Terah is known in the Bible as the father of Abram (known later as Abraham), who in turn received the covenant promise of God regarding the future birth of His Son, Jesus. Terah is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy in Luke 3:34.
Terah was the son of Nahor, who was of Noah’s son’s Shem’s line. Nahor fathered Terah at the young age of 29 years (Genesis 11:24), but Terah was 70 years old before his three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran, were born (verse 26). Haran was the father of Lot, Abram’s nephew and traveling companion, but Haran died during Terah’s lifetime (verse 28). After Haran’s death, Terah uprooted his family from their home in Ur of the Chaldeans and set out for the land of Canaan. For unknown reasons, Terah never made it to their destination but stopped and settled in Harran instead. This is where Terah died at age 205.
After Terah had passed away, God called Abram to continue the journey to Canaan. God promised to make Abram into a great nation (Genesis 12:1–2), even though Abram’s wife, Sarai, was barren (Genesis 11:30). Abraham heeded God’s command and put His trust in the Lord to the end of his days. Years later, Joshua mentions Terah in an address to the Israelites: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods’” (Joshua 24:2). Joshua then urged the people to make a clean break from their pagan heritage: “Throw away the gods your ancestors [including Terah] worshiped beyond the Euphrates River . . . and serve the Lord” (verse 14).
Terah and his family were idol-worshipers, and that means God spoke to Abraham before he even knew God. What a blessing that God can call anyone, regardless of their ancestry and former faith, to live a life for Him and be a part of His great plan.