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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



Chapter 4

A Family Gets Out of Chaldea

NIMROD, the grandson of Ham and the first king of ancient Babylon, did not prove to be the Seed promised in the garden of Eden, who was to bruise the Great Serpent in the head. (Genesis 3:15) Nimrod was the king of Confusion, for that is what Jehovah God called Nimrod's capital city. That is also what the patriarch Noah called it. In the family lines traced in chapter ten of the first book of the Bible, King Nimrod is left without any family line running from him. This did not matter, as the promised Seed of God's woman was not to descend from Nimrod. The Bruiser of the Serpent's head was not to be called the Son of Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12; 1 Chronicles 1:10) On the other hand, among the five sons of Noah's son Shem, one family line is continued for generation after generation, down through the books of the Bible, until the beginning of our Common Era, the so-called Christian Era. There the line ended with the coming of the true, genuine Seed of God's woman. This true Seed proved to be the Son of Jehovah God.

According to the genealogical table given in Genesis 11:10-24. eight generations after the family head Shem brings us to Terah. The Bible account finds this Terah in the city called Ur of the Chaldeans. The city is not reported as having been built by Nimrod, but it was evidently a very ancient city located in southern Babylonia, in that part that history calls Sumer. In fact, it became the capital of Sumer. The people of

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Sumer had many gods, and these were honored and worshiped throughout the land. But each city had its special god, whom it considered to be its patron.

Just as in Babylon the city god came to be Marduk (Merodach), so here in Ur of the Chaldeans the favorite god was Sin. As the city god Sin was associated with the moon, he came into the foremost position in the religion of Ur of the Chaldeans, forasmuch as more importance was given by Babylonians to the moon than to the sun. Why? Because the Babylonian year was a lunar year, and so the moon was used so prominently in their calendar. In the city of Ur the principal temple would be to the moon-god Sin, and he was looked on as its owner. In fact, he was the invisible lord of the land, the governor of the city and its territory during peacetime and the leader of its army during wartime. In Ur he was supreme.

Of course, the gods had their priests. In the book entitled "The Sumerians," by C. Leonard Woolley, 1929 edition, it is interesting to read the following, on pages 128,129:


In considering the priesthood we have to remember that the Sumerian state was essentially theocratic. The god of the city was in reality its king; the human ruler, patesi (governor) or king, was simply his representative  — the 'tenant farmer' of the god. Civil and ecclesiastical offices were not clearly distinguished. The king or governor was himself a priest, in fact in the case of the patesi the religious aspect was the older and in early days the more important; . . . The deification of the Sumerian kings only carried to its logical conclusion the theory that they ruled in the name of god. Conversely the high priest of one of the larger temples was a person of great political importance and was often chosen from the royal house. Church and State were so inextricably mingled that while the State has to be regarded as a theocracy the Church must in part at least be judged as a political institution and the state religion as a political instrument. It would be interesting to compare Sumer and Akkad under the Third Dynasty of Ur with the Roman Empire of the third century when the state

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worship of the gods of Rome and of the genius of Augustus [Caesar] and the city was a profession of political loyalty empty of religious content, and men, if they believed, believed in other gods.

It is very evident that, while living in Ur of the Chaldeans, Terah the Shemite was living in the midst of idolatry and of all the immorality that goes with it. It is possible that Terah took part in such idolatry, inasmuch as Joshua 24:2. 14 says to the Israelites: "It was on the other side of the River [Euphrates] that your forefathers dwelt a long time ago, Terah the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they used to serve other gods. . . . remove the gods that your forefathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah." There is the Jewish tradition that Terah was actually a maker of idols, some of which his illustrious son Abraham broke. At the age of seventy years Terah had his first son, according to Genesis 11:26. But this was not Abraham or Abram, although he, because of becoming the most noted son, is mentioned first. When Terah was 130 years old, Abraham was born, in 2018 B.C. Hence, when his father died, Abraham was seventy-five years old. His father died, not in Ur of the Chaldeans, but to the northwest of Ur, in the Mesopotamian valley. How was this?

Regardless of his father's religious belief, Abraham displayed faith in the God of Shem, who was still living, for Shem lived 502 years after the Flood, which he had survived. For this reason the God of Shem took recognition of Abraham (or, at first, Abram). How? Genesis 12:1-3 answers: "Jehovah proceeded to say to Abram: 'Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you; and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and him

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that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.' " Where did God say this — in Haran? No! It was while Abraham was still in Ur of the Chaldeans, with Terah.

To settle this problem, a Christian martyr named Stephen, when on the witness stand before the Jewish Supreme Court in Jerusalem where he was obligated to tell the truth, said to the judges: "The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, before he took up residence in Haran, and he said to him, 'Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.' Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and took up residence in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God caused him to change his residence to this land in which you now dwell." (Acts 7: 2-4) As to Abraham's age when he left Haran after his father's death, Genesis 12:4 states: "Abram was seventy-five years old when he went out from Haran."*

Abraham responded to Jehovah's call for him to get out of Ur in the southern part of the land of Shinar. For reasons not stated in the account his father Terah decided to come along with him. However, because Terah was the aged head of the household, he is spoken of as taking Abraham with him, in these words of Genesis 11:31. 32: "After that Terah took Abram his son and Lot, the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son, and they went with him out of Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. In time they came to Haran and took up dwelling there. And the days of Terah came to be two hundred and five years. Then Terah died in Haran."


* See Migration of Abraham, 177, section 32, by Philo Judaeus, a contemporary of Jesus Christ and the Christian apostle Paul, as to his having this same understanding of the matter that Stephen had. In Philo's essay, see Volume 2, section 32.
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Haran, another center of the worship of the moon-god Sin, was on the Belikh River sixty miles above where it empties into the Euphrates River, and was a junction point for a rich caravan trade. Abraham as head now of the caravan of migrants from Babylonia was free to move southward into the land that Jehovah God promised to show him. Fatherless Lot was his nephew, and it appears that childless Abraham adopted him.

WORSHIPERS OF THE MOST HIGH GOD

Nisan 14 in 1943 B.C. Abraham crossed the Euphrates River and made his way southwestward into the land of Canaan, where descendants of Canaan the uncle of Nimrod lived. Was it Abraham who now introduced the worship of Jehovah into the land, or was there already a worshiper of Him in this Promised Land? Time was to tell.

Abraham at once proceeded with his worship of the Most High God. "Abram went on through the land as far as the site of Shechem [thirty miles north of Jerusalem], near the big trees of Moreh; and at that time the Canaanite was in the land. Jehovah now appeared to Abram and said: 'To your seed I am going to give this land.' After that he built an altar there to Jehovah. who had appeared to him." (Genesis 12:6. 7) Thus began Abraham's alien residence of a hundred years in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.

As wandering herders Abraham and his nephew Lot grew wealthy in the land. Finally, because their herds and flocks became too large for the land to support them together, it became advisable for Abraham and Lot to part company. On being given the first choice of the territory, Lot chose the low-lying valley of the Jordan River, as the whole District of the Jordan River was "like the garden of Jehovah" for being so well-watered. Down there at that time there were the cities of the Plain, namely, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela or Zoar. — Genesis 10:19; 14:2.

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Each of these cities was a city-state and had its own king. For twelve years they had been subject to the foreign ruler, Chedorlaomer, the king of the country of Elam which lay east of Babylonia. In the thirteenth year the five Canaanite kings joined in rebellion against the king of Elam. Chedorlaomer determined to put down the rebellion. So in the fourteenth year he came down against the Canaanite rebels, but not alone. Three other kings came down with him, including Amraphel the king of Shinar. Abraham's nephew Lot now found himself in a danger zone, for he had pitched his tent near the rebel pity of Sodom. — Genesis 13:1 to 14:5.

After successful military operations in other parts of the land to cut off the rebel cities from any aid close at hand, the four kings of the Elamite-Babylonian armies from the north joined in battle with the five rebel Canaanite kings in the Low Plain of Siddim. This was the region south of the peninsula of land that now juts out from the eastern shore into the Dead Sea or Sea of Salt, and was where the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar were located. The Elamite-Babylonian armies put the rebels to flight and then plundered the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah. "They also took Lot the son of Abram's brother and his goods and continued on their way. He was then dwelling in Sodom." (Genesis 14:5-12) Would Lot now be carried back to Shinar or Babylonia? Not if Abraham, who had left Shinar for good, could help it.

At the time, Abraham was tenting up in the mountains west of the Dead Sea, at a place called Mamre about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem or twelve and a half miles below Bethlehem. He was enjoying friendly relations with three Amorite brothers, Mamre, Aner and Eshcol. A man, who evidently knew Lot's relationship to Abraham, escaped from the battle and the pits of bitumen and told Abraham about Lot. Trusting in Jehovah's help, Abraham at once "mus-

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tered his trained men, three hundred and eighteen slaves born in his household, and went in pursuit up to Dan." Abraham also took along Mamre, Aner and Eshcol as confederates, with, doubtless, some of their servants. — Genesis 14:13.14.

At Dan, more than a hundred miles north of Jerusalem and under forty miles southwest of Damascus, Abraham and his confederates overtook the Elamite-Babylonian armies, doubtless more numerous than Abraham's forces. So with heavenly wisdom Abraham used strategy. Genesis 14:15. 16 tells us: "By night he resorted to dividing his forces, he and his slaves, against them, and thus he defeated them and kept in pursuit of them up to Hobah, which is north of Damascus. And he proceeded to recover all the goods, and he recovered also Lot his brother [or kinsman] and his goods and also the women and the people." It was a long pursuit that Abraham had to make to deliver Lot the son of his brother from the hands of the king of Shinar, but Abraham's God blessed him and gave him the victory over Amraphel king of Shinar and the other three kings from the north.

How those fleeing kings made it back to the Euphrates River and to Babylonia 450 miles east of Damascus, we are not told, but Abraham made his own return march to restore the captives.

Triumphant Abraham marched southward toward Jerusalem. At the Low Plain of Shaveh, that is to say, the king's Low Plain, he was met by King Bera of Sodom. But in that neighborhood another king, an undefeated king, came out to meet Abraham. Genesis 14:18-20 introduces this unusual king, saying: "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: 'Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppres-

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sors into your hand!' At that Abram gave him a tenth of everything."

Melchizedek is the first priest or cohén mentioned in the Holy Bible, and a priest of the only living and true God at that. He is expressly called "priest of the Most High God." At the same time he was king of Salem. This appears to be the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible, for according to ancient Jewish and Christian understanding Salem was the original part of what became Jerusalem. The Bible links Salem and Jerusalem, saying: "God is known in Judah; in Israel his name is great. And his covert proves to be in Salem itself, and his dwelling place in Zion." "Commend Jehovah, O Jerusalem. Praise your God, O Zion." (Psalms 76:1. 2: 147:12) Thus at this ancient city Abraham met the cohén or priest of the Most High God sometime before 1933 B.C., which was about twelve centuries before the traditional founding of Rome in 753 B.C., the religious head of which city became the pagan pontifex maximus. The Most High God appointed Melchizedek, to be priest or cohén. The name Melchizedek means "King of Righteousness."

Abraham worshiped the same God as did Melchizedek. Just how this priest was related to Abraham is not stated, for Melchizedek was no heavenly angel materialized in the flesh. He was a man, a descendant from the Flood-survivor Noah; but the Bible does not plainly say that Melchizedek was Noah's son Shem, who was then still alive. God's written Word purposely leaves out all information as to his ancestry and his descendants and his death, that he might serve as a prophetic picture or type of the promised Seed of God's woman. This Seed becomes the everlasting high priest of the Most High God, and by him comes a sacrifice that results in eternal salvation for mankind. To establish this point. Hebrews 6:20 to 7:7. after telling of his entrance into God's presence, says:

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"Where a forerunner has entered in our behalf, Jesus, who has become a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek forever. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him and to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth from all things, is first of all, by translation, 'King of Righteousness,' and is then also king of Salem, that is, 'King of Peace.' In being fatherless, motherless, without genealogy, having neither a beginning of days nor an end of life [in the written record], but having been made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. Behold, then, how great this man [Melchizedek] was to whom Abraham, the family head, gave a tenth out of the chief spoils. True, the men [in ancient Israel] who receive their priestly office from the sons of Levi have a commandment to collect tithes from the people according to the Law, that is, from their brothers, even if these have issued from the loins, of Abraham; but the man [Melchizedek] who did not trace his genealogy from them took tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises [from Jehovah God]. Now without any dispute, the less is blessed by the greater."

The Most High God himself swore that the coming greater High Priest like Melchizedek would be a heavenly priest. As this was God's unchangeable purpose, God caused a king who later ruled in the same city where Melchizedek had ruled to acknowledge this coming Priest like Melchizedek as his "Lord." So, under inspiration by God's spirit, King David of Jerusalem wrote these words: "The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: 'Sit at my right-hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.' The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: 'Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.' Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): 'You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!' " (Psalm

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110:1. 2. 4) Due to Jehovah's oath, the Seed of his woman had to become a heavenly King-Priest like Melchizedek.

When Melchizedek blessed Abraham for having routed and despoiled the king of Shinar and his allied kings, Melchizedek proved that he was against ancient Babylon. His royal city Salem was also against Babylon. When he said: "Blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!" it meant that the Most High God Jehovah was also against Babylon. Thus, too, not only did the patriarch Abraham get out of Babylonia at. God's call, but he also fought against the king of Babylonia (Shinar) as the need arose. Abraham acknowledged that he owed his victory to God. In proof of acknowledging this, Abraham gave God's priest Melchizedek the tenth part of all the spoils of war. Abraham refused to accept from the hand of King Bera of Sodom any part of the recovered goods. He said to King Bera: "I do lift up my hand in an oath to Jehovah the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, that, from a thread to a sandal lace, no, I shall take nothing from anything that is yours, in order that you may not say, 'It was I who made Abram rich.' Nothing for me!" — Genesis 14:21-24.

THE PICTORIAL SEED OF THE WOMAN

King-Priest Melchizedek offered Abraham refreshments and said: "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth." This blessing was in harmony with God's promise when he called Abraham to come out of Shinar or Babylonia: "I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you . . . And I will bless those who bless you, . . . and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you." (Genesis 12:1-31 This promised blessing, backed up by Melchizedek's blessing upon Abraham, meant nothing else than that the woman's

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Seed as promised by God in the garden of Eden would come through the family line of Abraham the Hebrew. For one thing, Abraham had to have a seed or offspring of his own in order for God to make him into a great nation. In connection with this nation the promised Seed of God's woman would come. By this fact the Babylonians were proved to be all wrong in deifying Nimrod as that promised Seed.

Abraham did not remain to worship at Salem with Melchizedek as priest, but went farther south to his encampment at Mamre. His reproductive powers and those of his wife Sarah died out and he did not yet have any offspring by her. Then, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old and Sarah eighty-nine, Jehovah God sent a messenger to him at Mamre to tell him that by a miracle he was to have a son by his true wife Sarah in the coming year. Abraham had already been told to name this son Isaac, meaning "Laughter," and God's covenant of blessing was to pass on down to Isaac.  — Genesis 17:19.

The next morning after Jehovah's messenger gave Abraham this good news about a son, four cities of the Jordan River District, including Sodom and Gomorrah, were wiped out because of their wickedness. God caused fire and sulphur to rain down from heaven to cremate them. Only Bela or Zoar was spared. Why? Abraham's nephew Lot had moved with his family into the city of Sodom, but God's angels brought them out safely in the nick of time. During the flight to safety Lot's wife perished because of disobeying the angelic instructions. But Lot and his two daughters made it safely to Zoar just before fiery destruction deluged the other cities of the District in destruction. — Genesis 18:1 to 19:29.

As for Abraham and Sarah, how they must have laughed for joy when their son Isaac was born! They called him by his God-given name. Little did Abraham realize that years later he was to have a very taxing test of his faith in Almighty God in connection with

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Isaac, in whom the hope of blessing for all the families of the ground was bound up. Isaac had now grown to be a strong young man,* and Abraham was tenting in the Negeb of Palestine near Beer-sheba. Then it was that Jehovah God sent him back to the neighborhood of Salem, not to get in touch with King-Priest Melchizedek, but to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice back to the God who given him.

The sacrifice was appointed to be on Mount Moriah directly to the north of Salem. There Abraham as good as offered up Isaac his beloved son as a human sacrifice. With slaughtering knife in hand he was at the point of killing Isaac and bleeding him before lighting the altar fire. But the cry "Abraham, Abraham!" from the invisible checked his hand. It was the voice of Jehovah's angel, and it told him he had gone far enough in proving his faith and obedience.

Abraham's attention was drawn to an animal in the foreground — a ram caught by its horns in the mountain thicket! How did it get there, for as Abraham and Isaac had climbed Mount Moriah Isaac had said: "Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?" Truthfully Abraham had answered, when he said: "God will provide himself the sheep for the burnt offering, my son." So that male sheep that Abraham and Isaac now offered upon the altar represented Isaac, or took his place. "And Abraham began to call the name of that place Jehovah-jireh [meaning, Jehovah Will Provide]. This is why it is customarily said today: 'In the mountain of Jehovah it will be provided.' " (Genesis 22:1-14) How precious that sheep provided by God must have seemed to Abraham!

Despite all his faith in God, Abraham did not know that he and Isaac were there enacting a most important drama, for our benefit today. The meaning of it was


* Josephus puts Isaac's age at twenty-five years. — See Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, chapter 13, paragraph 2.
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wonderfully summed up by a descendant of Abraham nineteen centuries later, Jesus Christ who said to a Jewish ruler one night: "God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) This Son of God was the One foreshadowed by Abraham's beloved son Isaac, yes, too, by that male sheep that was finally offered up as Isaac's substitute. The Son of God became indeed the Lamb of God for mankind's salvation.  — John 1:29, 36: Revelation 5:6, 8,12,13.

Abraham was sure that God would be able to raise up Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His promise to make Abraham a great nation, that all the families of the ground might bless themselves by means of Abraham. In an illustrative way Abraham did receive his dear son Isaac back from the dead. (Hebrews 11: 17-19) But now at the altar side Jehovah God confirmed his promise to Abraham. He made it clear that Isaac the son of Abraham's wife Sarah was a picture of the promised Seed of God's woman, through whom everlasting blessing would come to people of all the nations. By his angel God called out of the invisible to say to Abraham:

" 'By myself I do swear,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'that by reason of the fact that you have done this thing and you have not withheld your son, your only one, I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.' " — Genesis 22:15-18.

How greatly blessed Abraham was for having answered Jehovah's invitation and come out of Babylonia, out of Ur of the Chaldeans! Jehovah's covenant of blessing was made sure to Abraham. After he died at

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175 years of age, Jehovah personally transferred the covenant of blessing to his son Isaac. (Genesis 26:1-5) Of Isaac's twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Jehovah chose faithful Jacob and transferred the covenant of blessing to him. — Genesis 28:10-15.

For the time being, Jacob left the Promised Land, while his father Isaac was still living and tenting in the Promised Land. He went north to Haran, where his great-grandfather Terah had died. There he married two Syrian girls, Leah and Rachel, cousins of his; and by these two sisters and their two maidservants Jacob got twelve sons and a daughter. Thus the foundation began to be laid for that "great nation" into which Jehovah God had promised to make Abraham for leaving Babylonia and taking up alien residence in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. — Genesis 29:1 to 30:26; 35:16-20.



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