Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 11:18–26

Genesis 11:18–26
When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu.  19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug.  21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor.  23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah.  25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
(NET Bible)

Preparation for Abraham and the covenant

God is not in a hurry! He works toward long-term goals, not the quick fix. His plan to remedy the ruin of humankind took millennia to unfold and is not yet complete.

How does our impatience interact with God’s patience? What are we to make of God’s decision to bring his solution by working through humankind? What does Genesis show us about God’s guiding hand on history?

Kenneth Mathews puts this passage into perspective:

The Babel account (11:1-9) is not the end of early Genesis. If it were, the story would conclude on the sad note of human failure. But as with earlier events in Genesis 1-11, God’s grace once again supersedes human sin, insuring the continued possibilities of the promissory blessings (1:28; 9:1).[1]

Gordon Wenham adds, “With this short genealogy from Shem to Abram, the Genesis narrative steps from the primeval period, whose events have cosmic significance directly affecting all mankind, into the patriarchal period.”[2] The patriarchs are, at minimum, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Terah, the father of Abram [later Abraham], waited more than twice as long to have his first son as all the others born after the flood and listed in Genesis 11. Genesis 11:26 tells us he was 70 years old when his first son was born. However, it may shed light on the fact that Abraham did not have his own first son Ishmael (by the servant Hagar) until he was 85 or 86 years old (Gen. 16:3-4).

Terah’s name may be connected to the word for “moon.” Even if it is not, Wenham says, “Several of Abram’s relations have names that suggest adherence to lunar worship (cf. Sarah, Milcah, Laban), a cult that was prominent in Ur and Harran.”[3]Ur was Abram’s birthplace about 186 miles southeast of modern Baghdad. Perhaps this moon worship explains the Lord’s words in Joshua 24:2 saying: “In the distant past your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor. They worshiped other gods.”

By God’s grace and selection, Abraham became a towering figure in Old Testament history and New Testament theology. But that is a story for another day!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[This post concludes the series on Genesis 1–11.]



[1] Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996) 487.

[2] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 253.

[3] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 252.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!