablets refer to is certainly open to question, he does cautiously support a link between them and Gen. 14:1. Hammurabi is never known to have campaigned near the Dead Sea at all, although his son had. Writes Astour, "This identification, once widely accepted, was later virtually abandoned, mainly because Hammurabi was never active in the West." The Chedorlaomer Tablets, then, appear to still be the closest archaeological parallel to the kings of the Eastern coalition mentioned in Gen. 14:1. The only problem is, that in all probability, they refer to kings that were from widely separated times, having conquered Babylon in different eras. Linguistically, it seems, there is little reason to reject the identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel, but the narrative does not make sense in light of modern archeology when it is made. A number of scholars also say that the connection does not make sense on chronological grounds, since it would place Abram later than the traditional date, but on this, see the section on chronology below.

Dating and historicity

Traditional dating

According to calculations directly derived from the Masoretic Hebrew Torah, Abraham was born 1948 AM (Anno Mundi), 1,948 years after biblical creation and lived for 175 years (Genesis 25:7), which would correspond to a life spanning from 1812 BCE to 1637 BCE by Jewish dating. The figures in the Book of Jubilees have Abraham born 1,876 years after creation, and 534 years before the Exodus; the ages provided in the Samaritan version of Genesis agree closely with those of Jubilees before the Deluge, but after the Deluge, they add roughly 100 years to each of the ages of the Patriarchs in the Masoretic Text, resulting in the figure of 2,247 years after creation for Abraham's birth. The Greek Septuagint version adds around 100 years to nearly all of the patriarchs' births, producing the even higher figure of 3,312 years after creation for Abraham's birth.

Other interpretations of Biblical chronology place Abraham's birth at 2008 AM. In Genesis 11:32, Abraham was the youngest son of Terah who died in Haran aged 205, in year 2083 AM. In Gen.12:4 we learn that at that time Abraham was 75 years old. In other words, Abraham was born when his father Terah was 130 years old. (205-75 = 130). Therefore, Abraham was born in year 2008 AM.

History of dating attempts

When cuneiform was first deciphered, Theophilus Pinches translated some Babylonian tablets which were part of the Spartoli collection in the British Museum. In particular, he believed he found in the Chedorlaomer Text, currently thought to have been written in the 6th to the 7th century BCE, the names of three of the kings of the Eastern coalition fighting against the five kings from the Vale of Siddim in Gen. 14:1. This is the only part of Genesis which seems to set Abraham in a context of wider political history, and the idea of many 19th/early 20th century exegetes and assyriologists was that it seemed to offer an opening to date Abraham, if the kings in question could only be identified. In 1887, Schrader then was the first to propose that Amraphel could be an alternate spelling for Hammurabi (cf. the ISBE of 1915, s.v. "Hammurabi").

Vincent Scheil subsequently found a tablet in the Imperial Ottoman Museum in Istanbul from Hammurabi to a king of the very same name, i.e. Kuder-Lagomer, as in Pinches' tablet. Thus are achieved the following correspondences:

Name from Gen. 14:1 Name from Archaeology
Amraphel king of Shinar Hammurabi (="Ammurapi") king of Babylonia
Arioch king of Ellasar Eri-aku king of Larsa (i.e. Assyria)
Chedorlaomer king of Elam (= Chodollogomor in the LXX) Kudur-Lagamar king of Elam
Tidal, king of nations (i.e. goyim, lit. 'nations') Tudhulu, son of Gazza

By 1915, many scholars had become largely convinced that the kings of Gen. 14:1 had been identified (cf. again the ISBE of 1915, s.v. Hammurabi, which mentions the identification as doubtful, and also The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917, s.v. "Amraphel", and Donald A. MacKenzie's 1915 Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, who has (p. 247) "The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now generally accepted"). The terminal -bi on the end of Hammurabi's name was seen to parallel Amraphel since the cuneiform symbol for -bi can also be pronounced -pi. Tablets were known in which the initial symbol for Hammurabi, pronounced as kh to yield Khammurabi, had been dropped, such that Ammurapi was a viable pronunciation. Supposing him to have been deified in his lifetime or afterwards yielded Ammurabi-il, which was suitably close to the Bible's Amraphel.

Albright was instrumental in synchronizing Hammurabi with Assyrian and Egyptian contemporaries, such that Hammurabi is now thought to have lived in the late 18th century, not in the 19th as assumed by the long chronology. Since many confessional and evangelical theologians may feel disinclined to state that the dates of the Bible might be in error, some of these began synchronizing Abram with the empire of Sargon I (23rd century in the short chronology), and the work of Schrader, Pinches and Scheil fell out of favor with them. Later research into the culture of Mesopotamia and Syria in the second millennium BCE have seemed to undercut attempts to tie Abraham in with a definite century, and to treat him as a strictly historical figure. Little now remains of the attempts of scholars of previous generations to identify names such as Amraphel with major historical figures like Hammurabi.[36] While it is widely admitted that there is no archaeological evidence to prove the existence of Abraham, apparent parallels to Genesis in the archaeological record assure that speculations on the patriarch's historicity and on the period that would best fit the account in Genesis remain alive in religious circles. Many scholars claim, on the basis of archaeological and philological evidence, that many stories in the Pentateuch, including the accounts about Abraham and Moses, were written under King Josiah (7th century BCE) or King Hezekiah (8th century BCE) in order to provide a historical framework for the monotheistic belief in Yahweh. Some scholars argue that the archives of neighboring countries with written records that survive, such as Egypt and Assyria show no trace of the stories of the Bible or its main characters before 650 BCE. Even so, the Moabite Stele mentions king Omri of Israel, and many scholars draw parallels between the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I and the Shishaq of the Bible (1 Ki. 11:40; 14:25; and 2 Chr. 12:2-9), and between the king David of the Bible and a ninth-century BCE inscription that appears to refer to the House of David.[37]

See also


  1. Genesis 25:9
  2. Genesis 5:4-29 Genesis 7:13 Genesis 11:10-26
  3. Genesis 17:2-9
  5. K.F. Keil (1869), Biblical commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 224
  6. David Rohl, The Lost Testament (2002), ISBN 0712669930
  7. It is universally assumed that Ur of the Chaldees was also the birthplace of Abram/Abraham, but the text of Genesis does not explicitly state this
  8. Genesis 11:27-11:31
  9. The instruction to leave the land of his birth creates an anomaly: if Ur of the Chaldees is the land of Abraham's birth, he has already left it.
  10. Genesis 12:1-9
  11. Genesis 12:9-20
  12. Genesis 20
  13. Genesis 13
  14. Genesis 14
  15. Genesis 16
  16. 16.0 16.1 Genesis 17
  17. Genesis 18-19
  18. Genesis 21:22-34
  19. Genesis 12:1-7
  20. Genesis 13:14-17
  21. Genesis 15
  22. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3606
  23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named The Book of Jubilees Chapter 20
  24. Genesis 22
  25. Genesis 23-24
  26. Genesis 25:1-6
  27. Genesis 25:9 and Genesis 23:19
  28. *Holweck, F. G., A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co. 1924.
  29. Ibrahim Canan; Jessica Ozalp (2007). The Message of Abraham. Tughra Books. 
  30. Ibrahim, Encyclopedia of Islam
  31. "USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts". 
  32. Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, 12:4
  33. Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, 12:2
  34. The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), Volume I, translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed, Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, South Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998, pp. 50-52;
  35. "Finding Historical Memories in the Patriarchal Narratives" by Ronald Hindel, BAR, Jul/Aug 1995
  36. The Encyclopedia Britannica article on "Amraphel" has: "Scholars of previous generations tried to identify these names with important historical figures—e.g., Amraphel with Hammurabi of Babylon—but little remains today of these suppositions."
  37. Rosenberg, Stephen Gabriel (7 November 2008). Jerusalem Post. 


  • Rosenberg, David. Abraham: The First Historical Biography. Basic Books/Perseus Books Group, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006. ISBN 0-465-07094-9.
  • Holweck, F. G. A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co. 1924.
  • Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary
  • Nibley, Hugh W. Abraham's Temple Drama
  • Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism
  • Beer, Leben Abraham's
  • Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, trans. Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909)
  • Book of Abraham LDS scripture Pearl of Great Price
  • Bloch, Israel und die Völker (Berlin: Harz, 1922)
  • Torcszyner, "The Riddle in the Bible," Hebrew Union College Annual 1 (1924)
  • Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews
  • Kohler, "The Pre-Talmudic Haggada," Jewish Quarterly Review 7 (July 1895): 587.
  • André Flury-Schölch: Abrahams Segen und die Völker. Synchrone und diachrone Untersuchungen zu Gen 12,1-3 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der intertextuellen Beziehungen zu Gen 18, 22, 26, 28, Sir 44, Jer 4 und Ps 72 (Forschung zur Bibel 115), Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-429-02738-4

External links

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This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Abraham. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.