(See Part I, Chapter 4)
The Two Values Of The Saros
system of counting involved a process of multiplying by an alternate
number instead of multiplying by the same number. We use the
number ten. We start with one and multiply it by
10 to give us TEN, then again by 10 to give us a HUNDRED, and
again by 10 to give us a THOUSAND, and so on. In the Babylonian
system, they began with one and multiplied by 10 as we
do. But then they multiplied this by 6. The next step they multiplied
by 10 again, and then once more by 6. They did not, of course,
use the word TEN or HUNDRED or THOUSAND which are English words
. . . they used the words SOSSOS, NAROS and SAROS. Thus:
A SOSSOS was 10 x 6, or 60.
A NAROS was 60 x 10, or 600, i.e., 10 SOSSI.
A SAROS was 600 x 6, or 3600, i.e., 6 NARI.
They had a further
term which signified a SAROS multiplied by 10, i.e., 36,000:
and the next number in the series was 36,000 multiplied by 6,
or 216,000. This was referred to as Shar-ges.
Now according to the above system,
the usual value of a Saros for ordinary purposes of mathematical
calculation was 3600 and this is the value which has been given
to it by scholars in interpreting the Table of Berossus in which
the reigns of the Kings were listed as so many Sari. This
Table was set forth as follows:
TABLE OF BEROSSUS
|| USUAL VALUE IN YEARS
| 1. ALORUS
| 2. ALAPAROS
| 3. AMELON
| 4. AMMENON
| 5. AMEGALAROS
| 6. DAONOS
| 7. EDORANCHOS
| 8. AMEMPSINOS
| 9. OTIARTES
| 10. XISUTHROS
But, as we have
noted, there was the alternative value to the Saros. This
shorter value was first reported by Suidas, a Greek lexicographer
of whom little or nothing is known except that he must have lived
before Eustathius (12th13th century A.D.) who frequently
quoted him. Under the heading ADAM, Suidas in his lexicon gives
a brief chronology of the world ending with the death of the
Emperor John Zimisces (975 A.D.). This would indicate that Suidas
lived in the latter part of the tenth century. His lexicon is
in the nature of a dictionary and encyclopedia combined, and
it includes numerous quotations from ancient writers such as
Aristophanes, Homer, Sophocles, and Thucydides. A prefatory note
gives a list of earlier
2 of 18
dictionaries, and although
the work is somewhat uncritical it contains much information
on ancient history and life. It also gives the length of reigns
of the antediluvian Kings in Sari. But at this point Suidas
informs us that this unit of measurement had a double value among
the Babylonians. His words are: (251)
Sari are, with
the Chaldeans, both a measure and a number. . . . According
to the calculations of the Chaldeans, the saros contains
222 lunar months which is equivalent to 18 years and 6 months.
of Suidas can be bothersome unless one realizes that he is using
a year of 360 days and a month of 30 days. With these equivalents
his figures of 222 months does work out at 18 years and 6 months.
But the modern Saros which is given the value of 18 years,
11 days, and 8 hours does not satisfy his calculation. The point
is not important unless one is a mathematical purist. From the
point of view of Suidas, we simply have an alternative value
of the Saros attributed to the Babylonians which makes
an enormous difference to the figures in the tabulation of Berossus
as will be seen from the following:
MODIFIED TABLE OF BEROSSUS
|| SHORTER VALUE IN YEARS
| I. ALORUS
| 2. ALAPAROS
| 3. AMELON
| 4. AMMENON
| 5. AMEGALAROS
| 6. DAONOS
| 7. EDPRANCHOS
| 8. AMEMPSINOS
| 9. OTIARTES
| 10. XISUTHROS
251. Suidas: from F. A. Jones, The Dates of Genesis, London,
Kingsgate Press, 1912, p.114.
3 of 18
should be borne in mind that the figures given by Berossus are
not life spans as in Genesis but lengths of reigns. The average
length of reign from the above Table will be seen to be 222 years,
which is far more reasonable than the figure of 4320 years which
is the average length of reign according to Berossus' list when
calculated on the basis of the higher value of the Saros. If
we assume that each King ascended to the "throne" upon
the death of his predecessor, we can add together the ten successive
reigns and take this to be the total period from Adam to the
4 of 18
(See Part I, Chapter 4)
Criticisms Of The Shorter Value
Of The Saros
The Greeks adopted
the Babylonian asterisms and appropriated their knowledge of
the planets and their courses, and they learned to predict eclipses
by means of the Saros. This cycle of 18.03 years is the
time in which the moon returns very nearly to her original position
with respect to both the sun and to her nodes and perigee. A.
M. Clerke notes that there is no getting back to the actual beginnings
of such knowledge of the heavens, but records dating from the
reign of Sargon of Akkad (2350 B.C.) imply that the varying aspects
of the sky had even then been long under expert observation.
(252) There is
reason to suppose that the star groupings with which we are now
familiar had even then begun to be formulated. (253) Clerke observes that clay tablets preserved in the
British Museum have supplied detailed knowledge of the methods
practiced in Mesopotamia in the second century B.C. and that
these show no trace of Greek influence. The Babylonian observers
were not only aware that Venus returns in almost exactly eight
years to a given starting point in the sky, but they had established
similar periodic relations of 46, 59, 79, and 83 years for Mercury,
Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter.
They were accordingly able to fix
in advance the approximate positions of these objects with reference
to eclipitical stars which served as fiducial points for their
determination. The dates and circumstances of solar and lunar
eclipses were predicted. Clerke notes that F. X. Kugler made
the discovery that the various periods underlying their lunar
predictions were identical with those hitherto believed to have
been reached independently by Hipparchus, who accordingly must
be held to have borrowed from Chaldea the lengths of the synodic,
sidereal, anomalistic and draconitic months. Evidently a steady
flow of knowledge began from East to West in the seventh century
B.C. A Babylonian sage founded a school about 640 B.C. in the
Isle of Cos, and possibly may have counted Thales of Myletus
(c. 639548 B.C.) among his pupils. Clerke believes that
the famous "eclipse of Thales" in 585 B.C. has not
yet been authenticated by research, yet the story as told by
Herodotus appears to intimate that a knowledge of the Saros,
such as would have allowed such a prediction to be made,
was indeed possessed by Thales. The question is, Where did he
get it from? If Thales obtained it from the
252. Clerke, A. M., Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 edition,
253. Free, Joseph P., Archaeology and Bible History, Wheaton,
Illinois, Scripture Press, 1962, p 32.
Babylonians either by
studying their records or by having been taught it at school,
then obviously the shorter value of the Saros, upon which
such knowledge depends, must have long antedated the Greeks and
there would be no fundamental reason why the antediluvian patriarchal
ages might not actually have been recorded by the early Babylonians
in Sari having this shorter value.
This is a point at issue in Sarton's
view. He argues that the Babylonians could not have been acute
enough to extract this eighteen year cyclical period from their
observations of the heavens, and he supports this conclusion
from a work by a Dr. Antone Pannekoek, a Dutch astronomer, who
wrote a paper entitled, "The Origin of the Saros" which
appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of
Amsterdam in 1918. (254) According to Sarton, "neither the Babylonians
nor the Greeks had any idea before the fifth or fourth century
B.C." of the shorter value of the Saros. (255) He argues that
such a period would have been exceedingly difficult to discover
if for no other reason than that it does not embrace a whole
number of days. It involves a certain number of days, plus
eight hours. In his view the discovery of the Saros was
therefore "not simply difficult but impossible." (256)
Any writer who holds categorically
that something is impossible is asking for trouble. There are
impossible things, of course. But in a case like this, the
word impossible means that no document can ever be allowed
to be discovered which contradicts it. And this, of course, is
an impossible prohibition!
Now Pannekoek, in his original
paper, makes the following observation: (257)
The forecast of eclipses, which
to the uneducated is such a convincing proof of the power and
accuracy of astronomical science, is not the fruit of highly
developed modern theory, but belongs to the oldest products of
human science. Greek writers tell us that the Babylonians were
already able to predict the eclipses by means of a period of
eighteen years, which they called a saros, and which rested
on the fact that 223 synodic lunar periods and 242 draconic revolutions
are practically equal (both 6585.3 days), that after the period
therefore, full and new moon return to the same position relative
to the nodes. . . .
According to the theory of Hugo
Winckler's school, Babylonian astronomy had reached its highest
perfection as early as 2000 to 3000 B.C., and therefore the origin
of the saros lay in such a far off time that there is
no possibility of following the road to its discovery.
254. Pannekoek, Antone, "The Origin of
the Saros," Proceedings of the Royal Academy, Amsterdam,
vol.20, communicated by W. de Sitter, 29 Sept.,1918, pp.943955.
255. Sarton, George, The History of Science, Harvard,
256. Sarton, George, ibid., p.120.
257. Pannekoek, Antone, op. cit., ref. #254, p.943.
proceeds to show that the Babylonians could not possibly have
had the insight to observe this astronomical measure on the grounds
that it would require someone to make a continuous compilation
of events and then to notice from his own compilation the almost
exact recurrence of events over a cycle of eighteen years. The
argument, in effect, is that their minds were not keen enough
to observe the recurrence of events over a comparatively short
period, although as we now know they did observe cycles of considerably
longer lengths, which would require even greater powers of observation!
As a matter of fact, Pannekoek himself refers to a list of lunar
eclipses arranged according to Saros periods which is
now in the British Museum (Sp.ll.71) of which Strassmaeir had
given a transcription in 1894. Pannekoek stresses that it could
only be after such lists of eclipses had accumulated "in
the course of centuries" that their periodical recurrences
could be noted. He did not have a very high opinion, obviously,
of the competence of these people whose mathematics is now known
to have been highly advanced, as Professor T. J. Meek has shown.
So Pannekoek concludes, "This
shows that the familiar story according to which the Greek philosopher
Thales predicted a total eclipse in 585 B.C. by means of a knowledge
of the saros borrowed from the Babylonians can only be
regarded as a fiction. At that time the saros was still
unknown. . ." But then, of course, Pannekoek (and Sarton)
may be quite mistaken!
258. Meek, T. J., "Magic Spades in Mesopotamia,"
University of Toronto Quarterly, vol.7, 1938, p.243, 244.
(See Part I, Chapter 4)
Prism is believed to have been written by a certain NURNINSUBUR
and has been dated about 2170 B.C. This Sumerian King List is
known in several variant forms, the variance being chiefly in
slight differences in the spelling of the names and in the appearance
of only eight names rather than ten in some editions. In Table
XI we give the ten-name variant after Halley but corrected to
more exact figures. (259) Halley seems to have rounded his figures to the nearest
ACCORDING TO HALLEY
|| LONG VALUE
|| SHORT VALUE
| 1. ALULIM
| 2. ALALMAR
| 3. ENMENLUANNA
| 4. KICHUNNA
| 5. ENMENGALANNA
| 6. DUMUZI
| 7. SIBZIANNA
| 8. EMENDUEANNA
| 9. UBURRATUM
| 10. ZINSUDDU
Average reign = 180 yrs.
259. Halley, Henry H., Pocket Bible Handbook,
Chicago, 1951, p.71.
Table XII we give two eight-name variants, of which the first
column of names is the form in which they are presented in Barton's
translation based on Professor Stephen Langdon's text, (260) and the second column
of names is the form in which Pritchard presents them on the
basis of Thorkild Jacobsen's Sumerian King List. (261) Jacobs then attempted
to reconcile all the available variant readings and to produce
a kind of textus receptus or "standard version."
He believed that all currently known texts went back to a single
original written at the time of UTU-HEGAL, King of Uruk, around
2100 B.C. I have shown two numbers, (4) and (10), as blanks in
the list merely to preserve the pattern of ten names which more
or less correspond with the lists in Tables X and Xl.
ACCORDING TO JACOBSEN
| ACCORDING TO BARTON
|| LENGTH OF REIGN IN YRS.
|| ACCORDING TO PRITCHARD
| 1. ALULIM
| 2. ALALMAR
| 3. ENMENLUANA
| 4. --
| 5. ENMENGALANNA
| 6. DUMUZI
| 7. SIBZIANNA
| 8. ENMENDURANNA
| 9. UBERRATUM
| 10. --
|| 241,000 for 8 kings
Average length of reign: Long reckoning 30,150
years; Short reckoning 155 years
* The two final figures appear to be somehow in error (presumably
in the original) if whole Sari are the units, since 21,000
would be 5.83 Sari and 18,600 would be 5.16 Sari. Probably
these figures should be 21,600 (i.e.,6 whole Sari) and
18,000 (i.e. 5 whole Sari). The 600 has somehow been transposed
from the 21,000 entry to the 18,000 entry.
260. Barton, George, Archaeology and the
Bible, Philadelphia, American Sunday School Union, 1916,
261. Pritchard, James B., editor, Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton, 1969, p.265.
order to reconcile Berossus' version with Jacobsen's (i.e., Table
X with Table XII), we have to deal with three points of disagreement:
the first is in the number of names (10 as opposed to 8), the
second is in the spelling of the names, and the third is in the
lengths of the reigns. The common factor which is assumed to
equate these lists in point of fact, is the concluding comment
by the originator in each case to the effect that what followed
next was the Deluge. In the Berossus version after number 10
we are told, "in the time of Xisuthros the great deluge
occurred." In the standard version of Jacobsen, following
his entry of UBARTUTU are the words, "then the flood swept
over the earth." These all, therefore, refer to pre- Flood
With respect to the divergence
in numbers, nothing can be said at the present time. With respect
to the difference in names, it could be argued that Berossus'
List gives the names in a form which had become familiar to the
Greeks. Although none of the proposed reconciliations in this
respect are very satisfactory, there are some rationalizations.
For example, in view of the fact that L and R are
commonly interchanged, ALOR- (in Table X) could conceivably be
a corruption of ALUL- (in Table XII) for entry No.1. In No.2
ALAPAR- (in Table X) could be ALAMAR- (in Table XII), in view
of the fact that P and M are interchangeable. In
this case, a hypothetical ALAMAR- would be a broken down form
of the ALALMAR- (Table XII). S. R. Driver suggested that OTIARTES
(Table X) is a corruption for a hypothetical OPARTES, which in
turn might be a broken down form of UBAR-TUTU (Table XII), which
means "father of UT-NAPISHTIM" who was the "Noah"
of one of the Cuneiform Flood stories. OPARTES would then be
equated with No.9 of Table XII.
However, it is very generally agreed
that this kind of bridge building has a somewhat doubtful value,
and at the present moment we have to accept the fact that Berossus'
King List does not match very well in this respect with the Weld-Blundell
Prism which it is nevertheless probably "descended from."
The question of the difference
in the number of entries possibly finds its explanation in a
more exciting way. First of all, it is necessary to bear in mind
that these Cuneiform Lists provide us with lengths of reigns
only. They are strictly "King Lists." It might
be supposed, therefore, that individuals who did not become
kings in the line would be omitted. By contrast, the biblical
list is a straightforward genealogical table, giving us merely
the names and ages of the firstborn sons from Adam to Noah. The
wonderful thing about the latter list is that it also informs
us, indirectly, that two of the ten died before their fathers,
namely, Enoch and Lamech. Assuming that the head of the house
of the leading family was "king" until his decease,
then there could only have been eight such kings: though there
were actually ten generations. Enoch was removed by translation
435 years before his father Jared died; and Lamech, being a man
of violence, seems to have come to an end earlier
than expected at the
age of 777 years, just five years before his father Methuselah
died. He must have been a very frustrated prince!
Thus the figures in the Bible are
sufficient to provide us with a possible key to the difference
between the Weld-Blundell Prism of 2100 B.C. or thereabouts which
was a list of "chiefs," while the Berossus account
perhaps is a list of the names (as then remembered) of the full
ten generations. If they are in the correct order, Enoch would
be represented by EDORANCHOS in Berossus' List, a name which
might be composed of two elements: EDOR and ANCHOS. Conceivably
ANCHOS is a corruption of Enoch. Lamech would be represented
by the name OTIARTES, which is not easy to account for.
Although I do not think much weight
can be attached to the argument, it is just possible that in
2 Peter 2:5 where Noah is spoken of as "the eighth,"
and not "the tenth" as might have been expected, the
reference could be to his position as eighth chief or "king"
from Adam. (262)
In Jude 14 where Enoch is spoken of as the seventh from Adam,
the reference would presumably be to his position merely in the
line of descent. At any rate, it is an intriguing thought that
we may have in the Genesis account an explanation for the apparent
divergence between Berossus and his original source.
Perhaps even these pagan accounts
from the Cuneiform and elsewhere, in spite of their gross exaggeration
of the figures (due possibly to a misreading of the units of
measurement somewhere along the line) are genuine reflections
of an actual phenomenon in the early history of the human race.
Such a tradition, as we have seen, is remarkably widespread among
the nations of antiquity, and virtually all such traditions agree
at two important points: man lived for centuries before the Flood,
and there were ten generations only from the creation of the
first man to that event. It is true that the number ten might
conceivably be artificial, chosen as a mnemonic aid on the basis
of the number of fingers on both hands. By the same token, it
would surely not be reasonable to account for the eight
names of what is believed to be the Sumerian King List on
the ground that we only have eight fingers the two thumbs
262. 2 Peter 2:5 It is customary to
say that in this passage the phrase "the eighth" () is a convenient way in the Greek
of implying "with seven others," as though the writer
really had in mind a phrase such as "he, being the eighth
of a party." G. Abbott-Smith, in his Manual Greek
Lexicon, agrees, but observes that the Greek word
is usually added. This has not been done in the present instance,
though I find that other biblical passages of a similar construction
(including 2 Maccabees 5:27) also omit the ,
although the meaning is clearly "with nine others."
Young's Literal Translation has followed the Authorized
Version, as has also the Concordant Version and that of
Ferrar Fenton. It seems more likely to me that the meaning is
strictly "the eighth," the definite article being used
(cf. Luke 1:59). Since this is not so in 2 Peter 2:5, it is probable
that the meaning is simply "with seven others."
(See Part I, Chapter 4)
Genesis 5: Names Viewed As Dynasties
The family of Seth originated when Adam
130 years old (v.3) [130
Adam and his direct line were at the head of affairs
years (v.5) when they were superceded by [930
The family of Seth.
Seth, 105 years after it attained leadership,
family of Enosh took its rise (v.6).
being at the head of affairs for 912 years (v.8) Seth was succeeded
The family of Enosh.
years after Enosh attained to the headship,
sprang from it the family of Kenan (v.9). [1932
Enosh had held the leadership for
815 years (v.10), Enosh gave place to
The family of Kenan. [2747
years after Kenan had founded his dynasty,
family of Mahalaleel began its rise to power. [2817
Kenan's dynasty survived another 840 years
was then replaced by
The family of Mahalaleel. [3657
years after the rise of the dynasty of Mahahaleel,
of Jared began to be prominent. [3722
of Mahalaleel meanwhile continued for another 830 years,
then overthrown by
The dynasty of Jared. [4552
hundred and sixty-two years after the rise of Jared's family,
family of Enoch began to become powerful. [4714
Jared's family retained power for another 800 years
then died out, to be succeeded by
The dynasty established by Enoch. [5514
years after the rise of the family of Enoch,
the family of Methuselah began to be prominent. [5579
of Enoch survived for 300 years to be replaced by
Methuselah's dynasty. [5879
hundred and eighty-seven years after the rise of
family of Methuselah, Lamech's family became prominent. [6066
the supremacy of Methuselah's dynasty continued
782 years, to be replaced by
The family of Lamech. [6848
and eighty-two years after Lamech's family had begun
to power, the family of Noah came into existence. [7030
And six hundred years later, the Flood came and brought to
an end all these dynasties.
This makes a grand total, from Adam to the Flood, of [7630
(See Part III, Chapter 22)
The Combined Genealogies Of Matthew
of an ancient genealogy can be quite fascinating but it takes
a little getting into and demands more than ordinary dedication.
The two genealogies of our
Lord which together establish his absolute right to the throne
of David, both by blood relationship through Mary and by title
through Mary's husband, bear close examination. For they show
how the two lines were preserved at one particularly critical
period when almost all family relationships in Israel were being
disrupted. This was at the time of the Captivity in Babylon.
It is shown in a standard genealogy chart as a kind of "wasp-waist"
joining the head and the body of the genealogy above and below
Chart: The Family Tree from Adam to Jesus
of this gate are the subject of this Appendix. It seemed important
to say something about the circumstances here because it is at
this point in the line that the blood relationship between the
Lord and David comes nearest to being destroyed.
The numbers which appear against
the names in the Tabulation (See Chart) represent the two different
systems of accounting adopted by Matthew, on the left side, and
Luke, on the right. In Matthew, David appears as the 14th name
from Abraham: in Luke David is the 34th name from Adam. The red
line represents the blood line connection: the yellow
line represents the carrying of title to the throne of David.
David had two sons who figure as
heads of the two branches of the family as indicated in Matthew
and Luke, namely, Solomon and Nathan. In Matthew's genealogy
Solomon becomes No. 1 in the second group of 14 names: and in
Luke's genealogy Nathan becomes No. 35 on the other branch line.
From Solomon we move down to Joram,
No. 6. Joram married Athaliah, the wicked daughter of a wicked
father and mother (Ahab and Jezebel). As a consequence of this
evil man and his wife, his seed was cursed for four generations
in accordance with the reference made in Exodus 20:5. Thus Matthew,
who probably follows the Temple records faithfully in his list,
omits the next three names (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah) from
his genealogy. There is little doubt that these Temple records
had, by divine providence, removed these three
generations from the
register, so that Ozias (No. 7) appears as though he were the
son of Joram, No. 6, in the accounting of Matthew 1:8. We know
from 1 Chronicles 3:11 and 12 that in the original court records,
these three missing names were written down. In this court record,
Ozias (No. 7) is given an alternative name Azariah (1 Chronicles
3:12), and elsewhere he is also called Uzziah (Isaiah 6:1). These
are merely variants of the same name.
We pass on to No. 14, Jehoiakim.
It is important to note that his name ends with an M, not
an N, and he is not to be confused with his son whose name was
Jehoiakin (or alternatively Jeconiah, Jechonias, Coniah, and
Conias). This multivariant form of a name applied to a single
individual is common in many of the older cultures. It seems
to be particularly prevalent in Russia, even today.
Now, with Jehoiakim (No. 14) we
begin to see the hand of God at work in a very special way separating
the thread of continuity of blood relationship and titular right
to the throne in David's family. Jehoiakim was the last king
of Israel to come to the throne as a free man. Unfortunately
he was both an evil man and a foolish one. He began his reign
just when the Fertile Crescent was in a state of political turmoil,
Nebuchadnezzar in particular having very ambitious designs for
empire building which were challenged by Egypt. In this see-saw
contest for power that habitually characterized the relationship
between Egypt and Babylon, Palestine stood at the pivot point.
But Jerusalem itself need not really have become involved, for
the city actually stood off the main route between the two warring
parties. Any king of Judah who kept out of the fray and conciliated
the antagonists as they marched their armies back and forth to
attack each other, could expect to be left more or less alone
except for paying token tribute.
Jehoiakim was not humble enough
or wise enough to realize this, and provoked Nebuchadnezzar to
attack Jerusalem. This was the Lord's way of punishing a wicked
man who had unwisely aligned himself with the king of Egypt.
His immediate punishment was to have his city besieged and over-run,
and to be carried captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:5,6). But
for some reason Nebuchadnezzar decided to return him to Jerusalem
as a puppet king while he completed his unfinished business in
Egypt. His long range punishment was foretold by Jeremiah (36:30)
that none of his seed should ever sit upon the throne of David.
This was a severe blow to him because he was in the direct line,
as Matthew's genealogy shows, and probably had every expectation
of seeing this greatest of all honors accorded to his seed in
Meanwhile Nebuchadnezzar, having
completed his Egyptian campaign, soon discovered that Jehoiakim
was a treacherous man who could not be trusted by friend or foe.
Indeed, so treacherous was he that even the people of his own
city, Jerusalem, turned against him, murdered him, threw his
body over the walls and left him unburied
outside the city
exactly as predicted by Jeremiah (22:18,19). Nebuchadnezzar must
surely have known what had happened, but he did not interfere
when Jehoiakin (i.e., Jechonias, No. 55) succeeded his father.
But this young prince who was only
eighteen years old when thus honoured (2 Kings 24:8) proved to
have no more good sense than his evil father. He provoked Nebuchadnezzar
(after only three months and ten days on the throne) to invest
the city once more and depose him (2 Chronicles 36:9). Jechonias
and all his court were taken captive to Babylon while his uncle,
Zedekiah, was left as regent. Unfortunately, Zedekiah behaved
as the rest of his family had done and eleven years later, Nebuchadnezzar
seized Zedekiah, put all his sons to death before his eyes, and
then deliberately blinded him. Zedekiah was taken to Babylon
and died there. Jerusalem meanwhile was utterly destroyed (2
Now Jechonias, after being taken
to Babylon, was put in prison where he remained for some thirty-seven
years. It appears that either before he was taken captive or
possibly during his captivity he was married to a woman of appropriate
status who appears to have been a daughter of Neri (No. 54 in
Nathan's branch of the family) and therefore of David's line.
In order to account for the subsequent relationships shown in
the two converging genealogies, we have to assume that this woman
was a widow whose husband had probably been killed in one of
the many sieges which Jerusalem had suffered. It seems as though
the prophet Zechariah had this circumstance in mind (12:12).
This widow already had a son by her deceased husband when Jechonias
took her as a wife. This son's name was Pedaiah. His name is
not numbered in the genealogy shown in the chart. It appears
only in 1 Chronicles 3:18 where he is shown as a son of Jehoiakin
(i.e., Jechonias). If his widowed mother was married to Jechonias,
he would by Jewish custom become the son of Jechonias automatically.
But Jechonias appears to have had
a son of his own by this widow of the royal line. This son's
name was Salathiel (No. 2 and No. 56 in the two pedigree lines).
By this marriage of a widow to Jechonias, these two boys
sons of the same mother would become brothers by Jewish
However, Salathiel appears to have
died childless, though not until he had reached manhood and married
a wife. Jehoiakim's blood line thus came to an end in
his grandson Salathiel indicated by termination of the
red line. But as it happens the actual title to the throne
remained active. The curse of Jeremiah 36:30 was to be fulfilled
not by the removal of the title itself from Jehoiakim's line
but by the denial of that title to anyone who happened to be
a blood relative in the line. With the death of Salathiel this
blood line terminated.
But now, according to Jewish custom
as set forth in the principle of the Levirate (Deuteronomy 25:5,6),
it became incumbent upon Pedaiah, the deceased Salathiel's (step)
brother, to take his widow and raise up seed through her who
would not therefore be of Salathiel's blood line but would be
constituted legally as Salathiel's
son through whom the
title would pass to his descendants. The son of this Levirate
union was Zerubbabel. In Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 Zerubbabel
is listed legally as Salathiel's son: but in 1 Chronicles 3:19
he is listed as the son of Pedaiah by actual blood relationship.
In the terms of biblical reckoning
these two statements are in no sense contradictory. We might
wish to be more precise by substituting such extended terms of
relationship as son-in-law, stepson, and so forth. But Scripture
is not required to adopt our particular terminology. It is required
only to be consistent with itself, and the facts of the case
as recorded of those who were the actors in the drama are precisely
We thus have a remarkable chain
of events. Jehoiakim has a son, Jechonias, who has a son, Salathiel,
who by Levirate custom has a son named Zerubbabel. This son,
Zerubbabel, has no blood line connection whatever with Jechonias,
for he has no blood relationship with Salathiel. The blood relationship
of Zerubbabel is with Pedaiah, and through Pedaiah with Pedaiah's
mother, and through this mother with Neri. Thus Neri begat a
grandson, Salathiel, through his daughter; and Salathiel "begets"
a son, Zerubbabel, through Pedaiah.
The blood line thus passes through
Zerubbabel: but so does the title also. The former passes via
Pedaiah's mother, the latter passes through Salathiel's father.
And though this mother and this father were also man and wife,
the blood line stopped with Salathiel who literally died childless.
It is necessary to emphasize this word literally, for
it appears that it was literally true. Jeremiah 22:30
had predicted that Jechonias would also die "childless"
but we are reasonably sure that this was not literally
the case, for he had a son Salathiel whom we cannot otherwise
account for. But Jechonias' subsequent history tells us the sense
in which childlessness was to be applied to him.
Jechonias seems to have matured
and softened during his thirty-seven years of imprisonment in
Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar's son, Evil-Merodach, evidently took
a liking to him and set him free, giving him a pension for the
rest of his life (2 Kings 25:2730: Jeremiah 52:3134).
He would by now be nearing sixty and probably be counted a harmless
Reading these two records of Scripture
concerning this surprising act of clemency accorded to the last
genuine king of Israel (until Messiah shall be crowned), one
has a strange sense of the mercy of God and the
potential for gracious
action that even pagan kings could display in
those days. It is a touching swan-song to the old kingdom of
David's line which will yet be renewed in glory. At any rate,
when Jechonias died, he seems to have died alone without male
descendants, "childless" in his old age, as
Jeremiah had predicted he would.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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As to Zerubbabel, he became a very
prominent and worthy man in the rebuilding of Israel's fortunes
after the Captivity, under the benevolent authority of Cyrus.
He stands as No. 3 and No. 57 in the dual pedigree. He appears
to have had several sons and one daughter (1 Chronicles 3:19).
We do not know why his sons were disqualified: we only know that
their sister, Shelomith, inherited the title and carried the
blood line. Both of these she passed on to her eldest son, Abiud,
and so to Joseph. But with Joseph, as with Salathiel, the blood
line terminated once again in so far as the Lord Jesus received
nothing from him by natural procreation. However, Mary drew her
line, the blood line, through Heli from Joanna (No. 59), the
second son of Shelomith.
And thus the Lord Jesus received
the two guarantees of right to the throne of David: the blood
line through his mother directly, and the title through his adopting
father, Joseph. With his death and resurrection these two rights
became locked for ever in his Person and cannot be passed on
to, or henceforth claimed by, any other man.