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Are There Triplets In the Bible?

That’s a good question.   Two verses suggest this might be the case.

In Genesis 5:32 we read that Noah lived 500 years and begat Shem, Ham and Japheth.  Then again we read in Genesis 11:26 that Terah lived 70 years and begat Abram (Abraham), Nahor and Haran.  We might want to assume that this just means they were born after Noah turned 500, or Terah turned 70.  But in every other case the verse reads like this:  And “the father” lived “x” years and begat “the eldest son”  and after “the father” begat the “eldest son” he lived “y” years and begat sons and daughters.

So it is unusual to list three sons by name and not just one.  Could this be because they were triplets and the first to be born is known as the eldest?  Or might there be another reason?

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We get a clue from Noah’s sons.  Here’s what else we learn from Genesis.   Shem begat Arpachshad when he was 100, and Arpachshad was born two years after the flood (Genesis 11:10).  We know that Noah was 600 years old at the start of the flood (Genesis 7:6).  So what do we get from this?  If Shem were born when Noah was 500 he would have been 100 the year of the flood but he isn’t 100 until two years later when Arpachshad is born  That means Shem was born when Noah was 502.

This tells us, at least in the case of Noah’s sons, that they aren’t triplets.  There must be another reason for listing the names of certain sons.  Generally the sons are listed to establish the lineage of the prophets.  The only time the names of other sons (or daughters) are listed by name is because they have a major role to play in Biblical lineage and the family of man.  We know for sure that applies to Noah and his three sons since all the nations of the world are descended from those three.

Does that same reasoning apply to the sons of Terah?  What about Nahor?  His lineage is very important.  Nahor is the grandfather of Rebecca, the wife of Isaac.  And of course, Haran and his descendants are also key members of Abraham and his family.

Nahor married his niece Milcah, the daughter of his brother Haran and the sister of his nephew Lot. Nahor lived in the land of his birth on the east of the river Euphrates at Haran. He was the father of Bethuel and grandfather of Laban and Rebecca; Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, son of Abraham. Nahor’s great-granddaughters through Laban, Rebecca’s nieces Rachel and Leah, became the wives of Jacob, son of Isaac.

Also, the birth of triplets is remarkable even in this day and age.  The Bible states unequivocally that Jacob and Esau were twins.  It seems odd that it isn’t explicitly stated that the sons of Terah were triplets. If they were since it would have been a truly unusual event.

Also, other scripture verses suggest Terah was at least 130 when Abraham was born.

Were there triplets in the Bible?  We know Noah’s sons weren’t.  Most likely Terah’s sons were not either.


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15 thoughts on “Are There Triplets In the Bible?

  1. I realize that this article was written 5 years ago, but as I was reading it, I still could see how Noah could have triplets based on the years stated. I don’t know much about the calendar that they used, but if it was close to what we use, I think I can make a case for triplets…

    If Noah was born in the first month of the year and Shem was born at the last month of the year, then when Noah was 600 at the start of the flood Shem could have just turned 99. If the Flood started in the first month of the year when noah just turned 600 Shem could have been only 99 for under a month, which just under 2 years from then he would still be 100. Noah would also still be 600 when Shem turned 100, which would take care of the part where he was 500 when they were born.

    Just a thought while I was reading this article.

    1. Thanks to the writer of the article for those facts. I got more insight. I have to say though that unless there are other Scripture verses that prove a difference of years between Noah’s three sons, all this proves is that Shem appears to have been born when Noah was 502 years old and not when he was 500. Some Bible translations already don’t state the sons were born “when” Noah was 500 years old, whilst others do. e.g. “After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” (NIV). and “By the time Noah was 500 years old, he was the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” (NLT). It’s good to have that cleared up with Gen. 11: 10 and Gen. 7: 6. It still, however, doesn’t prove or disprove if Noah’s sons were triplets. But it’s just so great to be able to discover and discuss new treasures and gems and mysteries and facts and truths and light in the Word of God throughout one’s lifetime!

      1. Genesis 10:21 NIV – Sons were born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth…

        Genesis 9:24 NIV – When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said…
        The latter verse is referring to HAM, the youngest and the former is about SHEM was the second born.

        So the three brothers weren’t triplets.

        Bless you.

        1. Hello all. I think you slipped a little on your math, just a little though. You said that Shem begat Arpachshad (APAR, I like to call him), then you said he was born 2 years after the flood. That would mean mom was in labor for a year. It does not say that Shem begat APAR when he was 100, watch for the punctuation, which may lead to a better calculation.
          Born in 500
          Flood 2/17/600 to 2/27/601
          Shem had Elam, Asshur, APAR, Lud, and Aram
          APAR was born 2 years after the flood. So, if you go by the start of the flood, Shem would be 100 years old. If you go by the end of the flood, it would make Shem 101. If he begat APAR, 2 years after the flood depending on if you go by 600 or 601, then Shem would have had his 3rd son in either 602 or 603. But it states in verse 11:10, Shem was 100 years old and became the father of APAR two years AFTER the flood. So no matter how you slice or dice it, APAR would have been born in 603 BC or if from the very start of the flood, 602 BC. Keep in mind, when those ark doors closed, all three brothers had wives. Making the three boys being triplets very possible.

    2. just seeing this website and these comments. While some verses in Genesis appear to point to Noah’s sons being triplets, the Book of Jasher (mentioned 2 times in scripture) gives specific information with regard to Noah’s ages at the time of his son’s births. Even Genesis supports Jasher in other places. According to Jasher, Noah was 498 when Japheth was born and 502 when Shem was born. Oddly no information is given about Ham until they enter the ark later.

  2. Another thing shem in the first name when noah begat his son and that mean he was first born just like with Esau and jacob when they are born Esau is named first until he give up his birth right then jacob become the name we see first

  3. This is a question that seems the answer is not important enough for God to reveal it. I put the question in google and came to this site, but it seems some things will have to wait to ask Jesus in person!

  4. Surely Ryans calculations don’t work even if we assume Noah born in month 1 and Shem born in month 12? Using UK calendar…if Noahs birthday was in January and Shems was the following December, when Noah was 500,Shem was born,ie 0. When Noah was 501 Shem would become 1 in December.When Noah was 502 Shem would become 2 on his birthday. Thus there is always a minimum of 100 years between father and son,not 99. In reality nearer to 2 as the scriptures state. Shem born 2 years after the flood. Even if they had been triplets Shem was not the eldest. Gen 10 v 2 gives the correct chronological order,as does the Chronicles record. Shem put first,in exactly the same way as Abraham is in Gen 11 v 27, because Jesus Christ was to come through this line.

    1. I don’t believe the UK or Gregorian calendar is used. The writer (Moses) was Hebrew, Israeli and Jewish. He, those he wrote about, and those he wrote for in the five books he authored were Hebrews and used the Hebrew and Jewish calendar. The UK did not exist at the time (as the UK). Newer, more modern Bible translations do give the equivalent where the Hebraic text states names of months according to the Jewish calendar e.g. Esther 3: 14 “The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.” in most Bible versions is translated in the New Living Translation as: “March 7 of the next year.” Thus making it plain how different the calendars are, as a banal assumption that “twelfth month” means December is wildly inaccurate.

  5. 1. All 3 sons may have had different mothers, the bible NEVER states that Noah’s wife was Shem, Ham or Japheth’s mother. They weren’t triplets.
    2. Gen 5:32 is listing things about Noah thats why “AND” is used instead of “WHEN”. Also begat means “HAD” They weren’t triplets. Chapter 5 is listing things about Adam’s decedants.
    Finally, Noah was 601 when they went forth from the ark. Gen8:13, Shem was 98yrs old.
    2 years later, Shem turned 100yrs old not 102yrs old when Arphaxad was born. Gen11:10. Noah was 603yrs old.

    1. Acording to Jasher (mentioned 2 times in scripture) Naamah was the mother of both Japheth and Shem. Ham however is not mentioned at all until they enter the ark.
      Noah was 498 when Japheth was born; 502 when Shem was born. Noah only had one wife, Naamah.

  6. There is some consensus Cain and Abel were twins
    The firstborn was marked and sent out, having killed his brother. Leaving Abel as loved by God.
    Many times the second born receives favor in the bible. Why? Could pure bloodlines be involved?
    RH- children vs RH+

    1. I believe as you do, pure bloodlines involved. But I also tend to lean to TWO RHNEG bllodlines, those of the descendants of Seth, and those of the descendants of Cain. A bad one and a good one.

  7. Thank you for the interesting article and the others’ discussion. I got a lot from you. although, i do not have any discussion for now. thanks

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