Who was Terah in the Bible?

Terah was the father of Abram, later called Abraham. It was Terah's son, Abram, with whom God established a covenant to bless all the families of the earth. Thus, Terah is listed in Luke 3:34 as part of the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah, who is the fulfillment of that promise to bless all the families of the earth. The account of Terah's life can be found in Genesis chapter 11.

In accounting the genealogy from Noah to Abraham, we learn that Terah was a descendant of Noah's son Shem. Terah had three sons by age 70: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran birthed Terah a grandson, Lot, but unfortunately Haran died sometime later. After Haran's death, Terah decided to take his grandson, Lot, his son, Abram, and Abram's barren wife, Sarai, to go live in the land of Canaan instead of Ur in their homeland of Chaldea. For unknown reasons, they stopped and settled in a place called Haran without ever reaching Canaan. Terah died in Haran at the age of 205.

Because Terah was 70 years old when he had Abram and Abram was 75 when God called him to "go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you," we know that Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Terah in Haran about sixty years before he died (Genesis 12:1). While God did not make it clear at the outset, He was actually leading Abram to the land of Canaan where Terah had originally planned to go. Joshua 24:2–3 mentions that "long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many." So we know that at least for some time Terah was not a worshipper of the one true God. He was not the person God wanted to lead into Canaan. Abraham, however, did choose to worship God and "by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go . . . by faith he went to live in the land of promise" (Hebrews 11:8–9). Abraham's faith in God enabled him to obey the Lord and be led into the land of Canaan eventually becoming the "great nation . . . in [whom] all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2–3).

Despite Abraham's family heritage and place of birth, he still had the opportunity to respond in faith to God's call on his life. Another important concept to understand is that God's call on a person's life may differ from his/her own desires and differ from his/her children's calling. Terah wanted to go to Canaan, but it was Abraham whom God called. Similarly, King David wanted to build a temple for God, but it was his son, Solomon, whom God chose for that job (1 Kings 8:18–19). God has unique callings for each of His people. Family history or place of birth should not discourage us from responding to God's call with a faith like Abraham's.

Related Truth:

What is the biblical account of Abraham?

What is the biblical account of Isaac?

What is the biblical account of Jacob?

Who are the biblical patriarchs?

What is the basic timeline of the Old Testament?

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