Genealogies in Genesis
Daniel J. Dyke
 

 
One of the debates that exists in conservative Biblical scholarship is concerning the genealogies found in Genesis 5 and 11 as to whether they are sequential and complete or if they contain gaps.  It is the position of this paper that they contain an indeterminate number of gaps.  The following points are made in favor of this interpretation:

1.    There is a massive amount of recorded history that must be put after the flood, but there is not enough time to accommodate all the events.

2.    The genealogies of the covenant lines before and after the flood have exactly 10 generations each (cf. Chart A).  This suggests a partially artificial scheme much like what is found in Mt. 1 where there are 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations form David to the Babylonian captivity, and 14 generations from the Babylonian captivity to Christ.  The people listed were real, but to achieve the correct number Matthew left out worthless people in the first two sections.  A suggestion as to the purpose of such an artificial scheme would be to show that the events separated by the list of generations were of relatively equal importance.

3.    Biblical genealogies regularly have gaps where the author will leave out a generation or a whole block of generations. The word "begat" can mean "became the forefather of" and the word "son" can mean descendant (Mt. 1:1).  There is an example of such an omission in Ezra and Chronicles (cf. Chart B).  It may be  that there were more omissions than the ones made by Ezra.  In Aaron's family tree there are nine generations from the building of Solomon's temple to the Babylonian captivity and this period spanned 380 years.  That would mean that each man was an average of 42 years old when he had his first child.  This is possible but it is easier to deal with if several generations have been omitted.  If both genealogies are taken at face value then Ezra and Jehozadak were brothers. Jehozadak was taken captive in 586 B.C. and Ezra began his work in 458 B.C.  That is a difference of 128 years!  Obviously there are generations of Aaron's family missing between these two men.



 
CHART A
Genesis 5

Adam
Seth
Enosh
Kenan
Mahalalel
Jared
Enoch
Methuselah
Lamech
Noah
Genesis 11

Shem
Arphaxad
Shelah
Eber
Peleg
Reu
Serug
Nahor
Terah
Abram



 
CHART B
I Chronicles 6:1-15 (Order inverted)  Ezra 7:1-5
  Ezra
Jehozadak
    Exiled by Nebuchadnezzar
 
Seraiah Seraiah
Azariah Azariah
Hilkiah Hilkiah
Shallum Shallum
Zadok Zadok
Ahitub Ahitub
Amariah Amariah
Azariah
     Built Solomon's Temple (966/956 B.C.)
Azariah
Johanan  
Azariah  
Ahimaaz  
Zadok  
Ahitub  
Amariah  
Meraioth Meraioth
Zerahiah Zerahiah
Uzzi Uzzi
Bukki Bukki
Abishua Abishua
Phinehas Phinehas
Eleazar Eleazar
Aaron (d. 1406/1220 B.C.) Aaron