Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.
20 Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
The chapter concludes here with some genealogy that will lead us into what comes next by introducing Rebekah. From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:
And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;NAHOR’S POSTERITY.
(20) Thy brother Nahor.—Dwelling so far apart, news would seldom reach Abraham of those whom he had left at Haran. But besides the domestic interest, the knowledge thus conveyed to him was the cause “probably of Abraham’s determination to seek a wife for his son from among his own kindred. It has been noticed that Nahor has twelve sons, eight by his lawful wife, and four by his concubine. So Jacob has twelve sons, eight by two lawful wives, and four by two concubines. Lastly, Ishmael has twelve sons. These coincidences are curious, but afford no ground for the assertion that therefore these narratives are mythical. For coincidences quite as strange are to be found in every history, and in daily life.
Let’s look back to where we met Nahor before. Genesis 11:26:
When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
The Pulpit Commentaries also makes a note on Verse 20:
And it came to pass after these things (probably not long after his return to Beersheba), that it was told (by some unknown messenger or accidental traveler from Mesopotamia) Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah (vide Genesis 11:29), she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor—as Sarah has born a son to thee. From this it would almost seem as if Milcah had not begun to have her family at the time Abram left Ur of the Chaldees; but vide Genesis 11:30. The present brief table of Nahor’s descendants is introduced for the sake of showing the descent of Rebekah, who is soon to become Isaac’s wife.
This hits on the purpose of this interlude section. Now that Isaac has survived this situation with the sacrifice, and God has reiterated his promise to Abraham yet again, Abraham will be looking to find a wife for his son. He is looking among his kin. Rebekah is first mentioned in this section.
The Pulpit Commentaries continues on and gives some additional information about the line of descent from Nahor:
Huz his firstborn,—(vide Genesis 10:23, where Uz appears as a son of Aram; and Genesis 36:28, where he recurs as a descendant of Esau. That he was a progenitor of Job (Jerome) has no better foundation than Job 1:1—and Buz his brother,—mentioned along with Dedan and Tema as an Arabian tribe (Jeremiah 25:23), and may have been an ancestor of Elihu (Job 32:2)—and Kemuel the father of Aram. “Not the founder of the Arameans, but the forefather of the family of Ram, to which the Buzite Elihu belonged; Aram being written for Ram, like Arammim, in 2 Kings 8:29, for Rammim, in 2 Chronicles 22:5” (Keil).
And Chesed,—according to Jerome the father of the Chasdim or Chaldees (Genesis 11:28); but more generally regarded as the head of a younger branch or offshoot of that race (Keil, Murphy, Lange; cf. Job 1:17)—and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph (concerning whom nothing is known), and Bethnel—”man of God” (Gesenius); dwelling of God (Furst); an indication probably of his piety.
And Bethuel begat Rebekah—Ribkah; captivating, ensnaring (Furst); “a rope with a noose,” not unfit as the name of a girl who ensnares men by her beauty (Gesenius). Rebekah was the child of Isaac’s cousin, and being the daughter of Nahor’s youngest son, was probably about the same age as her future husband. These eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
And his concubine (vide on Genesis 16:3), whose name was Reumah,—raised, elevated (Gesenius); pearl or coral (Furst)—she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah—whence probably the Maachathites. That three of Terah’s descendants (Nahor, Ishmael, and Jacob) should each have twelve sons has been pronounced” a contrived symmetry, the intentional character of which cannot be mistaken” (Bohlen); but “what intention the narrator should have connected with it remains inconceivable, unless it was to state the fact as it was, or (on the supposition that some of them had more than twelve sons) to supply a round number easily retainable by the memory” (Havernick).
We get a lot of new names in this section. The commentary above mentions some of those names and their meanings. I will provide a full list below from Strong’s Dictionary.
Nahor = נָחוֹר Nâchôwr, naw-khore’; from the same as H5170; snorer; Nachor, the name of the grandfather and a brother of Abraham:—Nahor.
Milcah = מִלְכָּה Milkâh, mil-kaw’; a form of H4436; queen; Milcah, the name of a Hebrewess and of an Israelite:—Milcah.
Huz/Uz = עוּץ ʻÛwts, oots; apparently from H5779; consultation; Uts, a son of Aram, also a Seirite, and the regions settled by them.:—Uz.
Aram = אֲרָם ʼĂrâm, arawm’; from the same as H759; the highland; Aram or Syria, and its inhabitants; also the name of the son of Shem, a grandson of Nahor, and of an Israelite:—Aram, Mesopotamia, Syria, Syrians.; אַרְמוֹן ʼarmôwn, ar-mone’; from an unused root (meaning to be elevated); a citadel (from its height):—castle, palace. Compare H2038.
Chesed = כֶּשֶׂד Kesed, keh’-sed; from an unused root of uncertain meaning; Kesed, a relative of Abraham:—Chesed.
Hazo = חֲזוֹ Chăzôw, khaz-o’; from H2372; seer; Chazo, a nephew of Abraham:—Hazo.; חָזָה châzâh, khaw-zaw’; a primitive root; to gaze at; mentally to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of:—behold, look, prophesy, provide, see.
Pildash = פִּלְדָּשׁ Pildâsh, pil-dawsh’; of uncertain derivation; Pildash, a relative of Abraham:—Pildash.
Jidlaph = יִדְלָף Yidlâph, yid-lawf’; from H1811; tearful; Jidlaph, a Mesopotamian:—Jidlaph.; דָּלַף dâlaph, daw-laf’; a primitive root; to drip; by implication, to weep:—drop through, melt, pour out.
Bethuel = בְּתוּאֵל Bᵉthûwʼêl, beth-oo-ale’; apparently from the same as H1326 and H410; destroyed of God; Bethuel, the name of a nephew of Abraham, and of a place in Palestine:—Bethuel. Compare 1329.; בָּתָה bâthâh, baw-thaw’; probably an orthographical variation for H1327; desolation:—waste.; אֵל ʼêl, ale; shortened from H352; strength; as adjective, mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity):—God (god), × goodly, × great, idol, might(-y one), power, strong. Compare names in ‘-el.’
Rebekah = רִבְקָה Ribqâh, rib-kaw’; from an unused root probably meaning to clog by tying up the fetlock; fettering (by beauty); Ribkah, the wife of Isaac:—Rebekah.
Reumah = רְאוּמָה Rᵉʼûwmâh, reh-oo-maw’; feminine passive participle of H7213; raised; Reumah, a Syrian woman:—Reumah.; רָאַם râʼam, raw-am’; a primitive root; to rise:—be lifted up.
Tebah = טֶבַח Ṭebach, teh’-bakh; the same as H2874; massacre; Tebach, the name of a Mesopotamian and of an Israelite:—Tebah.
Gaham = גַּחַם Gacham, gah’-kham; from an unused root meaning to burn; flame; Gacham, a son of Nahor:—Gaham.
Thahash = תַּחַשׁ Tachash, takh’-ash; the same as H8476; Tachash, a relative of Abraham:—Thahash.; תַּחַשׁ tachash, takh’-ash; probably of foreign derivation; a (clean) animal with fur, probably a species of antelope:—badger.
Maachah = מַעֲכָה Maʻăkâh, mah-ak-aw’; or מַעֲכָת Maʻăkâth; (Joshua 13:13), from H4600; depression; Maakah (or Maakath), the name of a place in Syria, also of a Mesopotamian, of three Israelites, and of four Israelitesses and one Syrian woman:—Maachah, Maachathites. See also H1038.; מָעַךְ mâʻak, maw-ak’; a primitive root; to press, i.e. to pierce, emasculate, handle:—bruised, stuck, be pressed.
In order to keep this all straight, I have included a chart below:
That concludes Chapter 22. With our first mention of Rebekah, we seem to be heading toward the marriage of Isaac.