By: Emil G. Hirsch
A list, in the order of succession, of ancestors and their descendants. The Pentateuchal equivalent for "genealogies" is "toledot" (generations), the verb being in the "ḳal" and "hif'il" forms. The later form is (Neh. vii. 5), and the verb "hityaḥes" (to enroll oneself or be enrolled by genealogy). In later Hebrew, as in Aramaic, the term and its derivatives "yiḥus" and "yuḥasin" recur with the implication of legitimacy or nobility of birth.
The following genealogical lists are given as far as possible in the order in which they occur in the Hebrew canon:
- 1. Adamites (with historical glosses): Adam; Cain; Enoch; Irad; Mehujael; Methusael; Lamech—seven generations, becoming, with the eighth, two parallel streams, (1) Jabal and his brother Jubal, (2) their half-brother Tubal-cain and his sister Naamah (Gen. iv. 1-24: Cainites).
- 2. Adamites (with chronological details): Adam: Seth; Enos; Cainan; Mahalaleel; Jared; Enoch; Methuselah; Lamech; Noah—ten generations, the eleventh comprising (1) Shem, (2) Ham, (3) Japheth (Sethites).
- 3. The Noahites, divided into (1) Shemites, (2) Hamites, (3) Japhethites—the "ethnic table," or "list of nations" (Gen. x. 1-31).
- 4. Abraham's pedigree, from Shem downward, enumerating ten generations (Gen. xi. 10-26).
- 5. Rebekah's pedigree, from Nahor through Milcah, with mention of collateral line through his father's concubine Reumah (Gen. xxii. 20-24).
- 6. Abrahamites through Keturah (Gen. xxv. 1-4).
- 7. Abrahamites through the line of Ishmael (Gen. xxv. 12-18: Ishmaelites).
- 8. Abrahamites through Isaac and Esau = Edom (Gen. xxxvi. 1-43).
- 9. Jacob's (= Israel's) descendants (Gen. xxxv. 23-27, xlvi. 8-28: seventy souls).
- 10. The pedigree of Moses, enumerating the "heads of their fathers' houses" of the sons of Reuben, the sons of Simeon, the sons of Levi: (1) Gershon, (2) Kohath, (3) Merari. Out of Kohath came Amram, from whom came (a) Moses and (b) Aaron; the pedigree continues the chain of descent, after mentioning side lines, through Aaron's son Eleazar to Phinehas (Ex. vi. 14-25).
- 11. A register of the Israelites as a nation—in which Levi, however, is omitted—grouped under the heads: "generations" (), "family" or "clan" (), and "fathers' house" (: Num. i. 1-47). This is, strictly speaking, a censusroll.
- 12. The tribal list (Num. ii. 1-33), also a census-roll.
- 13. The genealogy of the Aaronites (Num. iii. 1-5).
- 14. The genealogy of the Levites (Num. iii. 17-39), with data concerning their respective assignments to service in the sanctuary.
- 15. A list of the Israelites, with reference to division and occupation of territory (Num. xxvi. 1-51).
- 16. The families of the Levites (Num. xxvi. 57-61), with details concerning the births of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam, and the names and fate of Aaron's sons.
- 17. The "genealogy of those that went up with me [Ezra] from Babylon" (Ezra viii. 1-14; the list of "the children of the province that went up out of the Captivity" [Ezra ii. 1 et seq.] is in reality not a genealogy, but is of importance as bearing upon the standing of their descendants in the congregation of Israel.)
- 18. Ezra's own pedigree (Ezra vii. 1-6).
- 19. A list with genealogical notes concerning priests that had taken strange wives, and of Levites, and, moreover, of Israelites (Ezra x. 18 et seq.).
- 20. Genealogies of certain of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin (Neh. xi. 4 et seq.).
- 21. List of priests and Levites (Neh. xii. 1-26).
- 22. The pedigree of Adamites from Adam to Noah (I Chron. i. 1-3), continued through the Noahites, with details of the genealogical descent of the Hamites and Japhethites (2-23), and non-Israelitish Shemites down to the kings of Edom (23-54).
- 23. Genealogy of the sons of Israel (I Chron. ii. 1-33) down to Jerahmeel, continued (1) in the part Egyptian line of Sheshan through his daughter's marriage to Jarha the Egyptian (34-41); and (2) in the family of Caleb (42-55), coming down to David.
- 24. David's pedigree (Ruth iv. 18-22).
- 25. The descendants of David (II Sam. iii. 3-5, v. 14-16; I Chron. iii. 1-9; compare xiv. 4-7), of Solomon, of Jehoiakim (verse 16), of the sons of Jeconiah, of Pedaiah, of Zerubbabel, and of Hananiah (I Chron. iii. 10-21).
- 26. Genealogy of Judah and Simeon (I Chron. iv.).
- 27. Genealogy of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe Manasseh (I Chron. v.).
- 28. The genealogy of the Levites, according to families (I Chron. vi.), of Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Asher (vii.), and of the Benjamites (viii.) and the inhabitants of Jerusalem (ix.).E. G. H.
Rabbinical sources show that with the dominance of Ezra's influence and ideas importance came to be attached to genealogies. Ezra would not leave Babylon until he had succeeded in establishing the genealogical relations of the new Israel to a degree of fineness resembling that of the finest flower (Ḳid. 69b). His own pedigree, too, he had been careful to verify (B. B. 15a). Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah were in fact regarded as ("scrolls of genealogies"), as (B. B. 15a; Pes. 62). That the Exile and the subsequent vicissitudes had heavily impaired tribal and racial purity was nevertheless recognized (see the discussion between R. Joshua and R. Gamaliel: Yer. Ḳid. iv. 1). But for the priests purity of descent was indispensable. Hence their genealogies were scrupulously kept and, when necessary, minutely investigated. A special officer seems to have been entrusted with these records, and a court of inquiry is mentioned as having been instituted in Jerusalem (Ḳid. 76b). The testimony of Josephus corroborates the fact that a record of the pedigrees of the priests was kept (Josephus, "Contra Ap." i., § 7; "Vita," § 1). A priest was bound to demonstrate the purity of the pedigree of the priestly maiden he desired to wed, even as far back as her great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother. In the case of marriage with a daughter of Levi or of Israel his scrutiny had to extend a degree further (Ḳid. iv. 4). Exemptions depending upon the presumption created in favor of credibility and honorableness by general reputation or public service, were admitted (Ḳid. iv. 5). The very division of Israel into "houses" presupposes among them the existence of well-authenticated genealogies. Such divisions are mentioned in connection with the furnishing of wood (Ta'an. iv. 5: "house of Arak, tribe of Judah"; comp. Ezra ii. 5; Neh. vii. 10; "house of David, tribe of Judah"; comp. Ezra viii. 2; "men of unknown pedigree" are also named). Hillel's pedigree is quoted (Yer. Ta'an. iv. 68a, bottom). Ben 'Azzai also speaks of a ("genealogical record"; Yeb. 49b).Loss of Genealogies.
It is assumed that under Herod I. all genealogical rolls kept in the Temple were destroyed (Sachs, "Beiträge," ii. 157). The loss of official genealogies was deeply deplored as a calamity, more especially because of their importance for the understanding of the books of Chronicles (Pes. 62b; B. B. 109). How prolific these Biblical books were in provoking genealogical conceits is shown by the statement that 900 camel-loads of commentary existed on I Chron. viii. 37 to ix. 44 (Pes. 62b). Much mischief must have been done by this speculation on family origins and pedigrees; at least the provision requiring caution in instruction in genealogy and limiting the hours for it (Pes. 76) would seem to indicate as much. Family pride is rebuked also in the familiar saying that a "mamzer" (bastard), if learned in the Law, outranked an ignorant high priest (Hor. 11); in fact, the priestly insistence upon purity of pedigree was fully counterbalanced by the demand for knowledge, which, through Phariseeism (nobility of learning) as opposed to Sadduceeism (priestly nobility), gradually succeeded in developing a new aristocracy, that of the mind, in the place of the old one (Ẓadoḳite) of blood. Many stories preserve the memory of the struggle for recognition of the one or the other claim to distinction which agitated learned and unlearned Israel in the early Christian centuries (Ḳid. 70a, 71a, b).
Of spurious genealogies, specimens of which Sprenger ("Das Leben und die Lehre Mohammad") adduces, Jewish literature has a goodly number to show (Seder 'Olam Zuṭa; Zunz, "G. V." 2d ed., 1892, pp; 142 et seq. ; Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, Asher's ed., ii. 6 et seq.). Yet this is not proof that all the pedigrees current among Jews were of this class (Zunz, "Analekten," No. 15, p. 46). The tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, according to Midr. R. to Num. xiii., preserved while in Egypt their "yiḥus" (genealogy) to prove the purity and legitimacy of their descent. Upon this yiḥus the Jews have always laid great stress, as have also the Gentiles (Yeb. 62a; Yer. Yeb. ii. 4a). Marriage was invalidated if any deception regarding one's yiḥus was discovered, even if the actual rank was higher than the assumed (Yer. Ḳid. ii. 62c). Silence when taunted with low origin creates the presumption that the person taunted is of high stock (Ḳid. 71b). , the "chain of genealogies," is spoken of (Gen. R. lxxxii.), and the word has passed into literature to designate historical annals.
- Hamburger, R. B. T. ii.
The genealogical lists of Genesis, as well as those that are meant to account for the origin and subdivisions of the Israelitish tribes, are similar to the tables which were current, first orally and then in written form, among the Arabs. These lists illustrate the theory obtaining in early Semitic civilization, according to which the tribe—the central unit of every institution—was looked upon as the progeny of one common ancestor, assumed, in many cases, as the eponym. Historical, geographical, and ethnological data and reminiscences are spontaneously (not artificially or intentionally) expressed in the terms of this theory. Geographical or racial propinquity is indicated by the degree of relationship ascribed to the component elements. Political supremacy and dependence are reflected in the assumption ofdescent on the one hand in direct line from the first-born, on the other in a collateral line, sometimes traced through a concubine or a second wife, perhaps the bondmaid of the ancestor's legitimate spouse.Tribal Relations Indicated.
Septs and subdivisions are ranked in the tribal tree according to their numbers or importance, either as branches or as continuing the main trunk. Conversely, the descendants of groups originally not connected with the tribe, but in course of time incorporated into it, are characterized as offshoots, the issue of illegitimate conjugal unions (comp. W. R. Smith, "Marriage and Kinship in Early Arabia," passim; Wellhausen, "Die Ehe bei den Arabern"; see also Government). Concrete illustrations of the foregoing view may be seen in the genealogies of the Hebrew tribes and clans e.g., Benjamin, Dan, and Esau.
The many discrepancies among the various genealogies are not due exclusively to imperfections of memory and the vicissitudes to which tradition is always exposed. Changes in geographical and political relations, as well as in religious views, are often reflected in these variations, the subject of the genealogy or a component part of it appearing at one time as the son or descendant of one person, while at another he is named as a member of some other family. It must be remembered that these genealogies are not all of one age. The institution of the blood covenant, by which are established relationships as close as natural ones (see Brother), may also underlie these variants and discrepancies.Genealogies in Genesis.
In some of the genealogies of Genesis, however, intentional readjustments of the traditional material come clearly to the surface, as in the twofold genealogy of Noah. He is a Cainite in one; a Sethite in the other. To the Cainites later historiog, raphy and theology ascribe the corruption of the pre-Noachian race (see Enoch; Fall of Angels;
That place-names and districts figure in many of the genealogies as individuals is beyond dispute; even arts and musical accomplishments come near being represented as "sons" (Gen. iv. 21). The necessity for keeping accurate genealogical lists in pre-exilic Israel is not apparent. Neither for the regulation of the royal succession nor for the division of inherited property was proof of legitimate descent imperatively needed. By far the greatest number of genealogies of individuals occur in the post-exilic books: elsewhere individual genealogies rarely go back further than one or two generations. No mention is made of any officer appointed to keep the records. Nor was pre-exilic Israel jealous of racial purity (comp. Gen. xxxviii.); sacerdotal preoccupation in this regard is post-exilic (Ezraic). The genealogies of Genesis exhibit a strong realization of the unity of the human race, while framed to assign to Israel a distinct place in the economy of the human family. From Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob a continuous process of selection is posited in the scheme. This is the ethical aspect and value of these genealogies.The Influence of the Exile.
The Exile stimulated genealogical zeal (Ezek. xiii. 9). The old tribal organization had passed away. A spiritual factor took its place as the uniting and differentiating energy, the congregation gradually but steadily adjusting itself to the tripartite scheme: priest (Zadokite), Levite, and Israel, with Israel as a "holy seed." To this new attitude must be ascribed in the exilic and early post-exilic congregation the rise of many Levitical and other genealogies, constructed on data such as memory could supply and skill could marshal to good effect, some of which are undoubtedly at the basis of the genealogical lists in Ezra-Nehemiah. and Chronicles. These first attempts were not very complex in plan (see, for instance, Ezra ii. 40, iii. 9; Neh. ix. 4; Num. xxvi. 58; see also Levi). But as the Ezraic construction of Israel's past and part came to triumph, the "Levitizing" purpose asserted itself in ever greater measure; and the lists of Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah display the overruling passion. That of the high priests (I Chron. vi. 3-15, v. 29-41) is altogether typical of the sacerdotal view-point, in which the Zadokites are exalted. Moreover, it is virtually a duplicate of Ezra's genealogy (Ezra vii. 1; comp. I Esd. viii. 2 and II Esd. i. 7).
- W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, Cambridge, 1885;
- Stade, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, 1887, vol. i.;
- Guthe, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, 1899;
- Sellin, Studien zur Enstehungsgesch. der Jüdischen Gemeinde nach dem Babylonischen Exil. 1901;
- Eduard Meyer, Die Entstehung des Judenthums, 1896;
- Wellhausen, Israelitische und Jüdische Gesch. 5th ed., 1899;
- idem, De Gentihus et Familiis quœ in I Chron. ii. 4 Enumerantur, 1870;
- Smend, Die Listen der Bücher Ezra und Nehemiah, 1881;
- Hastings, Dict. Bible, and Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. s.v. Genealogies.