Sunday, 10 April 2022
Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. Acts 7:4
The previous verses referred to Abraham’s having been called out of Mesopotamia and to a land that God would show him. The words now continue, and they clearly show that the calling indicated here is not the same as the statement referred to in Genesis 12:1. He was first called out of Ur, and then the Lord spoke to him again sometime later. Luke’s words of the verse begin with, “Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran.”
The verb is an aorist participle. The words more appropriately read, “Then having come out of the land of the Chaldeans, he dwelt in Haran.” With the proper rendering, it is one continuous action as the reader follows the words of Stephen. The movement to this location, Haran, is recorded in Genesis 11:31 –
“And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.”
The call out of Ur was to Abraham, but it is Terah, the father, who led the family out. It is speculation, but the name of the location, Haran, may have been selected by Terah in honor of his dead son. He is recorded in Genesis 11:26 –
“Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.”
No matter what, they were called out of Mesopotamia, and along the way, they stopped in this location and stayed. The Bible does not say why. It says nothing of disobedience to the Lord in having done so or anything like that. All that is recorded is that they dwelt in Haran.
If one were to speculate, it may be that the selection of the location was because Terah liked it, or maybe he was too frail to move on. It could be that the Lord purposed that Abraham, not Terah, would be considered the father of the people’s time in Canaan, and so Terah was not to be the one to lead the family into the land. No matter what the reason, they stayed there in Haran. But Luke next records Stephen, saying, “And from there, when his father was dead.”
That agrees with Genesis 11:32 –
“So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.”
The dating here brings in a problem. Genesis 11:26 (above) said that Terah was seventy years old when he had his sons. And yet, it says that Abraham was 75 when he departed from Haran in Genesis 12:4. That leaves 60 years that are hard to reconcile with the biblical narrative. But this is not really a problem.
All it says is that Terah was seventy years old when he had his sons. Abraham is placed first in the list, but this does not mean that either Abraham was born first, nor does it mean that all the sons were born by the time he was seventy. Rather, Abraham is placed first, just as the Bible often places the son of the chosen line first. And so, Terah started to have sons, not finished having sons, at seventy.
With this, we can see that Terah would have been one hundred and thirty when he had Abraham. That would have been in the year 2009AM (from the creation of the world). Terah was seventy when he had his first child, Haran, and Haran would have been sixty years older than Abraham.
With this complication explained, Luke next writes that “He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.” That is the second calling of Abraham, but the first calling recorded in Genesis –
“Now the Lord had said to Abram:
‘Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” Genesis 12:1-4
Life application: There is often confusion in how people read and interpret difficult verses such as what is presented in Acts 7:4. Many find it easy to simply say there is an error in the chronology presented by Stephen. Others use a text which has obviously been manipulated. For example, the Samaritan Pentateuch simply changes Terah’s age from two hundred and five to one hundred and five. Because it simplifies things, they claim that must be the true reading.
However, by following the timeline of the world (as noted above with the year of Abraham’s birth), the chronology fits perfectly. The study of understanding the biblical narrative is hard at times, but it is well worth the effort in order to see what God is doing, and also to see just how accurate the Bible actually is.
To understand the timeline of the world, as it is recorded in the Bible, the chronology as compiled during the giving of the Superior Word sermons will be provided below. It goes as far as Deuteronomy because that is where the sermons are up to at the time of writing this Acts commentary. It would be beneficial to you to print this off and keep it handy.
This chronology carefully follows the Bible, but for any given date there may be a deviation of a single year depending on what time of the year an event occurs. However, it closely and accurately reflects what is faithfully recorded in Scripture within one year throughout the entire chronology.
Take time to carefully study the details as you read the Bible. It is well worth your time. You will find that what some people claim are “errors” is simply their lack of careful study showing through.
Lord God, thank You that we have a sure and reliable word. It is a treasure and a marvel to follow its many wonderful patterns and truths as we read of the story of redemption as You have laid it out. We know we have a sure word! Thank You for this. Amen.
Biblical Timeline of the World – AM = Anno Mundi (Year of the World)
- Adam created 1AM; died 930AM
- Seth born 130AM; died 1042AM
- Enosh born 235AM; died 1140AM
- Cainan born 325AM; died 1235AM
- Mahalalel born 395AM; died 1290AM
- Jared born 460AM; died 1422AM
- Enoch born 622AM; translated 987AM
- Methuselah born 687AM; died 1656AM (the year of the flood)
- Lamech born 874AM; died 1651AM
- Noah born 1056AM
- Flood of Noah – 1656 AM (Noah was 600 years old – Genesis 7:6)
- Waters dried up from earth – 1657AM (1st of the year – Genesis 8:13)
- Shem 100 years old 1659AM (Genesis 11:10)
- Arphaxad born 1659AM (Genesis 11:10)
- Salah born 1694AM (Genesis 11:12)
- Eber born 1724AM (Genesis 11:14)
- Peleg born 1758AM (Genesis 11:16)
- Reu born 1788AM (Genesis 11:18)
- Serug born 1820AM (Genesis 11:20)
- Nahor born 1850AM (Genesis 11:22)
- Terah born 1879AM (Genesis 11:24)
- Peleg died 1997AM (Genesis 11:19)
- Nahor died 1998AM (Genesis 11:25)
- Noah died 2006AM (Genesis 9:28)
- Abram born 2009AM (Deduced from Genesis)
- Reu died 2027AM (Genesis 11:21)
- Serug died 2050AM (Genesis 11:23)
- Abram called to move to Canaan 2084AM
- Ishmael born 2095AM (Genesis 16:16)
- Arphaxad died 2097AM (Genesis 11:12)
- Covenant of Circumcision 2108AM (Genesis 17:1)
- Isaac Born 2109AM (Genesis 21:5)
- Salah died 2127AM (Genesis 11:15)
- Sarah died 2146AM (Genesis 23:1)
- Isaac married Rebekah 2149AM (Genesis 25:20)
- Shem died 2159AM (Genesis 11:11)
- Abraham died 2184AM (Genesis 25:7)
- Eber died 2188AM (Genesis 11:17)
- Jacob and Esau Born 2169AM (Genesis 25:26)
- Esau Married two wives 2209AM (Genesis 26:34)
- Ishmael died 2232AM (Genesis 25:17)
- Isaac blesses Jacob approx. 2247AM (Back-dated from Joseph being 30 Genesis 41:46)
- Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel approx. 2254AM (Genesis 29)
- Jacob completes 14 years of labor approx. 2261AM (Genesis 30:25)
- Jacob departs to return to Canaan approx. 2267AM (Genesis 31:38)
- Joseph 17 years old approx. 2275AM (Genesis 37:2)
- Isaac died 2289AM (Genesis 35:28)
- Joseph 30 years old; second over all Egypt 2289AM (Genesis 41:46)
- Jacob stands before Pharaoh at 130 2299AM (Genesis 47:9) * 215 years after promise to Abraham
- Jacob died 2316AM (Genesis 47:28)
- Joseph died approx. 2370AM (Genesis 50:26)
Genesis ended with the death of Joseph. He was born right around the year 2260 Anno Mundi. He lived 110 years and so his death came at approximately 2370AM. After the death of Joseph, not another word about the time which the Israelites remained in Egypt was given until sometime around the birth of Moses.
This was a period of about 64 years and so Exodus 1:1 is somewhere around the year 2434AM, but the date isn't specific. However, the dating of the Bible will become specific again at key points during the book.
Just because it is a period of only 64 years from the death of Joseph until the time of the birth of Moses, it is a full 215-year period from Jacob's arrival until the Exodus, which occurs when Moses is about 80 years old.
- Israel departs Egypt on the 15th of the 1st month in the year 2514AM (Exodus 12:40; see Exodus 12:6)
- Israel comes to Wilderness of Sin on 15th day of the 2nd month in the year 2514AM (Exodus 16:1)
- Israel comes to Wilderness of Sinai on the 1st day of the 3rd month in the year 2514AM (Exodus 19:1)
- Tabernacle is raised up on first day of 1st month of the year 2515 (Exodus 40:17)
The dating of Leviticus can be figured based on when Solomon’s Temple was built. By tracing back from that day as stated in 1 Kings 6:1, which indicates 480 years from the Exodus, we can assert with relative confidence that it was penned approximately 1445 BC.
There was a 45-day journey to reach Mount Sinai, where the Israelites worked to construct the Tabernacle. In Exodus 40:2 it stated, “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” This would have been the beginning of the second year and 345 days after the Exodus and 300 days since their arrival at Sinai. It would also make it the year 2515 AM. Later, the Israelites departed Sinai as indicated in Numbers 10:11 –
“Now it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle of the Testimony.”
As Leviticus was certainly recorded by Moses during this 50-day period, we can be confident of this timeframe and dating.
After the exodus, there was a 45-day journey to reach Mount Sinai, where the Israelites worked to construct the Tabernacle. In Exodus 40:2 it stated, “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” This was the beginning of the second year, 345 days after the Exodus, and 300 days since their arrival at Sinai. It would also be the year 2515 AM.
Numbers begins its text thirty days later on the first day of the second month of this same year. The book of Leviticus was compiled during a very short period of time between the ending of Exodus and up to Numbers 10:11, a period of fifty days. Numbers lasts much longer.
- The Lord speaks to Moses on the 1st day of the 2nd month in the 2nd year after coming out of Egypt, 2515AM (Numbers 1:1)
- Israel departs Sinai on the 20th day of the 2nd month in the 2nd year after coming out of Egypt, 2515AM (Numbers 10:11)
- Miriam dies in the Wilderness of Zin in the 1st month of the 3rd year after leaving Egypt, 2516AM (Numbers 20:1)
- Aaron dies on Mt. Hor on the 1st day of the 5th month in the 40th year after leaving Egypt, 2554AM (Numbers 33:38)
The Exodus occurred in the year 2514 Anno Mundi. Deuteronomy comes at the ending of the fortieth year since the Exodus, as is noted in Deuteronomy 1:3. Therefore, it is recorded in the 11th month of the year 2554 Anno Mundi.
- On the 1st day of the 11th month of the 40th year Moses spoke to the children of Israel, 2554AM (Deuteronomy 1:3)
- Moses died no later than the 7th day of the 12th month of the 40th year (possibly earlier) in the year 2554 Anno Mundi, or from the creation of the world.