Friday, March 19, 2010

Recap: Shem to Abram

Here are some genealogical facts presented in Genesis 11:10-32. Although the line of Shem had already been covered in Genesis 10, the account had only gone up to the point of Peleg and Joktan (Genesis 10:25-26). Then the account of the Tower of Babel intervened. Now, in Genesis 11:10-32, the information about the line of Shem is recapped (with some new information), and, at the point where Peleg comes in, Joktan is not mentioned, because his descendants had already been covered in Genesis 10:25-26 and also, now the line which leads to the promised Messiah is being emphasized.

We are informed that two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he has a son named Arphaxad. Shem then lives for 500 more years, and has other sons and daughters.

When Arphaxad is only 35 years old, he fathers Shelah. Arphaxad lives 403 more years and also has other children.

When Shelah is 30, he fathers Eber. Shelah also lives 403 more years and has other children.

When Eber is 34, he has Peleg. He has other children during the following 430 years.

Peleg, at 30, becomes the father of Reu. He lives 209 more years, and has other offspring.

Reu, at 32 years of age, fathers Serug, and then lives for 207 more years and has other sons and daughters.

Serug, at 30, becomes the father of Nahor. The he lives 200 more years and has other sons and daughters.

When Nahor is 29, he becomes the father of Terah. He has other children during the remaining 119 years of his life.

Terah, at 70 years old, becomes the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. (Wonder if they were triplets, or if it just means that by the time Terah was 70, he had these three sons?) At any rate, the account has now narrowed considerably, to a particular family. Terah's son Haran dies before his father does, in Ur, the land of his birth. However, first he has a son named Lot. (v.27) Apparently, he also has at least two daughters, for we are told that he is the father of Milcah and Iscah. (v.29) Terah's son Abram marries Sarai (whose parents are not mentioned), and Nahor marries Milcah. Terah takes Abram, Sarai, and his grandson Lot, and moves from Ur to a place named Haran. (Yes, this seems to be a genealogist's nightmare, to have 1) an endogenous marriage and 2) a person and town with the same name in one account! However, in Hebrew, the name of the person and of the town are spelled differently, so that would help a bit.) Apparently, Terah's original destination was Canaan (v.31), but they stop in Haran. Terah lives to be 205, and he dies in Haran. (The place. Haran the son is already dead before Terah's trip started.) Other tidbits about Terah: Joshua 24:2 lets us know that Terah originally lived beyond the River (Euphrates) and worshipped other gods. The moon god was worshipped at Ur and also at Haran. We do not know if Terah at first intended to follow the true God when God revealed His plan for Abraham to leave his people and country and go to a place which God would show him. The account of Abraham's call comes up in Genesis 12, but Acts 7:2-4 asserts that God had spoken to Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia. It says:

"...The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.' So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living." (Israel, or, as it was known at that time, Canaan)

So, either Abraham had shared what God had said to him with Terah, and Terah went with Abram, Sarai and Lot to Haran as a step of obedience, but then died in Haran, OR Terah began well by leaving Ur and then could not take the final step of leaving his moon 'god' behind, and remained in Haran (and in his idolatry), where such a 'god' was worshipped. Then God continued to lead Abram on to Canaan after Terah's death. Or, perhaps it is something totally different. The account does say in verse 31-32 that "Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there." (Genesis 11.31-31 NIV) It is pretty sobering to think that perhaps Terah began to follow the light of the knowledge of the true God and then chose to remain in darkness. Whatever Terah thought he could not leave behind in Haran could not begin to equal what he may have had by following the true God. Not to even mention the eternal consequences. May we always follow the light we have been given so that we may receive further light to guide us until we are home with God.

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