HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Genesis 10 & 11contain what has been referred to as the “Table of the Nations”. Here we have been given the descendants of Noah’s three sons, from which the various nations of the world originated. Information is also given as to the geographical regions in which they settled as a result of the confusion of tongues brought about by God at Babel.
In relationship to Babylon (Babel) we are told that:
 JAPHETHand his descendants went northward and westward; corresponding to the area of Turkey and Armenia.
 HAM and his descendants went south and west; into the region of Northern Africa.
 SHEM and his descendants travelled toward the south and east; into Canaan and the Arabian Peninsula including the Tigris-Euphrates valley. “The general area in which the descendants of Shem settled extended from Syria in the north to Arabia in the south, and eastward along the Fertile Crescent into Mesopotamia” (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas “The Distribution of The Nations”pp45-46). 

It is apparent from the scriptures that God had ordained to choose the line of Shem to fulfill His promise to Adam and Eve: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” and so we find that the author of this account has been instructed by God to detail the line of Shem through Terah and his sons Abram, Nabor and Haran. The genealogy of Shem is given in Genesis 11:10-32, and from this we are told that, beginning two years after the flood: 

at age 100 SHEM
became father to  ARPHAXAD
lived 500 years
403 “
403 “
34  EBER
430 “
209 “
32  REU
207 “
200 “
119 “
205 “
From this we can determine that Abram was born approximately 292 years after the flood.
The account continues to say that while Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans; Abram married Sarai, and Nabor married Milcah the daughter of Haran. Terah then took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and set out to travel to Canaan; but only got as far as Haran where they settled. It was in Haran that Terah died after living 205 years.

HARAN: “Haran was apparently the settlement that had been established by Terah’s son Haran, or to which at least his name had become attached. Ur was in the lower reaches of the Euphrates, Haran was perhaps six hundred miles northwest, whereas Canaan was about the same distance due west. It may be that Terah needed to go to the city of Haran to settle his son’s affairs, thus was justified in travelling to Canaan by way of Haran” (The Genesis Record p288).
“Haran, also called ‘Charran’ in Acts 7:4 (KJV), an ancient and still existing North Mesopotamian commercial city on the Belikh River, sixty miles from its entrance into the Euphrates. The city was on the busy caravan road connecting with Nineveh, Asshur and Babylon in Mesopotamia, and with Damascus, Tyre and Egyptian cities in the west and south. It was a natural stopping-off-place for Terah and Abram in their treck to Palestine. Interestingly Haran, like Ur, was a centre of the moon god cult. Haran was a flourishing city in the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C., as is known from frequent references to it in cuneiform sources. Cuneiform tablets from Nuzu, a small Assyrian town S.W. of Kirkuk, greatly illuminate the partriarchal age. Such social usages as family teraphim , death-bed blessing and employment of concubines to insure heirs are referred to in the Nuzu Letters”(Unger’s Bible Dictionary p455).
On comparing the account in Genesis 11:32; 12:4; and Acts 7:4, there appears to be a contradiction or error. Some suggestions have been made in order to solve this problem; we shall look at one taken from The Genesis Record p289: “The most likely solution of the problem is that Stephen was referring to Terah’s becoming “dead” as far as God’s will for his life was concerned. Stephen also noted that Abram received God’s call originally while he was still in Mesopotamia. Perhaps God appeared to both Terah and Abram in Ur, and they both set out to Canaan together. Terah, however, delayed long in Haran and it eventually became apparent to Abram that his father no longer intended to go to Canaan. The prosperity and comfort at Haran were too great a temptation for him. Eventually Terah even began to get involved in the Chaldean idolatries, which were part and parcel of both the trade and culture of the region <Joshua 24:2,14,15>. It was at this point that Terah was, for all practical purposes, “dead” to God’s will and plan for his life. God therefore renewed His call, but this time to Abram alone. Terah became a “castaway” , presumably still saved but no longer useful to the Lord, trying to hold on to the world and its idolatries while still believing in God and hoping to retain His blessing”.
While this may be taken as one solution to the problem, let us look at another side to this “so called problem”. Nowhere in any of these accounts does it say that Abram immediately left his father, whether in Mesopotamia or in Haran, when God called him. Maybe he did wait until he was seventy five years old before he obeyed God’s call, and maybe God was patient with him. 

ABRAHAM’S WORLD (from National Geographic – “The Story of Man” –  BIBLE TIMES)

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