Tracing the Human Line of Descent of the “Seed”
1. Why had the cases of Abel, Enoch and Noah made Satan the Devil more desperate in his aim to wreck the promised “seed”?
LYING at the heart of God’s “eternal purpose” is the “seed” to be produced by God’s “woman.” The contest that began in the garden of Eden between Satan and God centered on this mysterious “seed.” This had to be so, because that “seed” was to be brought forth in due time to bruise the head of the Great Serpent, and Satan the Devil knew that the “head” meant was his own. (Genesis 3:15) Satan was determined to break the integrity of the coming “seed” and thereby make him unfit for God’s purpose. At the Deluge the first round of the contest between Satan and God was over, but with a showing against Satan. He had failed to crack the integrity of at least three men who were descended from the first man and woman whose integrity he had schemed to ruin. Abel, Enoch and Noah had weakened the confident position of Satan and had made him more desperate in his aim to wreck the “seed.”
2. Mankind today should be thankful that Noah gave them what kind of a start in life after the deluge? How so?
2 The next six hundred and fifty-eight years after the Deluge ended were to prove very revealing concerning details about the “seed” of God’s “woman.” After the deluge all mankind down till today could trace its descent from Noah the builder of the ark that weathered the deluge. So now the world of mankind was given a righteous start, for Noah “walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9) Imperfect he was by heredity, but, morally, he was faultless, blameless, before God. How thankful we, his descendants, should be for that! Right after leaving the ark and setting foot on Mount Ararat, Noah led mankind in the worship of mankind’s Preserver, Jehovah God.
“Noah began to build an altar to Jehovah and to take some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar. And Jehovah began to smell a restful odor, and so Jehovah said in his heart: ‘Never again shall I call down evil upon the ground on man’s account, because the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up; and never again shall I deal every living thing a blow just as I have done. For all the days the earth continues, seed sowing and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, will never cease.’”—Genesis 8:20-22; compare Isaiah 54:9.
3. How did Lamech’s prophecy at Noah’s birth prove true, and of what did the rainbow become a symbol?
3 The prophecy that Noah’s father Lamech pronounced over him at his birth proved to be justified. (Genesis 5:29) The divine curse pronounced upon the ground outside the garden of Eden after Adam’s transgression was lifted, and Noah (whose name means “Rest”) caused a restful odor to ascend from his burnt offerings to God and induced God’s calling for a rest for mankind from the toil of cultivating a cursed ground. God also caused the first reported rainbow to appear in the light of the sun now shining directly upon the earth because of removal of the water canopy. Referring to that rainbow as a sign of guarantee, Jehovah promised that “no more will the waters become a deluge to bring all flesh to ruin.” No more will there be a watery deluge.—Genesis 9:8-15.
4. Noah’s three sons and their wives having survived the deluge with Noah, what question now arose as to the promised “seed”?
4 Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives survived with him and his wife. Which one, now, of these three sons was to be the one through whom the line of descent would run down to the earthly appearance of the “seed” of God’s “woman”? The choice that had to be made would affect differently the three races that would descend from the three patriarchs, Shem, Ham and Japheth. The prophecy that God inspired Noah to pronounce over his three sons on a critical occasion set forth in which way the divine favor and blessing would go. What was the basis for this?
5. What caused Noah to pronounce a curse upon Ham’s son Canaan?
5 In obedience to God’s command to Noah’s sons to become fruitful in the earth, Shem became father to Arpachshad two years after the start of the deluge. (Genesis 11:10) In time Ham became father to Canaan. (Genesis 9:18; 10:6) Some time after Canaan’s birth there was an occasion when Noah, for some unstated reason, got drunk on wine from his vineyard. Ham entered Noah’s tent and saw him lying uncovered, naked, but he did nothing to conceal his father’s nakedness. Rather, he aired it to Shem and Japheth. With due respect for their father, Shem and Japheth refused to look upon Noah’s nakedness, and moving with their backs turned to their father, they spread a cloth over him. They took no advantage of their father’s nakedness and showed and kept their high respect for him as their father and as Jehovah’s prophet.
“Finally Noah awoke from his wine and got to know what his youngest son had done to him. At this he said: ‘Cursed be Canaan. Let him become the lowest slave to his brothers.’ And he added: ‘Blessed be Jehovah, Shem’s God, And let Canaan become a slave to him. Let God grant ample space to Japheth, And let him reside in the tents of Shem. Let Canaan become a slave to him also.’”—Genesis 9:20-27.
6. According to Noah’s prophecy, through which son was the line of descent to the Messiah to run?
6 Noah was sober when he pronounced those words. He did not curse the whole race that descended from Ham, because of Ham’s lack of respect, especially for God’s prophet. So God inspired Noah to curse only one son of Ham, namely, Canaan, whose descendants took up residence in the land of Canaan in Palestine. The Canaanites did become slaves to the descendants of Shem, when God brought the Israelites into Canaanland in accord with His promise to Abraham the Hebrew. Shem lived five hundred and two years after the start of the Deluge, so that his life overlapped on that of Abraham by one hundred and fifty years. (Genesis 11:10, 11) Noah declared Jehovah to be Shem’s God. Jehovah was to be blessed, because it was the fear of Him that motivated Shem to show the due respect for Noah as God’s prophet. Japheth was to be treated as a guest in Shem’s tents, and not as a slave like Canaan. Thus, by being a host to his brother Japheth, Shem was ranked as superior to him in the wording of the prophecy. In harmony with this, Shem’s line of descent was to lead to Messiah.
THE FOUNDING OF BABYLON
7. Which grandson of Ham established the first Babylonian Empire, and how?
7 Another descendant of Ham that did not turn out well was his grandson Nimrod. Surviving for three hundred and fifty years after the start of the deluge, Noah lived to see the rise and doubtless the downfall of this great-grandson of his. (Genesis 9:28, 29) Nimrod founded an organization that acted like part of the visible “seed” of the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil. Says Genesis 10:8-12: “And Cush became father to Nimrod. He made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah. That is why there is a saying: ‘Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.’ And the beginning of his kingdom came to be Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria and set himself to building Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: this is the great city.” According to this, Nimrod established the first Babylonian Empire.
8, 9. (a) Why did Jehovah not choose Babel as the city on which to place his name? (b) Whose language was not changed at Babel?
8 It was at Babel (called Babylon by the Greek-speaking Jews) that the confusion of the language of mankind took place, when Jehovah God displayed his disapproval at the building of the city and of a false religious tower therein, because the builders purposed to make a celebrated name for themselves and to keep from being “scattered over all the surface of the earth.” They did not foresee the decay of the cities that is taking place today. (Genesis 11:1-9) Though the first empire on earth, this Babylonian Empire of Nimrod did not become the First World Power of Bible record. Ancient Egypt did. Babel’s political power was weakened, because its builders, now disunited by differing languages, were thus made by Jehovah to scatter over all the earth.
9 Jehovah God did not choose Babylon as the city on which to place his name. Noah and his blessed son Shem had no part in the building of Babel and its tower of false religion, and their language was not confused.
10, 11. (a) In Shem’s days the line of descent for the promised “seed” was narrowed down to which of his descendants? (b) This was indicated by what disclosure, to whom?
10 Two years after Noah’s death in 2020 B.C.E., Abraham was born in the line of Shem, who was still alive. This descendant proved to be a worshiper of Shem’s God, Jehovah. Shem could have had great satisfaction when he learned of the thrilling disclosure that Jehovah made to Abraham. This proved that Jehovah was sticking to his “eternal purpose” that He had formed at the garden of Eden after the transgression by Eve and Adam. It narrowed down the coming of the “seed” of God’s “woman” to the line of Abraham, out of all the descendants of Shem. But what was the divine disclosure to Abraham, who at the time was called Abram?
11 Abram (Abraham) was in Mesopotamia, at the city of Ur of the Chaldeans not far from Babylon (Babel), when the disclosure was made to him. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us: “And 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 that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.’”
12. For whom was that disclosure “good news,” and what era may be said to have begun at that disclosure?
12 “All the families of the ground”—that includes our families today in this twentieth century! Those of our families can procure a blessing by means of this ancient Abram (Abraham)! That is good news, indeed! And it broke upon the post-Deluge world of mankind away back there in the twentieth century before our Common Era. What this meant is commented on later in these inspired words: “Surely you know that those who adhere to faith are the ones who are sons of Abraham. Now the Scripture, seeing in advance that God would declare people of the nations righteous due to faith, declared the good news beforehand to Abraham, namely: ‘By means of you all the nations will be blessed.’” (Galatians 3:7, 8) In view of that it may rightly be said that the Era of the Good News (the Gospel Age, as some might want to call it) began back there shortly before Abraham obeyed the divine command.
13. (a) What was the state of Abraham’s flesh when God’s command came to him, and so what was it that counted with God? (b) When did Abraham cross the Euphrates River?
13 A fact to be noted here, also, is that, at the time of God’s choice of him to be the channel of blessing to all families and nations, Abraham was not circumcised in the flesh. God’s command to him to get himself and his household males circumcised did not come till at least twenty-four years later, the year before the birth of his son Isaac (1918 B.C.E.). If not Abraham’s fleshly condition, what was it, then, that counted with God? It was Abraham’s faith. Jehovah God knew that Abraham had faith in Him. Not in vain did He issue to Abraham the command to leave his homeland. Abraham promptly left and moved with his household northwestward to Haran, and from there, after the death of his father Terah in Haran, he crossed the Euphrates River and moved toward the land that God was proceeding to show him. His crossing of the Euphrates River occurred on Nisan 14 in the spring of the year 1943 B.C.E., or 430 years before the celebration of the first Passover by Abraham’s descendants down in Egypt.—Exodus 12:40-42; Galatians 3:17.
14. What did Jehovah say to Abraham in the land of Canaan, and after that what did Abraham do?
14 The prophet Moses made a record of this, writing: “At that Abram went just as Jehovah had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he went out from Haran. So Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot the son of his brother and all the goods that they had accumulated and the souls whom they had acquired in Haran, and they got on their way out to go to the land of Canaan. Finally they came to the land of Canaan. And Abram went on through the land as far as the site of Shechem, 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 12:4-7; Acts 7:4, 5.
15. Why would God’s promise of a “seed” to Abraham call for a miracle, this involving what still greater miracle?
15 Thus, although at that time Abram, at the age of seventy-five years, did not have any children, no child by his sixty-five-year-old wife Sarai, yet Jehovah promised that Abram would have a seed or offspring, to which Jehovah would give the land of Canaan. Abraham accepted that divine promise in faith. For, according to female powers of reproduction by that time back there, this approached onto God’s promising a miracle. Twenty-four years later, when Abraham heard that he was to have a son by his wife Sarah he laughed and said in his heart: “Will a man a hundred years old have a child born, and will Sarah, yes, will a woman ninety years old give birth?” (Genesis 17:17; 18:12-14) If that was “extraordinary,” still more marvelous would be the miracle that would fulfill God’s prophecy in Genesis 3:15. This was because God’s “woman” was heavenly and her promised “seed” would be heavenly and yet that “seed” would be tied in with Abraham’s earthly line of descent. In this way this “seed” of God’s “woman” could be called “the seed of Abraham,” yes, “son of Abraham.”
16. God’s promise to bring nations and kings out of Abraham and Sarah raised what questions regarding the “seed”?
16 At the time that God, by his angel, assured Abraham that he was to have a son by his wife Sarah, to be named Isaac, God said to Abraham: “I will make you very, very fruitful and will make you become nations, and kings will come out of you. . . . I will bless her [Sarah] and also give you a son from her; and I will bless her and she shall become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:6, 16) So, now, which of those “nations” would be Jehovah’s favored nation? Would it have a king over it? Would the “seed” of God’s “woman” become that king? It is but natural to ask such questions.
17. What was the most outstanding contact with kings in Canaanland in Abraham’s career, and why did Abraham pay him a tithe?
17 Before this, Abraham had had contact with earthly kings. The most significant of such contacts was when he met the outstanding king in the land of Canaan. Abraham had just been obliged to rescue his nephew Lot from the hands of four kings who had invaded the land of Canaan and defeated five of its kings and had carried off captives, including Lot. On his return from inflicting defeat upon those four marauder kings, Abraham approached the city of Salem, in the mountains to the west of the Dead Sea. “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 oppressors into your hand!’ At that Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:18-20) Since, as Melchizedek told Abraham, the Most High God had delivered Abraham’s oppressors into his hand, it was only fitting that Abraham should give a tenth of all the spoils to the priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek.
18. Why was Melchizedek’s blessing upon Abraham no empty utterance, and how did David show that one’s importance in God’s purpose?
18 Melchizedek’s blessing upon Abraham was not an empty utterance. It counted for something, and was in line with Jehovah’s own promise that Abraham should be a blessing to all the families of the ground—all families should procure a blessing by means of him. (Genesis 12:3) This mysterious King-Priest Melchizedek, although given such scant mention in history, was not lost to sight. Nine hundred years later the Most High God inspired another king of Salem, King David of Jerusalem, to prophesy and show just how significant Melchizedek had been within the purpose of the Most High God. According to this, Melchizedek was the prefiguring of a still greater king, one even greater than David, one whom even David would be obliged to call “my Lord.” This prefigured king could be no one else but the Messiah, the “seed” of God’s “woman.” So, under the power of God’s holy spirit, David wrote, in Psalm 110:1-4:
“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.’ Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops. Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): ‘You are a priest to time indefinite According to the manner of Melchizedek!’”
19. The one prophesied to wield the rod of strength on Mount Zion had to be whose descendant, and why was David not prophesying about kings from Solomon to Zedekiah?
19 Note what those inspired words signify. The fact that King David said that Jehovah would send out the King’s rod of strength from Zion indicates that the King would be a fleshly descendant of David. According to Jehovah’s covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom, no one would sit as king on Mount Zion and wield the rodlike scepter of strength except a fleshly descendant of David. (2 Samuel 7:8-16) Hence, this one whose rod of strength would be sent out of Zion would be called a “son of David.” But in this case David was not referring prophetically to his son, King Solomon, who was the most glorious king of David’s line to throne on Mount Zion and reign over all twelve tribes of his people. David never addressed his son Solomon as “My Lord,” neither any other of the kings on Zion who followed Solomon all the way down to King Zedekiah. Furthermore, neither Solomon nor any of the succeeding kings on Mount Zion were priests as well as kings, as Melchizedek was.—2 Chronicles 26:16-23.
20. How would this prophetic one, although being David’s son, yet be David’s “Lord”?
20 However, since this promised ruler was to be a “son” of King David, why would David refer to him as “My Lord”? This was due to the fact that this outstanding “son of David” would be a king far higher than David. Although David sat on the “throne of Jehovah” on earthly Mount Zion, he never, even at his death, ascended to heaven and sat down on the “right hand” of Jehovah. But the one who would become David’s “Lord” would do so. His royal position at Jehovah’s right hand in heaven could be referred to as a heavenly Mount Zion because it was pictured by the earthly Mount Zion, which used to be enclosed within Jerusalem’s walls but is not so today. As Jehovah himself said, in Psalm 89:27, with regard to the Messiah: “Also, I myself shall place him as firstborn, The most high of the kings of the earth.” Not alone would he be a lordly King higher than David, but he would also be forever a “priest” of the Most High God, like Melchizedek the king of ancient Salem.—Psalm 76:2; 110:4.
21. Why, then, would Abraham’s name become great?
21 Little did the patriarch Abraham, back there in the twentieth century B.C.E., realize that the “kings” to whom he and his wife Sarah were to become the ancestors would include the Messianic king who was foreshadowed by Melchizedek, to whom Abraham paid tithes of all his spoils of conquest. No wonder that Abraham’s name was to become great because of its association with such a King-Priest! No wonder that, through this Priest-King like Melchizedek, all the families of the earth would bless themselves or procure a blessing by means of Abraham!—Genesis 12:3.
THE “FRIEND” OF GOD
22. How did God illustrate that His chosen nation would come through Abraham’s natural son and heir?
22 After Abraham’s victorious encounter with the four invading kings, God promised Abraham the needed protection and also that his “heir” would be a natural son of his. That God’s chosen nation would come through this son and heir, God assured Abraham by means of an illustration: “He now brought him outside and said: ‘Look up, please, to the heavens and count the stars, if you are possibly able to count them.’ And he went on to say to him: ‘So your seed will become.’ And he put faith in Jehovah; and he proceeded to count it to him as righteousness.”—Genesis 15:1-6.
23. On the basis of what was righteousness counted to Abraham, and to what was he justified?
23 Let us not forget that, at this time, Abraham was still an uncircumcised Hebrew. Hence, righteousness could not be counted to Abraham due to his being circumcised in the flesh; it was counted to him because of his faith in Jehovah, who was revealing part of his purpose to Abraham. So Abraham was counted righteous before God; he was thus justified to friendship with Jehovah God. Centuries later King Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem called Abraham the friend or “lover” of Jehovah. Still later, through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah spoke of him as “Abraham my friend.” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8) This proves how valuable, how vital, faith in Jehovah in connection with his “seed” really is.
24. How did Abraham become father to Ishmael, and then how to Isaac?
24 In the year 1932 B.C.E., at the suggestion of his barren, aged wife Sarah, Abraham had a son by means of her Egyptian slave girl Hagar and called his name Ishmael. (Genesis 16:1-16) Thirteen years thereafter, in 1919 B.C.E., Jehovah told Abraham that Ishmael was not to serve as the true “seed,” but a son by his true wife Sarah would be the chosen “seed.” It would be a son by a free woman. And so, in the succeeding year, Isaac was born when Sarah was ninety years of age. “And Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac his son was born to him.” On the eighth day of life Isaac was circumcised, just as his father Abraham had been just the year previous.—Genesis 21:1-5.
25. What does the account show as to whether Jehovah made a nation including all the natural sons of Abraham?
25 It is interesting to note that God did not now make a nation out of his two sons, Ishmael the firstborn and Isaac, a two-tribe nation. No, but five years later, at the urgent request of his wife Sarah, Abraham dismissed Hagar and her son Ishmael from his household, to fend for themselves, to go wherever they wanted to go. (Genesis 21:8-21) Neither afterward, after the death of Sarah in 1881 B.C.E., did God make a nation out of Isaac and the other sons that Abraham had by means of a concubine, Keturah, a seven-tribe nation. “Later on Abraham gave everything he had to Isaac, but to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had Abraham gave gifts. Then he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he was still alive, eastward, to the land of the East.”—Genesis 25:1-6.
26. For what admirable demonstration of faith did Abraham receive a special blessing in the land of Moriah, and what did it state?
26 A very admirable demonstration of faith on the part of Abraham led to a great blessing for this “friend” of Jehovah. It came after a penetrating test of Abraham’s faith and obedience toward the Most High God. The blessing of divine approval was pronounced at a mountaintop in the land of Moriah, thought by many to be the location where King Solomon built the magnificent temple of Jehovah centuries afterward. (2 Chronicles 3:1) There, at the place designated by Jehovah, and on the wood spread out over a newly made stone altar, lay the form of a growing boy. It was Isaac. Beside the altar stood his father Abraham with a slaughtering knife in his hand. He was just about to carry out God’s command to kill Isaac sacrificially and offer him up as a burnt offering to the God who had given him the boy miraculously. Then:
“Jehovah’s angel began calling to him out of the heavens and saying: ‘Abraham, Abraham! . . . Do not put out your hand against the boy and do not do anything at all to him, for now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.’ . . . And Jehovah’s angel proceeded to call to Abraham the second time out of the heavens and to say: ‘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 22:1-18.
27. What did this divine statement show as to the choosing of the “seed” and as to the procuring of the blessing through it?
27 This meant that the promised “seed” by means of whom all the nations would procure a blessing would come through Isaac’s line of descent. Thereby Jehovah God showed that he was doing the choosing of the line of descent, and that all the half brothers of Isaac would have no part in furnishing that “seed.” Nevertheless, the nations that descended from Isaac’s half brothers could procure for themselves a blessing by means of that “seed.” All nations of today, that is, people of all nationalities of today, can likewise procure a blessing through Abraham’s “seed.”
28. Shem lived long enough to learn of what events in connection with his line of descent?
28 The patriarch Shem, a survivor of the global deluge, lived on to learn of that divine blessing pronounced upon Abraham; in fact, Shem lived on to learn of the marriage of Isaac to the beautiful Rebekah from Haran in Mesopotamia. Shem lived on to 1868 B.C.E., ten years after that marriage, but did not live to see the offspring of that marriage. But Abraham did so.—Genesis 11:11; 25:7.