The Words of the Haines Family
This is the next episode in the story of the young Abraham. I think they are part of our inheritance and enable us to understand him as a human being. As he is also the forefather of our faith we can only understand the Principle properly if one does so on the basis of such stories handed down by the Rabbis and Muslim commentators. So here we go . . .
Abram was a very helpful boy at home even though his questions sometimes drove his parents mad. One day his father, Terah, said to him, "Abram, tomorrow is market day but I have an important meeting to go to at the palace. So would you take the idols to the market and run the stall for me tomorrow please."
"Of course," said Abram, "I'd be happy to."
So next day Abram took the wagon out of the garage and loaded it up with the idols his father had made and set off for the market. When he arrived he set up his stall, carefully displaying all the idols with their price tags. Soon an elderly woman came up to him and said, "I want to buy one of your gods Abram. How much are they?"
"Why?" asked Abram, "what happened to the gods you bought before?"
"Someone broke into my house last week and stole them," said the woman.
"Well, they weren't very powerful were they if someone could steal them."
"No" said the woman, "that's why I want to buy yours. I am sure they are much stronger."
"How old are you, old woman?" asked Abram who could sometimes not be as polite as he ought to be.
"Eighty-five years old last month," she replied proudly.
"Well, my Dad made these gods in his workshop last month. You are much older than they are so they ought to bow down and worship you."
"You're right Abram," she said, "So who do you worship then?"
"I worship the invisible God who created the heavens and the earth," he replied.
"I think I am going to worship him too," she said and became Abram's first disciple.
At the end of the day Abram packed up his stall, loaded up the wagon and went home. When he arrived Terah was eagerly waiting for him.
"How did you get on?" he asked, "Did you sell out?"
"No, Dad. I didn't sell a single idol."
"What!" exclaimed Terah, "What happened? Weren't there any customers? Was someone else selling them for less?"
"No Dad," Abram replied and he told his father what had happened.
Terah slapped his forehead and said, "You're a useless salesman. Of course no one would buy anything from you if that was your sales patter. Next time you can stay at home and I'll go to the market."
The following month Terah called Abram and said to him, "Look Abram, tomorrow is market day again. I'll take the idols to sell but I want you to remain at home and look after the gods in the temple."
The next day, after waving good bye to his father, Abram went into the temple to see the gods. He went up to the largest one at the front of the temple and in a loud voice said to him, "If you are really god, tell me what your message is and I will tell it to the world." The idol though said nothing.
"OK," said Abram, "Perhaps you are hungry. I'll go into the kitchen and make you some lunch and then we can sit down and talk." So Abram went out and prepared lunch for the idol. He came back in, placed the food at the foot of the idol and waited for him to eat. When he didn't Abram said, "Alright then, I expect you want to eat in peace so I'll leave you and come back in an hour."
An hour later Abram went back to the temple and found that the food was still untouched. So he spoke to the idol saying, "You are not a god. You have no power. You cannot speak and have no message. You are just carved stone and the rest of you are just wood."
Then he went to his father's workshop and picked up an axe. Returning to the temple he walked around smashing and chopping up all the small idols. Then he carefully placed the axe in the hands of the largest idol and walked out.
At the end of the day Terah came home. He was tired but happy as he had sold out. He went straight to the temple to offer the money to the gods and thank them for their help. But when he opened the door, he was greeted by a scene of destruction.
"Abram! Abram!" he shouted, "What happened? I left you to look after the gods. Did some vandals break in and destroy them?"
"No," said Abram, "I did exactly what you said. The largest idol complained that he was hungry so I made him a delicious meal. Look you can still see it at his feet. Then I left him to enjoy it in peace. Soon I heard the other smaller gods asking him to share the food with them. But he refused and told them to shut up. But they wouldn't so he beat them all up. And look. There is the evidence. The axe is in his hands."
"What are you talking about?" exclaimed Terah, "They are just pieces of stone and wood. They have no power. They cannot speak or move."
"Exactly," said Abram, "So why do you worship them?"
Terah was stunned. "So who do you worship then son?"
"I worship the invisible God who created the heavens and the earth. I talk to him and he talks back to me. I can feel his presence around me everyday."
"You had better come and see Nimrod with me," said Terah, "He will want to hear about this."
So off they went to visit Nimrod in the palace. When Terah appeared in front of Nimrod he bowed to the ground but Abram stood upright and looked him in the eyes. Nimrod and all his courtiers were shocked.
"How dare you stand there and stare at me," shouted Nimrod. "Why don't you bow down and worship your god like everyone else?"
"I only bow down and worship the invisible God who created the heavens and the earth. He is your creator too and one day he will judge you for your evil deeds," said Abram boldly.
Nimrod was enraged and he remembered the dream he had had about just such a boy. He said to Abram, "If you don't bow down and worship me I will have you put to death."
"I am not afraid of you," said Abram. "I believe in God. He is my creator, the one whom I love and worship. He is more real to me than this world, more real than this palace and more real than you. If you kill me I will still be with him."
Nimrod had Abram seized and thrown into a burning furnace. But the flames didn't touch him and he emerged unscathed. Nimrod decided the best thing to do was to expel Abram and never allow him to return. At this point Terah decided perhaps it was time for the whole family to leave. So they packed up all their belongings and set off for Haran where they could be safe and Abram could carry on telling people about the invisible God who created the heavens and the earth and with whom one talk and whose loving presence and power one could feel.
This is how Abraham changed his lineage from that of the son of an idol maker to a son of God. At the risk of his life he refused to worship Nimrod and the idols of his day. Instead he declared that his identity came from his relationship with God.
(Freely adapted from the stories in the Talmud and Qur'an)