Abraham’s Death- Testament of Abraham 15-20

The Bible is silent about Abraham’s death, but the Testament of Abraham includes a remarkable legend about his encounter with Death. The Lord tells Michael the archangel it is time for Abraham to return to his home so that he can make arrangements for his death. Abraham refuses to follow the angel even though he has fulfilled his request to see the whole world. Michael is forbidden to touch Abraham because he is a friend of God. The Lord calls on Death to go and collect Abraham. This “dazzling” personification of Death goes to Abraham at Mamre and tells him that he is the “bitter cup of death.” Death is so “dazzling” that Abraham does not believe him. He eventually understands this fantastic person is Death, but Abraham refuses to follow him. Death is silenced by his refusal.

Death of Abraham

Abraham goes back into his house, and Death follows him. He lays down on his bed, and Death sits at his feet. Abraham asks him again if he is Death, although he does not believe him because he is so glorious. Death tells Abraham he cannot stand to see him as he is. Abraham asks to see him, so Death obliges. Abraham is terrified to see a fiery seven-headed dragon with various frightening faces. Seven thousand servants died as a result of this display.

In the Testament of Abraham 18, Abraham begs death to hide himself with beauty once again. He agrees to go with Death if the servants are restored. Death agrees, and (finally) Abraham rises from the earth and goes up into heaven. Abraham speaks with Death about Hades and the terrors of death.

Testament of Abraham 19.7 And Death said, “Hear, righteous Abraham, for seven ages I ravage the world and I lead everyone down into Hades—kings and rulers, rich and poor, slaves and free I send into the depth of Hades. And on this account I showed you the seven heads of the dragons. And I showed you the face of fire, since many will die burned by fire, and through the face of fire they see death.

In chapter 20, Abraham and Death discuss the possibility of an unexpected death. While there are seventy-two types of death, death always happens at the appropriate hour. Abraham bargains for more time and asks to be encircled by his family.  Isaac comes and weeps at his father’s feet. Death tells Abraham to kiss his hand, and he will have more strength. Death lies, as it turns out, and Abraham immediately dies and is carried by Michael and the other angels into glory.

Testament of Abraham 20.14 “Take, then, my friend Abraham into Paradise, where there are the tents of my righteous ones and (where) the mansions of my holy ones, Isaac and Jacob, are in his bosom, where there is no toil, no grief, no moaning, but peace and exultation and endless life.”

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