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16. Who Started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs?
Chapter 2. Where did Abraham live?

2.2. What do the Suhuf Ibrahim tell us about the places, where Abraham came from and lived?

In contrast to the 242 verses of the Arabic Koran about Abraham, we find in the 314 verses of the Suhuf Ibrahim in the Hebrew Torah (Genesis 11 to 25) a wealth of geographical details (See Section 7.1 below for details about the contents of the Suhuf Ibrahim, indicating which passages from the Suhuf Ibrahim have influenced the Koran and which passages were ignored by the Koran). Here are some details from these Suhuf Ibrahim highlighting the places, where Abraham lived:

The father of Abraham, Terah, lived with his sons in the Chaldean city Ur, which today is located in southern Iraq (Genesis 11:27-32). The original name of Abraham was Abram. Terah moved with his sons from there northwards to Haran, which today is in southern Turkey, near the border to Syria. There the LORD, the God of Abraham, commanded Abram (Genesis 12:1-9) to move onward with his wife and belongings to the land of the Canaanites (later called Israel and Palestine). Abram lived in different places there (e.g. Shechem, Bethel and Negev) and also moved southwards to Egypt during a time of famine (Genesis 12:10). After returning to the Land of the Canaanites (Palestine), Abram settled at Hebron in a mountainous region (Genesis 13:18).

The LORD, the God of Abraham, appeared to Abram on various occasions promising the land of the Canaanites to him and to his offspring (e.g. Genesis 12:7 or 15:18). However, Abram did not have any offspring from his wife Sarai at that time, although both of them were already very old. As a solution, Sarai gave him her Egyptian maid Hagar to father a child from her. This is how Ishmael was born to Abraham from Hagar, the maid of his wife Sarai (Genesis 16).

However, the LORD then appeared to Abram and concluded a covenant with him (Genesis 17). In this covenant The LORD, in addition to his promise that Abram's descendants will come into the possession of the land of his wanderings (Genesis 17:8), promised him an offspring from his wife Sarai in spite of their old age (Genesis 17:16.17) and that from this offspring they would become a great nation (Genesis 17:6). In this context the LORD gave Abram the new name Abraham (Genesis 17:5), and his wife He gave the new name Sarah (Genesis 17:15). Abraham then beseeched God that Ishmael would also live before Him (Genesis 17:18). God then promised Abraham that his son Ishmael from Hagar would also become a great nation (Genesis 17:20).

After the miraculous birth of Isaac from his wife Sarah (Genesis 21:1-3, this birth was miraculous, because at the time of Isaac's birth Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 years old, see Genesis 17:17). Out of jealousy Abraham was then asked by his wife Sarah to cast out his son Ishmael with his mother Hagar, the Egyptian (Genesis 21:10). This displeased Abraham, but God said to him to do what Sarah told him to do (Genesis 21:12). So, Hagar and her son Ishmael were sent away by Abraham into the desert of Beersheba in southern Palestine (Genesis 21:14).

There God intervened. Hagar and Ishmael did not die of thirst in this desert in southern Palestine, because God sent an angel to her, proclaiming to her that God would make her son into a great nation (Genesis 21:18). Then God opened Hagar's eyes to see a water well in the desert of Beersheba, from which she and Ishmael drank to survive (Genesis 21:19). The text in the Hebrew Suhuf Ibrahim concludes this episode by saying: "And God was with the boy (Ishmael), and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt." (Genesis 21:20-21) The wilderness of Paran is located to the South of Beersheba on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula, today belonging to Egypt. Abraham with his wife Sarah and their son Isaac however staid further north in Beersheba.

Then, to test the faith of Abraham in his God, the LORD commanded Abraham (See Genesis 22:1-22) to offer his son Isaac on an altar as a burnt offering to God in the land of Moriah (today in the city of Jerusalem, to the north of Beersheba, see 2 Chronicles 3:1). Abraham and Isaac obeyed, but God intervened and told Abraham not to kill his son Isaac saying: "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Genesis 22:12) Instead, Abraham took a ram, which was caught in the thicket by its horns, and offered him as a burnt offering in place of his son on the altar, which Abraham had built (Genesis 22:13). The LORD, the God of Abraham, then told him: "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." (Genesis 22:16-18) Then Abraham returned to Beersheba and lived with Sarah and Isaac there (Genesis 22:19).

Abraham's wife Sarah died at the age of 127 years (Genesis 23:1) in Kiriath-Araba (literally meaning "the village of the south" in Hebrew), which now is called Hebron (Genesis 23:2), where Abraham buried her in a cave, which he bought from a Hittite owner in Hebron (Genesis 23:3-20). Abraham later died at the age of 175 years (Genesis 25:7) and was buried in this cave by his sons Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 35:9). The tombs of Abraham and of his wife Sarah today can be visited in a grand mosque in the city of Hebron (called al-Khalil by Palestinians, meaning "the Friend", because in the Koran Allah took Abraham as a Khalil, i.e. as a Friend, see Sura al-Nisa' 4:125).

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