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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


Executive Summary

Hidden Beauty offers to the Body of Christ a promising solution to a nagging and contentious Bible problem that has escaped explanation for two thousand years. The problem has to do with Shem’s genealogy in Genesis 11, whether it is complete or not, and if not, where and how many names are omitted. Historically, the Church has interpreted it as complete, but this view conflicts with numerous other Scriptures. Further, recent discoveries of huge numbers of cuneiform tablets testify to an earlier Flood date than is found by adding the numbers in Shem’s genealogy. We propose that Shem’s list has been shortened from 50-60 names to ten, placing the Flood around 4000 BC, not 2500 BC. This solution eliminates the many biblical conflicts, confirms recent cuneiform finds, and comes with a book full of biblical support.

One of those many biblical conflicts involves the Levi-Aaron genealogy. Four times the sequence of Levi-Kohath-Amram-Aaron is stated or inferred (I Chronicles 6:1-3; Numbers 3:17-20, 26:57-59; Exodus 6:16, 18, 20). The thinking goes that if it omits names, even though those passages give no hint that names are omitted, maybe Shem’s list also omits names. In Levi’s case the issue turns on whether Israel sojourned in Egypt 215 or 430-years. If 215-years, it could be complete; if 430-years, it cannot be complete. Thus, many of those who add Shem’s numbers have supported 215-years in a never-ending 2000-year controversy. When it comes to the lives of Abraham and Jacob, they have invoked unusual explanations to uphold 215-years. The key verse, Exodus 12:40, allowed either interpretation until scholars in modern times corrected a textual problem in it. Now it clearly states, “The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430-years.” (ESV). Levi’s list is incomplete.

For 65 years I have studied the Bible as inerrant which means that God was behind the writing of every word of the Bible, so its original documents were error free. Since 1998 I have had a growing suspicion that Shem’s list omits names. More recently I began searching the Bible for an answer. The Shem passage is clear—when Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah; when Shelah had lived 30 years he fathered Eber, etc., etc., (Genesis 11:12 and following). Since God moved the writers of Scripture and God cannot lie, people of faith are obligated to take those numbers literally. While most Evangelical Old Testament scholars suspect Shem’s list is incomplete, they cannot explain how or where.

Slowly it dawned on me that Hebrew genealogies had a different orientation than the genealogies of most other people groups. Their purpose served to identify descendants with forefathers and forefathers with descendants rather than establish legal descent. In the thinking of the Hebrew, all male descendants were the sons of their forefathers, and all forefathers were the fathers of their descendants.

This thinking is reflected in the very first verse of the New Testament: “Jesus Christ, the son of David.” Since David lived 1000 years before Christ, calling Jesus the “son of David” is using “son” in the broad sense of the word. Jesus was a descendant of David, not his immediate son. The Hebrews used the other common family terms such as “father,” “brother” and even “to bear” (the mother’s part), “to beget” (the father’s part) in the same way, i.e., in the broad sense as well as in the conventional narrow sense. My favorite verse illustrating this concept is I Chronicles 4:1 which uses “son” in both narrow and broad senses: “The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur and Shobal.” Perez is the only immediate son of Judah in the list. You would never know from the verse that Hezron was a grandson, Hur and Shobal were great grandsons and Carmi was a distant descendant. Yet this was one way the Hebrews used “son” and other family terms.


In Shem’s case not only is the word “beget” found, but also the age of the father when he begat his son. It would seem that this additional information would require “begat” to be understood in the narrow sense, but it doesn’t. Levi’s list shows how to take the begetting age. In a Hebrew genealogical list factual data about a parent refers to the next generation, whether named or omitted. If omitted, “beget/bear” is used in the broad sense of the named descendant being born further down the line.

But where and how many generations are missing in Shem’s list? The Bible gives an overwhelming clue. All those who died before the Flood lived about 900 years while the longevity of those born after the Flood steadily declined from 464 to 70 years (Genesis 11:16; Psalm 90:10). While there were special cases the overall generational decline appears small to begin with, then varied from four to six years before eventually decreasing to about two or three years and finally ceasing. But there is one glaring exception. The decline between the third and fourth names is 57% of the total decline. By dividing this huge decline by the per-generation decline and making other adjustments,40-50generationsseemtobemissing(1300-1600years). Whatclarifiedthisissue? Here was the breakthrough: coming to realize that the Flood itself was so violent that God could use it to permanently cut human longevity in half.

The multiplication of Noah’s descendants totally agrees with the appearance of the world’s first advanced societies. An advanced society is defined as one that has developed a written language. After the Ark came to rest where the mountains of Ararat eventually arose, Noah’s descendants migrated to the plains of Southern Mesopotamia and built a city (Genesis 8-11). In seeing this city God said that now nothing they proposed would be impossible (Genesis 11:6) so He confused their tongues. Speaking different languages forced them to spread out. After a time one group reduced its language to writing. Secular history has concluded that the very first society to develop a written language was the Southern Mesopotamian people of Sumer about 3000 BC. The Egyptians soon followed with hieroglyphics. Other Near East peoples adopted their languages to Sumer’s cuneiform script. Secular history confirms Scripture’s record about the location of the world’s first advanced societies.

Noah’s Flood brought on the Ice Age which lasted a thousand years and impacted all his descendants for centuries. Those who settled in the upper latitudes resorted to survival tactics— stone tools and caves. Those in the lower latitudes experienced powerful and frequent rainstorms that caused permanent vegetation in areas of the Near East now desert. As a result, large populations developed in one place while elsewhere cave men struggled to survive. Job lived 16 to 20 generations before Abraham, dying at the age of 280. His book speaks of these heavy rains, numerous other ice age phenomena, an extensive population in Arabia and even dinosaurs in the Jordan Valley, all forgotten by Abraham’s day.

When one understands how to take Hebrew genealogies and applies that knowledge to Shem’s list, dozens of misinterpretations of Scripture can be corrected and Scripture stands with greater trustworthiness and authority. Hidden Beauty is long because it must overcome much disinformation. Determine for yourself if the following pages are convincing.

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