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While some people are interested in where the generations are different, my problem comes from where they are the same, to wit:

Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David

Now Rahab is listed as the mother of Boaz. My understanding is that this is the same Rahab mentioned in the book of Joshua as the harlot of Jerico. If true, then both Matthew and Luke list only four generations covering the approximately 400 year period of the judges. There is no way (under normal circumstances) you get only four generations over that period of time unless you want to claim people were still regularly living 200-300 years during this time.

In fact, my NKJV claims there were 11 generations during this time. So my question is: why would both Matthew and Luke fail to mention the 6-8 missing generations that must have occurred during the period of the judges? Small thing I know, but it has bugged me for years and I have never seen it addressed anywhere. TIA

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My study bible (The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan) notes that it was a common ancient practice to "telescope" a genealogy -- i.e. to skip over generations when building the list. In the introduction to 1 Chronicles (where you'll also find a number of "missing" generations in its numerous genealogies), it states:

The most common type of fluidity in Biblical materials is telescoping, the omission of names from the list. Unimportant names are left out in order to relate an individual to a prominent ancestor, or possibly to achieve the desired number of names in the genealogy.

Another point to note is that the Hebrew and Greek words commonly rendered in English as "father" & "mother" and "son" & "daughter" did not always refer to the direct parent or the direct offspring of an individual. Based on context they could and did refer to more distant ancestors or descendants.

In our own time, lacking knowledge of these ancient historical and literary conventions, we have a tendency to be overzealous in our literalism and create difficulties or contradictions where they don't exist. It's similar to the way we assume an ancient history is presenting a purely sequential chronology of events, when in fact ancient authors would often organize their material out of time sequence to put interrelated or thematically-similar events together in the account.

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I'm with JDM-GBG and yourself: the genealogy here is telescoped, i.e. generations have been omitted, and this is common practice in the Scriptures. Rather than repeat the work of Dr John Millam I will just refer you to his online article "The Genesis Genealogies - are they complete?" which looks at many genealogies in Scripture. An especially interesting verse in this respect is Exodus 6:20, which can be compared with Numbers 3:27,28. See also 1 Chronicles 6:1-3.

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It is possible to comprehend without presuming any hidden generations by averaging them out to 150 years old each, for example, and assuming that Rahab was very old when she begat Boaz(e.g. Rahab(70) + Boaz(150) + Obed(150) + Jesse(150) = David).

  • I don't think so. First at that time generations didn't live much past 70-80 years (look at the ages listed in Kings and Chronicles) so that would be a major stretch for one generation, let alone four. Second one must also account for the fact that a woman must be at a certain age before being able to conceive which maybe adds at least 45 or so years to your calculus plus having Rahab conceive at 70 is asking a lot. Finally, you would think a line of individuals who is living roughly twice the average would have had some mention of the fact somewhere. So it really seems implausible to me. – ds_practicioner Dec 17 '18 at 20:02
  • The problem however is that you are not considering the implications of your hypothesis of extra generations in this area of Jesus' genealogy. Such a theory not only requires you to hypothesize the reason for its omission by the writer of Matthew and Luke, but also the Old Testament itself(Ruth 4:18-22). If you can not provide a reasonable cause for its omission in this area of his genealogy(unlike for example Jehoiakim) then in the least you may not be giving this alternate interpretation fair consideration. Also Sarah conceived at 90, Gen. 17:17. If she were 100, they would average 147. – user21676 Dec 18 '18 at 1:22
  • Also for the sake of comprehending the numbers I've submitted, I'll refer you to the argument on which they're based. – user21676 Dec 18 '18 at 1:22
  • Also I wasn't saying that she lived to be 70 and then begat Boaz; I was saying that 70 years may have passed since she was at least twenty years old at the battle of Jericho, meaning she would have been 90 when she begot Boaz. – user21676 Dec 18 '18 at 1:34
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    You make some good points but I am looking at it statistically. Aside from Job, who appears to be pre-exodus, only Jehoida is anywhere near those ages you mentioned. While 1 person living that long is an outlier, 4 individuals in succession would be an extremely unlikely event, especially considering David and his generations immediately thereafter lived far shorter lives. it doesn't fit statistically. – ds_practicioner Dec 18 '18 at 20:51

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