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SIDIC Periodical XV - 1982/1
Abraham: Father of Believers (Pages 04 - 10)

Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French

Abraham in Jewish tradition
Elio Toaff

 

The following article was given as a lecture on December 13, 1978 at SIDIC by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Dr. Elio Tuff. It gives us a good idea of traditional Jewish exegesis of the Bible. This method deepens the meaning of the text, enabling us to see it through the eyes of faith. Read literally, the text gives rise to questions which, in their turn, are followed by interpretations or Midrashim. Under the form of anecdotes and dialogues, the Midrashim set out to clarify certain biblical passages, answer questions arising from the texts and help us to better understand them. This exegetical method, far from being simply the fruit of imagination, reveals a world of wisdom to us, using an art that makes the events of the bible more edifying, brings them closer to us and enables them to speak to us as believers in the Word of God.

After having recounted the genealogy of Terah, the biblical text briefly notes:

"Terah was the father of Abram . . . the name of Abram's wife was Sarai ... Now Sarai was barren; she had no child . . . The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran." (Gen. 11:27-30)

This brief note is the introduction to the whole story of Abraham.

Abraham and His Father Terah
Jewish tradition asks a first question: Terah and his family left Ur of the Chaldean to reach the land of Canaan but, once at Haran, they stopped and abandoned their initial goal. Why? A second question follows spontaneously: Why did the Lord command Abraham to continue the interrupted journey and not tell him, as would seem natural, to bring his father with him?
Certainly the biblical text does not answer these questions, but the scholars of the Talmud and Midrash have always found an answer to every problem. Terah wanted to go to the land of Canaan as he was afraid of the great king, Nimrod, who had been rather annoyed by the events whose principal protagonist was Abraham. Two midrashic texts Tanna Debe Eliyahu and Beraishit Rabba tell us that Terah made idols and that his son sold them in the market. But Abraham, who at this point understood that there was one only God, Lord of the Universe, discouraged the buyers and used to bring all the idols home from the market every day. After a family council in which the inability of Abraham as a merchant was clearly seen, it was decided that he should become a priest.

His only duty was to offer to the gods the offerings that the faithful brought. Abraham then decided to stop that farce and when a woman brought him a vase filled with flour to offer, he took a club, smashed all the idols and kept only the biggest one in whose arm he placed the club. When Terah saw the shattered ruins, he asked his son what had happened. Abraham explained that a woman had brought flour to the idols and that these latter had all wanted to eat it. But the biggest, taking the club, had shattered all the other idols and eaten it all himself. Then Terah took Abraham to Nimrod and told him about it. Nimrod, judging him guilty of sacrilege, sentenced him to death by fire. But the Lord saved him and he survived. It was then that Terah became afraid and decided to set out for the land of Canaan. When he arrived at Haran, far away from Nimrod, he thought he was safe and so abandoned the idea of continuing the journey.
Abraham, however, was not satisfied and wanted to continue, yet he did not want to leave his father. The Lord convinced him, saying:
"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. " (Gen. 12: I )

Abraham's love for his father was such that the Lord told him gently, little by little, about the sacrifice that he would have to make. In fact, he spoke first of all about the necessity of leaving Mesopotamia, then the place where he was born and finally his paternal home, in order to face the unknown: to go to a land as yet unknown that God would show him.
Terah had no real reason for leaving Haran. He was earning his living making idols for his contemporaries and had no moral dilemmas about it. It was different for Abraham who, at this point, had a precise idea of his God. To remain in that environment was intolerable and his desire to leave became ever more compelling.

In the Zohar, the fundamental text of Jewish mysticism, this feeling of Abraham could not be overlooked and, in fact, it asks why the Lord's command to go (the verb is in the singular in the Hebrew text of Gen. 12:1) does not include Terah. The answer is that Terah could not live with Abraham because he did not understand his concept of the divinity. The Lord, however, understood perfectly the conflict that disquieted the soul of Abraham, torn as he was between his love for his father and the necessity of serving the one God without conflict in a more suitable environment than that of Haran. For this reason he commanded Abraham to go, alone, with only his own immediate family. From this, the Zohar draws a beautiful teaching:
"From this fact we learn that he who is ready to purify himself is helped by heaven."

As soon, in fact, as Abraham thought of leaving Haran, the Lord intervened and commanded him: "Go!" Until the moment came when he felt this need, the Lord told him nothing. From this we can learn something mysterious: if we look at an oil lamp, we see that in the flame there is a dark area which is that of the wick near the oil, while above it there is a white and shining light. But this shining light does not appear unless the dark light is first lit underneath- it, over the wick. As soon as the wick is lit, the dim, bluish light immediately above it gives rise to the shining white light. Thus it happened to Abraham and so it happens in every age to every person. It is enough to light one little flame on earth. When an act of faith or of repentance rises from the soul of someone at once there comes from God a brilliant light which joins that of the little flame, feeding it and causing it to burn brightly. Later, other masters expressed the same thought more briefly, having God say:
"Open a door as wide as the eye of a needle and I will open up an entrance as large as that of a palace."

Abraham and the Unknown
Thus Abraham left Temh in Haran and went towards the unknown with his wife Sarah who had no children, his nephew Lot and his family, proving his great faith in that God in whom he believed and who had promised him at the moment of leaving Haran:
"I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing . . . and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." (Gen. 12:2,3)

The Zohar continues the comment, noting that a relationship exists between the words of the Lord to Abraham in the moment in which he tells him to go, and the words of the promises in which his reward is made known.
For the giving up of his land, he hears: "I will make of you a great nation", for the departure from his birthplace: "I will make your name great" and finally, for leaving his father's house: "by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves? An expression of the text concerning the departure of Abraham from Haran causes the interpreters to remark:
"Gen. 12:5 reads: 'And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot, his brother's son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran.' It is evident that this does not mean the children who had been born to them while they were in Haran because Sarah was childless and, in any case, the text would have had to say: 'and the children that they had gotten in Haran'. The words of the biblical passage must therefore be interpreted differently."

In Beraishit Rabba and the Midrashe-ha-Zohar it is pointed out that Abraham and Sarah were very hospitable and welcomed into their home all those who needed something, putting them at their ease, giving them food and drink and a place to sleep, initiating them into the idea of monotheism and converting them to it. The Ger, according to tradition, is the proselyte who accepts the Jewish concept of the divinity and rules of life. At whatever age the conversion occurs, the convert is considered as having been born on the same day that he or she embraced Judaism. Hence the verse: "the persons they had gotten in Haran" is considered to refer to those pagans whom Abraham and Sarah had converted and who had accepted their creed, Abraham taking care of the men and Sarah of the women. This fact calls to mind another similar passage from Exodus. When the Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery they did not leave the country alone but were accompanied by "a mixed multitude" who "also went up with them". (Ex. 12:38) Who were these persons if not "the people that Moses and the children of Israel had gotten", converting them to their faith while still in Egypt? Abraham is therefore considered to be the first person in the world who had the idea of the existence of the one God, creator of heaven and earth, Lord of the Universe. But this affirmation does not seem to be correct.
Abraham and Melchizedek

When Abraham, after a victorious battle, managed to free Lot who had been taken prisoner by the four kings who had formed a coalition against the kings of the five cities, he refused every reward for the service performed for these latter. He was returning home when:
"Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of the Most High. And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." (Gen. 14:18-20)
Abraham refused every reward, saying:
"I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandel-thong or anything that is yours". (Gen. 14:22,23)
From these words it appears clear that Melchizedek also believed in the same God of Abraham and we can therefore affirm that Abraham was not the only one to believe in the one, true God. The fact that both define him with the same attributes: "God Most High, maker of heaven and earth" (vv. 19,22) leaves no doubt about this.

Abraham and the Covenant
It is still, however, unknown why the Lord preferred Abraham to Melchizedek, for instance, making of the former the father of a great people who were to be a blessing, the chosen of all the peoples of the world. There exists, in my opinion, a substantial difference between the two, at least from what we can gather from the text. While Melchizedek exercises his priesthood in a way that can be described as personal and private, Abraham feels the need to extend his beliefs to the community and not to restrict them to his family alone. The persons "that they had gotten" in Haran are the most eloquent proof of this. The monotheism of the King of Salem ends with him, while that of Abraham is perpetuated throughout the centuries and becomes the patrimony, not only of his descendents, but also of a multitude of peoples.

This is why the Lord chose Abraham and why he made a first covenant saying to him:
"To your descendants I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Gir. gashites and the Jebusites." (Gen. 15:18-21)

It is a fact that the concept of monotheism would soon be implanted in those territories where paganism was lived in an abominable and inhuman form and where the idea of the divine was associated with the most revolting degradations. God it is who conquers the concept of paganism, morality defeats immorality, purity overcomes impurity, justice triumphs over injustice and iniquity. Those territories were conquered then, not by weapons but by the victory of good over evil.

Before this covenant was made, we cannot say whether our Patriarch was happy and contented. The words of Genesis immediately after this event demonstrate this most clearly:
"After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, Tear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.' But Abram said, '0 Lord God, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?' And Abram said, 'Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born im my house will be my heir."' (Gen. 15:1-3)

Through this dialogue we understand that Abraham and Sarah are old and alone, with a servant to take rare of their needs, no longer hoping to have any children and therefore sad and disillusioned. This explains the reaction of Abraham when God tells him he would receive great rewards. "What wilt thou give me", he asks, "I continue childless."' The Lord then brought him outside and said:
'Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.... So shall your descendants be." (Gen. 15:5)

What was Abraham's reaction to this impossible promise?
"And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.- (Gen. 15:6)

Sadness became joy and hope was reborn in his heart. The faith of Abraham, which is the certainty that the promise will be fulfilled, becomes the faith that can be learned in all the other pages of the Bible. To believe means, according to the Bible, to wait for good things even if at the moment they seem impossible and even contradicted by facts. These events require conviction and personal reaction, since people must actuate the good in which they believe, suffer and hope in view of a further and more difficult goal, but one which they have the certainty of attaining. This is the faith that began with Abraham and became the faith of the Jewish people. The Mechilta tells us that:
"Abraham our Patriarch conquered this world and the world to come as a reward for his faith."

He believed in the impossible. Knowing that God had created the entire universe from nothing, he understood that he could also easily create from him and Sarah, even in their old age, a descendant who would be destined for a great future. Through the vision of the starry sky, Abraham revived his faith in life, in the continuity of life, in a miraculous future. This faith was taken as a model by the Jewish people who kept alive, even in the saddest and most tragic situation, Abraham's faith in a happy and fruitful future, in the miracle of resurrection, in its continuity. It was enough for him to raise his eyes to the star-studded sky.

The Lord, in view of the fact that a numerous people would be descended from Abraham, agreed upon an eternal covenant with him, first of all changing his name from Abram to Abraham. The first means "lofty father' while the second means `king of multitudes' with obvious reference to the promise made to him. Immediately afterwards, as a seal of the covenant, he was given the commandment concerning circumcision:
`This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between you and me and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.... He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male throughout your generations." (Gen. 17:10,12)

Abraham and Circumcision
The fact that the organ of reproduction is involved in this covenant is an allusion to Abraham's fruitfulness. After being circumcised he begot a son who in his turn begot another son called Israel. As a consequence, the Jewish people, that is to say, the people of Israel, will continue to witness to their faith in the covenant entered into with God, through preserving the rite of circumcision which is defined as the acceptance of the covenant made with Abraham.

The Midrash ha-Zohar affirms that whoever observes the commandment to circumcise his son, it is considered as if he had offered to God all possible sacrifices andit is as if he had constructed a perfect altar in his presence. And it continues:
"At the moment in which a man takes his son to introduce him into the covenant of Abraham, the Holy One, Blessed be His Name, calls his angels and tells them: took at how my sons in the world act.' Then he calls the prophet Elijah and has him fly over the world so that he can participate in the rite. From this we learn that a throne must be prepared for him and that it must be said: 'This is the throne of Elijah'. Otherwise he, finding no place prepared to receive him, would go away."

That is why, still today, wherever circumcision is held, a special throne is prepared and the father who brings the child to be circumcised, stops in front of it and says twice: "This is the throne of Elijah."
Everyone knows that this prophet must announce the coming of the Messiah and therefore his presence at the rite of circumcision can also be interpreted as an announcement of the coming of the Redeemer.

Abraham and Unquestioning Faith
As we have seen, Abraham is the man of faith par excellence who believes blindly everything that God tells him, even if it may sometimes seem impossible. But does Sarah his wife have the same unquestioning faith? From the biblical text, .it would seem not. In fact, when the three guests of the Lord tell Abraham that the following year he would be a father, she laughed, saying:
"After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?" The Lord said to Abraham. "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son." (Gen. 18:12-14)

Up to this point we have been able to appreciate in Abraham three qualities which differentiate him from his contemporaries: he is the man who discovered God, the man obedient to the Word of the Lord, and the man who showed faith and trust in the creator.
In the episode preceding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah we discover another inestimable quality: justice. I will not cite here the words Abraham used to argue with God about the destruction of these two cities. He could not bear the idea of the Lord totally destroying a population among whom innocent, honest people might be living and he burst out in a question which shows how deeply torn he was: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) Abraham became the defender of the people destined to die out of love for the few honest men who lived among them. It is this concept, expressed here for the first time, that justice and the honesty of a few can save a whole community from destruction and death. It is a concept we find enunciated in Proverbs where it is written: "Justice saves from death." The Lord did not become irritated with Abraham, reminding him of justice but, on the contrary, encouraged him to discuss it with him to demonstrate how wrong he was to think in this way, because the judgment that was about to be pronounced against Sodom and Gomorrah was more than merited. According to the Talmud, the dialogue between Abraham and the Lord should be interpreted in this way: Abraham said: "0 Lord, if you want the world to exist you cannot use absolute justice; if you want justice and absolute right to triumph you must give up the world? This is the other concept that links Abraham and Moses and demonstrates that the God whom Abraham venerated and served is the same God to whom Moses spoke and with whom he contended. In the two characters one notes the same desire for perfect justice but contemporaneously the love of people; we see the same desire to save humanity from its evils and sufferings, even though deserved. When Moses interceded for his people who had grievously sinned against God, he too burst out in a passioned appeal:
But now, if thou wilt forgive their sin and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written? (Ex. 32:32)

Neither did Moses want God to apply what the Romans called "summum jus", absolute right, the rigid and inflexible law, because this could become "summa iniuria", a powerful and inadmissable injustice particularly because it would come from that God who is a just God par excellence.
The concept of justice that we find so well developed in Abraham is perpetuated in the Jewish people not only through Moses but by means of the preachings of the prophets and the teachings of Jewish scholars down to the present day without being altered.

The intervention of Abraham to save Sodom and Gomorrah, rich with human and divine elements, characterizes the whole of the future philosophical system of Judaism. Inherent in it are both its antiquity and its new and original spirit, new in the history of religions and civilized culture. Abraham's concept of justice is not a particularly tribal or national one but rather a universal concept of justice that can apply to all peoples. Just as the concept of God, transcending the tribal or national aspects of the Jewish people, is couched in universal terms: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" God is not only the Judge of Abraham, his people, his clan, but is the Judge of the whole earth and all its peoples. It is from this concept of divinity that the justice of Abraham emerges. God was certain of all these qualities to be found in his servant, but to test him, he wanted him to undergo a trial of enormous consequences that could perhaps shake his faith, his obedience and his belief in divine justice.

Abraham's Great Test
"God tested Abraham and said to him, 'Abraham'? And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." (Gen. 22:1,2)
Here again we see a gradation in the way in which reference is made to Isaac, almost as if the Lord feels too deeply to be able to give him this terrible news all at once. This has not escaped the Midrash as it interprets the Word of God as follows:
"Thy son' - Abraham said to God, 'I have two sons'. He answered him, `Thine only son'. Abraham said, `This one is the only son of his mother and the other is the only son of his mother.' God then said, `the one whom thou lovest'. Abraham replied, 'I love both of them.' Whereupon God said, `even Isaac'." (Pentateuch with Rashi's Commentary)

It is a kind of preparation for the bad news, almost as if God did not want to sadden him too much. It is interesting to see how Abraham reacts to this command. The biblical text with its marvellous simplicity does not dwell on the tumult of sentiments certainly produced in Abraham, but refers only to what he did. The result was the terrible struggle that must have taken place in him when the Lord disclosed his will.
Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and went to the place of which God had told him." (Gen. 22:3)

Once again the Patriarch obeyed without saying a word, without making any requests, without apparently attaching any importance to his sorrow and the fate of his son. He is alone with his suffering, alone before the God from whom, in spite of everything, he feels he cannot ask anything, but to whom he only owes obedience. Isaac knows nothing, as the servants with Abraham know nothing. And Sarah? Neither does she know what is happening nor the fate that awaits her son. The midrash imagines that Abraham must have said something similar to this:
"Our son is growing and he must have a suitable religious education. He must learn what are his responsibilities before the Lord and for this reason I have decided to bring him to someone who is able to teach him to pray."
Sarah, even though displeased, consents, warning Abraham not to go too far. He assures her: "Have faith in God.

The drama of Abraham, wrote Cantoni, is a private drama which has as protagonist the hidden heart of the Patriarch and the command of God. There are no witnesses, no judges who can intervene in the dialogue that takes place in his conscience. Abraham cannot speak, says Kirkegaard, and it is this impossibility that causes his suffering and anguish, because words bring comfort while silence sharpens the pain. It is no accident that the sacrifice of Isaac is an essential part of the liturgy of the Jewish New Year. From the faith of Abraham and his devotion to the utmost limit, the concept of the merits of the Patriarchs is born, understood as an efficient means of salvation and pardon for their descendants. Every New Year, a day considered as a day of judgment, Jews read from the Pentateuch the passage concerning the sacrifice of Isaac, sing about it in the hymns composed by their poets with delicate sensitivity, invoke upon themselves the merits of the Patriarchs since they may have a determining weight in their favor with regard to the judgment of God. To make this invocation more evident if possible, and more concrete, they blow the shofar to remind both God and the worshippers of the highest and uncompromising faith of Abraham, of his absolute obedience to the voice of God which, in the supreme moment, induced the Lord to stay his hand which was about to strike his son. The shofar represents and reminds us of the ram caught in the bush and then immolated in the place of Isaac. It is not simply a musical instrument but rather a symbol of penitence and of the fidelity of mankind to God and of the forgiveness of God for mankind.

The great theologian from Livorno, Elijah Benamozegh, gives a fascinating explanation of the importance of the sound of the shofar. At the giving of the decalogue a shofar sounded; at the resurrection and the renewal of the earth another shofar, just as loud and clear, with the same divine notes, will be heard. As Scripture says, it will awaken those who sleep in the dust.
Both the first and the second shofar are made, they tell us, from the horns of the ram which was substituted for Isaac; the first was played at the revelation of the Torah, the other will be heard at the moment of the resurrection; the one opens, the other closes the morallife of humanity, or rather, it opens up a more sublime state. They are the two breaths of God, the two emissions, the two emanations of his infinite Spirit, just as the destructions, the cataclysms of the end of the world are his inspirations.
The animal which Abraham sacrificed in place of his son was consumed by fire, the only things remaining being the two horns. The Lord wanted to give these two simple remains an importance worthy of the great example offered by Abraham.
From what Benamozegh says we understand how the sound of that horn is valued both for itself and for religious reasons. Its value is cosmological, eternal and infinite. "It has absolute value on its own account, and proportions and harmonies with the universal order and the nature of things?'

In the Mishnah of Aboth we read:
"With ten trials Abraham our father was tried, and he bore them all, to make known how great was the love of Abraham our father." (Aboth V,4)

Abraham and Humanity
The sacrifice of Isaac was the last trial to which the Lord subjected him. After this he finally gave him peace and tranquillity as a reward for the love which he had shown him. One wonders, in fact, how Abraham could have endured it if every doubt, every uncertainty about the goodness and justice of God had not been dispelled by love, by the certainty that only obedience, fortified by faith, could triumph in the face of the mystery of divine goodness. The life of Abraham was neither easy nor happy. He underwent a series of tests, each one more difficult than the other beyond which only a remote hope existed, a reality made of dreams and struggles. What he possessed was only the idea of God for which he considered it worth while to endure every sacrifice, every adversity, with the certainty that sooner or later the promise made to him by God one starry night would be fulfilled. This promise concerned the land on which he stood that would be given to his descendants in perpetuity. These latter would be, together with him, a blessing for humanity. In the history of the human race Abraham has remained, in spite of the nobility of the idea which he had, a simple man.

The Jewish people descended from him has not glorified him with halos or heroism or semi-divinity, but always presented him as a man with qualities and defects, with virtues and weaknesses. He lived and died like any other man and his son Isaac, whose birth was announced by angels when his parents no longer had hopes of progeny, and who survived miraculously the sacrifice on Mount Moriah, has no other history.
Of the background to this angelic annunciation there remains only Sarah's incredulous laugh, then her tears which were followed by her joy after suffering and the heroic obedience of Abraham.

But to the people born to him there now belongs the great inheritance of ideas: a faith which allows for the maximum sacrifice, a universal idea of justice, a pureconcept of monotheism. It is an inheritance that no one can take away from the people of Israel nor deny it to them. Throughout the long centuries of history they have demonstrated their will to keep it as an inalienable good for which it is worth suffering as did Abraham our father, seeing on the horizon, even though distant, that blessing of the dawn of universal redemption, peace and justice for all the messianic age.




ABRAHAM: FATHER OF BELIEVERS
In the MIdrash

`Look to the rook from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you." (Is. 51:1,2)
We can compare this to the story of a king who found only swamps and mire when he was digging foundations. When he finally struck rock he said: I will build here. In the same way, when God was about to build the world he foresaw the sinful generation of Enoch when mankind began to profane the Name of the Lord and the evil generations at the time of the deluge. He said: How can I create the world when doubtless these generations will provoke me by their sins and their crimes? But when he saw that one day Abraham would be born, he said: At last I have found the rock on which I can build and lay the foundations of the world. (Cf. Jacques Goldstain, O.S.B. Promises et Alliances, Ed. de la Source, France 1971)

In the Koran
Who is there that has a fairer religion
than he who submits his will to God
being a good-doer, and who follows
the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith?
And God took Abraham for a friend. (Koran, Sura 4:124)

In the Fathers of the Church: St. Ireneus
In Abraham, humanity had begun the habit of following the Word of God. Having faithfully followed the commandment of the Word of God, Abraham generously offered his beloved only son as' a victim to God in order that it might please God to offer his beloved only son as a sacrifice for the salvation of all of Abraham's descendants. (Adv. Haer. VI, 5, 5)

In the New Testament
In hope (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "so shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was -reckoned to him as righteousness." (Rom. 4:18-22)

 

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