VIII. Was Abraham a Triplet?
A. The narrative about of Shem, Ham,
and Japheth provides justification for two important observations
regarding Genesis 11:26:
1. Just because Abraham is listed first does not mean he is the oldest of three siblings.
2. The use of yalad in Genesis 11:26 does not require that Abraham was born when Terah was 70; it could have been later.
B. In addition, it is our contention that yalad does NOT always mean:
1. Someone sires or gives birth to another person in a strict parent-child relationship.
2. Important clues to the meaning of yalad concerning the Mosaic use of yalad can be gleaned from the biblical text itself.
a. Consider Genesis 11:27b-32:
“Terah [yalad] became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran
[yalad] became the father of Lot. And Haran died in the presence of his
father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And
Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was
Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran,
the father of Milcah and Iscah. And Sarai was barren; she had no child.
And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson,
and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out
together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan;
and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. And the days of Terah
were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.” (Ge 11:27-32
This implies that Abram was a triplet and was born in Terah's seventieth year of life.
b. Consider Act 7:4
"Then he left the land
of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father
died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living.
c. If Abram was
born in his father's seventieth year and left seventy-five years later
when his father was one hundred forty-five then how did he leave after
Terah died at the ripe old age of 205?
1. Stephen was wrong? But Ussher was too as he held to this view.
2. The biblical text is corrupt. The LXX and
Samaritan Pentateuch play with the text at this point to get rid of the
incongruity but they don't agree. Both are known to modify texts to fit the conceptions of their religious community.
3. We are wrong in our assumptions on how to read
such matters and so the situation is like that of Noah and his
sons. All the sons are listed in the order of importance and that
the year of birth is that of the first child and not all children.
d. Consider Genesis 46:15: It states that Jacob had
“thirty-three” banim (“sons”) and banoth (“daughters”) through Leah, but
Genesis 46:9-14 makes it clear that most of these sons and daughters are
grandchildren. And Genesis 46:18 identifies “sixteen” sons through
Zilpah, but Genesis 46:16-17 makes it clear that most of these ben are
grandsons and great-grandsons.
e. Consider Numbers 1:18
1. Often the verb yalad implies an ancestor/descendant relationship rather than
a parent/child relationship.
2. The use of yalad in Numbers 1:18
suggests it has a cultural/sociological significance which transcends
biological reproduction. This verse records that in a census taken
shortly after the Israelites fled Egypt, the people were assembled to
yalad mishpachah (<04940> clan or family).
a) In the
Septuagint (LXX) yalad is translated in Greek as ἐπαξονέω:
“to register, to enroll on tablets”
b) Modern translations:
1) NASB, “registered by ancestry”
2) JPS, “declared
3) NKJV, “recited their ancestry”
c) Yalad thus seems related to the genealogical record, and its
purpose may be more directed toward recording a child’s ancestry
than his/her birth. The Israelites were more interested in recording genealogical
lines than birthdays. The Israelites assembled in Numbers 1 were, in
effect, made part of their families for inheritance purposes when
their ancestry was recorded – and Numbers uses the
verb yalad to describe that event.
C. When are we sure that yalad means that someone actually sired a person or bore a person directly?
1. When it is accompanied by a birth narrative. The narrative makes it plain that a person is a son.
2. When yalad is used with the word harah. This later word seems to mean something like pregnant. A virgin conceives (harah) and gives birth (yalad) to a son. (Is. 7:14)
3. We have not been able to find an exception to these two principles.