Sunday, December 19, 2004

Abraham in Judaism

Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish nation, as their first Patriarch, and having a son (Isaac), who in turn gave birth to Jacob, and from there the Twelve Tribes. To father the nation, God "tested" Abraham with ten tests, the greatest of which being the sacrifice of his son Isaac. God promised the land of Israel to his children, and that is the first claim of the Jews to Israel.
Judaism ascribes a special trait to each Patriarch. Abraham's was kindness. Because of this, Judaism considers kindness to be an inherent Jewish trait.
Jewish tradition teaches the origins of Abraham's monotheism. His father Terah owned a store that sold idols. Abraham (then Abram), at the age of three, started to question their authenticity. This culminating in Abraham destroying some idols.
Abraham was then brought to the king, and sentenced to death, along with his brother Haran, unless they recanted their position. Abraham did not, and was thrown into a fire. When Abraham exited unscathed, Haran also would not recant, and was thrown into the fire. Haran, who did not truly believe, died in the fire. This is hinted to in Genesis 11:28.
Abraham then went to Haran (the city, different name than his brother) with his father and brother. His father died there. God spoke to Abraham for the first time, and told him of great things He would give him if he would leave Haran. Abraham did. He was seventy-five during this affair.
Abraham started a school for teaching his beliefs in God, and some say he wrote the Sefer Yetzirah.
Jews today mention Abraham in their prayers, when praying to "the God of Abraham". And, because of Genesis 15:1, ask that God shield them, like he promised to shield Abraham. Also, the epitome of his tests, the binding of Isaac on the altar, is mentioned many times in the Jewish liturgy.

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