Jesus' Family Tree
There are multiple genealogies recorded in the Bible. In Genesis 4:16-24, we have the genealogy of Adam’s first son, Cain. None of the descendants of Cain survived the great flood unless a few of them were the wives of the sons of Noah. Genesis 5:1-32 gives the genealogy of Adam to Noah and his three sons. Chapter 10 of Genesis gives the genealogy of the three sons of Adam, “according to their generations, in their nations; and from these, the nations were divided on the earth after the flood” (Genesis 10:32). Shem’s descendants are given in Genesis 11 and end with the birth of Abram (Abraham) and his two brothers, Nahor and Haran.
During the time of the Exodus, the genealogy of the 12 sons/tribes of Israel was given in Exodus 6, which includes the family of Moses and Aaron. The first census of Israel was taken in the second year (in the wilderness) after the exodus from Egypt and includes the leaders of the twelve tribes. The tribe of Levi was not included in the census. In Numbers 3, a Levite census was taken, which listed the sons (descendants) of Levi. The second census of Israel was taken 38 years later, just before they were to enter the land of Canaan.
I Chronicles records several different genealogies. Chapter 1 chronicles the family of Adam – from Seth to Abraham. Chapter 2 chronicles the family of Israel – from Judah to David. Chapter 3 chronicles the family of David and Solomon and their descendants, the kings of Judah. Chapters 4-8 chronicle the families of the 12 tribes of Israel. There are many other genealogies in the Old Testament, as well as two in the New Testament – Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-28.
The Old Testament genealogies are much different than our modern English ones. In modern English, we have many words to describe precise familial relationships, such as son, grandson, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, etc. The Hebrew vocabulary has only a few words to convey all of these modern meanings. For example, the Hebrew words for ‘son’ are ‘ben’ and ‘ab’. Ben can mean son, grandson, great-grandson, and descendent. Similarly, Ab can also mean father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and ancestor. The Hebrew word for ‘begot’ is ‘yalad’ which means to bear, bring forth, descended, and became the father. So, the Hebrew words yalad, ben, and ab do not necessarily refer to a son, but could also pertain to a direct descendant. In other words, Hebrew genealogies sometimes are not complete.
“Biblical genealogies fall into three main categories according to their purpose: familial, legal-political, and religious. Familial (or domestic) genealogies were primarily concerned about the inheritance and privileges of firstborn sons. Legal-political genealogies are primarily centered on claims to a hereditary office, but other examples include establishing ancestry for land organization, territorial groupings, and military service. Religious genealogies were primarily used to establish membership in the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods. The function of a genealogy largely determines its structure and organization. In each of these cases, there is little reason or need to give a complete listing of names since it is ancestry, not the actual number of generations that is important.
Very short genealogies are typically for the purpose of identifying a person’s tribal or genealogical grouping. The clearest example of this is the division of Israel into tribes according to which of the 12 patriarchs they were descended from. This tribal division was important for determining traveling arrangements (Numbers 2; 10) and allocation of land (Joshua 13-21).
Each tribe was subdivided into divisions and further subdivided into clans according to which son and grandson of the patriarchs they were descendent from. For example, the Levites were assigned different duties according to which Levitical division they belonged to. So, it was usually sufficient to list only a person’s tribe, division, and clan to identify someone. This interest in genealogical identification is also seen in the time of King David and again in the time of return from exile. At these later times, genealogies often were given in terms of other key historical figures (Aaron, Moses, David, etc.) rather than going all the way back to the patriarchs.” The Genesis Genealogies - Reasons to Believe
When names are intentionally left out of genealogy, it is referred to as “telescoping.” In a telescoped genealogy, only the highlights are given, usually the names of the most important and relevant people. As an example, in Matthew 1:1, the genealogy of Jesus Christ starts out with “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” In English, this telescoped genealogy would be considered erroneous as Jesus was not literally the son of David and David was not literally the son of Abraham. In Hebrew (and similarly Greek), this telescoped genealogy would be perfectly acceptable because the translated word ‘son’ could mean descendant.
Typically when genealogy is telescoped, the number of names is reduced to a number that has spiritual or religious connotations for the children of Israel, such as 3, 7, 10, 14, etc. Sometimes less important names or wicked relatives are omitted until that number is reached. For example, the genealogy of Matthew (from Abraham to Jesus) is not a complete record of all the generations involved but rather is a condensed version with some kings of Judah (and some non-kings) not listed. With this genealogy, Matthew is simply telling the historical story of how Jesus is descended from Abraham, the father of the Jews, and David, the king of the Jews. “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon until Christ are fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:1-17).
Matthew compresses his genealogy into 3 sets of 14 generations. The number 3 represents divine perfection in the Bible, and 14 (7 X 2) represents spiritual perfection doubled., i.e., Jesus through David through Abraham. Coincidentally (or not), 14 is the gematria of David’s name in Hebrew. The number 14 is a well-known number throughout Israel’s religion and history. The Feast of the Lord known as Passover occurred on the 14th day of the first month of Nisan, according to Leviticus 23:5. Most Bible students are aware of the significance of this Feast and how Jesus fulfilled it (as the Lamb of God) with his death on this day. On the 7 days of the Feast of the Lord, known as Tabernacles, the Jews were to offer 14 lambs without blemish (Numbers 29:15,32) as a sacrifice to the Lord.
It appears Matthew is emphasizing the number 14 to such a degree that he intentionally leaves out multiple generations of the line of David. Matthew lists only 42 (7 X 6) generations from Abraham to Jesus, whereas Luke lists 56 (7 X 8) generations. Actually, Matthew only lists 41 names, as Jechoniah is listed twice. Matthew wanted to showcase Jesus’ genealogy in such a way as to leave no doubt that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and eternal King of the Jews as the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about.
Matthew’s first set of 14 generations is complete. His second set is missing 3 Kings of Judah (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah) that should be listed between Joram and Uzziah. Matthew’s third set is missing King Jehoiachin (Jehoiakim or Eliakim). There are probably many more names/ generations that aren’t listed from the time of the Babylonian exile until the time of Jesus, but Matthew definitely made his point (with his genealogy and Gospel book) that Jesus is the true King and Messiah of the Jews. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament expectation that a son of David would reign on the throne of David forever (Psalm 132:11-18 and others) as Gabriel had announced to Mary (Luke 1:32-33).
Another example of a telescoping genealogy is found in Ruth 4:18-22 and Matthew 1:3-6 which lists the family tree from Judah to David: “Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king” (Matthew 1:3-6).
I believe the telescoping (missing generations) occurred when the two women, Rahab and Ruth, are mentioned. This is a clue that there are some missing names between the two couples mentioned. It also gives us a clue about the chronological dates that occurred when they lived. Salmon and Rahab lived during the time the children of Israel entered the Promised Land and destroyed Jericho (1406 BC). Boaz and Ruth lived during the time of the end of the judges (approximately 1110).
These 11 generations ( Judah to David) cover approximately 734 years, as you will see in my chronology below. This is not near enough generations for this time frame. I believe they have left out at least 7 generations of names. This was during the time of the judges when apostasy was rampant in Israel, which could have been the reason for the omission.
Luke’s genealogy count of generations is much more historically reliable than Matthew’s because it is not omitting any names or generations to emphasize Jesus’ Kingship or Divinity. Luke affirms Jesus’ divinity, but the real emphasis of his book is on his humanity. Jesus the Son of God is also the Son of man and the kinsman-redeemer of all mankind.
Luke’s descending genealogy traces back to Adam (actually God), showing Jesus is related to all human beings, Jews as well as Gentiles. This is consistent with Luke’s picture of Jesus as the Savior of the whole world. Luke’s account is actually the genealogy of Mary’s ancestors (through Nathan, a son of David) which he probably received from Mary herself. The Jews were meticulously good record keepers of generations, especially when it came to the Davidic lineage, through the kings of Judah.
There are 77 generations in Luke’s genealogy, which begins with Jesus and ends with God, instead of Adam. I believe Luke did this intentionally to prove that just as Adam was a son (albeit created) of God, so was Jesus. Jesus was the only begotten son of the Father God. Luke begins his genealogy in Luke 3:23 with these words, “Jesus Himself began his ministry at about 30 years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” Luke wants to be clear in the fact that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus. Joseph is merely the adoptive father of Jesus and his legal guardian/father; therefore, Jesus inherits Joseph’s ancestry as well.
Unlike Matthew’s ascending genealogy, Luke’s descending genealogy starts with Jesus and works back to Adam and God. There is one (human) name in Luke’s New Testament genealogy that is not in the 1 Chronicles (1:24) Old Testament genealogy. It is number 64 on the list, and his name is Cainan. Ironically, it is number 14 on the list if you start in the reverse order from God to Jesus. He is listed between Sala (Shelah) and Arphaxad. Luke was following the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) text and not the Masoretic text. This Cainan (not the Antediluvian one) is not included in the Masoretic text.
The M.T. is used as the basis for most Protestant translations of the Old Testament, such as the King James Version, New American Standard Version, and New International Version. Many scholars believe this name should not be included here and is the result of a scribal error committed during the translation. Other scholars believe Luke’s genealogy is correct while the 1 Chronicles version was telescoped. I tend to believe the former, as I don’t think just one name would be omitted if the author or scribe had that in mind (unless Cainan was extremely wicked).
As a result of Luke listing Cainan (#64 on the list) and God (#77 on the list), there are 77 names on the list and not 75 (by omitting Cainan and God). The 77 names are apparently arranged in 11 groups of 7, although he never calls attention to this. Once again, we see the significance of the number 7 and its multiples in the history and lineage of the Jewish people. Augustine notes that the count of generations in the book of Luke is 77, a number symbolizing the forgiveness of sins. “Then came Peter to Him (Jesus) and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not seven times: but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). The 77 generations to the appearance of the Messiah also agree with the 70 generations from Enoch, which is recorded in the non-canonical book of Enoch, which Luke probably knew.
In this article, we will look at several of these genealogies and determine if any others are “telescoped.” I have added chronological dates (years) to these genealogical records, which include births, births of sons, deaths, and historical and biblical events based on information and clues given in the Bible.
The first one we will look at is found in Genesis 5 and is called the Antediluvian (pre-flood) genealogy. This is the lineage of Adam through his 3rd son, Seth. It is a complete genealogy with added details, such as the ages of the fathers upon their son’s birth and when they died. Any time the Bible lists these details, it indicates a complete genealogy and is not telescoped. There are 11 generations that are listed before the great flood occurred: 1) Adam, 2) Seth, 3) Enos, 4) Cainan, 5) Mahalaleel, 6) Jared, 7) Enoch, 8) Methuselah, 9) Lamech, 10) Noah, 11) Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japeth.
When we look at the genealogy of Adam through his son Seth and the rest of their Antediluvian lineage, we get a snapshot of the perfect spiritual numbers (3, 7, 10, 12) and their Biblical significance. For example, the number 3 represents divine perfection, and Seth is the 3rd son of Adam (Cain and Abel are the 1st and 2nd sons) mentioned in the Bible, from which all mankind (post-flood) descended. Also, Seth’s son, Enos, was the 3rd Antediluvian patriarch, and he is mentioned significantly in this regard: “And to Seth was born a son, and he called his name Enos: then men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
The next perfect number is 7, which represents spiritual perfection. Enoch was the 7th Antediluvian patriarch and was the first human being to be raptured alive into heaven. This occurred approximately 987 years from the creation of the earth and man. Enoch’s spiritual qualities are mentioned in the book of Hebrews. “By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch is a model or harbinger of the rapture of the Church, especially the living saints, which will also be raptured alive into heaven.
The next perfect number is 10, and it signifies ordinal perfection. Noah, the 10th generation from Adam (inclusive reckoning), also spiritually walked with God. “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Because of Noah’s obedience and righteousness, God allowed him and his family to survive the great flood, which was the great tribulation of that epoch. All of mankind has descended from Noah’s 3 sons, Japeth, Ham, and Shem.
Shem is believed to be the 3rd son of Noah. “Shem, the 11th generation from Adam, was 100 years old when he begat Arphaxad two years after the flood” (Genesis 11:10). Arphaxad was the 12th generation from Adam and was the lineage from which Abram (later named Abraham by God) was born. The number 12 represents governmental perfection and the sons (tribes/lineage) of Israel. Abraham was the 20th (2 X 10) generation from Adam and was the father of Isaac, Ishmael, and others. Isaac was the father of twins, Jacob (later renamed Israel by God) and Esau. From Jacob came the 12 sons (and tribes) of Israel…God’s chosen people.
As my chronology (below) shows, I believe there were approximately 82 generations from the creation of Adam to the death of Jesus which covers 3992 years in my estimation.
GENERATIONS OF ANTEDILUVIANS – FROM ADAM TO SHEM
Event or birth/death – Year from Creation – Year of Event – Biblical verse/s.
1) Creation of Adam – Year 0 from creation – 3960 BC – Genesis 5:1-2
Note: The date 3960-3959 BC is not a random date. Later dates, such as 1446 BC (exodus from Egypt) and 586 BC (destruction of Jerusalem and the temple) that have been established and proven from both secular and biblical sources, allow us to work backward and arrive at this date. This will become self-evident later in this study.
2) Birth of Seth – Year 130 from creation – 3830 BC – Genesis 5:3
3) Birth of Enos – Year 235 from creation – 3725 BC – Genesis 5:6
4) Birth of Cainan – Year 325 from creation – 3635 BC – Genesis 5:9
5) Birth of Mahalaleel – Year 395 from creation – 3565 BC – Genesis 5:12
6) Birth of Jared – Year 460 from creation – 3500 BC – Genesis 5:15
7) Birth of Enoch – Year 622 from creation – 3338 BC – Genesis 5:18
8) Birth of Methuselah – Year 687 from creation – 3273 BC – Genesis 5:21
9) Birth of Lamech – Year 874 from creation – 3086 BC – Genesis 5: 25
Death of Adam (930 years old)– Year 930 from creation – 3030 BC – Genesis 5:5
Enoch was “taken up” (raptured) by God at the age of 365– Year 987 from creation – 2973 BC – Genesis 5:21-24 – Adam died at the age of 930 and didn’t live long enough to witness the rapture of Enoch, but the other antediluvian patriarchs did – from Seth to Lamech.
Note: Enoch was raptured 13 years before mankind had reached the 1,000-year (1st day of the Lord) mark of their existence.
Death of Seth (912 years old) – Year 1042 from creation – 2918 BC – Genesis 5:8
10) Birth of Noah – Year 1056 from creation – 2904 BC – Genesis 5:28-29
Death of Enos (905 years old) – Year 1140 from creation – 2820 BC – Genesis 5:11
Death of Cainan (912 years old) – Year 1235 from creation – 2725 BC – Genesis 5:14
Death of Mahalaleel (895 years old) – Year 1290 from creation – 2670 BC – Genesis 5:17
Death of Jared (962)– Year 1422 from creation – 2538 BC – Genesis 5:20
Birth of Japeth – Year 1556 from creation – 2404 BC – Genesis 5:32, 10:21. Note: Noah was 500 years old.
Birth of Ham – Year 1556-1559 from creation – 2404-2402 BC
11) Birth of Shem – Year 1559 from creation – 2401 BC – Genesis 11:10
Death of Lamech (777 years old) – Year 1651 from creation – 2309 BC – Genesis 5:31
Death of Methuselah (969 years old) – Year 1656 from creation – 2304 BC – Genesis 5:27
Beginning of the flood – Year 1656 from creation – 2304 BC – Genesis 7:11
Noah and his family exit the ark – Year 1657 from creation – 2303 BC – Genesis 8:13-16 Note: Noah was 600 years old at this time and Shem was 100 years old.– Genesis 7:11;11:10-11
POST-FLOOD GENERATIONS – FROM ARPHAXAD TO ABRAHAM
1 Chronicles 1:24-27 lists the next 9 post-flood patriarchs from Arphaxad to Abraham: 1) Arphaxad, 2) Shelah (Salah), 3) Eber, 4) Peleg, 5) Reu, 6) Sereg (Serug), 7) Nahor, 8) Terah, 9) Abram (Abraham).
12) Birth of Arphaxad (Shem’s son) – Year 1659 from creation – 2301 BC – Genesis 11:10
13) Birth of Salah – Year 1694 from creation – 2266 BC – Genesis 11:12
14) Birth of Eber – Year 1724 from creation – 2236 BC – Genesis 11:14
15) Birth of Peleg – Year 1758 from creation – 2202 BC – Genesis 11:16
16) Birth of Reu – Year 1788 from creation – 2172 BC – Genesis 11:18
17) Birth of Serug – Year 1820 from creation – 2140 BC – Genesis 11:20
18) Birth of Nahor – Year 1850 from creation – 2110 BC – Genesis 11:22
19) Birth of Terah – Year 1879 from creation – 2081 BC – Genesis 24
Death of Peleg (239 years old) – Year 1997 from creation – 1963 BC – Genesis 11:19
Death of Nahor (148 years old) – Year 1998 from creation – 1962 BC – Genesis 11:25
Death of Noah (950 years old) – Year 2006 from creation – 1954 BC – Genesis 9:28 Note: Noah died 3 years before Abraham was born.
Note: The death of Noah occurred 6 years after the 2,000th year (2nd day of the Lord) mark of mankind. Also, the birth of Abraham occurred 9 years after the 2,000-year mark.
20) Birth of Abraham – Year 2009 from creation – 1951 BC – Genesis 12:4, Genesis 11:27
Birth of Sarah – Year 2019 from creation – 1941 BC – Genesis 23:1
Death of Reu (239 years old) – Year 2027 from creation – 1933 BC – Genesis 11:21
Death of Serug (230 years old) – Year 2050 from creation – 1910 BC – Genesis 11:23
Death of Terah (205 years old) – Year 2084 from creation – 1876 BC – Genesis 11:32
God makes a covenant with Abram giving him the land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants forever – Year 2084 from creation – 1876 BC – Genesis 12:7
Birth of Ishmael – Year 2095 from creation – 1865 BC – Genesis 16:3-4; 16:16
Death of Arphaxad (438 years old) – Year 2097 from creation – 1863 BC – Genesis 11:13
God confirms the land covenant with Abraham – Year 2108 from creation – 1852 BC – Genesis 15:9-21,17. Note: Abraham is 99 years old.
In part II, we will look at the genealogy and chronology from Abraham to Jesus.