Abraham: Father of the Faithful
February 2006

“Abraham: Father of the Faithful,” Ensign, Feb. 2006, 38–43

Old Testament


Father of the Faithful

In the Old Testament, Abraham is regarded as the head of the covenant line, which is personified in the house of Israel. He is often called the “father of the faithful.” Abraham received the gospel through baptism, or the covenant of salvation. The higher priesthood was conferred upon him, and he entered into celestial marriage, the covenant of exaltation, gaining assurance that he would have eternal increase. He received a promise that these same blessings would be offered to his mortal posterity. The divine promises to Abraham assured that Christ would come through his lineage and that Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as an eternal inheritance. These promises are called the Abrahamic covenant.

Heavenly Father’s children who are of non-Israelite lineage can be adopted into the house of Israel, becoming heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham through the ordinances of the gospel. (See Bible Dictionary, “Abraham,” 601; and “Abraham, Covenant of,” 602.)

An Angel Saves Abraham

An Angel Saves Abraham, by Del Parson. “And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me. …

“And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, … and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands” (Abr. 1:12, 15).

The Lord Appearing unto Abraham

The Lord Appearing unto Abraham, by Keith Larson. In answer to Abraham’s prayer, the Lord appeared unto him and said: “Arise, … for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. …

“My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee” (Abr. 2:6, 8).

Melchizedek Blesses Abram

Melchizedek Blesses Abram, by Walter Rane. After Abraham rescued his brother’s son, he was met by Melchizedek at the valley of Shaveh.

“And [Melchizedek] blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

“And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And [Abraham] gave him tithes of all” (Gen. 14:19–20).

Hagar and Ishmael Expelled

Hagar and Ishmael Expelled, by George Soper. During a feast in Isaac’s honor, “Sarah saw the son of Hagar [Ishmael] … mocking.

“Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son. …

“And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight. …

“… Of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away” (Gen. 21:9–10, 12–14).

Isaac and Family

Isaac and Family, by Griffith Foxley. “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

“For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age. …

“And Abraham called the name of his son … Isaac.

“And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. …

“And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned” (Gen. 21:1–2, 5, 8).

Abraham and Isaac

Abraham and Isaac, by William Whitaker. “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Gen. 17:19).

Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed

Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed, by Del Parson. “And it came to pass after these things, that God … said unto … Abraham: …

“… Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering. …

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took … Isaac his son, … and went unto the place of which God had told him. …

“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

“And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

“And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Gen. 22:1–3, 10–12).

Rebekah at the Well

Rebekah at the Well, by Michael Deas. Abraham’s servant, who was charged with choosing a wife for Isaac, prayed unto the Lord for guidance. “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, …

“And the damsel was very fair to look upon, … and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.

“And the servant … said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

“And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. …

“And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me” (Gen. 24:15–18, 27).

Isaac Blessing Jacob

Isaac Blessing Jacob, by Gustave Doré. Rebekah, mother of twin sons Esau and Jacob, helped Jacob prepare to receive the birthright blessing that Esau esteemed so lightly (see Gen. 25:29–34). Isaac, in poor health and with failing eyesight, blessed Jacob in Esau’s place. “And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out … that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. … And [Isaac] said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing” (Gen. 27:30, 35).

Jacob Blessing Joseph

Jacob Blessing Joseph, by Harry Anderson. In the blessing given to his son Joseph, Jacob said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: …

“… The God of thy father … shall help thee; and … the Almighty … shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above” (Gen. 49:22, 25).

Israel Blesses Ephraim with the Birthright

Israel Blesses Ephraim with the Birthright, by Keith Larson. When Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons, Joseph brought Manasseh, his firstborn, to Jacob’s right and Ephraim, the second born, to Jacob’s left.

“And Israel [Jacob] stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. …

“And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, … he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.

“And Joseph said … , Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn. …

“And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he” (Gen. 48:14, 17–19).

The Family of Abraham

The Family of Abraham

Abraham (Abram) / Sarah (Sarai)

Abraham married Sarah (see Gen. 11:29).

Through Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, Abraham fathered Ishmael (see Gen. 16:15). After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah, through whom he had six children, named in Genesis 25:1–2.

Isaac / Rebekah

Isaac married Rebekah (see Gen. 25:20–26).

Isaac (see Gen. 18:1–14; Gen. 21:1–3)

Rebekah (see Gen. 22:23)


Sold his birthright to Jacob (see Gen. 25:29–34)

Jacob (Israel): Father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (see Gen. 32:27–28)

Leah (see Gen. 29:30–35; Gen. 30:17–21)








Rachel (see Gen. 30:22–24; 35:16–18)



Manasseh (see Gen. 41:50–52)

Lehi’s lineage (see Alma 10:3)


The birthright tribe (see Gen. 48)

Ishmael’s lineage (see Deseret News Weekly, Aug. 8, 1882, 1)

Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaiden) (See Gen. 30:4–8)



Zilpah (Leah’s handmaiden) (see Gen. 30:9–13)