The Death of Abraham's Father


The death of the father of Abraham in Acts 7:4 has been an area of much
discussion in the field of biblical chronology. 

It is commonly held that Terah, the immediate father of Abraham, is the
father referred to in Acts.  

     Acts   7:2    And he said, "Men and brethren and fathers, listen:
                   The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham
                   when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in
             :3    and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from
                   your relatives, and come to a land that I will show
             :4    Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and
                   dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father
                   was dead, He moved him to this land in which you
                   now dwell.
             :5    And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even
                   enough to set his foot on.  

The reasoning of some commentators is as follows, since Genesis 11:32
advises Terah died at the age of 205 years and Genesis 12:4 is commonly
rendered to indicate Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran,
therefore these verses imply Terah was 130 (205 - 75) years old when
he fathered Abraham.

     Gen   11:32   So the days of Terah were two hundred and
                   five years, and Terah died in Haran.

           12:4    So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to
                   him, and Lot went with him. And Abraham was
                   seventy-five years old when he departed from

                Terah 70 yrs   ---         
              (fathers 3 sons)  |
                (Gen 11:31)     |   
                                |     ---   ?? Terah 130 yrs  
                                |      |       when Abraham 
                                |      |       is born
                                |      |
                                |      |
                Terah 205 yrs  ---    ---    Abraham 75 yrs   
                when he dies                 (Gen 12:4)
                (Gen 11:32)

However, this reasoning conflicts with Genesis 11:26 which states Terah
was 70 years old when he 'fathered' Abram, Nahor and Haran.

     Gen   11:26   Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot
                   Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 

[ NB:  1) Those who favour the view that Terah was 130 years old upon
          fathering Abraham argue that at the age of 70 Terah merely
          started fathering the first of his three sons and that another
          60 years passed before Abraham was born.    
       2) To support this view it is commonly claimed that the verses
          relating to the birth of Shem reflect a similar situation.
          (However, as shown on the previous page this line of
          reasoning is not necessary.)
       3) A counter argument to Terah giving birth at 130 years old
          can be found by considering the comment of Abraham when he
          was told Sarah would give birth to his son.
          Gen  17:17  The Abraham fell on his face and laughed,
                      and said in his heart, "Shall a child be
                      born to a man who is one hundred years
                      old? ...
          Clearly Abraham considered himself too old! Had
          Terah indeed fathered Abraham in his 130th year of
          life, Abraham would not have been so dismissive.
          NB: 1) Abraham's ancestors, Arphaxad to Nahor (seven
                 generations), fathered their key sons between
                 the recorded ages of 20-34 years, Gen 11:12-24.
       4) Gen 11:26 does not state if the 3 sons were triplets, or
          if the 3 sons were the result of multiple births, or if
          the 3 sons had a common mother.
       5) Abraham is recorded as having a number of other sons!
          Through his concubines, refer Gen 25:6,2-4.
          Abraham's marriage to his concubine Keturah (Gen 25:1)
          is mentioned after Sarah's death at 127 years (Gen 23:1).
          Abraham's age when the sons of the concubines were born
          is not stated. ]

If one looks carefully, there is a subtle indication that Terah had
died some time after Abraham entered the land of Canaan. 

      Abraham would have been about 135 (205-70) years old when Terah
      died in his 205th year of life.
      This places the death of Terah just prior to the death of Sarah
      at 127 (refer Gen 23:1 and Gen 17:17). This is the time that
      news came from Haran concerning the family of Nahor. The
      indication is that this news came as a result of a messenger
      being sent from Haran to advise Abraham of the demise of his
      father Terah.

The father in Acts 7:4, was not Terah!

The term 'father' in Hebrew has a wider meaning than it does in English.
In Hebrew the term can also be applied to one's grandfather or great
grandfather etc, etc.

Due to the longer life spans of Abraham's ancestors there are a number
of possibilities. However, only the death of one of these ancestors is
significant enough to warrant determining when Abraham would be called
to enter the Promised Land.

***   NOAH   ***

Noah died 350 years after the flood.

     Gen    9:28   And Noah lived after the flood three hundred
                   and fifty years.
             :29   So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and
                   fifty years; and he died.  


In summary, Acts 7:4, rather than confusing the chronology of this period actually provides a critical link between the Flood and the subsequent calling of Abraham!
to Exodus

to the
Calling of

The Age of
Jacob when
Joseph was
The 400 years
& 430 years
Overview of

C h r o n o l o g y   O u t l i n e


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