Jesse Tree Day 6: The Promise to Abraham

Hello and welcome to our Illustrated Jesse Tree! It is Day 6, which is all about God’s promise to Abraham to become a nation. Except that Abraham couldn’t start up a nation without a son. And so, these are the scripture passages that chronicle this particular story… illustrated, of course, with beautiful classic artwork. I hope you enjoy!


The Promise to Abraham

Genesis 15:1-5

Now when these things were done, the word of the Lord came to Abram by a vision, saying: Fear not, Abram, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great.

And Abram said: Lord God, what wilt thou give me? I shall go without children: and the son of the steward of my house is this Damascus Eliezer.

And Abram added: But to me thou hast not given seed: and lo my servant, born in my house, shall be my heir.

And immediately the word of the Lord came to him, saying: He shall not be thy heir: but he that shall come out of thy bowels, him shalt thou have for thy heir.

And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars, if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be.

God Shows Abraham the Stars, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, c. 1851-60. Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern," 1860.
God Shows Abraham the Stars, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, c. 1851-60. Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern,” 1860.

Genesis 18:1-14

And the Lord appeared to him in the vale of Mambre as he was sitting at the door of his tent, in the very heat of the day.

And when he had lifted up his eyes, there appeared to him three men standing near him: and as soon as he saw them he ran to meet them from the door of his tent, and adored down to the ground.

Abraham and the Angels, by Sebastiano Ricci, c. 1695. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Abraham and the Angels, by Sebastiano Ricci, c. 1695. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

And he said: Lord, if I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant:

But I will fetch a little water, and wash ye your feet, and rest ye under the tree.

And I will set a morsel of bread, and strengthen ye your heart, afterwards you shall pass on: for therefore are you come aside to your servant. And they said: Do as thou hast spoken.

Abraham and the Three Angels, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1670-74. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Abraham and the Three Angels, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1670-74. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Abraham made haste into the tent to Sara, and said to her: Make haste, temper together three measures of flour, and make cakes upon the hearth.

Abraham and the Three Angels, by Avanzino Nucci, c. 1629. Private collection.
Abraham and the Three Angels, by Avanzino Nucci, c. 1629. Private collection.

And he himself ran to the herd, and took from thence a calf very tender and very good, and gave it to a young man: who made haste and boiled it.

He took also butter and milk, and the calf which he had boiled, and set before them: but he stood by them under the tree.

Abraham and the Three Angels, c. Giovanni Andrea de' Ferrari, c. 1660-69. Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States.
Abraham and the Three Angels, c. Giovanni Andrea de’ Ferrari, c. 1660-69. Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States.

And when they had eaten, they said to him: Where is Sara thy wife? He answered: Lo, she is in the tent.

And he said to him: I will return and come to thee at this time, life accompanying and Sara thy wife shall have a son. Which when Sara heard, she laughed behind the door of the tent.

Three Guests Announce Isaac's Birth to Abraham, by Alexander Ivanov, c. 19th century. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Three Guests Announce Isaac’s Birth to Abraham, by Alexander Ivanov, c. 19th century. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Now they were both old, and far advanced in years, and it had ceased to be with Sara after the manner of women.

And she laughed secretly, saying: After I am grown old and my lord is an old man, shall I give myself to pleasure?

And the Lord said to Abraham: Why did Sara laugh, saying: Shall I who am an old woman bear a child indeed?

Is there any thing hard to God? According to appointment I will return to thee at this same time, life accompanying, and Sara shall have a son.

The Holy Trinity, by Andrei Rublev, c. 15th century. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
The Holy Trinity, by Andrei Rublev, c. 15th century. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

Genesis 21:1-7

And the Lord visited Sara, as he had promised: and fulfilled what he had spoken.

And she conceived and bore a son in her old age, at the time that God had foretold her.

And Abraham called the name of his son, whom Sara bore him, Isaac.

And he circumcised him the eighth day, as God had commanded him,

When he was a hundred years old: for at this age of his father was Isaac born.

And Sara said: God hath made a laughter for me: whosoever shall hear of it will laugh with me.

And again she said: Who would believe that Abraham should hear that Sara gave suck to a son, whom she bore to him in his old age.

Border with the Circumcision of Isaac, by Simon Bening, c. 1525-30; Ms. Ludwig IX 19, fol. 29. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States.
Detail of Border with the Circumcision of Isaac, by Simon Bening, c. 1525-30; Ms. Ludwig IX 19, fol. 29. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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