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Building the Internal Chronology of the Bible

My Journey: Solving a Logic Puzzle

So, what did I have with the charts I'd done to answer my first question? Combining them into one table took me to the death of Yôsëph at 110 years old, which was the 285th year since @Avrähäm entered Kenaøan. Okay.
Did Scripture give life years for any of Yaøäqöv's other sons? It turns out that it does. Exodus 6.16-20 has a short geneaology of Lëwî's line.

And these were the names of the sons of Lëwî by their generations: Gërshôn, and Qehäth, and Merarî. And the years of the life of Lëwî were a hundred and thirty seven years. The sons of Gërshôn: Livnî, and Shimøî, by their families. And the sons of Qehäth: @Amräm, and Yitshär, and Chevrôn, and ØUzzî@ël. And the years of the life of Qehäth were a hundred and thirty three years. And the sons of Merarî: Machlî, and Mûshî. These were the families of Lëwî according to their generations. And @Amräm took his aunt Yôkeved to him for a wife. And she bore to him @AhØrön and Möshëh. And the years of the life of @Amräm were a hundred and thirty seven years.

So, Lëwî, Yaøäqöv's third son by Lë@äh, died at 137 years old. Lëwî's second son Qehäth died at age 133 years old, and his son @Amräm, Möshëh's father, died at age 137 years. Interesting information but useless to the chronology unless I could figure out where Lëwî fit in the chronology relative to Yaøäqöv. Well, I knew at a minimum Lëwî had to have been born in the years between Yaøäqöv marrying the sisters and renegotiating his wages. So, that set me on the trail of what I call the logic puzzle of the birth order of Yaøäqöv's sons according to their father. Scripture gives their birth order according to their mothers, but not according to their father. I don't remember how I ran across Greg Killian's The Watchman website,(1) but I found some interesting information there: the traditional birthdays of Yaøäqöv's sons. I also checked out the Jewish Encyclopedia's individual articles on Yaøäqöv's sons. I thought charting the birthdays just might solve the puzzle of their birth order. But 11 births in 9 years means some of the sons of the different mothers must have been born in the same year. Now, according to Genesis 29.31,

And YHWH saw that Lë@äh was hated. And He opened her womb, but Rächël was barren. (Gen 29:31)

I suspect Lë@äh probably conceived very quickly, possibly during her wedding week. If Re@ûvënwas born on 14 Kislev, Year 08, then the wedding was probably in Shevat, Year 07. However, Yôsëph wasn't born until Tammuz 1, Year 15, after which Yaøäqöv renegotiated his wages. So, it's really 8 years into which all the births must fit. Table 1 charts the conception and birth months for Yaøäqöv's sons. Estimating the conception months isn't necessary to solve the logic puzzle, but it does clarify some of the harem dynamics.

Chart 2. Birth of Yaøàqöv's Children
YearTishChesvKislevTebShevAdarNisanIyaarSivanTamAvElul
07....Weddg.......
08..R 14..S con......
09...S 21....L con...
10.D con....L 16...Yd conD 8
11..N con.....Yd 15...
12N 5..G con...Ys con....
13G 10...Ys 4/6A con....
14..Z con.A 20......Yo con
15Z 7........Yo 1..

Lë@äh's second son Shimeøôn was born on 21 Tebet, Year 09, which was 13 months after Re@ûvënwas born. Now, Genesis 30.1-4 recounts:

And Rächël saw that she did not bear to Yaøäqöv, and Rächël was jealous of her sister. And she said to Yaøäqöv, "Give me sons; and if there is none, I shall die." And Jacob's anger glowed against Rächël, and he said, "Am I in @Élöhîm's place, who has kept back from you the fruit of the womb?" And she said, "Behold my servant Bilhäh! Go in to her and let her bear on my knees; yea, let me be built up from her, me also." And she gave her slave-girl Bilhäh to him for a wife. And Yaøäqöv went in to her.

So, when could Rächël just not stand it anymore that her sister kept getting pregnant? I think Lë@äh's third pregnancy in as many years would have done it. With Lëwî born on 16 Nisan, Year 10, Lë@äh would have been showing by Tishri or Chesvan, Year 10. With Bilhäh's first son, Dän, born on Elul 8, Year 10, Rächël probably gave Bilhäh to Yaøäqöv sometime in Kislev, Year 10. The next two sons born were Yehûdhäh to Lë@äh on 15 Sivan, Year 11, and Naphtälî to Bilhäh on 5 Tishri, Year 12. Genesis 30.9 states:

And Lë@äh saw that she had ceased from bearing. And she took Zilpäh, her slave-girl, and gave her to Yaøäqöv for a wife.

So, how long did it take Lë@äh to decide she wasn't going to get pregnant again? After the birth of Yehûdhäh, there's only four of the eight years left and Lë@äh will have two more pregnancies. I don't think she gave it much time. For four years, she had been getting pregnant four to five months after a birth. With Gäd born on 10 Chesvan, Year 13, Lë@äh must have given Zilpäh to Yaøäqöv by Shevat, Year 12, which would have been only seven months after Yehûdhäh's birth. It doesn't seem like that long a time to conclude she had stopped bearing, but apparently the rivalry between the sisters was still going strong at this time. But with Lë@äh's next pregnancy, things get a little tricky with respect to Jewish tradition. Genesis 30.14-17 recounts the mandrake root incident.

And in the days of wheat harvest Re@ûvën went out and found mandrakes in the field. And he brought them to his mother Lë@äh. And Rächël said to Lë@äh, "Please give to me from the mandrakes of your son." And she said to her, "Is your taking my husband a little thing? Will you also take my son's mandrakes?" And Rächël said, "So he shall be with you tonight, for your son's mandrakes. And Yaøäqöv came in from the field at evening. And Lë@äh went out to meet him. And she said, "You must come in to me, for hiring I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." And he lay with her during that night. And @Élöhîm listened to Lë@äh, and she conceived and bore a fifth son to Yaøäqöv.

Now, according to Scripture, this incident took place during the wheat harvest. The month of the wheat harvest is Sivan. A conception date of Sivan for Yissäkhär means he would have been born in Adar or Nisan. The Jewish Encyclopedia gives 4 Av as Yissäkhär's birthday, but Killian's website lists 6 Sivan as Yissäkhär's birth date, citing the Bnei Issachar as the source. Neither of those dates work with the conception occurring during the wheat harvest in Sivan. But, if Sivan is taken as the conception month for Yissäkhär instead of his birth month, then that would be consistant with Scripture. It would also move Yissäkhär's birth backward by two to four months to Adar, Year 13, 20 months after Yehûdhäh was born. Zilpäh's second son @Ãshër was born on 20 Shebat, Year 14. Lë@äh then bore Zebulûn and Dînäh, traditionally twins, on 7 Tishri, Year 15, 19 months after Yissäkhär. Then, finally, Rächël got pregnant and bore Yôsëph on 1 Tammuz, Year 15. Now, I realize these birth dates are only traditions. Still, except for Yissäkhär's, they do work. It's interesting that Yissäkhär's conception is the only one dated to a time of year in Scripture, yet his traditional birth date does not work with Scripture. That does tend to cast a cloud of doubt over the accuracy of the other traditional birth dates, but, since Scripture does not give birth dates for anybody, I have to go with the traditional dates to work out Yaøäqöv's sons birth order according to Yaøäqöv. And the dates do work in showing a probable timing of 11 sons and 1 daughter being born to Yaøäqöv in the nine years between his wedding and his renegotiating his wages. Putting the information into a chart with Yaøäqöv's life years dates Lëwî's birth to 85 Yaøäqöv. The next chart lays out the solution in a clearer format.

Chart 3. Birth of Yaøàqöv's Children
YrsEventBirthdayRef
07Yaøáqöv marries Lë@äh & RächëlShevatG29.21-29
He agrees to serve another 7 years for Rächël..
08Re@ûvën born of Lë@äh14 KislevG29.32
09Shimeøôn born of Lë@äh21 TevetG29.33
10Lëwî born of Lë@äh16 NisanG29.34
Dän born of Bilhäh8 ElulG30.5-6
11Yehûdhäh born of Lë@äh15 SivanG29.35
12Naphtälî born of Bilhäh5 TishriG30.7-8
Mandrake incidentSivanGen 30.14-17
13Gäd born of Zilpäh10 CheshvanG30.10-11
Yissäskhär born of Lë@äh4/6 AvG30.17-18
14@Äshër born of Zilpäh20 ShevatG30.12-13
15Zebulûn & Dînäh born of Lë@äh7 TishriG30.19-21
Yôsëph born of Rächël1 TamG30.22-24
Yaøáqöv renegotiates his wages with Lävän.G30.25

So, that’s the story of how I found out Yaøäqöv was 85 years old when Lëwî was born. Now I can plug Lëwî's death year into the life years chronology. The chronology now goes to the 307th year since @Avrähäm entered the land of Kenaôan. But all of this only leads to another question.

FOOTNOTE (1) Killian, Greg. The Watchman website. “Calendars and Feasts.” http://www.betemunah.org/feasts.html (Retrieved 06/15/2017) Return

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Site Creator: Dori Scholar     This page last modified: October 13, 2017     Send correspondance to: dorischolar@yahoo[dot]com Legal Stuff:   Copyright 2017 by Dori Scholar.   Permission to distribute this material via e-mail, or individual copies for personal use, is granted on the condition that it will be used for non-commercial purposes, will not be sold, and no changes made to the format or content.    When quoting, please keep the context and provide the source   URL: http://www.badgerholt.com.       Scriptures are cited from New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV) Young's Literal Translation (YLT), Geneva Bible, 1599 ed., Jay Green's KJ3: Literal Translation, Gary Zella's Analytical Literal Translation of the New Testament, or my own translation (dmd).