Genesis 11:26
And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
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11:10-26 Here is a genealogy, or list of names, ending in Abram, the friend of God, and thus leading towards Christ, the promised Seed, who was the son of Abram. Nothing is left upon record but their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the history of Abram. How little do we know of those that are gone before us in this world, even of those that lived in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of those who now live in distant places! We have enough to do to mind our own work. When the earth began to be peopled, men's lives began to shorten; this was the wise disposal of Providence. - Section IX - The Line to Abram

- XXXV. The Line of Abram

18. רעוּ re‛û, Re'u, "friend;" verb: "feed, delight in, enjoy."

20. שׂרוּג śerûg, Serug, "vine-shoot."

22. נחור nāchôr, Nachor, "snorting."

24. תרה terach, Terach, "delay?" Aramaic.

26. אברם 'abrām, Abram, "high father." הרן hārān Haran, "mountaineer."

The usual phrase, "These are the generations," marks the beginning of the fifth document. Accordingly, we now enter upon a new phase of human development. The nations have gradually departed from the living God. They have not, however, stopped at this negative stage of ungodliness. They have fallen into polytheism and idolatry. And the knowledge of the one true God, the Maker, Possessor, and Upholder of heaven and earth, is on the verge of being entirely lost. Nevertheless the promises, first to the race of Adam, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and next to the family of Noah, that the Lord should be the God of Shem, were still in force. It is obvious, from the latter promise, that the seed of the woman is to be expected in the line of Shem.

The present passage contains the pedigree of Abram from Shem. From this it appears that the sacred writer here reverts to the second year after the flood - a point of time long before the close of the preceding narrative. "Shem was the son of a hundred years," or in his hundredth year, two years after the flood, and therefore in the six hundred and third year of Noah, and consequently three years after Japheth. Abram was the twentieth, inclusive, from Adam, the tenth from Shem, and the seventh from Heber. A second Kenan is inserted after Arpakshad in the Septuagint, and in the Gospel according to Luke. But this name does not occur even in the Septuagint in 1 Chronicles 1:24, where the genealogy of Abram is given. It is not found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Targums, or the ancient versions. It does not appear in Josephus or Philo. Neither is it found in the Codex Bezae in the Gospel of Luke. It must therefore be regarded as an interpolation.

The following table is a continuation of that given at the fifth chapter, and will serve for the comparison of the different forms in which the numbers are presented:

Line of Abram Hebrew Sam. Pent. Septuagint Josephus Date Son's Birth OwnDeath Son's Birth OwnDeath Son's Birth OwnDeath Son's Birth OwnDeath OfBirth OfDeath 11. Shem (97) 2 600 (97) 2 600 (97) 2 600 (97) 12 1559 2150 12. Arpakshad (Καινᾶν) 35 438 135 438 135 535 135 1658 2096 13. Shelah 30 433 130 433 130 460 130 1693 2126 14. Heber 34 464 134 404 134 404 134 1723 2187 15. Peleg 30 239 130 239 130 339 130 1757 1996 16. Reu 32 239 132 239 132 339 130 1787 2096 17. Serug 30 230 130 230 130 330 132 1819 2049 18. Nahor 29 148 79 148 175 304 120 1849 1997 19. Terah

(Haran) 70

60 205 70

60 145 70


7. confound their language—literally, "their lip"; it was a failure in utterance, occasioning a difference in dialect which was intelligible only to those of the same tribe. Thus easily by God their purpose was defeated, and they were compelled to the dispersion they had combined to prevent. It is only from the Scriptures we learn the true origin of the different nations and languages of the world. By one miracle of tongues men were dispersed and gradually fell from true religion. By another, national barriers were broken down—that all men might be brought back to the family of God. 2056 i.e. Began to beget, as Genesis 5:32.

Abram, who is first named in order of dignity, (for which cause Shem is put before Ham and Japheth, and Moses before Aaron), not in order of time, which seems to be this: Haran probably was the eldest, because Nahor married his daughter; Nahor the second; and Abram certainly was the youngest, because Terah, Abram’s father, lived two hundred and five years, Genesis 11:32, and Abram after his father’s death, Acts 7:4, went out of Haran, when he was seventy-five years old, Genesis 12:4,5; therefore he was not begotten in Terah’s seventieth year, when Terah began to beget his sons, as here is said, but in his one hundred and thirtieth year, and so there remains seventy-five years precisely to Abram’s departure. And Sarai, Haran’s daughter, was but ten years younger than Abram, Genesis 17:17; and therefore Haran was Abram’s elder brother.

And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Abram, though named first, does not appear to be the eldest, but rather Haran; nay, it seems pretty plain that Abram was not born until the one hundred and thirtieth year of his father's life, for Terah was two hundred and five years old when he died, Genesis 11:32 and Abram was but seventy five years of age when he went out of Haran to Canaan, Genesis 12:4 and that was as soon as his father died there; and so that if seventy five are taken out two hundred and five, there will remain one hundred and thirty, in which year and not before Abram must be born: the wife of Terah, of whom Abram was born, according to the Jewish writers (x), her name was Chamtelaah, the daughter of Carnebo, or as others (y) call her, Amthalai; but by the Arabic writers (z) she is called Juna: the Jews say (a) Terah was the first that found out the way of coining money, and that in his days men began to worship images, and that he was the chief of their priests, but afterwards repented; and that he was an idolater appears from Joshua 24:2.

(x) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 2. 1. & Bathra in ib. (y) Pirke Eliezer, c. 26. (z) Elmacinus, p. 31. Patricides, p. 17. apud Hottinger. p. 281. (a) Shalshalet, fol. 76. 1.

And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
26. seventy years] The birth of Terah’s firstborn is postponed for a period twice as long as in the case of the other patriarchs since Shem. Shem was 100 years old when he begat Arpachshad (Genesis 11:10). This greater duration of time is connected with the features of faith and discipline attaching to the careers of the greater personages in the Israelite ancestry.

Abram] According to the Hebrew tradition, the name means “the father (ab) is exalted (ram).” It might also mean “Ram (= Ramman) is father.” Compare, in the one case, Jehoram (= Jah is exalted); in the other, Abijah (= Jah is father). See note on Genesis 17:5.

Nahor] See on Genesis 11:22.

Haran] This name has by some scholars been derived from the Heb. har = “a mountain,” and explained as meaning “Highlanders.” “Beth-haran” is the name of a town built by the “children of Gad” (Numbers 32:36) and mentioned along with “Beth-Nimrah.” Possibly, therefore, Haran was also the name of a local deity.

Verse 26. - And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram. First named on account of his spiritual pre-eminence. If Abram was Terah's eldest son, then, as Abram was seventy-five years of age when Terah died (Genesis 12:4), Terah's whole life could only have been 145 years. But Terah lived to the age of 205 years (Genesis 11:32); therefore Abram was born in Terah's 130th year. This, however, makes it surprising that Abraham should have reckoned it impossible for him to have a son at 100 years (Genesis 17:17); only, after having lived so long in childless wedlock, it was not strange that he should feel somewhat doubtful of any issue by Sarai. Kalisch believes that Stephen (Acts 7:4) made a mistake in saying Terah died before his son's migration from Charran, and that he really survived that event by sixty years; while the Samaritan text escapes the difficulty by shortening the life of Terah to 145 years. And Nahor, who must have been younger than Haran, since he married Haran's daughter. And Haran, who, as the eldest, must have been born in Terah's seventieth year. Thus the second family register, like the flint, concludes after ten generations with the birth of three sons, who, like Noah's, are mentioned not in the order of their ages, but of their spiritual pre-eminence.

From this table it appears that 292 years, according to the Hebrew text, passed away between the Flood and the birth, or 292 +75 = = 367 between the Flood and the call of Abraham. Reckoning, however, the age of Torah at Abram's birth as 130 (vide Exposition), the full period between the Deluge and the patriarch's departure from Haran will be 367 + 60 = = 427 years, which, allowing five pairs to each family, Murphy computes, would in the course of ten generations yield a population of 15,625,000 souls; or, supposing a rate of increase equal to that of Abraham's posterity in Egypt during the 400 years that elapsed from the call to the exodus, the inhabitants of the world in the time of Abraham would be between seven and eight millions. It must, however, be remembered that an element of uncertainty enters into all computations based upon even the Hebrew text. The age of Terah at the birth (apparently) of Abram is put down at seventy. But it admits of demonstration that Abram was born in the 130th year of Terah. What guarantee then do we possess that in every instance the registered son was the firstborn? In the case of Arphaxad this is almost implied in the statement that he was born two years after the Flood. But if the case of Eber were parallel with that of Terah, and Joktan were the son that he begat in his thirty-fourth year, then obviously the birth of Peleg, like that of Abram, may have happened sixty years later; in which case it is apparent that any reckoning which proceeded on the minute verbal accuracy of the registered numbers would be entirely at fault. This consideration might have gone far to explain the wide divergence between the numbers of the Samaritan and Septuagint as compared with the Hebrew text, had it not been that they both agree with it in setting down seventy as the age of Terah at the date of Abram's birth. The palpable artificiality also of these later tables renders them even less worthy of credit than the Hebrew. The introduction by the LXX. of Cainan as the son of Arphaxad, though seemingly confirmed by Luke (Luke 3:35, 36), is clearly an interpolation. It does not occur in the LXX. version of 1 Chronicles 1:24, and is not found in either the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Targums or the ancient versions, in Josephus or Philo, or in the Codex Beza of the Gospel of Luke. Its appearance in Luke (and probably also in the LXX.) can only be explained as an interpolation. Wordsworth is inclined to regard it as authentic in Luke, and to suppose that Cainaan was excluded from the Mosaic table either to render it symmetrical, as Luke's table is rendered symmetrical by its insertion, or because of some moral offence, which, though necessitating his expulsion from a Hebrew register, would not prevent his reappearance in his proper place under the gospel.

Genesis 11:26After describing the division of the one family which sprang from the three sons of Noah, into many nations scattered over the earth and speaking different languages, the narrative returns to Shem, and traces his descendants in a direct line to Terah the father of Abraham. The first five members of this pedigree have already been given in the genealogy of the Shemites; and in that case the object was to point out the connection in which all the descendants of Eber stood to one another. They are repeated here to show the direct descent of the Terahites through Peleg from Shem, but more especially to follow the chronological thread of the family line, which could not be given in the genealogical tree without disturbing the uniformity of its plan. By the statement in Genesis 11:10, that "Shem, a hundred years old, begat Arphaxad two years after the flood," the chronological date already given of Noah's age at the birth of his sons (Genesis 5:32) and at the commencement of the flood (Genesis 7:11) are made still more definite. As the expression "after the flood" refers to the commencement of the flood (Genesis 9:28), and according to Genesis 7:11 the flood began in the second month, or near the beginning of the six hundredth year of Noah's life, though the year 600 is given in Genesis 7:6 in round numbers, it is not necessary to assume, as some do, in order to reconcile the difference between our verse and Genesis 5:32, that the number 500 in Genesis 5:32 stands as a round number for 502. On the other hand, there can be no objection to such an assumption. The different statements may be easily reconciled by placing the birth of Shem at the end of the five hundredth year of Noah's life, and the birth of Arphaxad at the end of the hundredth year of that of Shem; in which case Shem would be just 99 years old when the flood began, and would be fully 100 years old "two years after the flood," that is to say, in the second year from the commencement of the flood, when he begat Arphaxad. In this case the "two years after the flood" are not to be added to the sum-total of the chronological data, but are included in it. The table given here forms in a chronological and material respect the direct continuation of the one in Genesis 5, and differs from it only in form, viz., by giving merely the length of life of the different fathers before and after the birth of their sons, without also summing up the whole number of their years as is the case there, since this is superfluous for chronological purposes. But on comparing the chronological data of the two tables, we find this very important difference in the duration of life before and after the flood, that the patriarchs after the flood lived upon an average only half the number of years of those before it, and that with Peleg the average duration of life was again reduced by one half. Whilst Noah with his 950 years belonged entirely to the old world, and Shem, who was born before the flood, reached the age of 600, Arphaxad lived only 438 years, Salah 433, and Eber 464; and again, with Peleg the duration of life fell to 239 years, Reu also lived only 239 years, Serug 230, and Nahor not more than 148. Here, then, we see that the two catastrophes, the flood and the separation of the human race into nations, exerted a powerful influence in shortening the duration of life; the former by altering the climate of the earth, the latter by changing the habits of men. But while the length of life diminished, the children were born proportionally earlier. Shem begat his first-born in his hundredth year, Arphaxad in the thirty-fifth, Salah in the thirtieth, and so on to Terah, who had no children till his seventieth year; consequently the human race, notwithstanding the shortening of life, increased with sufficient rapidity to people the earth very soon after their dispersion. There is nothing astonishing, therefore, in the circumstance, that wherever Abraham went he found tribes, towns, and kingdoms, though only 365 years had elapsed since the flood, when we consider that eleven generations would have followed one another in that time, and that, supposing every marriage to have been blessed with eight children on an average (four male and four female), the eleventh generation would contain 12,582,912 couples, or 25,165,824 individuals. And is we reckon ten children as the average number, the eleventh generation would contain 146,484,375 pairs, or 292,968,750 individuals. In neither of these cases have we included such of the earlier generations as would be still living, although their number would be by no means inconsiderable, since nearly all the patriarchs from Shem to Terah were alive at the time of Abram's migration. In Genesis 11:26 the genealogy closes, like that in Genesis 5:32, with the names of three sons of Terah, all of whom sustained an important relation to the subsequent history, viz., Abram as the father of the chosen family, Nahor as the ancestor of Rebekah (cf. Genesis 11:29 with Genesis 22:20-23), and Haran as the father of Lot (Genesis 11:27).
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