EXPLORING ANCIENT HISTORY ...
Compiled by Roy Schulz
Social Studies Department, Imperial Schools
Pasadena, California, 1967
[Edited by: Cry Aloud Cybermagazine, December 2005]
Abraham's Ancestry — Archaeological Proof of Abraham's Ancestors — Analyzing Genesis Eleven — Ur of The Chaldees — Abraham a Hebrew
Abraham's Birth — A Brief Look at the World of Abram — Understanding Patriarchal Governance
Abraham in the History of Austria
Assyrian Persecution — The Austrian Chronicle — Susanna — Abraham Flees — To the Danube — Completing the Story of Abraham and Austria — The Early Culture of Austria
God's Call of Abraham
Abraham — Scientist! — An Analogy with Church History — God's Call of Abraham — The Significance of God's Call — An Important Transition in God's Program
Abraham and Sarah in Egypt
Sarah — Which Pharaoh did Abraham Meet? — Why the Pharaoh Took Sarah — The Political Achievements of Mentuhotpe — Abraham's Influence on Egypt's Future — An Early Egyptian Historical Novel
The Collapse of Assyria
The Extent of Abraham's Wealth — The Assyrian Empire — The Attack into Canaan — Abraham's Victory — Assyria Halted — How This Changed History
Concluding the Story of Abraham
The Culture of Abraham — A Perspective on Genesis — Summarizing Abraham's Later Life — The Four Hundred Year Prophecy — The Real Abraham
The astounding evidence of history proves that Abraham actually had an impact felt by the entire ancient world!
The account you are about to read will show that Abraham was the first key figure in the history of Austria, that he great influenced ancient EGYPT and that under God's guidance, he completely changed the course of ASSYRIAN history!! This is the story behind the story of Genesis eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen!
Modern historians, by rejecting the Bible, have thrown away one of the most fascinating historical dramas of all time and have robbed students at all ages of the truth about mankind's past. Modernist scholars regard Abraham as "a mythological hero." Dr. William F. Albright, dean of American archaeologists on the other hand, promotes the theory that Abraham was a donkey caravaneer who plodded back and forth between Egypt and Canaan! In short, the picture we are asked to accept is that, if Abraham existed at all, he was backward, ignorant, and primitive.
For 4000 years the world has sought to hide the astounding fact that Abraham was an influential ruler and leader. He was a man of great wealth, and a skilled scientist, astronomer, and mathematician — a well-known figure who had a great impact on the society of his day. When God called Abraham he was not calling someone from the "back woods" or "slums." God called a man of great personality, capability, and potential to carry out His purpose.
It is time the history books were rewritten. It is time for the true picture to be presented.
Where was Abraham born? 'What kind of a family background did he have? Is there any archaeological evidence on these matters? These are just a few of the important questions to be answered in this vital introductory chapter on the great Patriarch.
The story begins in Genesis 11. Abraham (or Abram as he was originally named) is first mentioned in the Bible in verse 26. He was the son of Terah, a direct descendant of Noah. To explain this 26th verse, Abraham is mentioned first not because he was the oldest of the three sons of Terah, but because of his later importance. It is a matter of prominence, not age. In the same way, elsewhere in the Bible, Shem, although younger, is listed before Japheth, and Moses before his older brother, Aaron.
From other scriptures it is possible to determine when Abraham was born in relation to his brother. It is recorded in verse 32 of this chapter that Terah died at the age of 205. Since Abraham departed from the city of Haran, at the age of 75, just after the death of his father, he was born when Terah was 130 (Gen. 12:4). Going back to verse 26 it can be seen that it was Haran who has the oldest and was born when Terah was 70. Nahor was the youngest of the three.
It is important to realize into what an important family line Abraham was born. Abraham was a direct descendant of Noah, Shem, and Heber. These were the servants of God responsible for keeping alive the knowledge of the truth in the world! Also consider that the line of Noah, Shem, Heber, and Abraham was the post-Flood continuation of the famous "eight preachers of righteousness" that had served God before the Flood and which includes Seth, Enos, and Enoch! God, by preserving Noah and his family, carried this line through the Flood (Gen. 5).
This was the line from which Christ was ultimately to come. Luke 3:23-38 proves that Christ's ancestry goes directly back to the famous individuals listed in Genesis 5 and 11! Abraham's life comprises a key link in this chosen line of people which God preserved unbroken from Adam.
Modernist scholars teach that the patriarchs spoken of in Gen. 11 are, nothing more than "legendary heroes" — that they never really existed. Our archaeology proves this to be an outright lie. Here are the facts: During the years 1934 to 1939 excavations by highly trained archaeologists were carefully conducted at ancient Mari on the south-western bank of the Euphrates river near ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). The amazing discovery was made that ancient towns and cities in Mesopotamia were named after every one of the patriarchs !
These unearthed records three millenniums old spoke of the "city of Nahor." Nahor was the grandfather of Abraham (Gen. 11:24) and the city named after him is mentioned in Gen. 24: l0. Nahor was located near the city of HARAN which still exists to this day.
"Besides the definite location of the Patriarchal cities of HARAN and NAHOR in north-western Mesopotamia, hardly less clear indications of Hebrew residence in this region appears in the names of Abraham's forefathers, which correspond to the names of towns near Haran: Serug (Assyrian Sarugi), TERAH (Til Turakhe, 'Mound of Terah,' in Assyrian times) ... REU also corresponds to later names of towns in the Middle-Euphrates valley. PELEG, for example, recalls later Paliga on the Euphrates just above the mouth of the Habur" (Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament). In other words, all the ancestors of Abraham listed in Gen. 11:18-26 had towns and cities named after them and records of these places have been uncovered by archaeologists. Who said these men are legends? And the city of Haran, named after Abraham's older brother, still exists to this day.
The eleventh chapter of Genesis is a unique portion of the Bible because of the very important topics presented and because of the length of time covered in human history. Notice that it falls into three main sections: (1) The confusion of languages by God at Babel (verses 1-9); (2) The listing of "the generations of Shem" (verses 10-26); (3) The call of Abraham by God after the death of Haran (verses 27-32). These three divisions illustrate three important factors: (1) The spread of human population over the entire earth from the middle east; (2) The preservation of the knowledge of the true God through one basic line of people; and (3) the unbroken preservation of the line from which Christ would ultimately come.
The story of the debacle at Babel (verses 1-9) has been covered in previous chapters. At this point notice the period spanned by verses 10-26, the time of "the generations of Shem." This is one of those remarkable summaries in the Bible. It covers in the briefest possible way the centuries from the Flood to the birth of Abraham, a total of 352 years (2369 to 2017).
This is that fascinating and vital period of early post-Flood history when Noah, Shem, Heber, Cush, Nimrod, Semiramis, and Horus were carrying on their wide-ranging activities of government and conquest, as the human race was just beginning to grow. These centuries witnessed a tremendous struggle for control of humanity!
The most crucial period in the story of human experience is neglected in most histories. Historians, in private, consider it a very controversial period still requiring much research. What part Abraham played in this over-all picture is the subject of the chapters you are now reading. He came onto the scene at a crucial juncture in human affairs, and, under God's direction, altered world history to an amazing extent.
This section of Genesis 11 illustrates the need for history to be written based upon the guidelines and clues supplied in the Bible! God did not need to put all the names, dates, events, and other facts and factors into the bible because these, by long study and research, could ultimately be gotten from other sources.
Despite the fact that all this information is not included in scripture, God does want us to know what happened during these crucial decades. When the entire story is finally laid out the Bible will take on tremendous new meaning. There was not only a crucial "lost century" in the history of the early true church of God — there was also a vital period of some "four lost centuries" after the Flood. When the true history of this period is fully brought to light, the world will understand to an immeasurably greater extent where its problems really began.
Genesis 11, then, moves quickly from the tower of Babel through the generations of Shem to the life and story of Abraham, the great Patriarch. Where and when was he born, what kind of a world was he born into, and how did this affect his life's activities?
Much misunderstanding has arisen over the location of Abraham's birthplace. He was born at "Ur of the Chaldees." Abraham lived among the Chaldeans. This Ur was in Mesopotamia. Ur is a shortened name for Urfa. There were two cities named Ur, one in southern Shinar and one in the north. Stephen, in his inspired sermon, made plain that it was the northern Ur in Mesopotamia from which Abraham came (Acts 7:2-3). This is where the Chaldeans first lived — over 400 miles northwest of ancient Babylon.
A scripture in the Old Testament definitely proves this fact. Notice Joshua 24:2-3 which records God's words to the people as spoken by Joshua: "Your father dwelt on the other side of the Flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor. . And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the Flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan ...." The expression "the Flood" means the Euphrates river, as any Bible dictionary will state. The Ur of southern Shinar is on this side — the Palestinian side — of the Euphrates, thus the Bible itself makes very clear exactly where Abraham was born!
In relation to this, here is more background of the Chaldeans and the city Urfa: the word "Chaldean" is derived from the Greek language. The actual original Hebrew is Chasdim which "the peoples of Chesed." Genesis 22:22 shows that Chesed was a common name in the family of Abraham, it there being the name of one of Nahor's sons.
Carrying this another step farther, consider the original Hebrew for the name "Arphaxad." Most Bible encyclopedias will clearly show that the original Hebrew form is Arfa-chesed — meaning Arfa the Chaldean "! The Chaldeans came from Arphaxad, the grandfather Heber (Gen. 11:12-14). Abraham was a branch of this stock, a descendant of Arphaxad through Heber. The city of Ur, then, was named after Arfa or Urfa the Chaldean. All of this background proves the fact that Abraham was from northern Ur in Mesopotamia, not the Ur down south in Shinar near the Persian Gulf as Werner Keller and others have supposed.
God wanted His plan in earliest history carried out through a certain line of people, the Hebrews. Notice again, Arphaxad the son of Shem (Gen. 11:10). He had a grandson named Eber, also spelled Heber). The name Heber means "a migrant," one who comes from the "region beyond." Shem, together with Heber, traveled far and wide in the post-Flood world to put down the government of Nimrod. These two, along with Noah, were the three most active and influential servants of God in the centuries following after the Deluge.
The descendants of Heber are properly known as Hebrews. Heber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan. From Peleg came Abraham (Gen. 11:18-26). Thus Abraham was directly descended from Heber. The ancestor of all Hebrews. Sarah, as a later part of the story will show, was also a Hebrew. God wanted his servants to come from this branch of the human family. In Gen. 14:13 Abraham is specifically referred to as "Abram the Hebrew."
When was Abraham born? What was the world situation in his day? How was the world governed? These are the questions to be answered in the seventeenth chapter on the background of the great Patriarch.
The date of Abram's birth is based on the following information. Egyptian history proves that the Exodus occurred in 1487. This was exactly 430 years after the covenant God made with Abraham in Gen. 17:1-8 when he was 99 years old. Exodus 12:40-41 proves it was exactly a period of 430 years because verse 41 says "and it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, even THE SELFSAME DAY it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Eternal went out from the land of Egypt." Now go back and notice verse 40. The verb is not expressed in the original Hebrew. Most bibles will insert the verb was in italics. But the correct translation should be. "Now the sojourning of the Children of Israel. Who dwelt in Egypt, (completed) 430 years." (Gal 3:l6-l7 adds vital information about this period of 430 years showing that it spans the time from Abraham to the Exodus.)
Exodus 12:41 states that this period was 430 years to the day. The Exodus was in the spring of 1487. Adding 430 years to 1487 gives the date 1917 for Genesis 17. At that time Abraham was 99 — hence already into the hundredth year of his life. Using autumn to autumn reckoning — Adam was created in the autumn — year 99 of Abraham was 1919-1918. He did not become 100 until the autumn of 1917 — six months after the covenant was made. One hundred years prior to 1917 is 2017, the year of Abraham's birth.
The year of Abraham's birth is important in understanding Bible chronology. Yet Bible scholars, with all their years of research and study, are still not sure of the dating for Abraham! But the correct dates for Abraham and all ancient history can be known, proven and understood.
When Abraham was born, what was the world like? First, a few major points of historical background. Noah, that great servant of God who had brought the human race through the Deluge under God's direction, had finally died at the age of 950 years, two years before in 2019. He died in Italy where he had been administering the patriarchal government. Shem, who had been in Egypt since 2037, had divided the power there in 2035. He left Egypt in 2019 and sailed to Italy to take over the government when his father died. He remained there until 1986.
Meanwhile, the world's evil leaders were also busy. Nimrod, of course, had passed from the scene long ago in 2167. He had died without an heir. But Semiramis lived on. At the time of Abraham's death she was about 200 years old and still retained considerable beauty and political influence. Ancient records list her as reigning in Assyria during the period 2048-2006. In 2006, when Abraham was a child, she came to a violent and fitting end at the hands of her own son, Horus. Horus, the illegitimate son of this famous and wicked woman, was at this time waging many successful battles in his efforts to build and expand the Assyrian empire. He finally died in 1968 when Abraham was 49.
This in briefest summary is the world political situation into which Abraham was born. But a little more may be said about what kind of a world this was, 352 years after the Flood and 237 years after Babel. For one thing, the population was still relatively small. No census was taken in that day of which we have any record. However. There are definite indications of how few people there actually were. For example, in a major battle in Egypt in 1953 B.C. One of the opposing armies lost only 60 men. Gen. 14:14 shows that Abraham had a trained army of 318 men which was probably considered quite a large force in that period. Other historical evidence indicates that the population of Egypt did not really begin to reach a considerable size until after 1700.
Another major point to bear in mind: in the world of Abraham there were no national boundaries as we know them today. There were no nation-states. When someone in that day crossed a river he did not find himself within the bounds of another nation.
Instead, that world was essentially PATRIARCHAL and NOMADIC. Its governments were mainly based on tribal or clan organization. This type of government extended only so far as people lived with no concern about national boundaries encompassing a certain fixed territory. People followed the patriarch or leader to whom they owed allegiance. It was a matter of loyalty and allegiance not nationalistic patriotism and central governments.
Cities and towns were developing but it still was predominately a world of shepherds. The nomadic way of life remained the key-note. To use a modern-day analogy of the United States, as can say this world was like the west before the coming of the squatters.
However, even though the population was low and the form of governmental organization simple and basic, this does not mean that there were no learned men in that world. On the contrary, the scientific knowledge of that time was astonishingly advanced. Scholars of that day correctly understood the structure of the solar system and knew the relative positions of the planets they understood eclipses and could predict them. And a map has been discovered from that time which pictured a round world with Babylon near its center! And Abraham, as we shall see, was no stranger to this kind of knowledge.
God has had His human representatives in all eras of human history. God's intervention has been theocratic governance. But in each period of human experience His basic pattern has differred, to fit the needs of society where He placed His servants. In New Testament times He employed apostles. In the later history of ancient Israel he used prophets. Prior to that he used kings (if they were willing to obey him). In the time of Moses and after, God's government was carried out through judges. And, in earliest times, God used the patriarchs.
In general, the term patriarch refers to those famous individuals whose lives the Bible records previous to the time of Moses. Noah, Shem, Heber, and Abraham are four of the best known examples to keep in mind.
The patriarchal form of governance, then, best suited the early ancient world with its basically nomadic culture. It was based on the existence of the basic tribal or clan organization in that day when the population was sparse in most areas. When the eldest member of a tribal group or family died, the next oldest would take his place. Someone had to make the decisions about directing the necessary affairs of the clan such as appointing certain ones to various responsibilities, deciding when and where to build roads, necessary dwellings, and so on. These decisions had to be made and generally they were left to the oldest and the wisest. In this way the administration of responsibilities and decisions was held within the family unit itself. This form of government was possible as long as the population was not too extensive. Decisions were made by the oldest member of the family to see that all matters were kept organized and functioning smoothly. Without proper government there is chaos. The patriarchal organization met the governmental needs of that early time.
However, patriarchal government was not as small and limited as one might visualize. A prime example is that of Noah before the flood had to administer the vast project of building and provisioning the ark. Then, after the Flood, he had to direct the affairs of the entire human family. Although many followed Cush and Nimrod who rebelled against the government of God, Noah still carried out his administration for 350 years after the Flood. He traveled all around the Mediterranean area supervising the progress of the human race — Armenia, Greece, Italy, Spain, North Africa. In this vast responsibility he was assisted by Shem and Heber as well as, undoubtedly, many others who were appointed to various responsibilities. Thus it is seen that patriarchal authority can reach vast proportions!
A most important point in relation to God's kind of patriarchal government is that it was more than just the government of a man over other men. Actually it was the direct rule of the Eternal over the chief patriarch and his loyal followers. In other words, the Eternal literally appeared in human form to the chief patriarch and guided his activities. Immediately after the Flood the Eternal appeared to Noah, He probably appeared to Shem on more than one occasion. And as Genesis 14 shows, when Abraham was the chief patriarch, the one who became Christ was ruling on earth in bodily form as Melchizedeck, king of Salem. In short. God worked personally with his patriarchs in ancient times.
Now for a more precise definition of patriarchal government: the word "patriarch" means "the chief father." Patriarchal government then, meant family responsibility on the part of the oldest responsible member of the family to train the children from generation to generation how to make proper decisions based on God's will.
And bear in mind that this was possible in early ancient times because of the much greater length of life people enjoyed. If a man lived for one, two, or three centuries he certainly should have been able to gain wisdom and understanding that he could teach to his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and so on for quite a few generations. In our society, unfortunately, grandfathers are old, weak and tottering when they should be in their prime. But this was not the case in the early ancient world.
God's way, is and always does involve, government. In early human history, that government was carried out through patriarchs. And it was Abraham who was the great and influential patriarch of his era! With all this background in mind, his story may be presented.
God called Abraham to go to Canaan in the calendar year 1942-1941 when Abraham was 75 (Gen. 12:1-5). But what was happening to Abraham prior to this crucial juncture in his life? The Bible does not tell us. But it does not need to for other historical sources do. The ancient "Austrian Chronicles" and Josephus' "Antiquities" provides us with revealing facts about the significant, tragic, and wild adventures Abraham endured prior to the year 1942-1941!
Ancient history reveals the story behind the story of Gen. 11:28 — why Haran died prematurely. It relates that Abraham was forced to flee to Europe !
Recall the significant fact that Horus, after killing Semiramis in 2006, was the chief ruler of Assyria till his death in 1968. During those years he waged many successful battles as he expanded the empire.
This Assyrian expansion would inevitably have an effect upon the life of Abraham because he lived in Mesopotamia (a key district of Assyrian control), and was 49 or 50 years old before Horus died! History supports this deduction! Jewish and Arabic tradition tell us that Abraham, in his early years, was persecuted by Horus!
This is all too logical. Horus and the Assyrian Empire of that day were Satan's instruments for world-domination. Satan wanted to stamp out all knowledge of God and truth in the world. What little truth remained was preserved in the family of Abraham as well as among the followers of the aging Shem and Heber. If Satan could get rid of Abraham and the rest of the family of Terah, God's chosen line of people would have been eliminated and the light of truth extinguished from the world.
It almost happened. After the death of Horus, the persecution persisted almost continuously. The Assyrians were gaining control of the world. And like good Assyrians do, they believed in one government and one religion for all. They were imposing one false religion upon everyone.
An amazing document reveals the interesting events of Abraham's life before his call. It is the fascinating old World record, the Austrian Chronicle . This ancient record, just one volume out of a great and monumental German work of over one hundred volumes, preserves the history of the Danubian Valley — the area of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Bavaria , and neighboring regions. Written in German, it has never been translated into English. A number of copies of the Chronicle are scattered throughout Europe. One copy found its way to the research library of the University of California at Los Angeles. It was completed in the early 1400's A.D. The last entry is dated 1404.
The Austrian Chronicle begins its consecutive history with a man of princely birth — none other than the patriarch Abraham. It is most unique that an ancient Austrian historical record should begin its list of rulers with a Hebrew name! Yet, apparently, the compilers of this record, who did their work in the 15th century, did not even realize this was the great Biblical patriarch. At least this record nowhere states that this was the Abraham of the Bible. And yet this could be no one else because, when the chronology of the Chronicle is matched with the story of Abraham in the Bible, all the dates fit exactly. There are no conflicts; the story is harmonious in every detail.
The Chronicle states that Abraham was born in an area of Mesopotamia called Aligemorum which was under the jurisdiction of the Assyrian Count Sattan, "Aligemorum" is the Latin name of a district which is now impossible to locate by any contemporary records. Several other geographical names in the Chronicle are unknown at present. Nevertheless, this district of Assyria encompassed the area of Ur of the Chaldees where Abraham was born.
The Chronicle states that, quite a few years later, Abraham "took to wife Susanna from the land of Samamorum ..." Who was this Susanna? First of all it should again be noted that "Susanna," like Abraham is another Hebrew name in an Austrian historical record.
The Bible nowhere names Susanna directly. Yet it does mention her indirectly in Gen. 25:6 where it is recorded that Abraham sent his concubines — plural, more than one — away along with their sons, an event which occurred in 1914 when Isaac was weaned at the age of two (see Josephus). The point to consider at this juncture is the fact that the Bible speaks of only one concubine and one son, Hagar and Ishmael. Yet this verse reveals that there had been more than the one expressly named in the Bible. The Austrian Chronicle names the other one — Susanna!
The Austrian Chronicle calls Susanna a wife — the Bible uses the expression concubine. Sarah was Abraham's legitimate wife. The individual through whom God wanted the chosen seed to come. Susanna was a secondary wife or concubine.
Though there is no record of when these unions took place, there is no reason why Abraham could not have married Sarah first and then taken Susanna several years later after the discovery that Sarah was barren (Gen. 11:30). Sarah died at the age of 127 (Gen. 23:1-2). Gen. 17:17 states that she was about ten years younger than Abraham.
The reason the Austrian Chronicle mentions only Abraham and Susanna, and nothing about Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael is that it is concerned only with the princely line of Austria which they originated! Abraham's life apart from the history of Austria is completely left out of the account.
Diodorus of Sicily gives a helpful insight into who Susanna actually was. He records that Horus had a half-sister named "Sosannes." Sosannes is simply the Greek form of Susanna! She was of Assyrian royalty. Susanna and Horus had the same father but not the same mother. Semiramis was the mother of Horus. The mother of Susanna is unknown, but, the father was Ninus II. A son of Asshur and a king in early Assyrian history. He ruled 2100-2048.
Susanna, then, was from the royal line of Assyria. Why should Abraham choose someone with this type of background? He too was heir to royalty and rulership. Genesis 23:6 describes him as a "mighty prince." And it will be made plain shortly that he has legal heir to a vast realm which he had to be willing to forsake. Thus it is only logical that royalty choose royalty. Just prior to 1944 Abraham had a son by Susanna whose name was Achaim. From him, after 1895, the royal line of Austria continued!
Recall that Abraham. Had been subjected to persecution from the Assyrians even before the death of Horus in 1968. In 1944 this oppression became extremely serious. The Austrian Chronicle records that "Abraham of Temonaria and Count Sattan of Aligemorum had war with each other, until Abraham was driven from the land in poverty." Abraham had to leave so suddenly he was forced to let his family and belongings remain behind.
Count Sattan was a lesser Assyrian ruler who had jurisdiction of a district in Mesopotamia near where Abraham lived. He probably took his orders from Arioch, king of Assur, the son of Horus. Arioch ruled 1968-1938. More will be said about him in relation to Genesis 14. Interestingly enough, the name "Satan — "Sattan" with one "t" removed — is still found among the princely line in the regions of Austria and Bavaria to this very day.
It was in this war that Abraham's older brother, Haran — next in line of patriarchal succession — WAS SLAIN! This is actually the significant factor which explains what is recorded in verse 28 of Genesis 11: "and Haran died before his father Terah ... in Ur of the Chaldees." Terah was an old man at this point — yet Haran died prematurely when he should have easily outlived his father. The original Hebrew for the verb "died" may be translated "fell." Thus, "Haran fell before his father" — a definite implication that he was killed. The Bible records what the Austrian Chronicle makes plain: Haran was slain as a result of persecution upon the family of Terah!
Notice what happened to the individuals in this family. Terah was an old man and apparently the Assyrian persecutors did not think important to bother with him. Haran, however, the oldest son, resisted and lost his life as a result. Nahor, on the other hand, must have compromised, lived in the world, and adapted false religion. (Note that two generations later Rachel, a descendant of Nahor, had household gods. Gen. 31:19) Abraham, next in line after Haran, took the coward's way out. He fled!
For all his positive traits of character, Abraham also had some negative ones. He was often fearful as the Bible states in later episodes in his life. He was a coward at heart. It is interesting to notice this human element. But God wanted a fearful man so he could put him through experiences that would turn his fear to faith. If Abraham had not been of this type he would not have learned to develop faith and complete trust in God. Because Abraham did not have faith in himself, he was able to build faith in God.
Abraham fled at the time of Haran's death. Where did he go? The Austrian Chronicle continues the story: he was driven our of Count Sattan's realm and fled to the Danube river valley in 1944. There he built a home and settled until the death of Count Sattan. Why did Abraham go to the Danube?
The most ancient Greek name for the Danube river was the River Noe. "Noe" is the Greek form of the Hebrew Noah. Of course! Noah, in his vast patriarchal duties in the centuries after the Flood, had been to this area of Europe more than once. Abraham, the descendant of Noah knew of this region before he fled there. It as very probable that he learned of it through Shem. Shem, who did not die until 1867 late in the life of Abraham, inevitably must have met with Haran, Abraham, and the family of Terah on more than one occasion. Being a faithful and responsible individual, Shem would have been in contact with those in direct line of succession after him. It is of great significance that the children of Heber through Joktan settled on the Danube. Therefore this region may certainly be classified as a Hebrew area.
The Austrian Chronicle lists Abraham as the first ruler of Austria and assigns him a 30-year rulership beginning in 1944. This great Biblical patriarch was actually the first "Archduke" of Austria — the cultural center of Europe — believe it or not! The truth of history, when finally recovered, is more fascinating than any tale of fiction could ever be! The end of those 30 years brings us down to the year 1914. The significance of the date 1914 will be discussed next.
Abraham, according to the Chronicle, remained on the Danube for about three years until the death of Count Sattan. This brings the story down to the year 1914. At this point Abraham returned to Mesopotamia to get Susanna and Achaim with the intention of taking them back with him to the Danube valley where he had established a home. (The account in the Chronicle does not mention the rest of the family of Abraham because it is concerned only with the royal line of Austria.) However, this is the point at which Genesis 12 comes into the story. God now called Abraham and directed him toward Canaan instead.
Notice what God said to Abraham in Gen. 12:1: "get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house (Ur of Chaldees), unto a land that I will shew thee." With what we know from Austrian history, God, in effect, was actually telling Abraham: "You'll have to change your plans, Abraham. I want you to go south to a land that I will show you, not north to the Danube where you want to migrate, settle and build!"
Actually this is only part of the significance behind the call of Abraham. The full meaning of this re-direction of the life of Abraham by God will be presented at a more opportune place in the story. First, the movements of Abraham Susanna and Achaim must be completed.
The ancient Chronicle relates that Abraham took Susanna and Achaim to the land of Judeisapta — the Jews land." This of course, the Bible makes plain in Genesis 12, was Palestine. But the authors and copiers of this ancient record did not realize this was the Abraham of the Bible. They assumed Judeisapta meant the Danube Valley because many Jews settled there after 710 B.C. (The story is its II Kings 18, II Chronicle 32, and Isaiah 36. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, conquered all the fortified cities of Judah. These Jews were carried captive by the Assyrians and deported to the Danubian region of Europe. Central Europe was a part of the expanding Assyrian Empire before and after 700 B.C.!
To preserve the continuity of the Austrian material it is necessary to leap ahead in the story to the year 1914. Abraham is given 30 years in the princely line of Austria according to the listing in the Austrian Chronicle — the years 1944 to 1914. Why is Abraham's reign terminated in 1914? The answer to this question provides proof that the Abraham of the Bible and the Abraham of the Chronicle are one and the same person.
At this point Genesis 25:6 requires more detailed study. This verse tells us that, at a certain time, Abraham sent "the sons of the concubines — and the concubines themselves as well — "away from Isaac his son." This event is actually out of time sequence in the chapter in which it is found. This account is actually a reference back to Genesis 21. Genesis 21:8-14 tells us that when Isaac was weaned (at the age of two according to Josephus) Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael sent away. Josephus (Antiquities IV, XII, 3) tells us that Sarah was afraid Ishmael would harm Isaac since Ishmael was older by 13 years. As Gen. 25:6 shows by the plural "sons of the concubines" this was also the time when Susanna and Achaim were sent away.
Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 (Gen. 21:5). This is the date 1916. Two years later, Isaac was weaned — the year 1914. This is when Abraham sent the concubines and their sons away. Susanna and Achaim went out of Abraham's life in 1914 and this is exactly the date when Abraham's years as a prince in the line of Austria are terminated. The chronology of the Bible and of ancient Austria match perfectly.
The departure of Susanna and her son was a significant event. As far as the history of Austria is concerned, it marks the end of the part Abraham played in the royal family of Austria. By this act Abraham repudiated his claim to Austrian royalty. He gave up totally any right to Austrian or Danubian rulership. This is reflected as his ending date of 1914 in the Austrian Chronicle.
There is one last significant point in Gen. 25:6. The words "eastward, unto the east country" definitely imply that Susanna and Achaim first went to Assyria before journeying back to the region of the Danube. Other ancient historical sources reveal that the Danubian Valley, by this time, was under Assyrian hegemony.
In the years 1944-41. During his three year stay after fleeing Sattan, Abraham established a settlement on the Danube. It was to this colony that Susanna and Achaim returned. Here they established Austrian rulership.
The next ruler after Abraham in the Austrian Chronicle is Susanna herself. She ruled the family for 19 years, 1914-1895. Achaim did not take over governmental authority until a later time because he was still relatively young for this responsibility. This fact indicates that Achaim was born just prior to 1444 when Abraham was forced to flee.
Achaim took the reins of government and ruled for 45 years to 1850. He married a Hungarian Countess and they had four children. From this family the royal line of Austria continued. (The list of rulers to 1040 A.D. is given in Dr. Hoeh' s Compendium, Vol. II.) The family of Susanna was not the first to settle in the Danube region of eastern Europe — but it did become the dominant on. Those who descended from Abraham and Susanna and their son Achaim, became the ruling family of this part of ancient Europe.
What other peoples were in this region? First of all there were Indians (some of whom later migrated to the new world — American Indians) because southeastern Europe borders on Thrace and Thrace was the home of the of the Red Men. Germans (Assyrians) were also living here because they had migrated years before from Mesopotamia. Undoubtedly Slavs had come at an earlier time, people who are still there to this very day. The family of Abraham thus came to rule over a mixture of people. This, then, was actually nothing less than the first Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire in modern history always enveloped a conglomeration of peoples. Its ancient counterpart was no different.
In the history of central Europe, Germany proper has been called the Western Reich (empire or kingdom) while Austria has been termed the Eastern Reich. There has always been a division between the two and yet there has also been unity. The culture of Austria has always been distinct from that of Germany. The two may be characterized this way: the Austrians differ from the Germans in much the same way the English do (when speaking in terms of modern elements of culture). That is, the Austrians drink tea not coffee. Vienna is famous for concert halls, Munich abounds in beer Halls. The great classical music of Austria contrasts with the polkas of Germany.
In other words the Austrian people, both ancient and modern, reflect the influence of Abraham through Susanna and Achaim. They are a mixed population — especially the ruling classes — coming from Shem in two lines. There is the Assyrian part originating with Susanna on the one side. And then there is the Hebrew part stemming from Heber through Abraham. Undoubtedly the refinement in Danubian culture in ancient times was due to the influence of Abraham. An influence which has endured to our day!
A final significant point: there is no history of the Danubian region of Europe before the time of Abraham. When history, as recorded in the Austrian Chronicle, does open up to shed light on this region, a unique refined culture is in existence. And the first ruler, at this same general time, is none other than Abraham. In short. Austria, as a historical and cultural entity, originated with Abraham. This influence has carried forward through Susanna and the subsequent family of Achaim.
The factor to bear is mind, then, is that the name of Abraham does appear in an ancient historical source outsize of the Bible — the history of Austria. In fact, the history of Austria begins with Abraham. Again, history proves the Bible true. Once more our reading of the Biblical account takes on rich new meaning.
What was Abraham before God intervened directly in his life? It is thrilling to realize that now, at least in part, we can now the answer to this intriguing question.
Abraham was not only persecuted by the Assyrians, he was also hated by the Chaldean priesthood. What did Abraham do to incur their wrath? The answer to this question provides more vital and fascinating insight into the life of the great patriarch before God sent him to Palestine.
To this point we have discovered the important part Abraham played in the history of ancient Austria. But before the real significance of God's call can be presented, another important episode in Abraham's early life must be recounted. It took place in Abraham's homeland in Mesopotamia, Ur of the Chaldees. The story involves nothing less important than the restoration of the truth in that day. The knowledge of God was at a low ebb in the world until Abraham began to publish the truth.
Josephus recorded that "Berosus mentions .... Abraham without naming him, when he says thus: 'In the tenth generation after the Flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skillful in the celestial science'" (Antiquities I, VII, 2). Abraham was well known in and around Ur of the Chaldees, He gained fame as a skilled astronomer and mathematician. Josephus also stated that Abraham analyzed the "phenomena that were visible both at land and sea, as well as those that happen to the sun and moon, and all the heavenly bodies . . " (I, VII, 1).
What did Abraham do with his scientific knowledge of astronomy? He used it to prove the existence of God the Creator! "He was a person of great sagacity, both for understanding all things and persuading his hearers, and not mistaken in his opinions ... And he determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to published this notion, that there was but one God, the Creator of the universe ..." (I, VII, 1)!
Abraham began to teach the people of Mesopotamia the truth. He told them God had set physical laws in motion which regulated and controlled the universe. He dared to publish that "the creation is proof of a creator." He demonstrated to his countrymen that a creation which was subject to law has proof a Creator — a great Lawgiver — had made it so.
Abraham's proof of one Supreme-ruling Creator God attracted widespread attention. There was a definite reason for this. The Chaldean priests, who controlled the education in their day, had long been teaching the common people that the sun, moon, and planets were GODS. Abraham countered with this: "If the sun, the moon, and the planets were gods, they would regulate their own motion and not have to follow laws which had been set in motion by a ruling Creator God" (Antiquities I, VII, 1). Abraham. With scientific proof, showed that the planets were nothing more than bodies of inanimate matter which reacted according to the physical laws that God had set into motion.
Thy Chaldean priesthood knew Abraham was telling the truth. Publicly they taught the people that the planets and heavenly bodies were gods . But, privately, they knew how to predict for centuries in advance just when the eclipses of the moon would occur. They also knew how to calculate where the planets could be found in the sky at any given date in the future. They knew the heavenly bodies always followed a set and harmonious pattern.
You see. If the priests had people believing that the astral bodies were gods, and yet they could predict correctly where these "gods" would appear in the sky, this would prove they were a special class favored by the deities. This would show they had contact with the supernatural. Communication with the gods was proof of their exalted priestly status. It placed them above the average person. They were simply using their advanced knowledge to gain notoriety in the eyes of the people. It was all motivated by vanity! They hid the truth from people for the sake of personal gain.
Abraham's teaching of the truth was spreading. The educated priests had to decide if they were going to keep on promoting the same old lies or admit the truth, and publicly confess the existence of one true God. The result was the same old sad story. Human nature never changes. The priests decided their status in society was too much to surrender.
They had one other alternative left: get rid of Abraham. Josephus tells what happened. The hypocritical Chaldeans "raised a tumult against him" as a result of which he determined "to leave the country." The priests would have ultimately tried to kill Abraham for publishing the truth had not God intervened. But God did step in! Josephus continues, "and at the command and by the assistance of God, he came and lived in the land of Canaan."
Before discussing God's call of Abraham, it is necessary to answer this question: What was the real significance behind Abraham's wide-spread teaching of the existence and power of the true Creator God?
Before Abraham came on the scene, the light of truth was almost extinguished from the world! Consider the situation that existed when Abraham was a young man. It was some four centuries after the Flood. Noah, the great patriarch, was dead. Shem, Heber, and a few others were striving to carry on his work but they were getting very old. The world as a whole was straying farther and farther from God. Even Abraham's father Terah, though a direct descendant of Shem, had drifted into a form of idolatry (Joshua 24:2). The Assyrians, as we saw. Were attempting to dominate the world and impose one false religion on everybody. in Abraham's homeland in Mesopotamia the Chaldean priesthood had the common people completely deceived about the true God and the nature of the universe which He had Created!
In Comba's "History of the Wadenses," a Waldensian record dated 1404 is quoted which sums perfectly the situation that existed in Abraham's time. This is what a true Christian who lived late in the middle ages said: "We do not find anywhere in the writings of the old testament that the light of truth and holiness was at any time completely extinguished. There have always been men who walked faithfully in the paths of righteousness. Their number has been at times reduced to a few: but has never been altogether lost ...." (pp. 10-11, emphasis added).
In this period four centuries after the Flood the truth was heading rapidly toward non-existence on the world scene. And Abraham came into the picture and forcefully showed that God is still very much alive and that He could intervene in the affairs of men.
Abraham's case is similar to that of many instances in the history of the true Church of God. In the early Middle Ages when the truth was very weak, God raised up Constantine of Mananali to preach the truth. In the later Middle Ages the key figure was Peter Waldo in Europe. In our day, when the end of the Sardis era found the remnant of the true Church hopelessly ineffective, God brought Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong to initiate the zealous Philadelphia era of His work. (And now Gerald Flurry.) In many ways, then, the story of Abraham is similar to these examples. God needed a faithful patriarch four centuries after the Flood to carry out His purpose for that time. Abraham was the man He chose!
As in every new era in the history of God's work, Abraham had to start from the beginning. The first thing he did was to scientifically prove the existence of God as Josephus' history records! As a skilled mathematician and astronomer he was extremely well-prepared to do this. God was working with Abraham years before the call recorded in Genesis 12. Once Abraham had his proof will organized he began to "publish" it. Yes, he had a publication comparable to "Does God Exist?"
Realize the pattern in Abraham's life. He "had to start from scratch" as were and GROW in the truth. He did not learn everything at once. He learned it one truth at a time, building one point upon another. He made mistakes. He was guilty of sins. He had to admit it when he was wrong, take correction from God, and repent. He had to learn by experience and grow in faith.
Just as in the case of Mr. Armstrong, Abraham was a successful and prosperous man who had his talents and energies channeled by God into the right directions. Abraham was a wealthy man — but he undoubtedly lost much in the Assyrian persecution when he had to flee to the Danube. He had a reputation as a scholar and astronomer in his home country but he had to give up his position to go to Canaan when the Chaldean priests organized persecution against him. He wanted to go to Europe and set up a kingdom, buts instead God sent him to unsavory Canaan with its cannibals instead. Abraham wanted to be successful in this world but God was preparing him for the World Tomorrow!
God's call was not a complete surprise to Abraham. Abraham was very familiar with who God really was by the time he was 75. God had put him through many serious experiences prior to the year 1941 B.C. Now it was time for the next step.
Undoubtedly God allowed the circumstance, of the tumult with the Chaldean priests in order to help set the stage for Abraham's journey to Canaan. Whether there was any connection between the Assyrian persecution and the problem of the priests we are not told. The Assyrian persecution of Count Sattan came to an end, at least temporarily, when the Count died, at which point Abraham returned to Mesopotamia. Probably the return of Abraham caused the wrath of the antagonized priests to reach the boiling point. Thus their plan to get rid of Abraham went hand in hand with God's call.
Notice the particulars of Abraham's move to Palestine recorded in the end of Geneses 11 and the beginning of Genesis 12. Gen. 11:31 tells of the beginning of the journey. Although the words God spoke to Abraham are not recorded in the Bible until chapter 12, he gave these instructions prior to Gen. 11:31. And on this important occasion the Eternal literally appeared to Abraham.
Read the words of Stephen in Acts 7:2-4: "The God of glory APPEARED unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said unto him, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into a land which I will shew thee.' Then came he out of the land of the Chaldean, and dwelt in Haran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell." It is possible that Christ again appeared to Abraham when he was in Haran and repeated his instructions. The last verse of chapter 11 tells of the death of Terah at the age of 205. Apparently Terah, who had practiced some kind of idolatry (Joshua 24:2), did not really begin to obey God until very late in his life. But the fact that he did begin the trip to Canaan along with Abraham in obedience to God's instructions shows that he was now willing to follow God's way.
How long Abraham was in Haran the Bible does not tell us. However there is an indication in Gen. 12:5 that it might have been several months. Notice the phrase "and the souls that they had gotten in Haran." This could imply servants Abraham employed to work for him, persons he converted to a knowledge of the true God, or both. Whatever the case, Abraham's group was not tiny. As we shall see shortly, when Abraham took all his servants and property with him it was no small company.
With Abraham were Sarah and Lot. Lot, remember, was the son of the slain Haran. After Haran's death Abraham took the responsibility of caring for Lot, also remember that at this time Susanna and Achaim were still with Abraham. They did not depart from Abram until 27 years later in 1914.
When God called Abraham he said, "get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great ..." (Gen. 17:1-2). In other words, God instructed Abraham to forsake his kindred, his country — everything! Abraham had to give up all his former plans and begin a whole new life. What had been in Abraham's mind before God rescheduled his career?
To answer this question we must again review Abraham's ancestral background. Noah was the patriarch of the whole human family following the Flood. His patriarchal government and authority passed on to Shem who, because of superior leadership qualifications, superseded his brother Japheth. In each succeeding generation the hereditary right of the firstborn was passed on from father to son. Thus, if the inheritance had been drawn up as a legal document, it would have said, "Shem, when he dies, wills his inheritance to Arphaxad, Arphaxad wills it to Salah, Salah, to Heber" and on down through Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Haran (Gen. 11:11-26).
It did not work out this way, something very unusual happened. As it turned out his great patriarchal inheritance had to be revised over and over again because all the people listed in Genesis 11, including Terah and Haran, died while Shem was still alive. All these first-born sons passed from the scene while Shem, who lived 600 years down to 1867, was still active! Haran was the oldest son of Terah. But he died in the persecution. Thus, the next oldest became eligible — Abraham. Consequently, the inheritance simply passed from Shem to Heber to Abraham.
Abraham became heir to the great patriarchal dominion of Noah and Shem! This meant that Abraham, before God's call, was destined to be the chief patriarchal ruler over all the Semitic people wherever they lived in the world!! And the descendants of Shem were migrating to the Danubian region . The children of Shem through Heber and Joktan had settled in Southeastern Europe. The children of Asshur also migrated there. Thus Abraham would have been the ruler over a vast portion of the human family — ruler of the people intended to dominate the world. And since these Semitic people were mainly in Europe, Abraham had intended to make Austria the headquarters of his realm. In a sense, he would have ruled Europe from the Danube basin. Europe was a very attractive part of the world, a most desirable area to settle and rule in that early time.
But God said to Abraham, "I want you to give up this great inheritance and go live in Canaan. A land full of pagan religion and cannibalism." It was a great trial and test. Abraham had to be willing to give up a great realm and rule. This was a great sacrifice. Tremendous things were involved.
This can be made even clearer. When God called Abraham out of the world this, in effect, is what he was really saying: "Look, Abraham I don't want you to take over the world in the place of Shem. It was the duty of Noah and Shem to start it out right after the Flood. But humanity has rebelled — and I'm going to permit it. I'm finished with trying to police the world through my servants! You are no longer expected to be a great patriarch to try to straighten out the world. That phase of my plan is ended."
With this in mind we can realize that God's call of Abraham marked a significant change in the direction of God's tactics in dealing with the world. God's program first called for the jurisdiction of patriarchs. Later, God used the nation of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, to be an example to mankind of His way. But again, as we know, human beings could not measure up to the test. God again and again, through history, used different ways to deal with humanity — patriarchs, judges, prophets, His own Son, the true Church — but all have been ignored by the majority. Man has been permitted to learn by experience. Only in the World Tomorrow, when God uses force, will mankind go the right way. Until that time obedience to God remains voluntary. Only a few, like Abraham, have volunteered. When all this is considered, we see that the call of Abraham marked an important transition in God's great overall program.
God was also telling Abraham "Don't worry, I haven't gone back on my word. I will give you the world. You're the rightful heir, but now is not the time. For the present we'll let the disobedient do with it what they want. In the resurrection, however, it will be a different story. Meanwhile I want you to go to that land of Canaan where all those wretched cannibals are. You walk up and down in it. In doing that you'll learn to have faith in me and you'll build the character needed when you finally do inherit the earth" (Rom. 4:13).
This, then, is what was actually behind God's call of Abraham in Genesis 12! Much more was involved than most usually realize. Abraham made no small sacrifice. But he was willing to obey God in anticipation of the rewards of the World Tomorrow (Heb. 11:8-10). God, therefore, called Abraham out of the world and he went to Canaan or Palestine, the "Promised Land." A type of the kingdom of God. And the story of Abraham does not end there. Much more as still to come.
Though God called Abraham out of the world, he was still to serve God in having a great impact upon the history of the nations. Let's notice the account in Genesis 12. Abraham, Sarah, and their group journeyed south from Haran into Canaan (verses 5-6). Once in the land, the Eternal again appeared to Abraham and spoke to him (verse 7). This was to happen quite frequently to Abraham's future life. The one who became Jesus Christ came in human form and directed his servant's activities. Then verse 8 finds Abraham near Bethel which was not far from the location of Jerusalem. And verse 9 shows him moving even farther toward the south.
Before taking up the next major section of the story, it is necessary to learn more about Sarah. She played an extremely important role in God's plans for Abraham. Her very name is significant. In the Hebrew, the word Sarah means a "female noble — lady, princess, queen." (See number 8282 and associated words in the Hebrew dictionary of Strong's Concordance.) Sarah must have come from royal ancestry. But this name was also prophetic because it described her role as the wife of Abraham, the mighty prince and patriarch, and the mother of the famous individuals that would later be born.
Read Gen. 17:15-16 where it is recorded that God changed her name from Sarai to Sarah. Both these names come from the same root and have the basic meaning of princess. However, as Adam Clarke points out in his discussion under Gen. 17:5, the term "Sarai" seems to refer to her government in her own family only whereas "Sarah" apparently indicates her government over the nations (verse 16) of which Abraham is called the father or lord.
It is definite that Sarah has also a Hebrew because she was Abraham's sister. This fact is revealed in Gen. 20:12. Abraham explained to Abimilech, "And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." From this we learn that Sarah was actually Abraham's half-sister. In that early time in history it was legal to marry a near relative. The above verse implies that Terah actually married twice. Adam Clarke quotes this ancient tradition: "Terah first married Yona, by whom he had Abraham: afterwards he married Tehevita, by whom he had Sarah."
Terah's first wife died. In Antiquities I, VI, 4 Josephus states that Sarah was the daughter of Haran and therefore Abraham's niece, but this is erroneous. The Bible states otherwise.
As the next portion of the Bible in Genesis 12 shows, Sarah was "very fair" in other words she was blond. The blond peoples of Israel today derive this characteristic basically from Sarah. The story also reveals that she was very beautiful — which is why Pharaoh wanted to take her from Abraham.
Sarah was the woman, then, through whom God wanted to continue the line of which Christ would ultimately be born. He also wanted her to be the ancestor of the Children of Israel. No other woman was suitable for God's purpose. Sarah had certain qualities which God wanted passed on to future generations. Thus she, as well as Abraham was chosen for a great purpose.
After Abraham had been in Palestine for a year or two, a famine afflicted the land (Gen. 12:10). This was due to the sins of the pagan Canaanites. But the famine also was for a great purpose! God wanted Abraham to leave temporarily and move into Egypt. The Egyptians. at this very junction in their history, needed certain things that only Abraham could provide.
Verses 10-13 tell what happened before Abraham and Sarah got to Egypt. Abraham had not yet built all the faith in God he needed. He was afraid the Egyptians would kill him and take Sarah if they found out she was his wife. Therefore they agreed to say that she was his sister. This of course, was a clever half-truth. But they were to learn that cleverness is no substitute for faith.
When Abraham moved into Egypt it caused no small stir in the country. Abraham had an extensive entourage traveling with him. How many were in his group? Gen. 14:14 provides a basic clue. Here it is revealed that Abraham had a specially trained army of (318) men. Now realize that this was only the military part of his total force of servants. He had cattlemen, farmers, gardeners, artisans, weavers, and other types of servants. He had people to take care of his astronomical records and equipment. And this vast group would also include wives and children — along with all the cattle, tents, and equipment. In short, there could have been as many as 2,000 people associated with Abraham. When this household moved into a strange country we can be sure the event made front-page headlines. Abraham was a leader and a man of means and ability!
This large a group coming into Egypt would definitely attract the attention of the Pharaoh. Abraham. Certainly requested permission to use a large area for grazing with a necessary water supply. His entourage could not be hidden in a corner. The Bible speaks of "Pharaoh" (verse 15). but the man's name is not mentioned. Who was this ruler of Egypt? Egyptian history supplies the fascinating answer. During the life of Abraham the most influential dynasty in Egypt was Dynasty XI of Thebes. It endured for 143 years between 2035 and 1892. The most powerful ruler during the course of this dynasty's duration was Mentuhotpe II. He ruled for the lengthy period of 51 years from 1962 to 1911 (Compendium, Vol. I, p. 84). This 51 years is right during the time when Abraham moved to Palestine. Abraham came to Palestine in 1941. This is the date of Genesis 12. The date of Genesis 14 is 1938. Thus Abraham was in Egypt about 1940.
Now the famous historian, Rawlinson, supplies information showing that Mentuhotpe II was famous for having dug many wells throughout much of Egypt. What does this mean? This important fact provides expansion of the facts in the Bible. Abraham found, when he moved into Palestine, that there was a drought there. This drought, as Genesis 12:10 emphasizes, was very "grievous." It extended into Egypt also, yet Egypt had water while other areas did not. Mentuhotpe II had compensated for the lack by digging all those wells.
This is only the beginning of the story of Mentuhotpe II. Read the story in Gen. 12:14-15: "and it came to pass that, when Abram was come into Egypt. The Egyptians beheld the woman [Sarah] that she was very fair (a beautiful and intelligent blond). The princes also of Pharaoh saw her and commended her before Pharaoh: AND THE WOMAN WAS TAKEN INTO PHARAOH'S HOUSE."
What did Pharaoh want with Sarah? Answer: he was a collector of beautiful women. Mentuhotpe II was the first ruler in Egyptian history, according to all extant archaeological findings, to have had a harem. Archaeologists have been able to find the location of this harem. The have discovered mummies of some of the women along with various items such as headdresses. He was the first to send servants throughout the country to claim women for his harem.
This is why the "princes" of Pharaoh "commended" Sarah to Mentuhotpe. They were probably competing with each other to see who could please the king the most by finding the prettiest harem candidate. Sarah's light hair and complexion contrasted strikingly with the darker Egyptians.
Not only the tomb but the statue of Mentuhotpe has been found. He looks like a man who would be interested in women. He was a short little man with a "tough" appearance. He gives the impression of having much energy. He must have because he was a strong leader as our story will point out shortly. This Pharaoh undoubtedly enjoyed the pleasures of music and women — and probably Egyptian beer.
Abraham's clever half-truth designed to save his life had backfired. He should have told the truth. But "all things work together for good" for the servants of God. Sarah's "kidnapping" was just another part of God's purpose.
Josephus supplies this brief and fascinating account: "now, as soon as he came into Egypt, it happened to Abram as he supposed it would; for the fame of his wife's beauty was greatly talked of; for which reason Pharaoh, the king of Egypt would not be satisfied with what was reported of her, but wanted to see her himself, and was preparing to enjoy her; but God put a stop to his unjust inclinations. By sending upon him a distemper, and a sedition against his government. (Notice how God intervened. Match this statement with verse 17.) And when he inquired of the priests how he might be freed from these calamities, they told him that this, his miserable condition was derived from the wrath of God, upon account of his inclinations to abuse the stranger's wife. He then, out of fear, asked Sarah who she was, and who it was that she brought along with her. (This fills in what took place between verses 17 and 18 of Genesis 12.) And when he found out the truth, he excused himself to Abram, that supposing the woman to be his sister, and not his wife, he set his affections on her, as desiring an affinity with him by marrying her. But not as incited by lust to abuse her. He also made him a large present in money, and gave him leave to enter into conversation with the most learned among the Egyptians ; from which conversation his virtue and his reputation became more conspicuous than they had been before" (Antiquities I. VIII, 1)
The fact that Abraham was permitted to meet with the great minds of Egypt was a very significant event. But before this can be covered we must realize the political situation that existed in Egypt prior to and during the reign of Mentuhotpe II.
Shem reigned in Egypt from the city of Thinis for 18 years from 2037 to 2019. but in 2019 he had to leave Egypt and go to Italy when Noah died. When this great patriarch left Egypt, war broke out! Apparently when the controlling influence of Shem was removed from the country it fell to pieces.
Now in the same year that Shem departed Egypt, Wahankh Inyotef, a predecessor of Mentuhotpe II came to power at Thebes. He ruled for 49 years, 2019-1970. Early in his reign a tragic war broke out between the dynasties of Thebes and Heracleopolis. The fight was for control of the city Thinis (Abydos) where the first Dynasty in Egyptian history originated. In this struggle Dynasty I ended and a new dynasty arose in 1993. Thebes won out in the struggle and kept the new Thinite Dynasty under subjection.
Wahankh Inyotef was succeeded on the throne of the 11th Dynasty by a king who ruled for the 8 years to 1962. And then Mentuhotpe II came to the throne. With this event new thing's were in store for war-torn Egypt.
After Mentuhotpe came to power, the war with the Heracleopolis continued intermittently. In his ninth year, 1954, a great battle was fought between Thebes and Heracleopolis. Thebes was trying to conquer this city to the north. So small was the population of Egypt in those days that only sixty men were lost by the Thebans in their attack. This, along with many other evidences. Proves that the Eleventh Dynasty was one of the earliest in Egypt. Dynasty XI was actually parallel with the end of Dynasty I and the early part of Dynasty II of Abydos or Thinis. Thebes won the battle.
Though Thebes was successful in this battle of 1954, the war with Heracleopolis persisted off and on until 1935. In that year Heracleopolis was decisively conquered. As a result, Egypt was completely united under Mentuhotpe II! He succeeded in restoring order out of political chaos!
Now notice that Abraham came to Egypt just five years prior to the unification of Egypt under Mentuhotpe the Great. This, then, was a very crucial juncture in the history of Egypt. God wanted Abraham there at just this precise moment in history. Egypt needed the kind of guidance, direction, and education that only the great Abraham could provide.
Now to continue with the story left of in Josephus, Mentuhotpe permitted Abraham to confer with the most learned men in the country. Abraham began to speak to the most influential men in Egypt! Josephus describes what took place: "For whereas the Egyptians were formerly addicted to different customs, and despised one another's sacred and accustomed rites, and were very angry with one another on that account, Abram conferred with each of them, and confuting the reasonings they made use of, every one for their own practices, demonstrated that such reasonings were vain and void of truth: whereupon he was admired by them in these conferences as a very wise man, and one of great sagacity; and this not only in understanding it, but in persuading other men also to assent to him [Abraham was a gifted speaker!] He communicated to them, arithmetic , and delivered to them the science of astronomy ; for before Abraham came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning ..." (Antiquities I, VIII, 2).
Let's analyze this information. First of all Abraham helped the Egyptians get straightened out on religion — their "sacred rites." Mentuhotpe was getting the country unified politically. But now the leaders of the country needed a solution to the to religious problems to go along with that political unity. In other words this indicates that Abraham came, not at a time when Egypt was stable and unified but just at the very time when its leaders were struggling to establish stability and harmony in society and government. At this crucial time there must have been all kinds of confusion and arguments about worshipping the cat god here, the crocodile god there, and the hippopotamus god some place else and various other gods that had been established prior to Abraham's arrival. The Egyptians had all these ridiculous religions. Abraham. Through sound logic and persuasive reasoning, helped them resolve their problems.
This is not saying that Abraham converted them all to the worship of the true God. It simply seems that he helped them to do away with enough unsound thinking that they could understand religion better.
Now notice the next major point Josephus preserved in his history. Abraham taught the Egyptians mathematics and the science of astronomy. They had not had this knowledge prior to Abraham's arrival. They had probably heard of his outstanding knowledge even before he came to Egypt and new they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from him.
Now why this knowledge about math and astronomy so necessary and valuable to the immature nation of Egypt? let's consider the astronomy first. Information on the movements of the heavenly bodies enabled the Egyptians to set up a calendar! This saved them endless confusion on how to divide their time in terms of weeks, months, and years. What society could function without a fixed calendar?
What about mathematics? It's value is obvious. It was needed for setting boundaries of different areas, building houses and other structures, planning whole cities. Engineering vast systems of irrigation, developing a system of weights and measures and regulating trade, just to name a few. Abraham supplied the Egyptians with the basic and practical knowledge they needed to stabilize their society. He gave them a practical foundation on which to build.
As a result, Egypt grew to greatness in the ancient world. By the time of Dynasty XII (1892-1680) Egypt was a world power. In the early 1700's Egypt was conducting successful military operations all over the ancient world. But that is not all!
Joseph was ruler its Egypt for 66 years during the period 1734-1668. Jacob and the rest of his sons came there after the end of the summer, 1726. They came to the leading nation of the world. This was the great and prosperous land where the nation Israel could prosper and grow to maturity and later carry out God's will before the other nations of the world. Yes, God used Abraham centuries in advance to prepare Egypt for the coming of the Children of Israel.
And notice this interesting parallel: Just as in the case of Abraham, God used a famine later to cause Jacob and his sons to move to Egypt (Gen. 41:53-57; 42:1-2). In both instances, God used the same method to get his servants down to the land of the Nile.
The Egyptians preserved myths or legends much as did the Greeks. The Egyptian legends however, tended to be more historical. They were couched in the form of what we would call "historical novels" today. One of the ancient historical novels that has been found pertains to the time of Dynasty 9. This dynasty spanned the years 2035 to 1626 although it was of Minor importance after 1935. Thus this dynasty was in the time of Abraham.
Now in the story of Dynasty 9 there was said to be a Semitic peasant who came into the country out of Asia riding on a donkey and communicated wisdom to the Pharaoh. What is so unusual about this account is that the only historical novel in all Egypt that pictures the Pharaoh communicating with some foreigner is in the very time of the Ninth Dynasty in the days of Abraham.
Now the Egyptians, of course, in their vanity and egotism, did not name this "peasant" and they certainly did not picture him to be wealthy and famous. What's more it is made to appear as if the Pharaoh (new this wisdom all along, but merely wanted to hear it over again from this foreigner! Nevertheless, this ancient story undoubtedly refers to this time when Abraham came to Egypt and serves as a corroboration of the account Josephus preserved.
After his important mission in Egypt has over Abraham and his vast entourage went back into Palestine. But Abraham's impact on future events was not ended. While God wanted Egypt to grow great, he wanted Assyria cut down to size. This was the next part of Abraham's commission and provides the story behind the story of Genesis 14!
While Abraham was growing up, Assyria was a great power in the world. By the time Abraham was 72, he had to flee to the Danube because of Assyrian persecution. Now our story is to the year 1939 B.C. Abraham has gone from Mesopotamia to Canaan, down to Egypt, and then back to Canaan. Meanwhile, nothing had taken place to halt Assyria's rise in power. It was inevitable that Abraham the mighty prince should once again be confronted with the advance of Assyrian domination in the ancient world. He did not have long to wait.
Before going to Genesis 14, a few comments should be made about the 13th chapter. Several verses in it show the great wealth of Abraham. Notice: "and Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold ... and Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together; for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle ..." (verses 2, 5-7).
The chapter goes on to tell how Abraham and Lot separated because they had too many cattle and too much property. Abraham lived in a tent but that was probably the largest, most comfortable, and best provisioned tent the world has ever seen. It was probably more like a portable house with a dozen rooms.
Notice that God repeated his promise to Abraham (verses 14-17), especially in verse 15: "For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed for ever." The inheritance God gave to Abraham was to be an Eternal inheritance. And an Eternal inheritance of necessity involves and includes everlasting life. Other scriptures prove Abraham was actually an heir of the kingdom of God which includes the entire earth. So the promise of God to Abraham, when carried to its ultimate significance, actually meant if he obeyed God, he would receive Eternal life and the entire earth. Abraham did not have all that wealth just to look at. He had to use his resources to fulfill God's purpose. Now it is time for the exciting story of Genesis 14.
The first verse of Genesis 14 actually reveals a gigantic Assyrian empire in the days of Abraham. The Bible does not label it as Assyrian. However Josephus, in covering this in his history, plainly states, "At this time ... the Assyrians had the dominion over Asia ..."
Yes, Assyria was dominating the world and trying to control everything. Let's analyze these kings and their territories more closely. First the king of Shinar is mentioned. At this time Shinar or Sumeria, in southern Mesopotamia was dominated by the city of Erech or Uruk and its famous First Dynasty. This dynasty had boasted such renowned rulers as Cush, Nimrod, and Horus. Following the death of Horus in 1968 his son Amraphel took over. As this verse shows, he was the king who was now ruling. Shinar was his portion of the Assyrian realm — but not for much longer.
Arioch is the Assyrian king who succeeded Horus or Ninyas Zames. He ruled from the city of Ellasar. Ellasar is just another form for Asar or Asshur. Asshur was one of the royal cities of ancient Assyria; it was south of Nineveh. Thus Arioch was in control of northern Mesopotamia. His period of rule was the same as Amraphel's — 30 years, 1968 to 1938 — as given in Assyrian history. Chedorlaomer, the third ruler named, was king of Elam in this period. Elam was the area east of Shinar. The dates of his reign are not known. Apparently he was the main leader of this military expedition into Canaan (verse 4-5).
The last king named is Tidal. He ruled over the portion of the Assyrian realm now called Asia Minor or Anatolia, the area of Turkey. Notice that the Bible designates him "king of nations." (gowy, go'ee) is the Hebrew word for "Nations." At that time Asia Minor was composed of a variety of peoples. The history of ancient Asia Minor is the story of continuous attempts to unite the warring nations of the region into a loose confederacy. In 1938 Tidal was the ruler of this confederacy, an Assyrian king and general ruling over several different nations and peoples.
Consider that the Assyrian realm in the time of Abraham stretched from Elam and Shinar through Canaan and northern Mesopotamia into Asia Minor. But, even beyond that, it extended into Europe because Assyrians had already migrated there. How vast the ancient Assyrian empire actually was has never been fully realized. Many different kinds of people made up the population of this empire but they were all under the domination and control of these four powerful Assyrian overlords.
These four great Assyrian overlords (they are called "Kaisers" in modern history) came to make war with the kings of Canaan (verse 2). These five kings are listed here and also in verse 8. They ruled over the towns of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (Zoar) in Palestine. In modern terminology we would probably refer to these rulers as "mayors" rather than kings. Each of them ruled over a comparatively small city-state and were leagued together in a loose confederation. They weren't as tightly organized as the Assyrian realm.
Why did the Assyrian kings come conquering into Palestine at this time? Notice verse 4: the Assyrians had held these five mayors under subjection and tribute for twelve long years, 1952-1940. Then, "in the thirteenth year (1939) they rebelled." Consequently, the Assyrian overlords went to Palestine to put down the rebellion.
Before the Assyrians met the five Canaanite kings they trampled under other peoples in the region of Palestine. These are listed in verses 5 through 7. After conquering these peoples they got around to conquering the Canaanite Mayors whose armies were no match for those of the mighty Kaisers. In this victory the Assyrians sacked and looted the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They also took captives. One of them was Lot, the son of Haran, Abraham's wealthy nephew. It was a serious mistake the Assyrians would pay for! (verses 11-12)
When Abraham heard of what happened to Lot, he went into action immediately. He marshaled his private army of 318 and went after the Assyrian troops (verses 13-14). Again it is important to emphasize who these 318 men were. The italicized word "servants" in the King James version is misleading. The word retinue would come closer to the real meaning. A retinue is "the body of retainers who follow a prince or other distinguished person; the personal staff accompanying a ruler, diplomat, or dignitary on official business" (Webster). Abraham was a mighty prince and these specially trained men, who had grown up in his service (note the words ("born in his own house"), formed his personal bodyguard. They served him in his court. And they had special training in military skills! Yes, Abraham went after the Assyrians with his crack troops.
In this pursuit, Abraham was also accompanied by his three confederates, Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner (verses 13-14). Josephus gives an interesting account of what took place. He records that Abraham and his men "marched hastily, and the fifth night fell upon the Assyrians, near Dan ... and before they could arm themselves, he slew some as they were in their beds, before they could suspect any harm; and others, who were not yet gone to sleep, but were so drunk they could not fight, ran away" (Antiquities I, X, 1). They pursued those who fled and killed many of them at Hobah near Damascus. Abraham recovered the captives and the stolen goods and brought them back (verse 16).
Now read verse 17 which speaks of "the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him!" Think of what this means. Abraham not only routed the grand Assyrian army — he killed the four top leaders of the Assyrian empire. Amraphel, Arioch, Tidal, and Chedorlaomer were all dead. The power of Assyria was deflated in one night, the course of world affairs was completely changed.
The last section of Genesis 14 reveals that the Eternal, the one who became Jesus Christ, came out personally to meet the returning Abraham! At this point in ancient times he was ruling in Jerusalem (Salem) under the name Melchizedek appearing to people in bodily form. Josephus states, "Now this Melchisedec supplied Abraham's army in an hospitable manner, and gave them provisions in abundance; and as they were feasting, he began to praise him (Abraham), and to bless God for subduing his enemies under him" ( I, X, 2). Read verses 18 through 20. At this feast Abraham "gave him tithes of all" (verse 20). In Hebrews 7 the Apostle Paul discusses this incident in detail and makes clear that this was the Eternal himself. Before his birth in 4 B.C. Christ appeared on earth many times.
With this slaughter of the four kings Abraham actually brought about the decline of Assyria. It was a significant event that effected world affairs for centuries after. Think again of the vastness of the Assyrian empire in the year 1938. All the civilized world was coming under heavier and heavier Assyrian control. But God wanted this domination stopped. He decreed that the year 1938 was the time in history of the ancient world for the proud Assyrians to be cut down to size! The Assyrian invasion into Palestine was according to God's will. With the armies of the four kings in the Palestinian area, God could use Abraham and his resources to defeat them.
Consider this also. The whole background of events of this time, from the early life of Abraham onward, shows that the Assyrians were imposing one government and one religion in the world that would have stamped out all the truth. Abraham, after going to Palestine, was relatively free of Assyrian problems for a time. But inevitably Satan would have inspired Assyrian persecution upon him again. Thus, if Abraham and his family would have been executed, all knowledge of God's true way would have been erased from the world scene! Shem, though still alive, would have been too old to carry on. It would have been like the true church completely dying out in New Testament times.
But this is something God would never allow to happen. The story behind the story of Genesis 14 is that God, through Abraham, put a screeching halt to ultimate Satanic Assyrian world control. The year 1938 was a key pivotal juncture in ancient history which witnessed a change in the entire course of future events! God does intervene in the affairs of men. And think of the parallel in modern history. God used the descendants of Abraham, Britain and America, in the First and Second World Wars to put a stop to potential complete world control by fascism imposed through modern Assyria, the German Reich.
How did the defeat of Assyria in 1938 change the course of future world events? Notice these points:
1) Though the Assyrian empire was very extensive in 1938 it had not yet conquered Egypt. The Assyrian leaders would sooner or later have laid plans to launch an attack into the land of the Nile. This would have been relatively easy because Palestine was already under their control and Egypt was only beginning to grow strong! But the annihilation by Abraham changed all that. The fall of Assyria in 1938, when it received its "deadly wound," left Egypt free from conquest thus allowing it to grow to become the leading nation of the ancient world. Egypt was unknowingly preparing for the coming of Joseph and the Children of Israel. God wanted Egypt to be dominate in the middle east, not Assyria. This was of major importance in God's plans for Israel.
2) If Assyria had remained strong, its armies would have conquered the Israelites after they reached Palestine in 1447 under Joshua. (this is assuming that Egypt would not have previously been overrun by Assyrians.) With Assyria on the scene in Mesopotamia the nation of Israel would never have been free to grow to power and greatness under David and Solomon. The Assyrian leaders would never have allowed this if they had seen strong enough to prevent it.
3) The defeat of Assyria by Abraham was so thorough that Assyrian power and influence were not evident for centuries. The decline of Assyria lasted for hundreds of years. The Bible reflects how lasting the effects of Abraham's victory were. The only Assyrian attack upon Israel that is recorded in all the years before the time of the kings of Israel and Judah is in the time of the Judges. In the eight years between 1400 and 1392 Chushan-rishathaim. A king of the Assyrians (so labeled by Josephus in Antiquities V, III, 2), oppressed the sinning Israelites (Judges 3:8). Other than this instance Assyria is not heard of in the Bible for a long period.
The Assyrian Empire was dealt such a crippling blow in 1938 that it never really grew great till the time of Pul, Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Sargon in the 700's. And then, when at its greatest height of power, Assyria collapsed completely after having carried the Children of Israel into captivity. This same thing will happen a few years from now. History does repeat. God used Abraham to remove Assyrian power from the world for centuries so that his nation Israel would be free to grow and develop. This is the breathtaking significance of Genesis 14.
Abraham made valuable contributions to the culture of his day. In fact, the culture he originated became dominant in Palestine. Archaeology provides the evidence. What archaeologists designate as the Ghassulian Culture of Palestine is actually the remains of the society of Abraham's day. When archaeology is synchronized with properly reconstructed history, this is the inevitable conclusion.
The Bible tells us that Beersheba was the place where Abraham established his headquarters in southern Canaan (Gen. 22:19). Apparently Beersheba is the point from which the Ghassulian originated and spread out. In other terms, this means that Abraham established a culture which influenced and dominated the entire Palestinian area. Abraham was the cultural leader of his day in that part of the world. But this should come as no surprise, realizing his greatness as illustrated in the entire story thus far.
Here is the most fascinating feature of the Ghassulian: Before this period horses are not found as a part of human civilization! Horses, of course, existed prior to this time, but only as wild animals and not in connection with society. The earliest skeleton of a horse in society was found at Beersheba as a part of the Ghassulian Culture. This was regarded as a spectacular find because the archaeologists never thought of horses being domesticated in this early a culture. The implication of this is that Abraham was the first man, this side of the Flood, to domesticate the horse.
This is substantiated when we realize that every one of the great horse cultures has come, in one way or another, from the Turkish people, the descendants of Esau. And Esau was the descendant of Abraham and Isaac. It appears, then, that after the time of Abraham the use and breeding of horses was further developed by the families of Ishmael and Esau. Seemingly, there was no end to the skills, talents, abilities, and interests of Abraham the great prince and patriarch.
Now it is time to present an important point which will provide a valuable perspective on the book of Genesis as a whole. Up through chapter 14 Genesis gives a "world view." The account recorded is concerned with affairs of many nations and peoples, not just Israel. The Flood was universal. After it Noah was concerned with the entire human family, as was Shem. Then the life of Abraham was influential in the histories of Austria, Egypt, and Assyria.
But after Genesis 14, up to chapter 39, the story is limited to Israel. The account narrows down to the affairs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with Esau down in Palestine. God, in His records concerns himself with what the world overlooks. The Bible, for two centuries, does not concern itself with the world as a whole. And the rulers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and elsewhere, were not concerned with the activities of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In other words, soon after Abraham is called by God to serve him, the Bible centers on his life. Not until Joseph arrives in powerful Egypt prior to 1734 does the Bible again begin to discuss the affairs of outside nations. With the life of Joseph the people of God again begin to have a world-wide influence.
With this in mind we will simply summarize, in chronological order, the remainder of the important events in the life of Abraham. Recall that the victory over the four Assyrian rulers took place in 1938. Seven years later, in 1931, Ishmael was born to Hagar when Abraham was 86 (Gen. 16). Then, in the year 1918-17 when Abraham is in his 100th year, God repeated and expanded his promise and agreement. In this same year Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised (Gen. 17).
The next five chapters of Genesis, 17 through 21, tell the events of the years 1918 through 1914: Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed, and the incident with Abimelech, king of Gerar, takes place. Then Isaac is born in 1916. Two years later, when Isaac was weaned, Abraham sent Hagar away, and also Susannah as Gen. 25:6 proves. The significance of the date 1914 in relation to the history of Austria has already been discussed.
In 1891, when Isaac was 25 (Antiquities I, XIII, 2), God put Abraham to the ultimate test of his faith, as recorded in Genesis 22. When God had proved that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son he made the great dual promises of race and grace to him unconditional (verses 15-18). The death of Sarah at the age of 127 is recorded in Genesis 23. Genesis 24 describes how the marriage of Isaac to Rebekah took place in 1876 when Isaac was 40 years old (Gen. 25:20). After the death of Sarah, Abraham married Keturah and from this union came important families of the Bible (Genesis 28:1-4). Abraham died, then, at age 175 in the year 1842 and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael (verses 7-10).
More information about Abraham is available in these publications: "The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy" explains the far-reaching significance of the dual promises of race and grace made to Abraham by God. Reprint article, "What is the Reward of the Saved — Heaven?" Explains how Christians are heirs to same things promised to Abraham. Then the article, "Here's the Plain Truth About Old Testament Polygamy" ("Plain Truth", October 1963, page 13) explains the fact that Abraham never had many wives as many have mistakenly assumed. A study of these articles will lend added meaning to the life of Abraham from a doctrinal point of view. The emphasis on these pages is, of course historical.
God not only made promises to Abraham. He also gave him prophecies! An important prophecy is recorded in Genesis 15:13-16. In it God reveals to Abraham what would happen to his descendants over the period of four centuries! It is important to understand this prophecy.
God told Abraham. "know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward they shall come out with great substance" (verses 13-14). Yes, God foretold of the Exodus out of Egypt!
But notice that this prophecy refers to more than just Egypt. The sons of Jacob did not come to Egypt with their father to join Joseph until late in 1726. The Exodus was in 1487. Thus the Israelites were actually in Egypt only a period of 239 years. Therefore the 400 years also takes in the time when Isaac, and Jacob and their families lived in Canaan (Gen. 37:1), a land which was "not theirs" yet — they would have to wait till the coming of Christ and the kingdom of God (Heb. 11:8-10). Not until verse 14 is Egypt specifically spoken of in this prophecy.
What are the precise dates for the 400 years? They actually extend from the year of the death of Abraham to the year when the Children of Israel ended the conquest of Palestine. It is the period from 1842 to 1442. The next year they divided the land of Palestine among-the 12 tribes (Joshua 18 and 19). God not only promised Abraham that he would become a great nation. He also told him, at least to some extent, what would happen to them in the future.
Who was Abraham? He certainly was not a myth; and he certainly was not a leader of donkey caravans who lived in a moth-eaten tent.
No, Abraham was a man of greatness and distinction. This is why God called him to be his servant. The true Abraham of history was a man of great wealth and property. He was a scientist, astronomers and mathematician. He was an extremely intelligent and balanced personality with amazingly wide interests and activities. He was a fine public speaker, a teacher of the truth, an originator of culture. He was a prince, a ruler, and a military leader when necessary. He was also a founder of nations and princely lines of rulers.
But most important of all, Abraham was a true patriarch who instructed his family and household in God's way. Notice what the Eternal said of him in Gen. 18:19: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Eternal, to do justice and judgment; that the Eternal may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him (or, promised to him)."
How did God use Abraham in history? Let's review. God used Abraham in Europe in founding the ruling family of Austrian a factor which has influenced Europe to this day. He used Abraham in Egypt to influence Egyptian culture and education so that nation could become a world leader in preparation for the arrival of the Children of Israel. Then he used Abraham to fracture Assyria's rise to greatness so that empire could not dominate the world and stand in the way of the rise of God's nation, Israel.
In the fifth century after the Flood, when the peoples of the earth were just beginning to grow in population, God used his servant Abraham to markedly alter the history of the world. This is the true historical significance of the life of Abraham. But best of all, the life of Abraham is not over. In a few short years, in the resurrection, Abraham will live again, this time forever. That is when the experiences of his physical life in ancient times, will really bear fruit. Abraham has qualified to be a world ruler. (Romans 4:13).