Genesis (Part 207)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 46:5-27

Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. They also took their livestock and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters. All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and the sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Yob, and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15 These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah; altogether his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.

16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, with Serah their sister. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel. 18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons.

19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, bore to him. 21 And the sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22 These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all.

23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all.

26 All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. 27 And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.


This section numbers and names the household of Jacob. I’ll provide some commentary notes for these verses. First, from The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 46:5-7

And Jacob rose up—having received new vigor from the vision (Calvin)—from Beersheba (it is not probable that his stay there was of more than a day or two’s, perhaps only a night’s, duration): and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives,—”Unlike the heathen tribes around them, and Oriental nations generally, the family of Jacob gave honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel” (Lawson)—in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him (vide Genesis 45:19Genesis 45:21). And they took their cattle, and their goods (including probably their servants), which they had gotten in the land of Canaan,—Pharaoh had desired Jacob not to regard his stuff, because the good of all the land of Egypt was before him; but he wished not to take advantage of Pharaoh’s goodness, or to owe greater obligations to him than he found necessary” (Lawson)—and came into Egypt,—a scene depicted on the tomb of Chumhotep, the near relative and successor of Osirtasen I; at Benihassan, represents a company of immigrants, apparently Shemitic in their origin, entering Egypt with their goods, as well as women and children, borne upon asses. Without affirming that this was the Egyptian version of the descent of Israel into Egypt, it may serve as a striking illustration of that event—Jacob, and all his seed (i.e. his descendants) with him: his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughtersand his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt. The date of this event was in the 130th year of Jacob’s life (Genesis 47:9), and 215 years after the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:4), i.e. B.C. 1728 (Usher), 1885 (Hales); or A.M. 2276 (Usher), 3526 (Hales).

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary gives a name for the section of verses that follow:


(8) These are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt.—This document, consisting of Genesis 46:8-27, is one that would be of the highest importance to the Israelites, when taking possession of Canaan, being as it were their title-deed to the land. Accordingly we find that it is drawn up in a legal manner, representing as sons some who were really grandsons, but who took as heads of families the place usually held by sons. We next find that it represents them as all born in Canaan, not in a natural sense, but as the rightful heirs of the country. Technically every head of a family was born in Canaan, and thus the danger was obviated of an objection to the possession of this rank being accorded to one born in Egypt. As a matter of fact Pharez (Genesis 46:12) was an infant when taken down into Egypt. (See Genesis 38:29, and Excursus on Chronology of Jacob’s life.) It is difficult enough to find time sufficient for his birth in the interval between the return from Padan-Aram, and the descent into Egypt; for the birth of his two sons, Hezron and Hamul, there is no space whatsoever. In Genesis 46:21 Benjamin has ten sons assigned him, but he was at most about thirty years of age when he went into Egypt, and some of these sons are expressly said elsewhere to have been his grandsons. Commentators have indeed endeavoured to show that Benjamin might have been a few years older, but they do this by upsetting their own conclusions previously arrived at; and there is no process which so legitimately produces scepticism as the re-statement by commentators of the facts so marshalled on each occasion as to suit the apparent exigencies of the passage before them, but in a manner irreconcilable with previous difficulties.

The genealogical table of the twelve patriarchs is thrice given in Holy Scripture: here, in Numbers 26:0, and in 1 Chronicles 1-8. See also Exodus 6:14-16, where only Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are given.

As the commentary notes, this section of genealogy is important because it provides a portion of the legal justification for the conquest of Canaan that happens after the exit of the Israelites from Egypt. More from The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 46:9

And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch,—”Initiated or Dedicated;” the name also of Cain’s firstborn (Genesis 4:17), and of the son of Jared (Genesis 5:19)—and Phallu,—”Distingushed” (Gesenius)—and Hezron,—”Enclosed” (Gesenius), “Of the Court or Village” (Murphy), “Blooming One” (Furst)—and Carmi,—”Vine-dresser” (Gesenius, Murphy), “Noble One” (Furst).

Genesis 46:10

And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel,—”Day of El” (Gesenius, Murphy); in 1 Chronicles 4:24, Nemuel—and Jamin,—”Right Hand” (Gesenius, Murphy)—and Ohad,—”Joined together” (Gesenius, Murphy)—and Jachin,—”Whom God strengthens” (Gesenius), “He shall establish” (Murphy), or Jarib (1 Chronicles 4:24)—and Zohar,—”Whiteness” (Gesenius, Murphy); named Zerah (1 Chronicles 4:24)—and Shaul,—”Asked for” (Gesenius)—the son of a Canaanitish woman. The wives of the other sons, except Judah, were probably from Mesopotamia.

Genesis 46:11

And the sons of LeviGershon,—or Gershom,—”Expulsion” (Gesenins),—Kohath, or Kehath,—”Assembly” (Gesenius)—and Merari,—”Bitter,” “Unhappy” (Gesenius), Flowing” (Murphy), Harsh One” (Lange).

Genesis 46:12

And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah (vide Genesis 38:3), and Pharos, and Zarah (Genesis 38:291 Chronicles 2:4): but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan (Genesis 8:7Genesis 8:10). And the sons of Pharez were Hezron (vide on Genesis 46:9and Hamul,—”One who has experienced mercy” (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:13

And the sons of Issachar; Tola,—”Worm, Scarlet” (Gesenius)—and Phuvah,—”Mouth”? (Gesenius)—and Job,—perhaps an incorrect reading for Jashub (“Turning Oneself”), as in Numbers 26:241 Chronicles 7:1 (Gesenius), which the LXX. adopts—and Shimron,—”Watch” (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:14

And the sons of Zebulun; Sered,—”Fear” (Gesenius)—and Elon, “Oak”—and Jahleel,—”Whom God has made sick” (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:15

These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Parian-dram (i.e. the descendants of Leah’s sons which were born in Padan-aram), with his daughter Dinah (who probably had continued unmarried after her misfortune in Shechem, and is here mentioned as an independent member of Jacob’s family): all the souls of his sons and his daughters (reckoning him- self, and excluding Er and Onan) were thirty and three.

Genesis 46:16

And the sons of Gad; Ziphion,—”Expectation (Gesenius); Zephon (Numbers 26:15)—and Haggi,—” Festive” (Gesenius)—Shuni,—”Quiet” (Gesenius)—and Esbon,—”Toiling” (Murphy); named Ozni (Numbers 26:16)—Eri,—”Guarding” (Gesenius)—and Arodi,—”Wild Ass” (Gesenius), “Rover” (Murphy), “Descendants” (Lange); styled Arod (Numbers 26:17)—and Areli—”Lion of El” (Murphy), “Son of a Hero” (Gesenius), “Heroic” (Lange).

Genesis 46:17

And the sons of Asher; Jimnah,—”Prosperity” (Gesenius)—and Ishuah,—”Even, Level” (Gesenius)—and Isui,—”Even,” “Level” (Gesenius): they may have been twins—and Beriah,—”Gift” (Gesenius), “In Evil” (Murphy)—and Serah—”Abundance” (Gesenius), “Over- flow” (Murphy)—their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber,—”Fellowship” (Gesenius)—and Malchiel—”King of El” (Gesenius, Murphy), “My king is El” (Lange).

Genesis 46:18

These arc the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

Genesis 46:19

The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife (cf. Genesis 44:27); Joseph and Benjamin.

Genesis 46:20

And unto Joseph in the land of Eygpt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him (vide Genesis 41:50). The LXX; having probably transferred them from 1 Chronicles 7:14, append the words, Ἐγένοντο δε υἱοὶ Μανασσῆ οὕς ἔτεκεν αὐτῶ ἡ παλλακὴ ἡ Συρα τὸν Μαχίρ Μαχὶρ δὲ ἐγὲννησε τὸν Γαλαάδ Υἱοὶ δὲ Ἐφραΐμ ἀδελφοῦ Μανασσῆ Σουταλαἀμ και Ταάμ Υἱοὶ δε Σουταλαὰμ Ἐδώμ. Since they are not to be found in the Samaritan text, Rosenmüller thinks they may have been originally written on the margin, and thence by some subsequent copyist transferred to the text.

Genesis 46:21

And the sons of Benjamin were Belah,—”Devouring (Gesenius); the ancient name of Zoar, one of the cities in the Jordan circle (Genesis 14:2)—and Becher,—”a Young Camel” (Gesenius)—and Ashbol,—”Opinion of God” (Gesenius), “Sprout” (Lange), “Short?” (Murphy)—Gera, “a Grain” (Gesenius), “Fighter”? (Lange)—and Naaman,—”Pleasantness” (Gesenius)—Ehi,—”Brotherly” (Lange, Murphy); = Ehud, “Joining together” (Gesenius), 1 Chronicles 8:6; styled Ahiram (Numbers 26:38)—and Rosh,—”Head” (Gesenius)—Muppim,—”Adorned One” (Lange); = Shupham (Numbers 26:38) and Shephupham (1 Chronicles 8:5), “Serpent”? (Gesenius)—and Huppim,—”Coverings” (Gesenius), or Hupham (Numbers 26:39)—and Ard—”Fugitive,” “Rover” (Murphy), “Ruler”? (Lange). In Numbers 26:40 Naaman and Ard are given as the sons of Bela, and the grandsons of Benjamin; a plausible explanation of which is that Benjamin’s sons died early, and were replaced in the list of heads of families by two of Bela’s sons who had been named after them (Keil, Murphy, Inglis, et alii). In the same table of mishpachoth the names of Becher, Gem, and Rosh have been omitted, and that probably for a similar reason—that they died either without issue, or without a number of descendants large enough to form independent families.

Genesis 46:22

These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

Genesis 46:23

And the sons of Dan; Hushim—”Those who make haste” (Gesenius); designated Shuham in Numbers 26:42.

Genesis 46:24

And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel,—”Allotted by God” (Gesenius)—and Guni,—”Painted” (Gesenius), “Dyed” (Murphy), “Protected” (Lange)—and Jezer,—”Image,” “Form” (Gesenius, Lange, Murphy)—and Shillem—”Retribution” (Gesenius), “Avenger” (Lange).

Genesis 46:25

These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.

Ellicott explains how the total group is numbered:

(26) All the souls were threescore and six.—This total is obtained by omitting Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s two sons. If we include these, the whole number becomes threescore and ten, as in Genesis 46:27. In the LXX. the names of five grandsons are added to Genesis 46:20, and thus the total is made seventy-five, as quoted by St. Stephen in Acts 7:14.

The Pulpit Commentaries discusses the numbering issue as well:

Genesis 46:26Genesis 46:27

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; and the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten. According to the LXX. the number of Joseph’s sons was nine; and the number of those who came with Jacob into Egypt seventy five, a number adopted by Stephen (Acts 7:14). The apparent confusion in these different numbers, sixty-six, seventy, seventy-five, will disappear if it be observed that the first takes no account of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim, while they are as palpably included in the second computation, and that Stephen simply adds to the seventy of verse 27 the five grandsons of Joseph who are mentioned in the Septuagint version, from which he quoted, or to the sixty-six of verse 26 the nine mentioned above, consisting of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Joseph’s five grandsons, thus making seventy five in all. There is thus no irreconcilable contradiction between the Hebrew historian and the Christian orator.

Is there a significance to the number seventy?

  • Jacob’s household has 70 people in it.
  • Moses appoints 70 elders (Exodus 24:9 – 11)
  • Israel spent a total number of 70 years in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10)
  • Seventy elders (not counting the High Priest) composed Israel’s great tribunal (Exodus 24:1, Numbers 11:16) which was eventually called the Sanhedrin.
  • Jesus sent out 70 disciples in Luke 10.

For more on the number 70, I direct your atention to an article at appropriate titled, Why is 70 Special?, by Yehuda Shurpin. Excerpt below:

Completeness of Nature

The mystics explain that the natural order is represented by the number 7. G‑d chose to create the world in 7 days, resulting in a week that consists of 7 days,14 corresponding to the 7 attributes (Chesed—Kindness, Gevurah—Severity, Tiferet—Harmony, Netzach—Perseverance, Hod—Humility, Yesod—Foundation, Malchut—Royalty).15

Any number times 10 represents the completeness of that number. (Ten is a “full” number, because after after we reach the number 10, we start counting again with 1. For example, the number 11 is 10 plus 1.) Ten corresponds to the 10 mystical sefirot. And 7 times 10 represents the completion of the natural order—each aspect of nature is complete and made up of all 10 sefirot.

Seventy Connected to Leadership

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the number 70 is especially associated with leadership.

In the Mishnah that is recited as part of the Haggadah on the night of Passover, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah declares: “I am like a man of 70 years old.”16 The Talmud explains that the reason he declared that he was like a man of 70 is that he wasn’t actually 70; in fact, he was only about 18 years old. However, despite his young age, the sages wanted to appoint him as the nassi, leader of the Jewish people. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah was reluctant due to his age, so a miracle occured and white hairs appeared in his beard, giving him the respectable appearance of a 70-year-old who was fit for the leadership position.17

The Rebbe explains that his appearing specifically as a 70-year-old was not random. Rather, as explained, the number 70 represents the completion or fullness of a person’s life, as the verse states, “The span of our life is 70 years . . .”18 Thus the number 70 represents refining one’s 7 attributes (since each attribute is comprised of 10 sefirot) as well as refining the world in general. Only someone who has reached this level of personal and global refinement is fit to be the nassi. Thus, only after Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah’s appearance became that of a 70-year-old was he satisfied that he was fit to be the nassi and leader of the Jewish people.19

What Comes After Seventy?

While the number 70 represents the completion of the natural order, going beyond 70 represents reaching even higher than the natural order, until we ultimately reach the messianic era. May it be speedily in our days!

Jacob reunites with Joseph in the next section, and we move toward the end of the Bok of Genesis.