Problem: Abraham was 75 or 135 when he left Haran
Verses: Genesis 12:4, others; Status: Weak

According to Genesis 11:26, Genesis 11:32, and Acts 7:4, the following statements seem to be true:

Yet this is Genesis 12:4:

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (ESV)

This is a prima facie contradiction, but there are at least two responses. Firstly, one of the verses I mentioned, Acts 7:4, is part of a speech given by Stephen. Stephen was just a man. If it had been Jesus speaking, I would see the problem, but it's not obvious to me that Stephen's words are endorsed by the Bible as completely accurate.

But lets suppose they are. In that case, another of those verses, Genesis 11:26 becomes crucial:

When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran. (ESV)

Looking Unto Jesus says that this verse "simply reveals that Terah began to have children at the age of 70", and then goes on to claim that Terah was 130 when Abram was born. This explanation has some plausibility, if you're willing to accept that the births are not listed in chronological order. However, the ESV translation gives the impression that all three offspring were born when Terah was roughly 70 (though unless they were triplets, there must be some vagueness here). But many other translations more clearly allow the possibility that there was a long period of time between the births. Here's the NIV:

After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. (NIV)

The key difference being the word "after". This seems a fairly technical translation issue, which I can't pass judgement on. Anyway, the argument from Looking Unto Jesus, combined with the fact that you don't necessarily have to take Stephen's speech as completely accurate, leads me to file this as Weak.

Updated: 2008-06-03

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