Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Head Count - Genesis 46:8-27

These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: . . . All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons.  With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

I have not included all the words of the passage above because they simply were a list of all of Jacob’s family.  But I did check out all the mathematics and as one would expect, the totals are exactly right.   Here’s perhaps an easier way to took at this “gang of 70”:

vs. 8 -- Jacob (1)
vs. 9 -- Reuben & family (4), running total: (5)
vs. 10 -- Simeon & family (7), running total: (12)
vs. 11 -- Levi & family (4), running total: (16)
vs. 12 -- Judah & family not counting two sons that had died in Canaan (5), running total (21)
vs. 13 -- Issachar & family (5), running total (26)
vs. 14 -- Zebulun & family (4), running total (30)
vs. 15 -- add Dinah, and the two grandsons that died in Canaan (vs. 12), running total (33) which nicely checks out with vs. 15’s total number if you count Jacob (which would make sense to count him with his children from his first wife, Leah).

vs. 16 -- Gad & family (8) new sub-total (8)
vs. 17 -- Asher & family including 1 granddaughter (8) sub-total (16) which nicely checks out with vs. 18’s total number (from Zilpah, Leah’s handmaiden).

vs. 19 -- Joseph & Benjamin (Rachel’s sons) (2) new sub-total (2)
vs. 20 -- Joseph’s two sons born in Egypt (2) sub-total (4)
vs. 21 -- Benjamin’s sons (10) sub-total (14) which nicely checks out with vs. 22’s total number (from Rachel).

vs. 23 -- Dan & family (2) new sub-total (2)
vs. 24 -- Naphtali & sons (5) sub-total (7) which nicely checks out with vs. 25’s total number (from Bilbah, Rachel’s maid).

vs. 26 tells us that a total of sixty-six (66) people came with Jacob to Egypt.  When we add up all our sub-totals above we get 70 but if we subtract Joseph, his two sons, and Jacob himself that takes the number to 66 -- providing we leave in there the two deceased sons of Judah who had died in Canaan.  I believe it was traditional and perhaps an act of showing respect to include in the count of Jacob’s family those that had died, thus the number totals as provided by scripture.   Our total count of 70 thus also matches with the count given to us in vs. 27.

It is also important to note that the total number given does include direct blood-related females of Jacob’s family, that is, his daughter in vs. 15, and his grand-daughter in vs. 17.  However, females related by marriage, the wives of his sons (and perhaps also of any of his grandsons’ wives) are not included as per vs. 26.  The emphasis here was clearly on the family of Jacob.

If we simply add 11 more females to this group (one wife for each of Jacob’s eleven sons traveling with him), we get a grand total of 77 travelers (assuming none of the grandchildren were married which is unlikely).  Either way, this a quite a “wagon train” making its way to Egypt.  Here is a man with all of his accumulated wealth and more importantly his entire family, leaving all of his past behind and risking everything in the future in order to obey God.  What a model for us.  I pray we can all be that committed, that willing, that obedient when God asks us to “move on down” or “up”, or “across”.

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