Abraham’s great grandfathers went less active.
I’ve been studying Abraham, related to several questions I have, and kept coming back to the verse that says,
“My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen, utterly refused to hearken to my voice.”
I wanted to know more. Abraham descended through the patriarchal line from Adam to Noah and through Shem > Arphaxad > Cainan > Salah > Eber > Peleg > Reu > Serug > Nahor > Terah > Abram.
With such a celebrated ancestry, what went wrong?
I started perusing the family tree.
The Writing’s on The Wall
According to the Book of Jubilees, Arphaxad was born two years after the flood. Around the time he grew up and married, Noah was actively preaching the gospel and repentance to his posterity who were on the slippery slope.
When Arphaxad’s son Cainan was old enough, he learned how to read and write. One day while exploring, he discovered something like petroglyphs—writings on the wall. He translated the wall carvings into a book. He decided to not show it to Noah for fear Noah would confiscate it.
The writings contained the words of a divinely appointed group of teachers called the Watchers who initially taught the people correct, righteous principles, but then fell into sin and used their knowledge and skill of universal truths in apostate ways. These particular writings focused on how they observed the omens of the sun, moon, and stars to tell the future.
It’s not lost on me that the magi from the East discerned a star in the sky and followed it.
The Book of Jubilees doesn’t mention Cainan’s book again, but several interesting things occur. When the Tower of Babel is built, his family lives in the area. His great grandson Peleg lived during the time of the Tower of Babel and the great division.
The Book of Jubilees describes the division as dividing up the land for the inheritance of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their posterity. So the people were spreading according to inheritance lots.
Peleg’s son Reu married Ora who was the daughter of Ur. Around the time they bore a son, Seroh, the sons of Noah began to war amongst themselves, conquering lands, and selling slaves. They’d disrupted the order of man and beast.
Reu’s father-in-law, Ur built a city named after himself and his father, Ara of the Chaldees. Ur began making images to worship and sell. Reu and Ora lived close to Ur and helped develop the family business.
Given a New Name
Seroh apparently became the first to officially abandon monotheism. An interesting encounter occurred. Mastêmâ, the Book of Jubilees’ adversary to righteousness, gave Seroh a new name.
And the prince Mastêmâ exerted himself to do all this, and he sent forth other spirits, those which were put under his hand, to do all manner of wrong and sin, and all manner of transgression, to corrupt and destroy, and to shed blood upon the earth.
For this reason he called the name of Sêrôh, Serug, for every one turned to do all manner of sin and transgression.
And he grew up, and dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees, near to the father of his wife’s mother, and he worshipped idols….
Nehor’s son, Terah, continued the family business of idol crafting while working as an idolatrous priest in the city.
Abram Disrupts the Family Idol Business
Abram, named after his mother’s father, disrupted the family legacy by smashing up the crafted idols in the family’s shop and setting the place on fire.
The Book of Jubilees records that at 14 years old, Abram prayed to God.
And the child began to understand the errors of the earth that all went astray after graven images and after uncleanness, and his father taught him writing, and he was two weeks of years old, [1890 A.M.] and he separated himself from his father, that he might not worship idols with him.
And he began to pray to the Creator of all things that He might save him from the errors of the children of men, and that his portion should not fall into error after uncleanness and vileness.
Later, several interesting verses show that Abram had been taught to read the sky.
And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, [1951 A.M.] Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed.
And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out?
A beautiful, worshipful prayer follows as Abram pours out his thoughts to God and God responds.
The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price records Abraham’s ultimate victory in his quest for God.
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
Considering Abraham’s background in “reading” the sky makes the Book of Abraham’s teachings on creation, the universe, time, and space even more meaningful. All truth has a counterfeit. Abraham’s family had truth, found the counterfeit and chose to follow it instead.
That same counterfeit led Abraham back to God. He saw that idols did not impact anything. But the sun, moon, and stars impacted and were impacted. He knew there must be something more. And he found it.