Genesis 11:32—Was Abraham 75 years old when he left Haran, or was he 135 years old?

Problem: Genesis 11:26 states, “Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” In Acts 7:4 Stephen states that Abraham did not leave Haran until after Terah, his father, died. Genesis 11:32 says that Terah died at 205 years of age. If Abraham was born when Terah was 70, and did not leave for Canaan until Terah died at 205, that would make Abraham 135 years old when he left Haran to travel to Canaan. However, Genesis 12:4 states, “And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” How old was Abraham when he left Haran? Was he 75 or was he 135?

Solution: Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran. Although it was customary to list the names of sons from the oldest to the youngest, this practice was not always followed. Genesis 11:26 does not say that Terah was 70 years old when Abraham was born. Rather it states that Terah lived for 70 years before he had any sons, then he had three sons, Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. Haran was probably the oldest son of Terah, indicated by the fact that he was the first to die (Gen. 11:28). Nahor was probably the middle son, and Abraham was the youngest. Abraham was listed first because he was the most prominent of Terah’s sons. Since Abraham was 75 when he left Haran, this would mean that he was born when Terah was 130 years old.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.