Journey Through Genesis
The Ten Trials of Avraham ©
By Dr Akiva Gamliel Belk
B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC
This Zerah Torah Limood is in the loving memory of Helen bat Na'amah, Revi's Grandmother Gladys Ethel and father and step father, my mother and my father, Carrie bat Brachah Rivkah, Stephen ben Martha, Sharon bat Vivian, Florence Youman bat Chavah, Jeanne C. W. Pierre, Joseph Adam Pierre, Louella P. Bienvenu, Barbara Pierre, Terrill B. Thomas, Joyce Duff bat Na'amah and Michael and Channah Sakash may they rest in peace.
Dear Ones, This weeks discussion is challenging. It is a gauntlet for some. The thought of God as Judge Testing us is possible beyond us. This week I spoke with my brother Gary and my Brother Roger who are both congregation leaders about being tested. I also discuss this subject with the Rebbetzin often. It bothers me.
Being tested is a trying subject. Some of us due to our own mistakes think our Creator is testing us. Not so. We struggle because of our own mistakes. So, how do we know when we are being Tested by God? Avraham experienced a famine. This was a test. Today the entire world is in an economic crisis. Did our Creator bring this crisis on us or is it the result of human failure? Just the same it is a test. We each must find a way to survive to get by to go forward...
We will review the Ten Test Avraham experienced. This will help us to understand the boundaries of a test. This will help us to understand when we are suffering because our own mistakes and how to correct them.
And it happened after these events,( the birth of Yitzchok, the ejection of Hagar and Yishmael and the agreement between Abraham and Avimelech,) and the God Tested everything from the Letter Aleph to the Letter Tav of Abraham... Examined Abraham... Experimented with Abraham... Tempted Abraham... and He Said to him. "Abraham!" and he [Abraham} responded, "Here I am." He Said, "Take everything from the Letter Aleph to the Letter Tav of your son, everything from the Letter Aleph to the Letter Tav of your only son, everything from the Letter Aleph to the Letter Tav of who you love - Yitzchok - and go get everything from the Letter Aleph to the Letter Tav of to the land of Moriah [Jerusalem] Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will designate to you."
The Ten Trials of Avraham / Abraham - Identified...
1 Is there a G-d that rules the universe? Abraham's through logic attains an understanding of a greater power. This was his introduction to G-d - After learning to know G-d Abraham was test and delivered from the Fiery Furnace. Genesis 11.28,31 and 15.7 "Avraham's Father Terach"
2 Avraham was a nester. He was commanded to leave his land and travel to an unknown place, to leave his birthplace and to leave his father's house. Genesis 12.1-3 "Go Get Out!"
3. Avraham experienced a Vision of his descendants suffering through four monarchies. Genesis 15.12-16
4 Shortly after his second arrival in Eretz Canaan Avraham experienced famine. Genesis 12.10 "Abraham Went Down."
5 Sarah, Abraham's wife was kidnaped and taken to Pharaoh's Palace and placed in his harem. Genesis 12.12-20 "On the Word of Sarah" "Zerah Tov"
6 Lot, Abraham's nephew by his brother Charan who died in the fires of Kasdim is captured by the four kings a few days before Passover. Avraham and his trained servants went to war to return him, his wife and his possessions. Genesis 14 - "Who was Og - Understanding Life's Purpose"
7 At the age of 99 Avraham is commanded to sanctify his sexual organ by doing a Brit Miliah. Genesis 17.1-10-14 and 23-27 "Brit Milah / Circumcision"
8 Abimelech, king of Gerar abducted Sarah, the wife of Abraham. He had she taken to his palace with the intention of forced marriage. Genesis 20 "Where Torah Does Not Exist"
9. Avraham is required to cast our Yishmael and Hagar from his camp. Genesis 21.7-14 "And Abraham Listen to the Voice of Sarah"
10 Avraham is tested with the binding of Yitzchok. - The Akiedah - The Binding of Yitzchok Genesis 22.1-19 "The Test" With this is the length of time required to have a son with Sarah. "Be Compassionate" "Escalating"
Over the years we have discussed each of these tests. I included a topic name for each discussion.
1. Genesis relates a few clues to Abraham's early life. They are found in Bereisheit / Genesis 11.28,31 and 15.7.
A Discussion on Belief In God - vs - Athesim - The belief that there is no God
Atheist - person who does not believe in the existence of God or gods...
Agnostic - a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
How we live says what we believe, not what we say...
Now these are the generations of Terach; Terach fathered Abram, Nahor, and Charan; and Charan fathered Lot. And Charan died in the face of his father Terach in the land of his birth, in the fires. Genesis 11.28
And he, Terach took everything from Aleph to Tav of Avram his son and everything from Aleph to Tav of Lot the son of Charan and his [Terach's] grandson and everything from Aleph to Tav of Sari that was his son, Avram's bride. And he got out with them from the fire of the Chaldee [May Oor - Kasdim] to go to the land of Canaan. They came Charan and they settled. Genesis 11.31
And He, said, 'I am the Lord that brought you out from the fires of the Chaldees [May Oor - Kasdim, and said] 'Go' [to you] to give, [you] everything from Aleph to Tav of the land [of Canaan] this [land and] to all its [Spiritual] senses,' Genesis 15.7.
From these verses we see a light frame of what occurred. Our Creator Delivered Avraham from the fiery furnaces. Avraham's brother, Charan, perished in the fiery furnaces. The Midrash Says Relates the following story:
Avram's Birth and Recognition of The Lord
The strength and cunning of King Nimrod were proverbial. It was universal knowledge that his arm, aimed at a deer's heart, never missed its mark. Woe to him who dared to doubt that Nimrod was a self-created god! The hangman stood ever ready next to the throne. One day Nimrod's astrologers humbly approached the throne and prostrated themselves before the king.
"Your Majesty," they announced, "we have become aware of grave danger threatening your throne. The stars predict that a boy will soon be born in your kingdom who will deny your divinity and will overcome you!"
Nimrod turned to his ministers. "What protective measures do you suggest?"
Their answer came quickly, "Order that all newborn boys shall be annihilated!"
"This is fine advice. Call a meeting of the architects, ordering them to design special houses in which every woman with child shall be confined. We shall then make sure that only the baby girls will be dismissed alive. Terach, one of the most honored noblemen at the court, was present during the discussion and jokingly asked, "You do not expect to include my wife in this new arrangement, do you?"
"We did not refer to your house, Terach," the king assured him. "You are the most trusted of my ministers."
The cruel edict was issued and thenceforth all baby boys were murdered. Over 700,000 newborns were killed.
One morning, Nimrod's astrologers requested another audience. "The danger is still present, 0 King! We have observed a star above Terach's house shooting out into all directions of the firmament and devouring four stars in the east, west, north, and south! This clearly points to Terach's newly born son who will conquer your kingdom! "Order Terach to hand over his new baby! I will compensate his loss with a treasury of gold and silver!" The messengers hurried to Terach's house, demanding his son. "Deliver your son in the name of Nimrod!" they commanded. "I will not give you my son!" he replied.
"The king offers you a treasury of gold and silver in exchange!"
Terach laughed scornfully, "Go tell your master, 'They said to the horse, 'We will cut off your head and you will receive a wagonload of hay instead!' 'Fools,' answered the horse, 'if I am beheaded, who will eat the hay?' If you kill my son, who will inherit my gold and silver?" The messengers left, but Terach did not relax. "Hurry," he commanded his wife Amtalai. "Wrap the baby up and hide him in a cave away from the house. I am sure they will soon return." And so it was. A short while later, the king's delegates knocked on the door again, but Terach was prepared. He gave them the son of his faithful maid instead. And what was the fate of his little son Avram?
He grew up in a cave, far from the wicked world around him. With his phenomenal mind he recognized his Creator when he was but three years old, arriving at his conclusion by observation and reasoning. "Maybe I should worship the earth," he mused, "because its production is that which sustains us. But then the earth is not all-powerful since it depends on the heaven for rain. Should I therefore bow to the firmament? The ruling power of the firmament clearly is the sun which keeps the world alive with its warmth and light. The sun must be the mighty god who created me and the universe around me!"
Avraham prostrated himself before the sun. But when night fell and the sun vanished to make way for the moon, Avram reasoned that the moon must be divine. But he abandoned this thought when he realized that the moon shone only by night. Finally, by observing the regular rhythm of day and night, of the seasons, and of all natural laws, Avram inferred the presence of an omnipotent and wise Creator. "How is it," Avram asked himself, "that the Heavenly bodies rise and set at an appointed time? There must be a higher intelligence directing them!
A wanderer was passing a castle. Attempting to find out what was inside, he walked all around to find the entrance, all to no avail. He called loudly, but no one answered, "Could it be that this castle is deserted?" he reflected. He raised his eyes to the roof and found that it had been covered with a protective layer of material, with a second layer carefully arranged above it, "This castle must be inhabited!" said the wanderer, "or else who could have arranged the layers on the roof so meticulously?
"I have not seen Him," said Avram, "but I can understand that only a mighty and merciful G-d could have created the marvelous world around me, and only His superior intelligence is able to keep it going. To Him will I bow!"
As time passed and the astrologers' predictions did not come true, the king revoked his decree and Avram was able to return home.
Avram's Rebellion Against the Beliefs of His Time
Terach's business was the sale of idols, and the young Avram did his best to convince people not to buy them. Once it happened that his father had to go on a trip and left Avram in charge of his store. His instructions to his son were, "The bigger the god, the higher the price you charge. If an important person comes in, offer him a big idol; to a lesser customer, give a smaller one." Terach left.
An impressive-looking broad-shouldered man entered the store. "Give me a big idol as befits my status!" he pompously addressed the boy Avram. Avram handed him the largest idol he could find on the shelves and the man drew a substantial amount of money from his pocket.
"How old are you?" Avram questioned him.
"I am fifty years old."
"And you are not ashamed to worship a god that is only one day old?" Avram asked. "My father just made this one yesterday!" Confused, the man put the money back in his pocket and left.
An old woman entered. She told Avram that thieves had invaded her house during the previous night and stolen her gods.
"Is that so?" Avram asked. "If your gods were unable to protect themselves from the robbers, how do you expect them to protect you?"
"You are right," the woman admitted. "But whom shall we serve?"
"The Greater of heaven and earth who made me and you," Avraham answered.
The woman left without buying a god.
Another woman came with a bowl full of flour as an offering for the gods. Avram took an axe and smashed all the idols except the biggest. He placed the axe leaning against the big idol. When Terach returned and saw the havoc in the house, he screamed angrily, "What happened here?"
"Why shall I conceal the truth from you?" answered Avram.
"While you were away, a woman brought some flour as an offering. Each god exclaimed that he wanted to be the first to have it. The biggest was insulted, so he seized an axe and broke all the others!"
"What nonsense is this?" shouted Terach. "You know very well that they neither speak nor move around."
"Is that so?" Avram retorted. "Pray think about what you just admitted. Why then do you serve them?' '
One day it was Terach's turn to conduct the services before the gods in Nimrod's royal palace. Terach took Avram along to the capital. They arrived in Nimrod's palace and found it to contain a large exhibition of gods in gold, silver, copper, wood, and stone.
Terach brought bread and wine and offered them to the gods. "Take them, eat, and drink," Avram said to the idols, "and be appeased." None of the idols moved or answered with a sound.
"You see, they are not worth anything," Avram remarked.
He threw all the idols and shoved them together in a pile. Then he set fire to them and hurriedly fled from the palace.
This could not be ignored any longer. Terach himself, a loyal subject of King Nimrod, reported his son's misdemeanor to the king.
Avram had successfully passed the first trial. He had applied his mind to recognize his Creator and had rejected idol worship.
Avram in Prison
Nimrod commanded his soldiers to bring Avram to the palace. Avram was arrested by the king's officers and taken to Nimrod.
Nimrod sat on top of his throne which was an artistic creation placed high on top of a spiraling tower comprised of seven different materials. Whoever approached it had to prostrate before the king. Avram was brought in and stood erect.
"Are you Avram, son of Terach?"
"Then you are the traitor who had the audacity to burn my gods.
Don't you know that I am the master of all creation? Sun, moon, and stars obey me!"
"Excuse me," said Avram, "This is new to me. Let me make only one request and I will believe in you!"
"State your request!"
"The sun rises daily in the east and sets in the west. Command that tomorrow it rise in the west and set in the east!"
All ministers and nobles expectantly looked at the king. But Nimrod was strangely silent.
"Or else fulfill a different request of mine," Avraham persisted. "Reveal to me what my thoughts at this moment are and what I am about to do next."
There was perfect silence in the palace. All eyes turned towards the young man who had the courage to challenge the king. Nimrod was stupefied. No one had ever dared to use such words in his presence.
"Do not act so amazed," said Avram. "You are no god! You are a descendant of Kush. And if you deny it, how is it that you were not able to save your own father from death? The truth is that just as you could not save your father from death, so you could not save yourself either. You are not an immortal being!
Avram raised his eyes to Heaven and exclaimed, "Lord, see the wicked and judge them.
Nimrod by this time had composed himself. "Soldiers," he called, "immediate imprisonment for this rebel!" The soldiers rushed forward, bound Avram in chains and led him away.
Avram was thrown into the dungeon. He was held prisoner for a full ten years. Yet his belief in The Lord did not waver.
Later Avram is returned to Nimrod. Where the following conversation took place:
[Nimrod said] Let us worship the fire!
[Avram countered], Let us rather worship water, which extinguishes the fire,
[Nimrod agreed] Then let us worship water!
[Avram objected] Let us rather worship the clouds which bear the water.
[Fine said Nimrod] Then let us worship the clouds!
[Avram objected again], Let us rather worship the winds which disperse the clouds.
[Nimrod agreed], Then let us worship the wind!
[Avraham said] Let us rather worship human beings, who withstand the wind.
[Nimrod said] You are just bandying words, we will worship naught but the fire. Behold, I will cast you into it, and let your God whom you adore come and save you from it. Now Charan was standing there undecided. If Abram is victorious, [thought he], I will say that I am of Abram's belief, while if Nimrod is victorious I will say that I am on Nimrod's side. When Abram descended into the fiery furnace and was saved, [Nimrod] asked him, Of whose belief are you?
[Charan replied] Of Abram's Thereupon he seized and cast him into the fire; his inwards were scorched and he died in his father's presence. Hence it is written, AND CHARAN DIED IN THE PRESENCE OF (' AL PENE) HIS FATHER TERAH. See Midrash Rabba Bereisheit
2 Avraham was a nester. He was commanded to leave his land and travel to an unknown place, to leave his birthplace and to leave his father's house.
And He, the Lord Had Said to Abram, Go! Get out from your country, and from your family, and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you... And I Will Make of you a great nation, and I Will Bless you, and Make your name great; and you shall be a blessing;
We discussed this in detail in Genesis 12 entitled: Avram's Father Terach
3. Avraham experienced a Vision of his descendants suffering would suffer under four monarchies.
Rebbetzin Revi Writes:
God told Abraham that his offspring would suffer under four monarchies.
9 And He said to him, "Take for Me three heifers and three goats and three rams, and a turtle dove and a young bird."
10 And he took for Him all these, and he divided them in the middle, and he placed each part opposite its mate, but he did not divide the birds.
11 And the birds of prey descended upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
12 Now the sun was ready to set, and a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, a fright, a great darkness was falling upon him.
13 And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years.
Bereisheit 15.12. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a fear of great darkness fell upon him
The Dreadful Vision.
After Abram was made party of the Covenant between the Parts, he experienced the dreadful vision of his descendants being subjugated for 400 years.
A dread (fear) that was dark and ominous overwhelmed him.
In a vision Avraham saw his descendants suffer.
When you have a vision you see and experience what is happening. How intense must have been Avraham's suffering to see his children live through horror.
How would we feel if we could see the suffering our children would G-d FORBID might live through.
I have had one seemed like a vision - I have no idea how you would validate that - in my vision I saw and experienced everything as if it were really happening to me.
Years later these visions became a reality and I did indeed experience those feelings.
I have read that when one experiences the death of a child that it is a judgment against them for not honoring a sage. I don't know if that is true but I do know that having lost a child I wonder if I had done something in my life different would she still be alive. So far Avraham to see some of his children suffer and die must have been excruciating.
4. Shortly after his second arrival in Eretz Canaan Avraham experienced famine.
The Ten Tests According to Rashi:
1) Abraham hid underground for thirteen years from King Nimrod, who wanted to kill him.
2) Nimrod flung Abraham into a burning bush.
3) Abraham was commanded to leave his family and homeland.
4) Almost as soon as he arrived in Canaan, he was forced to leave to escape a famine.
5) Sarah was kidnapped by Pharaoh's officials.
6) The kings captured Lot, and Abraham was forced to go to war to rescue him.
7) God told Abraham that his offspring would suffer under four monarchies.
8) At an advanced age, he was commanded to circumcise himself and his son.
9) He was commanded to drive away Ishmael and Hagar.
10) He was commanded to sacrifice Yitzchok.
The Ten Tests According to Rambam:
1) Abraham's exile from his family and homeland.
2) The hunger in Canaan after God assured him that he would become a great nation there.
3) The corruption in Egypt that resulted in the abduction of Sarah.
4) The war with the four kings.
5) His marriage to Hagar after having despaired that Sarah would ever give birth.
6) The commandment of circumcision.
7) Abimelech's abduction of Sarah.
8) Driving away Hagar after she had given birth.
9) The very distasteful command to drive away Ishmael.
10) The binding of Yitzchok on the altar.
Dear ones we lightly touched on several of the Tests of Avraham. If you are interested you may join us in discussing one or all tests at:
We pray that we will grow in the Words of our Creator and flourish.
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Akiva Gamliel and Rebbetzin Revi