According to the story in Genesis, there were around 2,300 years from the creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden to the exodus of the Israelites in Egypt. Along the way, there were 23 generations, a flood, several famines, and generation after generation of lost stories. Many readers skim over these sections for the narrative portions of the book, but if we look carefully at these “begats” we can not only seeing biblical man becoming more like us, but there is also plenty of room for surprise. Did you know that Abraham could have met Noah? Or that Eber, for whom the Hebrew tribe is named, outlived his great-great-great-great grandson?
Come, take a look! There will be graphs!
Continue reading Timeline of Genesis From Adam to Joseph
In my previous post on the twelve sons of Ishmael, I left out at least one of Ishmael’s most important children: his daughter, or perhaps, his daughters. Their story is tied to Esau, Jacob’s brother, and chronologically comes later in the biblical narrative, but in the interest of keeping the Ishmael family together, I want to discuss it now. And what the story lacks in narrative, it gains in confusion: Genesis is simply unclear about exactly how many wives Esau had, what their names were, and who their parents were. And, depending on how you read it, Ishmael could have been blessed by one daughter who married Esau, or two. And before you dismiss that out of hand, remember that Jacob himself married two daughters of Laban, so it is entirely reasonable for Esau to also marry sisters.
A complicated tale that involves wading through bible genealogies? Where do I sign up!? Read on for more.
Continue reading Ishmael’s Daughter(s) and the Riddle of Esau’s Wives
The story of Ishmael is the next to come to a close, in the middle of Genesis 25. But before he passes away at the ripe old age of 137, the bible tells us a bit more about his children. Ishmael’s family, like Abraham’s children with Keturah, don’t factor into the biblical story directly. Instead, they are the founders of twelve more tribes of Canaan that the post-exodus Hebrews will have to deal with upon their return.
These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps.
I thought it would be fun, just like I did with Abraham’s kids, to look at what the bible says about each of these twelve tribes and how they impacted our story, in big and small ways. One omission from this list, is Ishmael’s daughter (Mahalath, otherwise known as Basemath), but that story is complicated enough that I’m going to save it for another time.
I know that genealogies bore some of you to tears, but I love them and the way little connections are sprinkled throughout the bible, if you care to look for them. They make me feel like it’s all part of one connected story, rather than bumps along the road to Jerusalem. Every story is important, though some are more fun than others.
Twelve more tribes for Ishmael! Read on for more.
Continue reading Ishmael’s Children and Descendants
His story being told, God grants Abraham something of a retirement for a job well done: roughly 35 years where he can settle down with a new wife, have six more children, and generally just stay out of the way. Isaac and his descendants will take the stage in a moment, but before that happens let’s take a brief look at Keturah, his new wife, and what the bible says about his new children. It’s not much, but anything the bible can do to flesh out the final days of the first great patriarch is welcome.
A mysterious new wife (that may have been an old wife)? New children who will lead great nations? Read on! Continue reading Keturah and Abraham’s Other Children
I’ve finally finished: a family tree / genealogy of every named figure in the Torah, the first five books of the bible. I’ve been on this project off-and-on for two years– not because I didn’t have the data (that part was easy), but because creating a tree of more than six hundred nodes is more than I wanted to do by hand, especially because I intend to move on to the next books soon. My end goal is to produce a tree of every figure in the bible.
Geeks can work awfully hard at being lazy. Since I refused to do the layouts by hand, I wrote my own software. I first built a flatfile database of everyone in the Torah, then built software to convert that into the DOT graphing format for processing by the open source tool “graphviz”. I complete a first pass (in Perl) almost a year ago, but it was broken and difficult to maintain before it was done. I completed a second pass (in Java) this month. As annoying as Java is for text processing, I needed type safety and modern data structures. I spent the last several weeks massaging the output to work around weaknesses in Graphviz: it wasn’t designed for this sort of abuse either.
The end result isn’t perfect:
- Relationship boxes still don’t show up correctly with unnecessarily wavy lines and the “offspring” dots sometimes misaligned. You can tell what’s what, but it’s not great.
- Sometimes paths can be confusing. Even a computer can’t perfectly lay out such complex data!
This is a draft. The first draft. It has errors. My next step will be to carefully comb over the data, using the “plain” meaning of the text whenever possible, to make a better version. The Torah presents many challenges in this project such as names that may refer to multiple people (Abimelech), multiple names that refer to only one (Moses’s father-in-law), places where it isn’t clear if a “son” refers to a direct son or a descendant, etc. I will also produce an appendix (interesting to very few) where I will itemize these decisions and describe why I made each one.
I hope you find this tree as interesting as I do. I had great fun putting it together. You can download the draft genealogy of the torah here. (PDF)
(The old PNG image version is available here. Still a 5MB file.)
- Black lines are direct descendants
- Red lines are tribal descendants (Canaan -> Caananites & Midianites -> Reuel)
- Blue lines are royal lines of kings / other rulers
- Triangles represent tribes/races/nations
- Round boxes are individuals
- Rectangles define relationships/families
It’s been several months since I’ve done any genealogy updates and there is a good reason for that: broken tools. The software that I was using to render the images was increasing buggy as I was completing the work on Numbers. What’s more, there was no way to export to something else. So, I’ve had to start over.
But this time, I’m cooking up my own system based on publicly available tools and a decent amount of programming. If you are a geek, or at least interested in the deep innards of my brain, read on.
Continue reading Biblical Genealogy Revisited – Genesis Complete
I’ve just completed adding Exodus to my geneology chart of every named character in the bible. Compared to Genesis, this was easy: only about 46 named characters (some of them aren’t really named, like Pharaoh, but I include them anyway), far far fewer than there are in Genesis. That makes sense: I found 27 generations of names in Genesis, but only 5 in Exodus. I expect to find even fewer in Leviticus.
The image, and more notes, after the break.
Continue reading Genealogy – Exodus Complete!
I found a few errors in my previous chart, all names that were missed in Genesis 25. I must have been sleeping when I read those. That is NOT to say that it’s perfect now, only that it’s better. In specific, I have added Abraham’s third wife/concubine and all of their children and the remainder of Ishmael’s children. I suspect that I need to add some dotted line Midians at some point, but I haven’t searched back and found all of the individuals identified as Midians yet.
There’s also a weird thing here: Sheba and Dedan are two siblings, children of Jokshan, one of Abraham’s sons. But they are also listed as children of Ramaah, seven generations earlier. (Noah -> Ham -> Cush -> Ramaah). There are a lot of repeated names in Genesis, so this is not a big deal, but it’s odd to have a repeated pair of siblings. (And Kings and Chronicles both talk about the Queen of Sheba, in the David story. Now I have no idea which of the two she was descended from. Oh well.)
Chart after the break…
Continue reading Genesis/Exodus – Genealogy Chart Update
What did someone say about moderation? I don’t remember…
I was considering revealing this a bit at a time as I go over Genesis, but then figured “what the Hell?” and just went ahead and did the whole thing. In short, this is (to the best of my ability) a complete list and family tree of every named character in Genesis. Post-Noah, where the tribe was mentioned, I would try and dotted-line back to it. I may have missed some cases and not all tribes mapped to ones mentioned in the “Table of Nations”.
Some of the incest is very difficult to show in chart form. Lot’s children with his daughters are just listed as their children; similarly, Judah’s children with his daughter-in-law Tamar are listed as just hers.
There are well-known “errors” in the genealogy data for Esau and I have tried to follow the convention. Esau’s three wives are each referred to by two different names and two separate wives are called “Basemath” (you can tell them apart because their parents are listed). I’ve smoothed that out and list Beeri and Anah as the parents of Judith since each are mentioned as her parents in different locations, maybe they were a couple. There are also some cases where an individual is listed as being someone’s son in one place and grandson in another. I’m taking that as “grandson” and assuming this is just a literary convention from the Hebrew translation.
This was done in OmniGraffle for the Mac. In some ways, it does a great job of laying out the trees and figuring out the best way to present the data. And yet, there are still too many lines and it does a terrible job sometimes of sorting children when a man has more than one wife and they both have children. Maybe I’ll fix this by hand eventually. Overall, this is readable but not great.
And finally, black lines are direct descent, dotted lines are tribal descent, and red lines are lists of kings. (In this case, Genesis has an oddly placed list of Kings of Edom with one of the kings married into Esau’s descendants. That is reproduced here in red for lack of a better way.)
And I’m done! Now to get back to procrastinating writing about Noah.
This is a last-minute addition to my labor of love, but since I’m behind on Noach anyway, why not be even more behind? Here is the complete chart of all of the “begats” up to Genesis 12, to be best of my ability. All named sons and daughters are present here, as well as (when I can) references to individuals that are listed as the progenitors of nations. All of the names are from the JPS translation, but most of the spelling differences should be obvious enough.
In a future revision, I may color-code whether or not the individual has anything actually said about him or her. For example, Enoch and Nimrod both have mini-stories, but some are named once only in a “begat”.
Without further ado:
(Update: Replaced version created by LovelyCharts.com, which is a fantastic builder but the export was blurry, with a version done in OmniGraffle for the Mac. This version is a bit more smooshed than I would like, but I had fun, anyway.)