Richard Middleton | Interpreting Biblical Genealogies

It turns out there’s a lot more going on in the genealogies than just that straightforward accounting. Richard Middleton shares some of the historical context that helps us to see the genealogies as another part of the story of God’s creation.

Thanks for visiting, @JRM!


Fascinating episode!

If the author of Matthew is the apostle as tradition insists, then at least one providential connection to his intricate genealogy is the author’s strong facility with numbers - an essential skill for a former tax collector!


Welcome to the Forum! We are glad you enjoyed the podcast. Are you a long-time listener or just stumbled upon this episode?

Thanks Hilary. I listen from time to time to the pod. I thought the Uniquely Unique series was very good, and I think BioLogos is doing important work. I’m a busy dad of three so not much time to participate in the forums.


This one was really good indeed. I always enjoy very nerdy things. It’s hard to overload me with technical information as far as theology goes. If you place a book thats 50% equations I’ll burn out really fast. I was in a class once and the first two hours was almost completely on calories being burned by various insects and wing movements such as up and down, figure 8, z shaped and so on. How much weight can a bee carry in pollen at what calorie burning rate and I ended up leaving snd not coming back because he was mentioning as we was leaving for lunch that next we would be discussing how moisture and humidity affects wings and what kind of calorie load could it be and so on. I knew for sure I did not care.

But with things like genealogies I find it cool. I really enjoyed the bits on gematria and the primer for why paul changed some of the names.

For a second I was thinking he was about to dive deep into some sort of preterist concepts for Nero and 666/616 thoughts. But I guess that would be a whole episode on of itself. If not a series.

I was hoping he was going to go more in-depth over Cain’s name. I always hear the reasoning it means “ to acquire “ and the work placed into how it’s tied to his story. But I
Have always felt there was a much better explanation. Or rather more to it. When I look at his name “ qayin “ ( קַ֔יִן ) I see a stronger relationship to the word qayin “ H7013 “ meaning spear rather than qanah “7069” meaning to acquire. Especially given that the phrase “ wayyaharḡêhū “ “ h2026” is used in genesis when he kills Abel. Outside of that one spot the phrase is only found in two other places in the Bible and in those places it’s the same story of a man being killed by a spear.

Another thing I’ve always wondered about in the genealogies is the name of Lamech.

When his name is first mentioned in 4:18 it’s “ lamek” ( לָֽמֶךְ׃ ) and then following that in verse 4:19 and onward it’s changed suddenly to “ Lemek “ ( לֶ֖מֶךְ ) . I have always wondered if the “le” change was a snarky jab at the fact Lamech spoke as if he was god and so they was mocking it by saying “el “ but in reverse. But I don’t know enough about it to dig into it. At least not without more time than I want to give lol.

I’ll definitely listen to this episode again with a pen for notes and have to check out any recommendations of books concerning the genealogies. I’ve not read the articles but will.

Another aspect of it that I’ve always felt was there was a broad brush picture of the mythos .

In genesis we read of mankind sharing one language and because of that one language and in one big city mankind decided to build a kingdom that reached to the heavens. Around this time we read of the angels “ sons of god “ becoming one “ sex “ with the women giving birth to giants.

Then we get to acts and the gospels and we see a similar thing. We begin to read of demons possession people as if they are becoming one. We read that instead of what happened in Babel and the people being scattered across the nations with multiple languages instead we see that the gifts of tongue are given so that those sent out across the nations can speak to anyone and it’s all so they can become this “ heavenly kingdom” on earth. Even see how the we become
One with Christ. It’s almost like the Babel narrative reversed.

All lots of cool stuff.

I got a good response on FB concerning the Lamech question. It all goes beyond what I know. I can’t speak or read Hebrew. I also have no idea what manuscripts biblehub uses and when they were written.

Haven’t finished the episode yet but I found the section on Babel fascinating. The ‘empire’ concepts makes much more sense of the account than the traditional interpretation. Great stuff.

1 Like

Just a heads up, I was listening to this episode on Google podcasts and it cuts off at 26 minutes. Would it be possible to get someone to look into that?

It is supposed to be fixed now…!

I think that more often than not, The Almighty works within the real world methods he’s set up, in this case, human genetics. As a result, I’ve often thought that the genealogies are simply a record of the pairings involved so that the least damaged ovum from the Fall could be retrieved, repaired, and used by God to bring himself into this world. The seed of the woman to crush the serpent’s head.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.