Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Genesis 22:20-24 The Importance of Genealogy

Genesis 22:20-24: Now it came about after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz his first-born and Buz his brother and Kemuel the father of Aram and Chesed and Hazo and Pildash and Jidlaph and Bethuel.” And Bethuel became the father of Rebekah: these eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah and Gaham and Tahash and Maacah.

These verses are what I call a literary setup. Most readers of the Bible know that ultimately Isaac marries Rebekah. Up to this point in our study of Genesis we have seen how Isaac came to be and the role he would be playing in God’s covenant with Abraham and in the plans He had for the descendants of Abraham. But where did Rebekah come from? These verses provide an answer to that question.

We are told that Abraham’s brother Nahor had a wife and a concubine. We first heard about this Nahor back in Genesis chapter 11 and verse 26. He was named after his grandfather, an earlier Nahor (verse 22 of chapter 11). We first heard of Milcah, Nahor’s wife in verse 29 of the same chapter. Now she appears again in our current passage where we are told that she bore Nahor at least three sons, namely, Uz, Buz, and Kemuel. I particularly use the phrase “at least” because as I read chapter 22, verses 21 and 22, it appears the text is saying that Kemuel was “the father of Aram” and then the text continues “and Chesed and Hazo and Pildash and Jidlaph and Bethuel.” The grammarian in me wants to say that Kemuel begat Aram and these latter five as there is no semi-colon after Aram. However, the second part of verse 22 clearly indicates that Milcah bore Nahor eight children. This then causes most to believe that indeed these eight were made up of the first three (Uz, Buz, and Kemuel) and those listed after Aram.

The last of these eight, Bethuel had a daughter that was named Rebekah. In essence, Rebekah is Isaac’s second cousin as we would designate her today, but one generation younger than Isaac.

Finally, Nahor also had a concubine called Reumah and she bore Nahor four sons (according to the translation of their names) – Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.

Once again through the writer of Genesis we see that God places importance in people and in their names and their specific place in their genealogy. Each of us has a part to play in God’s plan throughout the ages. When I think of this, I think of the family trees of great men and women of God in the 19th and 20th centuries. Each of them with a history that leads up to the men and women God used mightily in His plan for mankind. I also think of those that may come after each one of us. Each link of our heritage in the past was important. And our descendants after us may play an incredible role in God’s economy and in the history of His Church.

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