Note [original edition] : He saw a star, and he said, This is
&c.] Since Abraham
’s parents were idolaters, it seems to be a necessary
consequence that himself was one also in his younger years; the scripture not
obscurely intimates as much1
and the Jews
themselves acknowledge it2
what age he came to the knowledge of the true God
and left idolatry, opinions
are various. Some Jewish
writers tell us he was then but three years old3
and the Mohammedans
likewise suppose him very young, and that he asked his
father and mother several shrewd questions when a child4
allow him to have been a middle-aged man at that time5
particular, and R. Abraham Zacuth
think him to have been forty years old,
which age is also mentioned in the Korân
. But the general opinion of the
is that he was about fifteen or sixteen6
As the religion wherein
was educated was the Sabian
, which consisted chiefly in the worship of
the heavenly bodies7
he is introduced examining their nature and properties,
to see whether they had a right to the worship which was paid them or not; and
the first which he observed was the planet Venus, or, as others will have it,
This method of Abraham
’s attaining to the knowledge of the supreme
Creator of all things, is conformable to what Josephus writes, viz.: That he
drew his notions from the changes which he had observed in the earth and the
sea, and in the sun and the moon, and the rest of the celestial bodies;
concluding that they were subject to the command of a superior power, to whom
alone all honour and thanks are due9
The story itself is certainly taken
from the Talmud 10
Some of the commentators, however, suppose this reasoning
with himself was not the first means of his conversion, but that he
used it only by way of argument to convince the idolaters among whom he then
V. Josh. xxiv. 2, 14, and Hyde, ubi sup. p. 59.
Joseph. Ant. l. I, c. 7. Maimon. More Nev. part 3. c. 29, & Yad Hazzak. de
Id. c. I, &c.
Tanchuma, Talmud, Nedarim, 32, I, & apud Maimon.
Yad Hazz. ubi sup.
D’Herbel. Bibl. Orient. Art. Abraham.
Maimon. ubi sup. R. Abr. Zacuth in Sefer Juchasin, Shalshel. hakkab,
V. Hyde, ubi sup. p. 60, 61, & Hotting. Smegma Orient. p.
290, &c. Genebr. in Chron.
See the Prelim. Disc. §. I. p 14.
Joseph. Ant. l. I, c. 7.
R. Bechai, in Midrash. V. Bartolocc. Bibl. Rabb. part. i. p. 640.