Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Abraham is considered the patriarch of monotheism. His sons Isaac (with Sarah) and Ishmael (with Hagar) and their descendants are credited with the founding of Judaism and Islam, respectively.

As told in the biblical book of Genesis, when Abraham was a young man—then called Abram—living in Ur, God appeared and instructed him to travel to the land of Canaan. Late in life, Abram grew concerned that he had no children. His wife, Sarai—later called Sarah—appeared to be infertile so she allowed him to unite with her handmaiden Hagar. Hagar subsequently gave birth to Abram’s first son, Ishmael. Out of anger and jealousy, Sarai had Abram banish Hagar and Ishmael.

God then made a covenant with Abram. In exchange for Abram’s service and devotion, God would grant him a son with Sarai, who would give rise to a great and numerous people. The land of Canaan would be theirs. As a sign of this covenant, at the age of ninety-nine, Abram changed his name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. Abraham was circumcised and promised his future sons would be as well. Sarah gave birth to Isaac, who fulfilled the promise that Abraham made
with God. When Isaac was a young man, God told Abraham to sacrifice him as an offering. Abraham, in his absolute devotion, agreed to do so.

However, just before he was about to kill his own son, an angel stopped him. In the Torah, this is seen as one of the great examples of faith. Isaac married Rebekah and had twins. The second-born, whom Rebekah favored, was Jacob, later called Israel. Jacob had twelve sons who went on to found the twelve tribes of Israel and thus the people known as Israelites. With his first wife, Leah, Jacob had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. With a handmaiden of Leah, he had Gad and Asher. With his favorite wife, Rachel, he had Joseph (who was his favorite son) and Benjamin. And with a handmaiden of Rachel he had Dan and Naphtali

ADDITIONAL FACTS 

  1. According to Islam, the Muslim people are descendents of Ishmael. Because Ishmael was actually Abraham’s first-born son, Muslims claim to be the true heirs to the covenant with God. They believe that Abraham was an important prophet and that it was actually Ishmael whom he nearly sacrificed.
  2. In Christian belief, parallels are drawn between Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac and the sacrifice of God’s own son, Jesus Christ.
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