Hebrews 11:8—Did Abraham know where he was going when he left his homeland to follow God?

Problem: The writer of Hebrews informs us here that Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going.” Yet Genesis 12:5 asserts that Abraham “departed to go to the land of Canaan.”

Solution: Abraham did not know at the time he was called by God where he would eventually go. He was simply told by God to go to “a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Or, as Hebrews renders it, “to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance” (Heb. 11:8). The statement (in Gen. 12:5) that he “departed to go to the land of Canaan” is a comment by the author looking back, not the condition of Abraham’s mind at the time.

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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.