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The Meaning Of The Chronogenealogies
Of Genesis 5 And 11

Gerhard F. Hasel
Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology
Andrews University

1980

(A short excerpt from Hasel's larger paper.)

Before we give attention to the "Mesopotamian evidence" it may be advisable to consider the suggestion that the flood took place at about 2300 B.C. The latter date roughly reflects a computation of the spans of time of the textual recension preserved in the Hebrew text as transmitted by the Masoretes. However, the Hebrew Masoretic text (MT), some major manuscripts of the Septuagint (LXX) versions (manuscripts Alexandrinus and Vaticanus), and the Samaritan Pentateuch have divergent figures. The Jewish historian Josephus of the first century is known to quote from the shorter Hebrew figures as well as from longer ones (Hasel 1980), testifying to the existence of both the Greek and "the Hebrew figures and their [the latter] being regarded as of value in the first century of our era" (Jones 1909, p. 48). By adding up the ages of each patriarch at the time of the birth of the named son, the following figures are obtained in the respective textual versions (allowing one year for the flood and one year to the birth of Shem's son).

CHART A

 

MT

LXX (Alex.)

LXX (Vat.)

Sam. Pent.

Josephus

Adam to Noah

1656

2262

2242

1307

2256

Shem to Abraham

292

1072

1172

942

983

 

-------

-------

-------

-------

-------

Adam to Abraham

1948

3334

3414

2249

3239

Some scholars add another 60 years to the time from Shem to Abraham, figuring that Terah was not 70 years old when Abraham was born (cf. Genesis 11:26); rather, he was 130 years old, for Abraham was 75 when he left for Palestine after Terah's death at the age of 205 (Genesis 11:32; 12:4; Acts 7:4). In order to determine the date of the flood, we must also know the date of Abraham's birth. Several items of chronological information in Scripture aid in arriving at his approximate birth date. The first appears in 1 Kings 6:1 where it is stated that Solomon's temple was begun 480 years after the Exodus. Since this occurred in the fourth year of Solomon in ca. 971/970 B.C. (on the basis of a four-year co-regency with David), the Exodus would be dated ca.1450 B.C. In the Hebrew text of Exodus 12:40 it is reported that the Israelites dwelt for 430 years in Egypt.
Let us parenthetically refer briefly to the textual variation in Exodus 12:40. Depending on whether one follows the reading of the Hebrew text (MT) for this verse ("the sons of Israel lived in Egypt 430 years") or the Greek (LXX) translation ("the sojournings of the sons of Israel in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan was 430 years"), an early or late chronology for the birth of Abraham can be determined. If one follows the Greek version, then one figures usually 215 years in Egypt and 215 years of Israel in Canaan. In other words, the Egyptian period is only 215 years long, whereas in the MT it is 430 years long. According to the Hebrew text Abraham's birth is 215 years earlier. If one takes the 430 years of an Egyptian sojourn of the MT and adds them to the year 1450 B.C. for the Exodus, one arrives at a date of ca. 1880 B.C. for the descent into Egypt. Then, by adding Jacob's age at the entry into Egypt (130 years, Genesis 47:9), Isaac's age at Jacob's birth (60 years, Genesis 25:26) and Abraham's age at Isaac's birth (100 years, Genesis 21:5), the year of ca. 2170 B.C. is reached for the date of Abraham's birth. If one follows the Septuagint (LXX) reading of Exodus 12:40, one will arrive at a later time for Abraham's birth, because the Egyptian sojourn according to this text is 215 years shorter. Thus this shorter reckoning would lead to the birth of Abraham at ca. 1955 B.C. Without allowing for the co-regency of Solomon with David (1 Kings 6:1) one can arrive at the birth of Abraham at ca. 1950 (Horn 1960, p. 8).
A reckoning of the date of the flood depends on the year of the birth of Abraham. If one selects the late date for the birth of Abraham at ca. 1955 B.C. and adds the 292 years from his birth to the flood according to the Hebrew text (MT), the flood would have occurred at ca. 2247 B.C. But if one follows the MT and calculates the birth of Abraham at ca. 2170 B.C., then the flood would have occurred in ca. 2462 B.C. on the basis of the 292 years in the MT between the birth of Abraham and the flood. Or, if one takes the figures of either 1072 or 1172 of the Septuagint manuscripts for the span of time between Abraham's birth in ca. 2170 B.C. and the flood, the date of the flood would be reckoned accordingly to have taken place either in ca. 3242 B.C. or 3342 B.C. The Samaritan Pentateuch and Josephus have slightly shorter time spans for the same periods, namely 942 years for the former and 983 years for the latter. These figures would lead to a date for the flood in either ca. 3112 B.C. for the Samaritan Pentateuch and ca. 3153 B.C. for Josephus (see Chart B).

CHART B

 

MT

LXX (Alex.)

LXX (Vat.)

Sam.Pent.

Flood

2462

3242

3342

3112

Creation of Adam

4118

5504

5584

4419

Adding 60 years to chart B to arrive at chart C: If Abraham was born when Terah was 130 years old, as may be indicated in Genesis 11:32; 12:4; Acts 7:4 (because Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran after Terah had died at the age of 205), then one needs to add in each case 60 years to the B.C. years of the flood. Accordingly the flood would have occurred at ca. 2522 B.C. (MT), 3302 B.C. (LXX Alex.), 3402 B.C. (LXX Vat.), 3172 B.C. (Sam Pent.), and 3213 B.C. (Josephus) [see Chart C which adds in the 60 years on top of chart B].

CHART C (Add 60 years to all figures in chart B)

 

MT

LXX (Alex.)

LXX (Vat.)

Sam.Pent.

Flood

2522

3302

3402

3172

Creation of Adam

4178

5564

5644

4479

 

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