Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Genesis Post 25 - Outline of a New Line (Chapter 11)

Genesis 11 abruptly switches gears after the account of Babel's tower.  What do we see next?

A new beginning.  More genealogy.  Suddenly, the focus is only on Shem.  Why?  Because God is preparing to dwell in the tents of Shem.  Once again, God is going to preserve the one true faith in the One True God through one family.  We have finished the once upon a time introduction of the Bible, and now the story really gets going!

Remember, there were ten generations from Adam to Noah.  We are now seeing ten more generations from Noah to Abraham.  In the midst of the second "ten," the LORD God pushed the reset button once again when He destroyed the Tower of Babel and scattered the languages.

The number ten represents righteous government, and also a time of testing.  So already God had to push the resent button twice.  But now something new is going to take place, and it is going to begin with Abraham.  Abraham kicked off a new era that is still in effect today.  This one "took."  The coming righteous government of King Messiah can be traced back to faithful Abraham.

In the genealogy of chapter 11, we see names and ages.  We see each of these post-flood generations living fewer and fewer years.  Here is the lineup:
  • Shem - 600 years
  • Arphaxad - 438 years
  • Salah - 433 years
  • Eber - 464 years (he broke the pattern and outlived his son)
  • Peleg - 239 years
  • Reu - 239 years
  • Serug - 230 years
  • Nahor - 148 years
  • Terah - 205 years
  • Abraham - 175 years
An interesting side note:  if you do the biblical math, you can go all the way back to Adam, add up all the ages, and discover that Abraham was born in the year 1948 from creation.  Hmmm, that number sounds familiar.  The state of Israel was born in 1948 on the Roman calendar.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Having even more fun with math, I discovered that Shem would have died right around the time that Peleg was born.  And Peleg, whose name means division, was born around the time of the Babel dispersion, as we saw in Genesis 10:25.  So Shem lived right up to the time of Babel!

Chapter 11 wraps up with details on Abraham's family.  See if you can wrap your head around it all:

Terah had three boys:  Abram, Nahor, and Haran.  Genesis 20:12 tells us that Terah also had at least one daughter:  Sarai, who then married her half brother Abram.  They lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur was southeast of the city of Babel in Mesopotamia.  Archaeology has shown Ur to be a very wealthy city, as well as highly civilized.

While still in Ur, Haran begot a son named Lot and a daughter named Milcah, and then he died.

Nahor married his niece, Milcah.

Did they tell jokes back then about family trees, too?  As in, "You can tell ur from Ur because your family tree doesn't fork."

One very important detail is mentioned in verse 30:
But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 
This crucial detail, found here in seed form, will unfold in a big way very soon.  This might be a good place to mention that Abram means exalted father, even though his wife had no child.

So Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot set out for the land of Canaan, but stopped in Haran (not to be confused with Terah's son Haran - it is spelled differently in the Hebrew.  The name of the man means mountaineer and the name of the city means parched.)

Abram leaves Ur with his wife, dad, and nephew

In Acts 7, Stephen gave the high priest a little history lesson on the nation of Israel, and the story he told starts right here in Genesis 11:
 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.

Stephen continued on for 52 verses, basically telling the whole story of the Bible to the Sanhedrin, and then the leaders got really mad and stoned him for it.

So why did Abram take his father with him when the LORD had told him to leave his father's house? And why did they settle in Haran?

In Joshua 24:2, we learn that Terah worshiped other gods. He was an idolator; possibly even an idol maker. Even though Abram was headed in the right direction, he could not cross over to the land God promised him until he actually left his father's house. And that didn't happen until Terah died in Haran at the ripe old age of 205.

There is a story that Jewish rabbis tell about a conversation between Abram and his father Terah, that goes something like this:  One day, Abram destroyed all of his fathers idols. When his father came home and saw his idols destroyed, he angrily asked, "Who did this?"  Abram said, "Why don't you ask your idols?" Terah replied, "That's ridiculous! They are just dumb and stupid wood and stone, they can’t talk!" Abram just smiled and said, "You said it, daddy!"

Coming up:  Intro to Abraham's covenant.  Click here.

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