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Abraham and the Angels

What can we see?

We can see a pen and ink drawing of Abraham offering food to the angels. There are two angels behind the table in the open air, and one standing, holding a staff. Sarah peeps through opening in tent.

Look closely, what can you see?

What do we know?

Look closely at the three figures with wings. Who do you think they are?

This drawing shows a story from the Torah and is called ‘Abraham and the Angels. The drawing shows Abraham giving food and water to three angels sent by God.

Look closely in the background of the image. Can you see Sarah peeking out from behind the tent? How old do you think she is?

What do we wonder?

We might wonder how long this picture took to draw? Also, we might wonder what the Hebrew inscription at the bottom of the picture reads?

What do you wonder?

Object File

Object Number: C 1987.34.1.2

Name: Abraham and the Angels

Materials: paper

Date: 1854

Artist/Maker (if known): Simeon Solomon

The Story:

According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia. He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the faith of his father. Abram believed that the entire universe was the work of a single God, and he began to teach his belief to others. Abram tried to convince his father not to worship idols. One day, when Abram was left alone to mind the store, he took a hammer and smashed all of the idols except the largest one. He then placed the hammer in the hand of the largest idol. When his father returned and asked what happened, Abram said, “The idols got into a fight, and the big one smashed all the other ones.” His father said, “Don’t be ridiculous. These idols have no life or power. They can’t do anything.” Abram replied, “Then why do you worship them?”

Eventually, the God that Abram had worshipped called to him and made him an offer: if Abram left his home and his family, then God would make him a great nation and bless him. Abram accepted this offer, and the Covenant between God and the Jewish people was established.

Sarah was the first matriarch (mother) of the Jewish nation. She was Abraham’s wife, and was described as being exceptionally beautiful and remarkably modest. Sarah’s original name was Sarai. However, after the Covenant God changed both of their names. Abram became Abraham, and Sarai became Sarah.

Abraham and Sarah desperately wanted to have a child, but Sarah was nearly ninety years old. However, God decided to grant them a son. They were visited by three men who asked for food and water. The three visitors seemed to be ordinary men, but were actually angels who came to deliver God’s message that Sarah will get pregnant and have a son named Isaac.

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