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The Family Of Abraham

G-d promises Avraham (Abraham) that he will have a great family, a Nation of G-d will emerge from his family, and that they will inherit the Land Of Canaan (Yisrael/Israel).

Avraham and Sarah are initially childless. Their next of kin is Avraham's nephew Lot and he wants nothing to do with the Covenant and its ramifications.

Sarah gives her handmaid Hagar to Avraham in marriage with the hope that he can have children from her. Hagar gives birth to Yishmael (Ishmael), the founder of the Arab people.

Finally, at age ninety, Sarah miraculously gives birth to Yitzchak (Isaac). He becomes the founder of the Jewish people. After Sarah’s death, Avraham has additional children from Hagar, also called Keturah in the Bible.

G-d tests Avraham's ten times. In the last and supreme test of faith, G-d asks Avraham to bring up Yitzchak as a sacrificial offering on what will later become the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Even though Avraham has dedicated his entire life to preach against pagan rites and child sacrifice, he asks no questions and rushes to obey G-d's command.

Yitzchok's faith is tested, too. He readily consents to be sacrificed.

As he is about to be slaughtered, Yitzchok asks Avraham to tie up his hands and feet to insure that he won't flinch and accidentally strike his father.

G-d stops the service at the last moment. Avraham offers a ram as a substitute for his son. The Jewish people have a tradition that G-d Himself will blow the horn of this ram to usher in the Messianic Era.

As a result of this demonstration, Yitzchok becomes consecrated to G-d. He will never leave the holy Land of Israel.

Yitzchok leads a legendary life of devotion and prayer.

Yitzchok marries Rivka (Rebecca). After a stressful period of being childless, Rivka gives birth to twins, Yaakov (Jacob) and Aisav (Esau). Aisav is born first and therefore has the birthright.

Aisav's personal behavior is inconsistent with the responsibilities of the birthright and the corresponding role in the Covenant. He sells to Yaakov both the privileges and the responsibilities of the birthright for a pot of lentils.

Aisav misleads Yitzchok about his behavior and attitude. Rivka steps in before Aisav is about to receive the blessings of the Covenant from his father. Rivka is a prophet of G-d and she commands Yaakov to impersonate Aisav and obtain the blessing for himself. Aisav loses out and he vows to kill Yaakov. Yaakov is forced to flee from the holy Land of Israel to avoid the vengeance.

Yaakov's life will consist of many hardships. Yet he remains steadfast to study, honesty, and he maintain a way of life that is consistent with the Covenant.

Yaakov flees to Lavan (Laban), Rivka's brother. Yaakov works for seven years to marry Rachel, Lavan's younger daughter. Lavan tricks Yaakov during the wedding ceremony and he substitutes Leah, the older sister. Yaakov eventually marries Lavan's four daughters: Rachel, Leah, Bilha, and Zilpa. They have twelve sons who will become the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Yisrael.

Upon his return to the Land of Israel, G-d changes Yaakov's name to Yisrael (Israel).

Yisrael becomes the founder of the Jewish people. Aisav becomes the founder of Edom and the Roman civilization.

On a higher (Kabalistic) plane of thought, Abraham, Yitzchok, and Yisrael rose to become the designated representatives of Divine Attributes: Kindness (outreach), Regulation, and Mercy (truth), which is a synthesis of Kindness and Regulation.

As stated previously, Adam and other great people are authors of history, not mere victims of history. Their lives chart the course of pre-Messianic history. Their actions are later reflected in the historical happenings of the Jewish people.

Abraham (Avrham), Yitzchok (Isaac), and Yisrael (Jacob-Israel) and to some degree their immediate family are authors, too.

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