Questions From Readers
● How can we harmonize the accounts in Acts 7:2-4 and Genesis 11:31–12:4? The account in Acts indicates that it was while Abraham was in Mesopotamia that God commanded him: “Go out from your land and from your relatives and come on into the land I shall show you.” The Genesis account seems to indicate that this command was given to him in Haran following the death of his father Terah.—G. O., U.S.A.
The account in Acts makes it very clear that God’s command to Abraham to leave his home country and move into the land that God would show him was issued in Mesopotamia before he took up residence in Haran. This command is clearly the same one that is recorded in Genesis 12:1. The wording of the command here shows that Abraham was still in Ur of the Chaldeans, for God commands him: “Get out from your land and from your relatives,” and Haran, about 575 miles northwest of Ur, was not Abraham’s “land,” for it lay far outside Babylonia of that day. Hence Genesis 12:1-3 is not chronologically placed in the account and it is the command issued by Jehovah before Abraham ever moved out of Ur in Babylonia and which also resulted in Abraham’s further move at the death of Terah in Haran.
Various explanations of this seeming discrepancy have been made. One is that Second Chronicles, which was completed after the exile, speaks of Babylonian bath measures, whereas First Kings speaks of Jewish bath measures, and it is assumed that the Babylonian bath measure was possibly smaller, so that a greater number were required to equal the Jewish bath measures. Another suggestion is that one account gives the liquid bath measure and the other the dry bath measure. One commentator calls attention to the difference in the Hebrew words involved and suggests that when the temple basin was used as a fountain its bowl proper and the adjoining basins were filled with water in such usage so as to allow for a greater measure of liquid content.
However, if you will read the New World Translation of these two texts you will see how they can be understood without disharmony. First Kings 7:26 reads: “Two thousand bath measures were what it would contain.” However, 2 Chronicles 4:5 says: “As a receptacle, three thousand bath measures were what it could contain.” So you see that 2 Chronicles 4:5 tells us what the full capacity of the temple basin was as a receptacle, what it could contain, whereas 1 Kings 7:26 states the quantity of water that they were accustomed to put into the temple basin. In other words, they would never fill it full. They customarily put in only two thirds of its capacity.