The Genesis 5 & 11 chronogenealogies are unique among all genealogies in Scripture because they include both chronological (time) and genealogical (parentage) information. These chronogenealogies are reliable God-given historical records of name, age, birth, and death information for direct father-son pairs.
The case of Adam’s son Seth illustrates the general pattern:
Seth lived 105 years, and begat Enosh. Then Seth lived 807 years after he begat Enosh, and he begat other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. (Genesis 5:6-8)
The Hebrew word yalad for begat means “fathered” and usually indicates a direct one-generation relationship. According to Strong’s concordance there are over 500 occurrences of the Hebrew word yalad, 58 of which are in the Genesis 5 & 11 chronogenealogies. Yalad is translated 201 times by some form of begat, 220 times by some form of bear or birth, and 83 times by various other words like bring forth.
In the vast majority of cases yalad indicates an immediate descendant. There are a few cases among the 500 in which yalad might have a broader meaning than immediate descendant, but 98% of the time it definitely means immediate descendant.
Is the usual, literal meaning of yalad correct for the Genesis 5 & 11 genealogies, or is a broader meaning appropriate? Grammar and context determine what yalad actually does mean. You can’t arbitrarily choose a preferred meaning. For example, if I ask what trunk means, you can’t tell without a context—trunk has numerous different meanings.
Grammatically and linguistically, the evidence of the Hebrew language is clear. Hebrew is a very descriptive language for expressing action. The “voice” for yalad in Genesis 5 & 11 is the hiphil voice. This voice expresses a direct cause and effect relationship between the subject (father) and the object (son) of the verb yalad—begat, and thus indicates that the father and son are directly related, not distantly related.
Not only do almost all uses of yalad mean immediate descent, but for all other cases of yalad in the hiphil voice in the Old Testament, the context indicates immediate descent. Why should it be understood differently in the Genesis genealogies?
The next post in this series, Interlocking Genealogies, will discuss strong contextual indications that yalad means immediate descendant.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the ninth in a series of blog posts on the Age of the Earth. I began with the Biblical testimony that the earth is 6,000 years old, because the evidence from nature should be interpreted and understood in the light of clear Biblical truth. The prequels have considered why it’s an important issue and what Jesus thought. Current posts are analyzing the Genesis genealogies. Future articles will survey the historic teaching of the church. Subsequently I’ll discuss scientific evidence on the age of the earth. I’ll explain fallacies of radiometric dating methods which yield long ages and give examples of scientific methods which yield short ages.
Read the prequels:
1. How Old Is the Earth?
2. Why Is the Age of the Earth Important?
3. Earth: Young or Old?
4. Age of the Earth—Jesus’ View
5. Age of the Earth—Jesus Interpreted OT Literally
6. Age of the Earth—What Did Jesus Say?
7. Age of the Earth—What Did Jesus’ Contemporaries Think?
8. Age of the Earth—Genealogies
Read the sequel:
10. Age of the Earth—Interlocking Genealogies
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday July 2, 2008 A.D.
And Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. (Genesis 5:6-8)