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Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away, makes a treaty with Abimelech, almost sacrifices Isaac, finds him a wife after he grows up, then buries Sarah: Genesis 21–23

Abraham lived as a foreigner in the Beersheba area for a long time. Despite some minor bickering about a well, he had a good relationship with locals, including the Philistines (centuries later, they became Israel’s arch enemies).

While he was there, God decided to test Abraham’s faith by asking him to take Isaac up a mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. What would have been going through Abraham’s mind on the way up the mountain – nervous thoughts about God’s promise of more descendants through Isaac than could be counted, focused by memories of being circumcised? The young Isaac (probably around five years old) certainly knew something wasn’t right, asking where the sheep for the sacrifice is:

Genesis 22:8 ‘God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,’ Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

Only at the last minute, when Isaac was seconds from death, did God provide a sheep. God confirmed His promise to Abraham again:

Genesis 22:15-18 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven.“This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number …

If you accept the view that God knows everything, then in asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God would have known Abraham’s faith would pass the test before he and Isaac even set out.

Sarah died, and she was buried in a tomb near Hebron (also called Mamre), on land that Abraham paid for. It was the only land he formally owned while he was alive. The rest of the time, Abraham and his family were foreigners.

Just before Abraham died, he arranged a wife for Isaac. The whole encounter is strange, but quite romantic, by today’s Western ideals. In this process, the family also encountered Laban (Rebekah’s brother) for the first time. Laban’s reluctance to keep an agreement and let someone leave his household is already on display, but he wasn’t in a position to hold out.

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