Abraham is the forefather of the Israelites. Called by God, he left Chaldea with his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot to go to Canaan. Lot settled in Sodom, Abraham in Hebron. When Lot was captured by enemy tribes, Abraham came to his rescue. In honour of this victory, the king-high priest Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine.
Sarah failed to become pregnant, and Abraham conceived a child, Ishmael, with the slave Hagar. However, at an advanced age Sarah nevertheless bore a son, Isaac. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice him. He went to Mount Moriah and laid Isaac on the altar. When Abraham was about to kill his son, an angel appeared and stopped him, for he had proven his loyalty to God.
Isaac and Rebecca had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob stole both his older brother’s birthright and his father’s blessing. He fled, and during his journey had a vision in which he fought with an angel. Henceforth Jacob was called ‘Israel’ (he who wrestles with God). His twelve sons founded the tribes of Israel.