Bible math

Genesis 50 concludes with noting how Joseph lived a total of 110 years.  My TNIV Study Bible study note at 50:26 says that “ancient Egyptian records indicate that 110 years was considered to be the ideal life span; to the Egyptians this would have signified divine blessing upon Joseph.”

Well, that’s pretty cool how Joseph’s lifespan has spiritual implications.

But it gets better!

As you may have noticed in reading Genesis, the author is careful to note how many years each of the Patriarchs live.  Abraham makes it to 175 years, Isaac 180 years, and Jacob 147 years.  Here in Genesis 50, we find out Joseph lives 110 years.  A scholar named Victor P. Hamilton has calculated how the number of years the Patriarchs live can be expressed as a standard decreasing integer being multiplied by a standard increasing square number.  Watch:

Abraham:  175 years = 7 x
     Isaac:  180 years = 5 x
    Jacob:  147 years = 3 x  
  Joseph:  110 years = 1 x ( + + )

Hamilton writes in his commentary on Genesis (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995):  “Joseph is the successor in the pattern 7531, and the sum of his predecessors ( + + ).  In this way, Joseph is linked intimately with his family line…  It appears that the narrator is suggesting that Joseph symbolically brings to a conclusion the patriarchal narratives” (pp. 708-709; quoted by Bruce Waltke in Genesis: A Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001], 626).

Beneath what may appear to be a boring bunch of numbers lies an insightful comment the author desires to convey.

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