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Friday, June 16, 2006

From Perez to Solomon, how many years?

I've got a question about one of the genealogies in the Bible. Here it is:

1 Chronicles 2:5 The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. 6 The sons of Zerah: Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara, five in all. 7 The son . . . of Carmi: Achan, the troubler of Israel, who broke faith in the matter of the devoted thing; 8 and Ethan's son was Azariah.

9 The sons of Hezron that were born to him: Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai. 10 Ram fathered Amminadab, and Amminadab fathered Nahshon, prince of the sons of Judah. 11 Nahshon fathered Salmon, . . . Salmon fathered Boaz, 12 Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse. (ESV) (The ellipses represent references to footnotes that don't affect this discussion.)

Let me list the generations in the line I'm concerned about: Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, who was the father of Solomon. That's eleven generations, including Perez, one of Judah's sons, and Solomon.

So what's the question?

Here it is: Is this list complete?

Why do I ask? Here's why. In 1 Kings 6:1, we are told that Solomon began to build the temple in the 480th year after the Israelites returned from Egypt. Exodus 12:40-41 tells us that the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. This means that one or more of these 11 people were alive for a span of more than 910 years. (Perez must have been born in Canaan, before the departure for Egypt, according to Genesis 38. Clearly Solomon was born before he assumed the kingship, and before he started having the temple built. He lived for a number of years after the building of the temple started, as he reigned for 40 years.) Let's say that one or more of these 11 were alive for at least 946 years, and probably several years longer than that. That's 946 divided by 11, or 86 years, per generation, not per life. Generation length, of course, doesn't consider the overlap between, say, Jesse and David. In other words, these 11 men either must have lived a century or more each, or the genealogy given is not complete. There are scholars who know the Bible, and take it very seriously, as the Word of God, and believe that at least some of the genealogies are not meant to be used for chronological purposes, but were meant to show the main characters in lines of descent, with some names being omitted. There is scriptural evidence that names were omitted in some genealogies. It seems that this part of the genealogy in the Bible probably is one of those that has names omitted.

Any thoughts? Thanks for reading.

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