Saturday, October 30, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eleven, Part 4

11:12 Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah
In the previous verse we learned that Shem lived 600 years; 350 years less than his father Noah. He was 100 when he begot a son. The son begotten to him, Arphaxad, was a mere 35 when he had his first son, and lived only 438 years. The lifespan of men was decreasing, and this drop in longevity was immediately noticeable after the Flood. In three more generations the life expectancy of mankind was hovering around two hundred years of age (in Peleg’s case). By Joseph’s day the life expectancy had plummeted further—110 years of age—if his age at death was any indication, Genesis 50:26.

11:17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years
Eber is likely the man from whom the Hebrews are named after, a name first given to Abram, Genesis 14:13. Peleg, the man named due to the division of the earth that occurred during his day, was born 101 years after the Flood; or five generations from Shem. As noted above, a sharp break in lifespan occurs between father and son. Eber lived a total of 468 years. Peleg lived only 239 years; almost half of the days his father had seen. Here is an odd fact: Eber not only outlived his own son by 191 years, he outlived six generations of his family, including Abraham!

11:23 And Serug…begat sons and daughters.
What could the population of the post-Flood earth have been by Abraham’s time? There were nine generations before Abram, and of every generation (save Terah) it was said that after they begot their firstborn son they also begot sons (plural) and daughters. Let us just say for the sake of argument that each family had five children, and five was the norm for every person of that time until Abram’s day. If we multiply by factors of five, counting ONLY Shem’s family, we have a number floating around 9,700,000 people. Factor in Japheth and Ham and that number could reasonably be 30 million people! This would be 277 years after the Flood, which is the year of Abraham’s birth. Granted, this is merely calculated speculation, but rather interesting despite that.

11:26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Like Shem was to Noah, Abram was not the oldest son of Terah. Shem is listed first because of his lineage; he is the father of the Semites, which the Jews are. Abraham is the father of Israel, humanly speaking, so it is natural for Moses to have listed him before his brothers. To divine how old Terah was when Abraham was born we look to Genesis 11:32 first, which states that Terah was 205 years old when he died and that he died in Haran. We learn from Genesis 12:4 that Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran (after Terah’s death); therefore Terah was 130 years old when he begot Abram. According to Joshua 24:2, Terah was a devil worshiper on the other side of the Euphrates River. Shem’s progeny had fallen to worshiping the works of their own hands and demons by the time of Abram. It was the grace of God that drew Abram to forsake his father’s gods, and to follow the living God. That same grace is alive and powerfully active in every born again believer who has met and believed on Jesus Christ today. Abraham is the father of faith, and we are his children, whose trust is in God, Galatians 3:7-9.

11:28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity
In Genesis 38:7-10 Judah’s two older sons, Er and Onan, are both put to death by the Lord. We are only told of Onan that he was “wicked in the sight of the Lord.” It would seem that Er had time enough to be betrothed to Tamar, because Onan was married to her to raise up children for his deceased brother. When Onan would not fulfill this duty, the Lord smote him as well. It might have been that Haran died such a death before his father for some wickedness he committed. It might also have simply been that Haran was sick and perished, and Moses made note of it because he was the eldest brother. This would have been grievous for Terah, since the right of the firstborn was very important to the patriarchal order of the family in ancient times.

If we read verse 32, however, we do find an interesting coincidence. Terah packed up his family and departed Chaldea, only to venture so far as Haran, a town that bore the same name as his dead son. There Terah died; and from there Abram departed. The command God gave Abram in Genesis 12:1 seems to imply past tense: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram…” Yet we find in 11:31 that Terah collects his family to travel to Canaan. God did not call Terah, however. The family reached Haran and Terah passed away, leaving the mantle of leadership to fall upon Abram’s shoulders.

11:32 and Terah died in Haran.
The Holy Spirit wanted to impress this nugget of information upon us. First they came unto Haran and dwelt there, verse 31. This was in defiance of God’s revealed will to Abram; that he should travel to Canaan, to leave country, kindred, even his father’s house behind, Genesis 12:1. If the Lord desired Abram to leave Terah’s house, it was unlikely that He wished for the master of said house to lead the expedition He called Abram to! It was to Abram the gospel would be preached, Genesis 12:2-3. I am reminded of a passage in Hebrews that states: “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1. Jesus informed us that His coming into a house brings division, Luke 12:51-53. The division occurs naturally when someone comes to Christ through the witness of the gospel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The unregenerate are now against you; they are divided from you, or rather you have been divided from them. Jesus also told us that if we are to be disciples (learners) we must love Him more than our own family; if our family is against Christ we stand with Him. If the choice would ever arise that we must choose between a loved one and our Savior, we must bear the pain of that cross and follow our Savior. We must be willing to suffer reproach and even peril for Jesus’ sake, Luke 14:26-27. By the end of Abram’s life he would be personally acquainted with these lessons, matured and transformed into a man who would be immortalized as the father of the Jewish nation. Christians, here is an ancestor of Christ, who saw his Lord afar off and embraced the promise of His coming, John 8:56; Hebrews 11:13. What Abram anticipated, we possess. Let us walk with a faith that mirrors faithful Abram’s.

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