Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 028. Ur and Haran

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Greater Men and Women of the Bible by James Hastings: 028. Ur and Haran

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Ur and Haran

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.- Gen_11:31.

Wade (Old Testament History, 1901, p. 75) gives the following synopsis of the history of Abraham:-

The Bible narrative relates that Terah, leaving Ur of the Chaldees for Canaan, died at Haran, and that Abraham, with his wife Sarai, proceeded thence to their original destination, in obedience to a Divine monition which was accompanied by the assurance that he would have an extensive posterity, and that his good fortune would be such that his name would become current in formulas of blessing. The subsequent history of Abraham as given in Genesis (12-50) is as follows:-

Abram, with his wife and his nephew Lot, crossing the Jordan, advanced, by way of Shechem (where Jehovah appearing to him promised the land to his seed) and Bethel, towards the south part of what was afterwards Judæa. Thence he was driven by famine into Egypt, where the beauty of his wife (who at her husband's direction had passed herself off as his sister) attracted the notice of the Pharaoh, who took her; but in consequence of divinely sent plagues, restored her. Returning to the south of Canaan, he found his substance so increased that at Bethel he was compelled to separate from his nephew, receiving there at the same time a renewal of the promise respecting the future extent of his posterity and its possession of Canaan. Lot settled in Sodom, whilst Abram himself dwelt near Kiriath-Arba (Hebron), entering into an alliance with three Amorite chieftains, Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner. Sodom and four neighbouring cities, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (Zoar), were at this time subject to an Elamite dynasty ruling in Babylonia, which had re-asserted the authority once exercised in Palestine by the native Babylonian princes. But a revolt, headed by the king of Sodom, was made against the Elamite rule; and to suppress it, the Elamite king Chedorlaomer invaded the country in company with his allies Amraphel of Shinar, Arioch of Ellasar (Larsa), and Tidal, perhaps of Gutim. The route followed was through the country E. of Jordan and the Dead Sea as far as El-paran (probably the later Elath), thence N. and W. by En-mishpat (the later Kadesh Barnea) and Hazezon Tamer (Engedi) to the vale of Siddim, near Sodom and the marge of the Dead Sea. There a battle was fought, the king of Sodom and his allies were defeated, and Sodom and Gomorrah plundered, Lot being included among the captives. Abram, on hearing of the capture of his relative, armed his trained slaves, numbering 318, and with his Amorite confederates went in chase of the enemy as they retired in the direction of Damascus, and in a night attack near Laish or Leshem (the later Dan), which was followed by a pursuit as far as Hobah (N. of Damascus), succeeded in recovering both the captives and the spoil. On his return he was blessed by Melchizedek the priest-king of Salem (Urusalim or Jerusalem), to whom he gave a tenth of the booty taken, at the same time refusing for himself a share of the spoils, and accepting it only for his Amorite companions.

Abram at this period had no son, but he was again assured in a vision that he would have a numerous posterity; and on his requesting a sign, he was told to offer a sacrifice, and after dividing the victims, to place the several portions opposite each other. Then at sunset Abram fell into a deep sleep, and in the darkness, fire and flame passed between the pieces, and Jehovah made a covenant with him, declaring that his descendants, after a period of enslavement in a foreign land, would eventually possess Canaan. Subsequently his wife gave to him her handmaid Hagar, an Egyptian, who conceived by him; but before the child's birth she was harshly treated by Sarai (whose barrenness she now despised) and fled, only returning by command of an angel, who appeared to her by a well afterwards called Beer-lahai-roi, and who foretold the child's destiny. The son whom she bore was named Ishmael. Thirteen years after this, the Divine promises were for the fifth time renewed to Abram, to whom it was declared that his wife should bear a son. The names of both his wife and himself were changed from Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, and the practice of circumcision was invested with a religious significance. Subsequently the assurance that Sarah should have a son was repeated by three celestial visitants in human form, who also intimated that Sodom and Gomorrah (where Lot still dwelt) would be destroyed for their wickedness, which was too great for Abraham's intercession to avail to save them. The cities were afterwards consumed by fire, Lot being led out of Sodom by two angels. On the way, his wife, disobeying the command not to look back, was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot took refuge in a cave near Zoar, and there unwittingly became by his two daughters the father of two sons, Moab and Ben Ammi, the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites. Abraham next journeyed again to the South, and sojourned at Gerar, where the incident which had occurred in Egypt was repeated in connection with the king of Gerar, Abimelech, with whom also Abraham had a quarrel respecting certain wells of water, which was brought to a close by a covenant between them at Beersheba. Eventually Sarah became a mother, and bore to her husband a son who was named Isaac. Ishmael, being detected mocking Isaac, was, on Sarah's appeal, expelled with his mother Hagar; and ultimately made his home in the wilderness of Paran. After this, Abraham, in obedience to a Divine command, given to prove him, prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah, three days' journey from Beersheba; but when the preparations were completed, he was forbidden to harm his son, and substituted instead a ram. In consequence of his trust in Jehovah and his readiness to sacrifice, in accordance with His injunctions, the child upon whom his hopes rested, the blessings previously assured to him were for the seventh, and last, time renewed. Sarah died subsequently to this, and was buried in the cave at Machpelah near Kiriath-Arba (Hebron) which Abraham had purchased. By another wife named Keturah Abraham became the progenitor of several sons, Midian, Medan, and others. Before his death, he sent his servant to Bethuel, the son of his brother Nahor, who still dwelt in Haran, to arrange a marriage between Isaac and Bethuel's daughter Rebekah. Abraham was one hundred and seventy-five years old when he died; and was buried with his wife at Machpelah.