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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Genealogy

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γενεολογια , signifies a list of a person's ancestors. The common Hebrew expression for it is Sepher-Toledoth, "the Book of Generations." No nation was ever more careful to preserve their genealogies than the Jews. The sacred writings contain genealogies extended three thousand five hundred years backward. The genealogy of our Saviour is deduced by the evangelists from Adam to Joseph and Mary, through a space of four thousand years and upward. The Jewish priests were obliged to produce an exact genealogy of their families, before they were admitted to exercise their function. Wherever placed, the Jews were particularly careful not to marry below themselves; and to prevent this, they kept tables of genealogy in their several families, the originals of which were lodged at Jerusalem, to be occasionally consulted. These authentic monuments, during all their wars and persecutions, were taken great care of, and from time to time renewed. But, since the last destruction of their city, and the dispersion of the people, their ancient genealogies are lost. But to this the Jews reply, that either Elias, or some other inspired priest or prophet, shall come, and restore their genealogical tables before the Messiah's appearance; a tradition, which they ground on a passage in Nehemiah 7:64-65 , to this effect: the genealogical register of the families of certain priests being lost, they were not able to make out their lineal descent from Aaron; and therefore, "as polluted, were put from the priesthood;" the "Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim." From hence the Jews conclude, that such a priest will stand up, and restore and complete the genealogies of their families: though others suppose these words to import, that they should never exercise their priesthood any more; and that, "till there shall stand up a priest with Urim and Thummim," amounts to the same as the Roman proverb, ad Graecas calendas, [never,] since the Urim and Thummim were now absolutely and for ever lost.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Genealogy'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/g/genealogy.html. 1831-2.

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