What Happened to Avraham’s Chassidim? By Yisrael Friedenberg

That Avraham Avinu had disciples goes without saying. From our early youth, we have probably all heard the understanding of Chazal of the pasuk (Bereishis 12:5) “ve’es hanefesh asher asu veCharan,” meaning those people Avram and Sarai had converted to monotheism. This understanding appears in standard Chumashim in Onkelus and Rashi, and is also present in numerous other sources. (Radak attributes Onkelus’s understanding to Bereishis Rabbah 39:21, and Chizkuni quotes a Gemara in Avodah Zarah (9a) which says that this pasuk marks the first stage of Mattan Torah. This understanding appears also in the midrashim of Pesikta Zutresa and Yalkut Shimoni.)

The peculiarity with this idea is the complete lack of reference to these disciples later on. If indeed Avraham had a crowd of ‘chassidim,’ we would expect to see them in future generations as well. Why do they appear only here? What happened to them?

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