Genesis 46:8
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
GENEALOGICAL TABLE OF THE ISRAELITES.

(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, and in 1 Chronicles 1-8. See also Exodus 6:14-16, where only Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are given.

46:5-27 We have here a particular account of Jacob's family. Though the fulfilling of promises is always sure, yet it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, ch. 12:2; yet that branch of his seed, to which the promise was made sure, had only increased to seventy, of whom this particular account is kept, to show the power of God in making these seventy become a vast multitude.The descent into Egypt is now described. "His daughters, and his sons' daughters." In the following list only one daughter of Jacob is mentioned, Dinah, and only one son's daughter, Serah. It is possible, but not probable, that there were more daughters than these at the time in his family. But even if there were no others, the plural is adopted in order to correspond with the general form of classification, from which the one daughter and the one granddaughter are merely accidental deviations. The same principle applies to the sons of Dan Gen 46:23, and to other instances in Scripture 1 Chronicles 2:8, 1 Chronicles 2:42.

Verse 8-27

The list given here of the family of Jacob as it came down into Egypt is not to be identified with a list of their descendants two hundred and fifty years after, contained in Numbers 26, or with another list constructed after the captivity, and referring to certain of their descendants in and after the times of the monarchy. Nor is this the place to mark out or investigate the grounds of the diversities from the present which these later lists exhibit. Our proper business here is to examine into the nature and import of this ancient and original list of the family of Jacob. It purports to be a list of the names of the sons of Israel, "who went into Mizraim." This phrase implies that the sons of Israel actually went down into Egypt; and this is accordingly historically true of all his immediate sons, Joseph having gone thither about twenty-two years before the others. And the word "sons" is to be understood here in its strict sense, as we find it in the immediate context Genesis 46:7 distinguished from sons' sons and other descendants.

"Jacob and his sons." From this expression we perceive the progenitor is to be included with the sons among those who descended to Egypt. This also is historically exact. For the sake of clearness it is proper here to state the approximate ages of these heads of Israel at the time of the descent. Jacob himself was 130 years of age Genesis 47:9. Joseph was in his thirtieth year when he stood before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams and receive his commission as governor-general of Egypt, Genesis 41:46. At the end of the second year of the famine nine full years were added to his life. He was therefore, we may suppose, 39 years old when Jacob arrived in Egypt, and born when his father was 91. As we conceive that he was born in the fifteenth year of Jacob's sojourn in Padan-aram, and Reuben in the eighth, we infer that Reuben was at the time of the descent into Egypt seven years older than Joseph, or 46, Simon 45, Leviticus 44, Judah 43, Dan about 43, Naphtali about 42, Gad about 42, Asher about 41, Issakar about 41, Zebulun about 40, Dinah about 39, Benjamin about 26. "Jacob's first-born Reuben." This refers to the order of nature, without implying that the rights of first-birth were to be secured to Reuben 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.

8-27. all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten—Strictly speaking, there were only sixty-six went to Egypt; but to these add Joseph and his two sons, and Jacob the head of the clan, and the whole number amounts to seventy. In the speech of Stephen (Ac 7:14) the number is stated to be seventy-five; but as that estimate includes five sons of Ephraim and Manasseh (1Ch 7:14-20), born in Egypt, the two accounts coincide. This genealogy is both here and elsewhere described exactly and particularly, as well to show the faithfulness of God in the performance of his promise concerning the vast multiplication of Abraham’s seed, and that in so short a time, as to distinguish the tribes; which was of great importance, and necessary for the disposal of the kingdom and priesthood, and above all, for the discovery of the true Messias. Compare this following catalogue with that Numbers 26:1-65 1 Chronicles 6:1-8:40.

And these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt,.... Not meaning precisely Jacob's seed and offspring, but the body of the people of Israel, as they were when they went into Egypt, including Jacob himself:

Jacob and his sons; for he went with them to Egypt, and was the head and principal of them:

Reuben, Jacob's firstborn; see Genesis 29:32.

And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 8. - And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt. The phrase "which came into Egypt" must obviously be construed with some considerable latitude, since in the appended list of seventy persons, "souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt," are reckoned Joseph, who undoubtedly came into Egypt, but not with Jacob, Hezron and Hamul, the sons of Pharos, as well as the descendants of Benjamin, who probably, and Ephraim and Manasseh, the children of Joseph, who certainly, were born in Egypt. Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn. Genesis 46:8The size of Jacob's family, which was to grow into a great nation, is given here, with evident allusion to the fulfilment of the divine promise with which he went into Egypt. The list of names includes not merely the "sons of Israel" in the stricter sense; but, as is added immediately afterwards, "Jacob and his sons," or, as the closing formula expresses it (Genesis 46:27), "all the souls of the house of Jacob, who came into Egypt" (הבּאה for בּאה אשׁר, Ges. 109), including the patriarch himself, and Joseph with his two sons, who were born before Jacob's arrival in Egypt. If we reckon these, the house of Jacob consisted of 70 souls; and apart from these, of 66, besides his sons' wives. The sons are arranged according to the four mothers. Of Leah there are given 6 sons, 23 grandsons, 2-great-grandsons (sons of Pharez, whereas Er and Onan, the sons of Judah who died in Canaan, are not reckoned), and 1 daughter, Dinah, who remained unmarried, and was therefore an independent member of the house of Jacob; in all, therefore, 6 + 23 + 2 + 1 equals 32, or with Jacob, 33 souls. Of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, there are mentioned 2 sons, 11 grandsons, 2-great-grandsons, and 1 daughter (who is reckoned like Dinah, both here and Numbers 26:46, for some special reason, which is not particularly described); in all, 2 + 11 + 2 + 1 equals 16 souls. Of Rachel, "Jacob's (favourite) wife," 2 sons and 12 grandsons are named, of whom, according to Numbers 26:40, two were great-grandsons, equals 14 souls; and of Rachel's maid Bilhah, 2 sons and 5 grandsons equals 7 souls. The whole number therefore was 33 + 16 + 14 + 7 equals 70.

(Note: Instead of the number 70 given here, Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22, Stephen speaks of 75 (Acts 7:14), according to the lxx, which has the number 75 both here and Exodus 1:5, on account of the words which follow the names of Manasseh and Ephraim in Genesis 46:20 : ἐγένοντο δὲ οἱοὶ Μανασσῆ, οὓς ἔτεκεν αὐτῷ ἡ παλλακῆ ἡ Σύρα, τοὺ Μαχίρ· Μαχὶρ δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν Γαλαάδ, υίοὶ δὲ Ἐφραΐ́μ ἀδελφοῦ Μανασσῆ Σουταλαὰμ καὶ Ταάμ. υίοὶ δὲ Σουταλαάμ. Ἐδώμ: and which are interpolated by conjecture from Genesis 1:23, and Numbers 26:29, Numbers 26:35, and Numbers 26:36 (33, 39, and 40), these three grandsons and two great-grandsons of Joseph being reckoned in.)

The wives of Jacob's sons are neither mentioned by name nor reckoned, because the families of Israel were not founded by them, but by their husbands alone. Nor is their parentage given either here or anywhere else. It is merely casually that one of the sons of Simeon is called the son of a Canaanitish woman (Genesis 46:10); from which it may be inferred that it was quite an exceptional thing for the sons of Jacob to take their wives from among the Canaanites, and that as a rule they were chosen from their paternal relations in Mesopotamia; besides whom, there were also their other relations, the families of Ishmael, Keturah, and Edom. Of the "daughters of Jacob" also, and the "daughters of his sons," none are mentioned except Dinah and Serah the daughter of Asher, because they were not the founders of separate houses.

If we look more closely into the list itself, the first thing which strikes us is that Pharez, one of the twin-sons of Judah, who were not born till after the sale of Joseph, should already have had two sons. Supposing that Judah's marriage to the daughter of Shuah the Canaanite occurred, notwithstanding the reasons advanced to the contrary in Genesis 38, before the sale of Joseph, and shortly after the return of Jacob to Canaan, during the time of his sojourn at Shechem (Genesis 33:18), it cannot have taken place more than five, or at the most six, years before Joseph was sold; for Judah was only three years older than Joseph, and was not more than 20 years old, therefore, at the time of his sale. But even then there would not be more than 28 years between Judah's marriage and Jacob's removal to Egypt; so that Pharez would only be about 11 years old, since he could not have been born till about 17 years after Judah's marriage, and at that age he could not have had two sons. Judah, again, could not have taken four sons with him into Egypt, since he had at the most only two sons a year before their removal (Genesis 42:37); unless indeed we adopt the extremely improbable hypothesis, that two other sons were born within the space of 11 or 12 months, either as twins, or one after the other. Still less could Benjamin, who was only 23 or 24 years old at the time (vid., pp. 200f. and 204f.), have had 10 sons already, or, as Numbers 26:38-40 shows, eight sons and two grandsons. From all this it necessarily follows, that in the list before us grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob are named who were born afterwards in Egypt, and who, therefore, according to a view which we frequently meet with in the Old Testament, though strange to our modes of thought, came into Egypt in lumbis patrum. That the list is really intended to be so understood, is undoubtedly evident from a comparison of the "sons of Israel" (Genesis 46:8), whose names it gives, with the description given in Numbers 26 of the whole community of the sons of Israel according to their fathers' houses, or their tribes and families. In the account of the families of Israel at the time of Moses, which is given there, we find, with slight deviations, all the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob whose names occur in this chapter, mentioned as the founders of the families, into which the twelve tribes of Israel were subdivided in Moses' days. The deviations are partly in form, partly in substance. To the former belong the differences in particular names, which are sometimes only different forms of the same name; e.g., Jemuel and Zohar (Genesis 46:10), for Nemuel and Zerah (Numbers 26:12-13); Ziphion and Arodi (Genesis 46:16), for Zephon and Arod (Numbers 26:15 and Numbers 26:17); Huppim (Genesis 46:21) for Hupham (Numbers 26:39); Ehi (Genesis 46:21), an abbreviation of Ahiram (Numbers 26:38); sometimes different names of the same person; viz., Ezbon (Genesis 46:16) and Ozni (Numbers 26:16); Muppim (Genesis 46:21) and Shupham (Numbers 26:39); Hushim (Genesis 46:23) and Shuham (Numbers 26:42). Among the differences in substance, the first to be noticed is the fact, that in Numbers 26 Simeon's son Ohad, Asher's son Ishuah, and three of Benjamin's sons, Becher, Gera, and Rosh, are missing from the founders of families, probably for no other reason than that they either died childless, or did not leave a sufficient number of children to form independent families. With the exception of these, according to Numbers 26, all the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob mentioned in this chapter were founders of families in existence in Moses' time. From this it is obvious that our list is intended to contain, not merely the sons and grandsons of Jacob, who were already born when he went down to Egypt, but in addition to the sons, who were the heads of the twelve tribes of the nation, all the grandsons and great-grandsons who became the founders of mishpachoth, i.e., of independent families, and who on that account took the place or were advanced into the position of the grandsons of Jacob, so far as the national organization was concerned.

On no other hypothesis can we explain the fact, that in the time of Moses there was not one of the twelve tribes, except the double tribe of Joseph, in which there were families existing, that had descended from either grandsons or great-grandsons of Jacob who are not already mentioned in this list. As it is quite inconceivable that no more sons should have been born to Jacob's sons after their removal into Egypt, so is it equally inconceivable, that all the sons born in Egypt either died childless, or founded no families. The rule by which the nation descending from the sons of Jacob was divided into tribes and families (mishpachoth) according to the order of birth was this, that as the twelve sons founded the twelve tribes, so their sons, i.e., Jacob's grandsons, were the founders of the families into which the tribes were subdivided, unless these grandsons died without leaving children, or did not leave a sufficient number of male descendants to form independent families, or the natural rule for the formation of tribes and families was set aside by other events or causes. On this hypothesis we can also explain the other real differences between this list and Numbers 26; viz., the fact that, according to Numbers 26:40, two of the sons of Benjamin mentioned in Genesis 46:21, Naaman and Ard, were his grandsons, sons of Belah; and also the circumstance, that in Genesis 46:20 only the two sons of Joseph, who were already born when Jacob arrived in Egypt, are mentioned, viz., Manasseh and Ephraim, and none of the sons who were born to him afterwards (Genesis 48:6). The two grandsons of Benjamin could be reckoned among his sons in our list, because they founded independent families just like the sons. And of the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim alone could be admitted into our list, because they were elevated above the sons born to Joseph afterwards, by the fact that shortly before Jacob's death he adopted them as his own sons and thus raised them to the rank of heads of tribes; so that wherever Joseph's descendants are reckoned as one tribe (e.g., Joshua 16:1, Joshua 16:4), Manasseh and Ephraim form the main divisions, or leading families of the tribe of Joseph, the subdivisions of which were founded partly by their brothers who were born afterwards, and partly by their sons and grandsons. Consequently the omission of the sons born afterwards, and the grandsons of Joseph, from whom the families of the two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were elevated into tribes, descended, forms only an apparent and not a real exception to the general rule, that this list mentions all the grandsons of Jacob who founded the families of the twelve tribes, without regard to the question whether they were born before or after the removal of Jacob's house to Egypt, since this distinction was of no importance to the main purpose of our list. That this was the design of our list, is still further confirmed by a comparison of Exodus 1:5 and Deuteronomy 10:22, where the seventy souls of the house of Jacob which went into Egypt are said to constitute the seed which, under the blessing of the Lord, had grown into the numerous people that Moses led out of Egypt, to take possession of the land of promise. From this point of view it was a natural thing to describe the seed of the nation, which grew up in tribes and families, in such a way as to give the germs and roots of all the tribes and families of the whole nation; i.e., not merely the grandsons who were born before the migration, but also the grandsons and great-grandsons who were born in Egypt, and became founders of independent families. By thus embracing all the founders of tribes and families, the significant number 70 was obtained, in which the number 7 (formed of the divine number 3, and the world number 4, as the seal of the covenant relation between God and Israel) is multiplied by the number 10, as the seal of completeness, so as to express the fact that these 70 souls comprehended the whole of the nation of God.

(Note: This was the manner in which the earlier theologians solved the actual difficulties connected with our list; and this solution has been adopted and defended against the objections offered to it by Hengstenberg (Dissertations) and Kurtz (History of the Old Covenant).)

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