The God of Nahor -- By: Carl Armerding

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 106:423 (Jul 1949)
Article: The God of Nahor
Author: Carl Armerding

The God of Nahor

Carl Armerding

The expression, “the God of Nahor,” is found but once in Scripture (Gen 31:53), in a chapter which contains several other very interesting references to God. In verse 5 Jacob refers to God as the God of his father. In verse 13 the Lord speaks of Himself as “the God of Bethel.” Then in verse 29 Laban, speaking to Jacob, calls Him “the God of your father.” This is amplified by Jacob who later speaks of Him as “the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac” (v. 42). But it is not until we come to verse 53 that we find Him referred to as “the God of Nahor.”

According to one authority, “Laban, with polytheistic views, distinguishes between his god, ‘the god of Nahor,’ and ‘the God of Abraham,’ Jacob’s God” (Fausset’s Bible Encyclopedia). Commenting on this same verse Dr. Jamieson says, “It is observable that there was a marked difference in the religious sentiments of the two. Laban spake of the God of Abraham and Nabor, their common ancestors; but Jacob, knowing that idolatry had crept in among that branch of the family, swore by the Fear of Isaac. It is thought by many that Laban comprehended, under the peculiar phraseology he employed, all the objects of worship in Terah’s family, in Mesopotamia; and in that view we can discern a very intelligible reason for Jacob’s omission of the name of Abraham, and swearing only by ‘the Fear of his father Isaac,’ who had never acknowledged any deity but ‘the Lord.’“

But we have already seen that Jacob did refer to the God of his father as “the God of Abraham,” in verse 42 .

Moreover, Laban must have known the true God also because it is written that “God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad” (v. 24). His respect for that communication is indicated in verse 29. Laban said to Jacob, “It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake to me yesternight, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” It is not difficult to guess what he might have done to Jacob but for that warning. He did accuse Jacob of stealing his gods, but at the same time he had a healthy fear of Jacob’s God.

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