All that is known about Abraham, Sarah and the covenants made by God come from a single source; the Bible. Though many extra-biblical works have been written on his life, all the original source data comes from the Old Testament Scriptures of the Jewish people. Thus speculation on his life beyond this is just that; speculation.
It would be hard to find a much more colorful individual in all Scripture. He is a paradox: On the one hand, he hails from a pagan land that worshipped many gods, and on the other hand, he is a man fully submitted to the one God of the Scriptures.
Abraham is considered the Father of the Jewish nation, as well as a man of great faith and obedience. While his name means “father of a multitude” in his own life he only had 2 children. But the promise to him was a multitude so vast, it could not be numbered.
His life in Ur
Born to Tera, Abraham lived in a pagan, idol drenched society. The location is in what is now southern Babylon, and the worship of the moon god was prevalent in that region. He was most likely aware of his lineage, as all history was passed down orally. No doubt his father talked about Shem and Noah who were their direct ancestors. So Abraham had a clear understanding of where he came from and who his former generations worshipped. Coming out of Ur may have been difficult, but he was in one sense going back to his own roots of a monotheistic religion.
The Scriptures say that Abraham was called out of Ur. Thus he was told to leave his country and go to another one. The New Testament Scriptures record it this way: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith, he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, who builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10.
While there are apparent flaws in this man of faith, he was set fully on following the Lord, and believed him by faith, thus warranting the name Faithful Abraham. There were two times when traveling with his family that he was caught lying. His wife was in fact, the daughter of his father, but not of his mother, and he had agreed with her to tell anyone who might ask that they were siblings.
This was in hope that they would not kill him to get her. He assumed the worst about those nations with whom he was dwelling. Each time God protected him and ended up having him rebuked by the pagan people around him for his lack of faith in these instances.
His trust in God is seen in the near-sacrifice of his own son. Isaac was born to him by Sarah and he was commanded by God to offer him as a burnt offering. At the last moment, before he plunged the knife into the heart of his son, God intervened and prevented the sacrifice. This was a test that Abraham passed as he showed great trust in God. The reason it was such a great test is that he was well past the age of producing children as was his wife Sarah, so if he lost his son, he would lose the promise of a multitude as vast as the stars or the sand on the shore.
In the end, Abraham is regarded as a man of great faith, but a man of real-life passions just like anyone else.
Abraham was born to Terah, who was a direct descendant from Shem and Noah. Abraham married his father’s daughter, but she was not his mother’s daughter. Her name was Sarah. She bore him one son, Isaac. She was 90 when she gave birth and he was 99. This in and of itself was a miracle. At one point, during his life, he had an extramarital relationship with Sarah’s handmaid Hagar, that produced a son’s named, Ishmael. While he was not to be considered in the line of Abraham directly to receive the blessings from God, he was still blessed with God and produced 12 Princes and a great nation that still exists today.
What lessons one can gain from the life of Abraham is that though men are not perfect, God is faithful to His word, even when others are not. A life of faith is not a life that is perfect, but one that is repentant and progressing forward in obedience to the commands of God. This is the picture of faithful Abraham.