Who bought the tomb in which Joseph was laid?

Posted on Aug.14, 2009. Filed in Joshua, Acts. Average rating: 2.0 / 10 (Rate It).

Both Joshua and Acts contain descriptions of Joseph’s resting place. In each, Joseph’s body was interred at Shechem, in a tomb bought from the descendants of Hamor. The accounts disagree, however, concerning who bought the tomb.

According to Joshua, it was Joseph’s father, Jacob, who bought the tomb:

The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem, in the portion of ground that Jacob had bought from the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for one hundred pieces of money; it became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph. [Joshua 24:32, NRSV]

In Acts, however, Stephen tells the council that the bodies of Jacob and his family were laid in a tomb bought by Abraham:

‘Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.’ [Acts 7:14-16, NRSV]

So who bought the tomb in which Joseph was laid, Jacob or Abraham?

N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.

: , , , ,
5 Comments Ratings

Inerrantist Responses

To suggest a response to this claim of error, please use the comments section below.

Rate this Claim of Error

How serious a problem for inerrancy do you think this is?

Average rating: 2.0 / 10

You must be logged in to rate errors.


  1. 1

    It is also possible that Stephen misspoke and that Acts accurately records this.

  2. 2

    Quite right. Added to the inerrantist responses. Thanks.

  3. 3

    You could probably make a good argument that Stephen was speaking through the Holy Spirit, and thus should not have made this error. But regardless, I don’t think it’s all that serious ..

  4. 4

    This is actually a fun one, in my opinion.

    I agree with the first option, that it was bought and sold twice. This actually isn’t a stretch – the patriarchs do something VERY similar in Genesis 26:18: Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

    So, who dug the wells – Abraham, or Isaac?
    Same thing.

  5. 5

    It’s also possible Abraham bought the tomb, and later, Jacob bought more land that completely surrounded the tomb. So therefore Joseph could be buried in the tomb that Abraham bought, which automatically also meant he was also buried in the portion of ground that Jacob bought.

    With people’s long lifespans in those days, it’s possible the sons of Hamor could have lived long enough to have dealing with both Abraham and Jacob (who was Abraham’s grandson).

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site: