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Looking at the twelve sons of Jacob entrance into the land of Egypt

by Robert Randle  
12/15/2010 / Bible Studies

Exodus 1: 1-6
Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.

Genesis 46: 8-19, 21-26, 27b
Now these are the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben was Jacob's firstborn. The sons of (1) Reuben were (2) Hanoch, (3) Pallu,(4) Hezron, and (5) Carmi. The sons of (6) Simeon were (7) Jenuel [Nemuel], (8) Jamin, (9) Ohad, (10) Jachin [Jarib], (11) Zohar [Zerah], and (12) Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of (13) Levi were (14) Gershon, (15) Kohath, and (16) Merari. The sons of (17) Judah were Er, Onan, (18) Shelah, (19) Perez, and (20) Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were (21) Hezron and (22) Hamul. The sons of (23) Issachar were (24) Tola, (25) Puvah [Puah], (26) Job [Jashub], and (27) Shimron. The sons of (28) Zebulun were (29) Sered, (30) Elon, and (31) Jahleel. These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, with his daughter (32) Dinah. All the persons, his sons and his daughters were thirty-three.

NOTE: Jacob had great-grandsons through Perez, the son of Judah. The only daughter that is mentioned is Dinah, but the other one is unnamed. Jacob's sons and daughters (??) included his descendants (daughter, grandsons and great-grandsons).

The sons of (33) Gad were (34) Ziphion [Zephon], (35) Haggi, (36) Shuni, (37) Ezbon [Ozni], (38) Eri, (39) Arodi [Arod], and (40) Areli. The sons of (41) Asher were (42) Jimnah, (43) Ishuah, (44) Isui, (45) Beriah, and (46) Serah their sister. And the sons of Beriah were (47) Heber and (48) Malchiel. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bore to Jacob; sixteen persons.

NOTE: This time Jacob had great-grandsons through Beriah, the son of Asher. Again, Jacob's sons included his descendants (granddaughter, grandsons and great-grandsons).

The sons of Rachel, Jacob's wife, were (49) Joseph and (50) Benjamin. The sons of Benjamin were (51) Belah, (52) Becher, (53) Ashbel, (54) Gera, (55) Naaman, (56) Ehi,(57) Rosh, (58) Muppim, (59) Huppim [Hapham], and (60) Ard. These were the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: *fourteen persons in all.*

NOTE: Some fuzzy math here because Rachel only gave birth to 2 sons and only Benjamin had sons (ten) that were born outside of Egypt. Not only would that, but they [the ten sons of Benjamin] would be Rachel and Jacob's grandsons.

The son of (61) Dan was (62) Hushim [Shuham]. The sons of (63) Naphtali were (64) Jahzeel [Jahziel], (65) Guni, (66) Jezer, and (67) Shillem [Shallum]. These were the sons [and grandsons] of Billah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and she bore these to Jacob: seven persons in all.

NOTE: Again, the numbers are right but Billah gave birth to Dan and Naphtali, and their sons would be Jacob and Billah's grandsons.

All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob's sons' wives, were sixty-six persons in all. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

Acts 7: 14
Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five [seventy] people.

Exodus 12: 38a
A mixed multitude went up with them also. .

COMMENTARY: Jacob's descendants were in Egypt for four centuries and considering that in order to continue as a people they had to out of necessity marry Egyptians or whatever other ethnicity they came in close contact with over this time. Midianite and Ishmaelite traders came into Egypt and doubtless other Canaanite tribes, so it seems reasonable to believe the group that had the most in common with the Hebrews became assimilated into their economy and lifestyle in the land of Goshen. The numbers 66 and 70 are probably more symbolic than literal, possibly representing stages or cycles of human imperfection and spiritual completion or readiness. Over this time period, though, the sons (descendants) of Jacob/Israel probably retained knowledge of their tribal standards or banners but they were most likely situated within the land as separate clans with their own particular customs and self-interests and only joined forces if it suited their mutual benefit.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
December 8, 2010

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