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LDS Old Testament Notes 08: Abraham

LDS Old Testament Notes 08: Abraham

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Published by Mike Parker
All Old Testament notes: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4343354
Class website: http://bit.ly/ldsarc
Handout 1 for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505318
Handout 2 for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505338
Slideshow for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/
All Old Testament notes: http://www.scribd.com/collections/4343354
Class website: http://bit.ly/ldsarc
Handout 1 for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505318
Handout 2 for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29505338
Slideshow for these notes: http://www.scribd.com/doc/

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Published by: Mike Parker on Apr 06, 2010
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11/10/2013

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© 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Old Testament Week 8: Abraham (Abraham 1
2; Genesis 12
23)
1)
 
[SLIDE 2]
 Who was Abraham? a)
 
[2.1]
He was an eleventh-
generation descendant of Noah, through Shem‘s line.
 i)
 
Shem was the ancestor of the Semitic (
―Shem
-itic
)
peoples, which includes today‘s
Jews and Arabs. ii)
 
He is hailed as one of the greatest prophets of history by all three of the world
‘s
 monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
1
 iii)
 
 While we‘re still too far in the past to pinpoint
any dates with certainty, he was probably born between 2000 and 1800
B
.
C
.
2
  b)
 
[2.2]
His given name was
 Abram
 (Hebrew:
םר
/
abrm
), which means ―exalted father‖ or ―my father is exalted.‖
 i)
 
[2.3]
 When he entered into a covenant with the Lord, his name was changed to
 Abraham
 (Hebrew:
םהר
/
abrhm
), which the Genesis
text glosses as ―father of a multitude.‖
3
 ii)
 
His original name gave reverence to his father, Terah, by looking
back
 at him. His new name looked
 forward 
 to the covenant promises he received from the Lord. c)
 
Both Genesis and the Book of Abraham say he was from t
he ―Ur of the Chaldees.‖
 i)
 
[SLIDE 3]
There is a long and complicated history behind trying to figure out where this city was located. ii)
 
Traditionally the Hebrew word
םידשכ
 (
kasdim
) has been translated ―Chaldean,‖
4
  which refers to the area and the people in southern Mesopotamia. iii)
 
T
here are two cities identified with Abraham‘s Ur:
 (1)
 
Jewish and Muslim traditions
5
 place it in northern Syria, in an area that today is part of southeast Turkey. (2)
 
Since 1927 Ur has been popularly identified with a southern Sumerian city of Ur,  which was discovered in 1927 by Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. iv)
 
The arguments for each position are lengthy, so I
 won‘t go into them in detail here
. I  would like to point out, however, that the strongest case from the Book of Abraham is for a northern location for Ur.
6
 
1
 Muslims believe Abraham (

/
’Ibrāhīm
) is one of a line of prophets that began with Adam and culminated in Mohammad. Abraham is mentioned in 35 chapters of the Qu
r‘an,
more than any other biblical person except Moses. He is considered both a
hanif 
 (monotheist) and
muslim
 (one who surrenders to God). Islam is also called
millat Ibrahim
, the
―religion of Abraham.‖
 
2
 Following the chronology of Genesis, Abraham was born 1,948 years after the creation (Anno Mundi, or
 A 
.
M
.), and died 2,123
 A 
.
M
. at age 175.
3
 His name is actually a sound play:
’av
-hamon
,
―father of a multitude,‖ sounds like
 
’avraham
, ―Abraham
.
 
4
 
It appears 80 times in the Old Testament. The King James Version renders it ―
Chaldeans
 (59x),
Chaldees
 (14x), or
Chaldea
 (7x). Most often, however, the reference is to the Babylonian Empire, so modern Bible translations typically render
it ―Babylonia‖ or some variation of that word. T
he Chaldeans themselves referred to themselves as the
kal-du
, so it‘s possible
that
 Abraham‘s
Ur is not in the southern Mesopotamian area, but in another location called
kasdim
.
5
 The ancient authorities for this include Josephus and Maimonides.
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Abraham Week 8, Page 2 © 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
2)
 
[SLIDE 4]
 Abraham‘s relationship with God.
 a)
 
 What makes Abraham unique among all the prophets in the scriptures? i)
 
He is the only person in scripture explicitly referred to as ―the Friend of God‖ (James
2:23). ii)
 
The covenant Abraham made with the Lord was so special that it has been referred to by those who
have entered into it ever since as the ―Abrahamic covenant.‖
 iii)
 
The Lord respected the covenant he made with Abraham so much, that that covenant  was the only thing that motivated the Lord to repeatedly bless or spare the children Israel.
7
 The Lord still remembers that covenant, and will fulfill it.
8
  b)
 
 Why was Abraham chosen by God? i)
 
The Bible is silent on this issue. According to Genesis, the Lord simply started talking to Abraham one day for no apparent reason (Genesis 12:1
3). ii)
 
[SLIDE 5]
The Book of Abraham is more explicit however:
1
In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence;
2
and, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (
Abraham 1:1
2.
)
9
 
6
 BYU prof 
essor John Gee has explained the following historical scenario for Abraham chapter 1: ―Under Sesostris III
[reigned 1878
39
B
.
C
.] Egypt invades the Levant (according to the new Khnumhotep inscription). Egyptian presence is continued under Amenemhet III [reigned c. 1860
14
B
.
C
.] (with sphinxes of his at Aleppo and Ugarit, also Egyptian finds at Ebla) stretching to the Euphrates. Abraham runs afoul of Egyptian policy and subject to human sacrifice. After being saved by an angel, he flees across the Euphrates to Haran. After the death of Amenemhet III, Egypt's empire in the Levant disappears. This makes it feasible for Abraham to move into Canaan. After the death of Amenemhet IV [reigned c. 1815
06
B
.
C
.], northern Egypt is no longer ruled by Egyptians but by ru
lers who are ‗partakers of the blood of the Canaanites by birth‘ [Abraham 1:21] and it is these rulers whom Abraham encounters when he visits Egypt.‖ Gee, via email, 20 August 2013. For more on this, see
Kerry Muhlestein and John Gee
, ―
 An Egyptian Context for the Sacrifice of Abraham
,‖
 Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture
 20/2 (2011), 70
77 (
); also Kevin Barney, ―
On Elkenah as Canaanite
El,‖
 BCC Papers
 2/2, April 2007 (
).
7
 See Exodus 2:24; Leviticus 26:40
45; 2 Kings 13:23.
8
 See Mormon 5:20; 3 Nephi 16:11
12; 29:1
9.
9
 I have formatted these verses so the poetic verse structure is more noticeable. Note the parallelism in verse 2:
―righteousness/
great
knowledge, greater righteousness/greater knowledge.‖
 
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Abraham Week 8, Page 3 © 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
iii)
 
Note that Abraham
 wasn‘t
 
 just ―minding his own business‖ when the Lord first call
ed on him
he already understood that there was
―greater happiness and p
eace and
rest‖ in having ―the blessings of the fathers‖ (the patriarchal priesthood), and he
therefore desired to have the qualities that would qualify him for those blessings.
10
 iv)
 
Because of his righteous desires, he is saved from certain death by the angel of the Lord (Abraham 1:15). c)
 
[SLIDE 6]
 What covenants did the Lord make with Abraham? i)
 
The Abrahamic covenant was not revealed all at once, but in stages. The Lord made promises to and requirements of Abraham on several occasions. As Abraham proved to the Lord that he was able to live up to the commandments he had received thus far, the Lord blessed him further and gave him additional commandments.
Eventually Abraham proved faithful in all things and ―entered into his exaltation‖
(D&C 132:29). ii)
 
 Abraham‘s part of the covenant: ―
I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be
thou perfect‖ (
Genesis 17:1
).
11
 (1)
 
The Hebrew word translated in the KJV as ―perfect‖ (
םימת
 /
tamiym
) doesn‘t mean ―without error.‖ It mean
complete
 or
whole
, or, in other words, having integrity.
12
 The idea here is that must Abraham act in a fashion where the Lord  would not hold him guilty of violating the covenant. iii)
 
The Lord‘s blessings for living up to the covenant include:
 (1)
 
Blessing of a promised land (Genesis 13:14
15; Abraham 2:6). (2)
 
Blessing of posterity (Genesis 15:5; Abraham 2:10). (3)
 
Blessing of the priesthood (Abraham 1:18
19; 2:9). (4)
 
Blessing of salvation and exaltation (Abraham 2:11). d)
 
The sign and token of the Abrahamic covenant. i)
 
 As a sign of the covenant, Abram‘s name was changed to
 Abraham
(Genesis 17:5).
13
 (1)
 
This
new name
 represented a change in covenant status with the Lord: Abraham  was spiritually reborn, and his new name showed that he was a new person. (2)
 
Every time the name was used it would be a reminder of God‘s
covenant promise. ii)
 
 As a token, or pledge, of the covenant, the Lord confirmed his promise by a visible sign (
Genesis 15:7
10, 17
18
):
Abraham is directed to make the usual preparations observed in old times when two parties were about to make an important covenant or alliance: Certain animals and birds used in sacrifice were slain, and the bodies of the former divided
in two parts: hence the expression to „strike‟ or „cut‟ a covenant. The two parties
then passed between the parts, met in the middle, and took an oath of agreement,
10
 Abraham did not receive the priesthood in Ur, but received it later from Melchizedek (D&C 84:14), possibly following the Battle of the Kings (see Genesis 14; cf. JST Genesis 14:25
40).
11
 Compare
this reading to the one found in NRSV, NET, NASB, NIV, and ESV: ―…
 be blameless.
 
12
 
Compare this with the Greek word τέλειοι (
teleioi 
) in Matthew
5:48. The KJV translates this as ―perfect,‖ but a better
translation would be
mature
 or
complete
. The idea behi
nd both of these verses is similar to Leviticus 19:2 (―Ye shall be holy:
for I the L
ORD
 
 your God am holy‖) and Deuteronomy 18:13 (―You shall be blameless before the
L
ORD
 
 your God‖—
NASB).
13
 
 Abraham‘s wife,
 
 Sarai
(―princess‖), also had her name changed to
 Sarah
(―noblewoman‖) (Genesis 17:15).
 

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