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Chapter 12

In the midrash, Teraḥ is portrayed as a maker of idols, against whom Abram rebels. The author of Jubilees, whilst approving of Abram as rejecting idolatry in favour of monotheism, is obviously concerned at his filial impiety, and seeks to ameliorate it:

It came to pass in the seventh year of the sixth week that Abram said to Terah his father, 'Father!'

He replied, 'Here am I, my son.'

Abram said, 'What help and profit have we from those idols which you worship, and before which you bow yourself? For there is no spirit in them, for they are dumb forms, and a misleading of the heart. Don't worship them! Worship the God of heaven, Who causes the rain and the dew to descend on the earth and does everything upon the earth, and has created everything by His word, and all life is from His presence. Why do you worship things with no spirit in them, for they are the work of (men's) hands? You bear them on your shoulders, but you have no help from them; they are a great cause of shame to those who make them, and a misleading of the heart to those who worship them. Don't worship them.'

His father said to him, 'I also know it, my son, but what shall I do with a people who have made me serve before them? If I tell them the truth, they will slay me; for their soul cleaves to them to worship them and honour them. Keep silent, my son, lest they slay thee.'

The Midrash, commenting on the Biblical verse "Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees" famously describes how Nimrod cast Abram into a fiery furnace for destroying his father's idols; and how only after he survived did Abram's brother Haran decide to follow his example, as a result of which he got burned. Jubilees, however, tells a quite different story:
In the sixtieth year of the life of Abram, that is, in the fourth week, in its fourth year, Abram arose in the middle of the night, and burned the house of the idols; he burned all that was in the house and no man knew it. They arose in the night and sought to save their gods from the midst of the fire. Haran hasted to save them, but the fire flamed over him, and he was burnt in the fire, and he died in Ur of the Chaldees before Terah his father, and they buried him in Ur of the Chaldees.
In Gen. 12, God tells Abram, without any reason given, to get up and leave his country. Jubilees gives a reason for this: it's in response to a prayer of Abram's:
'Shall I return to Ur of the Chaldees who seek my face that I may return to them, am I to remain here in this place [Ḥaran]? Prosper the right path before You in the hands of Your servant that he may fulfil (it), and that I may not walk in the deceitfulness of my heart, O my God.'
Again, Jubilees seems to be troubled by Abram's filial impiety at leaving his father and not coming back to him:

It came to pass in the seventh year of the sixth week that he spoke to his father and informed him that he would leave Haran to go into the land of Canaan to see it, and return to him.

Terah his father said to him, "Go in peace: May the eternal God make thy path straight. And the Lord [(be) with you, and] protect you from all evil, and grant unto you grace, mercy and favour before those who see you; and may none of the children of men have power over you to harm you: go in peace. And if you see a land pleasant to your eyes to dwell in, then arise and bring me to you and take Lot with you, the son of Haran your brother as your own son: the Lord be with you. But leave Nahor your brother with me till you return in peace, and we go with you all together."

That said, of course, Abram never returned and fetched his father.

Chapter 15

In Gen. 17, God commands the just-renamed Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males in his household as a sign of the covenant between him and God. But why circumcision as such a sign? Jubilees provides an answer:
For all the angels of the presence and all the angels of sanctification have been so created from the day of their creation, and before the angels of the presence and the angels of sanctification He has sanctified Israel, that they should be with Him and with His holy angels.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index


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