1 And the whole earth [kol HaAretz] was of one language, and of one speech [devarim achadim (common words)].

People who have grown up together all speak one way. Noah's family would speak Noah's tongue, and their families the same, and their successors the same, as population multiplied. What tongue this was, we may gather to have been the Hebrew tongue.

There does not seem any room for doubt upon this point in view of the simple fact that the names of men from the beginning, even commencing with Adam, are all Hebrew. The Creator's own name is expressed in Hebrew. The Elohim talked with Adam in Hebrew; and the language which he acquired from them was like theirs.

God's communications with Moses were in Hebrew; the nomenclature of the service of the tabernacle (that "pattern of things in the heavens") was all in Hebrew. The prophets spoke and wrote in Hebrew. Jesus, after his ascension, in his communication with Saul of Tarsus, "spake unto him in the Hebrew tongue."

The primitive language of the Adamic race is thus, without doubt, the Hebrew tongue, and the same evidence proves that this is the divine language. That the Eternal Father should have a language may startle those whose notions of divinity are of the loose and superstitious order reflected in mere popular tradition.

In the exercise of reason and in the light of the evidence, it will only appear natural and fitting that the speech of God should have structure and identity. The Father holds converse with the highest intelligences, the angels of His power, as He has done with Israel through the prophets; and is it not a matter of course that speech should be the vehicle of communion?

True, He can commune by Spirit-impulse, but is not the very idea of language rooted in this? Strong idea seeks expression, and expression is a universal phenomenon. God is the archetype of every excellence we see manifested in the universe: the Giver of every good and perfect gift; and if David, with logical power, enquires:

"He that hath formed the eye, shall he not see?"

may we not with equal force ask: "He that had endowed man with the faculty of speech, shall He not speak?" He is not a man that He should be imperfect. He is not confined within the boundaries of any gift; for He has received no gift. "Who hath given unto him?" He is not, therefore, like man, bound by laws of speech. Eternal Corporate Wisdom is not confined to any sounds or signs, in the conveyance of ideas He may wish to express.

Nevertheless, among all sounds and signs, there must be those which are best (judged by whatever standard), and it seems reasonable therefore to conclude that those in which Yahweh chooses to express Himself are the best. And He has chosen to do so in Hebrew.

Jesus has spoken in Hebrew since his glorification, whence it is no unnatural effort of logic to conclude that this is the language of that state of nature-likeness to Jesus to which men are invited in the gospel. This conclusion brings with it also the other conclusion that Hebrew will be the official language of the age to come, and finally, the language of all the earth.

It is noteworthy, in passing, that amidst all their vicissitudes and corruptions, Israel should preserve Hebrew as the language of their worship throughout the world. There is probably in this a providential preparation for the political revolution that is to ensue on Christ's reappearing-in the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy as the government of the whole world.

The Visible hand of God Ch 6.

4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, (which could therefore be seen from great distances all round and form a rallying centre of social organization) whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

The descendants of Noah were beginning to tread in the foot steps of the antediluvians. They became ambitious of making "a name" for themselves, irrespective of the name of the Lord. This, their way, was their folly, yet their posterity approved their endeavour. Idolatry was beginning to prevail, and they proceeded to build a city and a tower whose top should reach to heaven, in honour of their god. But the Lord came down and put a stop to their enterprise by confounding their language and scattering them abroad over the earth.

Elpis Israel 2.2.

The Bounds of Their Habitation

Why hath God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and determined the previously appointed times, and the bounds of their habitation?

The answer is, He created a human pair and subjected them to the law of procreation, that they might so multiply as to refill the earth.

He divided their posterity into nations by the confusion of tongues, determined the times of their self-dominion, and set limits to their territorial extension -- that, in the fulness of time, materials of A KINGDOM AND EMPIRE OF NATIONS might exist, which He would confer upon a King, and such other regal associates, as in His own good and sovereign pleasure He should think proper to appoint.

The segregation of mankind into nations, then, is not accidental, or the result of mere human policy. It is a divine appointment. Human wisdom was opposed to it in the beginning; and if socialists, peace-movement men, and such like, could carry out their schemes, they would commingle the nations into one indiscriminate "universal brotherhood," and abolish all times and bounds of habitation. The projectors of the city and tower of Babel announced in their programme that the enterprise was intended to secure to the patrons of the scheme "a name;" and to prevent them from being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

They were opposed to nationalization; they preferred a fraternal communism, and proceeded to build a temple of social fraternity for all mankind. But God and His purposes were in none of their thoughts. They were concocting schemes utterly subversive of them; therefore He interfered.

Elpis Israel 1.6.

The Royal Kingdom

The developement of this imperio-regal constitution of nations is the one grand idea of the divine writings.

 It is the subject matter of the gospel of the kingdom, and peace of God. All other divine arrangements concentre in this as the great focal truth of human redemption, and terrestrial regeneration. The needle is not more true to the pole, nor planetary attraction to the sun's centre, than are the things of the prophets and apostles to this idea of an Israelitish kingdom and empire of nations.

To lose sight of this is to remain in hopeless ignorance of the faith and hope which God has graciously set before us in His word, and to lay ourselves open to every species of delusion that the carnal mind, so fertile of evil fruits, may enunciate in opposition to the "mystery of the divine will."

Enlightened, then, by the Scriptures of truth we are enabled to reply, that the present system of the world is but the aggregate the means through which God purposes to accomplish two grand developments -- the one near, and the other a thousand years more remote.

The creation of the six days, and the peopling of the earth with nations of mortal men, is the mere preparation and collection together of the raw materials for a great, glorious, and magnificent display of wonders upon the earth. Hitherto, these materials have been shaped, or reduced from chaos into form, by the modifying influence of truth and divine judgment.

But for these agencies "an universal brotherhood" of savages, such as we behold in the vast howling wildernesses of Africa and America, would have shared the globe with the nobler beasts of the forest; unmitigated socialism after this type would have effectually superseded all ecclesiastical and civil association; or, if this extreme had given place to another, the world would have groaned under the ferocious despotism of a "brother of the sun and moon," a Nero, or of a pope Alexander VI.

Elpis Israel 1.6.

God's plan was to employ the descendants of the first Adam in populating, subduing, and developing the face of the globe generally, in preparation for the time fixed in the counsels of His own will, when He should hand it over to the constituents of the last Adam (developed during this process), as a fit and garnished dominion, to be administered by them for the glory of His Name, and the well being of its countless inhabitants.

This plan required that they should be scattered in all directions over its surface. Here, they were planning to concentrate-not to scatter..

...If they separated themselves they would lose the advantages and comforts and pleasures of society. They were comfortable while living in one community. There was a sense of power and honour in association. But there was a tendency on the part of some to separate and depart to the wilds. They therefore formed a scheme to prevent disintegration.

5 And Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

... they had begun to carry out their plan. The city and tower were commenced, and the work was going on prosperously.

We need not be surprised that the earth should have become corrupt and impatient of God's government so soon after the signal overthrow of the old world. When we look into the state of things in our new world of the western hemisphere, and compare the state of society now with what it was eighty years ago, we have a pretty fair illustration of the rapid progress with which the Old Man of the earth advances in impiety and crime.

He is the same in all the periods of his history. He does not now build cities and towers of defence against heaven, as he did a century after the Flood; not because he is at peace with heaven, but because he has got it into his crazy head that heaven has forgot all about him, and has concluded to abandon the earth to him.

He has made himself a name, and he seeks to maintain that name by towers and fortifications, being more solicitous, however, about their amplitude and thickness of oak than that their top should be in the heavens.

He does not fortify against being broken to pieces from thence, but against the filibustering propensities of his fellow-man. It is for this reason that he fortifies.

He knows no God but his own power, and that power he will defend, if need be, against heaven. His disposition is unchanged; the circumstances of his position alone are different.

Bro Thomas

The Christadelphian, May 1873

6 And Yahweh said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

What was to be done? The angelic consultation revealed apprehensions of the success of the communistic scheme...

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

Now when the Man of the Earth had built the city and the town, or rather, while they were diligently engaged in the work, and times, no doubt, were highly prosperous, and there was plenty of employment for every man, the Yahweh spirits descended to view their proceedings. He overheard their speculations and penetrated their schemes of aggrandizement, based upon the principle of union is strength. "Behold," said He, to his Elohim,

"the people is one, and they have all one lip; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do."

This is precisely the characteristic of our times. All things are supposed to be possible to our engineers, men of science, and mechanics; and if they imagine to do anything, and they judge that money can be made at it, nothing can restrain them from attempting it, whether in carrying it into effect it might overturn the purposes of God or not.

Their principle is: "Let God look after His own affairs, and we will attend to ours." They undertake to do what they please with the earth, as though it belonged to them, and had been created as an arena for them to display their genius upon in building cities, towers, iron roads, telegraphs, tunnels, self-moving ships and chariots; in short, a place to make them a name co-extensive with all the earth.

Such was the policy of the United People a century after the Flood; such has been their policy in all past ages, and such it is to this day—to exalt their own name above everything that is named upon earth.

When they began to do this, their efforts were laid in the foundations of a city and tower, which became the capital and citadel of the post-diluvian apostasy of the earth.

Bro Thomas, The Christadelphian, May 1873

Our afflicted state of life

What is the cause?

This, that God has hidden His face from the human race and left them to shift for themselves instead of leading them by the hand and shining upon them in all the ways of His favour.

When God shows His face again (as He has promised He will); when He takes mankind in charge and bestows upon them laws and institutions adapted to develop and bless them (as He has covenanted to do); when the proclamation becomes a fact that John heard in the isle of Patmos:

"Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God,"

death and all the other evils that now prevail upon the earth will soon fly away. Evil came because God withdrew: when God returns, evil will flee.

Seasons 2.17.

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

8 So Yahweh scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

No work of cooperation can be carried on without a constant mutual understanding; and the workmen ceasing to be intelligible to one another, "left off to build the city." The few who did understand one another were unequal to the carrying on of the work.

For a time confusion would prevail, but by degrees, those who spoke the same tongue would get together, and after a vain attempt to battle with the extraordinary impediments suddenly placed in their midst, they took themselves off in various directions.

Here was a great and needed intervention of the visible hand of God. It is a rule of the Divine Government that there is no peace to the wicked. Mankind, in a state of sin, are not permitted to realise the blessedness that comes from unity and peace. They were by this event broken up into sections and parties, that soon became hostile.

Difference of speech compelled difference of land habitation, and the two circumstances together created rival interests which destroyed sympathy and bred strife and war. Thus the circumstance that impelled the human race into the path of exploration and emigration, and laid the foundation of the future habitable world, also established a condition of things that furnished a source and means of that retributive evil which is the providential dispensation to our age of sin.

Visible Hand of God Ch 6

9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because Yahweh did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did Yahweh scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

It was of course what is considered a great miracle-a definition to which there can be no objection when a miracle is understood to be a work of power beyond human achievement...the elohistic teachers of language, while imparting a new language, obliterated the memory of the original tongue so that the subjects of their operations not only learnt a new language, but forgot the old.

This is beyond the power of any human teacher.

The Visible Hand of God Ch 6

...the thing which the Cushite descendants of Ham so much dreaded was the very thing brought upon them as a punishment of their impiety.

"Go to, let us go down,"

said the Yahweh-Spirit to attendant Elohim,

"and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

This would most effectually divide them and embarrass all their operations.

What an extraordinary panic it would create in the great commercial and manufacturing countries of our world, if oblivion of all existing languages were to come over them, and in lieu thereof, they could only utter unintelligible sounds!

All government would be paralyzed, and confusion only would prevail. Such a state of things in a city or country would offer a favourable opportunity for conquest. Divide and conquer.

Yahweh divided the united people by confounding their speech, and then sent in a conqueror among them, to break them in pieces as a potter's vessel; and scatter the fragments over all the earth.

Bro Thomas

The Christadelphian, May 1873

11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad 500 years, and begat sons and daughters.

Following the Deluge, Shem leads off the genealogy that terminates in the Messiah. Nothing is said of Shem that suggests anything with regard to his character except the words of Noah, "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem." This is language that is only employed in the Scriptures of the called and faithful of the land; or of what may be called places of God-manifestation...

Shem means name, or renown—this being the word used where "men of renown" are spoken of, the "renowned of the congregation," a nation's renown, or the Lord's renown; or where it is said that God would get himself a name. The word is also employed to express the "fame of Solomon," Joshua, Mordecai, &c.

"As the progenitor of the Semitic nations," as one says, "he occupied" in that alone, "a distinguished position in the history of the world." He is referred to as "the father of all the children of Eber." - Gen 10: 21

If Shem was identical with Melchizedeck as some suppose, and as Dr. Thomas (who believed he was alive) concluded, the name in the case is all explained; for saith the apostle,

"now consider how great this man was."

The name Melchizedeck, of course, is only expressive of his office, it does not therefore reveal to us his personal name, and so leaves room for the suggestion that it was Shem. The fact that Shem was on the scene for a century or more after Abraham's interview with Melchizedeck, provides every way for the possibility of their identity (without, however, establishing anything beyond what is suggested by the coincidences referred to).

The Christadelphian, March 1889

28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

HIGH in the mountains of Armenia, not far from the snow-clad slopes of Ararat, a river began its odyssey. From the foundation of the world, it had been one of the four heads into which the ancient river of God had been parted, and more than once it would find prominence in the purpose of God's dealing with His people.

Fed by the snows of these heights, the great Euphrates flowed dark and strong through wild mountains, and across tablelands, determined on emptying itself into the Mediterranean. Defeated in its aim however, by the noble risings of other mountain ramparts, the river at last turned eastwards and inland, and began its stately traverse across the hills and valleys of Mesopotamia.

As it travelled, it was swollen in size by the mighty confluence of other rushing streams that poured their waters into its channel, yielding to its primacy. Only the Tigris, flowing further east, would match this Euphratean tide, as together they watered the 'land of the two rivers'. 1

In Ur of the Chaldees

Although the river meandered in places, its general direction was purposeful and unchanging. It swept south-east across the plain, sinking by successive stages through alluvial fiats and across clay pans until at last, depleted by the draw of irrigation and the drain of marsh, it ended with its final embouchure into the Persian Gulf. Along its length great cities arose, and these were nourished by its blessings. Mari, Babylon, Borsippa, Erech, Larsa, Ur, all these were watered by the mighty stream.

But Ur was the last before the sea was reached, and this proximity was the key to its importance and power. The city boasted two harbours, with the river encircling the town. Ships from the Persian Gulf brought their wares upriver to Ur. Diorite and alabaster, gold and copper, ivory and hardwoods, the exotic and the rare all found their way into the trading houses of Ur, and from (hence northward with the merchants who energetically plied their trade and their craft upon the waters of the river, and thereby to the river towns.

The treasures of Egypt, of Ethiopia and of India were all moved across the plain by such river vessels, and much of it began its journey in Ur.

The city of Ur was organised as a state. Under the guidance of its laws, commerce and industry were regulated. Town planning organised the layout of streets and paths, plumbing and drainage, and architectural laws governed building and construction.

There was a state religion administered by an official priesthood, which presided over the worship of the moon-god Nanna, in the ziggurat temple of Ur. Education was promoted and politics flourished. Writing and the arts, mathematics and the sciences were all notable features of society, for the inhabitants of Ur enjoyed a standard of living and culture that was refined and prosperous.

1 The meaning of the word 'Mesopotamia'

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 1

29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.

30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

In Abram, however, there would be seen another example of a younger son who showed greater faithfulness, and who rose to greater spiritual heights than the firstborn. 8 Yet his spiritual success would not be his alone, but would be shared by his heart's companion. For no sooner does he appear in the narrative, than his wife appears alongside him. They would be inseparably bound in the record from this moment forth.

The unfolding story would chronicle their triumphs and their tragedies, as hand in hand they walked together before God. The Spirit would reveal their motives, and the providential hand of the Father upon them.

They would eventually come to understand by experience the meaning of His work in their lives. By the time, however, this realization had borne its precious fruit, they would know both exaltation of spirit and depth of despair. Through such means, Ail Shaddai would mould their characters for His glory, as they eventually learned to have faith in Him.

For the development of this spirit of faith did not come at once, it happened gradually; it grew in stages. It developed through experience, and was formed through trial. And the trial that came upon them was not just the burden and care of daily difficulties, but the pressing anxiety of a personal sorrow that overshadowed their relationship.

Every marriage has its maturing trial, and this couple was no exception. The particular grief of Abram and Sarai was that their marriage was childless. Their union as husband and wife had begun with all the joyous expectation and excited hope that is shared by every newly-wed couple. Within the sanctity of their marriage bond they rejoiced in the prospect of offspring, and in the blessing of their firstborn son.

For the birth of this child, fondly awaited, would be at once the seal of their early fruitfulness, and the earnest of a richer harvest to come.

When, at first, no child was conceived, they accepted this as part ofthe uncertainty that shrouded the mystery of childbearing. But as days and months, and cycles and seasons passed, cheerful patience gave way to unease, and unease brought forth the cruel pain of fear. It was a trial that would haunt them for years, for decades, until the last vestige of human hope had been wrung out of them.

And the tragedy of this barrenness was made the more sorrowful by repeated assurances, which avowed the ownership of the land to their seed.

Every chapter in their life would vibrate with the story of the seed, and the pain of a marriage unable to produce that seed. 9 ...

Yet this childless couple, dwelling in Ur of the Chaldees, were to be the very foundation of a new family, through whom God's purpose would now be advanced. Of course, a miracle would be needed to accomplish this, the miracle of divine interposition in their lives. Only the Father's hand would be mighty enough to bring forth fruit out of barrenness, and such fruit as would 'fill the face of the world'.

8 The theme of a younger brother who was more faithful than the firstborn is a pervasive story in the Old Testament record. Consider Cain / Seth, Japheth / Shem, Haran / Abram, Ishmael / Isaac, Esau / Jacob, Reuben / Joseph, Manasseh / Ephraim etc.

9 Genesis 11:30; 15:2; 16:1,2; 17:17; 18:12,13.

*Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 1

When Paul through the Spirit composed the compendium of the faithful, his list included both Abraham and Sarah. They are the only couple to be named in this honour roll of faithful ones, inseparable as always, and especially so in the matter of faith at work in their lives.

As with all the examples he adduced, Paul gave an example of faith from both of them, and in each case a faith that revolved around Isaac their son. Yet the illustrations he provided could not have been more dramatically different.

Of Sarah he would record her amazing faith in conceiving and bringing forth their son despite her natural weakness and insufficiency. Of Abraham he would recall his astonishing faith in offering their son against his natural instincts and understanding. The one matter pertained to life, the other to death. Yet both had a common origin.

Faith, even in an invisible God, is not blind, especially when His influence has already been seen and felt in our lives. He had been at work in theirs, and so their faith was real, even at the point when it would be tested to the uttermost. Faith in God provides the motive power to overcome any circumstance in our lives, and especially those that pertain to our natural inclinations.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 9

31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

At the moment then of His sovereign choice, the Lord intervened in their lives, and to them came the call that would forever change their lives. It was a moment to be recounted and celebrated throughout the subsequent history of Israel. 10 for the call of God had come to this particular man, and despite his idolatrous background, he had responded in faith, and experienced the guiding hand of God upon his travels.

But it was the very spirit of Abram to reach out and include others, 11 and before long he had gathered his family into the promise as well. Terah his father responded, and as patriarchal head of the household, led the family forth 12 on this first stage of the journey of faith. 13

Yet not all the family would respond. Then, as now, the call of the truth parted households asunder. Abram's brother Nahor remained behind in Ur, at least for the present, and Sarah therefore likewise was deprived of the company of her sister. 14

In the subsequent story of their pilgrimage of faith, these two brothers and these two sisters would never meet again, although the generation of their children which followed, would, in the providence of God, be brought together in a strange and wondrous way.

Although their final destination was the land of Canaan, lying almost due west of Ur, Abram and Sarai did not yet know this. l5 This first call bade them to separate from the past, but did not reveal the location of the future. In its very imprecision it demanded the finest of responses, a faith that impelled forward despite continuing uncertainties.

In any event a journey in the direction of Canaan was impossible. Westwards of Ur there stood an endless barricade of arid desert steppes that forbad access to soldier, to merchant and to traveller alike. Terah's eye turned northward upon the highway that marched in sympathy with the channel of the Euphrates, and decided to travel in this direction.

10 Genesis 15:7; Joshua 24:2,3; Nehemiah 9:7,8; Acts 7:2,3; Hebrews 11:8.

11 Genesis 12:5; 14:13; 21:32.

12 This is the most satisfactory explanation to reconcile the statement of Terah's initiative in Genesis 11:31, with the scriptural account of Abraham receiving God's call (cp. Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7,8; Acts 7:2,3 etc.). There are other explanations, but they fall short in various ways .

13 The very description of the beginning of their pilgrimage in Genesis 11:31 indicates that Haran was only a preliminary station, the first stage of a journey that would ultimately lead to the land of Canaan.

14 There is certainly no mention of Nahor, Abraham's brother, identified in Genesis 11:27,29 as travelling with them in the account of verse 31. The silence of the record may be taken as inferring that Nahor remained in Ur after Abraham had left. He evidently migrated to Haran later however, as his family is seen to be resident in that city (24:10; 27:43).

15 The command of Genesis 12:1, which came to Abraham in Haran (as well as in Ur: Acts 7:2,3) implied a destination as yet not fully known. Hebrews 11:8 supports this notion, and the comment of Genesis 11:31, written in retrospect, does not negate this. Part of the magnificence of Abraham's faith lay in his unhesitating obedience to begin an uncertain future in journeying to an unknown land.

31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

The riband of the river

Thus it was that Abram and Sarai found themselves, together with the rest of Terah's entourage, following the coursings of the river as it swung north-westward, guiding them around the vast curve of the Fertile Crescent itself. Both of them would be tested in their faith in different ways, as the journey unfolded.

Abram, striding ahead with the men, had his mind fixed on matters of route and terrain, of distance and time. He grappled with problems of pasturage! 16 and water, with organizing encampment and security.

Sarai, travelling with the women, found her mind filled with questions of quantity and measure, of order and portion. She sought to solve problems of duties and provisions, with arranging equipment and storage.

Both would need to put their trust in the God of glory who had called them. This new nomadic life, foraging along the riverbanks, would be a vastly different one from the settled luxury of Ur. The divine interposition in their lives demanded dramatic change from the very outset, and it is a mark of their faith that they responded.

Much of the Euphrates is navigable, and at times when the terrain grew difficult or tortuous, the family travelled by river. With their broad sails unfurled, the narrow river craft skimmed the water's surface, hastening the family onwards.

As the journey progressed, they passed by the mighty cities that were the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom including famed Babel itself, already a legend of notoriety. For it was here that God had shown His displeasure at the vaunting ambition of man and his desire for pre-eminence.

Still visible was the tower of pride, which jutted forlornly skywards, its monumental architecture firmly rooted in the plain, but with its topmost edifice pathetically short of the heavens it aspired to reach unto. Here was the symbol of a rival system of religion. Here, evident in Babel's ziggurat, was dreadful testimony to man's worship of himself.

Even at this time, the priests of Nimrod sought to bind men's hearts and minds to another way. The people of the plain, among whom Abram and Sarai now journeyed, were steeped in this false worship, a worship that allured through mystery and intrigue. Abram looked, but passed by. His calling was to the true worship of God, and his separation as a pilgrim set him apart from this system of man's own devising. 17

Even now the spirit of faith in this man and woman of Ur would never allow them to remain in this plain of wickedness. Both the cities of Shinar and the towns of Asshur would be left behind, as the household moved beyond the land of Nimrod where only darkness shone.

The river moved decisively to the west, and after several weeks of travel the great city of Mari was reached. Here was the largest castle in the ancient world. Mari was a prosperous centre of commerce, a peaceful place of comfortable and ordered life, with regulations and customs to ensure that culture and religion were preserved.

It was another Ur, and perhaps for this very reason the sojourners did not stay. The stream continued, and so did they. For another two hundred miles they traced its course, the shining riband of the river their daily guide as they learned the meaning of pilgrim life, perpetual strangers on an endless journey.

16 It is likely that Abram, even though a city dweller, would have taken some animals, if only for food.

17 There is a dramatic contrast in the following two passages which tells the story of this moment:

 "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went ... for he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Bro Roger Lewis Abraham and Sarah Ch 1

32 And the days of Terah were 205 years: and Terah died in Haran.

At rest in Haran

Yet soon there was to come a pause, for even now they had reached the juncture with the River Balikh, a rributary of the Euphrates whose waters fell from the mountains of Armenia. Just a few days north, according to their sources, lay a flourishing city in a place where important caravan trails met, a meeting place where news could be obtained of travellers from other parts.

The city was in the centre of the fertile land of Padan Aram, and was a good site for their journey to be broken for a season. Whatever travel might yet lie ahead, they would for the present stop here, in Haran. The first great stage of their journey was over. 18

Terah was glad of the opportunity to settle for at least a little while. Countless weeks of marching lay between them and the land of their nativity, and he had felt the creak of old bones on this long passage. It would be good to rest, to enjoy a time of established existence again, to savour stillness and quiet ... He did not yet know it, but his journey was over.

He would never leave this place, and others of his family who reached this point would likewise travel no further. Of those who did, there would be none who would travel the road as far as Abram and Sarai.

The unfolding of this story would reveal a man and a woman who were remarkably different from their relatives. From the very beginning, faith at work in their lives separated them to a different mode of thinking and action. 19 Yet faith at least had brought them all thus far. And years later, when Abram was searching for a suitable bride for his only begotten son, he would find her here, in this very place, among those of his family who still resided in Haran, the city of Nahor. 20

18 Genesis 11:31,32 (cp. Jerusalem Bible, NASB).

"Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran" - Genesis 11: 31,32. [NASB]

19 Abraham had one brother (Haran) who died in Ur, symbolic of no response to the truth. His other brother (Nahor) responded, but only after delay, and would not leave Haran, symbolic of an initial response, but no fruit of real repentance in baptism. Sarah had a sister (Milcah) who likewise made only a half-hearted endeavour, and a brother (Lot) who made a commitment to the truth, but who, when left to his own resources fell into worldly company.

20 Genesis 24:4; 27:43; 29:4.