Abraham (ayʹbrah-ham; Heb., “father of a multitude”), a Hebrew patriarch and an important figure in three living religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Earlier known as Abram (Heb., “exalted father”) he is perceived as the patriarch of several peoples from the regions of Palestine. He is called “the father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5) and the friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7).
The biblical account moves from Mesopotamia to Palestine (as is shown on the map below). The genealogy of Abraham (Gen. 11:10-32) places him in Ur. He then receives divine instructions to leave (Gen. 12:1-8). This is followed by the story of Sarah and Abraham in jeopardy (Gen. 12:10-13:1). Next follows the tale contrasting Abraham and Lot (an ethnological story, meant to demonstrate the character and origin of the Moabites and Edomites; Gen. 13:2-18). The story then moves to an enigmatic episode about an alliance of eastern kings (Gen. 14:1-24). The subsequent birth of Ishmael, the son of Abraham by his wife’s servant, Hagar, is followed by a story about the origin of circumcision (Gen. 17:27). The ethnological tale that began in Gen. 13 continues (Gen. 18-19). Another story of Abraham and Sarah in jeopardy in Gerar occurs in Gen. 20:1-18. The birth of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-21) is told next, followed closely by the story of the substitution of a ram for the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22). The story of Abraham’s purchase of burial property (Gen. 23:1-20) is then followed by an account of his death (Gen. 25:1-18).