1sam 7:1-2, 10:24 ≠ 2sam 6:2-3, acts 13:21

Yep, you read that right. Alleged contradiction #9 is exactly the same as alleged contradiction #7. Seems a bit sloppy, doesn’t it?

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gen 16:16 ≠ acts 7:2-4, gen 11:26, 11:32

Genesis 16:16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Acts 7:2-4  To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’  “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.

Genesis 11:26  After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Genesis 11:32  Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.

There’s a whole range of related timing problems in these passages that lead to an apparent contradiction. Let’s try and lay them out:

  • If Terah had Abram when he was 70 and lived to 205, Abram must have been 135 when Terah died
  • We’re told that Terah died in Genesis 11:32, yet five chapters later in Genesis 16:16 we’re told that Abram is only 86 years old, which according to Genesis 11:32 would still be 49 years before Terah’s death

If this was all there was to it, we might assume that Genesis 11:32 is just a summary verse, reporting that Terah lived to a total of 205 years but not implying that he died before Abraham left Haran.

But…

  • Acts 7:4 says God sent Abram to Canaan only after the death of his father
  • But Genesis 12:4 says Abram left Haran for Canaan when he was 75…
  • So that would make Terah 145 when God sent Abram to Canaan, 60 years before his death

So it seems like a pretty strong case that Acts 7:4 contradicts Genesis, even if Genesis doesn’t contradict itself. Are there any possible solutions? There are quite a few suggestions, most of which strike me as a bit desperate. But there are two that I think might hold water:

  1. Perhaps a copying error has entered the Hebrew text, mistakenly altering Terah’s age at his death to 205. The Samaritan Pentateuch and Philo record Terah’s age at his death as being 145, not 205. Both those sources are pre-Christian, so they can’t be fiddling the figures to fit with Acts 7:4. That would resolve the problem, but I’m not wild about it. It would be a big call to go against both the Masoretic text and the Septuagint, which are normally very reliable (although clearly some copying errors have entered both at different points).
  2. When Genesis 11:26 says, “After Terah had lived 70 years he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran” it probably doesn’t mean he had triplets at 70, but rather that he began to have children at 70, and Abram is listed first not because he is oldest, but because he is the most important. [A similar thing occurs in Genesis 5:32, “After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth,” but Genesis 9:22-24 identifies Ham as the youngest son of Noah, not the second youngest.]

If the second possibility is right then Abram was born when Terah was 130 (or more) and God sent him to Canaan 75 years later, after the death of his father as Acts 7 says. The main objection to this proposal is that if Terah had Abram when he was 130, God’s promise that Abram would have a child at 100 doesn’t seem that amazing, but the Bible always treats it as amazing (eg. Romans 4:19). However, in Genesis 11, given their ages, it doesn’t seem that having children at 100 or even older would be that unusual, although unlike Terah most seem to have their first child around 30. The issue with Abram is not simply that 100 is old to have a child, it’s that 100 is old to have a child when you’ve been trying for decades without any luck and your wife is post-menopausal (Genesis 18:11).

In summary, these verses are possibly contradictory, but not necessarily. The big problem is that Genesis just doesn’t give us enough information to work it all out. Specifically, it doesn’t tell us exactly how old Terah was when Abram was born.

Oh, and how old was Abram when Ishmael was born? 86, just like Genesis 16:16 says.

1sam 7:1-2, 10:24 ≠ 2sam 6:2-3,
acts 13:21

1 Samuel 7:1-2 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They took it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD.

1 Samuel 10:24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” ¶ Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

2 Samuel 6:2-3 He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart

Acts 13:21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years.

1 Samuel 7:2, recording events before Saul becomes king, says that the ark of the covenant remained in Abinadab’s house in Kiriath Jearim for 20 years. But 2 Samuel 6:2-3 says the ark was taken from Abinadab’s house by David after the death of Saul over 40 years later. So how long was it in Abinadab’s house? 20 years or over 40 years?

The Reason Project has assumed that the writer intends the 20 years mentioned in 1 Samuel 7:2 covers all the time from 1 Samuel 7:3 to 2 Samuel 6:2. But are they right to make that assumption? If you read 1 & 2 Samuel carefully it becomes clear that the writer doesn’t mean the ark remained in Abinadab’s house for 20 years until David removed it, but rather the ark remained in Abinadab’s house for 20 years before the next thing the writer mentions. That is, the ark remained in Abinadab’s house for 20 years between 1 Samuel 7:3 and 1 Samuel 7:4, and a further 20 or so years from 1 Samuel 7:4 until David brought it to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6:2. More than 40 years in total.

In other words, 1 Samuel 7:3 is like a play where someone walks out holding a piece of card that says, “And the ark remained in Abinadab’s house for 20 years.” And then the next scene begins 20 years later in 1 Samuel 7:4. There is no contradiction.

1 ki 15:8 ≠ 1ki 15:1-2, 15:9-10

1Kings 15:8 And Abijah rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king.

1Kings 15:1-2 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

1Kings 15:9-10 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s [Hebrew, KJV mother’s] name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

Maacah is described variously as Abijah’s mother and then as Asa’s mother, but Asa is Abijah’s son.

This is basically the same misunderstanding as yesterday, with exactly the same answer. In ancient Hebrew “mother” (אמ) is used for any female ancestor—mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. You need to look at the context to work out the exact biological relationship.

In 1 Kings 15:10 the KJV translates אמ literally as “mother”. Most modern translations recognise that in this context, where Maacah is clearly shown to be Asa’s grandmother, it’s better to translate it as “grandmother”, because that’s what the original author meant—he just didn’t have a separate word for it.

5. Who was Abijam’s mother?

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

1ki 15:1-2 ≠ 2chron 13:1-2

1 Kings 15:1-2  In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. 

2 Chronicles 13:1  In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam, Abijah became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maacah, a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. ¶ There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 

Was Abijah’s mother Maacah the daughter of Abishalom or the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah? At first it does seem to flatly contradict, but the key is to realise that in ancient Hebrew “daughter” (בַת bat) is used for any descendant—daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, etc. 

2 Samuel 14:27 reports, “Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. The daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.”

So it seems that Absalom’s daughter Tamar married Uriel of Gibeah and gave birth to Maacah. Whether you call her the daughter of Absalom or the daughter of Uriel depends on whether you intend to focus on her father or grandfather. 

It’s much like when I take my daughter back to my home town. Because everyone there knows my father they primarily associate my daughter with him, not me. They say, “That’s Peter’s girl, not that’s Ben’s girl.”

1sam 22:20, 23:6 ≠ 2sam 8:17, 1chron 18:16, 24:6

1Sam. 22:20 ¶ But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, escaped and fled to join David.

1Sam. 23:6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

2Sam. 8:17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary;

1Chr. 18:16 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was secretary;

1Chr. 24:6 ¶ The scribe Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded their names in the presence of the king and of the officials: Zadok the priest, Ahimelech son of Abiathar and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites—one family being taken from Eleazar and then one from Ithamar.

This one’s a classic case of confirmation bias on the part of The Reason Project. But it’s not impossible to figure out—if you want to.

In 1 Samuel 22:20 we’re told that Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, is the grandson of Ahitub, who is a descendant of Eleazar, son of Aaron (1 Chr 6:3-8).

But 1 Chronicles 24:3 & 6 tells us that Ahimelech, son of Abiathar, is descended from Ithamar, another of Aaron’s sons (1 Chr 6:3).

Abiathar & Ahimelech

In other words, Abiathar (father) and Ahimelech (son) are different guys from Ahimelech (father) and Abiathar (son). It’s confusing because they’re all priests by virtue of their descent from Aaron and happen to be alive at roughly the same time.

You can see this at play in 1 Kings. In 1 Kings 2:26-27 Solomon removes Abiathar from the priesthood for supporting a rival claimant to the throne. This is Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, who had escaped a massacre of priests by Saul in 1 Samuel 22:20. But only a couple of chapters later, in 1 Kings 4:4, Abiathar is listed as one of the priests among Solomon’s chief officials. Why? Because this is a different Abiathar, the father of a guy called Ahimelech.

Confusing? Definitely.
Contradictory? Definitely not.

heb 11:17, gen 22:2 ≠ gen 16:15, 21:2-3, 25:1-2, 4:22

Heb. 11:17  ¶ By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 

Gen. 22:2  ¶ Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 

Gen. 16:15  ¶ So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 

Gen. 21:2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 

Gen. 25:1 ¶ Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 

Gen. 4:22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah. [ed. I’ve got no idea why The Reason Project cites this verse, it’s got nothing to do with Abraham.]

The author of Genesis 22:2 is well aware that Abraham has another son besides Isaac, namely Ishmael, born of Hagar. After all, he’s just written about them both in Genesis 17. So why does he call Isaac Abraham’s only son in chapter 22?

Simple. It’s because in Genesis 17:20-21 God declares that although he will bless Ishmael, he will establish his covenant to make Abraham into a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3) with Isaac alone. So as far as God’s covenant with Abraham is concerned, Isaac is his only son.

God is ramming home the implications of his command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham obeys God and sacrifices Isaac—his only son as far as the covenant is concerned—it would seem to be the end of that covenant. In the face of such a command, will Abraham still trust God?

(By the way, if you’re wondering why God would tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in the first place, you’ll have to wait until we get to objection #206. Does God approve of human sacrifice?)