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We say it daily in the morning prayer:

אַתָּה־הוּא ה"א אֲשֶׁר בָּחַרְתָּ בְּאַבְרָם וְהוֹצֵאתוֹ מֵאוּר כַּשְׂדִּים וְשַׂמְתָּ שְּׁמוֹ אַבְרָהָם׃ וּמָצָאתָ אֶת־לְבָבוֹ נֶאֱמָן לְפָנֶיךָ...

You are the LORD God, who a) chose Abram, b) brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and c) changed his name to Abraham, and d) found his heart true to You, ... Nehemiah.9.7-8?

Why the choice of Abraham preceded finding him righteous?

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  • Could it be like the Metzudas Dovid says sefaria.org/… - "אברהם - המורה על רוב הגדולה שיהיה לאב המון גוים כמ״ש בתורה:"
    – Dov
    Dec 26 '20 at 22:44
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Maharal in Netzach Yisrael 11 asks a similar question: why does the Torah immediately launch into the narrative of Hashem speaking to Avraham at the start of Parashat Lech Lecha, without first describing Avraham's righteousness?

His answer (which I think is also applicable to your question) is that this teaches us that Hashem's choice of Avraham was not due to his individual merit (which could in theory be reversed). Rather what is being described is a choice of Avraham's descendants to be His people, eternally.

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    Thank you, it echoes the choosing of Moses "מצאת חן בעייני".
    – Al Berko
    Dec 30 '20 at 18:45
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The Ramban (13th-century Spain) poses the question thus:

"This section of the Torah has not adequately explained the issue.
Why should God tell Abraham, "Leave your land and I will extend to you the greatest good that has ever been", without first indicating to us that Abraham was a servant of God or a perfectly righteous individual?
Or, the text should state a reason for God's injunction to Abraham to leave his land, namely that he will achieve closeness to God in the new location. The convention of the Torah is to state, "Walk before Me, listen to My voice, and I will reward you"... This is the pattern throughout the Torah:

-"If you will follow My statutes..., then I will provide the rains in their due season." [Lev. 26:3];

-"If you will surely listen to My voice..., then [I] will raise you above all other nations of the earth." [Deut. 28:1]...

But to promise Abraham such reward solely on account of his leaving his land makes no sense."

Other commentators have argued that God chose Abraham because he was intelligent and obedient. He had reached knowledge of God on his own, without revelation, and did as told. That was the combination God needed.

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As the Malbim says on the passuk, part d), where G-d found Abraham's heart to be true, is referring to after Abraham withstood the 10 tests. That is, Abraham was already a righteous believer, which led to him being chosen, but he still had to withstand the ten tests. After those, it was clear his heart was true to G-d, even in the face of adversity, so G-d made a covenant with him.

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