The Genealogy of Israel – Sons Of Jacob
These are the names of the descendants of Israel—the sons of Jacob—who went to Egypt:
Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son. The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Shaul. (Shaul’s mother was a Canaanite woman.)
The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (though Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.
The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puah,[a] Jashub,[b] and Shimron.
The sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.
These were the sons of Leah and Jacob who were born in Paddan-aram, in addition to their daughter, Dinah. The number of Jacob’s descendants (male and female) through Leah was thirty-three.
The sons of Gad were Zephon,[c] Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.
The sons of Asher were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. Beriah’s sons were Heber and Malkiel.
These were the sons of Zilpah, the servant given to Leah by her father, Laban. The number of Jacob’s descendants through Zilpah was sixteen.
The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
Joseph’s sons, born in the land of Egypt, were Manasseh and Ephraim. Their mother was Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.
Benjamin’s sons were Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.
These were the sons of Rachel and Jacob. The number of Jacob’s descendants through Rachel was fourteen.
The son of Dan was Hushim.
The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.
These were the sons of Bilhah, the servant given to Rachel by her father, Laban. The number of Jacob’s descendants through Bilhah was seven.
The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt, not counting his sons’ wives, was sixty-six. In addition, Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt. So altogether, there were seventy members of Jacob’s family in the land of Egypt.
Genesis 46:8-27 (NLT)
Now, allow me to let you in on a little secret: verses 8 through 25, and possibly even verses 26 and 27, were either ADDED to this text at a later date…OR…they were significantly modified from the original at a later time.
How do we know this?
Plus, there are matters of common sense. Joseph was in his early 30’s at this time, so Benjamin would have been in his 20’s…a very young man. Yet, we get a listing of 10 sons of Benjamin. And, in Numbers the listing is 5 sons and 2 GRAND-sons!
Since the clearly stated timeframe for this chapter is the migration of Israel to Egypt, during the time of the famine, it is utterly impossible for Benjamin to have sired so many children, let alone grandchildren coming from his children, at such a tender age.
Now, if this unnerves you a little, don’t let it. Genealogies are inserted into the text for all kinds of reasons in the Bible; and, they have been amended for all kinds of reasons. Not the least of which is that after time has passed, a larger and clearer picture of the family tree was available, and so that additional information was added. Sometimes genealogies were modified because a clan had completely died out, and it is necessary to insert their name to be sure they’re not forgotten.
In the case of Genesis 46, it is also possible that the number 70 is symbolic rather than and exact census. 70 is symbolic of the totality of a cycle; it also represents a universality of an event and that something has been divinely ordained.
It is very likely that there were WELL more than 70 individuals that went to Egypt because genealogies and censuses generally ONLY count the males of the population. The 66 males mentioned in the genealogy of Genesis 46 are an example of this tradition.
There would have been at least as many females born, and probably a few more females than males, which is the normal pattern of birth rate. So, it is likely that the full and complete number that went down into Egypt was closer to 150 family members.
But, as would have any small nation of that size, they would also own foreign slaves. In fact, we know from the Scriptures that describe the incident of the slaughter of the residents of Shechem some years earlier (recall, this was revenge by the Israelites for the rape of Jacob’s daughter, Dinah by the King of Shechem’s son), that Israel took many woman and children as slaves and concubines. I would be surprised if their number was any less than 200, and probably a bit more.
Now one more thing about the genealogy and we’ll continue: all genealogical listings in the Bible had a method to their madness. The names were grouped in whatever way they were for a specific reason… it was NEVER at random.
And, we see that here in Genesis 46. For the first members of Israel listed are Leah (Jacob’s first wife) and her children, and then Leah’s servant-girl, Zilpah, and her children. Next is Jacob’s second wife, Rachel, along with her children, and that follows with Rachel’s servant-girl, Bilah, and Bilah’s children.
And, of course, we get further proof of the later redaction of the genealogy when it includes as “among those who went down to Egypt”, Joseph’s Egyptian-born children, Ephraim and Manasseh; children Jacob would have known nothing about, and children who were born and raised in Egypt… not in Canaan.
Very probably, verse 28 belongs right after verse 7 in the original. In V28 we are told something that we need to tuck away in our memories: Judah was sent ahead of Jacob to scout out the way. This was a job for the first born; but, of course, we see no mention of Rueben, Jacob’s first son. Apparently, Judah had assumed that role, bypassing even 2 more brothers that were normally, by tradition, ahead of him, Simeon and Levi.
To Be Continued…