Genesis 11:31
And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
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(31) They went forth with them.—This may possibly mean that they went forth in one body; but the phrase is strange, and the Samaritan, followed by the LXX. and Vulg.,by a slight transposition of the letters reads, “And he (Terah) brought them forth.”

Haran.—The Charran of Acts 7:4, that is, Carrhae in North-west Mesopotamia, about twenty geographical miles south-east of Edessa. The name must not be confounded with that of Haran, the father of Lot, as really it is in the Heb. Kharan, and was so called in Accadian times, in which language the word means road,” being, according to Mr. Sayce, the key of the highway from the east to the west. It was both a very early and a very late outpost of Chaldean power. (Tomkins’ Studies on Times of Abraham, 55ff.)

Terah’s migration was partly perhaps a movement of a tribe of the Semites northwards (see Note on Genesis 11:28), made restless by the Elamites, who about this time overran Western Asia; but chiefly it had a religious motive: for Ur was the especial seat of the worship of the moon-god, Sin; and though Terah had not attained to the purity of Abraham’s faith, yet neither was he altogether an idolater. But why did they intend “to go into the land of Canaan?” As Abram subsequently continued this migration in simple dependance upon God’s guidance (Genesis 12:1), it was probably the Divine rather than the human purpose that is here expressed. Still, there may have been some tradition in the family, or knowledge handed down from patriarchal times, which made them look upon Canaan as their land of hope; and the expedition of Amraphel, king of Shinar, and others against the south of Palestine, recorded in Genesis 14:1-16, and confirmed by our large present knowledge of these popular movements, shows that we must not assume that, far removed from one another as were Babylonia and Canaan, therefore they were lands mutually unknown. We gather also that the Divine summons came to Abram in Ur (see «Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7; Acts 7:2), but we learn in Genesis 12:1 that his final destination was not then definitely told him.

11:27-32 Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous in both Testaments. Even the children of Eber had become worshippers of false gods. Those who are through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their birth; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature. Abram's brethren were, Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives; and Haran, the father of Lot, who died before his father. Children cannot be sure that they shall outlive their parents. Haran died in Ur, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. We here read of Abram's departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God. This chapter leaves them about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah's death. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.And Terah took Abram. - Terah takes the lead in this emigration, as the patriarch of the family. In the Samaritan Pentateuch Milkah is mentioned among the emigrants; and it is not improbable that Nahor and his family accompanied Terah, as we find them afterward at Haran, or the city of Nahor Genesis 24:10. "And they went forth with them." Terah and Abram went forth with Lot and the other companions of their journey. "To go into the land of Kenaan. It was the design of Terah himself to settle in the land of Kenaan. The boundaries of this land are given in the table of nations Genesis 10:19. The Kenaanites were therefore in possession of it when the table of nations was drawn up. It is certain, however, that there were other inhabitants, some of them Shemites probably, anterior to Kenaan, and subjected by his invading race. The prime motive to this change of abode was the call to Abram recorded in the next chapter. Moved by the call of God, Abram "obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went" Hebrews 11:8.

But Terah was influenced by other motives to put himself at the head of this movement. The death of Haran, his oldest son, loosened his attachment to the land of his birth. Besides, Abram and Sarai were no doubt especially dear to him, and he did not wish to lose their society. The inhabitants also of Ur had fallen into polytheism, or, if we may so speak, allotheism, the worship of other gods. Terah had himself been betrayed into compliance with this form of impiety. It is probable that the revelation Abram had received from heaven was the means of removing this cloud from his mind, and restoring in him the knowledge and worship of the true God. Hence, his desire to keep up his connection with Abram, who was called of God. Prayerful conversation with the true and living God, also, while it was fast waning in the land of the Kasdim, seems to have been still maintained in its ancient purity in some parts of the land of Kenaan and the adjacent countries. In the land of Uz, a Shemite, perhaps even at a later period, lived Job; and in the neighboring districts of Arabia were his several friends, all of whom acknowledged the true God. And in the land of Kenaan was Melkizedec, the king of Salem, and the priest of the Most High God. A priest implies a considerable body of true worshippers scattered over the country. Accordingly, the name of the true God was known and revered, at least in outward form, wherever Abram went, throughout the land. The report of this comparatively favorable state of things in the land of Kenaan would be an additional incentive to the newly enlightened family of Terah to accompany Abram in obedience to the divine call.

Terah set out on his journey, no doubt, as soon after the call of Abram as the preparatory arrangements could be made. Now the promise to Abram was four hundred and thirty years before the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt Exodus 12:40. Of this long period his seed was to be a stranger in a land that was not theirs for four hundred years Genesis 15:13. Hence, it follows that Isaac, his seed, was born thirty years after the call of Abram. Now Abram was one hundred years old when Isaac was born, and consequently the call was given when he was seventy years of age - about five years before he entered the land of Kenaan Genesis 12:4. This whole calculation exactly agrees with the incidental statement of Paul to the Galatians Gal 3:17 that the law was four hundred and thirty years after the covenant of promise. Terah was accordingly two hundred years old when he undertook the long journey to the land of Kenaan; for he died at two hundred and five, when Abram was seventy-five. Though proceeding by easy stages, the aged patriarch seems to have been exhausted by the length and the difficulty of the way. "They came to Haran and dwelt there." Broken down with fatigue, he halts for a season at Haran to recruit his wasted powers. Filial piety, no doubt, kept Abram watching over the last days of his venerable parents, who probably still cling to the fond hope of reaching the land of his adoption. Hence, they all abode in Haran for the remainder of the five years from the date of Abram's call to leave his native land. "And Terah died in Haran." This intimates that he would have proceeded with the others to the land of Kenaan if his life had been prolonged, and likewise that they did not leave Haran until his death.

We have already seen that Abram was seventy-five years of age at the death of Terah. It follows that he was born when Terah was one hundred and thirty years old, and consequently sixty years after Haran. This is the reason why we have placed one hundred and thirty (seventy and sixty), in the genealogical table opposite Terah, because the line of descent is not traced through Haran, who was born when he was seventy, but through Abram, who by plain inference was born when he was one hundred and thirty years old. It will be observed, also, that we have set down seventy opposite Abram as the date of his call, from which is counted the definite period of four hundred and thirty years to the exodus. And as all our texts agree in the numbers here involved, it is obvious that the same adjustment of years has in this case to be made, whatever system of chronology is adopted. Hence, Abram is placed first in the list of Terah's sons, simply on account of his personal pre-eminence as the father of the faithful and the ancestor of the promised seed; he and his brother Nahor are both much younger than Haran, are married only after his death, and one of them to his grown-up daughter Milkah; and he and his nephew Lot are meet companions in age as well as in spirit.

Hence, also, Abram lingers in Haran, waiting to take his father with him to the land of promise, if he should revive so far as to be fit for the journey. But it was not the lot of Terah to enter the land, where he would only have been a stranger. He is removed to the better country, and by his departure contributes no doubt to deepen the faith of his son Abram, of his grandson Lot, and of his daughter-in-law Sarai. This explanation of the order of events is confirmed by the statement of Stephen: "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Charran; and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell" Acts 7:2-4.

31. Sarai his daughter-in-law—the same as Iscah [Ge 11:29], granddaughter of Terah, probably by a second wife, and by early usages considered marriageable to her uncle, Abraham.

they came unto Haran—two days' journey south-southeast from Ur, on the direct road to the ford of the Euphrates at Rakka, the nearest and most convenient route to Palestine.

See Joshua 24:2 Nehemiah 9:7 1 Chronicles 1:26. Being informed by his son of the command of God,

Terah did not despise it, because it came to him by the hands of his inferior, but cheerfully obeyeth it; and therefore he is so honourably mentioned as the head and governor of the action. Terah and Abram went with Lot and Sarai, as their heads and guides.

Haran is called Charran, Acts 7:4, and by the Romans Carrae, a place in in Mesopotamia strictly so called, in the way to Canaan, and near to it, well known by Crassus’ defeat there: see Genesis 24:10 28:10 29:4.

Dwelt there; or, rested or abode, being detained there for a season; peradventure by Terah’s disease, which begun there, for Genesis 11:32 tells us of his death.

And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife,.... Many words are made use of in describing Lot and Sarai, and yet still we are left pretty much in the dark who Sarai was; for, as Aben Ezra observes, if she was the sister of Abram and daughter of Terah, the Scripture would have said, Terah took Abram his son and Sarai his daughter, and wife of Abram; and if she was the sister of Lot, it would have said, and Sarai the daughter of his son, as it does of Lot:

and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; that is, as Jarchi interprets it, Terah and Abram went forth with Lot and Sarai, or "with them" may mean with Nahor and Milcah: for Josephus (h) says, that all went into Charan of Mesopotamia, the whole family of Terah; and the Arabic historian (i) is express for it,"Terah went out from Chorasan, and with him Abram, Nahor, Lot, his children, and their wives, and he went to Charan, where he dwelt:''and it is certain, if Nahor and his wife did not set out with them, they followed them afterwards, for Haran was the city of Nahor, where his family in later times dwelt, see Genesis 14:10 what moved Terah to depart from Ur of the Chaldees seems to be the call of God to Abram, which, though after related, was previous to this; and he acquainting his father Terah with it, he listened to it, being now convinced of his idolatry and converted from it, and readily obeyed the divine will; and being the father of Abram, is represented as the head of the family, as he was, and their leader in this transaction; who encouraged their departure from the idolatrous country in which they were, and set out with them to seek another, where they might more freely and safely worship the true God. Though Josephus (j) represents it in this light, that Terah hating the country of Chaldea, because of the mourning of Haran, he and all his went out from thence:

and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there; which Josephus (k) calls Charan of Mesopotamia, and yet Stephen speaks of Abraham being in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Charan; but then Mesopotamia is to be taken both in a more general and a more limited sense; in general, it took in Mesopotamia and Chaldea, and in the eastern part of it was Ur of the Chaldees, and when Abram came from thence to Haran, he came into Mesopotamia, strictly so called. Stephen calls it Charran it is by Herodian (l) called by Ptolemy (m) Carrae, by Pliny (n) Carra, a city famous in Lucan (o) for the slaughter of Crassus, by whom it is called an Assyrian city. Benjamin of Tudela (p) speaks of it as in being in his time, and as two days journey from the entrance into the land of Shinar or Mesopotamia; and says, that in that place where was the house of Abraham, there is no building on it, but the Ishmaelites (the Mahometans) honour the place, and come thither to pray. Rauwolff, who was in this town A. D. 1575, calls it Orpha; his account of it is this (q), that it is a costly city, with a castle situated on the hill very pleasantly; that the town is very pleasant, pretty big, with fortifications well provided; and that some say it was anciently called Haran and Charras: a later traveller (r) says, who also calls it Orpha,"the air of this city is very healthful, and the country fruitful; that it is built four square, the west part standing on the side of a rocky mountain, and the east part tendeth into a spacious valley, replenished with vineyards, orchards, and gardens: the walls are very strong, furnished with great store of artillery, and contain in circuit three English miles, and, for the gallantness of its sight, it was once reckoned the metropolitical seat of Mesopotamia.''What detained Terah and his family here, when they intended to go further, is not said. Aben Ezra suggests, that the agreeableness of the place to Terah caused him to continue there; but it is very probable he was seized with a disease which obliged them to stay here, and of which he died.

(h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 5.) (i) Elmacinus, p. 31. apud Hottinger. p. 282. (j) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 5.) (k) Ibid. (l) Hist. l. 4. sect. 24. (m) Geograph. l. 5. c. 18. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 24. (o) -----------Miserando funere Crassus, Assyrias latio maculavit sanguine Carrhas. Lucan. Pharsal. l. 1. v. 105. (p) Itinerarium, p. 60. (q) Travels, par. 2. ch. 10. sect. 176. by Ray. (r) Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 14, 15.

And {n} Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto {o} Haran, and dwelt there.

(n) Though the oracle of God came to Abram, yet the honour is given to Terah, because he was the father.

(o) Which was a city of Mesopotamia.

31, 32. The Migration of Terah to Haran, and his Death. (P.)

31. they went forth with them] The words, as they stand, are meaningless. The Syriac reads “and he went forth with them.” Better as LXX, Sam. and Lat. “and he brought them forth,” which only requires the omission of one letter. Another conjectural emendation is “and they went forth with him.”

No reason for the migration is here assigned. Later tradition attributed it to religious causes. Cf. Jdt 5:6-9, “This people are descended of the Chaldeans. And they departed from the way of their parents, and worshipped the God of heaven, the God whom they knew: and they cast them out from the face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia, and sojourned there many days. And their God commanded them to depart from the place where they sojourned.”

Ur of the Chaldees] Heb. Ur Kasdim. “Ur” is the Uru of the inscriptions denoting a town and region. The town is generally believed to have been discovered in the mounds of the modern El-Muḳayyar in S. Babylonia, on the right bank of the Euphrates, more than 100 miles S. E. of Babylon. It was the principal seat of the worship of the moon-god, Sin, in S. Babylonia. Its position enhanced its importance in early times. It stood on the main route between Arabia and Syria; and the river Euphrates in those days must have flowed close to its walls. “Kasdim” = “of the Chaldees,” has been added (evidently for purposes of distinction from other similar names), here and in Genesis 11:28, Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7; Jdt 5:6. The Chaldeans, who dwelt in the south of Babylonia, became predominant in the 7th century b.c.; but their name does not appear in the inscriptions until long after the time of Abram.

’Or being the Hebrew word for “light,” the rendering “in the fire of the Chaldees” (Jerome, Quaest., ad loc., in igne Chaldaeorum) gave rise to fantastic legends, which related how Haran perished in, and how Abram was ordered by Nimrod to be cast into, the furnace.

Haran] LXX Χαῤῥάν, Gr. Κάῤῥαι, Lat. Carrhae, where Crassus fell in battle with the Parthians. The name of a town distant 550 miles N., or N.W. from Ur; and one of the principal towns in Mesopotamia, situate on the left bank of the river Belikh, 70 miles N. from its confluence with the Euphrates on its eastern bank. The name is spelt differently from the Haran of Genesis 11:26-27. It would be better to pronounce it “Ḥarran,” like the Assyrian Ḥarranu, meaning “a road.” The name implies its strategical importance as the converging point of the commercial routes from Babylon in the south, Nineveh in the east, and Damascus in the west.

Ḥarran, like Ur, was a centre of the worship of the moon-god, Sin. The two traditions, which derive Abram from Ur and from Haran, unite in connecting his home with a shrine of the moon-god, the one in Babylonia, the other in Mesopotamia.

The journey to Canaan from Ur would describe, by the ordinary caravan route, a great curve passing through Babylon N.W. to Ḥarran; thence 60 miles westward to Carchemish on the Euphrates; from Carchemish S.W. to Damascus, and from Damascus south into the land of Canaan. This curve is necessitated by the great desert which separates the river system of the Tigris and Euphrates from the hill country to the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan.

Verse 31. - And Terah took - an act of pure human volition on the part of Terah (Kalisch); under the guidance of God's ordinary providence (Keil); but more probably, as Abram was called in Ur (vide infra), prompted by a knowledge of his son's call, and a desire to participate in his son's inheritance (Lange) - Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife. The Samaritan reads, "and Milcah his daughter-in-law, the wives of Abram and Nahor his sons," with an obvious intention to account for the appearance of Nahor as a settler in Charran (Genesis 24:10); but it is better to understand the migration of Nahor and his family as having taken place subsequent to Terah's departure. And they went forth with them. I.e. Lot and Sarai with Terah and Abram (Keil); or, better, Terah and Abram with Lot and Sarai (Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary); though best is the interpretation, "and they went forth with each other" (Lange, Kalisch). For the reflexive use of the personal pronoun vide Genesis 3:7; 22:3, and cf. Gesenius, 'Gram.,'§ 124. Other readings are, "and he led them forth" (Samaritan, LXX., Vulgate, Dathius), and "and they (the unnamed members of the family) went forth with those named" (Delitzsch). From Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan. Expressive of the Divine destination, rather than of the conscious intention of the travelers (Hebrews 11:8), though Canaan was not at this time unknown to the inhabitants of the Tigris and Euphrates valley (vide Genesis 14:1-12). And they came into Haran. Charran, Καῥῤαι, Carrae, in northwest Mesopotamia, about twenty-five miles from Edessa, one of the supposed sites of Ur, and celebrated as the scene of the overthrow of Crassus by the Parthians ( B.C. 53). And dwelt there. Probably in consequence of the growing infirmity of Terah, the period of their sojourn being differently computed<[Vol 1/Genesis/174]PGBR> according as Abram is regarded as having been born in Terah's 70th or 130th year. Genesis 11:31The genealogical data in Genesis 11:27-32 prepare the way for the history of the patriarchs. The heading, "These are the generations of Terah," belongs not merely to Genesis 11:27-32, but to the whole of the following account of Abram, since it corresponds to "the generations" of Ishmael and of Isaac in Genesis 25:12 and Genesis 25:19. Of the three sons of Terah, who are mentioned again in Genesis 11:27 to complete the plan of the different Toledoth, such genealogical notices are given as are of importance to the history of Abram and his family. According to the regular plan of Genesis, the fact that Haran the youngest son of Terah begat Lot, is mentioned first of all, because the latter went with Abram to Canaan; and then the fact that he died before his father Terah, because the link which would have connected Lot with his native land was broken in consequence. "Before his father," פּני על lit., upon the face of his father, so that he saw and survived his death. Ur of the Chaldees is to be sought either in the "Ur nomine persicum castellum" of Ammian (25, 8), between Hatra and Nisibis, near Arrapachitis, or in Orhoi, Armenian Urrhai, the old name for Edessa, the modern Urfa. - Genesis 11:29. Abram and Nahor took wives from their kindred. Abram married Sarai, his half-sister (Genesis 20:12), of whom it is already related, in anticipation of what follows, that she was barren. Nahor married Milcah, the daughter of his brother Haran, who bore to him Bethuel, the father of Rebekah (Genesis 22:22-23). The reason why Iscah is mentioned is doubtful. For the rabbinical notion, that Iscah is another name for Sarai, is irreconcilable with Genesis 20:12, where Abram calls Sarai his sister, daughter of his father, though not of his mother; on the other hand, the circumstance that Sarai is introduced in Genesis 11:31 merely as the daughter-in-law of Terah, may be explained on the ground that she left Ur, not as his daughter, but as the wife of his son Abram. A better hypothesis is that of Ewald, that Iscah is mentioned because she was the wife of Lot; but this is pure conjecture. According to Genesis 11:31, Terah already prepared to leave Ur of the Chaldees with Abram and Lot, and to remove to Canaan. In the phrase "they went forth with them," the subject cannot be the unmentioned members of the family, such as Nahor and his children; though Nahor must also have gone to Haran, since it is called in Genesis 24:10 the city of Nahor. For if he accompanied them at this time, there is no perceptible reason why he should not have been mentioned along with the rest. The nominative to the verb must be Lot and Sarai, who went with Terah and Abram; so that although Terah is placed at the head, Abram must have taken an active part in the removal, or the resolution to remove. This does not, however, necessitate the conclusion, that he had already been called by God in Ur. Nor does Genesis 15:7 require any such assumption. For it is not stated there that God called Abram in Ur, but only that He brought him out. But the simple fact of removing from Ur might also be called a leading out, as a work of divine superintendence and guidance, without a special call from God. It was in Haran that Abram first received the divine call to go to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4), when he left not only his country and kindred, but also his father's house. Terah did not carry out his intention to proceed to Canaan, but remained in Haran, in his native country Mesopotamia, probably because he found there what he was going to look for in the land of Canaan. Haran, more properly Charan, חרן, is a place in north-western Mesopotamia, the ruins of which may still be seen, a full day's journey to the south of Edessa (Gr. Κάῤῥαι, Lat. Carrae), where Crassus fell when defeated by the Parthians. It was a leading settlement of the Ssabians, who had a temple there dedicated to the moon, which they traced back to Abraham. There Terah died at the age of 205, or sixty years after the departure of Abram for Canaan; for, according to Genesis 11:26, Terah was seventy years old when Abram was born, and Abram was seventy-five years old when he arrived in Canaan. When Stephen, therefore, placed the removal of Abram from Haran to Canaan after the death of his father, he merely inferred this from the fact, that the call of Abram (Genesis 12) was not mentioned till after the death of Terah had been noticed, taking the order of the narrative as the order of events; whereas, according to the plan of Genesis, the death of Terah is introduced here, because Abram never met with his father again after leaving Haran, and there was consequently nothing more to be related concerning him.

Character of the Patriarchal History

The dispersion of the descendants of the sons of Noah, who had now grown into numerous families, was necessarily followed on the one hand by the rise of a variety of nations, differing in language, manners, and customs, and more and more estranged from one another; and on the other by the expansion of the germs of idolatry, contained in the different attitudes of these nations towards God, into the polytheistic religions of heathenism, in which the glory of the immortal God was changed into an image made like to mortal man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things (Romans 1:23 cf. Wis. 13-15). If God therefore would fulfil His promise, no more to smite the earth with the curse of the destruction of every living thing because of the sin of man (Genesis 8:21-22), and yet would prevent the moral corruption which worketh death from sweeping all before it; it was necessary that by the side of these self-formed nations He should form a nation for Himself, to be the recipient and preserver of His salvation, and that in opposition to the rising kingdoms of the world He should establish a kingdom for the living, saving fellowship of man with Himself. The foundation for this was laid by God in the call and separation of Abram from his people and his country, to make him, by special guidance, the father of a nation from which the salvation of the world should come. With the choice of Abram and revelation of God to man assumed a select character, inasmuch as God manifested Himself henceforth to Abram and his posterity alone as the author of salvation and the guide to true life; whilst other nations were left to follow their own course according to the powers conferred upon them, in order that they might learn that in their way, and without fellowship with the living God, it was impossible to find peace to the soul, and the true blessedness of life (cf. Acts 17:27). But this exclusiveness contained from the very first the germ of universalism. Abram was called, that through him all the families of the earth might be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Hence the new form which the divine guidance of the human race assumed in the call of Abram was connected with the general development of the world, - in the one hand, by the fact that Abram belonged to the family of Shem, which Jehovah had blessed, and on the other, by his not being called alone, but as a married man with his wife. But whilst, regarded in this light, the continuity of the divine revelation was guaranteed, as well as the plan of human development established in the creation itself, the call of Abram introduced so far the commencement of a new period, that to carry out the designs of God their very foundations required to be renewed. Although, for example, the knowledge and worship of the true God had been preserved in the families of Shem in a purer form than among the remaining descendants of Noah, even in the house of Terah and worship of God was corrupted by idolatry (Joshua 24:2-3); and although Abram was to become the father of the nation which God was about to form, yet his wife was barren, and therefore, in the way of nature, a new family could not be expected to spring from him.

As a perfectly new beginning, therefore, the patriarchal history assumed the form of a family history, in which the grace of God prepared the ground for the coming Israel. For the nation was to grow out of the family, and in the lives of the patriarchs its character was to be determined and its development foreshadowed. The early history consists of three stages, which are indicated by the three patriarchs, peculiarly so called, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and in the sons of Jacob the unity of the chosen family was expanded into the twelve immediate fathers of the nation. In the triple number of the patriarchs, the divine election of the nation on the one hand, and the entire formation of the character and guidance of the life of Israel on the other, were to attain to their fullest typical manifestation. These two were the pivots, upon which all the divine revelations made to the patriarchs, and all the guidance they received, were made to turn. The revelations consisted almost exclusively of promises; and so far as these promises were fulfilled in the lives of the patriarchs, the fulfilments themselves were predictions and pledges of the ultimate and complete fulfilment, reserved for a distant, or for the most remote futurity. And the guidance vouchsafed had for its object the calling forth of faith in response to the promise, which should maintain itself amidst all the changes of this earthly life. "A faith, which laid hold of the word of promise, and on the strength of that word gave up the visible and present for the invisible and future, was the fundamental characteristic of the patriarchs" (Delitzsch). This faith Abram manifested and sustained by great sacrifices, by enduring patience, and by self-denying by great sacrifices, by enduring patience, and by self-denying obedience of such a kind, that he thereby became the father of believers (πατὴρ πάντων τῶν πιστευόντων, Romans 4:11). Isaac also was strong in patience and hope; and Jacob wrestled in faith amidst painful circumstances of various kinds, until he had secured the blessing of the promise. "Abraham was a man of faith that works; Isaac, of faith that endures; Jacob, of faith that wrestles" (Baumgarten). - Thus, walking in faith, the patriarchs were types of faith for all the families that should spring from them, and be blessed through them, and ancestors of a nation which God had resolved to form according to the election of His grace. For the election of God was not restricted to the separation of Abram from the family of Shem, to be the father of the nation which was destined to be the vehicle of salvation; it was also manifest in the exclusion of Ishmael, whom Abram had begotten by the will of man, through Hagar the handmaid of his wife, for the purpose of securing the promised seed, and in the new life imparted to the womb of the barren Sarai, and her consequent conception and birth of Isaac, the son of promise. And lastly, it appeared still more manifestly in the twin sons born by Rebekah to Isaac, of whom the first-born, Esau, was rejected, and the younger, Jacob, chosen to be the heir of the promise; and this choice, which was announced before their birth, was maintained in spite of Isaac's plans, or that Jacob, and not Esau, received the blessing of the promise. - All this occurred as a type for the future, that Israel might know and lay to heart the fact, that bodily descent from Abraham did not make a man a child of God, but that they alone were children of God who laid hold of the divine promise in faith, and walked in the steps of their forefather's faith (cf. Romans 9:6-13).

If we fix our eyes upon the method of the divine revelation, we find a new beginning in this respect, that as soon as Abram is called, we read of the appearing of God. It is true that from the very beginning God had manifested Himself visibly to men; but in the olden time we read nothing of appearances, because before the flood God had not withdrawn His presence from the earth. Even to Noah He revealed Himself before the flood as one who was present on the earth. But when He had established a covenant with him after the flood, and thereby had assured the continuance of the earth and of the human race, the direct manifestations ceased, for God withdrew His visible presence from the world; so that it was from heaven that the judgment fell upon the tower of Babel, and even the call to Abram in his home in Haran was issued through His word, that is to say, no doubt, through an inward monition. But as soon as Abram had gone to Canaan, in obedience to the call of God, Jehovah appeared to him there (Genesis 12:7). These appearances, which were constantly repeated from that time forward, must have taken place from heaven; for we read that Jehovah, after speaking with Abram and the other patriarchs, "went away" (Genesis 18:33), or "went up" (Genesis 17:22; Genesis 35:13); and the patriarchs saw them, sometimes while in a waking condition, in a form discernible to the bodily senses, sometimes in visions, in a state of mental ecstasy, and at other times in the form of a dream (Genesis 28:12.). On the form in which God appeared, in most instances, nothing is related. But in Genesis 18:1. it is stated that three men came to Abram, one of whom is introduced as Jehovah, whilst the other two are called angels (Genesis 19:1). Beside this, we frequently read of appearances of the "angel of Jehovah" (Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11, etc.), or of "Elohim," and the "angel of Elohim" (Genesis 21:17; Genesis 31:11, etc.), which were repeated throughout the whole of the Old Testament, and even occurred, though only in vision, in the case of the prophet Zechariah. The appearances of the angel of Jehovah (or Elohim) cannot have been essentially different from those of Jehovah (or Elohim) Himself; for Jacob describes the appearances of Jehovah at Bethel (Genesis 28:13.) as an appearance of "the angel of Elohim," and of "the God of Bethel" (Genesis 31:11, Genesis 31:13); and in his blessing on the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:15-16), "The God (Elohim) before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God (Elohim) which fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads," he places the angel of God on a perfect equality with God, not only regarding Him as the Being to whom he has been indebted for protection all his life long, but entreating from Him a blessing upon his descendants.

The question arises, therefore, whether the angel of Jehovah, or of God, was God Himself in one particular phase of His self-manifestation, or a created angel of whom God made use as the organ of His self-revelation.

(Note: In the old Jewish synagogue the Angel of Jehovah was regarded as the Shechinah, the indwelling of God in the world, i.e., the only Mediator between God and the world, who bears in the Jewish theology the name Metatron. The early Church regarded Him as the Logos, the second person of the Deity; and only a few of the fathers, such as Augustine and Jerome, thought of a created angel (vid., Hengstenberg, Christol. vol. 3, app.). This view was adopted by many Romish theologians, by the Socinians, Arminians, and others, and has been defended recently by Hoffmann, whom Delitzsch, Kurtz, and others follow. But the opinion of the early Church has been vindicated most thoroughly by Hengstenberg in his Christology.)

The former appears to us to be the only scriptural view. For the essential unity of the Angel of Jehovah with Jehovah Himself follows indisputably from the following facts. In the first place, the Angel of God identifies Himself with Jehovah and Elohim, by attributing to Himself divine attributes and performing divine works: e.g., Genesis 22:12, "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me" (i.e., hast been willing to offer him up as a burnt sacrifice to God); again (to Hagar) Genesis 16:10, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude;" Genesis 21, "I will make him a great nation,"-the very words used by Elohim in Genesis 17:20 with reference to Ishmael, and by Jehovah in Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:4-5, with regard to Isaac; also Exodus 3:6., "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry, and I am come down to deliver them" (cf. Judges 2:1). In addition to this, He performs miracles, consuming with fire the offering placed before Him by Gideon, and the sacrifice prepared by Manoah, and ascending to haven in the flame of the burnt-offering (Judges 6:21; Judges 13:19-20).

Secondly, the Angel of God was recognised as God by those to whom He appeared, on the one hand by their addressing Him as Adonai (i.e., the Lord God; Judges 6:15), declaring that they had seen God, and fearing that they should die (Genesis 16:13; Exodus 3:6; Judges 6:22-23; Judges 13:22), and on the other hand by their paying Him divine honour, offering sacrifices which He accepted, and worshipping Him (Judges 6:20; Judges 13:19-20, cf. Genesis 2:5). The force of these facts has been met by the assertion, that the ambassador perfectly represents the person of the sender; and evidence of this is adduced not only from Grecian literature, but from the Old Testament also, where the addresses of the prophets often glide imperceptibly into the words of Jehovah, whose instrument they are. But even if the address in Genesis 22:16, where the oath of the Angel of Jehovah is accompanied by the words, "saith the Lord," and the words and deeds of the Angel of God in certain other cases, might be explained in this way, a created angel sent by God could never say, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," or by the acceptance of sacrifices and adoration, encourage the presentation of divine honours to himself. How utterly irreconcilable this fact is with the opinion that the Angel of Jehovah was a created angel, is conclusively proved by Revelation 22:9, which is generally regarded as perfectly corresponding to the account of the "Angel of Jehovah" of the Old Testament. The angel of God, who shows the sacred seer the heavenly Jerusalem, and who is supposed to say, "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 22:7), and "I am Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 22:13), refuses in the most decided way the worship which John is about to present, and exclaims, "See I am thy fellow-servant: worship God."

Thirdly, the Angel of Jehovah is also identified with Jehovah by the sacred writers themselves, who call the Angel Jehovah without the least reserve (cf. Exodus 3:2 and Exodus 3:4, Judges 6:12 and Judges 6:14-16, but especially Exodus 14:19, where the Angel of Jehovah goes before the host of the Israelites, just as Jehovah is said to do in Exodus 13:21). - On the other hand, the objection is raised, that ἄγγελος κυρίου in the New Testament, which is confessedly the Greek rendering of יהוה מלאך, is always a created angel, and for that reason cannot be the uncreated Logos or Son of God, since the latter could not possibly have announced His own birth to the shepherds at Bethlehem. But this important difference has been overlooked, that according to Greek usage, ἄγγελος κυρίου denotes an (any) angel of the Lord, whereas according to the rules of the Hebrew language יהוה מלאך means the angel of the Lord; that in the New Testament the angel who appears is always described as ἄγγελος κυρίου without the article, and the definite article is only introduced in the further course of the narrative to denote the angel whose appearance has been already mentioned, whereas in the Old Testament it is always "the Angel of Jehovah" who appears, and whenever the appearance of a created angel is referred to, he is introduced first of all as "an angel" (vid., 1 Kings 19:5 and 1 Kings 19:7).

(Note: The force of this difference cannot be set aside by the objection that the New Testament writers follow the usage of the Septuagint, where יהוה מלאך is rendered ἄγγελος κυρίου. For neither in the New Testament nor in the Alex. version of the Old is ἄγγελος κυρίου used as a proper name; it is a simple appellative, as is apparent from the fact that in every instance, in which further reference is made to an angel who has appeared, he is called ὀ ἄγγελος, with or without κυρίου. All that the Septuagint rendering proves, is that the translators supposed "the angel of the Lord" to be a created angel; but it by no means follows that their supposition is correct.)

At the same time, it does not follow from this use of the expression Maleach Jehovah, that the (particular) angel of Jehovah was essentially one with God, or that Maleach Jehovah always has the same signification; for in Malachi 2:7 the priest is called Maleach Jehovah, i.e., the messenger of the Lord. Who the messenger or angel of Jehovah was, must be determined in each particular instance from the connection of the passage; and where the context furnishes no criterion, it must remain undecided. Consequently such passages as Psalm 34:7; Psalm 35:5-6, etc., where the angel of Jehovah is not more particularly described, or Numbers 20:16, where the general term angel is intentionally employed, or Acts 7:30; Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2, where the words are general and indefinite, furnish no evidence that the Angel of Jehovah, who proclaimed Himself in His appearances as one with God, was not in reality equal with God, unless we are to adopt as the rule for interpreting Scripture the inverted principle, that clear and definite statements are to be explained by those that are indefinite and obscure.

In attempting now to determine the connection between the appearance of the Angel of Jehovah (or Elohim) and the appearance of Jehovah or Elohim Himself, and to fix the precise meaning of the expression Maleach Jehovah, we cannot make use, as recent opponents of the old Church view have done, of the manifestation of God in Genesis 18 and 19, and the allusion to the great prince Michael in Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; just because neither the appearance of Jehovah in the former instance, nor that of the archangel Michael in the latter, is represented as an appearance of the Angel of Jehovah. We must confine ourselves to the passages in which "the Angel of Jehovah" is actually referred to. We will examine these, first of all, for the purpose of obtaining a clear conception of the form in which the Angel of Jehovah appeared. Genesis 16, where He is mentioned for the first time, contains no distinct statement as to His shape, but produces on the whole the impression that He appeared to Hagar in a human form, or one resembling that of man; since it was not till after His departure that she drew the inference from His words, that Jehovah had spoken with her. He came in the same form to Gideon, and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah with a staff in His hand (Judges 6:11 and Judges 6:21); also to Manoah's wife, for she took Him to be a man of God, i.e., a prophet, whose appearance was like that of the Angel of Jehovah (Judges 13:6); and lastly, to Manoah himself, who did not recognise Him at first, but discovered afterwards, from the miracle which He wrought before his eyes, and from His miraculous ascent in the flame of the altar, that He was the Angel of Jehovah (Judges 13:9-20). In other cases He revealed Himself merely by calling and speaking from heaven, without those who heard His voice perceiving any form at all; e.g., to Hagar, in Genesis 21:17., and to Abraham, Genesis 22:11. On the other hand, He appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) in a flame of fire, speaking to him from the burning bush, and to the people of Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 14:19, cf. Exodus 13:21.), without any angelic form being visible in either case. Balaam He met in a human or angelic form, with a drawn sword in His hand (Numbers 22:22-23). David saw Him by the threshing-floor of Araunah, standing between heaven and earth, with the sword drawn in His hand and stretched out over Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 21:16); and He appeared to Zechariah in a vision as a rider upon a red horse (Zechariah 1:9.). - From these varying forms of appearance it is evident that the opinion that the Angel of the Lord was a real angel, a divine manifestation, "not in the disguise of angel, but through the actual appearance of an angel," is not in harmony with all the statements of the Bible. The form of the Angel of Jehovah, which was discernible by the senses, varied according to the purpose of the appearance; and, apart from Genesis 21:17 and Genesis 22:11, we have a sufficient proof that it was not a real angelic appearance, or the appearance of a created angel, in the fact that in two instances it was not really an angel at all, but a flame of fire and a shining cloud which formed the earthly substratum of the revelation of God in the Angel of Jehovah (Exodus 3:2; Exodus 14:19), unless indeed we are to regard natural phenomena as angels, without any scriptural warrant for doing so.

(Note: The only passage that could be adduced in support of this, viz., Psalm 104:4, does not prove that God makes natural objects, winds and flaming fire, into forms in which heavenly spirits appear, or that He creates spirits out of them. Even if we render this passage, with Delitzsch, "making His messengers of winds, His servants of flaming fire," the allusion, as Delitzsch himself observes, is not to the creation of angels; nor can the meaning be, that God gives wind and fire to His angels as the material of their appearance, and as it were of their self-incorporation. For עה, constructed with two accusatives, the second of which expresses the materia ex qua, is never met with in this sense, not even in 2 Chronicles 4:18-22. For the greater part of the temple furniture summed up in this passage, of which it is stated that Solomon made them of gold, was composed of pure gold; and if some of the things were merely covered with gold, the writer might easily apply the same expression to this, because he had already given a more minute account of their construction (e.g., Genesis 3:7). But we neither regard this rendering of the psalm as in harmony with the context, nor assent to the assertion that עשׂה with a double accusative, in the sense of making into anything, is ungrammatical.)<

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