Women of the Word: Milkah

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Milkah is not a very well-known Biblical figure, but she is the sister-in-law to quite a popular one – Sarah (formerly called Sarai). Sarah was married to Abraham (formerly called Abram), who also had a brother who was not very well-known. This brother was Nahor. When Abraham and Sarah married, Nahor and Milkah also married. According to Genesis 11:29:

Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah.

Terah was the father of Abraham and Nahor and they also had a third brother called Haran. Haran was the father of Lot, but he later died, so Abraham took Lot into his home. At first, they all lived together in Ur of the Chaldeans, but after Haran’s death, Terah, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, and Haran’s wife left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. On their way to Canaan, they come to a place called Harran and decide to settle there. While in Harran, Terah dies after living 205 years. God then calls Abraham to leave his country and his people and his father’s household and go to the land of Canaan. He promises to bless Abraham and make of him a great nation. So once again, Abraham, Sarah, and Lot pack up their possessions and set out for Canaan.

Meanwhile, Nahor and Milkah remained in Ur of the Chaldeans. Somehow, across the large expanse of desert and sky, Abraham and Sarah and Nahor and Milkah kept in touch. Genesis 22:2 says,

Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor.”

While Abraham and Sarah waited for years and struggled to have just one child, their brother and sister-in-law had quite a large family. Milkah gave birth to eight sons (!): Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel. The youngest son, Bethuel, became the father of Rebekah who years later became the wife of Abraham and Sarah’s long-awaited promised son, Isaac. Milkah is specifically mentioned four other times in the book of Genesis (23; 24:15, 24, 47). Milkah’s youngest son, Bethuel, is also our link to what we can learn from her life. Continue reading

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