Genesis 22:20–24

2220 After these events, it was told to Abraham, saying: “Look, Milcah has also borne sons to Nahor, your brother. 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel begot Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 His concubine Reumah gave birth to Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

The inexplicable story of the Binding of Isaac or the Boundness of Abraham has come to its conclusion. There are still many loose ends. Where is Isaac? How is Sarah? Was this the last test of Abraham? Did they leave the wood, fire, and cleaver at the scene?

As is typical in Genesis, a transition brings with it a genealogy. This tracing of Abraham’s brother, Nahor, might seem out of place as we are about to trace the generations that will continue through Isaac (vs. Sarah through Isaac). The writers could have gone back to Noah but chose to start again with Abraham’s generation and his brother Nahor (his other brother, Haran, already dead). There was a judgment that Noah was simply a technician for G*D’s decision to Flood creation. Abraham moves in the direction of a partner with G*D as he acts and interacts with YHWH. Abraham both questions the justice of G*D and blindly follows G*D into disregard for Sarah and Isaac.

This generational change does take place within a larger context. This genealogy posits a confederation of twelve Mesopotamian tribes parallel to the coming twelve tribes eventuating from Abraham. We are set up for how these two will interact keeping G*D’s choice of one people to be of one people.

This genealogy contains people we never hear anything more about. It also brings us to a crux of multiplication to become a nation. How to have Isaac both breed true and follow the tradition of Abraham’s G*D. These criteria require both physical and psychic transitions.

To move on, the writers set a stage by referring to a genealogy back in Chapter 11. There we not only heard about Abram’s brother but Nahor’s wife, Milcah. In Midrash stories, there are references to Sarai and Milcah being sisters. We then have brothers (Abram and Nahor) taking to wife, half-sisters (Sarai, and Milcah).

When women show up in patriarchal genealogies, readers need to pay attention. Now we hear that Milcah is the grandmother of Rebekah. This notice prepares us for a coming story of Abraham sending for a wife for Isaac from the other half of his family of origin.

Rebekah and Isaac may be of similar ages. However, Rebekah will come with an extra generation of experience more than Isaac, whose birth was so long delayed. This wisdom of the world will come into play as generational changes continue.

For the moment, this brief genealogical account marks the end of one storyline and prepares us for a next.

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