Genealogies Post-Abraham

I spent a bit of time on the genealogies from Adam to Abraham. I think these prove the point that the Bible leaves no room for gaps of any substance between Adam and Abraham. I wanted to take a little more time and look at the genealogies from Abraham onwards. Do these genealogies show that there are large gaps between the men listed? The text will answer that question for us.

Here are the main dates in the Biblical timeline from Abraham onward. These are accepted by most, if not all orthodox, Bible-believing Christians, as the approximate dates of key events. All dates are general and can be flexed a few years in either direction.

2100 B.C. Abraham Leaving Ur
1450 B.C. The Exodus
1010 B.C. David Become King
931 B.C. The Kingdom Splits
586 B.C. Southern Kingdom Falls to Babylon

The entire time from Abraham to the exile was only about 1500 years. Let’s look at the data and see if there is proof of gaps in the genealogies. This would not be a strong argument for those who believe there are thousands of years of gaps in the genealogies, but it could at least prove there were gaps.

We know that the chronology from Genesis is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then his twelve sons. Without this exact chronology the narrative of Genesis falls flat. Then you have a c. 400 year gap between Joseph and Moses. After Moses you have Joshua entering the promise land and then the time of the Judges. It is clear from Judges 2:10 that generation of Judges immediately follows Joshua’s generation. So there is no huge gap between Joshua and Judges. Then we enter the time of the Kings. So there are no gaps in the genealogical record from Abraham to David in the narratives.  Now let’s look at various genealogical records of that time period and compare them with Matthew 1.

First we can compare the genealogies in Ruth to the one in I Chronicles and then to Matthew 1. I highlighted the names in I Chronicles and Matthew 1 to help the reader.

Ruth 4:18-22
(18)  Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,
(19)  Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,
(20)  Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,
(21)  Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,
(22)  Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
1Chron. 2:4-15
(4)  His daughter-in-law Tamar also bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.
(5)  The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul.
(9)  The sons of Hezron that were born to him: Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai.
(10)  Ram fathered Amminadab, and Amminadab fathered Nahshon, prince of the sons of Judah.
(11)  Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz,
(12)  Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse.
(15)  Ozem the sixth, David the seventh.
Matthew 1:3-6
(3)  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
(4)  and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
(5)  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
(6)  and Jesse the father of David the king.
The Biblical record of the line from Judah (Perez’s Father) to David is consistent across the Scriptures. No proof of any gaps.
Here is the genealogy from Solomon to the Exile in Babylon. It is a little trickier. Why? Matthew’s list leaves out numerous people men that the writer of I Chronicles puts in. Here are the two genealogies side by side with ones Matthew leaves out in red.
Matthew 1:7-11
 and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
I Chronicles 3:10-17

A couple of comments need to be made about this.
First, the problem here is not a gap in the Old Testament genealogy, but rather in Matthew. We have no proof from the Old Testament that there are gaps in the genealogical record. It would have been more convenient for those who believe in large gaps in the genealogies if Matthew had included people that I Chronicles left out. That would prove that there are gaps. But he didn’t. Therefore I am not sure how this helps their case. How does the fact that Matthew left certain men out of his genealogical record help prove that Adam was born 20,000 years ago?

Second, Matthew is squeezing the genealogical record into 14 generations (Matthew 1:17). He purposely chose to leave certain men out, men who are in II Kings and who are in the list in I Chronicles to make a balanced picture of 14-14-14. Why Matthew did this is hotly debated, but that he did it is beyond question. So Matthew was not ignorant nor was he missing some information. He got his list from II Kings and/or I Chronicles. He made a decision to leave some men out.

Third, proof that Matthew left men out is not proof that other writers did. It must be proven that I Chronicles or Genesis 5 have large gaps. This has not been proven.

Finally, given the time frame (late Israelite history) of this genealogy there is not room for large gaps anyway. Again the entire timeline from Abraham to the exile is only 1500 years.  How can we find thousands of more years in there? We can’t.

So again, we come to the same conclusion as we did in our other blog posts.  There are no examples in the Bible of large gaps in the genealogies. The examples of Cainan in Luke and Matthew’s genealogy are weak. There are very plausible explanations for why it was done this way that do not include inserting thousands of years into the genealogies.