Exodus 6:20
And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Amram took him Jocheoed his father’s sister to wife.—Marriages with aunts and nieces were not unlawful before the giving of the Law. They were common throughout the East, and at Sparta (Herod. vi. 71, 7:239).

The years of the life of Amram.—The long lives of Levi, Kohath, and Amram, the father of Moses, are not recorded for any chronological purpose, but to show that the blessing of God rested in an especial way on the house of Levi, even before it became the priestly tribe. Life in Egypt at the time not unfrequently reached 120 years; but the 137 of Levi, the 133 of Kohath, and the 137 of Amram, the father of Moses, would, even in Egypt, have been abnormal.

Exodus 6:20-23. His father’s sister — That is, kinswoman, as the Hebrew word frequently means. Amminadab — A prince of the tribe of Judah. The Levites might marry into any tribe, there being no danger of confusion or loss of inheritance thereby.6:14-30 Moses and Aaron were Israelites; raised up unto them of their brethren, as Christ also should be, who was to be the Prophet and Priest, the Redeemer and Lawgiver of the people of Israel. Moses returns to his narrative, and repeats the charge God had given him to deliver his message to Pharaoh, and his objection against it. Those who have spoken unadvisedly with their lips ought to reflect upon it with regret, as Moses seems to do here.Uncircumcised, is used in Scripture to note the unsuitableness there may be in any thing to answer its proper purpose; as the carnal heart and depraved nature of fallen man are wholly unsuited to the services of God, and to the purposes of his glory. It is profitable to place no confidence in ourselves, all our sufficiency must be in the Lord. We never can trust ourselves too little, or our God too much. I can do nothing by myself, said the apostle, but I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Amram - This can scarcely be the same person who is mentioned in Exodus 6:18; but his descendant and representative in the generation immediately preceding that of Moses. The intervening links are omitted, as is the rule where they are not needed for some special purpose, and do not bear upon the history.

Jochebed - The name means "the glory of Jehovah (Yahweh)," one clear instance of the use of the sacred name before the Exodus.

Father's sister - This was within the prohibited degrees after the law was given Leviticus 18:12 but not previously.

20. Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife—The Septuagint and Syriac versions render it "his cousin." His father’s sister or rather, kinswoman, or cousin, or niece; for so this Hebrew word is sometimes used, as appears from Jeremiah 32:8,9,12.

Object. She is called the daughter of Levi, Exodus 2:1.

Answ. Even nieces are oft called daughters, as we have showed. See Luke 1:5, and See Poole "Exodus 2:1". And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife,.... This Amram was the first son of Kohath, and the father of Moses, as after related, and so must be the same with the man of the house of Levi, and his wife the daughter of Levi, as in Exodus 2:1 and though such a marriage was afterwards prohibited, Moses does not conceal it, though it may seem to reflect some dishonour on him and his family; he writing not for his own glory, but for the sake of truth, and the good of mankind, and especially the church and people of God. Indeed the Vulgate Latin version, and the Septuagint, Samaritan, and Syriac versions, make her to be his first cousin, the daughter of his father's brother, his uncle's daughter: and so does Polyhistor from Demetrius (h); but in Numbers 26:59, she is expressly said to be a daughter of Levi, born to him in Egypt, and therefore must be his father's sister:

and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and Miriam also, though not mentioned, it being for the sake of these two that the genealogy is made:

and the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty seven years: just the age of his grandfather Levi, Exodus 6:16. A Jewish chronologer (i) says he died in the thirtieth year of Moses: but the Arabic writers (k) say in the fifty sixth or fifty seventh, and at the end of A. M. 3810. Polyhistor (l) from Demetrius makes his age to be one hundred and thirty six, and him to be the father of Moses and Aaron, and Aaron to be three years older than Moses, exactly according to the Scripture account.

(h) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 21. p. 425.) (i) Shalshalet Hakabala, ut supra. (fol. 5. 1.) (k) Patricides, p. 26. Elmacinus, p. 46. apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 392. (l) Apud Euseb. ut supra.

And Amram took him Jochebed his {g} father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

(g) This type of marriage was later forbidden in the law; Le 18:12.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. The family of Kohath’s first son, Amram (v. 18), viz. Aaron and Moses.

Jochebed] Mentioned besides only Numbers 26:59 (P). The name means probably ‘Yahweh is glory’ [viz. to us or to our people] (cf. the Phoen. Kabd-melḳart, ‘Melḳart is glory’),—‘Yahweh’ being contracted (through Yahw, Yĕhaw, Yaw), as in many other proper names (e.g. Jo‘çzer, ‘Yahweh is help’), to (Jo).

his father’s sister] and so the ‘daughter of Levi,’ Exodus 2:1, cf. Numbers 26:59. Marriage with a father’s sister was afterwards forbidden, Leviticus 18:12; cf. another deviation from the later law in Genesis 20:12. P must here preserve a genuine ancient tradition.

Aaron and Moses] Sam. LXX. Pesh. add, and Miriam; cf. Numbers 26:59. Aaron, according to P (Exodus 7:7) was three years older than Moses (cf. Numbers 33:39 with Deuteronomy 34:7). Miriam’s age is nowhere stated: it may be inferred from Exodus 2:8 (presuming her to be there referred to) that she was some years older than either of her brothers.

20–25. The descendants of Kohath’s sons.Verse 20. - Amram. That this Amram is the "man of the house of Levi" mentioned in Exodus 2:1, cannot be doubted; but it is scarcely possible that he should be the Amram of ver. 18, the actual son of Kohath and contemporary of Joseph. He is probably a descendant of the sixth or seventh generation, who bore the same name, and was the head of the Amramite house. That house, at the time of the Exodus, numbered above two thousand males (Numbers 3:27, 28). See the excellent remarks of Keil and Delitzsch, 'Biblical Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 470, E. T.; and compare Kurtz, 'History of Old Covenant,' vol. 2. p. 144, and Cook, in 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 274. Jochebed his father's sister. Marriages with aunts and nieces have been common in many countries, and are not forbidden by any natural instinct. They first became unlawful by the positive command recorded in Leviticus 18:12. The name Jochebed is the earliest known compounded with Jah, or Jehovah. It means "the glory of Jehovah." She bare him Aaron and Moses. Aaron is placed first, as being older than Moses (Exodus 7:7). Miriam is omitted, since the object of the writer is confined to tracing descent in the male line. The Genealogy of Moses and Aaron. - "These are their (Moses' and Aaron's) father's-houses." בּית־אבות father's-houses (not fathers' house) is a composite noun, so formed that the two words not only denote one idea, but are treated grammatically as one word, like בּית־עצבּים idol-houses (1 Samuel 31:9), and בּית־בּמות high-place-houses (cf. Ges. 108, 3; Ewald, 270c). Father's house was a technical term applied to a collection of families, called by the name of a common ancestor. The father's-houses were the larger divisions into which the families (mishpachoth), the largest subdivisions of the tribes of Israel, were grouped. To show clearly the genealogical position of Levi, the tribe-father of Moses and Aaron, among the sons of Jacob, the genealogy commences with Reuben, the first-born of Jacob, and gives the names of such of his sons and those of Simeon as were the founders of families (Genesis 46:9-10). Then follows Levi; and not only are the names of his three sons given, but the length of his life is mentioned (Exodus 6:16), also that of his son Kohath and his descendant Amram, because they were the tribe-fathers of Moses and Aaron. But the Amram mentioned in Exodus 6:20 as the father of Moses, cannot be the same person as the Amram who was the son of Kohath (Exodus 6:18), but must be a later descendant. For, however the sameness of names may seem to favour the identity of the persons, if we simply look at the genealogy before us, a comparison of this passage with Numbers 3:27-28 will show the impossibility of such an assumption. "According to Numbers 3:27-28, the Kohathites were divided (in Moses' time) into the four branches, Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites, who consisted together of 8600 men and boys (women and girls not being included). Of these, about a fourth, or 2150 men, would belong to the Amramites. Now, according to Exodus 18:3-4, Moses himself had only two sons. Consequently, if Amram the son of Kohath, and tribe-father of the Amramites, was the same person as Amram the father of Moses, Moses must have had 2147 brothers and brothers' sons (the brothers' daughters, the sisters, and their daughters, not being reckoned at all). But as this is absolutely impossible, it must be granted that Amram the son of Kohath was not the father of Moses, and that an indefinitely long list of generations has been omitted between the former and his descendant of the same name" (Tiele, Chr. des A. T. p. 36).

(Note: The objections of M. Baumgarten to these correct remarks have been conclusively met by Kurtz (Hist. of O. C. vol. ii. p. 144). We find a similar case in the genealogy of Ezra in Ezra 7:3, which passes over from Azariah the son of Meraioth to Azariah the son of Johanan, and omits five links between the two, as we may see from 1 Chronicles 6:7-11. In the same way the genealogy before us skips over from Amram the son of Kohath to Amram the father of Moses without mentioning the generations between.)

The enumeration of only four generations, viz., Levi, Iohath, Amram, Moses, is unmistakeably related to Genesis 15:16, where it is stated that the fourth generation would return to Canaan. Amram's wife Jochebed, who is merely spoken of in general terms as a daughter of Levi (a Levitess) in Exodus 2:1 and Numbers 26:59, is called here the דּודה "aunt" (father's sister) of Amram, a marriage which was prohibited in the Mosaic law (Leviticus 18:12), but was allowed before the giving of the law; so that there is no reason for following the lxx and Vulgate, and rendering the word, in direct opposition to the usage of the language, patruelis, the father's brother's daughter. Amram's sons are placed according to their age: Aaron, then Moses, as Aaron was three years older than his brother. Their sister Miriam was older still (vid., Exodus 2:4). In the lxx, Vulg., and one Hebrew MS, she is mentioned here; but this is a later interpolation. In Exodus 6:21. not only are the sons of Aaron mentioned (Exodus 6:23), but those of two of Amram's brothers, Izhar and Uzziel (Exodus 6:21, Exodus 6:22), and also Phinehas, the son of Aaron's son Eleazar (Exodus 6:25); as the genealogy was intended to trace the descent of the principal priestly families, among which again special prominence is given to Aaron and Eleazar by the introduction of their wives. On the other hand, none of the sons of Moses are mentioned, because his dignity was limited to his own person, and his descendants fell behind those of Aaron, and were simply reckoned among the non-priestly families of Levi. The Korahites and Uzzielites are mentioned, but a superior rank was assigned to them in the subsequent history to that of other Levitical families (cf. Numbers 16-17; Numbers 26:11, and Numbers 3:30 with Leviticus 10:4). Aaron's wife Elisheba was of the princely tribe of Judah, and her brother Naashon was a tribe-prince of Judah (cf. Numbers 2:3). אבות ראשׁי (Exodus 6:25), a frequent abbreviation for בית־אבות ראשׁי, heads of the father's-houses of the Levites. In Exodus 6:26 and Exodus 6:27, with which the genealogy closes, the object of introducing it is very clearly shown in the expression, "These are that Aaron and Moses," at the beginning of Exodus 6:26; and again, "These are that Moses and Aaron," at the close of Exodus 6:27. The reversal of the order of the names is also to be noticed. In the genealogy itself Aaron stands first, as the elder of the two; in the conclusion, which leads over to the historical narrative that follows, Moses takes precedence of his elder brother, as being the divinely appointed redeemer of Israel. On the expression, "according to their armies," see Exodus 7:4.

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