Chapter A2. ABRAM/ABRAHAM (2166–1991 BC)
In contrast to the dominant worship practices of the people of Ur and Harran, Abram exercised a strong devotion to God Almighty. Abram was seventy-five years old (and Sarai sixty-five) when God Almighty spoke to him. He said, ‘Go! Leave your land, your people, and your father’s house. I will show you a land where I will make you the father of a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great. I will make you a blessing to others. Those who bless you, I will bless. Those who curse you, I will curse. Through you, all the peoples of the earth will be blessed’.
So Abram did as God Almighty told him. He left Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and everything they had accumulated there, including servants. They then set out on their way to the land of the Canaanites.
As he journeyed, Abram lived a nomadic existence. He looked for water and pasture for his flocks and herds. He also avoided major population areas. In this way he arrived in Canaan and travelled through the land until he came to Shechem, at the holy tree of Moreh (‘teacher’ or ‘diviner’)—a Canaanite shrine to other gods. Canaanites were living in the area, but despite that, Abram stopped. There, God Almighty appeared to him and told him, ‘I will give all this land to your offspring’.
In response, as an expression of faith and integral to worship—as was the custom, Abram built an altar to God Almighty, who had appeared to him there.
From there, Abram moved on to the hills east of Luz (later to be renamed Beth-el). He pitched his tent, with Luz on the west and a nearby town (later to be renamed Ai) on the east. There he built another altar and again worshipped God Almighty.
After this, Abram continued his journey to the Negev, in southern Canaan.
Abram and Sarai in Egypt
Now there was a famine in Canaan. At the time it was known that the Nile delta provided a much more certain food supply than the fluctuating rainfall of Canaan. So despite God’s promise to Abram and because the famine was so severe, Abram travelled south to Egypt to live.
As he was about to cross into Egypt, he feared for his own safety. So he said to his wife, Sarai, ‘I know you are a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you, they will see that you are my wife. They will then kill me, but you will be allowed to live. Tell them you are my sister. Then for your sake, I will be treated well and my life will be spared’.
When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians did indeed see that Sarai was a very beautiful woman, just as Abram had predicted. When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh. She was then taken to Pharaoh’s palace to be part of his harem. For Sarai’s sake, Pharaoh treated Abram well, and Abram accumulated cattle, sheep, donkeys (male and female), men and women servants, and camels.
But God Almighty inflicted serious illnesses on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife, Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram and asked, ‘What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she was your wife? Why did you tell me that she was your sister? I took her for a wife because of what you told me. Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!’
Pharaoh then gave orders concerning Abram to his men, and they sent him, his wife, and everything that he had on their way.
Whilst in Egypt, Abram had become very wealthy in livestock, silver, and gold. So when he left Egypt, he took his wife and all his possessions; and with his nephew Lot, they returned north to the Negev.
From the Negev, Abram travelled from place to place, until he eventually returned to Luz, to the place where he had previously pitched his tent, between Luz and the other town. This was the place where he had already built an altar, so he called on the name of God Almighty there.
© 2013, Brian A Curtis