Dating the flood

John Ronning ronning at
Sun Oct 1 11:12:27 EDT 2000

Walter and Rolf,

Appeals to literalism don't answer the question as to
whether there might be gaps in the genealogies.  The
question of gaps comes down to the biblical idiom involved
in "beget" and "bear."

Note e.g. Matt 1:8; Joram "begat" Uzziah (skips Ahaziah,
Joash, Amaziah); Joram was long dead when Uzziah was born
“to him,” unless he is considered as becoming the father of
Uzziah, etc. when Ahaziah (his 1st generation son) their
ancestor is born.

Also Gen 46:15 - “These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore
to Jacob in Paddan-Aram, with his daughter Dinah; all his
sons and daughters were thirty three.”  This number includes
many (most) born in the next generation in the land of
Canaan, thus it calls Jacob’s grandsons who were born in
Canaan, sons that were born “to him,” "by Leah" (who was
actually the grandmother) in "Paddan-Aram."

Similarly Gen 46:22 - “These are the sons of Rachel, who
were born to Jacob; fourteen persons in all.”  Rachel was
dead when most of these were born.  It includes the sons of
Joseph born to him in Egypt.

Thus neither the mother nor father need be even alive at the
birth of the next son listed in the genealogy.  Apparently,
in biblical idiom, one “begets” not only his son, but his
sons descendants when that son is born.

The genealogy of Moses in Exodus 6:20 says that Jochebed
bore Moses and Aaron to Amram, giving us Levi > Kohath >
Amram > Moses.  Kohath is listed in Gen 46:11 as a first
generation son of Levi.  Numbers 3 divides the families of
Kohathites into four, including the Amramites, so Amram is
also probably first generation son of Kohath (meaning
Jochebed is a first generation daughter of Levi), who lived
and died hundreds of years before Moses.

The possibility of gaps in the genealogies was apparently
overlooked by the LXX translators, who inserted an extra
hundred years in the ages at "begetting" in Genesis 11 so
they could avoid the embarrasment of Shem being still alive
in the time of Abraham - though others have found it
convenient to have Shem still around - so if you ask why
doesn't it say that both Abraham and Isaac returned to
Beersheba after Mt. Moriah, the answer was, Isaac went to
study in the rabbinical school of Shem.  Luther didn't like
the idea of Rebekah inquiring directly of the Lord, so he
explained that she really went to Shem when she inquired of
the Lord.

If one "begets" not only the son but also his descendents
when that son is born (again, by idiomatic usage, not
literally), then one could read Gen 11:16-17 (just for an
example) "Eber lived thirty-four years, and became the
father of [an ancestor of] Peleg; and Eber lived four
hundred and thirty years after he became the father of [an
ancestor of] Peleg," etc.

Another point of course, is that there is a rather sudden
and sharp reduction of lifespans between Eber and Peleg -
I'd say a good place to suppose that a long list of names
has been left out.

Bottom line, no, you can't date the flood using the
genealogies (at least not with any certainty).


John Ronning

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