Genealogies

often skip generations.

Exodus 6:14-27 (NKJV)

These are the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. And the sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These are the families of Simeon. There are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven. The sons of Gershon were Libni and Shimi according to their families. And the sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred and thirty-three. The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of Levi according to their generations.

Now Amram took for himself Jochebed, his father’s sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty-seven. The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. And the sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri. Aaron took to himself Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon, as wife; and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And the sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites. Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took for himself one of the daughters of Putiel as wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites according to their families.

These are the same Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, “Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.” These are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are the same Moses and Aaron.

Levi begat Kohath, who begat Amram, who begat Aaron and Moses. Kohath was born before Jacob went to Egypt – see Genesis 46:11. Stretching these few generations out to cover 430 years in slavery isn’t going to work. Consider the genealogy of Joshua in 1 Chronicles 7:23, 25–27 (NKJV).

And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. … and Rephah was his son, as well as Resheph, and Telah his son, Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, and Joshua his son.

That sounds more like it. Hebrew genealogies often skip generations. This may seem odd, but don’t forget that this genealogy of Joshua above only shows one branch of an enormous tree. So, it’s normal to focus on some parts of a genealogy while ignoring others. Skipping generations is just part of that pattern.


Genealogy has a purpose, but people can turn it into just another way to claim that they’re better than everyone else. Once again, something good is ruined by our sin. Eventually, Paul tired of this.

endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. – 1 Timothy 1:4b (NKJV)

The descendants of Israel eventually lost track of their connection to these genealogies. Only a tiny minority even claim to know which tribe they’re from.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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