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Headword: Abraam
Adler number: alpha,69
Translated headword: Abraham
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
The first among patriarchs; [it was he] in whom the Hebrew people took pride at first, before they rebelled against God, became estranged from Him, and shed upon themselves the blood of His Only-Begotten Son.[1] This man came out of the land of the Chaldeans, who devoted their entire lives to the stars and heavenly bodies. Trained, therefore, as was their ancestral custom, to observe the motions of the heavenly bodies[2] he surmised that the masterwork underlying this visible creation was not to be found in such objects, but had a Creator who set them in motion, gave harmony to their paths, and ordered the entire universe. Because of the greatness and beauty of the things He had made, Abraham, as it was likely, ceased devoting himself to gazing out into the heavens nor did he squander his passion in their pursuit. Instead, by surmounting the celestial vaults and transcending all the intelligible realm beyond the cosmos, Abraham no longer stood apart from the One sought, until finally the Creator for whom he yearned manifested Himself to Abraham in likenesses[3] and forms. And in this way the Unseen and Invisible revealed Himself. And [God] sent him forth from his own land as a wanderer and settled him in the land of the Canaanites. There he dwelled, now being in about his ninety-ninth year.[4] Until this time, he was childless; then [God] made him the father of the miraculous and blessed Isaac that he might have a first-born, only-begotten son[5] -- prefiguring the mystical image of the First-Born, Only-Begotten Son.[6] This was an exceedingly singular[7] honor bestowed upon Abraham, for the Creator favored him with the titles Servant, Beloved, and Father by flesh of the Only Begotten Son of Him who fashioned the entire universe.[8] Abraham invented sacred writing and devised the language of which Hebrew children used to have a command, as they were this man's disciples and descendants. Moreover, the Greek alphabet received its impetus from this script,[9] even if Greeks amused themselves by forming the letters differently. Proof of this is in the pronunciation of the first and preeminent letter "alpha" because it derives its name from the Hebrew "aleph" by way of the Blessed, First, and Eternal Name.[10] So too, the Greeks through Abraham came to possess books on dream interpretation. Witness to this is Joseph, the truly wondrous descendant of Abraham, who interpreted Pharoah's dreams as they were going to turn out in fact. In this, Philo, the Jewish philosopher, will be my confirmation via his work Life of the Statesman.[11] About Philo it is said "Philo platonizes and Plato philonizes."[12]
The practice of idolatry extended from Serug[13] to the time of Abraham's father Tharron.[14] Thus, when Abraham was 14 years old[15] and deemed worthy of divine knowledge, he upbraided his father, "Why do you lead the people astray for harmful gain (that is, with idols)? There is no other God but the One in heaven, the Creator of the entire universe." Yet seeing the people serving earthly things, he embarked on a tireless quest, seeking out with his pious heart the Truly Existing God.[16] But seeing that the sky is sometimes light and sometimes dark, he said to himself, "That is not God." Observing similarly the sun and the moon, the one obscured and eclipsed and the other waning and occluded, he said, "Those are not gods either." True, he was trained in astronomy by his father, but Abraham all the same was puzzled by the motions of the stars and scornful of them. But God appeared to him and said, "Go out of your land and leave your kinsmen."[17] Abraham took his father's idols, smashing some and incinerating others. Then he went away with his father out of the land of the Chaldeans. And they came to Haran,[18] where his father died. He left there, obeying the Lord's word, with his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot[19] and all their possessions, and came to the promised land Canaan, which the Canaanites had seized and settled in. When a famine arose, Abraham left the land of the Canaanites and went into Egypt, where Abimelech[20] the king took his wife Sarah. God struck terror into Abimelech and paralysed his limbs, saying "Give this man back his wife, because he is a prophet and will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not give her back, know that you and your entire household will die." When Abraham got his wife back, undefiled, he prayed, and Abimelech and his household were cured of the paralysis.[21] After this the king, honoring Abraham and devoting himself to his sayings, became a pious and expert teacher to the Egyptians. The same Abraham, upon returning from war,[22] was considered worthy of blessing by Melchisedek, king of Salem, who brought bread and wine out to him. Melchisedek was a priest of the Most High, and Abraham gave to Him a tenth of all he had. Melchisedek was without father, mother, or lineage, like the Son of God.[23]
When Abram[24] lamented to God about his childlessness, God revealed to him through a dream that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And he believed God, and God reckoned it to him as righteousness.[25] Now Sarah, who was barren, gave Abraham permission to father a child with her maidservant, and she bore Ismael.[26] And when Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him and altered his name to Abraham, for until then he had been called Abram. Similarly, Sarah became Sarrah with another "r".[27] And Abraham circumcised Ismael and all his descendants. Moreover, when the Lord was being shown the hospitality of Abraham's house, He promised Abraham that Sarrah would bear him a son. But Sarrah smiled; and the one who was begotten was called Isaac, by the Hebrew name that means "laughter with delight."[28]
Also [sc. attested is the adjective] *abramiai=os: [meaning] descendant of Abraham, or towering, revered.[29]
Greek Original:
Abraam: ho prôtos en patriarchais: eis hon apesemnuneto dêmos ho tôn Hebraiôn to proteron, prin ê theou aposkirtêsai kai genesthai toutou allotrioi kai to tou monogenous huiou autou haima eph' heautous epispasasthai. houtos ek men tês Chaldaiôn gês hupêrchen hormômenos, tôn peri ta meteôra kai tous asteras ton bion holon katanaliskontôn. askêtheis oun kata ton patrion nomon tas tôn epouraniôn asterôn kinêseis kai stochasamenos hôs ouk en toutois histatai to megalourgon tês phainomenês tautêsi ktiseôs, all' echei tina ton dêmiourgon ton kai kinounta kai dieuthunonta tên enarmonion tôn asterôn poreian kai tou kosmou pantos tên katastasin, kai dia tou megethous kai tês kallonês tôn ktismatôn ton genesiourgon autôn, hôs enên, theôrêsas ouk estê mechri toutôn, oude tên ephesin eis tauta katedapanêsen, alla tôn ouraniôn hapsidôn huperartheis kai pasan diabas tên noêtên te kai huperkosmion sumpêxin ouk apestê tou zêtoumenou, heôs hou ho pothoumenos heauton autôi ephanerôse tupois te kai morphômasin, hois heauton emphanizei ho aphanês kai aoratos. kai metanastên auton ek tês patridos labôn epi tên Chananitin katestêse, ton enenêkoston pou kai enaton êdê chronon parelkonta: kai apaida mechri tote tunchanonta gennêtora tou thaumasiou kai makaros kate- stêsen Isaak, hin' echoi monogenê huion kai prôtotokon, tou monogenous kai prôtotokou mustikên eikona prodiagraphonta: touto geras autôi kat' exaireton charisamenos, to doulon kai philon kai patera chrêmatisai tou monogenous huiou kata sarka, tou ton kosmon holon dêmiourgêsantos. houtos heure men hiera grammata kai glôssan emêchanêsato, hês Hebraiôn paides en epistêmêi etunchanon, hôs ontes toutou mathêtai kai apogonoi. ek toutou kai ta Hellênôn grammata tas aphormas elabon, kan allôs kai allôs heautous diapaizontes anagraphôsin Hellênes. kai toutou marturion hê tou Alpha phônê tou prôtou stoicheiou kai archontos, apo tou Aleph Hebraiou labontos tên epiklêsin tou makariou kai prôtou kai athanatou onomatos. ek toutou kai ta oneirôn biblia espheterisanto Hellênes. kai martus Iôsêph ho panthaumastos ho toutou apogonos, ho tou Pharaô ta enupnia hôs emellon apobêsesthai diêgoumenos. touto moi kai Philôn, ex Hebraiôn philosophos, en tôi tou Politikou biôi sunepimarturêsetai, Philôn, peri hou errêthê, Philôn platônizei, kai Platôn philônizei. hoti êrxato hê eidôlolatreia apo Serouch heôs tôn chronôn Tharra tou patros Abraam. hos Abraam huparchôn etôn id# kai theognôsias axiôtheis enouthetei ton patera autou, legôn: ti planais tous anthrôpous dia kerdos epizêmion [toutesti ta eidôla]; ouk estin allos theos ei mê ho en tois ouranois, ho kai panta ton kosmon dêmiourgêsas. horôn gar tous anthrôpous ktismatolatrountas diêrcheto diaponoumenos kai ton ontôs onta theon ekzêtôn ek philotheou kardias. horôn de ton ouranon pote men lampron, pote de skoteinon, elegen en heautôi: ouk estin houtos theos. homoiôs kai ton hêlion kai tên selênên, ton men apokruptomenon kai amauroumenon, tên de phthinousan kai apolêgousan, ephêsen: oud' houtoi eisi theoi. kai mentoi kai tên tôn asterôn kinêsin, ek tou patros gar epaideueto tên astronomian, kai aporôn eduscherainen. ôphthê de autôi ho theos kai legei autôi: exelthe ek tês gês sou kai ek tês sungeneias sou. kai labôn ta eidôla tou patros kai ta men klasas ta de empurisas anechôrêse meta tou patros ek gês Chaldaiôn: kai elthontos eis Charran, eteleutêsen ho patêr autou. kai exelthôn ekeithen en logôi Kuriou êlthe sun têi gunaiki Sarrai kai tôi anepsiôi Lôt meta pasês autôn tês aposkeuês eis tên opheilomenên gên Chanaan, hên hoi Chananaioi turannikôs aphelomenoi ôikêsan. limou de genomenou katalipôn tên Chananaiôn gên eis Aigupton apêiei, hou tên gunaika Sarran Abimelech hêrpasen ho basileus. touton ho theos ekdeimatôsas kai paresin tôn melôn epaxas, apodos, ephê, tên gunaika tôi anthrôpôi, hoti prophêtês esti kai proseuxetai peri sou kai zêseis. ei de mê apodôis, gnôthi hoti apothanêi su kai ta sa panta. kai houtôs apolabôn tên gunaika amianton kai proseuxamenos iathênai epoiêse tês pareseôs Abimelech kai ton oikon autou. ektote timôn auton ho basileus kai prosechôn tois hup' autou legomenois, didaskalos eusebeias kai polupeirias Aiguptiois egeneto. ho autos Abram hupostrephôn ek tou polemou tês eulogias tou Melchisedek katêxiôtai, tou basileôs Salêm, hos exênenken autôi artous kai oinon. ên de kai hiereus tou Hupsistou. kai edôken autôi Abram dekatên apo pantôn. ên de ho Melchisedek apatôr, amêtôr, agenealogêtos, aphômoiômenos tôi huiôi tou theou. tôi de Abram ateknian olophuromenôi kath' hupnous epideixas ho theos tous asteras kata to plêthos autôn esesthai hoi to sperma proedêlou. ho de episteuse tôi theôi, kai elogisthê autôi eis dikaiosunên. hê de Sarra steira ousa sunechôrêsen Abram apo tês paidiskês paidopoiêsasthai: kai ischei ton Ismaêl. enenêkonta de kai ennea etôn onti tôi Abram epiphaneis ho theos Abraam metônomasen: Abram gar prôên ônomazeto: homoiôs kai tên Saran Sarran, prostheis kai heteron r. kai perieteme ton Ismaêl kai pantas tous ex autou. Kurios de tôi Abraam epixenôtheis epêngeilato texesthai Sarran autôi paida. hê de emeidiase, kai Isaak to gennêthen prosêgoreuthê, pherônumôs tôi meth' hêdonês gelôti kata tên Hebraïda dialekton. kai Abramiaios: ho apogonos Abraam, ê gigantiaios, hieroprepês.
Notes:
This long entry is derived in part directly from George the Monk, in part indirectly from Philo of Alexandria; see further in the notes below.
[1] cf. Matthew 27:25 (web address 1).
[2] The Suda's attention to Chaldean astrology derives from Philo, On Abraham, (Colson, Philo Vol VI: XV.69-70).
[3] Use of tu/pos here is twofold: 1) To assert that God's appearance to Abraham was indirect (echoing Philo, On Abraham, XVII.79-80); 2) To impart, as if a corollary of tu/pos in Romans 5:14, that God's manifestation to Abraham was a type or prefiguration of Christ.
[4] Abraham is 100 years old at Isaac's birth (Genesis 21:5); however, the Suda follows Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.191-93 (web address 2 below) in assuming Abraham's age as 99 at the time of God's promise.
[5] The Suda here omits Ishmael, born to Abraham by the Egyptian slave Hagar when he was 86 years old (Genesis 16:1-16). The Suda's omission tacitly acknowledges a covenantal and legal distinction clearly drawn in Genesis. In Isaac, God establishes an "everlasting covenant" for his progeny, whereas God blesses Ishmael and makes him "fruitful and exceedingly numerous" (Genesis 17:19-20). Isaac's filial status is made explicit by God in identifying him as Abraham's "only son" (Genesis 22:12) through whom "offspring shall be named" for Abraham, whereas Ishmael, although destined to father a nation, is identified by God as "the son of the slave woman" (Genesis 21:12-13). Ishmael is, however, mentioned later in the entry.
[6] Christological imagery links Isaac to the personage of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-2 at web address 3 below). See also delta 94, notes 1 and 14.
[7] The Suda underscores the magnitude of the honor with a hyperbolic kat' before e)cai/reton.
[8] The statement, rooted in a paternalistic-filial model that originates in Abraham and culminates in the figure of Christ, approximates the transcendental premise: Abraham is to Joseph as Isaac is to Christ.
[9] The Suda confuses Mosaic and Abrahamic lore. The 2nd century BCE Jewish writer Eupolemus claimed for Moses the invention and propagation of writing: "Moses was the first wise man, the first who imparted the alphabet to the Jews; the Phoenicians received it from the Jews, and the Greeks from the Phoenicians." The 2nd century BCE Egyptian Jewish writer Artapanus attributed hieroglyphics to Moses. According to the 2nd century BCE Samaritan writer Ps.-Eupolemus and Artapanus, astrology and astronomy originated with Abraham, who taught these disciplines and other tools of culture to the Jews, Phoenicians, and Egyptians. They, in turn, transmitted these arts to the Greeks. Philo in On Abraham stresses Abraham's expertise as a teacher. (Encyc. Judaica, Vol 6.964-65; Gruen, 146-51, 157, 294; Grant, 77; Philo, XI.52) At sigma 295, Seth is credited with the invention of the alphabet; Greek legend named Cadmus or Linus as the one who introduced the alphabet to Greece (gamma 416, kappa 21, kappa 22, lambda 568). See also phi 787.
[10] The reference recalls א aleph as the initial letter of ʾelohīm, the most frequent generic name for God in the OT, used about 2,500 times--but a distant second to the unspoken covenant name YHWH (Yahweh), which occurs some 6,800 times (Perdue, 685-86). Cf. alpha 1445.
[11] A reference to Philo's *bi/os politikou= o(/per e)sti peri\ *)iwsh/f (Colson, Philo Vol VI, 140ff.)
[12] Adapted from Jerome's On Illustrious Men (11): h)\ *pla/twn filwni/zei h)\ *fi/lwn platwni/zei ("Either Plato philonizes or Philo platonizes.") Cf. phi 448 and Photius, Bibliotheca 86b 25.
[13] Abraham's grandfather (Genesis 11:22). Seruch in the LXX, שרוג śerūḡ in Hebrew. See also sigma 253.
[14] Abraham's father (Genesis 11:24). Tharra (*qa/rra, *qarra/) or Tharrha (*qa/r)r(a) (Hatch, Concordance, Appendix 1, 71; Brenton, 13); in Hebrew תרח Teraḥ. From the Chronicon of George the Monk, 92.11-12; cf. Malalas 55.5-6.
[15] The Midrash sets Abraham's rejection of idolatry at age 13 (Encyc. Judaica, 4.244). From here to "teacher to the Egyptians," the Suda's source is the Chronicon of George the Monk, 93.16 - 95.17.
[16] On God as "He who is," see omicron 438, omega 105.
[17] cf. Philo, On Abraham XIV.62.
[18] The call in Genesis 12:1-5 brings Abraham from Haran (חרן) to Canaan (כנען). The Suda adheres to Philo, On Abraham, XIV. 67: metani/statai...a)po\ th=s *xaldai/wn gh=s...e)is th\n *xarrai/wn gh=n.
[19] Philo shows a)delfidou=s, as at On Abraham, XXXVII.212, rather than the Suda's potentially ambiguous a)neyio/s for nephew (see LSJ s.v. at web address 4).
[20] On Abimelech, see alpha 45.
[21] The affliction cured in Genesis 20:17-18 is unspecified for Abimelech, but clearly is sterility for the female members of his house. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.208 (web address 5) relates that a "dangerous distemper" (Whiston trans.) afflicted Abimelech. For other traditions, see EncycJudaica, 2.76.
[22] Genesis 14:14-18; the Suda's source is the Chronicon of George the Monk, 100.17-26; 101.5-7.
[23] See Hebrews 7:3 (web address 6). In the Suda, see mu 544, mu 545, mu 546.
[24] The Greek mainly uses Abraam (אברהם ʾAḇraham) to this point, but here Abram (אברם), his pre-covenant name (Genesis 17:5).
[25] Genesis 15:5-6. The statement "and he believed God and God reckoned it to him as righteousness" appears also in Romans 4:3 (web address 7), Galatians 3:6 (web address 8), and James 2:23 (web address 9). A more idiomatic and semantically precise translation of the Hebrew (והאמין בה' ויחשבה לו צדקה weheʾemīn bah' wayyaḥšeḇeha lō ṣedaqah) reads: "And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit" (Plaut, 146). This version takes into interpretive account the imperfective waw consecutive (consequential) (Kautzsch, 111.l).
[26] Ismael (Ishmael) appears in the Suda at iota 644, but with a gloss that belongs to Isaak.
[27] Genesis 17:15. Also as *sa/r)r(a or Sarrha (Brenton, 18). The Hebrew covenant name change is Sarai to Sarah (both meaning Princess).
[28] Isaac (יצחק yiṣḥaq) from the Hebrew meaning "he (Abraham) laughed" in Genesis 17:17, and puns Sarah's תצחק tiṣḥaq ("she laughed") in Genesis 18:12. (Kohlenberger, Vol 1, 37, 39; Anderson, 182) In the Suda, see iota 606 (mostly taken from this entry).
[29] This adjectival derivative of Abraham's name appears in 4 Maccabees 9:21 LXX. The gloss replicates, apart from word order, one in Photius; cf. Synagoge alpha17, Hesychius alpha181.
References:
Anderson, A.W. Understanding the Old Testament. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1966
Attridge, H.W. "The Letter to the Hebrews" in The HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV). New York: HarperCollins, 1993
Brenton, L.C.L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha. Peabody: Henrickson, 1999 (reprint of 1851 edn.)
Colson F.H., Philo (Vol VI), Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1994
Encyclopaedia Judaica. Jerusalem: Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1973
Grant, M. From Alexander to Cleopatra: The Hellenistic World. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1982
Gruen, E.S. Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition. Berkeley: University of California, 1998
Hatch, E., Redpath, H.A., and Muraoka, T. A Concordance to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998
Kautzsch, E. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar. Oxford: Clarendon, 1910
Keck, L.E. "The Letter of Paul to the Romans" in The HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV). New York: HarperCollins, 1993
Kohlenberger, J.R. The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987
Perdue, L.G. "Names of God in the Old Testament" in Harper's Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985
Plaut, W.G. The Torah: Genesis, A Modern Commentary. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1972
Smyth, H.W. Greek Grammar. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1984
Whiston, W. The Works of Josephus. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987 (reprint of 1736 edn.)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5,
Web address 6,
Web address 7,
Web address 8,
Web address 9
Keywords: aetiology; biography; children; Christianity; chronology; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; dreams; food; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; law; medicine; religion; science and technology; women
Translated by: Anne Mahoney on 20 August 1998@17:54:17.
Vetted by:
Craig Miller (Under editorial review as of this date) on 6 January 2002@08:24:02.
Craig Miller (Modified translation) on 24 January 2002@19:18:31.
Craig Miller on 25 January 2002@00:26:38.
Craig Miller (Notes added. Additional work pending.) on 25 January 2002@00:29:41.
Craig Miller on 25 January 2002@01:17:54.
Craig Miller (Added bibliography, keywords; changed status) on 25 January 2002@22:21:22.
Craig Miller (Cosmetics) on 25 January 2002@22:51:36.
Craig Miller on 25 January 2002@22:54:34.
Craig Miller on 25 January 2002@23:13:26.
Craig Miller on 4 June 2002@20:45:55.
Craig Miller on 19 June 2002@19:13:42.
Raphael Finkel (Added Hebrew words; minor cosmetics.) on 31 October 2002@10:38:39.
Raphael Finkel (More Hebrew, cosmetics.) on 18 December 2002@10:58:21.
Craig Miller (Additional cosmetics) on 17 May 2003@19:07:49.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 2 October 2005@08:20:23.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 16 November 2005@07:49:08.
Jennifer Benedict (added 15 links) on 25 March 2008@11:50:57.
Catharine Roth (references, cosmetics) on 10 April 2008@16:09:00.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 10 April 2008@20:15:09.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, pruned notes, added cross-references) on 11 April 2008@12:30:02.
Catharine Roth (adjusted note numbers; more tweaks) on 11 April 2008@14:18:11.
William Hutton (augmented n. 29) on 17 July 2009@17:14:18.
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics) on 21 December 2011@07:16:50.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links, other tweaks) on 22 December 2011@19:00:49.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note and links) on 11 November 2013@01:26:27.
Raphael Finkel (Converted Romanization of Hebrew to ISO 259.) on 7 August 2014@14:27:02.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 11 August 2014@00:14:27.
David Whitehead (coding) on 15 August 2015@07:33:55.
Catharine Roth (betacode typo) on 2 October 2018@02:07:40.

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