August 26, 2017

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe



Topic #E: THE MIGRATION INTO EGYPT. (Gen. 46:1-47:21)                                                   


Lesson IV.E.6: The Total Number of Children. (Genesis 46:26-27)                                      


Genesis 46:26-27 (KJV)

26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.



26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt,

These are in several groupings or categories as mentioned before, but here they are brought to a sum total; and from this phrase we know that those who died before the migration are excluded (i.e., Er and Onan); and those that were already in Egypt (i.e., Joseph and his two sons); and the numerous retinue of servants and employees who belonged to the tribe; Jacob’s daughters and his son’s daughters; and the wives of the sons, who were probably of the families of Esau, Ishmael, and Keturah; and all those that were born in Egypt afterwards, even while Jacob was living.

The emigration to Egypt, became a new starting-point in the history of Israel, an event from which time was calculated; and in this latitude of meaning, the words "All the souls that came with Jacob," are to be taken widely just as the accompanying phrase, "which came out of his loins," is also to be taken widely; because it includes in this genealogy not only his sons, but some of his grandsons, as the word "sons" frequently signifies in Scripture.

Another example of such a loose general statement occurs in this same genealogy. It is said (Genesis 46:15), "These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram;"―the native country of most of Jacob’s family―though several of the names in the previous list are those of his grandsons who were born in Canaan. "All the souls{1]" must be considered as limited to "the house of Jacob" (Genesis 46:27)―for they were the aristocracy of the nation, and only they were considered worthy of well-defined records, since they were in the lineage of Israel―the pure original stock, which when transplanted into Egypt, grew into a great nation.

which came out of his loins:

Loins” (Heb., thigh), is a modest description that is put here for the secret parts (parts needed for reproduction) between the thighs, which are sometimes called the feet, as in Genesis 49:10{2], Deuteronomy 28:57, and Ezekiel 16:25, because they are between the feet. From this eastern manner of speech came that passage in the Greek fables, concerning Bacchus being born out of Jupiter’s thigh. The reference here is to Jacob’s seed and offspring.

besides Jacob's sons' wives;

The wives are not included in the calculation, because they did not spring from him.

all the souls were threescore and six;

Today, “threescore and six” would be  written as “sixty-six” (66). There are a couple of ways to arrive at this number:

  1. This total is obtained by omitting Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s two sons. If we include these, the whole number becomes threescore and ten (70), as in Genesis 46:27. In the LXX. the names of five grandsons are added to Genesis 46:20{3], and thus the total is made seventy-five, which is the number quoted by Stephen in Acts 7:14.
  2. If we include thirty two of Leah's (children + grandchildren), leaving out Er and Onan, and add to that sixteen of Zilpah's, fourteen of Rachel's, and seven of Bilhah's, the total is sixty-nine. Take out of them Joseph and his two sons, who were already in Egypt, then you have the exact number of sixty-six.

Some imagine they have found a discrepancy here,―an error in the Word of God―because there are three different totals given―66 (26), 70 (27), and 75 (Acts 7:14). But it is easy to show that there is no discrepancy, because all three totals are correct. Reread notes 1 and 2 above. It is all in how you look at it. The "souls" that came with Jacob" were 66. The "souls of the house of Jacob" (Genesis 46:27 i.e. the entire Jacobean family) were 70, namely, the 66 which came with Jacob, Joseph and his two sons, already in Egypt=69 + Jacob himself=70. The 75 given in Acts 7:14 is arrived at in a couple ways:

  • Some think Stephen excludes Jacob, Joseph, and his sons; and included the 64 men, with 11 wives. (Du Hamel)
  • Stephen’s seventy-five includes Jacob as well as "all his kindred"(which are not included in the direct descendants of this verse). These extra nine are made up in part by the five in 1 Chronicles 7:14-20 (Machir, Gilead, Shuthelah, Tahath, Eden (as in the Septuagint).


27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

And the sons of Joseph, which were born in Egypt, were two souls, Joseph had two sons born in  Egypt, Ephraim and Manasseh, which is mentioned here to show that they do not figure into the above reckoning, but are included in another grouping or category that follows.

all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Observe, this phrase is different; it does not say, “All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins” (26), but “all the souls (or family) of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt,” which takes in Jacob himself, the head of his house or family. Neither does it say, “that came with Jacob into Egypt” as before, but “which came into Egypt”; not those that traveled to Egypt with him, but those that were there by some other means, such as Joseph and his two sons―Joseph by being brought there, and sold there as a slave, and his two sons by being born there. So, if Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons, are added to the above number of sixty-six, it will make seventy.

The Jews say, that these seventy souls were as much as all the seventy nations of the world. And Moses tells them, that whereas their fathers went down into Egypt with seventy souls, now Jehovah had made them "as the stars of heaven for multitude" (Deuteronomy 10:22).

Some believe the writer of this brief paragraph purposely arranged things to make the number seventy souls, because that is a sacred number. The descendants of Noah, as registered in chap. 10, amount to seventy. The seventy elders of Israel (Numbers 11:16) and the seventy disciples chosen by Jesus (Luke 10:1) show a peculiar fascination for this mystic number. It is not improbable that the arrangement of genealogical lists was made up to round-off numbers, and, where possible, use a sacred number, in order that the total might be more easily and correctly transmitted orally.

Concerning the difference in calculation between this verse and Acts 7:14 the authors of the Universal History observe, “That it may be accounted for in this manner: Stephen accepts the first number, by Moses, which is sixty-six [That does not include Jacob and Joseph and his two sons.]; and then he adds nine of Jacob’s son’s wives; who, though not of Jacob's blood, yet belonged to his family and to Joseph's kindred. At this time there was not twelve wives, but nine; for Judah's wife was already dead, Benjamin is supposed to be still unmarried, and Joseph's wife is excluded (she is an Egyptian).] The calculation is simple―66 + 9 = 75.


Scripture and Special notes

[1} Souls, no doubt, is used here for persons.

[2} “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49:10)

[3} “And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.” (Genesis 46:20)



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