Contemporaries of Abraham

Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham after the Battle of Kings. Melchizedek was called “the great high priest” in his day, and was the founder of Salem, a city that sought to emulate the City of Zion, and was eventually taken up into heaven. In the Doctrine and Covenants, Shem, a son of Noah, was also called “the great high priest.” (see D&C 138:41)

Is it mathematically possible for Shem and Melchizedek to be the same person? Were Abraham and Shem contemporaries? Who else among Noah’s descendants was still living at the time of Abraham? This chart calculates the relationships by age:

Contemporaries of Abraham

Abraham, Noah, and Shem – Contemporaries


  • Moses 8:12 – Ages of Noah at time he begat Japheth, Shem, and Ham
  • Genesis 7:6 – Noah 600 years old at the time of the flood
  • Genesis 9:29 – Noah lives to the age of 950
  • Genesis 11:10-27 – Lineage ages of descendants of Shem
  • Genesis 25:7 – Abraham lives to the age of 175
  • Genesis 11:25 – Nahor lives to the age of 148
  • Abraham 2:14 – Abraham age 62 when he leaves Haran for Egypt, via Jershon, Moreh, Bethel
  • Abraham 13:1 and 14:18 – Abraham leaves Egypt, separates from Lot, then participates in the Battle of Kings, and later meets Melchizedek


Discrepancies: Moses 8:12 says Noah was 492 when Shem was born, and Genesis 7:6 says he was 600 when the floods came. That means Shem was 108 at the time of the flood. But Genesis 11:10 says Shem was 100, two years after the flood when Arphaxad was born. Ham was actually the person who was 100 at the time of the flood, and would have been 102 at the time Arphaxad was born.

We have no data on Japheth and Ham, so their ages at events in this chart are only accurate up until the time they died, which we do not have dates for.

According to this calculation, Shem lives 35 years longer than Abraham. Even with the discrepancy mentioned above (if he were 8 years younger at the time of the flood), Shem obviously still would have been alive (and younger) when Abraham died.

Eber outlived them all.

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