Genesis Segment 10 (11:10-12:8)

Originally Published 07/30/2001

(Gen 11:10) These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

Remember that Shem means an appellation or mark. It can be a mark of honor or infamy. It appears from several scripture passages that Shem was Noah’s firstborn (Gen 5:32, 6:10, I Chron 1:4, etc.). But see Genesis 10:21 where Japheth is called the elder of the three. The reason is given by Albert Barnes: ” That Shem was the second son appears from the facts that Ham was the youngest Gen_9:24, that Shem was born in the five hundred and third year of Noah Gen_11:10, and, therefore, Japheth must have been the one born when Noah was in his five hundredth year Gen_5:32.” Shem had the honor of being a patriarch in the line of the Israelites, so his name occurs first in most passages. The appellation or mark is upon Shem as the patriarch of the Shemites or Semites. Abraham was a Semite, or a descendant of Shem. The house of Shem, at least the line of Arphaxad, was marked by God for service to God. This is the beginning of the line of Christ through the Israelites. Shem is the mark of God upon the Semites and later the Israelites.

(Gen 11:11-26) And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. {12} And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: {13} And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. {14} And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: {15} And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. {16} And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: {17} And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. {18} And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: {19} And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. {20} And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: {21} And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. {22} And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: {23} And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. {24} And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: {25} And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. {26} And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

If you want to know the meanings of the names in these verses, consult a concordance. There are many available; some are free to view online. Abraham was the tenth generation from Noah.

Note the name Eber. It means “a region across” or “the opposite side.”

עבר, ‘eber, ay’-ber, (Strong’s 5674), region beyond or across; the opposite side (BDB Definition)

עברי, ‘ibriy, ib-ree’, (Strong’s 5680), Patronymic from 5677; an Eberite (that is, Hebrew) or descendant of Eber (Strong’s Definition)

Basically, the word Eber, from which we get the word Hebrew, means “one from across the river.” It is sometimes used to indicate the opposite or east side of the Jordan. But here it means across the Great River, the Euphrates. Eber resided on the north and east side of the river. A Hebrew is an Eberite, hence Eber begat the Hebrews. We know this because in the days of Eber’s sons, Peleg and Joktan, the earth was divided (Genesis 10:25). That happened at Babylon, which was on the north and east side of the Euphrates, while Terah, Abraham’s father, lived in Ur, on the west and south side of the River. Peleg was Terah’s great-great grandfather (Eber, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram).

 (Gen 11:27-28) 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.

We don’t get much information about Terah’s generations because we follow the seed line of Christ through Abram. Lot was Abram’s nephew whom we will read about later. Haran was the land where Jacob went to get his wives, Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Rebekah’s brother, Laban. All of these things are recorded in the Word as ensamples or examples for us.

 (Gen 11:29-30) 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.

It is interesting that both Sarai and Milcah mean queen. Sarai is from sar from which we get Ceasar, Czar, and Tsar. Milcah is the feminine of melek meaning king. She was the mother of Bethuel, who was the father of Rebekah, Isaac’s wife. This is why Nahor’s line is included in the Bible, because his line was to join with the line of Christ.

(Gen 11:31-32) 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.

The Chaldeans lived in Mesopotamia and eventually became known as Babylonians. They built the cosmopolitan city of Ur. Of course, Ur was considered a Biblical myth until Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed it beginning in 1922. There is no such thing as a Biblical myth. As the sciences and arts of archaeology, anthropology, historiography, and related disciplines advance, we find increasingly more proof of the veracity of the Bible.

Approximately 1600 years lapsed between the birth of Eber and the time Abram left Haran.

 (Gen 12:1-2) Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: {2} And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

God’s first promise to Abraham. Abram was to leave his father’s land because it was a land of polytheism and paganism. God made a covenant with Abram because Abram was faithful and followed God’s instruction. A covenant, or contract, is made with the agreement of two or more parties, both giving something of value in return for something of value. This is called consideration or quid pro quo (Latin for ‘something for something’). God was the only party to this covenant Who gave something of value. Abram received something of value but gave nothing. It was a covenant of grace. God was gracious enough to make this promise to Abram without expecting anything in return. This covenant is in effect today, right now as you sit and read this. It has not been broken. It has, however, been expanded as we will see in later verses.

The word translated nation is gowy which is usually translated “gentile” from the Greek (εθνος, ethnos) as well as the Hebrew. Abram’s progeny were Gentiles? Certainly the offspring of Ishmael are gentiles but the word gowy or nations or Gentiles is sometimes used in the Bible to indicate the heathen nations as opposed to the Israelites. Here it only means nations that spring from Abraham’s seed.

 (Gen 12:3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The descendants of Abraham are in view here. Peoples that bless Abraham’s descendants through the line of promise (Isaac), that is, Israelites, will be blessed in turn. An example may be Abimelech. After Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham and gave him gifts, his fertility was restored. Thus he was blessed because he blessed Abraham. Down through history, nations and peoples that blessed the Israelites were blessed in return.

We may carry this through history down to the present day. As Paul tells us in Romans the true Israelites are those who believe in Christ as Savior. That includes Gentiles (engrafted branches-Romans 11:7) that are saved as well. We call the group of saved individuals by another name as well: the church. We may extrapolate that those who bless Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) will be blessed. Bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and you will be blessed. Bless the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7), that is, Christians and you will be blessed.

 (Gen 12:4) So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Think about this. Abram left his family, friends, security, comfort and civilization to live in the wilderness of Canaan away from all this just because God asked him to. How many of us are willing to do the same? He was already well along in years. No longer did men live to be many hundreds of years old. Now, seventy-five was old. Yet, at God’s calling he left his old life at seventy five and began anew. Who says the elderly are too old to answer God’s call?

This is a type of our lives. We, as Christians, are the antitype. When we believed in Christ, we turned away from our old, familiar lifestyle and entered into a completely new and different lifestyle, leaving everything in our old lives behind.

 (Gen 12:5) And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

This was a large party. Abram was already blessed with wealth and its trappings. He set off with his wife, nephew, and servants. They took gold, silver, sheep, cattle, belongings, etc. (all of their substance) with them.

 (Gen 12:6) And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

Sichem is the same as Shechem or modern Nablus, the first capital city of the Northern Kingdom, situated in the valley between Mounts Ebal and Gerizim. The Northern Kingdom came in to being after Solomon’s death when his son, Rehoboam, refused the advice of his older advisors and increased the tax burden on the people. Israel, that is the northern ten tribes, separated from Judah, Benjamin, and part of the Levites. The Southern Kingdom of Judah remained subject to Rehoboam while the Northern Kingdom of Israel made Jeroboam king. Jeroboam reigned over Israel from Shechem, which was an important place.

The last phrase, “the Canaanite was then in the land” seems like a bit of incidental information. It appears a bit out of place here. It seems that there is no context for it. God would not have included it in His Word at precisely the right place if it were incidental or unnecessary. Every word in Scripture is in exactly the right place at the right time. So, what is it doing here?

The Hebrew word for Canaan is kena’aniy (Strong’s 3669). It means to bend the knee, hence humiliated or low or flat. Recall that Canaan was cursed and had to serve his two uncles, Shem and Japhet, and his brothers (Gen 9:25-27). So Canaan got his name from his life of subservience to his relatives. See Genesis Segment 9 for commentary on this narrative.

The word came to mean merchant and traffic. In Isa. 23:8, the word is used to mean traffickers and is associated with merchants. Hosea uses the word, Canaan, to mean a deceitful and oppressive merchant (12:7). When speaking to Lucifer (the Cherub that covereth, the King of Tyrus) in Ezekiel 28:12-19, God says that because of the multitude of his merchandise and the iniquity of his traffic, he was brought down. Remember the allusion to Lucifer; it will come in to play later. Canaan is also the name of the geographical area the family of Canaan occupied.

A Canaanite is of the offspring of the man, Canaan, or is a resident of the land of Canaan. There were many different tribes or ethnic groups residing in the land of Canaan. They are the: Rephaims, Zuzims, Emims, Horites, Amalekites, Amorites (Gen 14:5-7), Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Jebushites (Gen 15:19-21), and Anakim (Deut 2:10).

Let us look at a few of these names. The name Rephaims comes from the Hebrew word rapha (Strong’s 7495, 7496, 7497, and 7498). The word means to heal and healer (7495), a wraith or ghost (7496), and a giant (7497 & 7498). In the Bible, all three meanings are used. In the case of the Rephaims, giant is the correct usage. In fact, in Deuteronomy 2:11, they are called giants by the KJV translators, but the actual Hebrew word here is Rephaim. The RSV renders it Rephaim: (Deut. 2:11, RSV) “like the Anakim they are also known as Reph’aim, but the Moabites call them Emim“. Their other names are Zuzims, Horims, and Titans (Moffat Translation). So The Rephaims, or giants are also know as the Anakim, Emims, Zuzims (Zamzummim), Horims (Deut 2), and Titans. Where have we seen giants? Let me remind you:

 (Gen 6:4) There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. See the study entitled “Giants.”

The words merchant and traffic were used by God when He described Lucifer’s fall. It is interesting that Canaan means merchant and traffic considering that the land was occupied by Satan’s minions in the form of the inhabitants of that land. That is the reason that Joshua was told to kill all of the Canaanites and leave none alive. The inhabitants of the land (listed above) were ruled by Satan and all they did was displeasing to God. God gave them ample opportunity to repent of their sins but they did not. What God had done with Noah’s flood, the Israelites had to do with the sword. It is unfortunate that the Israelites, through the deception of the Hivites and Joshua’s integrity at keeping his word, allowed some to live (see Joshua Chapter 9).

The explanation was rather involved, but that is the reason that God put in the clause, “the Canaanite was then in the land.” They were already in the land when Abraham lived, and they continued to flourish until and after the time of Joshua, even though God told Joshua to destroy them all. They are still there today.

 (Gen 12:7) And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Because Abram had believed God and left his home and come to Canaan, the Lord reiterated His promise to give Abram and his offspring the land of Canaan. Remember the curse put on Canaan: (Gen 9:25-26) “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. {26} And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” The curse included the giving of the land of Canaan to Abram, a son of Shem. Abraham’s descendants would be tasked to destroy the Canaanites at the time of the conquest (Deut 20:17).

Note that Abram built an altar and worshipped Yehovah. He did this at every place he stopped.

 (Gen 12:8) And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

Some Bible detractors would say that the name Bethel was coined by Jacob, so how could Abram have stayed at Bethel. Moses set the book of Genesis to writing. At the time of Moses it was Bethel, but in the time of Abram, it was Luz (Gen 28:19). Thus Moses used the name that was familiar to readers in His day. That was Bethel. Abram camped between Luz and Ai and, as usual, he built an altar there to Yehovah.

Here are the first instances of Abraham building an altar to God after entering Canaan. The phrase, “he called upon the name of the Lord,” indicated that Abraham worshipped God there. It does not say so but it is likely Abram made a sacrifice there as well. Luke tells us, in Acts 2:21, that whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.   Paul echoes that in Romans 10:13. In 1 Cor 1:2, Paul makes the case that those who call on the name of the Lord are God’s people and are thus under His protection and receive His blessings. Thus Abram illustrated that He was indeed a child of God.

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