4004 BC?

In the 17th century Archbishop James Ussher studied the chronology of the Bible and came to the conclusion that the world was created in 4004 BC and for a long time this date was widely accepted.  The date was partly based on the genealogies in chapters 5 and 11 of Genesis.  He believed that these genealogies were complete and never skipped any generations.  A study of genealogies in other parts of the Bible shows that this might not be the case.

Here is part of the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1.

Joram the father of Uzziah.

Compare this with 1 Chronicles 3:11,12.

Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Uzziah his son.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus leaves out three generations between Joram and Uzziah.

A close examination of the genealogy of Moses found in Exodus shows that it is also incomplete.  First Chronicles 6:1-3 says:

The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.

There are only two generations recorded between Levi and Moses. According to Genesis 46:11 Kohath was alive when the Israelites moved to Egypt.

Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons —The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

Exodus 12:41 shows that the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years.

At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

But Exodus 6:18-20 says:
The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, the years of the life of Kohath being 133 years. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their generations. Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, the years of the life of Amram being 137 years.

Since their combined lifespans fall far short of the total time in Egypt it is obvious that the genealogy in incomplete and some generations have been omitted.

More proof that some of the genealogies aren’t complete is found by comparing Genesis 11:12,

When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah.

with Luke 3:35,36.

the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad.

The genealogy in Genesis omitted Cainan. Others people could also have been left out of the genealogies.  The purpose of the genealogies wasn’t to establish a chronology but to enable people to know who their ancestors were.

The creation couldn’t have taken place later than 4,004 BC but it could have occurred much earlier.


Posted on June 25, 2014, in Bible study, creation and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. We certainly don’t know the date of creation, but I think the genealogies provide some clues that get us within the ballpark. I generally accept that the creation account in Genesis took place less than 10,000 years ago.


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