Genesis 11 can be divided into two main parts. Verses 1 to 9 give the account of the Tower of Babel. Verses 10 to 32 is a genealogical record of the godly son of Noah, Shem – from Shem to Abram, the son of Terah, through Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor.
Verses 27-32 is dedicated to the generations of Terah, Abram’s father. Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor (probably named after Terah’s father) and Haran in a place called the Ur of the Chaldees. Haran had a son, named Lot, and two daughters, Milcah and Iscah (Genesis 11:27, 29). Haran died in his native land, the Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28) before his father Terah (Genesis 11:38). Abram married Sarai and Nahor married Milcah his neice, the daughter of Haran. Now, Terah took his son Abram and his daughter-in-law Sarai and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and went forth from the Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan. The LORD had told Abram to leave his country (Ur of the Chaldees) and his kindred and father’s house and go to the place where God was showing him (in this case Canaan) (Genesis 12:1). However, enroute to Canaan, we learn that when Terah came to the land of Haran, he tarried (delayed) his journey and dwelt there, until his death there (Genesis 11:31-32), thereby delaying Abram in following God’s purpose for his life. We also learn from Joshua’s record, that Terah was one who served other gods in the place where he dwelt (Joshua 24:2), which is the most likely reason, for the LORD to have commanded Abram to get out of his country and leave his kindred and father’s house.
Interestingly though, while the exact etymology of the name ‘Terah’ is inconclusive, most Biblical translations of O.T. names, by scholars tend to agree that Terah means “Wanderer”, “Loiterer” or “Delay”. If we accept the latter as a translation of Terah, we can say that Terah lived up to his name – wandering about delaying the purpose of God in Abram’s life.
Points to ponder:
What is God wanting you to do? What is his purpose in your life? Are you being delayed in following the LORD’s purpose for your life? People (like Terah) and place (like Haran) can delay us in fulfilling the LORD’s purposes in our life. Be aware and beware, for sometimes the cause for delays, may be from close quarters, even our own families. Follow God, even if that means you have to leave your own, especially if they are serving other gods. Otherwise, you’d be delayed and wandering around, loitering your little time away. Who is your Terah? What is your Haran?
Genesis 11:27-32 (KJV)
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
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.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.