26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 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.
The genealogical verses aren’t the most exciting passages of scripture to me, and I usually skim past them to get to the actual stories. But this time I at least paid attention to the relationships around Abraham, and it was fascinating to gain some context for his story.
Here we meet Terah, who has three sons: Abram (later Abraham), Nahor, and Haran. Haran died earlier than the rest, but he had a son named Lot, who became a sort of stand-in for his father. Throughout the rest of the record we hear about him as if he was the third brother: Abram, Nahor, and Lot.
Haran also had a daughter before he died, named Milcah, who married Abram’s other brother, Nahor. Nahor and Milcah later had a grand-daughter named Rebekah, who would become the wife of Abram’s son Isaac. In later chapters we will also have revealed to us that Sarai was actually Abram’s half-sister, the daughter of his father Terah, but not of his mother.
I’ve never before given so much consideration to Abram’s family before. I didn’t reflect on the fact that he was a son and a brother, and that those ties affected him throughout the rest of his tale. In fact, his story begins as that family splits up. Terah, the father, leaves for Canaan with Abram and Lot, but Nahor stays behind.
At this point a place called Canaan may not sound very significant, but we’ll be hearing a lot about it later on. It is to be the home of the Israelite kingdom after they flee Egypt, and the majority of the Biblical narrative takes place there. For now, though, the family doesn’t quite make it to Canaan. They stop instead at the nearby city of Haran, which has the same name as Abram’s deceased brother, but I don’t know whether the two are connected.