God appeared to Abraham after his circumcision to reveal a future promise. Three messengers arrived with a divine announcement: he was going to have a son by his wife Sarah.
While in Sodom, the townsmen tried to force Lot to eject the messengers from his house so they could rape them. The door opened and the divine men struck the evil townspeople with blindness. Lot, his wife and daughters escaped Sodom, hurried along by the divine messengers who told them not to look back until they reached the mountain. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife looked back at the sulphur raining down on the plain of Sodom and Amorah (Gomorrah). Transfixed by the sight of her destroyed homeland, she solidified into a pillar.
Lot and his daughters sought refuge in a cave. Believing the world was at an end, Lot’s daughters intoxicated him and slept with him, resulting in the births of Moab and Ammon.
Isaac’s birth was shadowed by a scandal perpetrated by Abimelech, the Philistine king, who had kidnapped the beautiful Sarah before her term of pregnancy. After Isaac’s birth, the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael was followed by another trial of faith. Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac to God. He was tortured by this command, yet fully committed to perform it.
At the moment he was about to plunge a knife into Isaac’s neck, an angel called out: “Abraham, Abraham – don’t do it.”
Now God knew Abraham was willing to obey him, having proven his unwavering faith in God.
- Rabbi Ariel Abel CF serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force