Roots of BitternessWorld Events

Roots of Bitterness: Abraham Was Not Randomly Selected by God

From the previous post, we know that Canaan settled in land that was allotted to Shem and his sons, with boundaries established by Noah’s entire family and an agreement sealed by an oath.

At the end of the post, I made a bold claim: “Canaan’s defiance is the root from which Middle Eastern conflicts originate.   His single act of rebellion set a series of events in motion that led directly to God’s promise to Abraham and the establishment of the Israel.”

As you will soon discover, God’s selection of Abraham was no random act.  Abraham was chosen to restore the oath sworn by Noah’s sons.

Immediately following the Tower of Babel and division of nations (Genesis 11 and Jubilees 1011), both accounts explore the lineage of Abraham.

“These are the generations of Shem…
Shem… fathered Arpachshad…
Arpachshad… fathered Shelah…
Shelah… fathered Eber…
Eber… fathered Peleg…
Peleg… fathered Reu…
Reu… fathered Serug…
Serug… fathered Nahor…
Nahor… fathered Terah…
Terah… fathered Abram…”

Genealogies are important.  This one tells the story of why Abraham (Abram) was chosen by God.

The key is found in the Book of Jubilees.

“And for Arpachshad came forth the third portion, all the land of the region of the Chaldees to the east of the Euphrates, bordering on the Red Sea, and all the waters of the desert close to the tongue of the sea which looks towards Egypt, all the land of Lebanon and Sanir and ‘Amana to the border of the Euphrates” (Jubilees 9:4).

God’s selection of Abraham was no random act.  He was restoring the land sworn by oath to ARpachshad.

That is just the beginning of the story, however.

Yes, Abraham was chosen by God to restore Arpachshad’s inheritance, but why?  Of all Arpachshad’s descendant’s, why Abraham?

The Bible offers very few details:

“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed'” (Genesis 11:31; 12:1-3 ESV).

We know what happened in the broadest sense, but why did Terah leave Ur of the Chaldeans, and why was Abraham selected to be specially blessed by God?

Jubilees 12 offers a bit more background.  At the beginning of the chapter, Abraham confronted his father, Terah, regarding idol worship, imploring him to worship the God of Heaven rather than empty idols.

“Worship the God of heaven, Who causes the rain and the dew to descend on the earth and does everything upon the earth, and has created everything by His word, and all life is from before His face” (Jubilees 12:4).

Although Terah agreed with Abraham, he was afraid his neighbors would kill him for turning away from the idols, so he asked Abraham to be quite in fear the he would be killed, as well.

Apparently, that didn’t set well with Abraham.  He was determined to eradicate idol worship.

“Abram arose by night, and burned the house of the idols, and he burned all that was in the house and no man knew it. And they arose in the night and sought to save their gods from the midst of the fire. And Haran hasted to save them, but the fire flamed over him, and he was burnt in the fire, and he died in Ur of the Chaldees before Terah his father, and they buried him in Ur of the Chaldees.  And Terah went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, he and his sons, to go into the land of Lebanon and into the land of Canaan, and he dwelt in the land of Haran, and Abram dwelt with Terah his father in Haran two weeks of years” (Jubiless 12:12-15).

With this additional background, the events surrounding Abraham’s calling become a bit more clear.

Not only was he Arpachshad’s descendant, but doesn’t it seem reasonable that Abraham was chosen because he was intent on serving the one true God, maker of Heaven and Earth, despite the cost?

As a side note, we can also see why Abraham became like a father to Haran’s son Lot.

As we will explore in the next installment of this study, Canaan’s defiance isn’t the sole cause of turmoil in the Middle East.  Abraham plays a significant role, as well.  Read more here

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