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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Land of the Chaldaeans. From Ur of the Chaldees, Ge 11:31.

When his father was dead. This passage has given rise to no small difficulty in the interpretation. The difficulty is this: From Ge 11:26, it would seem that Abraham was born when Terah was seventy years of age—" And Terah lived seventy years and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran." From Ge 12:4, it seems that Abraham was seventy-five years of age when he departed from Haran to Canaan. The age of Terah was therefore but one hundred and forty-five years. Yet, in Ge 11:32, it is said that Terah was two hundred and five years old when he died; thus leaving sixty years of Terah's life beyond the time when Abraham left Haran. Various modes have been proposed of meeting this difficulty.

(1.) Errors in numbers are more likely to occur than any other. In the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch, it is said that Terah died in Haran at the age of one hundred and five years; which would suppose that his death occurred forty years before Abraham left Haran. But the Hebrew, Latin Vulgate, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic, read it two hundred and five years.

(2.) It is not affirmed that Abraham was born just at the time when Terah was seventy years of age. All that the passage in Ge 11:26 proves, according to the usual meaning of similar expressions, is, that Terah was seventy years old before he had any sons, and that the three were born subsequently to that. But which was born first, or how long intervals intervened between their birth, does not appear. Assuredly it does not mean that all were born precisely at the time when Terah was seventy years of age. Neither does it appear that Abraham was the eldest of the three. The sons of Noah are said to have been Shem, Ham, and Japheth, (Ge 5:32;) yet Japheth, though mentioned last, was the eldest, (Ge 10:21.) As Abraham afterwards became much the most distinguished, and as he was the father of the Jewish people of whom Moses was writing, it was natural that he should be mentioned first. If it cannot be proved that Abraham was the eldest, as assuredly it cannot be, then there is no improbability in supposing that his birth might have occurred many years after Terah was seventy years of age.

(3.) The Jews unanimously affirm that Terah relapsed into idolatry before Abraham left Haran; and this they denominate death, or a moral death.—Kuinoel. It is certain, therefore, that, from some cause, they were accustomed to speak of Terah as dead, before Abraham left him. Stephen only used language which was customary among the Jews; and would use it doubtless correctly, though we may not be able to see precisely how it can be reconciled with the account in Genesis.

{a} "Then came he out" Ge 12:5 {*} "Charran" "Haran"

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