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
:5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even
enough to set his foot on.
Some commentators reason 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)
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.
NOTES: 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.
- 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
is not necessarily the case.)
2) 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
[ NB: 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: Abraham's ancestors, Arphaxad to Nahor
(seven generations), fathered their key
sons between the recorded ages of 20-34
years, Gen 11:12-24. ]
3) Gen 11:26 does not state if the 3 sons were triplets or
if the 3 sons were the result of multiple births (ie,
whether the 3 sons had different mothers).
4) Abraham is recorded as having a number of other sons!
Through his concubines, refer Gen 25:6,2-4.
Abraham's subsequent marriage to his concubine Keturah
(refer 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. However, it is possible they were born a
number of years before the birth of Isaac - when Abraham
was a younger man.
If one looks carefully, there is a subtle indication that Terah had
died some time after Abraham entered the land of Canaan.
Sarah died at 127, refer Gen 23:1. As Abraham was about 10 years
older than Sarah (Gen 17:17), Abraham would have been about 137.
Prior to Sarah's death news came from Haran concerning the family
of Nahor, refer Gen 22:20-24.
An Abraham born, when Terah was in his 70th year, would be 135
years old when Terah died. (As Terah died in his 205th year.)
Therefore, the indication is that the news, which came as a
result of a messenger being sent from Haran to Abraham, came
because Haran was sending news of the demise of 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
would be sufficiently important. Truly momentous enough to warrant
determining when Abraham was called to enter the Promised Land. The
*** 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!