Chapter Two Appendix: The Meaning of Names; An Unusual Fact

Abraham's Family

We can get to know Abraham’s family better by learning the meaning of each one’s name.*

  • Terah- his name is of uncertain derivation but perhaps relates the concept of “Turning” and “Wandering.” If so, it was prophetic since he turned from Ur and traveled as far as Haran (the place).
  • Haran- (the person) - “Strong, enlightened” - perhaps to announce a firstborn.
  • Nahor- “piercer” - also, a family name-Terah’s father’s name.
  • Abram, Abraham - following is the note on these names from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament:
Among the OT’s proper nouns that employ the element ‘ab, the most famous is Abraham, though at his call he bore the shorter name, Abram...Literally, “Father [God] (is) lofty.” But when Yahweh established his covenant with Abram (17:1-2), he said, “Your name will be Abraham (’abraham), for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations” (v 5). Some propose that the root raham is no more than a variant of rum “to be lofty”... But in light of the known Arabic noun ruhamun, “multitude”...the change in meaning which the verse itself teaches should be upheld. It thereby shifts the application of ab from God to Abraham, who hereafter becomes “father” of the faithful, both in respect to his subjective attitude (of faith, Gal 3;7; Rom 4:16) and his objective inheritance (of righteousness, Gal 3:29, Rom 4: 11, 13). (page 6, Vol I)

A long but worthwhile explanation, is it not?

  • Milcah- “Queen”
  • Iscah- “To watch; observant”
  • Sarai, Sarah - From “Jah is prince” to “Princess-royal lady,” for “Kings of people shall be of her,”( Gen. 17:16b) a similar name change to Abraham’s.

Now let us pay special attention to the meaning of Lot:

  • Lot - “dark colored; concealed.”

Considering that his sister Milcah’s name meant “queen,” why was he not named “king”? “Sarai” proclaimed the eminence of the Lord, “Jah is prince.” Why did Lot’s name not glorify God?

Who was his mother? Was she a large woman who could conceal her pregnancy until the sixth or seventh month so that when he was born his father laughingly named him “Lot”? Was she a concubine, not equal to Haran’s wife in position? Was her skin extremely dark colored? Idle curiosity.

Lot’s name is found in only one other place in the Bible, in Isaiah 25:7, 8: “On this mountain he will destroy the shroud (lot) that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces, he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”

The word “shroud” is “lot,” meaning an envelope or covering. One could picture the dark head covering of a mourner. This is a prophecy that the mourning garb of the nations will be removed on Mt. Zion at the second coming of Christ.

Why was Lot so named? Should we consider Lot’s name as a portent that his life ought to be hidden from view because of fathering his own grandchildren while drunk? These boys became nations which worshipped gods who demanded child sacrifice, perhaps an inevitable result of their inglorious origins, and the nations became a snare to God’s people, Israel.

No, Lot’s life should not hidden from view nor mournfully covered more than any other sinner’s. Whatever his name may have meant, it was not that he should be cloaked and hidden from posterity. Far from it. We could better call him “concealed” because his story is a buried treasure in Scripture: a constellation of diamonds which must be diligently searched out and then carefully cut, as all Scripture must be “rightly divided,” or as newer versions state, “correctly handled.”

*Information from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, © 1980, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
TOP

An unusual fact of life is presented in Genesis 11:32— Terah lived to be 205. How? The best explanation is that before the great flood about ten generations earlier, the world’s structure and climate conditions enabled much longer life spans.

Creation scientists say there must have been a vapor canopy over the earth that protected people from the harmful radiation of the sun. It took 40 days and nights of rain to empty that canopy. Today, if all the water in our atmosphere were suddenly precipitated, it would only cover the ground to an average depth of two inches. [John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris: The Genesis Flood (P&R Publishing, 1961), p. 121.]

After the flood, man’s lifespan was reduced little by little. Abraham died at age 175, but a thousand years later, David wrote in Psalm 90, “The length of our days is seventy years, or 80 if we have the strength.”

But Terah lived 205 years. And imagine, he fathered Abraham at age 130! This is even more amazing than Abram fathering Isaac at age 100. It points up that the birth of Isaac was miraculous because Sarah was beyond the age of childbearing. It was her miracle, not his. This is further illustrated by Abraham’s later marriage to Keturah who bore several children when Abraham was much older. Perhaps, though, Abraham was revived physically when he was 100 and became a father. Was Isaac Abraham’s miracle too? What do you think?

Hebrews 11:11, 12 says: “Through faith also Sara [sic-RSV] herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.”


The Family Tree
After clicking on the image to view a larger version, click on your browser "back" button to return to this page.

The Family

KEY VERSE: Genesis 19:29 "So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."

Introduction

About

Chapter One

What About Lot?
Further Study

Chapter Two

A Type of Christian
Further Study

Chapter Three

Westward Ho!
Further Study

Chapter Four

Time for Worship
Further Study

Chapter Five

Severing Ties
Further Study

Chapter Six

The Rescue
Further Study

Chapter Seven

The Promise Sealed
Further Study

Chapter Eight

Nearer to God
Further Study

Chapter Nine

The Covenant
Further Study

Chapter Ten

To Whom Much Is Given
Further Study

Chapter Eleven

God Remembered Abraham
Further Study

Chapter Twelve

A Good Ending
Further Study

Afterword

He Draws the Unwilling