What are the odds the circumstances surrounding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth that correspond with many ancient prophecies was just a coincidence?

Resurrection On the Third Day Prophecies?

Nowhere in the Old Testament or Tenakh can a prophecy be found predicting the Messiah would rise from the dead on the third day. It is a prophecy belonging exclusively to Jesus of Nazareth – three times.

Isaiah 52-53 describes the death of the Servant of God who would be despised, suffer greatly, be judged and killed. Psalms 22 describes a death wholly consistent with the horrors of Roman crucifixion a 1000 years later with Jesus quoting from the Psalm in his dying moments on the cross. Zechariah 12:10 distinctly predicts the Messiah would be killed.

Life after death is depicted in Isaiah 53:8-12. The Servant of God is killed along with rebels; buried in a rich man’s tomb and afterwards sees the prosperity of his deeds in a prolonged life. What isn’t predicted is how long the Servant would be dead before he would live again. Only in the Gospels can be found any prophecy of a Resurrection on the third day.

First of the third-day Resurrection predictions by Jesus occurred in Caesarea Philippi early in his 3-year ministry.[1] Up to this point, Jesus had been in Galilee giving amazing sermons interspersed by performing miracles of healing incurable diseases and birth defects; casting our demons; and raising the dead. To his Disciples, it didn’t get much better than this.

Word got back to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem who began watching and listening to Jesus. According to Mark, Jesus openly prophesied that he would be rejected by the Jewish leaders, killed and then rise again after three days:[2]

MK 8:31-32 “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.” (NKJV)

Peter took Jesus aside and said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”[3] Seeing that Peter’s comment came straight from Satan, Jesus responded directly, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”[4]

Second of the third-day Resurrection prophecies came again while Jesus was in Galilee.[5] Healing and casting out demons, the crowds had been amazed at everything Jesus was doing, but the Disciples were warned by Jesus that the jubilation about him was only temporary:

MK 9:31 “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (NASB) [6]

Reaction to the prophecy this time “greatly distressed” the Disciples. Not sure what it meant, they seemed to be focused only on the prediction their teacher and miracle worker would be killed, not the prediction he would rise from the dead.[7] Nevertheless, the Disciples were afraid to ask Jesus about the true meaning of the prophecy.[8]

Nearing the end of his three-year ministry, days before entering Jerusalem for last time at the Festival of the Passover. Luke’s account reports how Jesus again predicted his death providing more specific details. Jesus foretold that the Jews would hand him over to the Gentiles when he would be mocked, spat on, scourged, and crucified in fulfillment of the written prophecies: [9]

LK 18:31 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” (NRSV)

It was an inconceivable scenario. Not so much that the Jewish leadership wanted to eliminate their arch nemesis – a prediction they would kill Jesus would not be a shocking revelation. It was the prediction that the Romans would actually carry-out the execution at the behest of the Jews. The concept was incomprehensible because of how the Jews and the Romans reviled each other. Add to that, the seeming impossibility of rising from the dead on the third day.

Shortly before his arrest on Mount Gethsemane, Jesus made one last passing prophetic reference of his Resurrection to his Disciples. He told them, “But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”[10]

Matthew uniquely reports the incident between the Jewish leadership and Pilate that took place the day after Jesus was buried, the Sabbath. It is obvious that Matthew had a insider source to the Jewish Council in order to obtain this private information.

Jewish leadership approached Pilate to explain their concern and try to convince him it was a problem that required his assistance. Some unpleasant concessions had to be made.

First, the Jewish leadership had to acknowledge that Jesus did, in fact, predict he would rise from the dead. “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’[11]

Next they had to convince Pilate the Disciples would try to steal the body to falsely fulfill the prophecy. “Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”[12]

By acknowledging the Resurrection prophecy, the Jewish leadership cleared up an ambiguous aspect. They understood the “Son of Man” references in the Resurrection prophecies to be about Jesus himself, no one else.

Lastly, they had to convince Pilate this was a short-term problem by placing a time constraint on their request: “Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day.”[13] Requesting to only secure the tomb until the third day which was the next day, Sunday, they confirmed their recognition the Resurrection prophecy was for the “third day” by Jewish definition. Securing the tomb was not necessary beyond that time.

Only Jesus of Nazareth himself foretold he would rise from dead on the third day, exclusive of any prediction by the prophets. It was a prophecy foretold only by Jesus, not just once, but three times.

Was the prophecy of Jesus rose from the dead at sunrise on Sunday morning, the third day according to Jewish Law reckoning, and if it was fulfilled, is Jesus the promised Messiah?

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Matthew 16:13, 21,; Mark 8:27, 31. CR Luke 9:18.
[2] Matthew 3-15; Mark 1-8; Luke 4-9.
[3] Matthew 16:22. NKJV.
[4] Mark 8:33. NJKV.
[5] Matthew 17:22; Mark 9:30.
[6] CR Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:44.
[7] Matthew 17:23.
[8] Luke 9:45.
[9] Matthew 20:18-19; Mark 10:33-34; Luke 18:31-33.
[10] Matthew 26:32. NASB.
[11] Matthew 27:63. NKJV.
[12] Matthew 27:64. NKJV.
[13] Matthew 27:64. NKJV.

Sanhedrin Insider Sources – Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea?

One of the mysteries of the Gospels is how the authors gained knowledge of inner workings of the Jewish Council. Two possibilities were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea – actual ruling members of the Sanhedrin’s Jewish Council.[1]

Early on, Nicodemus wanted to learn more about this new celebrity, Jesus of Nazareth. With his stature in the Jewish Council, it seemed to open the door to set up a meeting with Jesus. Great caution was necessary with Jesus being the archenemy of the Council; where exposure of their meeting could have dire consequences.

Taking the big risk, they agreed to a secret night-time meeting. An unofficial summit, so to speak, where one of the rulers of the Jewish Council, Nicodemus, met clandestinely with the leader of its archnemesis, Jesus of Nazareth.

Miracles performed by Jesus rang an element of truth with Nicodemus asking, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”[2]

It was the response that completely threw Nicodemus when Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Incredulous, Nicodemus asked, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”[3]

For a Pharisee who prided himself for righteously following the letter of the Law, a single act, to be born again was an entirely foreign concept. It was completely contrary to Judaism’s beliefs which does not provide a clear path to the afterlife.[4] Pulled from a MyJewishLearning.com webpage header: “We Don’t Know, So Must Make Our Lives Count.”[5]

Jesus continued, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”[6] Explaining further led to the most famous quote of Jesus in all the Gospels, often seen on signs and T-shirts at major sporting events and the name of a song by country music superstar, Keith Urban, “John 3:16”:[7]

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

Next in the Gospels came another incident involving Nicodemus, a confidential meeting among the Jewish Council members themselves. The scenario would not otherwise be known unless someone who was present during the private meeting divulged the details to John.

Sanhedrin officers had been sent to listen to Jesus hopefully teaching heresies, then bring him back to the chief priests and Pharisees. When the officers returned emptyhanded, the Council authorities were baffled and asked, “Why didn’t you bring him back with you?” The officers responded, “No one ever spoke like this man!”[8]

Nicodemus asked his fellow Sanhedrin peers, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”[9] For asking this, they mocked Nicodemus, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”[10]

At the crucifixion scene of Jesus another Sanhedrin Pharisee is introduced, Joseph of Arimathea, a Judean town.[11] Joseph is identified as a rich man, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin Council and a follower of Jesus.[12]

Joseph first appears in all four Gospel accounts in the scene when Jesus hung dead on the cross. Taking great courage to overcome his fear of both the Sanhedrin and the fearsome Roman ruler who ordered Jesus to be crucified, Joseph approached Pilate to ask for the body.[13]

Arriving before the execution squad Centurion’s report, Pilate was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead.[14] Pilate first wanted confirmation from the Centurion that Jesus was, in fact, dead.[15]

Forced to wait for a decision, it was no doubt nerve-wracking – a despised Jew waiting in the Roman government local headquarters. Upon confirmation from the Centurion, Pilate granted the body of Jesus to Joseph.[16] Knowledge of these distinctive details were limited only to the Romans present with Pilate and Joseph.

Back at the Golgotha crucifixion scene, Joseph claimed the body from the Roman quaternion. He was joined by none other than Nicodemus who brought 75 pounds of burial spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes – very specific details.[17] Together, the two Pharisee Council rulers carried the body of Jesus to the nearby unused tomb owned by Joseph where they wrapped the body in linens with the burial spices according to Jewish custom.[18]

In the next phase of the Gospel accounts, the Resurrection, neither Nicodemus nor Joseph are mentioned again, but they are still part of the story. As rulers within the Jewish Council, if not present, they were at least aware the Council again approached Pilate the next day on the Sabbath.[19] It was again a meeting with only the Romans, namely Pilate with his staff, and the Jewish leaders in attendance – none of the followers of Jesus were present.

Affirming to Pilate that Jesus was dead and buried, the Jewish authorities requested a means to secure the tomb to protect against theft of the body by followers of Jesus. To convince Pilate, they had to acknowledge Jesus prophesied he would rise from the dead after 3 days.[20] Pilate seemed annoyed by yet another meeting with the Jews and told them to secure the tomb as best they could.

No one had informed the followers of Jesus about the joint Roman-Jewish security actions. The exclusivity of the information is demonstrated by the women of Galilee who planned to go to the tomb at sunrise after the Sabbath thinking they could gain access to the body of Jesus. They wondered if anyone would be there to help roll away the stone from the entrance.[21]

How did the Gospel authors obtain insider information on the Jewish Council plans to trap and kill Jesus, their conversations, quotes from the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, their request of Pilate to secure the tomb, and the chief priest’s response to the koustodia’s report of the missing body of Jesus? At least one insider or more within the Jewish Council had to be the source or sources of this information.

As ruling authorities within the Sanhedrin Jewish Council, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were privy to the inner workings the Jewish leadership. Each was called out by name in the Gospels. John, the eyewitness author, even quoted Nicodemus.[22] Was the insider source one of them, maybe both or perhaps someone else?

Insider information of the Jewish Council, if true, lends significant credibility to the truthfulness of the Gospels. One key consideration goes unstated making it a fact of silence – the Jewish Council did not deny the statements or actions of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea as written in the publicly distributed Gospels.

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] John 3:1; Net.Bible.org. Greek text. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Joh&chapter=3&verse=1> “archon <758>” Net.Bible.org. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=758>  Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50. Net.Bible.org. Greek text. <http://classic.net.bible.org/search.php?search=Arimathea&mode=&scope=> “bouleutes <1010> Net.Bible.org. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=1010>
[2] John 3:2. NIV.
[3] John 3:4. NRSV.
[4] Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews. Book II, Chapter VIII.14. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false> Moffic, Evan. “Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?” ReformJudaism.org. 2020. <https://reformjudaism.org/practice/lifecycle-and-rituals/death-mourning/do-jews-believe-afterlife>  Gilad, Elon. “What Is the Jewish Afterlife Like?” Haaretz.com. 2019. <https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-what-is-the-jewish-afterlife-like-1.5362876>
[5] Rose, Or N. “Heaven and Hell in Jewish Tradition.” MyJewishLearning.com. 2020. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/heaven-and-hell-in-jewish-tradition>
[6] John 3:6. NET.
[7] Rossen, Jake. “The Unbelievable Life of the ‘John 3:16’ Sports Guy.” 2017. <https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/500515/unbelievable-life-john-316-sports-guy#:~:text=The%20%22John%203%3A16%22,%2C%20but%20have%20everlasting%20life.%E2%80%9D>  Urban, Keith. “Keith Urban – John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 (Official Music Video).” YouTube.com. 2015.< https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GCEB_enUS885US885&ei=X8ffXtCaI8-WsAXMz4fIAg&q=john+3%3A16+keith+urban&oq=john+3%3A16+keith+urban&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzoECAAQR1CC2hBYpO4QYP_wEGgAcAN4AIABSIgB_QSSAQIxMZgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiQxsi_ofXpAhVPC6wKHcznASkQ4dUDCAw&uact=5>
[8] Luke 7:45. NET.
[9] John 7:51. NKJV.
[10] John 7:52. NSRV.
[11] Luke 23:51.
[12] Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50-52, John 19:38. Mark 15:43. Net.Bible.org. Footnote #1. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Mar&chapter=15&verse=43#> Luke 23:50. Net.Bible.org. Footnote #2. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Luk&chapter=23&verse=50>
[13] Matthew 27:58-59; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51-52; John 19:38.
[14] Mark 15:44.
[15] Mark 15;44-45.
[16] Luke 23:51.
[17] Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17-19, 39. CR Luk3 23:33.
[18] Matthew 27:57; John 19:40-42.
[19] Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:54; John 19:42.
[20] Matthew 27:62-27.
[21] Mark 16:3.
[22] John 3:1, 4, 9; 7:50, 19:39.

The Odyssey Life of Isaac

Isaac’s life, much like that of legendary movie figure Forrest Gump, was an odyssey – part of several historical events, but not the focus of the story. He is mentioned in the middle of the common Bible bookend phrase, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”[1]

Abraham, the father of Isaac, is the patriarch of Judaism, Islam and Christianity having been blessed by God to be the father of many nations and kings.[2] Jacob, Isaac’s son, had his name changed by God to Israel and became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.[3] Isaac’s life fell between these two iconic figures, not having the same high profile recognition.

God’s monumental blessing of Abraham is quoted in Genesis when several religiously fundamental actions took place.[4] Not only was Abraham promised to be the father of nations and kings, God changed the names of both his and his wife from Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah and promised they would miraculously become parents of a boy in their old age, a son whom He named Isaac.[5] At the age of 90, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, her only child.[6]

As one might expect, Sarah was very protective of Isaac, to the point she pressed Abraham to remove his half-brother, Ishmael, from the picture. Although he loved Ishmael very much, Abraham sent him with his mother away.[7] Ismael went on to become the patriarch of the Muslim world.[8] Isaac and Ishmael would meet again when they buried their father.[9]

Abraham’s faith was tested by God placing Isaac’s life at great risk as a youth. Unbeknownst to Isaac, he was to be sacrificed to God on a Moriah mount by Abraham.[10] Carrying the wood for the sacrifice, Isaac suspected something wasn’t right and pointed it out to Abraham – they didn’t have an animal to sacrifice.[11] “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering,” Abraham told Isaac.[12]

Drama peaked at the final moment when Isaac was ready to be slain on the sacrificial alter. An angel stopped Abraham in the act of killing his only son and instead provided an entangled ram nearby for the substitute sacrifice. Known in Judaism as “The Binding of Isaac,” the event is also is mentioned in the New Testament Book of Hebrews as an example of faith. [13]

Mount Moriah from that point forward would become the centerpoint location of holiness to God. King David would later purchase the land, build an alter and offer forgiveness sacrifices to God on Mount Moriah for his sin as King. Greatly moved when fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offering sacrifice, David announced this very place on Mount Moriah would become the location of the Temple eventually built there by his son Solomon.[14]

Marriage of Isaac to Rebekah was a much less remarkable occasion than the significant events surrounding it. The multifaceted story involved the miraculous revelation of a bride for Isaac; established a traditional Jewish marriage right; emphasized God’s value of virginity and is the first of only three appearances in the Bible of the rare Hebrew words, ha-almah.

Judaism traces a fundamental marriage tenet back to Abraham, the marriage right of refusal by a potential bride. Abraham’s servant had been instructed to find a bride for Isaac back in his homeland with only one requirement – she had to be willing to accept or decline the marriage offer.[15]

With no other expectations, guidance or clues, what was a servant to do in a strange land looking to find a bride for his master’s son? Devised by the servant, the miraculous answer to his complex sign served as the divine revelation of Rebekah as the chosen one for Isaac.

Rebekah is the first of only three women in the entire Bible to be referred to as ha-almah, “the virgin.” Second was Miriam, the sister and savior of Moses. Third is the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 foretelling the birth of a son to ha-almah. The Genesis story of finding Isaac’s bride is the codex for defining the Hebrew word meanings for ha-almah (the virgin), betulah (virgin), na ‘arah (girl) and `ishshah (woman).[16]

Prayers of Isaac and Rebekah to give them children after 20 years of marriage were answered with the birth of paternal twins, Esau the older and Jacob the younger.[17] Not only was their appearance vastly different, so was their personality and interests. The twins were a handful for their parents even in their sons’ adult years.

Jacob liked to cook while Esau loved to hunt. One day Esau returned home famished from a hunting trip. The aroma of Jacob’s stew was a magnet to Esau who asked, if not begged, for a helping. Jacob recognized an opportunity and struck a bargain with Esau to exchange his firstborn birthright for some stew.[18] The repercussion would manifest itself many years later.[19]

To escape a famine, Isaac moved his family to the land occupied by the Philistines. Rebekah was very beautiful, so much so, that Isaac feared someone might kill him to steal his wife. As a safeguard, the couple lived under the pretense that Rebekah was his sister.

One day Philistine King Abimelech saw Isaac caressing Rebekah and realized they were married. After confronting Isaac, the King issued a command, under the penalty of death, that no one was to touch the couple.[20]

About this time, while still dwelling in the land of the Philistines, God blessed Isaac as he had his father, Abraham: [21]

Gen 26:3-5 “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” (NKJV)

In his old age, Isaac, who was nearly blind, announced to Esau the time had come for his firstborn blessing. He sent Esau on a hunting trip to get meat for the event.

Rebekah, Isaac’s wife and mother of Esau and Jacob, heard the conversation and quickly went to Jacob with a plan to swindle the blessing from Isaac before Esau returned home. Skeptical at first, Jacob went along with the plan and used sheep skin to fool Isaac who felt and smelled the imposter pelt believing the earthy scent to be Esau.

Thinking he was blessing Esau, Isaac blessed Jacob and in doing so, passed along God’s blessings of his father, Abraham. Esau soon returned from hunting and became enraged when he heard what had happened. Esau wanted to kill his twin brother, but Rebekah tipped off Jacob who fled the country.

Over the next 20 years of exile in Abraham’s homeland, Jacob fathered 11 sons. After returning to the land of Canaan and reconciling with Esau, the 12th son of Israel, Benjamin, was born. Sadly, Rachel died during childbirth near Bethlehem.[22]

After Isaac blessed Jacob, the Genesis account over the next 7 chapters focuses on the life of Jacob.[23] Briefly mentioning the end of Isaac’s life, Genesis records that he lived a full life until the ripe old age of 180 years. His twin sons buried him thus bringing to an end the odyssey life of Isaac.

Isaac received the blessing of God given to his father Abraham where “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Like a link in a chain, if one link is broken, the chain is broken. Could any Messiah prophesy be legitimate, fulfilled without the life of Isaac?

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] NetBible.org. Word search for “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.” 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/search.php?search=god%20of%20abraham%20Isaac%20jacob&page=1>
[2] Genesis 17:5-8.
[3] Genesis 32 :28, 35 :10.  Qur’an Surah 3:84, 4:163, 12:38,19:58, 38:45. Pratt, John P.  “Divine Calendars Testify of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” JohnPratt.com. 2003. <http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2003/abraham.html>
[4] Genesis 17-18, 21.
[5] Genesis 17-18.
[6] Genesis 21:1-8.
[7] Genesis 21:8-20.
[8] Qur’an Surah 2:127-128, 133.
[9] Genesis 25:9.
[10] “Human Sacrifices.”  Bible-history.com. n.d. <http://www.bible-history.com/backd2/human_sacrifice.html>  Hefner, Alan G. “Baal.”  Encyclopedia Mythica. 2004. <https://web.archive.org/web/20140822080410/http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/baal.html>  “Sacrifice.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12984-sacrifice>
[11] Genesis 22:7.
[12] ESV, NASB, NKJV, NET.
[13] Hebrews 11:17-19. “The Binding of Isaac.” MyJewishLearning.com. 2020. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-binding-of-isaac>
[14] I Chronicles 21:18, 2 Chronicles 3:1, 2 Samuel 24:15-25.
[15] Genesis 24:7-8, 57-58.
[16] Genesis 24:16-44.
[17] Genesis 25:21, 27.
[18] Genesis 25:29-34.
[19] Genesis 27:37-38.
[20] Genesis 26:1-10.
[21] CR Genesis 17:21, 25:11, 26:3-5, 24, 35:12; 1 Chronicles 16:16.
[22] Genesis 35:10, 16-20; 48:7. 33:18.  “The Story of Abraham.” The History of Israel. n.d. <https://web.archive.org/web/20190827032818/http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/story-of-abraham.html>  Pratt. “Divine Calendars Testify of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
[23] Genesis 35:28-29.