Abraham Descendant of Noah. Patriarch of the Hebrew race. God established his covenant (that is, made his sacred promise) with Israel by saying to Abraham (in Genesis 17:6-8), "I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." And that's the beginning of the long process by which the man formerly known as Abram became "Father Abraham." Famous (and heartbreaking) quote, said to his beloved son Isaac, whom, in obedience to God's command, he was about to behead, in response to Isaac's question to him about the whereabouts of the lamb that he thought he and his father had been preparing to sacrifice: "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.

Sarah Abraham's wife. One exceptionally durable trooper. Famous quote (upon overhearing God say that she, an old woman, would become pregnant): "After I am worn out and my husband is old, will I now have this pleasure?" Awesome to think of how exactly she might have said the word "pleasure."

Isaac Son who (see above) asked his dad, "So where's that lamb we're supposed to kill?" The only child of Abraham and Sarah; the second member (along with his father Abraham and son Jacob) in the triumvirate of Israel's patriarchs. His descendants became the Jews. Famous quote about him, said by God to his father Abraham: "Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." So there was no pressure on him, or anything.

Ishmael Son of Abraham and one of Abraham and Sarah's maidservants, Hagar. (Fear not: the then still barren Sarah said Abraham could sleep with Hagar.) About Ishmael, God said to Abraham,""I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." Ishmael's descendants became the Arabs. (So remember: Abraham + Sarah --> Isaac --> Jews; Abraham + Hagar --> Ishmael --> Arabs. Hence Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all being Abrahamic religions. And we all know how siblings tend to fight over whom Dad likes best.)

Rebekah The "very beautiful" wife of Isaac. It was through her twelve grandsons by her son Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel) that the original twelve tribes of Israel were established; she is thus the matriarchal head of all of Israel -- and a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ. Super-mom, for sure.

Esau Firstborn twin son of Isaac and Rebekah's twin sons. Big, hairy, hunting type. Exchanged his birthright to his (slightly) younger brother Jacob for some soup and bread. Famous quote: "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" Maybe something less than a genius.

Jacob Second born twin son of Isaac and Rebekah. Definitely bright -- and, when young, undeniably crafty. Third patriarch of the Israelite people. Father of the twelve sons that go on to found the twelve tribes of Israel. Noted for a dream featuring a heavenly ladder, and for actually wrestling with God. Has name changed by God from Jacob to Israel, which means (unsurprisingly) "struggles with God." New name points not just to Jacob/Israel's wrestling prowess, but also to the tumultuous history of the nation of Israel. Famous quote (in response to brother Esau's quote above): "First sell me your birthright."

Rachel Jacob's wife. Inspiringly beautiful. ("When Jacob saw Rachel," says the Bible, "… he rolled the great stone away from the mouth of the well all by himself." Men.) Younger sister of Leah, who, due to the conniving trickery of the girls' father Laban (not to mention culturally accepted polygamy), was also Jacob's wife. (How'd you like to be the editor who has to turn the Old Testament into children's stories?)

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