Abraham, a major figure from the Bible, was a nomadic leader in the Middle East who held a deep belief in God, yet was at the same time very human. Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their religious traditions back to him. The Bible presents Abraham, also known as Abram, as the forefather of all the Hebrew people, and he had a great impact indeed on their culture and beliefs
The Hebrews looked to Abraham, a legendary figure in their history, as the model of their culture and race, a simple wandering shepherd who was righteous, kind and a true believer in God. They believed that he was selected to lead God's chosen people, and his offspring became the Hebrews. Later generations of the ancient Hebrews saw Abraham not only as a model of their race, but also as symbol of the Jewish nation's mission to spread monotheism to the world.
Spreading the Word About God
According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was a tireless teacher of what he saw as the truth about God. He was said to have understood God better than others of his time did, and to have been the first to assert that God was the one and only creator of the universe. He opposed astrology in the land of the Chaldeans, and when he later arrived in Egypt, he is said to have won many debates with priests he encountered there.
According to the religious texts, Abraham's father Terah was a manufacturer of idols -- religious statues that farmers would worship to ask for good fortune in the fields. However, even as a young man Abraham did not believe in idols, mocking one elderly buyer for worshipping a god that had been created only the day before. To make his point about trusting only in the one true God, he was known to physically destroy idols, and as an adult he was credited with developing more rational ways of improving agriculture that did not rely on idol worship.
The Bible's biography of Abraham also serves as a story about placing one's entire faith in God. This element of Abraham's reputation revolves around the story of his son Isaac, whom God ordered Abraham to sacrifice as a test of devotion. Abraham did not hesitate, and according to legend Isaac was only saved through the intervention of the archangel Michael, whom God sent to tell Abraham that he had passed the test. Isaac lived, and Abraham had proved that his faith in God was complete, earning his people God's patronage and redemption from the world's evils.
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