Friday, September 24, 2010

Abraham's Nephews and Niece

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham's nine sons were Joktan, Ishmael, Isaac, Zimran, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, Shuah and (according to the Septuagint) Eliezar. One of Job's friends - Zophar - was a descendant of Shuah, and most of the Arabian tribes are descendants of Abraham's sons Joktan and Ishmael.

The Genesis genealogical data indicates that Abraham also had 12 nephews and at least 1 niece. Their names were Lot, Huz, Buz, Kamuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel (Gen. 22:20-22). Nahor also had 4 sons by his concubine, Reumah.  Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Thahash and Maacah. This means that Nahor had 11 sons and at least 1 daughter.  Genesis 36:24 lists Anah as a ‘son’ of Zibeon and her daughter Oholibamah is listed as an Edomite chief in verse 41. "These were the names of the chiefs of Esau, in their tribes and places, in their countries and nations: Chief Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Oholibamah, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Zaphoim." The term ‘son’ in reference to these two women means person through whom descendents are traced.  The listing of Nahor's daughter Maacah as a chief or "son" is consistent with this pattern.

Some groups in Genesis are 3-clan confederations (such as Isaac's 3 sons) and others are 12-tribe confederations. Nahor, Abraham's older brother, was the progenitor of twelve Aramean tribes through his  11 sons and 1 daughter. Eight were children of Milcah and four were children of Reumah (Gen. 22.20-24).

Since the lines of Nahor and Abraham intermarried, it serves us well to learn all that we can about Abraham's nephews.

Lot was the only son of Abraham's half-brother Haran.  They had the same father but different mothers.  Haran was named by his mother after her father.  This means that Haran's mother was Terah's cousin or niece bride.  Haran and Nahor were Terah's first-born sons by 2 wives.  When Haran died, Lot went to live with his Aunt Sarah.

Lot's maternal grandfather was Haran the Elder, a contemporary of Terah's father, Nahor. The kinship pattern here is exactly like that found in Genesis 4 and 5, with chiefs marrying two wives and cousin brides naming their first-born sons after their fathers.

Lot's father was somewhat younger than Nahor. This is discernable because cousin wives were second wives, taken shortly before the heir ascended to his father's throne. This suggests that Nahor married Milcah near to the time of Terah's death in Haran (just as Isaac married Rebecca, his patrilineal cousin, near the time of Abraham's death.)

Huz and Buz
Huz and Buz were Nahor's sons by Milcah (Gen. 22:20). Where we find two phonetically similar names such as these, we are to look for the hidden third. The third is Uz (Job's homeland). Uz, Huz and Buz represent 3-clan confederation based on kinship. Uz the Elder is mentioned in Genesis 10:23. His grandson was Uz, the son of Dishan (I Chron. 1:42). Dishan was a son of Seir the Horite and the brother-in-law of Esau the Younger. Uz the Younger was Seir's grandson. (See diagram here.)

I Chronicles 5:14 mentions that the son of Buz was Jahdo and Jahdo's son was Yeshishai, the Aramaic form of Yeshua/Jesus. This connects the name of Jesus with the devotees of Horus who we know as Horites. Buz is grouped with the peoples of Dedan and Tema in Jeremiah 25:23. This explains why this Horite confederation is identified as Dedan, Tema and Buz. (The oldest Arabic script emanated from the North Arabian oases of Tema and Dedan in the Hijaz.)

Kamuel was the father of Aram the Younger. Aram the Elder was one of Shem's sons (Gen. 10:22) and he had a son named Uz. The name Kemuel  is found in Numbers 34:24  where a descendent of Kemuel is named as a leader for the Ephraimites.  I Chronicles 27:17 tells us that the Ephraimite Kemuel had a son named Hashabiah who was a Levite chief. In I Chronicles 26:30, this same Hashabiah is called a "Hebronite" and is put "in charge of Israel west of Jordan in everything pertaining to Yahweh and to the service of the king."

Hebron was the land of four peoples in Abraham's time. It was called Kiriath Arba, from the Akkadian kiprat arba - four regions/four peoples. Hebron was where Sarah resided and her settlement marked the northern boundary of Abraham's territory in Edom.

Chesed, Pildash and Jidlaph and Gaham
The Bible doesn't provide sufficient genealogical information to trace them. However, their names tell us that they are ethnically Kushites and probably intermarried as was the custom of the Horites.

Chesed is Hesed in Hebrew and Kashed in the Proto-Kushite. This explains why the Hebrew word for Chaldeans is Kashedim. The Chaldeans of Ur were kin to Nahor’s Kushite people.

The name Pildash is related to the word pelada, meaning iron. This word is found only once in the Hebrew Scriptures, in Nahum 2:3, “the chariots are enveloped in flashing iron.” One of Nahor’s sons is connected to metalwork in the early Iron Age.

The name Jidlaph is related to the names Jedidiah and Jeduthun, JD is the root of the names. Jedidiah was the name that the prophet-priest Nathan gave to Solomon. Jeduthun was the choirmaster named in Psalm 77. These names are related to names with the JE root: Jeiel and Jecoliah. Jediel was a scribe who helped to organize Uzziah’s army (II Chron. 26:11). Jecoliah of Jerusalem was the mother of King Uzziah (II Chron. 26:4).

The name Gaham reflects the Hamitic heritage of Abraham’s people. The name Gaham does not occur in Hebrew because it an Egyptian name. Ga-Ham means of the family father Ham. The G is a patronymic prefix. A patronym is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an earlier male ancestor.


Hazo refers to the “kingdoms of Hazor” mentioned in Jeremiah 49:28 and called “Hezron” in Joshua 15:25. These people were kin and allies of the people of Beersheba (Joshua 15:28).


Bethuel was the father of Laban and Rebecca, Isaac's cousin wife. He presents one of the thorniest questions in Genesis: Why didn't Rebecca name her first-born son after her father? The answer has to do with Laban. He was designated to rule over Bethuel's territory, so Rebecca's first-born son was not in line to rule in Padan-Aram. Nor would Rachel and Leah's first-born sons rule there.


The name Tebah is related to the verb to sacrifice and to the noun that denotes the lamb, ram, calf or bull that is to be slaughtered. The verb used for the sacrificial Messianic offering in Isaiah 53:7, and the release of all nations in Isaiah 34:2. A descendant of Tebah served as a Temple gatekeeper according to I Chronicles 26:11.


Priest of Ancient Egypt 

This son of Nahor was likely a tanner of animal skins, a ta-hash. Exodus 25:5 speaks of "five rams' skins dyed red, and tahash skins; acacia wood." This suggests that he was in the priestly caste. These were called "sarki" in the ancient Afro-Asiatic world. The sarki sacrificed animals and tanned the hides. God acts as the first sarki when He sacrifices animals to make coverings for the man and the woman (Gen. 3:21). Today Sarki live in the Orissa province of India, and as rulers in Orisha, Nigeria. They are also in the Tarai region of Nepal. Sometimes they are called “Har-wa” which is the ancient Egyptian word for Horite priest. Even today the Buddhist priests of central Asia wear attire very similar to the priests of ancient Egypt.


The wife of Machir (I Chron.7:15-16) was named Maacah. Another Maacah was one of Caleb's wives (I Chron. 2:48) and one of David's wives was named Maacah (II Sam. 3:3). This being the case, Maacah may be a daughter of Nahor, rather than a son. This would follow a pattern in which at least one daughter is named for the patriarchs. Of Jacob's offspring, Dinah is the only daughter named. Among Zibeon's sons, a daughter Anah is listed (Gen. 36:24) and Anah's daughter Oholibamah is listed as an Edomite chief (Gen. 36:41). Maacah probably married one of Abraham's sons and came to reside in Canaan. Most likely she married Joktan, Abraham's first-born son by Keturah. Joktan the Elder was the son of Eber and the father of Sheba. This would explain why Sheba, who contested David's right tor rule, sought refuge in Abel beth-Maacah. He has kin there

David's son Absalom, son of Maacah, opposed his father and lost his life. Another man who opposed David's authority was Sheba. He fled to the city of Abel beth-Maacah where he lost his life. Likely, the city Abel of beth-Maacah derived its name from Nahor's daughter, an Aramean princess. That city was ravaged by Ben-Hadad of Damascus (I Kgs 15:16-20). It was also captured by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, in the days of Pekah of Israel. Abel beth-Maacah;was an important shrine city close to the border of Lebanon. This is where Sheba fled, hoping to escape Joab's soldiers.

David's son Absalom, son of Maacah, opposed his father and lost his life. Another man who opposed David's authority was Sheba. He fled to the city of Abel beth-Maacah where he lost his life.
Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth Maacah and all the Berite region. When they had assembled, they too joined him. So Joab’s men came and laid siege against him in Abel of Beth Maacah. They prepared a siege ramp outside the city which stood against its outer rampart. As all of Joab’s soldiers were trying to break through the wall so that it would collapse, a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen up! Listen up! Tell Joab, ‘Come near so that I may speak to you.” (II Sam. 20-14-16 NET)

The wise woman of Abel beth-Maacah reasons with Joab, reminding him that this town was a place where people came for advice to end a dispute. She said, I represent the peaceful and the faithful in Israel. You are attempting to destroy an important city in Israel. Why should you swallow up the Lord’s inheritance? (II Sam. 20:19)

Related reading:  Was Keturah Abraham's Wife?; Eliezar of Damascus; Abraham's Two Concubines, Lot's Story


Anonymous said...


I have been working on the Lineage of Joseph, natural father of Jesus, for the past 1 1/2 years. I am presently focusing on Abraham's family. I have found your information to be quite interesting. It has already helped me to find other information about this topic. Your view points and the information you have provided in this and in many other articles posted on your blog have been most helpful to your readers. Do not let anyone persuade you to stop posting your articles.- A fellow researcher and historian.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you for the encouragement. May God bless your research!

DDeden said...

Do you have any information on "Hud", a Quranic prophet, who I think was from Uz lineage? The second largest pilgramage in Arabia celebrates Hud, which may be derived from HWD/JUD.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Buz, Huz and Buz was a confederation with connection to the Afro-Arabian Dedanites and the Horites of Edom.

I have no information about the Quranic prophet Hud.

Jonathan said...

I am just now becoming aware of the possibility that (as you state here) Abram was NOT actually a first-born: neither by one or the other of Terah's wives, nor by any concubines; and am wondering about the other implications of this set of facts. (How did so many students of the Bible miss this? I guess, it's just so easy when reading Genesis where it lists the offspring of a patriarch in a certain order, that you just want to unreflectingly assume that the first-in-order is the first-in-time, and the first in right. But then, Shem is not a first-born, either, though he is listed first among Noah's offspring.) I am wondering what else you think might follow from the fact that Abram/Abraham was somewhat further down in the family ranking order than we had unreflectingly thought? Was Abram destined (by custom) to play the role of a "sent-away son", already at the time when he was settled in with his father's house in Harran, and when he up and set off for Canaan under God's direction [Gen. 12:1, Acts 7:4, Heb. 11:8-9] -- or did he pick up and leave that place without necessarily being under immediate (customary) compulsion to do so -- more or less voluntarily?

Alice C. Linsley said...

It is very true that there is a tendency to assume that the first listed is the first born son, and sometimes this is the case, but the ruler's had 2 wives som one must investigate further. The half-sister wife was the wife of the man's youth and usually the mother of the first born, also the heir. However, in cases where conception was delayed, as in Sarah's case, the first born wold would come of the patrilineal cousin or niece bride. Yes, I believe that Abram/Abraham was destined to be a sent-away son and therefore was led by God to the place where he would receive a kingdom/territory. The marriage and ascendancy pattern of these rulers speaks of Jesus, the sent-away Son to whom God delivers the eternal kingdom.