Origins 10(2):50 (1983).
Re: Hayward & Casebolt: Genesis 5 and 11 Statistical Study (ORIGINS 9:75-81); and subsequent discussion by Nicholaides, Hayward, and Casebolt (ORIGINS 10:5-8).
From the analyses presented by Nicholaides and by Hayward and
Casebolt, it is most reasonable to conclude that Moses did not have precise chronological
data for about half the individuals listed in chapters 5 and 11 of Genesis, and that where
the data available to him was uncertain, he gave rounded estimates to the nearest five or
ten years. Readers who are not familiar with chi-squared statistical treatment may find it
helpful to note that the probabilities for six and seven out of ten randomly selected
numbers being divisible by 5 is one chance in 182 and one chance in 1272, respectively.
The probability of six out of ten randomly selected numbers being divisible by 10 is only
one chance in 7258.
Since other genealogical lists in the Bible may be demonstrated to be abbreviated, there is good reason to presume that those in Genesis 5, Genesis 11, and 1 Chronicles 1 are also abbreviated. But the omission of lesser important individuals to obtain stylized lists of the ten most notable patriarchs between Adam and the Flood and between the Flood and Abraham does not nullify Moses' apparent effort to establish a chronologic framework by specifying as closely as he could the age of each listed patriarch at the time the next-named was born.
Regarding Hayward and Casebolt's comments concerning triplet births, it should be pointed out that according to Genesis 12:4 and 11:32, Abraham was born when Terah was 130 years old and was most likely the youngest of the three named sons who were born to Terah after he was 70 years old (Genesis 11:26). Others not named may have been born during this 60-year period. Likewise from Genesis 8:13 and 11:10 it is evident that Shem was born when Noah was 503 years old, and was at the most the second oldest of the three named sons who were born to Noah after he was 500 years old (Genesis 5:32).
R. H. Brown
Geoscience Research Institute
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