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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Genesis 11

Verses 1-32

Youth and After

Genesis 11:32

'And Terah died in Haran.' What of that?

It was not until they came to Haran that they touched, as it were, their first footprints and found the old religion. There had been little temptation to pause before on the score of a people's worship, but when, worn out in body and mind, Abram suddenly came upon the old religion, his journeyings after another faith and form of worship were at an end. It was Abram the younger man who withstood the temptations of Haran.

I. You see the thought underlying this bit of prosaic information. It simply means that the years close down the possibilities of a certain kind of moral Exodus. If you wait until you get into years before you find right principles, form good resolutions well then it is better to make some start in the right direction, but why pile up the odds that start you never will?

The enthusiasms of old men are as rare as they are short-lived unless they are evolved out of earlier and worthy days. I am far from saying that old age necessarily blocks the way to great attempts or to conspicuous success in them. All history would cry out against such a statement. There is an old age we delight to honour and which reverses the ordinary attitude to it in the general world.

II. We may apply what has been so far advanced, first to pleasures, and secondly to something more important to you than old age, and that is middle life.

( a ) To everything, says the preacher, there is a time and a season, and it must be that youth is the time for amusements and pleasures which are not so much the privilege of youth as native to it. We are told that Darwin in his old age expressed regret that he had deprived himself of so many of the pleasures and resources of life by his concentration upon that study the results of which have made his name so justly famous, and no young man should give place to a doctrine of work which excludes his right to the joyous abandon of his years.

( b ) When a man begins to sight the middle years he learns to know himself as never before or after. This is the stage where increase of knowledge often means increase of sorrow. It is in truth the sorrow of finding out our limitations, which in their first acquaintance often seem more appalling than they actually are. While youth may be saved by hope of what is to be, middle life is often lost in the drab reality of what is, and even where middle life has won success in the things men covet, and after which they strive, it may be that that success is just deadly in its reaction of monotony. Men do not always go under because they cannot do things. They fail not because they do not know what it is well to do, but because they do not choose to attempt it. And why do they not choose? So far as this question affects middle life it is largely because so few of us have the grit to face its difficulties.

Ambrose Shepherd, Men in the Making, p. 1.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 11". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/genesis-11.html. 1910.