June 21, 2014

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe               

 

 


Lesson II.E.7: Abraham Hears from Nahor. (Gen. 22:20-24)

 

 

Gen. 22:20-24 (KJV)

 

20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying , Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;

21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,

22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.

23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.

24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

 

 

Introduction

 

Chapter 22 ends with a record of Nahor's family, who had settled at Haran. The record may have been included here, because both Isaac and Jacob obtained their wives from this family.  It shows that though Abraham saw his own family highly honored by God with privileges which included a covenant with Him, and the blessed assurance that the Promised Messiah would be a descendent of his, yet he did not look down on his relatives, but was glad to hear of the growth and prosperity of their families.

 



Commentary

 

20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying , Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;

21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,

22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.

23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.

24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

 

And it came to pass, after these things

“After these things” would refer tothose things which occurred before this, the most significant being Abraham taking his son Isaac to the land of Moriah, building an altar on one of the mountains there, and laying him on it with an intention to sacrifice him, God’s intervention, offering a ram instead of Isaac, and the return of them both to Beersheba. And what is reported next, probably occurred shortly after his return to Beersheba.

 

That it was told Abraham

Some unknown stranger or traveler, we are not told who, told this to Abraham, who had just recently returned from the land of Moriah. This person may have newly come to Beersheba from Haran where Nahor lived with his family. There are some who believe that the Lord Himself gave this information to Abraham to keep him from making a decision which would harm his family, for He was thinking of taking a wife for Isaac from the daughters at Aner, or Eshcol, or Mamre; and to prevent that from happening the following narration was given him.

 

 

Saying, behold Milcah, she hath also borne children unto thy brother Nahor

Sarah, who is supposed to be the same as Iscah, a daughter of Haran, had given Abraham his son Isaac; Milcah, another daughter of Haran, had given children to his brother Nahor, whom he had left in Ur of the Chaldees, when he departed from there, and who afterwards came and dwelt in Haran of Mesopotamia. Genesis 11:27 shows the relationship between Abraham and Nahor: “Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.”

 

“Behold, Milcah she hath also born children” would seem to indicate that Milcah had not begun to have her family at the time Abram left Ur of the Chaldees: “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. But Sarai was barren; she had no child” (Gen. 11:29-30).

 

Since Abraham and Nahor lived so far apart, news would seldom reach Abraham of those whom he had left at Haran and Ur. But besides the family interest, the information conveyed to him was probably the cause of Abraham’s determination to seek a wife for his son from among his own relatives.

 

There are several things worthy of notice in this genealogy:

  1. that the home of Nahor and his sons is not Ur, but Mesopotamia (Heb. “Aram Naharaim,”) which is confirmed in Genesis 24:10: “And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.” When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees he left Nahor behind, but afterwards Nahor came and dwelt in Haran of Mesopotamia.
  2. that Nahor had twelve sons, the same number as Ishmael (Genesis 25:13-16), Esau (Genesis 36:15-19); eight were born to his legitimate wife Milcah, and four to his concubine Reumah. And Jacob has twelve sons, eight by two lawful wives, and four by two concubines. Lastly, Ishmael has twelve sons. These coincidences are unusual, but they do not provide any grounds for the assertion that these accounts are mythical, because coincidences just as strange can be found in every history, and in daily life.
  3. that the names of the sons represent tribes, or tribal dwelling-places, in the Aramaean, or Syrian, region in northeast Palestine. The genealogy seems to represent a recollection of the traditional names of the ancient ancestors of the Hebrew immigrants.
  4. that the introduction of the genealogy at this point is probably due to the mention of Rebekah in verse 23, who is soon to become Isaac's wife.

 

 

21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,

One significant aspect of these names is that they show we are in the region of the Shemites, among whom these are ancestral names.

 

Huz his firstborn

“Huz” is the same as the Hebrew name “Uz” in Genesis 10:23: “And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.” [also see Genesis 36:28] Huz is Nahor’s firstborn, and it is from his name that we get ‘the land of Uz,’ where Job dwelt, and who seems to be a descendant of this man, according to Job 1:1: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. . .”

 

And Buz his brother

“Buz” was probably the ancestor of Elihu: “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). He was also the father of the Buzites.

 

And Kemuel the father of Aram,

“Kemuel” was not the ancestor of the Aramaic race, but the ancestor of the family of Ram, to which Elihu belonged (see Job 32:2, above), Ram being the same as Aram. If so, Buz and Kemuel must have merged into one tribe. Kemuel” was “the father of Aram,” and from him might have come the Camelites.

 

The name “Aram” indicates that he possibly lived among the Syrians, as did Jacob, and who, for the same reason, was called a Syrian: “And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous” (Deut. 26:5).

 

 

22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.

 

And Chesed

He was not the ancestor of the ancient Chasdim or Chaldees, but possibly of the small tribe of robbers with the same name who plundered Job[TL1] : “While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:17).

 

And Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.

Although some speculation has been made concerning these men and their descendents there is no basis for it in history, or in the Bible; therefore we assume that the Holy Spirit thinks that it is not necessary that we know their story.

 

 

23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.

 

It is clear that this genealogy is inserted here as a piece of contemporary history to prepare the way for the marriage of Isaac to “Rebekah,” for no notice is taken of any other of Bethuel's children but her, not even of Laban her brother. As far as we know, “Milcah” and Sarah may have been sisters, but they were at any rate sisters-in-law. The only new persons introduced into our family history are “Bethuel” and “Rebekah.” The eight children of Nahor (Abraham’s brother) by Milcah are named to distinguish them from other children of Nahor he had by another woman.

 

“And Bethuel begat Rebekah”—her name meant"a rope with a noose," not an odd name for a girl who ensnares men by her beauty. Rebekah was the child of Isaac's cousin, and being the daughter of Nahor's youngest son, was probably about the same age as her future husband. 

 

 

24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

 

Nahor had a “concubine, whose name was Reumeh”; she gave him four sons: “Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.” A concubine was an inferior kind of wife, taken according to the common practice of those times, subject to the authority of the principal wife, and whose children had no right of inheritance. A concubine was not considered disgraceful in the East. Nahor, like Ishmael, had twelve sons—eight by his wife, and four by his concubine.

 

“Maachah” was a common name for both men and women:

  • For men: “And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.” (2 Sam. 10:6)
  • For women: “And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.” (1 Kings 15:13)

 [TL1]

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