Genesis 11:31-32 “One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 yearsf and died while still in Haran.”
Terah and his family (Abram, Sarai, and Lot) set out for Canaan from Ur but they never got there, leaving Nahor and Milcah behind. We don’t know why Terah left Ur… something motivated him to leave Ur. We know that his son Haran had died but that’s all the Bible tells us. What we do know is that Terah never made it to Canaan. He wanted to go…..he started in that direction. But the Bible says, in Genesis 11:31, “But when they came to Haran, they settled there.”
The Hebrew word for settled is yashab and means “to sit down.” The thing about “yashab” is it’s a perfect form verb tense. A perfect form verb describes an action that is completed, done, finished. It is also an active perfect form which implies purpose. Terah purposed to sit down there. He put his roots down in Haran, and there, according to Genesis 11:32, Terah died. Terah had a dream to make it to Canaan but the dream died with him in Haran. He never completed his journey.
We don’t know exactly how long Abraham stayed in Haran… we do know he prospered there according to Gen 12:5, acquiring wealth – livestock and servants. The rabbis believe that Abraham left his father in Haran and that Terah lived another 60 years before he died. Some believe that he stayed in Haran and left after Terah died because of Stephen’s speech in Acts 7:4. I tend to side with the rabbis on this one, believing he left his father while he was living. I don’t think the command to leave your father’s house was necessary if his dad was no longer living. My husband Steve’s dad died earlier this year and we no longer refer to the place where he lived as “his father’s house”… we now say “his mom’s house”. Either way, it doesn’t matter because the Bible says he fully obeyed God (Gen 26:5 “Abraham obeyed Me and did everything I required of him.”
The word Haran means “crossroads”… it’s a place of decisions. Terah chose to “sit down” at the crossroads and go no further… he died there. And it is here at this “crossroad” that Abraham has a decision to make…..a decision that will affect not only him but ALL of the families of the earth…. to leave his father’s house and follow God.