Abram Ben-Terah (291 - 468 AM) was the father of the Abrami tribe. Originally of historic Ur Kashdim, he moved to the land of the Arami in the later days of his father's life. From there he would migrate through the land of the Paleshi into the land of the Mitsrai along the river Nile. Known as a man of principle, he was the first to call mankind to a belief in a creator god assumed to have been at the beginning of time two millennia earlier. His faith would be strengthened by Maleki-Tsedeq, the aged king of the city of Shalem in the land of the Paleshi. His tribe would come to be a dominant from the lands between the Great Rivers to the land of Mitsrai, especially in the desert of the Great Peninsula.
Early Life and family
Abram was a Semi, born in the city founded by Noakh's grandson Ur in the land of Kashdim 1948 years after the first humans appeared in the era of the Ancients. In the waning years of the third century after the Great Flood, Abram was named in honor of one regarded as a god among the people of Ur - the exalted father (Ab-Ram), Ur-p-Kashed. Ur had been born in 2 AM to Sem, the father of the greater tribe. In the days of grandson, in the consolidated region of Babylon under Nimrod the Chami, Ur had been a leader in the First Rebellion. Finding the land south of the "First City" to be almost as good, he had founded a city of his own. Having either learned or stolen the technology of Bab-El, the "gate of the Mighty One," Ur was able to establish a walled city in which he built a much smaller version of the "Mountain" of the Khami.
Within the first century of the new age, Noakh and his sons had begun to be regarded as gods by the third generation, and by the fifth generation, around 150 AM, Noakh's grandsons were also being considered gods as well! As the tribe had migrated to the plain, Noah's great-grandson proclaimed that his grandfather Kham was the last of the Ancients, and that a mountain should be built in the lowlands to honor him and the Mighty Ones from before the flood. Kham, by then 250 years old, concurred that he was indeed the last of the Mighty Ones - the "Elohim." Noah and Shem had rejected this idea, taking many of the clan up the river Euphrates when his son Cham began to accept worship. Others though, chose others unto which to bow. Ur, as chief among the rebels, had become one who began to accept worship as well.
As a descendant of Ur, Terah supervised the worship in the temple dedicated to him. The moon had become the symbol of the new age into which they had come, and so, it was the on all the banners proclaiming Ur to be among the Elohim. Terah raised his children, Haran, Nakhur, Ab-Ram, along with their half-sister Sari, as loyal worshipers of Ur (lit. "Light"). However, when Haran, the oldest, refused to bow to Ur when he made an appearance, Terah himself struck him down in the Mighty One's presence. Haran's son Lot was told that his father had died in service of Ur. Though this execution was not public knowledge, Terah soon grew uncomfortable serving in the temple, treating his ancestor as something other than a man. In the cover of night, he moved his extended family out of town up towards a settlement of the Arami on the Euphrates near the Sea.
Soon after they had moved, fearing that his sons might marry among the Arami, Terah had his remaining sons marry from within the family. Nakhur was paired with his own niece, Milcah (lit. Queen), while Ab-Ram was made to marry his half-sister Sari (lit. Princess). Whereas Milcah would go on to have eight children with Nakhur, Sari refused to ever have sexual relations with her brother. After establishing a shrine to Ur in their new home, Terah urged his children to encourage their new neighbors to honor their ancestor as one of the Elohim. Within a few years, though, Terah would die at the hands of his grandson Lot, who had learned of the earlier treachery.
When Abram confronted his nephew over the slaying, Lot told him of the true nature of Terah's religion. Together they agreed that Ur was not a Mighty One, but rather just a weak old man. They decided to leave the relative safety of Haran (meaning "of the Mountain," perhaps in reference to the Landing, and only coincidentally the same as their slain relative), and headed down into the lush Khami land of Palesit.
Though some of the technology of the Ancients had been lost, being left to be rediscovered or forgotten altogether, one thing Noah had mastered was the science of husbandry - the care of cattle and goats to be specific. This knowledge had kept the clan alive in the years of wandering before settling down in the lush plain between the rivers. Terah and his family had brought that skill with them along with vast herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats. As a result, they had been the richest clan in Haran. At Terah's death, and the departure of over half his wealth, the town of Haran was hurting. But that was of no concern to Abram and Lot -- their flocks needed pasture which was becoming rare in the upper Euphrates valley. The "greener grass" along the Jordan River was indeed the best in the known world. And the flood plain provided plenty of land for the planting of crops - wheat, barley, spelt, and the like.
But as many had learned in the three hundred years since the flood, the weather was very unpredictable. Just as the clan was making a name for itself, crops began to fail, and the grass was burned to stubble in a periodic drought. Having heard from the local traders among the Paleshim, the land of the Mitsrai was teaming with an abundance of produce. And so, the clan migrated down to the fabeled Nile River. The stories that had been told were not exaggerations, the regular flood pattern of the north-flowing river knew no famine. The mountains in the heart of the continent to the south would annually collect snow that would melt conveniently in time to bring life giving water and nutrient filled silt to the plain along the river.
The Abrami made themselves at home, making alliances among the people of the Nile as they had along the Jordan. Abram, though, had foreseen a problem. Sari, his sister and wife, was as beautiful at sixty as she had been forced upon him thirty years earlier. Theirs had not been a good relationship, for she had never once submitted to his rights as a husband. She had been content to serve as his servant, even offering some of her servants to provide for his desire. That had only increased his disdain for her. But her beauty would undoubtedly make some of the Mitsraim jealous of him, endangering his life. And so, he conspired with her to act only as his sister. The ruse worked, and it was only a matter of time before the Pharaoh's chamberlain came calling, asking that Sari come visit the palace. A series of deals were worked out in which Abram's wealth increased fourfold! Before he knew it, his wife was a member of Pharaoh's "staff."
After a few months, with only a few visits to the palace himself, Abram was not overly surprised to receive a messenger from Pharaoh bearing the official notice of divorce. The seals of both the Pharaoh and Sari verified its legality. Sari, though, had sent along a servant girl the Pharaoh had provided her - an Egyptian by the name of Hagar. The bill of divorcement informed him that the girl was a virgin and willing to be his wife. It also demanded that Abram and the rest leave Egypt. And so, he did.
Hagar proved to be a faithful wife, providing him with two sons, the first being born within the first year back in Palestim. He was named Ishma-El, "the Mighty One hears," for Hagar had come to believe that there must be a Power above all things, for all men have their weaknesses, even the fabled "Ancients." Looking into his son's eyes, Abram could see her point. Everyone began as a weak baby, but somewhere back in the beginning of all things there had to be One who started it all. From that time on, he took a closer interest in how things came to pass all around him. He figured, then, that there must be an ultimate Mighty One, an El above all who are called "Elohim."
As life got back to normal, Abram got used to his new wife. Unlike his half-sister, he had not grown up with her, he did not know her every weakness. Her beauty was not as great, but her heart was warm. She loved her son above all else, and that impressed him. He looked forward to her bearing him many more children, but she had picked up an infection in giving birth to Ishma-El and it would be fourteen years before another child would be born to his dear Hagar. It took another visit to Egypt, in which Princess Sari (the Pharaoh already had a Queen), helped to find a practitioner of medical arts that had discovered herbal therapy, to cleared up the problem with Hagar's womb. Ten months after that visit, little Yitskhaq (Yits'aq: "laughter") was born. for his mother had laughed when she heard that she once more was pregnant. Abram wondered if the Mighty One was looking on, or perhaps even directing things to go his way. He hoped so.
Sodom and 'Amorah (Ñamorah)
The pre-eminent cities of the plains of the land of Palesit were located on the Salt Sea. Sodom was known for its sexual openness, where lust was part of the culture. The name of the city meant "Burning" and probably came from the continuous sacrifices being offered up to the perceived "gods" to assure prosperity for the city. Its chief trading partner was the city of 'Amorah (also written Ñamorah [the Ñ approximates the 'ng' sound] ). The economy of 'Amorah (from 'Amar [עמר], meaning to bind), was driven by a thriving slave business based on the trafficking of subjugated people's captured in raids all across the Great Peninsula. Many of these slaves were sold to the temples in Sodom for the purpose of ritual prostitution.
In the days before the birth of Yits'aq there had arisen some contention among the herdsmen and shepherds as to whose master had rights to which land. When Abram heard of this, he approached his nephew with a proposal to divide the land - east to west from the point of their home camp. To the east lay the fruitful Jordan valley, and to the west, the hills and valleys of the interior of Palesit. Lot chose the "obvious" choice - the green valley visible to them and easier to graze. Abram was left with whatever lands he could expand into among the rolling hills toward the Great Sea. Abram wished Lot the best, and the younger man moved his family and servants into the valley near to Sodom.
Within months, though, things in the valley became dangerous. A coalition of northern tribes - including those of still strong Bab-El - had been ruling over the valley using military outposts to collect tribute from the kings there. When after fourteen years the kings of the valley rebelled, the outposts called in reinforcements to put down the rebellion. At first the battle went in favor of the coalition, for they moved in taking slaves from in and around the cities of Sodom and 'Amorah. This included Lot and all he had - family and flocks alike.
When word reached Abram, he led his own "army," comprised of his trained servants (318 in number), in a surprise night attack on the camp of the coalition. He retrieved Lot, Lot's family and everything else that the enemy had taken from its raid on the valley. When the ruler of Sodom came out to thank him for his help, the ruler of nearby Shalem was there as a mediator of the negotiations for the return of the booty. The ruler of Shalem went by the title of Malech-Tsedeq - King of Righteousness. An odd title to the inhabitants of the plain, for sure, but it seemed appropriate for Abram. In the negotiations, Abram only demanded that his servants be paid what they were due as mercenaries. All other booty would be returned to the cities from which it was taken.
Afterward, the ruler of Shalem met privately with Abram. In that meeting he revealed that he was none other than Sem, the son of Noakh. For two centuries he had been in this land, trying to stem the decline of the old ways, the ways of peace (thus the town of Shalem [lit. "Peace"]). When Abram saw that he was in the presence of one many considered a "god" - one of the three "Mighty Ones" who had rebuilt the world after the Great Flood - he lay on his face before such a great man. Sem had insisted that he was just a man - a very old man - that believed that there was only one true God, the Creator of all things. He explained that in his work in Palesit, he was trying to do his part to return to the ways in which no one hurt anyone else, the ways in which there was plenty of food and land to go around, the ways of sharing with others. Abram whole-heartily agreed, giving over to Sem a tenth of the payment he had received from the kings. He hoped that this little bit would help in the enormous task ahead.
While visiting Lot in Sodom later, Abram told him what Sem had said about returning to the old ways. Lot seemed to agree, but his wife only laughed. Nothing could be better! They were wealthy, Lot was a leader in town meetings. Their sons had married local woman and had begun families. What was there to be alarmed about? As Abram left Sodom, he lamented the plumes of smoke he saw arising from countless alters to a lifestyle that seemed to lead only to confusion and violence. He choked on fumes that smelled acrid, not like the normal burning grain of sacrifices. He wondered about this, and determined to do some research as to what the different odor was.
Within the next weeks, he traveled to Shalem to speak with Sem. Sem told him of smelling that same odor in the days before the flood. They had arisen from the deep wells that sought to extract the energy locked deep in the ground. The ancient records to which he had access spoke of burning rock not too far under the surface of the land. In the days of the Ancients the exploitation of that energy had contributed to the destruction of the world as it had existed before the flood. When he returned to his own home, Abram chose two of his most trusted servants to bring a message to Lot. He hoped they could talk the man into leaving the city before it too was destroyed by the subterranean threat.
The messengers arrived late in the afternoon, intending on leaving town as soon as they told Lot of the danger. But Lot would not have any of that. He extended the kindness of his home for the night, insisting that it was not safe to travel after dark. After the messengers had accepted the invitation, a racket outside drew their attention. Scores of local men were demanding that the visitors be "entertained" by their "welcoming committee." Lot had dealt with these men before -- they were slave dealers that had been known to "try out" their merchandise before selling it to the temples. When Lot refused the crowds demands, the doors of his home had been torn down and the messengers dragged away. Their screams could be heard later in the alleys nearby. The next day, Lot had tried to get his married sons to join him in escaping the city, but to no avail. Finally, Lot and his wife, with their two unmarried daughters, left late in the afternoon.
When they had got a ways from Sodom, they set up camp for the night. Sometime during the night, though, Lot's wife had returned to the city to get some of her belongings, hoping to return by morning. Unfortunately for her, the warnings concerning the underground death had been all too true. Within weeks both Sodom and 'Amorah were covered in ash and crumbling into the Salt Sea. Lot took his daughters into the hill country to "keep them safe" from the evils of all cities. He had packed enough food and drink to last for months. His daughters, however, did not approve, for they wished to marry and have children. Having learned from the lifestyle of their friends in Sodom, they put together a plan to "preserve the seed" of their father.
Within weeks, depression had set in and Lot began drinking alcoholic beverages to ease his pain. This was what his daughters had been waiting for. They began to encourage him in his drinking while not getting drunk themselves. On two consecutive nights, planned when their fertile periods coincided, the girls got their father so drunk that he did not recognize them. He was so drunk, in fact, that his inhibitions were totally destroyed. They knew the plan had worked when they both became pregnant in the expected time period. They told their father that they had sneaked into town one night when he had drank to much, and apparently had got carried away with some of the local men themselves! He agreed to move back into town with the girls so that they could raise the boys - whom he named "Moab" (lit. "of his father) and Ben-Ami (lit. "Son of my people"). From these would rise two powerful tribes - the Moabi and the Amoni (also known as "sons of the people") - each with a claim via their names as legitimate heirs of the whole Jordan Valley.
Later Years and Legacy
When Yitskaq, second and final son to Abram and Hagar, was born, an unusual ritual was begun - to be retroactive to all male members of the Abrami tribe. It was a medical procedure called circumcision which Abram's former wife, Princess Sari, had recommended to assure male virility into old age. She had offered studies done by Mitsrai scientists that seemed to indicate that the theory was valid. Abram had also noted that it would be a visual reminder to Abrami men from that day forward of the importance of marital fidelity, a crucial factor in remaining a strong tribe. As an additional bonus, he was wont to point out, a young bride would not question the sincerity of her husband if he had so joined the tribe if he bore the scar of such a procedure.
When Ishmael was informed that he had to have such a thing done, he ran away from home. However, since he was only thirteen, he returned in due time and submitted. Seeing his beloved father still weakened by the required procedure helped the young man to co-operate. In modern times, this procedure has been praised for its benefits and condemned as being cruelly unnecessary. However, Abrami worldwide proudly bare the private scar as a sign of their heritage to the founder of their tribe.
When Ishmael became of age to marry, Hagar had made permanent peace with her former mistress, Princess Sari of Mitsraim, to get a wife for her firstborn from among her people. Abram had agreed, with the condition that the headship of the clan would go to Yitskaq when he took a bride from among his own people as well. Ishmael, never really close to Abram anyway, agreed that this was a price he was willing to pay.
Ishmael would have twelve sons, each being the founder of a mighty tribe in Palesit. These tribes would rise to prominence within two generations of Ishmael their progenitor. Even today, over four millennia later, Many of the nations in the southern hemisphere are ruled by members of the Ishmaeli sub-tribe. They remain true to the Abrami ways, sometimes to the extreme.
True to her promise, Hagar did not begrudge the marriage of her second son to his second cousin, the granddaughter of Abram's brother Nakhur. When Hagar first saw the young Ribqah, she could see the beauty of Sari, the girl's great aunt. Sadly, Sari had died in Mitsraim a few years earlier at the age of 127. Though never a queen, the Egyptian princess had earned the respect of all of her adopted nation. However, at her request, her bones had been buried in Haran near those of her father Terah's. Seeing Ribqah, Abram could not help but remember Sari, his wife of over thirty years. He only hoped she would not be as stubborn as his first wife had been to him.
When the marriage of Yitskaq and Ribqah did not produce children right away, Hagar once again took a trip to Mitsraim. The apothecaries there had numerous "cures" for infertility - herbal extracts that promoted ovulation and other hormonal changes - that had been proven over time. On her trip, though, she picked up a parasite that began to rapidly take its toll on her in the months after her return to Palesit. However, she lived long enough to see her daughter-in-law pregnant with twins. Right before her death she had called Ribqah into her tent assuring her that her unusual pregnancy would come out all right. Her last words to her were: "You just wait, I would not be surprised if the younger of the two won't be the winner in that little battle going on inside of you."
Death of Hagar and Abram
Though lingering, through a period of extreme weakness, Hagar's death was relatively painless. She died at the age of seventy five, mother of two sons and grandmother to twelve grandsons with two on the way. She would be mourned from Haran to the river Nile, but by none more than by Abram himself. He would purchase land in Palesit that would be the burial ground for numerous Abrami over the coming centuries.
After the days of his mourning were over though, Abram took another wife, a woman named Qeturah who had been redeemed from the slave market as a child before the destruction of 'Amorah. It was said that she had been marked as an infant to be a sacrifice to some Pelesi religious rite. Her name meant "incense," presumed to have been given to her in the days of her preparation. But whatever the validity of that story, she was sweet to the aged Abram, warming his bed and giving him six children. He would not live to see them grow up, but they gave him the gift of joy in his latter days.
Abram died at the age of 175. While many of his ancestors had lived longer, only Yitskaq, his son, would after that time. He was survived by his third wife, his eight sons, and fourteen grandsons. He would be remembered for his faith in the reality of the One unseen and for a hope that the world he left was not all there was.