There dwelt in the land of Ur a man whose name was Abraham. And in that land the men did not serve the true God, but had set up false gods to whom they paid their vows.
And God told Abraham to leave his home and go to a land which he would show him. Abraham did not know where the land was, but he had great faith, and knew that God would take care of him and bring him to the land he had told him of.
So Abraham took Sarah, his wife, and his brother’s son, whose name was Lot, and they set out for the land which God had said he would show him.
Abraham was a rich man, and so was Lot, and they had a great wealth of flocks, and of herds, and of tents. And they each had a large force of herdsmen. And these herdsmen were at strife.
And Abraham told Lot it was best that they should part; and he said to him, Choose where thou shalt go. If thou wilt take the left hand I will go to the right, and if thou wilt go to the right hand then I will go to the left.
So Lot looked round and saw that the plain of Jordan was rich in grass, and would be a fine place for him and his herds to dwell in; so he made his choice at once, and went to live there.
Two large towns were on this plain, Sodom and Gomorrah. The men in Sodom were full of sin, yet Lot, though a good man, went to live there that he might have a chance to add to his wealth.
As soon as Lot had gone, the Lord told Abraham that he would give to him and his heirs all that land as far as he could see it. And the tribe of Abraham would be so great that no one could count them.
Now Sarah Abraham’s wife, had a handmaid—that is, a maidofallwork—whose name was Hagar; and she came from Egypt. Hagar did Sarah a great wrong, and Sarah drove her from the house, and she fled to the woods.
An angel of the Lord found Hagar there by a spring of water, and said to her, From whence didst thou come? and where wilt thou go? And she said she had fled from Sarah, whose maid she was.
And the angel said she must go back to Sarah and do as she wished her to do. And he told Hagar she would have a son whose name would be Ishmael, and that he would live out of doors and be at strife with all men. So Hagar went back to Sarah, and in due time God gave her a son, who was called Ishmael.
When Abraham was an old man, God told him that he and Sarah should have a son, who should be called Isaac.
One day at the hour of noon, when Abraham sat by the door of his tent, he looked up and saw three men quite near him. Then he ran out to meet them, and bowed his face to the ground. And Abraham bade them sit down and rest, and let some water be brought that they might wash their feet.
No one in those days wore such shoes as are worn now. Some went barefoot, and some wore just a sole tied to the foot with strings, which did not keep off the dust and dirt as our shoes do.
So when one came in from a long walk the first thing he did was to bathe his feet, as that gave rest and ease, and when guests came the bowl was brought for their use.
And Abraham brought them food to eat, and stood by to wait on them; and when they had had their fill, went with them to show them the way.
In those days the Lord came down on the earth and spoke with men, and it is thought that one of these three was the Lord, and the two with him were angels.
And the Lord told Abraham that he meant to burn Sodom and Gomorrah for the sins of those who dwelt there. This made Abraham sad, and he said there might be a few good men there, and he begged the Lord to spare the towns for their sakes.
The Lord said he would do so if ten good men could be found there.
And the Lord left Abraham and he went back to his tent. At the close of the day, Lot sat in the gate of Sodom and two angels came there. And as soon as Lot saw them he rose up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
Then these angels told Lot to take out of Sodom all those who were dear to him, and flee in great haste, as the Lord meant to set the place on fire.
They were told not to look back, but while on their way Lot’s wife turned her head, which was a sign that her heart was in Sodom, and she died where she stood, and turned to salt.
But Lot and his two girls reached Zoar at dawn of the next day. Then the Lord rained fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, and they were burnt up in fierce flame, with all that lived there, and all that grew out of the ground.
In due time God gave Abraham the son he had said he should have.
And the child grew, and as soon as it could eat, Abraham made a great feast. And at this feast Sarah saw that Hagar’s son, Ishmael, made fun of her boy, and she begged Abraham to cast him out. Abraham did not wish to do this, but God spoke to him and told him to do as Sarah had said, for Isaac was to be the true heir. So the next day Abraham gave food and drink to Hagar and sent her and her child out of his house.
And Hagar took her boy and went to the waste lands of Beersheba.
And when there was nought for the child to drink, he grew weak, and was like to die. And Hagar laid him ‘neath a bush and went off and sat down and hid her face, and wept, for she loved her boy very much and did not want to see him die.
And a voice spoke to Hagar out of the sky, and said, What ails thee, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Rise, lift up the lad and hold him in thine arms.
And the voice told her that her son should be the head of a great tribe. And as she raised her eyes she saw a well of water, and she ran to it and gave her son a drink and he was soon strong and well once more.
And God was kind to Ishmael, and he grew, and made his home in the woods, and came to have great skill with the bow.
Now it was God’s wish to try the faith of Abraham to him.
And he told him to take his son, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and lay him on the altar he was to build on one of the mounts there. It was not a hard task to kill a lamb, and to burn it so that the smoke of it should rise up to God, like praise from the hearts of men. But how could Abraham take his own dear son, Isaac, and lay him on the wood, and let him be burnt up like a lamb?
Yet God told him to do it, and Abraham knew that it was safe for him to do as God said.
So he rose the next day and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and cut the wood the right length, and set out for the mount of which God had told him.
And as they drew near the place he took the wood from the ass and laid it on Isaac’s back, and took the fire in his hand and a knife, and the two went up the mount.
Now Isaac did not know what the Lord had told Abraham to do, nor why his father took him up to the mount. And he said, Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?
And Abraham said, My son, God will give us the lamb we need.
And when they came to the place, Abraham piled up the stones and put the wood on them, and bound Isaac and laid him on the wood.
Then he drew forth the knife to kill his son. And just then a voice from the sky cried out, Abraham! Abraham! And Abraham said, Here am I.
And the Lord told him to do no harm to Isaac, for now he knew that Abraham loved him, since he would not spare his own dear son if it was God’s wish that he should give him up.
And as Abraham turned his head he saw a ram that was caught in a bush, and he took the ram and laid it on the wood, and burnt it instead of his son.
At the end of a few years Abraham went to live at Hebron. And Sarah died there.
When Isaac grew up to be a man, Abraham did not wish him to take a wife from the land of Canaan where they served strange gods.
So he sent one of his men to the land where he used to live to bring back a wife for Isaac.
And as he drew near to a large town in that land he made his camels kneel down by a well. And it was the time of day when the women of the place went out to draw water from the well.
And the man whom Abraham had sent, asked God to help him, and to let him know which one of them was to be Isaac’s wife. And he said he would ask one of them for a drink, and if she was kind and gave him a drink, and let his camels quench their thirst, then he should know that she was the one God chose to be the wife of Abraham’s son.
And he raised his heart to God and said, O Lord God of Abraham, give me good speed this day.
And while he yet spoke a fair young maid named Rebekah went down to the well and came up with the jar she had filled. And the man ran to meet her, and said to her, Let me drink, I pray thee.
And she said, Drink, my Lord, and held the jar in her hand so that he could drink with ease.
Then she said, I will give thy camels a drink; and she went down to the well and drew for all the camels. And the man stood still, and was yet in doubt if this was the maid whom God chose to be Isaac’s wife.
And as soon as the camels had drunk their fill, the man took a gold earring, and two bands of gold for the wrists, and gave them to Rebekah. And he said, Whose child art thou? tell me, I pray thee. And is there room in thy sire’s house for us to lodge in?
The maid said that her sire’s name was Bethuel, and that there was no lack of straw and food, and there was room in the house where he and his men might lodge.
The man was glad when he heard this, for he knew the Lord had led him, and had brought him to the house to which he was sent. And he bowed his head and gave thanks.
The next day Rebekah and her maids went with Abraham’s head man. And they came to the land of Canaan.
At the close of the day Isaac went to walk in the fields, and as he raised his eyes he saw the camels on their way home, and he went out to meet them.
Rebekah said to the man with whom she rode, What man is this that comes through the field to meet us?
And the man told her that it was Abraham’s son, Isaac.
Then the maid drew her veil round her so as to hide her face, and came down from the camel. And Isaac took her to his house and made her his wife. And Abraham gave, all that he had to Isaac; and when he died he was laid by the side of Sarah, his wife, in the tomb he had bought at Machpelah.
And to this day no one has had such faith or trust in God as did Abraham.