Abraham – The Call of Abram (Readings)

Genesis 11:27-12:9

27 Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28 Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chalde′ans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sar′ai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sar′ai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sar′ai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chalde′ans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sar′ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

Joshua 24:1-3
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Your fathers lived of old beyond the Euphra′tes, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. 3 Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many.

Genesis Rabba, 38
Terah, the father of Abraham and Haran, was a dealer in images as well as a worshipper of them. Once when he was away he gave Abraham his stock of graven images to sell in his absence. In the course of the day, an elderly man came to make a purchase. Abraham asked him his age, and the man gave it as between fifty and sixty years. Abraham taunted him with want of sound sense in calling the work of another man’s hand, produced perhaps in a few hours, his god; the man laid the words of Abraham to heart and gave up idol worship. Again a woman came with a handful of fine flour to offer to Terah’s idols, which were now in charge of Abraham. He took a stick and broke all the images except the largest one, in the hand of which he placed the stick which had worked this wholesale destruction. When his father returned and saw the havoc committed on his ‘gods’ and property he demanded an explanation from his son whom he had left in charge. Abraham mockingly explained that when an offering of fine flour was brought to these divinities they quarreled with each other as to who should be the recipient, when at last the biggest of them, being angry at the altercation, took up a stick to chastise the offenders, and in so doing broke them all up. Terah, so far from being satisfied with this explanation, understood it as a piece of mockery, and when he learned also of the customers whom Abraham had lost him during his management he became very incensed and drove Abraham out of his house and handed him over to Nimrod. Nimrod suggested to Abraham that since he had refused to worship his father’s idols because of their want of power, he should worship fire, which is very powerful: Abraham pointed out that water has power over fire. ‘Well,’ said Nimrod, ‘let us declare water god.’ ‘But,’ replied Abraham,’ the clouds absorb the water and even they are dispersed by the wind.’ ‘Then let us declare the wind our god.’ ‘Bear in mind,’ continued Abraham, ‘that man is stronger than wind, and can resist it and stand against it.’

Nimrod, becoming weary of arguing with Abraham, decided to cast him before his god–fire–and challenged Abraham’s deliverance by the God of Abraham, but God saved him out of the fiery furnace. Haran too was challenged to declare his god, but halted between two opinions, and delayed his answer until he saw the result of Abraham’s fate. When he saw the latter saved he declared himself on the side of Abraham’s God, thinking that he too, having now become an adherent of that God, would be saved by the same miracle. But since his faith was not real, but depended on a miracle, he perished in the fire, into which like Abraham he was cast by Nimrod. This is hinted in the words (Gen. 11. 28): ‘And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.’

Jubilees 12:1-18

  1. And it came to pass in the sixth week, in the seventh year thereof, [1904 A.M.] that Abram said to Terah his father, saying, ‘Father!’
  2. And he said, ‘Behold, here am I, my son.’ And he said, ‘What help and profit have we from those idols which thou dost worship, And before which thou dost bow thyself?
  3. For there is no spirit in them, For they are dumb forms, and a misleading of the heart. Worship them not:
  4. Worship the God of heaven, Who causes the rain and the dew to descend on the earth And does everything upon the earth, And has created everything by His word, And all life is from before His face.
  5. Why do ye worship things that have no spirit in them? For they are the work of (men’s) hands, And on your shoulders do ye bear them, And ye have no help from them, But they are a great cause of shame to those who make them, And a misleading of the heart to those who worship them: Worship them not.’
  6. And his father said unto him, I also know it, my son, but what shall I do with a people who hve made me to serve before them?
  7. And if I tell them the truth, they will slay me; for their soul cleaves to them to worship them and honour them.
  8. Keep silent, my son, lest they slay thee.’ And these words he spake to his two brothers, and they were angry with him and he kept silent.
  9. And in the fortieth jubilee, in the second week, in the seventh year thereof, [1925 A.M.] Abram took to himself a wife, and her name was Sarai, the daughter of his father, and she became his wife.
  10. And Haran, his brother, took to himself a wife in the third year of the third week, [1928 A.M.] and she bare him a son in the seventh year of this week, [1932 A.M.] and he called his name Lot.
  11. And Nahor, his brother, took to himself a wife.
  12. And in the sixtieth year of the life of Abram, that is, in the fourth week, in the fourth year thereof, [1936 A.M.] Abram arose by night, and burned the house of the idols, and he burned all that was in the house and no man knew it.
  13. And they arose in the night and sought to save their gods from the midst of the fire.
  14. And Haran hasted to save them, but the fire flamed over him, and he was burnt in the fire, and he died in Ur of the Chaldees before Terah his father, and they buried him in Ur of the Chaldees.
  15. And Terah went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, he and his sons, to go into the land of Lebanon and into the land of Canaan, and he dwelt in the land of Haran, and Abram dwelt with Terah his father in Haran two weeks of years.
  16. And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, [1951 A.M.] Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year
    with regard to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed.
  17. And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out?
  18. If He desires, He causes it to rain, morning and evening; And if He desires, He withholds it, And all things are in his hand.’

Genesis Rabba, 84

We are told that Abraham took his wife Sarah, and the souls they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth into the land of Canaan. By this is meant the souls that they had brought away from idolatry and brought to the knowledge of the living God.–Gen. Rabba 84.

Philo of Alexandria, On Abraham

XV. (68) The aforesaid emigrations, if one is to be guided by the literal expressions of the scripture, were performed by a wise man; but if we look to the laws of allegory, the journey was by a soul devoted to virtue and busied in the search after the true God. (69) For the Chaldaeans were, above all nations, addicted to the study of astronomy, and attributed all events to the motions of the stars, by which they fancied that all the things in the world were regulated, and accordingly they magnified the visible essence by the powers which numbers and the analogies of numbers contain, taking no account of the invisible essence appreciable only by the intellect. But while they were busied in investigating the arrangement existing in them with reference to the periodical revolutions of the sun, and moon, and the other planets, and fixed-stars, and the changes of the seasons of the year, and the sympathy of the heavenly bodies with the things of the earth, they were led to imagine that the world itself was God, in their impious philosophy comparing the creature to the Creator. (70) The man who had been bred up in this doctrine, and who for a long time had studied the philosophy of the Chaldaeans, as if suddenly awakening from a deep slumber and opening the eye of the soul, and beginning to perceive a pure ray of light instead of profound darkness, followed the light, and saw what he had never seen before, a certain governor and director of the world standing above it, and guiding his own work in a salutary manner, and exerting his care and power in behalf of all those parts of it which are worthy of divine superintendence. (71) In order, therefore, that he may the more firmly establish the sight which has thus been presented to him in his mind, the sacred word says to him, My good friend, great things are often made known by slight outlines, at which he who looks increases his imagination to an unlimited extent; therefore, having dismissed those who bend all their attention to the heavenly bodies, and discarding the Chaldaean science, rise up and depart for a short time from the greatest of cities, this world, to one which is smaller; for so you will be the better able to comprehend the nature of the Ruler of the universe. (72) It is for this reason that Abraham is said to have made this first migration from the country of the Chaldaeans into the land of Canaan.

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