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Apparent Contradiction of Words and Numbers

Four Witnesses to a 430-year Sojourn in Egypt

Abraham’s Witness to a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Jacob’s Life Requires a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Abbreviated/Condensed Genealogies

Shem’s List: The Ultimate Example of Condensing

Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

Evidence from the Lifespan of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Times of Job for Missing Generations

Biblical Earth Movements After the Flood

Peleg, Joktan and the Table of Nations

Historical Errors Obscuring the Condensing of Shem’s Line

Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Recent Scholarship Improves Biblical Understanding

Summary of Biblical Findings

Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher


Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms


Chapter Five

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Moving on from man-made errors that make genealogies obscure, hidden by layers of misinterpretation, we now arrive at the heart of this work: how God used genealogies to raise up a nation to give mankind a Savior.

Nature and Function of Biblical Genealogies 

The biblical genealogies are elegant, profound, mysterious, practical, personal and flexible in nature.  Most importantly, God himself established them. 

In elegance they can be a long list of immediate father-son relationships or as brief as “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). 

Profound—they identify the fathers of post-Flood people groups that repopulated the world. 

Mysterious—they speak of ten sons accompanying 24-year-old Benjamin to Egypt (a 24-year-old with ten sons?).  Further, they include the two unborn sons of baby Perez among the 66 descendants of Jacob who went down to Egypt. 

Flexible—they are not always a record of immediate father-son relationships; rather, they are elastic enough to include future descendants under the concept that all future generations are in the loins of their forefathers.  In this way the record could be particularly tailored to meet the author’s purpose with remarkable efficiency.

In purpose and function they provide identity and explanation—who am I?  Where do I belong?  How did it happen?  With brevity they record: 1) the spread of man after the Flood; 2) Abraham’s ancestors; 3) Israel’s organization.

A three-tier division of Jacob’s descendants (tribe/clan/household) insured brilliant organization and maximum security in the wilderness and fair division of the land in Canaan.  In effect, the genealogies told each family where to pitch their tent in a camp of 2.5 million people and where to settle down in the spacious Promised Land.  They especially confirm that Jesus was truly human (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38).  While biblical genealogies have similarities to the genealogies of monarchial societies through the ages, they also have significant differences and must be explained in a way consistent with their biblical use.

Genealogies Organized Israel

Free at last; no longer slaves; no more servitude; do as we wish.  But what would keep these former slaves from exploiting each other as they had been exploited?  In a word, genealogies.  The ex-slaves had to think and act like free people and stand together as a nation.  To keep them from destroying each other before they learned those new ways, genealogies helped organize them so they would live together in a civilized way. 

When God delivered Israel from Egypt, He gave Moses an amazingly simple yet efficient way to organize the people.  He grouped them by tribe, clan, and households that contained even smaller divisions.  At the center of the camp in the wilderness was the Tabernacle.  Surround it was an open area large enough to assemble the nation.  Beyond that the three clans of Levi camped on three sides of the Tabernacle while the families of Moses and Aaron camped in front.  Beyond the Levites was an assembly area for common activities.  Beyond this, possibly a mile from the Tabernacle, began the camps of the people.  Three tribes camped side by side on each of the four sides, radiating out like wedges.  Each tribe was divided into three to six clans, approximately 50-60 clans in all.  Clans ranged from 10,000 to 50,000 members.  Divisions further extended to thousands, hundreds and tens.  Adult males provided the basis for population counts.

Each person living in his own unit restrained theft and promoted acceptable behavior.    Everyone knew the people around them.  Their neighbors were their relatives.  Each witnessed the other’s actions.  Due to distances, people in one tribe had little association with people in another tribe.  The life of each person centered around where his genealogy put him.  Those Levites over the age of 50 were spared transporting the Tabernacle and became the guards at the heart of the nation.  If an unauthorized person entered that inner circle, he was to be executed—except on those occasions where individuals or the entire nation were summoned to join Moses at the Tabernacle which was also called “The Tent of Meeting.”  One didn’t just wander anywhere through the camp.  People were born, married and died in their own organizational unit. 

So, a person’s genealogy told him who he was, where he belonged, where he placed his tent and who his neighbors would be.  Slaves could be ornery, stubborn.  Sometimes it took a whip to keep them in line.  Now the whip was gone.  Genealogies were doing what the whip had done.  Yes, the people were free from servitude in Egypt, but their freedom had limits.  They didn’t have to work for others twelve hours a day and they didn’t have to spend their days confined to the work area of a slave gang, but God put an impressive amount of structure in their lives.  Can we picture it? 

When this sea of people arrived at a new location, they set up their unit in relation to the whole.  Tribal and clan leaders designated areas for tents, established corridors, marked and cleared open spaces for manna, designated the special places outside the camp and set up necessary services for the function of each unit.  With practice they became efficient.  The Tabernacle, first assembly space, Levite tent area and second open area must have stretched a mile in every direction from the center, the Tabernacle.  Then came the tribes divided into clans and clans divided into households radiating out for another three miles or so. 

To be sure, there was more desirable real estate.  The tribal and clan heads pitched their tents nearest the Tabernacle.  Those of lesser position tented further out in their clan’s living space.  If the farthest tents were four miles from the Tabernacle, all people could collect at the Tabernacle and return to their tents the same day.  This walk probably motivated families to earn the right to camp closer to the front of their tribe’s wedge.  This densely packed part of the camp would cover an area of over 50 square miles (42*3.14). 

Joshua 7:24 says Achan had “oxen, donkeys and sheep.”  If these animals were kept in the camp their manure would foul the manna and the camp would be hopelessly spread out.  More likely, the herds and flocks were kept in specially designated areas outside the camp proper.  Other specially designated areas would have been used for temporarily unclean individuals, for lepers, for burying the dead or disposing of waste, among others.  These specially designated areas could have occupied a band three miles wide outside the living area.  A camp 14 miles in diameter would have an area of 150 square miles, the inner 50 for living and the outer 100 for specially designated functions.  This vast distance explains why people mostly lived and mixed within their designated areas—tribes, clans, households, etc. 

Daily Life in the Wilderness

Picture the people rising early to gather their daily portion of manna.  Their desire for manna that was still fresh before the heat of the day spoiled it would have been adequate motivation to brave the nippy early morning desert cold.  Perhaps each person spent the first hour or more gathering a day’s worth.  In this way God saw to it that each individual received sufficient daily exercise.  If one area was gathered clean, people would have to search for areas that still had a supply.  Manna was a perfect food but the effort required to gather it most likely limited over eating and thus becoming overweight. 

Then people would relax while they enjoyed the first meal of the day and chatted about the daily tasks needing attention.   Young children would require the attention of mothers.  Just carrying water might occupy a teen’s morning.  Waste had to be carried to designated areas and buried.  Others gathered wood, bartered and traded services and cooked meals while able-bodied males aged 20-50, some 600,000 men of the camp, conducted their morning military drills.  Herds and flocks were cared for.  Professions and specialties were developed.  Maybe all this was done before the sun was high in the sky and it was time for a long afternoon nap.  There were many special days, days for instruction, days for their religious life and plenty of time to get into trouble for those so inclined.  So went life for that vast multitude, thankfully protected by cloud from the burning daytime sun and by the pillar of fire during the cold desert night.

Moses had an army to train and command.  Like all generals he needed to know how many troops were available for the day.  Most likely it was a day for training, but it might be a day for action.  He must have taken a “morning report” as military commanders generally do.  How would it work?  Possibly at a certain time the horns were blown at headquarters for the morning report.  The horns at each tribe a mile from the Tent of Meeting would repeat the call.  Those in charge of ten had already made the rounds to determine the able bodied.  When the horns sounded, each sprinted off to his captain of 100 with his report. 

 The captain of 100 made a quick tabulation and hurried to the next level, the captain of a thousand.  Those reports went to the clan leaders who most likely were near the tents of the tribal leaders.  The tribal leaders made their tallies and sent them with runners to the Tent of Meeting.  Possibly this was all accomplished in just half an hour.  The officials at the Tent of Meeting tabulated the twelve tribal reports.  Moses and his staff determined the training activities for the day.  The trumpets sounded a second time and the available men, usually over 600,000, did as the trumpet calls directed.  Most likely, they assembled in front of their tribe, in the space between the Levites and the general body of people.  There they carried out the orders of the day.

God began this consciousness of being a nation with His original call to Abraham when He told him he would become a nation.  God repeated this idea to Isaac and again to Jacob: “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.”  Genesis 46:3.  A record of those who went down to Egypt with Jacob is preserved in Genesis 46:8.  Jacob’s sons became the tribes of Israel.  Clans and households arose from their descendants. Through the growth of a family, a nation was developing. 

Difficulties in Following Genealogical Lists

Untangling Hebrew genealogies is challenging.  The challenge begins with the person’s name.  Generally, just one name is given for a particular Hebrew in any given passage.  Imagine how difficult it would be to keep people straight if everyone was “David” or “Mary” or “Bill” in today’s society.  One helpful device was naming certain people along with their father’s name (“Joshua the son of Nun;” “Caleb the son of Jephthunnah”).  Some names were quite popular even then so various people answered to the same name.  In fact, more than one person answered to many of the names found in the Old Testament and in one case twenty-three people found in Scripture bore the same name.  Families gave their sons the name of a beloved grandfather or famous ancestor.  Abraham’s grandfather and brother both bear the name “Nahor.”  Sometimes people were named after places special to families.  Terah named Abraham’s oldest brother, Haran, after the city by that name.  To further complicate matters, some Hebrews were known by several names, so various authors used different names for the same person.

Perhaps writing material was scarce or expensive, so Hebrew authors practiced brevity and efficiency in listing descendants.  Because relational words (father, son, daughter, brother, sister) could be used narrowly or broadly, when we read “son of,” for instance, it is often impossible to know if a particular list is condensed or complete.  Thus, one cannot assume that the same name in two different places is the same individual or that a list of names is always inclusive.  This is the most difficult challenge in sorting out Hebrew genealogies and the one that has led to the most distorted notions that claim to be based on the Word of God.  This book would not be written if well-meaning, inerrancy-believing rank-and-file Christians had discerned that Hebrew genealogies were more often abbreviated than not. 

Having seen how, on the one hand, genealogies provided identification, but on the other hand are difficult to sort out, we will now turn to their use.  First, we will look at the use of basic relational terms—father, son, etc.  Immediately we are in for a shock until we learn to think the way Hebrews used those words.  There was no word for “grandson” so the single word “son” covered all possibilities.  A normal reaction will be skepticism, so numerous examples follow.  Then we will proceed to more difficult (and more unbelievable) ways Hebrews rendered lists of their descendants.  For instance, the total number of those going down to Egypt with Jacob included unborn sons on the one hand and omits most of the daughters on the other hand, even though we read, “All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives were sixty-six persons in all” (Genesis 46:26).

Building on this foundation, we take up case after case of abbreviated genealogies in chapter six.  Wouldn’t two or three examples do?  Few are iron-clad.  While this author has rendered his best judgment, some examples may be legitimately questioned.  But with a preponderance of examples, the case becomes overwhelming. 

The light is coming.  We have been encouraged by recently printed statements in standard young earth creation periodicals like “OK, maybe Israel was in Egypt 430-years, not 215,” and “yes, perhaps, on occasion, Hebrew genealogies are abbreviated.”  The thinking of young earth creationists is going in the right direction.  But we believe ample evidence exists that Shem’s list in Genesis 11 also is condensed.  Finally, with great reverence, we must realize that our Savior’s genealogy is a Hebrew genealogy and it, too, is a matter of identity, not completeness. 

Simple Hebrew Vocabulary

Biblical Hebrew had no words for relationships like grandfather, grandson, uncle, cousin, etc.  The standard relationship words were words father, mother, son, daughter, brother and sister.  So, when the word father was used, it might mean immediate father, but it also might mean grandfather or more distant ancestor.  In the same way when the word son was used, it might mean immediate son, grandson or more remote descendant.  The women said, “Naomi has a son,” when in fact Ruth’s baby was Naomi’s grandson (Ruth 4:17).  The first verse of the New Testament says “Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham,” when later verses show that Jesus lived many generations after David and David lived many generations after Abraham. 

The verb “to bear/to beget” (Hebrew-YLD) was used in the same general way.  The one born might be the immediate offspring or a more distant offspring.  But we only had four examples of YLD referring to a more distant offspring, so we sent an email to the Biblical Hebrew Dictionary asking if they could give further examples.  We asked, “How could we be sure that YLD was used in the broad sense? 

Arie Uittenbogaard of Abarim Publications wrote, “Common knowledge.  In Hebrew father- and motherhood extend beyond the primary biological generation.”[1]   In effect this man was saying that examples are unnecessary.  Among users of Hebrew, it is common knowledge that the verb “to bear/to beget” can be used for both immediate and later generations.  As previously stated, the Hebrew concept is that all future generations are in the loins of the present generation and therefore the present generation produces all future generations.  Thus, the Hebrews used these basic relational terms in both narrow and broad senses while more specific relationship terms are used in most other languages.  

Flexible/elastic.  A Hebrew genealogy could (and often did) contain both immediate descendants and more distant descendants without any indication that some intermediate generations were omitted.  We can conclude this because of what we have already seen as well as what we are about to see again and again.  Our original example was that of Kohath-Amram-Aaron which reads like they were immediate father-son relationships.  While Amram was the immediate son of Kohath, a number of unnamed sons stood between Amram and Aaron. 

Moses wrote his older brother’s genealogy in Exodus six.  He knew who their parents were and most likely every forefather back to Levi.  But he did not name them all.  There was no need.  An abbreviated list adequately showed Aaron’s roots and thus where he belonged in the organization of Israel.  So, Moses named their forefather who was a grandson of Levi and their foremother who was a daughter of Levi.  Amram and Jochebed were highly visible ancestors among Jacob’s descendants.  That connection made Moses and Aaron legitimate descendants of noted stock in Israel.  Their lineage was beyond any challenge.

No one disputes that relational words are used in the Bible in a general sense such as “the sons of Israel” where all the descendants of Jacob are called “sons.”  But it is less well known that they are also used widely in a broad sense when individuals are spoken of.  Such misunderstanding leads to grave misinterpretations of Scripture.  Thus, there is a great need to see numerous examples of this use of relational words. 

The following section provides such examples.  While those familiar with the Bible will immediately understand many of the examples, explanation is given so that all may understand.  First a simple example is given of each relational category used in a broad sense; then more complex examples are provided.  Further insights will be developed as examples are explored. 

Example of Each Kinship Term Used in a Broad Sense

To Beget/To BearUse of the Hebrew verb beget/bear (YLD) in a broad sense: 

Jochebed bore [YLD] to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam.  Numbers 26:59. 

 The three children Jochebed bore to Amram were actually descendants born eight to twelve generations later.  The Hebrew concept was that all descendants were in the loins of their forefathers.  Statements of specific acts such as “to begat/to bear” are used accurately and literally to describe such distant relationships. 

Father used for both a father and grandfather in the same verse:

And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you [Mephibosheth] kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”  II Samuel 9:7.

 Mephibosheth was the son of David’s dear friend Jonathan and the grandson of Saul, the first king of Israel.  Yet David calls both men Mephibosheth’s father, showing how Hebrews easily used the term “father” for immediate and more distant direct forefathers.

Mother.  Use of the concept of mother in a broad sense: 

He [Asa] also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother….  I Kings 15:13.

Maacah was the mother of King Asa’s father and the grandmother of King Asa.  However, of all the various filial terms, “mother” is seldom used broadly.

Son.  Use of the noun son in a broad sense: 

[Jacob asked,] “Do you know Laban, son of Nahor?”  Genesis 29:5. 

Actually, Laban was the son of Bethuel and grandson of Nahor.  Most likely Jacob mentioned Nahor rather than Bethuel because Nahor was the forefather of many people in the area and would be well known.  In case the shepherds did not know Laban, they could at least point Jacob in the right direction to where Nahor’s people lived. 

DaughterUse of the noun daughter in a broad sense: 

But Naomi said, “Turn back my daughters, why will you go with me?”  Ruth 1:11.

Naomi was speaking to her two daughters-in-law.  They were not her children.  This is the use of daughter in a wider sense than being the mother of these two women.

Brother/Sister.  Use of the nouns brother and sister in a broad sense: 

Say to your brothers, ‘You are my people,’ and to your sisters, ‘You have received mercy.’”  Hosea 2:1.

In the anticipation of fulfilled prophecy, Hosea foresaw that the people would call the men of the nation brothers and the women of the nation sisters.  Sisters is the same type of broad sense as is found in Sons of Israel using son in a broad sense.

The above verses illustrate seven relational concepts used in a broad sense in biblical Hebrew—to beget/to bear, father, mother, son, daughter, brother and sister.  Next we will examine more complex examples of the broad use of these relational words. 

Examples with More Complexity

To Beget/To Bear (YLD).  This common Hebrew verb is used for a mother’s bearing of both a son, four grandchildren and even a granddaughter. 

17The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, with Serah their sister.  18These are the sons of Zilpah, …and these she bore [YLD] to Jacob.  Genesis 46:17-18.

The list of Jacob’s family going down to Egypt is arranged according to his four wives.  Asher was a son of Jacob sired through Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid.  The list names four sons and a daughter for Asher but then summarizes by saying Zilpah bore these children to Jacob when actually the only child born to Zilpah in this list was Asher.  The passage also calls all five grandchildren sons when one was a granddaughter. 

The idea of bearing a child who is actually a grandchild or more distant descendant is foreign to western thinking and therefore shocking to modern readers.  Our first such example was that of Amram and Jochebed begetting Miriam, Aaron and Moses.  Here is a second instance of bearing referring to someone other than an immediate offspring. 

While this broad use of the concept of “to bear, to beget” is unfamiliar to most, Hebrew language scholars such as noted scholar and commentator C.F. Keil acknowledged it many years ago.  He wrote of the high priestly line of Aaron, “[YLD, the Hebrew word for “beget/bear] in the genealogical lists may express mediate [in contrast to immediate] procreation, and the grandson may be introduced as begotten by the grandfather.”[2]   

To Beget/To Bear-other examples:  Deuteronomy 4:25 and Isaiah 39:7 quoted in II Kings 20:18 (speaks of sons born to Hezekiah but these sons were born  generations later, not the immediate sons born to him or even his grandsons or great grandsons).

Father.  Use of the noun father in a broad sense: 

You shall…[say], “A wandering Aramean was my father.  And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.”  Deuteronomy 26:5. 

Moses was speaking of Jacob when he told the 2.5 million people who lived half a millennium after Jacob to say “A wandering Aramean was my father.”  He was teaching the Israelites to be humble about their roots, that it was God and not their forefather who was the source of all their blessings, making them a nation and giving them the Promised Land.  In the broad sense of the word “father,” every descendant of Jacob could call him “father.” 

Father used for the ancestor of various later descendants: 

3The LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David;  2[Hezekiah] did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done;  7Do not be like your fathers….  8Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were….  II Chron. 17:3; 29:2; 30:7-8.  (Underlining ours.)

David was the forefather of kings Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah who lived many generations later.  Nevertheless, David is called their father.  King Hezekiah urged his subjects to turn from the wicked deeds of their fathers which included generations of departure from the feasts prescribed in the Law of Moses.  Four times the term “father” refers either in part or entirely to those who were separated by at least one generation from their immediate father.

Father referring to the original patriarchs of the Jewish people: 

See, I have set the land before you.  Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.  Deuteronomy 1:8.

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.  Joshua 1:6.

2Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor, and they served other gods.  3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River….” 14Put away the gods your fathers served…, 15Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River….  Joshua 24:2-3, 14-15.

In each of these three examples the people being spoken to are the generation that occupied the Promised Land.  They are reminded that God had promised the land to the Patriarchs of Israel—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived 500-600 years before—and their descendants.  These Patriarchs are called the peoples’ fathers.  In the strict sense, a person can have only one father.  Yet here even Abraham’s idolatrous father Terah is called their father.  Clearly “father” is used in the broad sense in these passages.  As in the case of “son” referring to the entire nation, no one questions this use of “father” as it occurs so frequently.  Why then should it be surprising that “father” when applied to a single “son” could also be used in a broad sense?

Father used in a broad sense even for non-Jewish peoples:

1King Belshazzar…. 2Nebuchadnezzar his father….  Daniel 5:1-2.

Belshazzar was actually the son or son-in-law of Nabonidus who was the son of Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel was using “father” in the typical Hebrew broad sense.  Inerrancy-minded Christians are not the only ones who have not understood the Hebrew practice of using filial terms in a broad sense.  Critics have used this verse to claim the Bible is in error. 

Father-further examples of the broad use:  Genesis 31:3; Deuteronomy 1:8; II Kings 18:3; 22:4; I Chronicles 24:19; II Chronicles 28:27, 29:2, 34:3; Nehemiah 2:8.

Son used for both an immediate son and a distant male descendant:

And Shebuel the son of Gershom, son of Moses, was chief officer in charge of the treasuries.  I Chronicles 26:24.

While Gershom truly was the son of Moses, born about 1450 BC, Shebuel, treasury official of David, was born over 400 years later yet is said to be the son of Gershom.

Son used for various generations after the father without distinction: 

The sons of Judah:  Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur and Shobal.  I Chron. 4:1.

In this verse all five individuals are said to be sons of Judah, yet only one, Perez, was the immediate offspring of Judah.  Hezron was a son of Perez and therefore a grandson of Judah.  Perez’s twin brother, Zerah, had a distant descendant name Carmi, the father of Achan who troubled Israel in the time of Joshua.  Hur and Shobal were sons of Hezron and thus great grandsons of Judah.  Yet all are listed as sons of Judah.  Clearly, the term “son” was very flexible in Hebrew genealogies.

Son used for a specific distant descendant: 

And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes.  Nehemiah 10:38. 

The priesthood in Israel came from just one of the many families of the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron.  Aaron, the founder of this family, was born around 1500 BC.  This example comes from the time of Nehemiah, about 500 BC where the priest is called “the son of Aaron.”  Obviously, the priest of Nehemiah’s day was a distant descendant of Aaron.  The term “son” does not convey an immediate father-son relationship in Nehemiah 10:38.

Son used in the broad sense of a distant descendant of a clan leader: 

And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold….  Joshua 7:24.  (Underlining ours.)

When Israel defeated Jericho, a soldier named Achan from the tribe of Judah took booty God marked for destruction.  In judgment Israel lost its next battle.  “Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel” (Joshua 7:6).  God said Israel had sinned; they had transgressed His covenant.  The guilty party was to be found and executed.  God gave three levels of search:  tribe, clan and household.  In the morning each tribe was to be presented.  The tribe that was taken would come by clan.  The clan that was taken would come by household.  The household that was taken would come by individual soldier (Joshua 7:14-ESV). 

Joshua did as God commanded.  When the tribes passed, Judah was taken.  When the four clans of Judah passed, the clan of Zerah was taken.  When the households of that clan passed, the household of Zabdi was taken.  Eventually the soldier named Achan was taken.  He confessed and was executed.  Altogether the clans of Judah numbered 76,500 soldiers according to Numbers 26:22.  Yet the passage calls Achan the son of Zerah even though he was just one of thousands of soldiers in that clan.  The writer knew this.  He did not make a mistake.  He clearly gave the basic descent of Achan, beginning with his tribe, clan, and household as was the custom before skipping down to his father and him saying, “Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken” (Joshua 7:18).  

Son-other examples of the broad use:  Exodus 12:35, 37 (“son” translated “people”); Numbers 26:5-40, 32:40, 41; Joshua 5:3, 17:6; II Samuel 9:9-10 (twice); I Chronicles 6:44, 50; II Chronicles 29:12-14, 29:21, 31:19, 35:14-15-3x; Ezra 2:1-14, 3:10; Nehemiah 10:39; 11:4-9, 22-24; 12:23, 47.  

DaughterUse of the noun daughter in a broad sense: 

None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.  Deuteronomy 23:17.

This verse goes on with “and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.”  Obviously, the verse is using both terms in the broad sense of all the females and all the males who descended from Jacob.

Daughter used for a single distant descendant:

The daughter of Caleb was Achsah.  I Chronicles 2:49.

Two prominent Calebs descended from Judah.  One lived early in the Egyptian sojourn while the other lived during the conquest of Canaan, about 300 years later.  I Chronicles 2:42-50 lists descendants of the first Caleb, a celebrated great grandson of Judah.  Last of all it lists Achsah as his daughter when actually she was a distant female ancestor, a granddaughter many times removed. 

Achsah is mentioned in this list because she was famous in the history of Israel.  The second Caleb offered Achsah, his immediate daughter as a wife to the warrior who could capture the city of Debir.  So Achsah was the immediate daughter of Caleb the spy who lived at the time of the conquest of Canaan, but a distant descendant of the first Caleb, the one in I Chron. 2:49, who lived early in the Egyptian captivity. 

Daughter-further examples of the broad sense:  Genesis 24:48; 29:12; Joshua 17:6.

Brother used in the broad sense of a close friend: 

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan…. II Samuel 1:26.

David in a eulogy to Jonathan calls him his brother.  Actually, they were not even from the same tribe, let alone clan or household.  This is a very broad use of the term brother.    

Brother used in the broad sense of fellow male Jews: 

Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers.  Nehemiah 5:1.

After the return from Babylon a famine struck.  Impoverished Jews exploited by wealthy Jews raised a great outcry.  Nehemiah reasoned that the wealthy Jews should not exploit the impoverished Jews since all Jews were brothers.  In the strict sense “brothers” are sons of the same immediate father, but in the broad sense all males who descended from Jacob were “brothers.” 

 Brother used in the broad sense of uncle: 

3Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher… had no sons, but only [five] daughters.  4[They said] “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our brothers.”  So according to the mouth of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brothers of their father.  Joshua 17:3-4. 

Hepher had at least three sons.  The one named Zelophehad had only daughters.  His five daughters went to Moses (Numbers 27:1-10) requesting the inheritance of their father to memorialize his name in Israel.  Moses inquired of the LORD and was told to establish a law to the effect that if a family only had daughters, for the sake of the man’s name, his inheritance would go his daughters.  In the verse they refer to their father’s brothers as their brothers.  In reality their father’s brothers were their uncles.  This is another example of brother in a broad sense beyond one’s immediate male sibling. 

Brother-further examples of the broad sense:  Joshua 1:14-15; I Chronicles 6:39, 44; II Chronicles 29:15, 34; 30:7; Nehemiah 3:1; 5:14; 11:8-9.

Sister used in the broad sense of one intimately close to the speaker:

My Sister, my bride.  Song of Solomon 4:9, 10, 12; 5:1. 

Solomon used the term sister in the broad sense of the intimacy he felt towards his beloved.  Clearly he would treat her as more than a sister.  Because this is figurative, it is somewhat of a borderline example of sister in a broad sense but it is far more than the blood daughter of Solomon’s mother.

Sister used in the broad sense of a female belonging to a particular people group:

For they [the Midianites] have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you…in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister….  Numbers 25:18. 

Israel went to war with the Midianites because their women had led Israelite men away from God.  The woman Cozbi is mentioned by name and called their sister even though in a narrow sense Cozbi could not be the sister of all the women of Midian. 

Unique Features of Hebrew Genealogies

Unborn sons: 

5The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.  6They also took their livestock and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, 7his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters.  All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.  8Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt….  12The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.  21And the sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppin, Huppin, and Ard.  26All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all.  Genesis 46:5-8, 12, 21, 26.

Genesis 46:7 states that Jacob “brought all his offspring with him into Egypt.”  Each offspring is named and counted.  Yet some were not yet born.  These unborn offspring could have been born up to 40 years after the move.  They were grandsons and possibly even great grandsons.  The list includes not only Perez but his two sons—Hezron and Hamul  (Genesis 46:20).   Since Perez himself was just born or maybe not yet quite born when they moved, his two sons would not be born until Jacob’s family had been living in Egypt 20-30 years.  We might think the writer was deceptive to include unborn children in the list, but that is because we are judging by the way we look at genealogies.  What was important to God was to establish the forefathers of the sons of Israel in the minds of the Jewish people. 

Benjamin was born after Simeon and Levi massacred the men of Shechem.  God told Jacob to move his family to Bethel.  From there they moved to Isaac at Mamre (Hebron) and along the way, near Bethlehem, Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.  Twenty-four years later Jacob moved his family to Egypt, and in the Genesis 46:21 list of those who moved to Egypt are ten sons for Benjamin.  While some may have been a scribal error, the rest most likely were still in the loins of their father.  We must conclude that some were Benjamin’s grandsons, even though they are found in that list of Jacob’s offspring that he took to Egypt. 

Naming and counting unborn children seems strange to us until we realize that the primary purpose of the genealogies was to bind a nation together by blood.  Genealogies identified the members of the nation and gave them a powerful glue that is the marvel of the world to this day.  No other nation ceased to exist for two millennia and then came back to life as Israel did in 1948.  Naming both born and unborn descendants provided a registry from which the clans of Israel developed.  Apparently, it was important to have a foundation of names in the registry from the beginning of the sojourn in Egypt.  Only God could devise a system that would last nearly four millennia.

Undercounting of daughters:

The passage says Jacob took “his daughters” to Egypt.  Yet only one immediate daughter, Dinah, is listed and counted in the offspring total of 66.  On the other hand, neither Jacob’s four wives nor any of his sons’ wives and only one granddaughter are counted in the family total of 70 that ended up in Egypt.  Stephen has been faulted for saying that “Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all” (Acts 7:14).  Since the party included his four wives, his unnamed daughters and his sons’ unnamed daughters, who is to condemn some Rabbi whose Bible study Stephen attended who counted Jacob’s party using different criteria and found the total to be 75, not the 66 number of Genesis 46:26?

Ancestors participating in the actions of descendants:

17So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave…was made over 18to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites...  Genesis 23:17-18.

And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, [Jacob] bought…the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent.  Genesis 33:19.

They [Joseph’s bones] were carried 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 7:16.

Abraham purchased the field of Machpelah with its double cave where the three patriarchs and their wives were buried whereas Jacob purchased the land in Shechem where Joseph was buried.  So, it was Jacob, not Abraham who purchased the field in Shechem.  Stephen’s words in Acts 7:16 appears to be a direct contradiction of these facts except for the Hebrew practice of associating ancestors with the actions of their descendants.  In effect, through Jacob Abraham purchased the Shechem property.[3] 

Complete Genealogies

Before examining many abbreviated or condensed genealogies, let’s examine two apparently complete genealogies.  From the tribe of Judah is Jerahmeel’s list of twenty-three generations beginning with Perez and ending sometime in the Period of the Judges.  Judah raised two successive families.  The second was by his Canaanite daughter-in-law Tamar who bore him the twins, Zerah and Perez.  The only noted descendant of Zerah was Achan, the trouble maker of Israel.  But many famous descendants came from the other twin, Perez, including King David, Caleb the believing spy, Bezelel who was the chief artisan on the Tabernacle and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Perez also had two sons, Hezron and Hamul.  The famous people mentioned above all came through Hezron who fathered three sons: Jerahmeel, Ram and Chelubai (Caleb).  Jerahmeel’s list records 23 consecutive generations extending from the beginning of the Egyptian sojourn until about 200 years before David. 

Complete genealogy of Jerahmeel (23 consecutive generations-numbering in brackets): 

25[Perez-1; Hezron-2] The sons of Jerahmeel, the firstborn of Hezron….  26Jerameel [3] also had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam [4].  28The sons of Onam: Shammai [5] and Jada.  The sons of Shammai: Nadab [6] and Abishur.  30The sons of Nadab: Seled and Appaim [7]. 31The son of Appaim: Ishi [8].  The son of Ishi: Sheshan [9].  The son of Sheshan: Ahlai [10-actually Ahlai is Sheshan’s daughter].  34Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters, but Sheshan had an Egyptian slave whose name was Jarha.  35So Sheshan gave his daughter [Ahlai] in marriage to Jarha his slave, and she bore him Attai [11].  36Attai fathered Nathan [12], and Nathan fathered Zabad [13].  37Zabad fathered Ephlal [14], and Ephlal fathered Obed [15].  38Obed fathered Jehu [16], and Jehu fathered Azariah [17].  39Azariah fathered Helez [18], and Helez fathered Eleasah [19].  40Eleasah fathered Sismai [20], and Sismai fathered Shallum [21].  41Shallum fathered Jekamiah [22], and Jekamiah fathered Elishama [23].  I Chron. 2:25-26, 31, 34-37, 39-41.

Although Jerahmeel had no significant descendants, no less than seventeen verses of Scripture are devoted to them.  Why?  He was Hezron’s firstborn.  Time and again the firstborn is featured in the Old Testament merely because he was the firstborn.  Apparently because so many famous people came from Hezron, the historian felt obligated to give all the information he had on Hezron’s firstborn even though he had no famous descendants. 

Jerahmeel’s long string has 23 descendants, finally concluding well into the period of the Judges.  By comparison, the line of Ram, Hezron’s second eldest, reaches all the way from Perez to King David with just ten names.  Because Jerahmeel’s line ends somewhere in the middle of the Judges, about eight more names would need to be added to reach the time of David’s birth.  Clearly, many individuals are left out in the Perez-Ram-David line which will be examined in the next chapter.

About 40 names are found in Jerahmeel’s listing (I Chronicles 2:25-41).  Because it takes some doing to separate out the 23 generations that appear to be continuous, the following commentary is provided.   Jacob fathered Judah, his fourth son, who fathered Perez.  Judah was about 45 years old when his father moved the family to Egypt (1876 BC).  Perez could not have been born much before this date since he and his twin brother Zerah were born after Judah had grown from birth in Haran to adulthood in Shechem, had fathered three sons who also grew to adulthood and two had died by the judgment of God, all in those 45 years.  Thus, the birth of Tamar’s twins, Zerah and Perez, had to have occurred very close to the move to Egypt.  For sake of convenience, HB reckons their birth to be in the year of the move, i.e., 1876 BC.  This starts the generational count not only of Jerahmeel’s line, but also that of Perez’s other lines leading to Caleb, David, Bezelel and Christ.  For convenience the 23 generations are listed below without verse notations:

1-Perez; 2-Hezron; 3-Jerahmeel; 4-Onam; 5-Shammai; 6-Nadab; 7-Appaim; 8-Ishi; 9-Sheshan who had no sons, only daughters, one of whom he gave to his Egyptian slave Jarha; 10-Ahlai, daughter of Sheshan first called his son then explained that she was really his daughter but that he had no sons; 11-Attai; 12-Nathan; 13-Zabad; 14-Ephlal; 15-Obed; 16-Jehu (whom we suggest was in the Exodus generation); 17-Azariah; 18-Helez; 19-Eleasah; 20-Sismai; 21-Shallum; 22-Jekamiah; 23-Elishama.  I Chronicles 2:25-41.

Most lists have difficulties and Jerahmeel’s is no exception.  The greatest difficulty here is determining when it ends historically.  Scripturally, the list ends with “and Jekamiah fathered Elishama” (I Chronicles 2:41) before moving on to “The sons of Caleb the younger brother of Jerahmeel…” in the next verse.  Does this list extend through the Judges or even through the kings to the Captivity?  The text doesn’t say. 

One observation is that the genealogies coming at the beginning of Chronicles seem to focus on Israel’s earlier history.  The strongest clue is that of the ninth name, Sheshan.  He had an Egyptian slave whom he gave to his daughter to carry on his name since he had no sons.  A Hebrew owning an Egyptian slave?  When during the 430-year Egyptian sojourn might the Israelites have been so prosperous and free as to own slaves who were Egyptian in nationality before the Hebrews themselves were reduced to slavery?  It needed to be during a time when they enjoyed much freedom and especially before they became so numerous as to be a threat to Egypt.

During the years of famine Joseph managed the transfer of the land to Pharaoh, thereby greatly strengthening Pharaoh’s office.   Pharaoh showed his gratitude by favoring Joseph and his family with some of Egypt’s best grazing land conveniently located next to Canaan in the northeast corner of the Nile delta.  Gradually Egypt declined and eventually the northern portion was overrun by the famous Hyksos people.  They, like the Hebrews, were of Semitic stock.  The Hyksos needed allies among the defeated Egyptians, so Israel most likely enjoyed a large amount of freedom under them.  This would have been a favorable period for Sheshan to give his daughter Ahlai, who is called “his son” in verse 31, to his Egyptian slave Jarha.  This marriage occured in the tenth generation of Perez through Jerahmeel.  At this point in history, we estimate that new generations were beginning about every 28 years so the daughter Ahlai would have been born about 280 years into the Egyptian sojourn or 150 years before the Exodus. 

Sometime later stronger Pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty arose who drove out the Hyksos.  At that point the Hebrews would have been deemed a threat so they were put to servitude.  Shortly thereafter Princess Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I, found and adopted Moses.  Hatshepsut went on to control or rule Egypt for nearly a quarter of a century, first on behalf of her sickly husband, Thutmose II, and then on behalf of his infant son, Thutmose III, borne by a court woman.  Thutmose III is said to have been about twenty-two when his step-mother died and for the next 30 years he ruled Egypt in his own right.  He proved to be a powerful Pharaoh who extended the rule of Egypt all the way to the Euphrates. 

At the age of 40 Moses had to flee when he killed the Egyptian because Thutmose III would use this crime as a way of removing his rival Moses.  Dr. Merrill points out that this Pharaoh is the only one to rule Egypt for forty years until Ramses II who ruled 200 years later and therefore the only Pharaoh to fit the timeline of Moses during a considerable stretch of Egyptian history.[4]  God kept Moses in the wilderness forty years until the next pharaoh, Amenhotep II, succeeded Thutmose III. 

Returning to our timeline, if Sheshan’s slave is correctly dated, the 16th generation of Jerahmeel would be the generation that left Egypt in the Exodus.  That leaves the final seven generations for the first half of the 480 period from the Exodus until Solomon’s Temple.  Thus, Jarehmeel’s line falls about ten generations short of Solomon’s reign or nine of David’s.  Dr. Keil generally supports this view, being of the opinion that Jerahmeel’s line ended somewhere near the end of the period of the Judges.[5] 

In conclusion the line of Jerahmeel seems to indicate that about 33 generations are involved in the time from the beginning of the Egyptian sojourn and the birth of Perez until the beginning of Solomon’s reign.  These 33 generations cover a period of some 906 years (1876 – 970 = 906).

Complete genealogy of Heman (19 consecutive generations-numbering in brackets):   

31These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there.  33Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman [1] the singer the son of Joel [2], son of Samuel [3], 34son of Elkanah [4], son of Jeroham [5], son of Eliel [6], son of Toah [7], 35son of Zuph [8], son of Elkanah [9], son of Mahath [10], son of Amasai [11], 36son of Elkanah [12], son of Joel [13], son of Azariah [14], son of Zephaniah [15], 37son of Tahath [16], son of Assir [17], son of Ebiasaph [18], son of Korah [19], 38son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Israel.  I Chron. 6:31, 33-38.

Our second example of a complete genealogy provides what the first did not—a precise ending point as well as a precise starting point.  When Jacob took his family to Egypt, his third son Levi came with his three sons Gershon, Kohath and Merari.  Eventually they multiplied into a large tribe.  Each of the sons formed a clan.  God gave the clans of Levi to assist Aaron for the ministry of the Tabernacle.  Seven hundred years later Samuel and even later David organized the Levites for ministry.  After bringing the Ark to Jerusalem David appointed one person from each clan to be a worship leader at the Tabernacle.  In the center Heman was to lead the Kohathite singers.  On his right Asaph would lead the Gershonite singers.  On his left hand Ethan was to direct the Merari singers. 

To have had this heavy responsibility Heman needed to be a mature man at the time of his appointment.  In fact, his own family all but filled the choir loft.  I Chronicles 25:5 reports that God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters who were all under the direction of their father’s musical work in the house of the LORD.  Yet he not only served in David’s day but lived to serve in Solomon’s day as well.  David brought the Ark to Jerusalem after his first seven years of rule in Hebron which began about 1010 BC.  So Heman was maybe slightly older than David; 1000 BC is certainly a ballpark ending point for Heman’s genealogy.  But where did it begin?  Actually it began with Jacob but what grabs our attention is the name Korah.  Korah was the leader of the rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron and becomes the reason the story of Heman is so touching.

The story begins shortly after that first year of law-giving in the wilderness so it could be dated to about 1444 BC.  God strongly guarded both the spiritual things of Israel under Aaron and the civil authority under Moses.  The severity of punishment for violating those institutions is well known.  A well-meaning man steadied the Ark during transport and God struck him dead.  Anyone without authorization within the tabernacle grounds was to be put to death.  Levites of the clan of Kohath and sons of Reuben found 250 princes of Israel to join them to challenge the authority of Moses and Aaron and God struck them all dead (Numbers 16).  The camp took the side of those slain so God sent a plague that consumed thousands.   Only the intercession of Moses and Aaron stopped the plague.  Eighteen generations later a descendant of this wicked man Korah became worship leader of the entire nation.  What a story of mercy and grace. 

The dates are known: the rebellion of Korah about 1444 BC and the Ark carried to Jerusalem about 1000 BC, a time span of nearly 450 years.  The number of generations identified in the Heman list for this period is 19.  But Aaron and Korah were in their 80’s while David and Heman were in their 40’s, so one generation must be subtracted from Heman’s list.  That leaves 18 names.  In counting the time from one generation to the next, begin counting with the second person.  That leaves 17 names or 26.5 years per generation which is well in the ballpark for generations.

Now we must return to David’s list which will be discussed in chapter seven.  It is found four times in the Bible, beginning with Ruth 4:18-22.  That list gives ten names starting with the move to Egypt in 1876 BC.  The first three names are those who lived at the beginning of the 430-years in Egypt—Perez, Hezron and Ram.  Then it skips down 300 years to the time of the Exodus with three more names: Amminadab, Nahshon and Salmon.  Amminadab was the elderly patriarch of Judah.  His son, Nahshon was the Prince of Judah whom Moses asked to conduct the second census for Judah.  Salmon married Rahab after the fall of Jericho.  From that point to David is 400 years yet only four names remain in David’s genealogy—Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David.  If there were no omitted generations, that list would represent 100 years per generation.  The Heman list not only shows us what a complete genealogy would look like from the Exodus to the time of worship in Jerusalem but it also shows that the David list is abbreviated.

Finally, the Heman list omits 8-12 generations during the Egyptian sojourn just like the Aaron list did.  After beginning with Jacob, it lists Levi-Kohath-Izhar-Korah.  Aaron’s list follows the same pattern: Levi-Kohath-Amram-Aaron.  The first three names in each list are consecutive.  The difference comes with Kohath’s sons.  Aaron descended from Amram, the first of Kohath’s sons while Korah descended from Izhar, the second of Kohath’s four sons.  Kohath and his sons Amram and Izhar lived at the beginning of the sojourn in Egypt.  Aaron and Korah were born 300 years later near the end of the Egyptian sojourn.  The Heman list follows the pattern of Aaron’s list and therefore confirms Aaron’s list by skipping 8-12 generations between Izhar and Korah just like the Aaron list skipped 8-12 generations between Amram and Aaron. 

Heman’s list is ascending, moving back through time from son to father.  We will reverse it to view it the usual way (descending from father to son).  We have removed Heman’s three forefathers (Levi-Kohath-Izhar) which we covered above:

1-Korah; 2-Ebiasaph; 3-Assir; 4-Tahath; 5-Zephaniah; 6-Azariah; 7-Joel; 8-Elkanah; 9-Amasai; 10-Mahath; 11-Elkanah; 12-Zuph; 13-Toah; 14-Eliel; 15-Jeroham; 16-Elkanah; 17-Samuel; 18-Joel; 19-Heman.

Defenders of the 215-year view see such numbers and are forced to devise a scheme that harmonizes the numbers, oblivious to the nature and purpose of Hebrew genealogies.  For example, one book says that Judah’s first two sons had children when they were 14 or 15 years old and Judah’s twins, Zerah and Perez, likewise had sons when they were still teenagers.  Then to bridge the huge time span from that son to Bezalel, it suggests that each of the next fathers, Hezron, Caleb and Hur had their firstborns when they were in their sixties.  Then to bridge the next brief time span, with a straight face this interpreter says the next generations had their sons when they were 20 years old.  The Korah-Heman list assures us that the Hebrew generations during those centuries were within the range of reason, in this case averaging 26 years per generation. 

Along the line of developing a story to fit misinterpreted numbers, another writer explained how four generations produced the six hundred thousand men found in the first census after the Exodus.  The writer said it was simple.  Each father had many sons, an average of like six sons per father per generation.  In contrast with this speculation the record tells a different story.  For every male that had six or more sons, there was one that died early or didn’t even marry or didn’t have children or had just one or two sons. 

The other two lines of temple musicians are listed in I Chronicles 6 as well.  However, they do not provide the same measure of certainty as the line of Heman.  His line parallels Aaron’s line for both his and Aaron’s lines give the first three generations living in Egypt, then skip down to the individual in their line who was an older adult at the time of the Exodus—Aaron and Korah.  But in the case of Asaph and Ethan, we cannot identify the individual in their line who was contemporary with Aaron and Korah and thus their lines have no clear starting point.  Both Ethan’s and Asaph’s lines become suspect to abbreviation.

In summary this chapter uncovered the following characteristics of Hebrew lines:

1.     The biblical genealogies are elegant, profound, mysterious, practical, personal and flexible in nature.   

2.     Genealogies told the Hebrew who he was and where he belonged.  They were a major element in organizing Israel both in the wilderness camp and in settling Canaan.

3.     The simplicity of Hebrew names requires great care in tracing lists.  For the most part only a single name is given for an individual though several different names might be used for the same individual in different places.  Some names were very popular so many people were known by the same name.  People were given the names of famous ancestors.  (In the translation to English it is sometimes even hard to tell if a name is male or female.)

4.     Biblical Hebrew contains only basic relational terms such as father, son, daughter, brother and beget.  The same word could be used for immediate connections such as a father and his immediate son or more distant connections from ancestor to descendant or from descendant to ancestor.

5.     When the biblical text is read these elements appear in all their complexity.  The company of people who moved to Egypt included the names of unborn sons.  A daughter is even called a son.  In the same verse a man is called the son of both his father and grandfather.  I Chronicles 4:1 speaks of the sons of Judah then gives five names—one was a son, one was a grandson, two were great grandsons and one was a descendant who lived 400 years later.

6.     Scripture provides two apparently complete and lengthy lists—those of Jerahmeel and Heman.  When David’s list is compared with those lists, it is found to be greatly abbreviated.  For instance, during the same time frame that Jerahmeel’s list contains twenty-three names and Heman’s list contains 19 names, David’s list contains six names.  These comparisons help us to see that David’s genealogy is greatly condensed.  Our next chapter will present 16 examples of abbreviated genealogies including several already introduced.  The chapter after that will address the most contentious of all genealogies, that of Shem.

7.      All these examples were correct uses of the Hebrew in the day they were recorded.  They all reflect the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.  However, they require that the student of Scripture be sensitive to the language in which Scripture was written and understand these lists in terms of the language of that day, not the language of our day.

[1] Abarim Publications online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary.  Email exchange on 4/9/2019. 

[2]C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (25 Volumes), C. F. Keil, The Books of the Chronicles, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans Publishing Co, Undated), 113.

[3]Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Acts, 2019 Edition, 166-167.

[4]Eugene H. Merrill, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2015), 105.

[5]Keil, Chronicles, 67.

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