[b-hebrew] Septuagint vs. Masoretes/75 vs. 70: How Many Hebrews Did Jacob Lead into Egypt?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jan 17 16:23:12 EST 2008

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III:
1.  You wrote:  “Regarding the use of the LXX in Acts 7, it makes perfect 
sense. Stephen, a Greek-speaking Jew, chosen as deacon by the early church in 
Acts 6 to take care of the Hellenistic Jewish widows, would have quoted from the 
LXX which was by
 Greek-speaking Jews in the Diaspora. In fact, the book of Hebrews uses all 
 quotes from the LXX. So there are no surprises here.”
I agree.  But that does not help us resolve the issue of whether the original 
text, on which both the Septuagint and the Masoretic text are based, said 75 
or 70.
2.  You wrote:  “Regarding the 70 verse 75. It is apparent if one looks at 
the texts that Joseph and his family (wife and children) are also included to 
give the number of 75;
 otherwise it is 70 as per MT.”
It’s not that easy.
(a)  The Septuagint has (i) five named descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim, 
and it also (ii) refers to 9 descendants in total of Joseph.  So the Septuagint 
implicitly sees Joseph as having 2 unnamed younger sons:  9 descendants of 
Joseph, less Manasseh and Ephraim, less 5 named descendants of Manasseh and 
Ephraim = 2 unnamed descendants of Joseph, who presumably are Joseph’s younger 
sons, born after Jacob got to Egypt.  Rather than being a weakness, that is a 
great strength of the Septuagint, because Genesis 48: 6 would seem to require 
that Joseph sires younger sons after Manasseh and Ephraim, since Jacob says to 
“And thy issue, that thou begettest after them, shall be thine;  they shall 
be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.’”  Genesis 
48: 6
(b)  Few people have followed your suggestion of counting in Joseph’s wife.  
Both the name of Joseph’s wife, and the name of her Egyptian priestly father, 
do appear in chapter 46 of Genesis, that’s true.  But few people would count 
Most people view both the total number, whether it be 75 or 70, as not 
including anyone other than Jacob and Jacob’s blood descendants.  Many people 
exclude some of Jacob’s blood descendants, but few analysts have proposed adding in 
anyone who is not a blood descendant of Jacob.  For example, all of Joseph’s 
older half-brothers were married when the Hebrews came into Egypt, yet their 
wives are not counted.
(c)  As I see it, one of the keys is to determine now many members of Joseph’
s family to treat as being led to Egypt with Jacob, for purposes of chapter 46 
of Genesis, in the face of the fact that no members of Joseph’s family were 
literally led by Jacob into Egypt.  But the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives wants to include all of Jacob’s sons, even those sons who were already in 
Egypt when Jacob led the Hebrews into Egypt.  Joseph is a blood son of Jacob, so 
Joseph should be counted, even though Joseph was already in Egypt.  Chapter 
46 of Genesis deftly foreshadows chapter 48 of Genesis, in my view, in that 
Manasseh and Ephraim are adopted by Jacob as being Jacob’s sons in chapter 48 of 
Genesis.  On that basis, and with chapter 46 of Genesis already figuring in 
that future event, in my view Manasseh and Ephraim should be treated for all 
purposes of chapter 46 of Genesis as being led into Egypt by Jacob, even though 
Manasseh and Ephraim were born in Egypt.  On that view, there are precisely 3, 
and only 3, members of Joseph’s family who should be treated, for purposes of 
chapter 46 of Genesis, as if they had been led into Egypt by Jacob.  Thus all 
of Jacob’s sons, including Jacob’s 2 adopted sons and his 3 sons already in 
Egypt, are treated as being led into Egypt by Jacob.  No other members of Joseph
’s family should be treated as being led into Egypt by Jacob, in counting to 
the key number of 70.
There are 75 names in the text of chapter 46 of Genesis, if we start with the 
74 names in the Septuagint, and add “Huppim” which the Septuagint dropped as 
a descendant of Benjamin.  
Rachel awkwardly has 19 named descendants.
And Joseph does have 2 younger sons, though their names are not given.
That, in a nutshell, is how I see the original text of chapter 46 of Genesis 
as originally having read.  But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  I haven’t 
even posted the relevant portions of the Septuagint text of chapter 46 of 
Genesis yet, so that everyone can follow along with this discussion.
3.  What we want is (i) Leah to be associated with the auspicious number 33, 
(ii) Rachel to be associated with the inauspicious number 19, (iii) there 
should be 75 total names, (iv) the numbers 66 and 9 should appear, which also 
suggests the number 75 (tying into the fact that the Patriarchal narratives begin 
with Abraham leaving Harran for Canaan when Abraham is stated age 75 “years”
), yet (v) the bottom line should nevertheless be the number 70, the “Egyptian”
 number, if you will, so that the numerical symbolism will be perfect in all 
ways.  (The first number in the Patriarchal narratives, which occurs in the 
very first verse of the Patriarchal narratives, is 70.  And the last chapter of 
Genesis features the Egyptians mourning Jacob’s death in Egypt for 70 days.  
So we need that “Egyptian” number 70 in chapter 46 of Genesis, based on the 
thoroughgoing numerical symbolism that is used throughout the Patriarchal 
We’re getting there.  In my view, the original text embodied all the above 
key numerical features:  33;  19;  75;  66 + 9;  70.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

**************Start the year off right.  Easy ways to stay in shape.     

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list