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From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and the father of
           Isaac; according to Genesis, God promised to give Abraham's
           family (the Hebrews) the land of Canaan (the Promised
           Land); God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his
           son; "Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each has a special
           claim on Abraham" [syn: Abraham, Ibrahim]

From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary :

     father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27) before
     his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of
     the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his
     kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his
     father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in
     which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to
     Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration
     was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this
     first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen.
     12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205
     years. Abram now received a second and more definite call,
     accompanied by a promise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he
     took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing
     whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the
     guidance of Him who had called him.
       Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand
     souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing
     along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed
     his first encampment at Sichem (Gen. 12:6), in the vale or
     oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the
     south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee
     a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehended
     not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that
     he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming
     had been long ago predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for
     some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain
     district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about
     two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again
     moved into the southern tract of Palestine, called by the
     Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine,
     compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of
     the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in
     bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of
     Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Gen. 12:18).
     Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents,
     recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to
     Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and
     in gold" (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole
     party then moved northward, and returned to their previous
     station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds
     and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously
     gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.)
     He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and
     removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated.
     Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the
     promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or
     "oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled
     here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree,
     called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18). This was his third
     resting-place in the land.
       Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in
     Chaldea, Palestine had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of
     Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the
     plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the
     inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after
     twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance
     of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He
     ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying
     the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was
     Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew,
     Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318
     armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner,
     and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near
     the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army,
     and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to
     Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the
     spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem,
     i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth
     to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth
     of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of
     the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20).
       In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the
     grandfather of Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is
     called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
       Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already
     made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The
     word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first
     time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future
     that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai,
     now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram
     to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that
     whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own.
     Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the
     heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen
     years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his
     gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that
     purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to
     Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was
     instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that
     the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai,
     though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that
     his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of
     the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that
     memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and
     his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised
     (Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent
     door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered
     hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare
     which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was
     none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the
     guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a
     son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham
     accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The
     two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind
     and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction
     that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch
     interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not
     even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the
     city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell
     upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the
     fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen.
       After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved
     southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to
     Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his
     part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Gen. 20). (See ABIMELECH.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left
     the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about
     25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was
     born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of
     jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael,
     was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted
     that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done,
     although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR
     T0001583; ISHMAEL.)
       At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of
     perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness
     were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is
     put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to
     go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a
     sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the
     test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating
     obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his
     son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was
     arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled
     in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead.
     From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh,
     i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were
     again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to
     the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and
     returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he
     resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
       Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years
     old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a
     burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner
     of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah.
     His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this
     purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts
     7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen.
     11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son
     Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then
     himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons,
     whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the
     east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his
     wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years
     after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was
     buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen.
       The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the
     ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the
     religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called
     "the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9),
     "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).

From Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary (late 1800's) :

  Abraham, father of a great multitude

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