Qualities of Jesus in his ancestors names – part 1


friendly shepherdThis is the fifth in the series of posts unpacking the prophecy of Jesus hidden in the names of his forebears. In the last post,“The fame of the healer” we left the prophecy hanging mid sentence. We had see how the names from Shem to Peleg created the statement …

“The renown of the healer/releaser sent from the other side of the divide:”

… but I stopped there.

In fact the names from the next in the list, “Reu” right through to “Jacob”/”Israel” all add qualities to the list of things the healer/releaser would be famous for, but in this post I’m just going to take a simple look at the names down to Terach, Abram’s Father. Then in the next post we will see an alternative possibility in Terach’s name plus a sub-clause of qualities that make a statement in their own right in the last messianic ancestors to appear in Genesis.

So here we go…


Reu is the male name related to Ruth and in the same way simply means a “Friend” but the roots of the word also give us a sense of the quality of friendship in view. So “Reu”/”רעו” is given strongs number 7466 and translated “friend”, but note it is connected to both “Rei”/”” meaning “a pasture” and “Reah”/”רעה”  meaning to “to pasture/feed/tend” etc and notes it’s figurative use in shepherding people, (see Strongs 7462 via 7453).

So it is not difficult to see “Reu” as a quality which Jesus is famous for. Not only is he the “Good Shepherd” who “lays down his life for his sheep”, (John 10:11); he is also the “friend” who lays down his life for his love of others, (John 15:13).


“Serug”/”שרוג” comes from the verb “Sarag”/”שרג” meaning “to be entwined” and the derived noun “Serig”/”שריג”, (used only three times in the Bible),  which is a vine branch, (see Genesis 40:10, 12 and Joel 1:7).

So Serug is either:

branch-vineA “branch” as translated by both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names.  Jesus is the prophesied four times with the title branch, (Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Zechariah 3:8, 6:12), though a different word for branch is used, “tzemach”/”צמח” which is a young shoot or new branch of a “natzer”/”נצר” , which was introduced as a messianic title in Isaiah 11:1- “A bud will come out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit.

Which is why the Gospels comment on Jesus being called the “Nazarene” by the crowds, the Evangelists saw the word play connection in name of Jesus’ home town.

But personally I see even more in the fact that a “serig” is a vine branch, because Jesus gives himself the title “the true vine” in John 15.

Like Reu, Serug speaks to a quality of Jesus specifically acknowledged by the Gospels.


NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates “Nahor”/”נהור” as “snorting”. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names adds “breathing hard”, both assume a possible root word for the letters “nhr”/”נהר”  which isn’t used directly in the Biblical text, but is common in related Semitic languages. Fortunately “Nahor” seems to be connected to a small cluster of words, so we can find meanings that  give a better understanding of the name and would have been kinder to the kid growing up.

For instance “nahrh”/”נהרה”, Strong’s number 5105 means “light” and comes from a root that is actually used in the Bible and is identical to the root “nhr”/”נהר” assumed from other semitic languages, but this root has a Strong’s number 5102 and means “to shine”, “beam” or “flow together”. Similarly there is an unused grammatical construct of the verb “harar”/”חרר”/”to burn” or “to be hot” which also produces the letters “נהר”. By the time Hebrew  started to transition into Aramaic a selection of similar spellings all came to mean “lamp” or “light” or “fire”(see Strong’s 5094, 5102, 5135).

Reviewing all the words in the family it becomes clear that they all reflect a fluid-heat-light quality, even “snorting” is likely to reflect burning anger or heavy panting after running, you can read more at www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Nahor.html.

For this post though I will translate “Nahor” as “Light” or perhaps “Lamp” because a lamp produces light and heat by burning a flow of oil.

Jesus of course is the “Light of the World“, John 8:12 and 9:5, but he also calls himself a lamp that burns brighter than the prophets before him: “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light, but the testimony which I have is greater than that of John“, John 5:35-36.


Finally Terach/”תרח” is another complicated name to translate as it is not a Hebrew name, classical sources see in the name a word meaning “delay’, “turn” or “wander”, so NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates it as  “Wanderer” and the  BDB Theological Dictionary refers to mountain goats because they wander in the wilderness.

Jesus of course says of himself as he leaves one village he has only recently arrived at: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.“, Luke 9:58.

So I’m happy at this point to go with “wanderer” as a quality Jesus would be famous for, in the next post we will consider a wordplay on Terach name that gives us a fascinating possibility, byt for now we can see Jesus in our list of things that marked him out.

“The renown of the healer/releaser sent from the other side of the divide: a friend/shepherd of people, a branch/vine, the light/lamp, a wanderer…”

In the next post we will finish this list of attributes.

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2024 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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