Abraham 1: Abraham Seeks Blessings of the Patriarchal Order
“…at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful to obtain another place of residence;” (Abraham 1:1) Abraham sought for a higher knowledge and the blessings that come from the Patriarchal Order, however Abraham lived in a home that discouraged his advancement in the Gospel or forbid him to practice the Gospel, so Abraham explained; “… I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right where unto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” (Abraham 1:2-3)
Because Abraham was a follower of righteousness he desired to have the blessings of the priesthood and be able to bless with the priesthood. Abraham explains that this priesthood was; “…conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.” (Abraham 1:3) Abraham’s Authority was given to him from a long line of Authority through his fathers. Abraham explains that he had followed the commandments of God, whereas the rest of the people decided to follow after other gods; “For their hearts were set to do evil, and were wholly turned to the god of Elkenah, and the god of Libnah, and the god of Mahmackrah, and the god of Korash, and the god of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; Therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathen in offering up their children unto these dumb idols, and hearkened not unto my voice, but endeavored to take away my lifeby the hand of the priest of Elkenah. The priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh.” (Abraham 1:6-7) These people were wicked and had turned their hearts from the Lord to sacrifice children to idols that could not speak.
“Now, at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to offer up upon the altar which was built in the land of Chaldea, for the offering unto these strange gods, men, women, and children. And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun.” (Abraham 1:8-9)
Several hundred years after the flood, the inhabitants of the earth multiplied throughout. However, their knowledge of God had nearly disappeared. President Joseph Fielding Smith commented on the Egyptian Human Sacrifice; “Abraham was of the [tenth] generation from Noah. Several hundred years had passed since the flood, and people had multiplied and spread over the face of the earth. The civilizations of Egypt, Chaldea, Assyria and the petty nations of Canaan, had been established. In the midst of this scattering the true worship of the Father was nearly lost. Sacrifice instituted in the days of Adam and continued in the practice and teaching of Noah, in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of Man, had become perverted. Instead of offering clean animals, such as the lamb and bullock, the apostate nations had dwindled in unbelief to the extent that human sacrifice was offered to their idol gods” (The Way to Perfection, 85).
Abraham was not alone in his desire to worship the one and only God, there were three virgins [direct decedents of Ham, who was the son of Noah] who were going to be sacrificed because of their virtue, for they; “…would not bow down to worships gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon the altar…” (Abraham 1:11) Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints compared these three virgins to the story of ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego – see Daniel 3:12-30’. He described these three women as; “marvelous models on enduring uncertainty and on trusting God… Matching those three young men are three young women whose names we do not have. They are mentioned in the book of Abraham, remarkable young women about whom I am anxious to know more. They were actually sacrificed upon the altar because ‘they would not bow down to worship [an idol] of wood or stone’. Some day the faithful will get to meet them” (“Not My Will, But Thine” , 119–20).
Abraham explains that they came and laid violence upon him; “…that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar…” (Abraham 1:12) As they were about to take his life, Abraham cried out to the Lord; “…and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands; And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee…” (Abraham 1:15-16) God promised to deliver Abraham from these people and carry him away into a land in which he knew not. God then destroyed all of Potiphar’s Hill in the land of Ur.
Abraham went down to the land of Egypt, where he found a government which was patterned after the patriarchal governments of old, but was devoid of all revelation and priesthood. This ultimately lead the Egyptians into idolatry. The land of Egypt was founded by the daughter of Ham; ‘Egyptus’ who had a son named ‘Pharaoh’.
The first government of Egypt; “…was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal” (Abraham 1:25)
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote:
“Egypt was not the only nation, in these early times, which attempted to imitate the patriarchal order of government. We have seen in Abraham’s record that this was the order of government in the reign of Adam, and down to the time of Noah.
“Naturally that form of government would be perpetuated in large degree by all tribes as they began to spread over the face of the earth. As men multiplied they organized first in the family group, then into tribes and eventually into nations. The greater powers would naturally occupy the most favored spots. Stronger tribes would overcome the weaker and force them to join the national government, or else they would be subdued and treated as slaves, or placed under tribute. As the patriarchal order was handed down from father to son so also would the political authority be perpetuated with the same claims to authority…” (The Progress of Man, 3rd ed. , 100–101.)
Abraham explains that the rights of the priesthood were only handed down from proper Authorities and that The Pharaohs; “…would fain claim it from Noah…” (Abraham 1:27) Fain means “content or willing to accept an alternative when the more desirable thing cannot be attained” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, 2nd ed., 657). Therefore this “Fain Claim” was not proper authority.
Abraham ends this chapter by explaining that he had preserved records; “…concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.” (Abraham 1:31) Abraham kept records of the creation, the planets and the stars in order to preserve this record for the posterity that shall come after him.