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Verse 8

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 26:0, and in 1 Chronicles 1-8. See also Exodus 6:14-16, where only Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are given.

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