ACTS 7:14
Did 70 or 75 people enter Egypt?




INTRODUCTION - 70 OR 75


The Old Testament verses (which cite only '70') and the New Testament
verse, Acts 7:14, (which states '75'), are they in conflict? 


The Old Testament alludes to 70 people of the family of Jacob entering
Egypt.


    Gen  46:27  And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in
                Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the
                house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

    Exod  1:1   Now these are the names of the children of Israel
                who came to Egypt; each man and his household came
                with Jacob:
           :2   Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;
           :3   Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;
           :4   Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.   
           :5   All those who were descendants of Jacob were
                seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).

    Deut 10:22  Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy
                persons, and now the Lord your God has made
                you as the stars of heaven in multitude.

                Corrected rendering;
                In seventy souls, went down your fathers to
                Egypt, and now the Lord your God has made
                you as the stars of heaven in multitude.


However, ... the New Testament advises 75 people entered Egypt.

    Acts  7:14  Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and
                all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.


Let us start by examining the Old Testament verses very carefully and
determine exactly who was being counted in each of these three verses.


Genesis 46:27 - SEVENTY OF HOUSE OF JACOB WHO WENT TO EGYPT


    Gen  46:27  And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in
                Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the
                house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.


This verse is encountered after a detailed listing of the descendants
of Jacob.

THE GENESIS CHAPTER 46 DETAILED LISTING


This detailed listing, Gen 46:8-25, also lists Joseph and his two
sons born in Egypt.

The detailed information provided in Genesis chapter 46 can be
initially summarized as follows.

       Leah     associated  =  33 people  (Gen 46:15)
       Zilpah   associated  =  16 people  (Gen 46:18)
       Rachel   associated  =  14 people  (Gen 46:22)
       Bilhah   associated  =   7 people  (Gen 46:25)
                               ---------
                               70 people


Living listed under Leah

Leah     = Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun,
           Dinah (7)

Reuben   - Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, Carmi (4)
Simeon   - Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, Shaul (son
           of a Canaanite wife) (6)
Levi     - Gershon, Kohath, Merari (3)
Judah    - Shelah, Perez, Zerah, Hezron, Hamul (5)
Issachar - Tola, Puvah, Job, Shimron (4)
Zebulun  - Sered, Elon, Jahleel (3)

Total =  32 people (31 males + Dinah)
        + 1 unspecified daughter (Verse 15 demands 'daughters'.)
         --
      =  33 people. 


Living listed under Zilpah

Zilpah   = Gad, Asher (2)

Gad      - Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, Areli (7)
Asher    - Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah, Serah (female), Heber,
           Malchiel (7)

Total = 16 people.


Living listed under Rachel

Rachel   = Joseph, Benjamin (2)

Joseph   - Manasseh, Ephraim (2)
Benjamin - Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim,
           Huppim, Ard (10)

Total = 14 people.


Living listed under Bilhah

Bilhah   = Dan, Naphtali (2)

Dan      - Hushim (1)
Naphtali - Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem (4)

Total people = 7 people.


The list of seventy people in Gen 46:8-25 focuses upon 'sons'!
However, it does mention Dinah (daughter of Jacob) and Serah
(daughter of Asher).

To be included the people had to have been amongst those that
were Jacob's;
                -  sons,
                -  sons of sons,
                -  daughters or
                -  daughters of sons.

    Gen  46:7   His sons and his sons' sons, his daughters
                and his sons' daughters, and all his
                descendants he brought with him to Egypt.

                [ NB: 1) Notice that any offspring of
                         Jacob's daughter(s) was not
                         included! (The list did not
                         cover 'sons of daughters' or
                         'daughters of daughters'.)
                      2) The expression his sons' sons,
                         also covers 'sons of grandsons'.
                         The text clearly cites, Hezron,
                         Hamul, Heber and Malchiel as
                         examples.  ]


These people were those who travelled to Egypt or had been born
in Egypt.


The list specifically excluded the wives of Jacob's descendants.

    Gen  46:26  ... besides Jacob's sons' wives, ...


While included in the list, there is one son of Simeon, for
whom it is stated,

    Gen  46:10  ... and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite
                woman.

The implication is that Shaul was not Simeon's natural born
son.


QUESTIONS:

1) What is the identity of the unnamed person which has
   been included in the Leah count?
2) Why is there an unwillingness to clearly identify this
   person?
3) How does one arrive at Jacob's 'daughters' (Gen 46:7) when
   only one daughter, Dinah, is listed?
4) How does one arrive at Jacob's sons 'daughters' (Gen 46:7)
   when only one daughter, Serah, is listed?


There was one shameful incident which has the potential to 
explain these issues.

    Gen  35:22   And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that
                 land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah
                 his father's concubine; and Israel heard
                 about it.
                 [NB: Confirmed by Gen 49:4 & 1Chr 5:1.]

A resulting daughter from this incident would explain the lack
of desire to clearly identify this person. In addition she would
technically be both a daughter of Jacob (because of her mother)
and a granddaughter of Jacob (due to the identity of her father).

'66 PEOPLE' - DESCENDANTS WHO TRAVELLED WITH JACOB


After the detailed listing of 'sons' we come to an important
verse. This verse states that only 66 people of those travelled
with Jacob to Egypt, were truly Jacob's descendants.

    Gen  46:26  All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt,
                who came from his body, besides Jacob's sons'
                wives, were sixty-six persons in all.

                [NB: 1) Notice this tally of 66 persons
                        did not include wives of male
                        descendants.
                     2) The 66 were those which actually
                        travelled with Jacob to Egypt. ]

So we have:

       Detailed list                       70  people

       Less: Joseph and his two sons
             who were already in Egypt.    -3   

             Shaul - not a natural born
                     son of Simeon.        -1

                                          ---
       The Gen 46:26 tally                 66  people


THE GENESIS 46:27 COUNT OF 70


The following verse returns to a tally of seventy.

    Gen  46:27  And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in
                Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the
                house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

How is this arrived at?

The house of Jacob, would of course include Jacob himself. As
he is of course a member of his own household.

Shaul, the adopted son of Simeon would continue to be excluded,
although technically Shaul could be consider a member of the
house of Reuben (even if not a member of the house of Jacob).

       Tally of 66 descendants             66  people

       Plus: Joseph and his two sons
             who were already in Egypt.    +3   

             Jacob himself.                +1

                                          ---
       The Gen 46:27 count                 70  people


Exodus 1:5 - ALL THE DESCENDANTS OF JACOB WERE SEVENTY


    Exod  1:1   Now these are the names of the children of Israel
                who came to Egypt; each man and his household came
                with Jacob:
           :2   Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;
           :3   Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;
           :4   Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
           :5   All those who were descendants of Jacob were
                seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).


Exodus 1:1-4 mentions eleven of the sons of Jacob who came with him
to Egypt. Obviously Joseph is not mentioned, as verse 5 explains that
Joseph was already in Egypt.

Then we come to verse 5. This verse states that this count of 70 was
comprised of the descendants of Jacob. The Hebrew being, "coming from
the thigh/loins of Jacob". This is also the wording in reference to
the 66 persons in Gen 46:26.

We already know from Genesis 46:26 that only 66 actual descendants
of Jacob went with Jacob to Egypt! We know that Joseph and his sons
comprised another 3 descendants.


Therefore, all those from the blood line of Jacob;

       Offspring of Jacob                  66   Gen 46:26

       Joseph and his two sons              3
                                          ---
                                           69  (1 person short)

So who is the additional person?

A person, who would NOT normally be counted in the household of
Jacob. (Otherwise they would have been included in the Gen 46:27
tally.)


We noticed previously from chapter 46:7 that children of offspring of
daughters was not being counted. As they would normally fall within
the household of their biological fathers (who would not be of the
line of Jacob).


This indicates, that while Scripture does not directly advise it, that
Dinah did have a child as a result of the incident with Shechem (the
son of Hamor the Hivite). Scripture records the incident and subsequent
events in Genesis chapter 34.

As Shechem and the males of the city were killed by Simeon and Levi,
and the Hivite city plundered. Dinah and any child subsequently born
to her would have had to remain in the company of the house of Jacob.


After the incident with Dinah in Genesis chapter 34, we have a
reference in Genesis 37:35 to 'daughters' of Jacob. This occurs
at the time when Joseph is sold to the Ishmaelites.


    Gen  37:35  And all his sons and all his daughters arose to
                comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and
                he said, "For I shall go down into the grave to
                my son in mourning." ...

So who is the second daughter?

As Joseph was about 17 years old at the time (Gen 37:2), his older
brothers Reuben and Simeon would also have been quite young.
(Reuben being born just 6-7 years earlier would have been no more
than 24 years old. (Jacob first married after working 7 years for
Laban and Joseph is born before the expiry of another 7 years.)

So the aforementioned Reuben and Bilhah incident had probably not
yet taken place and the daughter born to Simeon is also likely not
to have yet been born. So that would mean that 'daughters in Gen
37:35 could only refer to Dinah and a female offspring.

What this tends to indicate is that Dinah's child was a daughter.
That Gen 37:35 is talking about Dinah and her daughter being the two
female descendants of Jacob which tried to comfort him at that time.


So this is the count for Exodus 1:5.

       Offspring of Jacob                  66   Gen 46:26

       Joseph and his two sons              3

       Dinah's daughter                     1
                                          ---
                                           70   persons


Deut 10:22 - TO EGYPT WITH SEVENTY


    Deut 10:22  Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons,
                and now the Lord your God has made you as the stars
                of heaven in multitude.


A better rendering of the Hebrew reads.

                "In seventy souls, went down your fathers to
                Egypt, and now the Lord your God has made
                you as the stars of heaven in multitude."

                NB: Notice the mention of seventy persons before
                    the mention of 'fathers'.
                    The NKJV rendering indicates the fathers
                    went down 'with' 70 persons.
                    However, the Hebrew text indicates that
                    'in' the count of 70 persons the fathers
                    went down to Egypt.


This verse is telling us that seventy people went down to Egypt
and from these people arose a great multitude.

In other words, In the embodiment of seventy persons their fathers
had gone down to Egypt.

This verse does not require all these people to be descendants of
Jacob.

However, the verse does focus upon fathers going down to Egypt.

What is very important to notice here is that when Joseph went to
Egypt he was not yet married. Joseph did not travel to Egypt with
his two sons. So the sons Manasseh and Ephraim can not be counted.


Therefore those who went to Egypt were:

       Offspring of Jacob                  66

       Jacob himself                        1

       Joseph                               1

       Shaul                                1

       Dinah's child                        1
                                          ---
                                           70

SUMMARY OF OLD TESTAMENT EXPLANATIONS


Before continuing on to the New Testament, we should summarise.


 * * * * * * * * * * * * ****************** * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gen  46:7-25   Jacob's sons and daughters
               Jacob's sons' sons and sons' daughters
               (including Jacob's sons' grandsons).
               Leah 33, Zilpah 16, Rachel 14, Bilhah 7         = 70

Gen  46:26  -  Above 70 travelling with Jacob
               and blood related.
               List of 70, less Shaul, less Joseph & sons      = 66

Gen  46:27  -  House of Jacob
               66 + Joseph & his 2 sons + Jacob                = 70

Exod  1:5   -  Blood Related Descendants
               66 + Joseph & his 2 sons + Dinah's daughter     = 70

Deut 10:22  -  All Persons Who Entered Egypt
               66 + Joseph + Jacob + Shaul + Dinah's daughter  = 70

 * * * * * * * * * * * * ****************** * * * * * * * * * * * *


An interesting point to keep in mind is that none of the wives of
Jacob's sons or sons' of sons are included in any of the tallies.

Hence, the actual number of people would have been larger.



THE NEW TESTAMENT - '75'


The verse we need to consider is:

    Acts  7:14  Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and
                all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.


The word for 'relatives' is Strong's G4772. This meaning 'kindred'.
The word itself being derived from G4773, indicating a relative by
blood.
(Derived from G4862 'together' and G1085 'genos'.)

In other words, blood relatives!

So once again we would not normally be counting any of the wives
of the male descendants of Jacob.


The '75' appears to be a final overall total of all the blood
relatives which ended up in Egypt.


From the information previously examined our list would include
the following.
 
       Documented blood related            66

       Joseph and his two sons              3

       Dinah's daughter                     1

       Jacob                                1
                                          ---
                                           71  (4 people short!)


THE MOTHERS - LEAH, BILHAH, ZILPAH


It is normally taken for granted that these ladies have already
died.

We have some clarity for Leah. Before his death Jacob states that
he had already buried Leah with his immediate ancestors.

    Gen  49:31   There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife,
                 there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife,
                 and there I buried Leah. 

                 [NB: This rendering uses the wording
                      'they buried' for Isaac, yet we
                      know from Gen 35:29 that Jacob
                      (along with Esau) buried Isaac.]


Jacob lived about 17 years in Egypt before he died. (He entered
Egypt at age 130 years (Gen 47:9) and died there at 147 years
(Gen 47:28).)

So Leah could have travelled to Egypt with Jacob. All that was
necessary was for Jacob to have temporarily returned to Canaan
to bury Leah (just as Joseph later returned to Canaan to bury
Jacob). 

This site has Jacob about 60 years old when he first meets Rachel.
(Most commentators favour an older Jacob, about 77 years old.)
When Jacob marries some seven years later, at that time his wives
and their handmaids are likely to have been considerably younger
than Jacob.


So it is actually likely these three mothers had also travelled
to Egypt with Jacob. (So it seems, only because their names had
not been specifically mentioned in this respect that the view
was formed that they had died.)


The updated count now appears as follows.

       Documented blood related            66

       Joseph and his two sons              3

       Dinah's daughter                     1

       Jacob                                1

       Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah                 3 
                                          ---
                                           74  (1 person short!)

One other person was present!


JOSEPH'S MOTHER WILL BOW TO JOSEPH


Scripture records in one of the dreams of Joseph that both his
father and mother would bow to him. 

    Gen  37:9    Then he dreamed still another dream and told it
                 to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed
                 another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon,
                 and the eleven stars bowed down to me."
           :10   So he told it to his father and his brothers;
                 and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What
                 is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your
                 mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow
                 down to the earth before you?".
           :11   And his brothers envied him, but his father kept
                 the matter in mind.


Jacob was clearly the father. However, 'Who was Joseph's mother in
this dream?' His birth mother Rachel was already dead. She died
when his younger brother Benjamin was born.

    Gen  35:16   Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there
                 was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel
                 travailed in childbirth, and she had hard labor.
           :17   Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor,
                 that the midwife said to her, "Do not fear; you
                 will have this son also."
           :18   And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she
                 died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his
                 father called him Benjamin.


One has to keep in mind that the term 'mother' in Hebrew usage can
also include any female ancestor. So in the dream was this 'mother'
actually Joseph's grandmother, ie Rebecca?

Is it possible for Rebecca to still be alive at this time?

We do not know the age of Rebecca compared to her husband Isaac.
However, it was likely that Rebecca was younger than Isaac. 

Isaac died at 180 years (Gen 35:28). So how long after his death
did Jacob enter Egypt?  His son Jacob enters Egypt at age 130
years (Gen 47:9) and Jacob was born when his Isaac was 60 years
old (Gen 25:26). This means that Jacob entered Egypt about 10 years
after the death of his father Isaac.

So it is possible that Rebecca may also have still been alive when
Jacob decided to enter Egypt.


The inclusion of Rebecca in the list of people travelling to Egypt
adds the final person to the count.


THE FINAL 75 COUNT


Keep in mind that the final count does not include the wives of
Jacob's sons and other male descendants.


       Documented blood related            66

       Joseph and his two sons              3

       Dinah's daughter                     1

       Jacob                                1

       Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah                 3

       Rebekah                              1
                                          ---
                                           75


Thanks to Acts 7:14 we have a better view of the presence in Egypt
of all these biblically important older ladies.
 






----------------------------------------------------------


Email contact

c-heath@bibleinsight.com
              
Bible Study Index page
Other Topics