According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia. He was the son of Terah, who was a seller idols, but from his early childhood, he questioned the faith of his father and sought the truth. At some point Abram came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator.
Eventually, the one true Creator that Abram had worshipped called to him, and made him an offer: if Abram would leave his home and his family, then He (God) would make him a great nation and bless him. Abram entered into this covenant with God. This was the beginning of Judaism. (Gen. 12). They have a covenant (a contract) with God, which involves rights and obligations on both sides.
· Abram and his descendants were to follow and obey God.
·God would bless Abram and his descendants, giving them
their own land and protecting them from their enemies.
Abram left the city of Ur and traveled as a nomad to the land of Canaan (today known as Israel). Abram had no children and he was growing old. Abram's wife, Sarai, was past child-bearing years, so she offered her maidservant, Hagar, as a wife to Abram. This was a common practice in the region at the time. She bore Abram a son, Ishmael, who, according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs.
God changed Abram's name to Abraham (father of many), and Sarai's to Sarah (from "my princess" to "princess"). Miraculously, Sarah bore Abraham a son and named him Isaac; a name which means "laughter,. It symbolized Abraham's joy at having a son in his old age.
Years later God tested Abraham by commanded him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. (Gen 22). At the last moment, God sent an angel to stop the sacrifice. Isaac grew up and married Rebecca who gave birth to twin sons: Jacob and Esau. (Gen 25).
Jacob grew up to be the next patriarch. He had 12 sons. :
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin.
They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel, and the ones for whom the tribes are named. Joseph is the father of two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim.
Joseph's older brothers were jealous of him, because he was the favorite of their father, and because he had visions that he would lead them all. They sold Joseph into slavery and convinced their father that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. This however was all part of God's plan. Joseph was brought into Egypt, where his ability to interpret visions earned him a place in the Pharaoh's court, paving the way for his family's later settlement in Egypt.