Some Biblical genealogies are abbreviated by skipping generations. Ben (son) can mean grandson or descendant, and ’ab (father) can mean grandfather or ancestor. Sometimes a man is called the son of a distant but significant forefather.
But just because a word may have a more general meaning does not automatically mean it must carry the general meaning in any given text. Context determines meaning, specific or general.
In any case, in the Genesis chronogenealogies these terms are not used except when referring to Lamech’s son Noah. Thus this argument cannot be used to support gaps in the Genesis chronogenealogies.
Moreover, none of the abbreviated genealogies use the hiphil voice of the Hebrew word yalad (begat). 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. When the hiphil voice of yalad is used in genealogies, there is not a single known case of any skipped generations.
For example, Ezra’s genealogy in Ezra 7:1-6 is abbreviated. Comparison with 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 shows that 6 generations from Chronicles are omitted in Ezra. Chronicles uses yalad (begat-became the father of). The abbreviated version in Ezra uses “son of” instead of begat.
Those who claim that the Genesis 5 & 11 chronogenealogies are abbreviated understand them to mean (using Seth as an example): “Seth lived 105 years, and begat an ancestor of Enosh. Then Seth lived 807 years after he begat an ancestor of Enosh, and he begat other sons and daughters.”
This is preposterous! There is no hint of such a meaning in the context; furthermore, this interpretation violates the meaning of the Hebrew word yalad (begat) in all other cases of its use in genealogies.
Is it reasonable to impose on Genesis 5 & 11 a meaning for begat (yalad in the hiphil voice) which cannot be shown to be valid for any other genealogy?
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the 11th 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
9. Age of the Earth—What Does Begat Mean?
10. Age of the Earth—Interlocking Genealogies
Read the sequel:
12. Age of the Earth—No Gaps in 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)
Monday July 14, 2008 A.D.
And Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. Then Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died. (Genesis 5:12-14)