by Eric Lyons, M.Min

When calculating the age of Terah at the time that Abraham (his son) was born, one is compelled to conclude that he was around 130. Considering that Terah died at age 205 (Genesis 11:32), that Abraham moved to the land of Palestine after Terah’s death (Acts 7:4), and that Abraham was 75 when he departed Haran and moved to the land of Palestine (Genesis 12:4), the clear implication is that Terah was at least 130 at Abraham’s birth. [For more information on the age of Terah when Abraham was born see: “How Old Was Terah When Abraham Was Born?”] The “problem” with Terah being 130 when Abraham was born has to do with why Abraham regarded his own ability to beget a son at age 100 as somewhat incredible (Genesis 17:1,17). Curious and diligent Bible students want to know why the apostle Paul described Abraham’s body as being “already dead (since he was about 100 years old)” [Romans 4:19; cf. Hebrews 11:12], if Abraham was born when his father was 130? Why would Abraham have staggered at the thought of a 100-year-old-man begetting a son if the above calculations are correct? [“Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old?’ ” (Genesis 17:17).]

First, it should be remembered that Abraham did not think it impossible to sire a child by Hagar at age 85 (Genesis 16). In fact, by insisting that Abraham engage in conjugal relations with her maid, Sarah exhibited confidence in his ability to raise up an heir. In modern times, one only rarely hears of a man in his mid-seventies begetting children. Abraham, on the other hand, begot his first son at 86 years of age. Although during Abraham’s day the longevity of man was not what it once was (e.g., Noah begot sons at 500 years of age—Genesis 5:32), it still was greater than it is today. Thus, we must refrain from comparing the ages of those who sired children thousands of years ago by today’s standards.

Another detail often overlooked in Abraham’s life is that he had more children than just Ishmael and Isaac. He actually obtained six heirs through a woman he married by the name of Keturah (Genesis 25:1-6; cf.1 Chronicles 1:32). Because nothing is mentioned about Keturah until after the death of Sarah, it is reasonable to presume that the children she bore to Abraham came along well after Isaac was born. Genesis 23:1-2 states that “Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years” and “died.” After reading about Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah recorded in Genesis 24, the text says, “Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bore him Zimran, Joktan, Medan, Midian, Ishback, and Shuah” (25:1-2, emp. added). If these events are to be understood as occurring in chronological order, it means Abraham was more than 140 when Keturah bore him six sons. [Abraham was ten years older than Sarah (17:17), and thus when Sarah died at 127, Abraham would have been 137. Also, since Isaac was born when Abraham was 100, and he (Isaac) married Rebekah at the age of 40 (25:20), then this would make Abraham at least 140 when he married Keturah.]….

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