Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are collectively referred to as Abrahamic religions. They all trace back to one man, Abraham. All of these religions worship the same god, the god of Abraham. Judaism refers to him as Yahweh. Christianity refers to him as Jehovah or just God, although because of the magic of the Trinity, Jesus is also considered God. Finally, Islam simply refers to him as God (or Allah, in Arabic). This seems to be the beginning of monotheism in the old testament. His story will be broken into several sections. The first is his origins, and we will end with his death and wrap up the implications of his story and how they influenced the three religions. SPOILERS: Abraham starts out Abram, and changes later. Stay tuned.
Abraham’s first son, Ishmael
Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
Genesis 16:1-4 (KJV)
Sarai tells her husband, look, for decades God has promised you a child, but I can’t have kids. Take my Egyptian slave and bang her. Perfect plan, right? As soon as she gets pregnant, Hagar despises Sarai. It’s not clear why she despises Sarai, weather it is she was mad about being used as cattle, or maybe she looked down on her for being barren.
And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Genesis 16:5-12 (KJV)
Sarai expresses her reget to Abram, telling him that she had made a mistake, and the Lord would Judge them. Abram tells her, hey, she’s your slave, take care of it. So Sarai “dealt hardly with her,” which sounds like a solid beating. After Hagar flees for her life, she is meat by an angel who tells her she will bare a son, who will really be an asshole. Also, she needs to go back and take her beating like a good slave would. Then Hagar returns to Abraham and gaves birth when Abram was 86 years old.
THIRTEEN YEARS LATER! When Abram was 99, God appeared again!
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Genesis 17:1-5 (KJV)
God continues to ramble on, talking any uncomfortable amount about Abraham’s seed, then ending with the actual convent. In exchange for giving the children of Abraham Canaan (a promise that isn’t really kept), everyone has to cut the tip of their penis off. Seriously.
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Genesis 17:10-14 (KJV)
Even the poor slaves had to get cut! If you refused, you know, because you were sane, you were ostracized. This is what God wanted in return for his blessing. Again, this is straight out of the Bible.
Hello. My name is Brad. You attacked my village, killed everyone know, and took me as a slave. So, I guess you need me to tend the fields, or something?
Yeah, Brad. First things first. I’m going to need to cut the tip of your penis off.
WHAT!? First you kill everyone I know, burn down my village, make me a slave, and now this?! Why?!
Well, if you don’t, then God won’t love you anymore.
GOD APPARENTLY DOESN’T LOVE ME NOW. EVERYONE I KNOW IS DEAD AND I AM A SLAVE!
Look, Brad, don’t be a dick, man. This is happening.
As Abraham sharpens his knives, God continues by changing Sarai’s name to Sarah, and saying she is going to have a baby. The Bible then says Abraham literally laughs at God, and says, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” Which is odd, since he just said he was 99 at the start of this conversation, but I digress.
Abraham then is told that his son will be Isaac, and he will be blessed and the covenant will be with HIM, and not Ishmael. Ishmael we have his own blessing, and will become a great nation. Once again Abraham is 99 years old, and circumcises everyone, including Ishmael WHO ISN’T GETTING THIS CONVENAT!
God makes an empty promise to Abram, again. We find the root of thousands of years of male genital mutilation. The hero of the story sleeps with his slave, and allows his wife to abuse the mother of his first born.
Up next, Sodom and Gomorrah!