God promises Abraham many descendants

About 2100 BC (about 4100 years ago)

Abraham was born with the name Abram in the Babylonian city of Ur (Iraq). Estimates as to the era in which Abraham lived can vary from 2100 BC to 1800 BC (sometime between 4100 years ago and 3800 years ago). Details about Abraham's life are provided in the Bible's book of Genesis, primarily in chapters 11 through 25.

The book of Genesis explains that Abraham was a faithful man, that he believed in the one true God. Abraham's faith was tested by God. For example, Abraham was asked to leave his country and go to a land that God would show him (the land of Canaan, which later became Israel).

This is found in Genesis 12:1-4, which says:


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."


Abraham obeyed and left for the land of Canaan. God established a covenant with Abraham. (A covenant is similar to a promise or a contract). That covenant, or promise, was passed down to Abraham's son, Isaac, and then to Isaac's son, Jacob (see Genesis 35:9-12).

Abraham's first born son was Ishmael. Ishmael's mother was named Hagar. Hagar, an Egyptian woman, was Abraham's maidservant. (see Genesis 16:1). Ishmael is considered to be the father of the Arab peoples.

Abraham's first born son with his wife, Sarah, was named Isaac (see Genesis 17:19). Isaac was the father of Jacob, who was the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel. The NIV translation of Genesis 17:19 reads:


Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.


Abraham's original name was Abram. The name, Abraham, according to a footnote in the NIV English translation of the Bible, means "Father of many nations". Abram is defined as "exalted father". The Lord changes Abram's name to Abraham in Genesis 17:5. The NIV translation of this verse reads:


No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.


Next: Jacob (Israel) is born

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