ABC:Acts 7

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Verse 2[edit]

The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headline "How old was Abram when Ishmael was born?"[1]

Genesis 16:16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

Acts 7:2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

Genesis 11:26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Genesis 11:32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

This allegation has been made for centuries, as has the answer.[2] Genesis 11:26 just shows the oldest son was born when Terah was 70 years old, not necessarily Abraham. Abraham is just mentioned first in the passage due to his importance to the Jewish people, not because he was born first. The evidence indicates Terah was likely born first, followed by Nahor. The three were not triplets.

"Actually, the Bible never says Abram was born was Terah was 70 years old. It says that Terah was 70 before having sons. Abram is listed first among Terah’s sons, but this is because of his importance, not the fact that he was born first. For instance, Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, are never listed together in the order that they were born. 1 Abram was born when Terah was 130, not 70."

-ChristCreated.com[3]

Abraham left Canaan at age 75 after his father died (Genesis 12:4) and Terah died at age 205, so Abraham was born when Terah was roughly 130 years old. Haran was the firstborn when Terah was 70 years old, so Haran would have been 135 years old by the time Terah died, had he lived that long. Haran actually died before their father Terah did, and before Abraham and Terah even left Ur. (Genesis 11:28) Haran's son Lot appears to have been around Abraham's age, possibly even several decades older, and they traveled to the Promised Land together. (Genesis 12:4-5)

Nahor was likely between Terah's age of 135 and Abraham's age of 75 when Terah died. He ended up marrying his brother Haran's daughter, Milcah (Genesis 11:29), and may have been age 90-100 when Abraham left (which in those days was roughly middle-aged - Genesis 11:19-23). This is supported by the fact that Nahor began having children before Abraham did, 12 male children and possibly an equal amount of female children, probably 20-30 children in all. (Genesis 22:20-24)

At any rate, there is no contradiction, just a misreading of Genesis 11:26 by the critic. The evidence strongly supports Abraham having been born the youngest of his three brothers.

Verse 15[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels claims a contradiction exists and asks "Who's [sic] sepulchers?"[4]

Genesis 23:17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.

Acts 7:15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

This appears to be a clear mistake by Stephen in mistakenly combining the purchase of burial places by Jacob and Abraham. Abraham bought a field in Genesis 23 that would be used as a future burial place for himself, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, Jacob. Abraham bought the field of Machpelah before Mamre from Ephron the Hittite, of the children of Heth, in the land of Canaan. This is the famous 'Tomb of the Patriarchs', one of Israel's most famous landmarks.[5]

Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

Genesis 49:29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

Jacob on the other hand purchased the land referenced in Acts 7 from Hamor, Shechem's father near Shechem in Canaan where he erected an altar called Elelohe-Israel. The bones of Joseph were then carried there from Egypt after Joseph's death.

Genesis 33:18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.
20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.

Joshua 24:32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

Therefore, Stephen in Acts 7 actually transposes two different accounts in two different ways. If he'd stated Joseph (not Jacob) was buried in the Acts location referenced and that Jacob (not Abraham) had made the purchase, he would be correct. If on the other hand he'd stated Jacob was carried to a different location (Machpelah, not Shechem, Shechem was the location Jacob purchased) as purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite (not Hamor the father of Shechem, Hamor was the one Jacob purchased his land from) he would be correct. Instead, Stephen combined the details of both accounts.

Now, with all of that said, it is quite possible the Bible itself does not contain a contradiction, and was simply recording faithfully the exact words of Stephen, even his own mistake during what was a complex accounting of Israel's history in Acts 7. In fact, Stephen's mistake may have even helped give rise to the Jewish outrage against him that caused his death in vv. 54-60, though of course this is mere speculation. At any rate, the possibility remains that such a mistake was made by Stephen and recorded in the same way I recorded for purposes of accuracy Meritt's own mistake at the top of this page, adding [sic] afterward to clarify it was his typo, not mine. However, sic was not used by the Bible writers to my knowledge, so they would not have been able to clarify this in such a way.

Verse 48[edit]

The EvilBible claims a contradiction exists here, and makes the following comments.[6]

God dwells in chosen temples

2 Chronicles 7:12 ¶ And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.

2 Chronicles 7:16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

God dwells not in temples

Acts 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,

The EvilBible doesn't quote 2 Chronicles 7 in context, verse 14 shows that God is hearing from Heaven. The passage in context is not saying God makes it His home, just that He chooses and sanctifies it so His name will be there forever, and that He'll watch over it constantly. That God is said to hear from Heaven clearly shows His home will not be on Earth or one of its buildings, consistent with Acts 7:48.

2 Chronicles 7:12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

Sources[edit]

  1. Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
  2. Hewlett, John (1811). The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testament, and Apocrypha, Volume III. Chronological Index, 1996. Longman, Hurst, Reese, Orme, & Co.
    Bellamy, John (1818). The Holy Bible: Newly Translated from the Original Hebrew: with Notes Critical and Explanatory, Volumes 1-3. pg. 59. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.
    Eyre, George E., & Spottiswoode, William (1882). Aids to the Student of the Holy Bible: The Handy Book for Bible Readers. pg. 125. The Religious Trace Society.
  3. 'How old was Abram when Ishmael was born?' ChristCreated.com.
  4. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  5. Jewish Virtual Library. The Cave of Machpelah Tomb of the Patriarchs. Retrieved from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/machpelah.html.
  6. Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.