Saturday, February 18, 2006

Genesis (Bereshit) My Three Sons Part Five

The Line of Terah

This is the final part of the theme of three sons. This thread runs through the first eleven chapters in the Book of Genesis.

Within these verses we leave what may be construed as myth behind and we move into history. The details and references of the story that emerges can be corroborated by other sources. Although none other than the Bible mention Abraham and Sarah by name, various elements in the patriarchal narrative correspond with different periods, from the old Babylonian to the Hurrian. There is much information about the political, social and religious life of the Mesopotamian lands in which this epic takes place. A large collection of Hurrian records found in the town of Nuzi tells of life and law.

We find the underlying theme is to establish Abraham as the father of the nation of Israel.

In the last part it is established that Shem fathered Terah and Terah fathers Abram, Nahor and Haran. During the time that they resided in the land of Ur we are told that Haran died. We also learn that this happened during the lifetime of Terah From this we can glean that he was a young man when he passed away. We learn that Haran has fathered three children, Lot, Milcah and Iscah. Abram and Nachor took wives to themselves. Nahor took his niece as his wife and her name was Milcah, Haran’s daughter. Abram took Sarai as his wife.

Terah decides to move his family away from Ur, which is a land held by the Chaldeans. We are told that Abram, Sarai and Lot, the grandson of Terah, are the ones that move. Nothing is said about Nahor and his family. Terahs destination is Canaan. The family makes it as far as a city called Haran. It is there that they settle. The name Haran can be translated as "Crossroads." It is here at the age of 205 that Terah dies.

It is here, at Haran, at the crossroads that The Lord speaks to Abram saying "Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, I will make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those that bless you and curse him that curses you and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you." Abram listened to God and went forth as commanded taking with him Sarai and Lot and all the wealth that the family had amassed and their slaves/servants and they set out for Canaan. They made it to the site of Shechem, which is near Nablus north of Jerusalem and stopped at the Terebinth of Moreh. Terebinths are large trees that are associated with oracles and prophecy. In the Bible they are frequently sites of important events.

It is here that the Lord once again appears and speaks to Abram saying, "I will give this land to your offspring." Abram builds an altar there to the Lord (Noah did the same thing.) From here Abram moves onto the hill country east of Bethel which is north of Jerusalem and he pitches his tent. Here he builds another altar to the Lord. We are told that Abram journeys by stages toward the Negeb (Negev or "the south land.)

We are not told why God singled out Abram. However in the running theme of My Three Sons we can see that one son stands out to seek God. Perhaps this might be true since when I have addressed Jews that I know as God’s Chosen People, they reply that it is not that they were chosen rather that they were the first to choose God.

As we are told in past chapters, God spoke and He was listened to and obeyed. In the case of Noah and Abram, when God speaks to both they build altars unto the Lord as a sign of their covenant. It is not made evident, but part of Abram’s command was "... to go forth from your father’s house.." It was and is a difficult step to leave one’s land and to be an unprotected wanderer abroad leaving all that was dear, rejecting the values and standards of your father. Perhaps that is why Nahor stayed behind in the land of his youth. This represents a severe trial for Abram.

Within God’s covenant to Abram He not only promises to "make of him a great nation, but to bless those that bless him and curse him that curses you..." Perhaps in an attempt to win this blessing, Christians and Moslems have exalted Abram as their spiritual father. However, some factors of both Christianity and the Moslems have persecuted Abram’s Seed.

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