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Introduction to Genesis 11:24-13:18

A. This section of Genesis begins the fuller discussion of the line of the Messiah through Abraham.


B. Genesis' fifty chapters are concerned with the redemption of God's covenant people, not creation. Calling one to call all is the focus of the book.


C. Abram is seen in his weaknesses as well as in his faithfulness. The God of election and mercy calls him out for his own redemptive purposes.


D. God chose Abraham to choose a world (cf. 12:3c; Exod. 19:4-6; II Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6). God wants all people made in His image to be redeemed (cf. Gen. 3:15; Ezek. 18:23,32; I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9).


E. The Talmud specifies seven blessings of the call.

1. Abram would be the father of a great nation.

2. He would be blessed in his lifetime.

3. His name would be renowned.

4. He would be a blessing to others.

5. Those who honor him would be blessed

6. Those who rejected him would be cursed.

7. His influence would be universal.



24Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and became the father of Terah; 25and Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he became the father of Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.

11:24 "Terah" "Terah" (BDB 1076) possibly means "tarrying," "delaying," or "migrating." From Josh. 24:2 it is obvious that he and his family were polytheists. The names of his family suggest that they primarily worshiped the moon goddess Zin (see Special Topic at 12:4). She was worshiped in Ur, Tema, and Haran. However, Gen. 31:53 implies that he knew of YHWH.

Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

11:26 "Abram, Nahor and Haran" This might be the order of importance and not age. The name Abram (BDB 4) can mean (1) "exalted father"; (2) "exalter of father"; or (3) "the Exalted One is my father." The name Nahor means "panting" or an Assyrian place name, while Haran means "mountaineer."

27Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. 28Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30Sarai was barren; she had no child.

11:27 See note at 25:12,19; 36:1,9; 37:2.

11:28 "Haran died in the presence of his father Terah" This is a Hebrew idiom for Haran dying before his father.

▣ "the Ur of the Chaldeans" The Chaldean culture developed (i.e., built on the strengths of the Sumerian culture) and thrived after Abram's day.

11:29 "and Iscah" This person (BDB 414) and the reason for her presence in this verse is unknown. The rabbis (also Josephus, Jerome, and Augustine) say it is Sarai, but the text asserts that they have different fathers.

11:30 "Sarai was barren" The inability of Sarai, Rachel, and Rebecca to have children was one of the ways YHWH used to exhibit His power and control of human history and genealogy. Human sexual generation is not the key aspect to the lineage of the Messiah.

This same theological aspect to Israel's history is also seen in the fact that the firstborn son never became the head of the family (i.e., in the Messianic line). Culturally the firstborn was the head of the clan, but not so among YHWH's people. It was His choice!

Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. 32The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

11:31 "they went out together" There is much discussion as to whether Terah took his family or if Abram took them. Some postulate God calling Terah but he lapsed back into idolatry. It seems to me that Abram is the focus of the entire section, not Terah. By leaving Ur Abram was leaving not only his extended family, but also their national deities. He left a comfortable, settled life to follow a new God who had spoken to him in rather cryptic fashion.

11:32 "the days of Terah were two hundred and five years" When one adds the years in 11:26 with those in 12:4, which equals 145 years, and subtracts this from 205, it becomes obvious that Terah lived 60 years after Abram left Haran. This seems to conflict with Stephen's sermon in Acts 7:4. Several aspects of Stephen's historical review conflict with our understanding of Old Testament history. Possibly he was using rabbinical interpretation. Others assert that Abram, though listed first in 11:26, was born much later and that Stephen was accurate.

Related Topics: Election

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