Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Timeline Tuesday: Abraham's Family Bible

As promised, I am sharing with you an excerpt of The Genesis Timeline that I've made and have encouraged you to make as well. The portion below is taken from the details given in Genesis 11:10 and 25:7 and covers only the genealogy from Shem to Abraham. The numbers in the chart are not dates but are the number of years after the flood (NOT to be confused with the number of years after creation!).

Events in Years Post-Flood
Name Birth Death
Shem pre-flood 502
Arphaxad 2 440
Salah 37 470
Eber 67 531
Peleg 101 340
Reu 131 370
Serug 163 393
Nahor 193 341
Terah 222 427
Abraham 292 467

Do you see anything interesting about the numbers? For one thing, Shem (the son of Noah) outlived Abraham! That means that if he ever received news of his multi-generational grandchildren he could have heard about the births of at least two more generations not on this chart since Isaac and Jacob were both born before he died! (We'll study those dates in future weeks as we get deeper into our study of the Patriarchs.)

Mention is made in Genesis 10:25 that the earth was divided about the time of Peleg's birth so that would place the Tower of Babel around 100 years after the Flood. Prior to that event everyone spoke the same language. It would make sense that Peleg spoke the same language as his father, Eber, since he was an infant at the time of Babel. If Eber were the start of a new language group separate from his progenitors (which isn't necessarily true but certainly is possible) he would still know the names of his immediate forefathers, including Noah, as all of his post-flood male ancestors were still alive at the time of the Babel confusion. Yes, even Noah, whose name is not mentioned in Genesis 10, lived long enough to see his descendants divided at Babel. Perhaps the Genesis 10 men lost the ability to communicate with each other but it doesn't mean they no longer recognized their relationship to each other. (A problem often encountered even today among families that immigrate to distant lands then take their children back to the native homeland to visit aged relatives.)

Given the age that men lived back in those days it can be seen by the timeline how genealogy records could be inherited through the generations. Let's view two examples, one before the flood and one after.

Adam lived to be 930 years old. Using the information found in the earlier chapters of Genesis the timeline shows that Adam lived to see Noah's father, Lamech. (Make your own timeline if you don't believe me. Seriously.)

Since Adam lived until the time of Lamech one can be sure that the genealogy records were passed down - or were commonly known - in Lamech's family. Doing genealogy in those days must have been easy, but think of the number of generational record pages that their Family Bible would require! :)

So Adam lived to the time of Lamech and Lamech was the father of Noah. Given the importance of the genealogy and the fact that Noah's line would be the only surviving descendants of Adam it seems reasonable that Noah would take a copy of the family tree common to all future descendants aboard the ark with him.

Shem is the son of Noah through whom Abraham descended and was still living during Abraham's lifetime. As a matter of fact, Eber was still alive, too. Was this why Abraham was first called "Abram the Hebrew" in Genesis 14:13? Possibly it is from Eber that the Jewish nation received this name.

We're not told that any of Abraham's immediate ancestors lived near one another post-Babel, but written copies were probably kept by each family.
From Abraham the records were preserved through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob's sons. At that point they would easily reach the hands of Moses, the author of Genesis, who JUST HAPPENED (ha! ha!) to be the great-grandson of Jacob! (But I'm getting too far ahead in the timeline.)

Considering that the years of birth and death provided by Moses are so specific for each generation, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the records were passed down from generation to generation and really did make up the "family" Bible later inherited by Moses. Of course I don't think that he inherited some coffee table-book sized Bible like our families possess. In his day the canon was only beginning to be compiled so the genealogy contained in this Family Bible wasn't just a few register pages inserted between the text. His genealogy actually made up the text of any Family Bible!

Was it impossible to accurately pass the family tree down from Adam to Moses in the manner I've described? I don't think so! Almost 1,000 years have passed since the Battle of Hastings and yet we still know the exact date it occurred and the names of many of the principles including William the Conqueror. How do we know so much about it at this late date? Written documentation and artistic depictions such as the Bayeux Tapestry have preserved the history. If lifespans were as long today as they were in the antediluvian period someone would be living now to tell us the story of his family having taken part in that battle. Wouldn't Veteran's Day celebrations be quite impressive with all your ancestors from the Battle of Hastings up to the present era around to celebrate their military feats?!

As a genealogist I would love to be able to quiz my ancestors. As it is, I must analyze the records and relics that they left behind to piece together their stories. And yet, I am able to do just that even without direct contact! For many generations the years of birth and death can almost always be located. If I can document events in my ancestors' lives through human resources I have no problem believing that Moses was able to do the same for his using the human records at his disposal. Besides, he received divine help from his Friend during their long discussions on Mount Sinai!

God never ceases to amaze me! The very complex God makes it all so simple. And very simple people make it all too complicated. Open your eyes, use your brain, and appreciate the things God has revealed in His Word!

1 comment :

  1. Genesis is such a rich book, amazing details that cover so great an expanse of time. Thanks for the timeline, it is an eye-opening tool for studying the genealogical record.


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)