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Abraham

AKA Abram

Born: c. 1813 BC
Birthplace: Ur, Ancient Babylonia
Died: c. 1638 BC
Location of death: Hebron
Cause of death: Natural Causes
Remains: Buried, Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron

Gender: Male
Religion: Deist [1]
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: Ancient Israel
Executive summary: Father of the Abrahamic religions

Abraham is revered by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Mormons. According to scripture, he was born Abram and his father was an idol-maker, but young Abram questioned polytheism and smashed all but one of his father's idols. When Abram was much older -- about 75 years of age -- he was called by God, and made a pact (b'rit) with the Almighty, agreeing to follow the one true God in exchange for God's promise to make him the founder of a great nation. As a token of their covenant, Abraham was circumcised, and God ordered that "every male throughout your generations" be circumcised. Abraham and his family later resettled in Egypt along with most other Israelites, due to famine.

Abram traveled for many years with his wife, Sarai, and when he was about 90 but still childless he took his handmaiden, Hagar, as a second wife, and she gave birth to Ishmael. When Abram was still older God gave him the new name of Abraham, renamed his wife Sarah, and she gave birth to his second son, Isaac, though she was in her ninth decade. God later commanded that Abraham kill Isaac, then relented and took a ram in sacrifice instead. Ishmael was apparently not as beloved by Abraham -- when Sarah grew jealous of Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham banished his second wife and first son to the wilderness.

In exile, God promised Ishmael twelve sons, and by Jewish and Muslim tradition, he is considered the father of the twelve Arab tribes. Jacob, Isaac's son and Abraham's grandson, would also have twelve sons, who would father the twelve tribes of Israel. According to the Torah and Bible, Abraham was a tenth-generation descendant of Noah, and purportedly died of old age when he was 175.


[1] While both a Hebrew and a Shemite, it is Abraham's great-grandson, Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, who is traditionally named as the source of the tribe of Judah. Truth is considerably more complicated, with the tribe also containing many non-Israelites. Many and perhaps most Jews and Christians consider Abraham the first Jew. Muslims retroactively claim Abraham to be a Muslim ("hanif"), based on readings of Sura 3:67-68 in the Quran. In Sura 3:85, Muslims are commanded, "You shall follow Abraham's religion." In 1835, Joseph Smith purchased Egyptian papyrii which he later claimed were a Lost Book of Abraham. In the pre-Rosetta era he somehow translated the hieroglyphics, Arthur C. Mace at the Metropolitan Museum of Art calling his efforts "a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end." Smith inexplicably describes a polytheistic Abraham.

Father: Terach ("Terah", idol merchant, b. circa 1882 BC)
Wife: Sarai ("Sarah", b. circa 1677 BC, d. circa 1540 BC)
Wife: Hagar (servant)
Son: Ishmael (by Hagar, b. circa 1700 BC)
Son: Isaac (by Sarah, b. circa 1713 BC, d. 1533 BC)

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