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World History According to the Bible

Clint Bishard, Clint@JesusCreated.org




Testimony and Introduction

Even as a Christian, I once was confused over the age of the universe.  This was a result of my ignorance of the Scriptures and what they teach concerning the age of the universe, as well as my being influenced by secular science.  However, as the result of a challenge from a student in a 6th grade Sunday school class I was teaching, I was forced to study the Scriptures.  I found out for myself that my previous thoughts on the age of the earth (millions/billions of years) were in error.  This paper gives an overview of the Scriptural study I undertook in an effort to align my thinking with the Word of God.  I hope you will be encouraged and come to trust in the only One who was there at the beginning to accurately tell us the details of the age of the universe – our Creator.

I also now admit the great extent of my error in holding on to the millions/billions of years.  I now see naturalism and its proposed millions/billions of years as Satan’s greatest attack on the authority of the Word of God.  Although I did not accept biological evolution, my compromise on the clear history stated in Genesis did not uphold the authority of the Word of God.  I now fully repent.

If the clear history God puts forward in Genesis is not true, then why would anyone believe any of the rest of the Bible or that Jesus rose from the dead?  And this is exactly what is happening, as Jesus stated in Luke 16:31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”[1] Jesus likewise stated in John 5:46-47 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Societies in which naturalism/evolution and the millions/billions of years have been accepted soon find that the authority and effectiveness of the Word of God decreases as well.  The Church must stop compromising and take a stand on the clear historical account in Genesis – if the culture is going to be moved back to obedience to the Word of God and acceptance of its author, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I now fully agree with the stand Pastor John MacArthur makes as he states:

“It (Evolution) is the single greatest satanic lie the world has ever known, because it eliminates the need for a creator.  People can avoid God altogether.  Particularly the Biblical God.” 

Also, on the issue of accepting the young timeline for the age of the earth, he stated it simply - “you either believe the Bible or you don’t.”

- John MacArthur (The Battle for the Beginning series). 

Most important of all, Jesus accepted and fully affirmed the literal history of Genesis.  This is clear from His quote of both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 in the same statement, and referring to the origin of Adam and Eve as “from the beginning of creation” Mark 10:5-8 “5And Jesus answered and said to them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.  6But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.'  7'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,  8and the two shall become one flesh'”  Given that Jesus was there in the beginning (John 1), may we all accept His testimony as true.

The following study on the Biblical age of the universe looks to God’s Word for when He created the universe, rejecting all naturalistic views of its origin.   This starts by accepting the clear language and context of the Genesis 1 text and some very clear clarifying passages.  The study then shows the timeframe from the creation week forward by tracing the genealogies given in the Bible from Adam to Jacob based on the Hebrew Masoretic text.  The Scriptural timeframe from Jacob to the building of the Temple by King Solomon is then analyzed.  The date for the building of Solomon’s Temple is obtained via references to complete the timeline.  A chart is included illustrating the results (see following pages).  It provides a helpful tool as you go through this study.


Six Days

God created the universe and everything in it, including Adam and Eve in six literal days and then rested from His work of creation for another day (Genesis 1:1-31).  The fact that these were truly literal 24 hour days is clearly shown in Exodus 20:11.  God declares from Mount Sinai “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”  Again in Exodus 31:16-17, God told Israel “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

Significantly, the seven-day week period has nothing in common with cosmology.  All other major references to time do as stated in Genesis 1:14.

1.      Year - time for the earth to circle the sun.

2.      Month - time for the moon to circle the earth

3.      Day - time for the earth to rotate on its axis

However, the basis for the seven-day week period is only found in the created order in that God created in six days and rested for one.  Another important note is that John record's the first miracle of Jesus as turning six jars of water into wine.  This represents a solid example of Jesus power as God to create instantaneously, just as he did for all of creation in six days (John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1).


24 Hour Days

The Hebrew word used in Genesis 1 & 2 for “day” is YOM.  YOM, just as in English, can have several meanings.  Such as it being an ordinary 24 hour day; or the word can be used in the sense of saying ‘back in my day, we did lots of great things’, where day is referring to a time in the past.  We must look at the context of the passage in which the word day is used to find the intended meaningThe following points can be made about the meaning of this word.

§         When used with the ordinary numbers first, second, third etc. in the OT text, the word YOM never refers to a definite, delimited or circumscribed period of time except that of a solar day. 

§         The plural form of the word YAMIM is never used at all except to refer to a solar day.

§         The Hebrew word OLAM can refer to a long period of time with a finishing point in the past, the present, or the future.  But the word OLAM was not used in the narratives of Gen. 1 & 2.

§         The repeated phrase “there was evening and morning” shows that the writer intends to delimit and specify a time period which we know as consisting of a 24-hour day.

§         The Sabbath observance of the Mosaic Law is based upon a literal creation account (Ex. 20:9-11).[2]

The following is how the word YOM is used in the Scriptures.  Outside of Gen. 1, YOM is used as follows:

§         38 times “Evening & morning” together with “Day” are used, and it always means an ordinary day.

§         23 times “Evening” or “Morning” with “Day” is used and it always means an ordinary day

§         52 times “Night” with “Day” is used and it always means an ordinary day.

§         410 times (plural or singular) “Day” + a number is used and it always means an ordinary day.[3]

Gen. 1 combines all of these possible clarifying combinations in the discrete listing of each of these days.  It is clear from the context of Scripture that the days of Genesis 1 were ordinary 24 hour days!  God could have written it otherwise, but He did not.

Christians once believed the earth was young until people started trying to make the Bible fit their own outside theories based on naturalistic views. 

Some state that since the sun was not created until ‘day’ 4, the days were not literal 24-hour days.  However, there was another light source referred to in day 1.  To have a 24-hour day period, the sun is not necessary - just an object rotating on its axis while being illuminated by an outside light source.  God does not tell us what the light source was before he created the sun.  He only tells us that there was a light source.  Rev. 22:5 shows that there will once again be a time in which the light does not come from the sun.  Also, the books of 2 Peter and Revelation tell us God will one day create a new heaven and a new earth.  Will He need another 14-15 billion years to create this one also?  No, He will speak it into existence similar to how He spoke the first creation into existence as stated in Genesis 1.

Some state that 2 Peter 3:8 indicates the days of creation could have been thousands of years or that day could be an ‘age’ or an ‘epoch’ of time.  However, this passage is only showing the fact that God is outside of time.  Psalm 90:4 similarly states “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.”  These passages are clearly showing God’s transcendence of time.  2 Peter 3:8 is in no way attempting to explain the meaning of the Hebrew word YOM used in Genesis 1.  The context of the passage of Genesis 1 as discussed earlier indicates the creation days were ordinary 24-hour days.


It should not be so difficult for Christians to accept the solar day view if we believe:

Ø      God is Omnipotent

Ø      The Bible is His revelation

Ø      His Word is true!

Biblical Chronology: Adam to Noah: Around 1056 Years

The years for the time between Adam and Noah were taken from Gen. 5:1-32.  This genealogy gives the explicit detail of how old each father was when the following son was born, from the time of Adam to the time of Noah.  The only variance that could occur in these timelines is that the specific month each son is born is not given. The case that the years listed in Gen. 5:1-32 were exact years is what is shown in the chart.  However, the worst variance that could occur would be one day short of an additional year for each generation.  Therefore, the most the timeline could be off from Adam to Noah would be to add an additional 9 years, one for each generation.

We have a very clear clarification from a 100% accurate commentary on Genesis 5 that these generations are to be taken literally.  This commentary is the New Testament.  Jude 14 states the generations from Adam to Enoch were exact - “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam.”


Biblical Chronology: Noah to Shem: Around 503 Years

The time between Noah’s birth and the birth of Shem is not that clear.  Gen 5:32 simply states that Noah was 500 years old, and then Noah begot his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Jepheth).  This could be that Noah was exactly 500 years old and then had boy triplets or that sometime after Noah was 500 years old, he began to have his three sons.  Fortunately, other times given in the Scriptures can be used to find the solution.  Since Shem is the ancestor to Christ, he is the son that receives the attention of this chronological timeline.  Gen. 7:11 tells us that Noah was 600 years old when the flood began, and Gen 8:13-15 states that Noah was 601 years old at the end of the flood.  Additionally, Gen 11:10 states that when “Shem was 100 years old, he begot Arphaxad two years after the flood”.  Note: The assumption is made that this means after the flood ended.  Putting this together:

v     601 years (How old Noah was when the flood ended)

v     + 2 years (How long after the flood ended that Arphaxad was born)

v     - 100 (How old Shem was when he had Arphaxad)

v     = 503 ( How old Noah was when he had Shem

Therefore, it is clear that the Scriptures stating Noah was 500 years old when he had his sons was a generalized statement.  It was meant to convey that shortly after Noah turned 500, he began to have his sons.  Shem was actually born when Noah was around 503 years old (The variance would be –2 to +2 years).  Therefore, Noah was between 501 to 505 years old when Shem was born.  For the chart, I have used the 503 age.


Biblical Chronology: Shem to Terah - Around 320 Years

            The time from Shem to Terah is another timeframe that is very specific in the number of years that existed between each generation.  This genealogy and the years between generations are listed in Gen. 11:1-24.  As with the genealogy between Adam and Noah, the most variance that could exist between the birth of Shem and the birth of Terah would be an additional 8 years, one for each generation.


Textual Differences

Some difficulties exist due to textual differences between the various ancient versions of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Masoretic text, the Greek Septuagint, and the Samaritan Pentateuch).  The main differences are as follows:

·        Chronological differences in the text of Gen. 5 & 11 for the years of each generation.

·        The issue of Cainan.  Some ancient versions of the Greek Septuagint and some ancient text of the New Testament in Luke 3 have an additional generation of Cainan inserted in the genealogy from Shem to Terah.  Whereas the ancient Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts do not have Cainan in the text.

These differences are not dealt with here for brevity.  However, the most straightforward explanation is that the Masoretic text is the correct reading and the Septuagint text, Samaritan text, and some of the early Luke manuscripts represent translational errors.  For a fuller discussion of these differences and the possible explanations please see appendix 1.  However, it should be noted that these differences have unwarrantedly brought doubt on a very clear portion of God’s Word.  Men have taken these differences and reasoned that the timeframes listed in Gen. 5 and Gen. 11 cannot be taken literally.  The statements are made that there are gaps between the generations, or they are allegorical, and etc.  This reasoning is unfounded and a destructive direction for Biblical interpretation.  When textural differences occur, they should be researched and analyzed to discover the most logically consistent reading.  Not provide a springboard to deny the clear teaching of the particular passage of Scripture.  God put the years very specifically in these genealogies for a reason.  Clearly, so we would have an accurate historical record of the past.  When God is telling us exactly how many years existed between a father and his descendent, the proper explanation is that the years are given so we would know how long the timeframe was between them.  Additionally, the Hebrew word for “begot” in the genealogies is consistently used throughout the Scriptures for a direct son or daughter.

Genesis does not exhibit the characteristics of Hebrew Poetry.  It is written as literal history, just as all of the New Testament writers viewed it!  For example, Jude even refers to Enoch as being the 7th in the line of Adam (Jude 14) – he wasn’t confused, as so many seem to be today.  Also, although there are many genealogies given in the Bible, only the genealogy of the Savior includes a full chronology.  Jesus is the clear connection from the first Adam to Himself, the last Adam (Romans 5 & 1 Corinthians 15).

The real reason for the doubt in the genealogies that has arisen over the past two centuries comes from influences outside of the Bible.  For example, archeologist influenced by naturalistic thought processes desire to have additional years for mankind’s history.  For example, radiometric dating methods (such as carbon dating) built on uniformitarian assumptions have pushed for longer timeframes.  Additionally, historians influenced by evolutionary thinking see mankind developing civilizations slowly over many centuries.  Whereas the Biblical view is that civilizations would have developed rapidly after the flood due to the knowledge Noah and his family brought through the flood.  Man did not develop from some primitive cavemen, as many misguided scientists would have us believe!  We need to start with Biblical assumptions.

For the purposes of this study the Masoretic text will be used as the preferred text.  Again, my view for the superiority of the Masoretic text and the reasons for preferring this text are shown in appendix 1.  However, regardless of the textual differences between the various versions, they all show a universe that is relatively young (thousands of years old) and none allow for the millions and billions of years that the naturalistic timeline and other compromising Christians demand.


Biblical Chronology: Terah to Abraham - Around 130 Years

 As with the time between Noah’s birth and Shem’s, the time between the birth of Terah and the birth of Abraham is also not so clear.  Gen. 11:26 states that Terah lived 70 years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.  However, this must represent the time that Terah started having children and not the time that he had Abraham.  This is shown by other passages.  Gen. 11:32 states that Terah died in Haran at the age of 205.  Gen. 12:4 states that Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran.  In Acts 7, Steven states that Abraham stayed in Haran until his father died, and then went to the land of Canaan.  Therefore, putting this together:

v     205 years (Terah dies when he is 205)

v     - 75 (Abraham is 75 years old when he leaves Haran after the death of his father)

v     = 130 (How old Terah was when Abraham was born.

Therefore, Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born.  A source of variance could be that Abraham stayed in Haran some time after his father died.  However, the scriptures give the impression that Abraham left Haran shortly after the death of his father.  Particularly since God had spoken to Abraham back in Ur and told him to go to the land of Canaan (Acts 7).  Therefore, it is likely that Abraham stayed in Haran just until his father died.  With this assumption, the only variance would be the possible one-year variance mentioned earlier for the birth of Abraham.


Biblical Chronology: Abraham to the Entry of Israel Into Egypt – Around 290 Years

The years for Abraham to the Entry of Israel into Egypt are very clear.  Gen 21:5 states that Abraham was 100 years old when he had Isaac (Abraham died at the age of 175 as stated in Gen. 25:7).  Gen. 25:26 states that Isaac was 60 years old when he had Jacob (Isaac was 180 when he died as stated in Gen., 35:28).  Gen. 47:28 states that Jacob/Israel was 147 when he died and that he lived in Egypt 17 years before he died.  Putting this together:

v     100 years (Abraham’s age when Isaac is born)

v     + 60 (Isaac’s age when Jacob is born)

v     +147 (Age of Jacob when he died)

v     - 17 (Time that Jacob/Israel lived in Egypt)

v     = 290 (Time from the birth of Abraham to the entry of Israel into Egypt)

Therefore, it was around 290 years from the birth of Abraham to the Israelites entry into Egypt.  The variance would be as before with the possible additional 1 year for the age of each Father when the child was born plus minus a year for the possible variance for the time in Egypt (Variance would be –1 to +3 years).


Biblical Chronology: The Sojourn in Egypt – Around 430 Years

Exodus 12:40-41 states that the Israelites were in the land of Egypt for 430 years.  “40Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years — on that very same day — it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”  Therefore, no variance is expected here.

It should be noted that this is my only discrepancy from the well know chronology given by Bishop Usher in the 1600s (from the creation of Adam to the building of Solomon’s Temple).  However, I was not aware of Bishop Ushers work when the Lord was dealing with me and I initiated this study of the Scriptures. 

Usher assumed that the Israelites were in Egypt only 215 years and that the 430 years was from the time God made the covenant with Abraham to the date that the Israelites came out of Egypt.  This can be perceived from Galatians 3:16-17 with the statement of 430 years in 3:17 and the mention of Abraham in 3:16.  The text reads “16Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. 17And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.”  However, it should be noted that Gal. 3:16 states “to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made”.  Significantly, God reconfirmed his covenant with Jacob/Israel as he was going into Egypt (Gen. 46).  Therefore, the most strait-forward reading of Exodus 12:40-41 based on this view of Galatians and the Masoretic text (my preference, see appendix) is that the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years.  However, in Bishop Usher’s defense, it should be noted that the Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint read “Egypt and Canaan” for Exodus 12:40.  God knows the correct answer to this difference.  Either way, the date of the Exodus (and before) would only be changed by 215 years using Usher’s assumptions concerning the Exodus.


Biblical Chronology: The Exodus to the Building of Solomon’s Temple – Around 479 Years

1 Kings 6:1 clearly states that Solomon began to build the temple in the 480th year that the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt – “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” Therefore, since it was in the 480th year, the actual time from the Exodus to the start of the Temple was 479 years.


Total Years from Creation to the Building of Solomon’s Temple: Around 3208 Years

Adding together all of the timeframes in the previous sections yields the following:

v     1056 (Adam to Noah)

v     503 (Noah to Shem)

v     320 (Shem to Terah)

v     130 (Terah to Abraham)

v     290 (Abraham to the Entry of Israel Into Egypt)

v     430 (The Sojourn in Egypt)

v     479 (The Exodus to the Building of Solomon’s Temple)

v     = 3,208 Years AC (After Creation)

Therefore, from the Creation of Adam to the start of Solomon’s Temple was a period of around 3,208 years.


Age of the Universe: Around 6180 Years Old

Beyond Solomon, obtaining exact chronologies poses some difficulties.  Some problems arise from the years given for the reins of the Kings of Israel and Judah – including the evidence for overlapping years between and kings and their predecessor.  Sometimes it is not clear how long they co-reigned.  However, the building of the Temple is recent enough such that historical research can yield a relatively accurate date for this event.  Plenty of historical evidence exists for the time of Solomon and the structures that have been identified that were built during his reign.  A footnote from the MacArthur Study Bible for the building of the temple puts the year at 966 BC.  I have used this date for this analysis.  Several other sources checked show similar dates for the start of the Temple.  Therefore, as a result of this analysis and The MacArthur Study Bible reference note, the age of the universe can be calculated as follows:

v     3208 (time from creation to the start of the Temple)

v     + 966 (time from the Temple to the end of 1 BC)

v      + 2006 (years from the beginning of 1 AD to the present (2007)) Note: there was no 0 AD

v     = 6180 (4174 BC) – approximate age of the universe

By neglecting the 1-year variances mentioned in each chronological section, assuming that the Masoretic text is correct, assuming that Abraham left Haran right after his fathers death, and assuming an accurate date for the start of Solomon’s Temple from The MacArthur Study Bible, this study of the Scriptures shows the universe should be around 6,180 years old (4174 BC).


The Bible is the history book of the world.  We should believe it!



Other Biblical Timeframes

By simply doing the math as above, the dates for the other events on the timeline can be calculated as follows:


·        The beginning of the flood – 2518 BC

·        Abraham is born – 2165 BC

·        Israel enters Egypt – 1875 BC

·        The Exodus from Egypt – 1445 BC

Biblical Timeline of the Universe

The chart on the following two pages illustrates the lineage from Adam to Jacob/Israel based on the Hebrew Masoretic Text.  The split occurs at the time of the flood so as to be able to clearly show the lineage before and after the flood.  Note that AC refers to the number of years After the Creation week.





<0 AC     Before time, there was God ‘In the beginning God’ (Gen. 1:1)


0 AC, day 6            Adam      (around 4174 BC)


130 AC                                   Seth


235 AC                                                   Enosh                      ‘Then men began to call on the name of the LORD’


325 AC                                                                   Cainan


395 AC                                                                                   Mahalalel


460 AC                                                                                                   Jared


622 AC                                                                                                                   Enoch


687 AC                                                                                                                                   Methuselah


874 AC                                                                                                                                                   Lamech


930 AC                   Adam


987 AC                                                                                                                   God takes


1042 AC                                 Seth                                                                                                                       

                                                dies                                                                                                                         Noah

1056 AC                                                                                                                                                                 born


1140 AC                                                 Enosh


1235 AC                                                                 Cainan


1290 AC                                                                                 Mahalalel


1422 AC                                                                                                 Jared


1536 AC                                                                 God gives man

120 more years (Gen. 6:3)

>1556 AC                 Noah’s 3 sons born


1559 AC Shem


15?? AC                                 God tells Noah

about the flood

1651 AC                                                                                                                                                 Lamech


1656 AC                                                                                                                                 Methuselah



1656 AC                                                                 Flood Begins (around 2518 BC)

1657 AC                                                                 Flood Ends

1659 AC                 Arphaxad


1694 AC                                 Salah


1724 AC                                                 Eber        -Eber lived during the division of the earth

Born                                       (happened during the time of Peleg

1758 AC                                                                 Peleg                      - Peleg means divided)


1788 AC                                                                                 Reu


1820 AC                                                                                                 Serug


1850 AC                                                                                                                 Nahor


1879 AC                                                                                                                                 Terah


1997 AC                                                                 Peleg


1998 AC                                                                                                                 Nahor


2006 AC                                                                                                                                                           Noah dies

           (950 years old)

2009 AC                                                                                                                                                 Abram


2027 AC                                                                                 Reu


2050 AC                                                                                                 Serug


2084 AC                                                                                                                                 Terah


2097 AC                 Arphaxed


2109 AC                                                                                                                                                                 Isaac


2127 AC                                 Salah


2159 AC Shem


2169 AC                                                                                                                                                                                 Jacob


2184 AC                                                                                                                                                 Abraham


2188 AC                                                 Eber


2289 AC                                                                                                                                                                 Isaac


2299 AC Israel & family go to live in Egypt


2316 AC                                                                                                                                                                                 Israel

                                                                                  430 Year Sojourn in Egypt (Ex. 12:40-41)                                        dies

2729 AC The Exodus of Israel from Egypt


3208 AC Solomon begins to build the Temple (1 Kings 6:1; 966 BC – from reference)







Appendix 1: Textual Differences in the Genealogies


The Issue of Cainan

Apparent difficulties exist due to the textual differences between the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew Masoretic text for Gen. 11 and Luke 3.  The Masoretic text states that Shem begot Arphaxad, and Arphaxad begot Salah.  However, the Septuagint and some ancient Luke 3 manuscripts state that Shelah was of Cainan, and Cainan was of Arphaxad, and Arphaxad was of Shem.  There appears to be three possibilities to resolve the issue of Cainan being present in the Septuagint and some Luke 3 passages, but not the Masoretic text:

1.      The Hebrew Masoretic text is correct – Option 1: Cainan was erroneously inserted in the genealogy of Luke 3 in an early Greek text.  If the Masoretic text is the correct reading, then it could be that someone in the early church working from the Septuagint inserted Cainan into Luke’s genealogy, thinking they were correcting a copyist error.  The correct reading would be to have Cainan removed from Luke 3.  Strong evidence for this exist in the various ancient Greek NT manuscripts that do not have Cainan in Luke 3 and the testimony of many early church figures who did not believe Cainan belonged in the text.  See next section.

2.      The Hebrew Masoretic text is correct – Option 2: Cainan was actually in the genealogy, but was not listed in Genesis for summary purposes.  Therefore, Cainan could have been skipped in the listings of Gen. 10, 11, and 1 Chron. 1, even though he was the direct son of Arphaxad and father of Shelah.  Examples of this type of summarization can be seen from later genealogies listed in the Bible, such as when comparing 1 Chron. 3:11-12 and Matt. 1:8.  1 Chron. list Jehoshaphat, Joram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham.  Whereas Mathew only list Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, and Jotham – leaving out Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah (Note: minor name variations exist due to language differences).  A main point of Matthew’s genealogy was to show lineage from Abraham to Jesus.  Therefore, it appears for brevity some of the fathers are skipped.  Therefore, it is similarly noted that Cainan could have been in the genealogy after Arphaxad, even though he is not listed in Genesis, without their being a contradiction of the Scriptures.

Note that except for the Cainan issue all of the Genealogies throughout the Bible and the various texts have the same line for Adam to Abraham.  Additionally, the Hebrew word for “begot” in the genealogies is consistently used throughout the Scriptures for a direct son or daughter.  Therefore, it is difficult to accept the view of having additional fathers in the genealogies of Gen. 5 & 11, which cast serious doubt on this option.  Also note that in the passages that do summarize ancestral lists in the Scriptures, no years are given for these generations.  These later summarized lists are clearly summarized to show the connection to a particular father.  Jesus was the Son of David – a clear example of summarization that should not distract from the clear readings of Gen. 5 & 11, which gives specific years from one father to his son.  Another solid indicator of no additional generations in the genealogies of Genesis is the commentary in the New Testament (Jude 14).

3.      The Greek Septuagint is correct: Cainan was the son of Arphaxad and the father of Shelah and was listed in Genesis as found in the Septuagint.  A copyist error occurred with the transmission of the Hebrew Masoretic text.  For this option, some additional timeframe for Cainan may need to be added to the years shown on the timeline.  However, the case against this option and for the accuracy of the Masoretic text is made in the next section.


These options are given as 3 separate possibilities that hold to an inerrant view of Scripture.  However, as noted before, the Masoretic Text which most all current Bible translations of the Old Testament are based upon, holds the most weight.  The next section contains additional information relevant to the superiority of the Masoretic text.


The Chronological Differences

            The Chronological differences between the Hebrew Masoretic text, the Greek Septuagint, and the Hebrew Samaritan Pentateuch are as follows:




Although there are differences between the above versions of the Pentateuch, the Masoretic text appears to hold the most weight.  In short, the superiority of the Masoretic text is claimed for the following reasons:

1.      The Hebrew scribes have demonstrated an incredible accuracy in the transmutation of the text throughout history.  They were guided by very strict regulations in their copying of the Hebrew Text:

Ø       No word was written from memory

Ø       Each word was spoken aloud as written

Ø       Before writing the sacred name of Yahweh, pen had to be wiped

Ø       Scroll was discarded if errors were found

Ø       Every word and letter was counted

Ø       Scribes realized the sacredness of their task and through many generations they began with ceremonial baths for purity before work began.[4]

Until the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts dated to about 1000 AD.  However, after their discovery, the Dead Sea Scrolls (~200 BC) were compared to those handed down for over 1000 years and found to be near exact matches.  Most all differences could be attributed to obvious slips of the pen or spelling variations that had occurred over the years.  Additionally, families of scribes are mentioned in the Bible as far back as before the time of David - 1 Chronicles 2:55.  This was a focused profession!

2.      Israeli Society created a safeguard against error.  The Pentateuch had extremely high importance in the Israelites lives, with many throughout the years memorizing it.  This provided the Hebrew Masoretic text additional protection against error.

3.      The Greek Septuagint translation was developed in Alexandria, Egypt and had the influence of the Egyptian chronologies working in the translation from the Hebrew manuscripts.  To this day, much debate exists around properly interpreting the dates of the Egyptian chronologies.  It appears Egyptian pharos may have exaggerated the lengths of their ancestors reigns to build up the validity of their dynasty.  This could have contributed to the Septuagint’s additional years.

4.      Internal inconsistencies with the Septuagint.  The Septuagint has Methuselah dying after the time of the flood.  An impossibility given that only Noah and his family made it through the flood.  The Masoretic text has Methuselah dying the year of the flood.  Although the Septuagint has shown itself as a reliable Greek translation of the Old Testament, the internal evidence shows that in the area of the genealogies, it is lacking the same integrity.

5.      The Samaritan Pentateuch shows the influence of the Assyrian chronology as well as spiritual weakness.  The Samaritans were the half-Jews that inhabited the northern area of Israel after the Assyrian captivity.  Many times throughout the history of the Northern Kingdom those who worshiped the true God were forced to flee to the Southern Kingdom.  This left the area of Samaria very spiritually dry as compared to the southern kingdom.  Additionally, they changed the places in the Samaritan Pentateuch to correspond to their places of worship in the north contrary to the places originally listed in the Pentateuch.  Jesus made this clear in his statement to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:21-22 “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

6.      Jesus made the statement on the preservation and fulfillment of the Scriptures with references to Hebrew language.  Matt. 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

7.      Jerome, living in the 4th century AD was an authority on both the Greek and Hebrew; having translated from both (the Vulgate Old Testament is his translation from the Hebrew manuscripts to Latin).  He had access to many more manuscripts than are available today and came to the clear conclusion that the Hebrew text was superior.  At the time this was very controversial given that many in the church held the Septuagint to be the divinely inspired text.  However, over time Jerome’s view began to dominate as others undertook the same research and discovered the superiority of the Hebrew text.

8.      Early church figures Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, as well as Jerome all rejected the presence of Cainan in the Genealogy of Gen. 11 and Luke 3.  Therefore, favoring the Hebrew readings.  Additionally, several ancient Greek manuscripts (Bodmer 14, 15 (of about AD 200)) of the New Testament do not include Cainan in the Genealogy of Luke.[5]  Therefore adding more weight to the evidence for the accuracy of the readings of the Hebrew manuscripts.

[1]All Scriptures quoted from The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (Lk 16:31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Professor Marc T. Mueller, The Master's Seminary; Soteriology Notes for Russia

[3] Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis

[4] Christian History Institute

[5] Derel Briarley, Raising Cainan; CEN Technical Journal 12 (3) 1998

Jesus Created Ministries (JCM) www.JesusCreated.org - Page last updated September 1, 2007