The Septuagint Vs. the Masoretic Text, Part II :: By Randy Nettles

The Septuagint Vs. the Masoretic Text, Part II :: By Randy Nettles

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After the destruction of the Second Temple in approximately 586 BC, the religious leaders of Judah split into several groups, each with their own Torah text. The rabbis took the Proto-Masoretic text of the Torah, and the Samaritans took theirs, which was called the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Qumran community had assembled texts of different types that were written (throughout the following centuries) by a religious sect which most scholars believe were the Essenes. These documents would be found hundreds of centuries later and are now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were written in both Hebrew and Greek. In 250 BC, a Hebrew version of the Torah was translated into Greek and would later be used by the early Christians. This came to be known as the Septuagint or LXX text of the Torah. The other books of the Tanakh would be added over time.

As I said in part 1 of this article, while most of the differences between the Masoretic, Septuagint, and Samaritan texts are minor word or phrase variations and sentence structures, a few are quite significant. It is not in the scope of this article to examine all of these scripture discrepancies. Instead, we will only be concentrating on the numbers given in the genealogies and chronologies of the antediluvian and post-flood patriarchs found in Genesis 5 and 11.

The differences in the chronology are quite significant as the Septuagint text has a date for the creation of mankind of 5640 BC (some say 5540 BC by way of later recensions). The Samaritan Pentateuch has a date of approximately 4475 BC. The Masoretic text has a date of 4175 BC (some say 3960 BC, depending on different interpretations of Exodus 12:40). The religious Jewish calendar based on the Seder Olam has a date of 3760 BC for the creation. In this article, we will only examine the Septuagint (LXX) and Masoretic (MT) versions.

Genesis 5 gives the genealogy from Adam to Noah and his three sons. For each antediluvian that is mentioned, age is given for three events in their lives: when they had their son (in the lineage leading to Noah), years lived after their son’s birth, and total years lived. Let’s look at an example in the MT. In some English translations, it reads, “When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died” (Genesis 5:6 – NIV translation). Some translations say “he begat (begot) Enosh” or “he became the father of Enosh.” The Hebrew word for this term is (way·yō·w·leḏ) which can also mean “to show lineage.”

We know Seth was the third son of Adam, after Cain and Abel, and we know Adam, as well as the other patriarchs (both before and after the flood), had children after the designated son mentioned in scripture. The only other patriarchs that we know for sure that had children before the designated son is Noah and Terah. I am assuming the others are all firstborn sons. The wording in scripture is rather vague on this issue as it only says, “and had other sons and daughters.” Does this mean the other patriarchs only had other children after the designated one and none before?

Ten antediluvian patriarchs are mentioned in this lineage from Adam to Noah (inclusive reckoning). Genesis 6 describes the wickedness of the earth during the antediluvian age. Genesis 7 describes the Great Flood. Genesis 11 gives the genealogies of Noah’s son, Shem. In this article, we are only concerned with Shem’s descendants, as this is the lineage that begot Abraham, David, and Jesus. Noah and his family (and the animals) exited the ark in 1657 AM (Anno Mundi- the year of creation), according to the Masoretic Text. 1 Chronicles 1:24-34 also gives the genealogies of Shem through Abraham, as well as Isaac and Jacob (Israel).

The four charts shown below represent the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies for both the Masoretic (MT) and Septuagint (LXX) texts. The first two (MT and LXX) reckon the chronology from the year of creation (Anno Mundi), and the next two (MT and LXX) reckon the chronology from the BC-AD calendar year. The starting point can be determined from a fixed point in history that most scholars can agree on, such as the Exodus in 1446 BC or the destruction of the first Jewish Temple in 586 BC, etc. The years of the Septuagint charts were determined by an English translation of the Septuagint Bible found at Read the Septuagint Bible w/ Apocrypha Free Online ( It basically coincides with the earliest LXX manuscript known as the Septuagint Vaticanus MS (see below).


                             MASORETIC TEXT CHART

Patriarch            Life             Birth                Death             Son

Adam                  930                0                    930 AM          130

Seth                     912           130 AM           1042 AM          105

Enosh                  905           235 AM           1140 AM            90

Cainan                 910           325 AM          1235 AM             70

Mahalalel            895          395 AM           1290 AM             65

Jared                    962          460 AM           1422 AM           162

Enoch*                365           622 AM             987 AM             65

Methuselah        969           687 AM          1656 AM           187

Lamech                777           874 AM          1651 AM           182

Noah                    950         1056 AM          1954 AM           502

Flood                   1 YR.       1656 AM          1657 AM

Shem                   600         1558 AM          2159 AM           100

Arphaxad            438         1658 AM          2097 AM             35

Salah                    433         1693 AM          2127 AM             30

Eber                     464         1723 AM          2188 AM             34

Peleg                    239         1757 AM          1997 AM             30

Reu                       239         1787 AM          2027 AM             32

Serug                    230         1819 AM          2050 AM             30

Nahor                   148         1849 AM          1998 AM             29

Terah                    205         1878 AM          2084 AM           130

Abram                  175         2008 AM          2184 AM           100

Isaac                     180         2108 AM          2289 AM             60

Jacob                    147         2168 AM          2316 AM             90

*Enoch was raptured and did not see death.

                               SEPTUAGINT TEXT CHART

 Patriarch            Life              Birth               Death              Son

Adam                   930                0                    930 AM           230

Seth                      912           230 AM           1142 AM          205

Enosh                   905           435 AM           1340 AM          190

Cainan                 910            625 AM           1535 AM          170

Mahalalel            895           795 AM           1690 AM           165

Jared                    962           960 AM           1922 AM           162

Enoch*                365         1122 AM           1487 AM           165

Methuselah        969         1287 AM           2256 AM           167

Lamech                753         1454 AM           2207 AM           188

Noah                    950         1642 AM           2592 AM           502

Flood                   1 YR.        2242 AM           2243 AM

Shem                   600          2144 AM           2744 AM           100

Arphaxad            535          2244 AM           2779 AM           135

Cainan*               460          2379 AM           2839 AM          130

Salah                    460          2509 AM          2969 AM           130

Eber                     404          2639 AM           3043 AM           134

Peleg                    339         2773 AM           3112 AM           130

Reu                       339         2903 AM           3242 AM           132

Serug                    330         3035 AM           3365 AM           130

Nahor                   304         3165 AM           3469 AM           179

Terah                    205         3334 AM           3549 AM           130

Abram                  175         3474 AM           3649 AM           100

Isaac                     180         3574 AM           3754 AM             60

Jacob                    147         3634 AM           3781 AM             90

*Enoch was raptured and did not see death. 

*Cainan’s genealogy is not listed in the Masoretic text. 


                          MASORETIC TEXT CHART

Patriarch            Life            Birth                 Death                 Son

Adam                   930          4174 BC            3264 BC             130

Seth                      912          4044 BC           3132 BC              105

Enosh                   905          3939 BC           3034 BC                90

Cainan                  910          3849 BC           2939 BC                70

Mahalalel            895          3779 BC            2884 BC                65

Jared                    962          3714 BC            2752 BC              162

Enoch*                365           3552 BC            3187 BC               65

Methuselah        969           3487 BC            2528 BC             187

Lamech                777           3300 BC           2523 BC              182

Noah                    950           3118 BC           2168 BC              502

Flood                   1 YR.         2518 BC            2517 BC

Shem                   600           2616 BC            2016 BC            100

Arphaxad            438           2516 BC            2078 BC              35

Salah                    433           2481 BC            2048 BC              30

Eber                     464           2451 BC            1987 BC              34

Peleg                    239           2417 BC           2178 BC               30

Reu                       239           2387 BC           2148 BC               32

Serug                    230          2355 BC            2125 BC               30

Nahor                   148          2325 BC            2377 BC               29

Terah                    205          2296 BC            2091 BC             130

Abram                  175          2166 BC            1991 BC             100

Isaac                     180          2066 BC            1886 BC               60

Jacob                    147          2006 BC            1859 BC               90

*Enoch was raptured and did not see death. 

                         SEPTUAGINT TEXT CHART

 Patriarch            Life              Birth               Death              Son

Adam                   930          5640 BC            4710 BC            230

Seth                      912          5410 BC            4498 BC            205

Enosh                   905          5205 BC            4300 BC            190

Cainan                 910           5015 BC            4095 BC            170

Mahalalel            895           4845 BC           3950 BC            165

Jared                    962           4680 BC           3718 BC            162

Enoch*                365           4518 BC            4153 BC            165

Methuselah        969           4353 BC           3384 BC            167

Lamech                753           4186 BC           3433 BC            188

Noah                    950           3998 BC           3048 BC            502

Flood                   1 YR.          3398 BC           3397 BC

Shem                   600            3496 BC           2896 BC            100

Arphaxad            535            3396 BC           2861 BC            135

Cainan*               460            3261 BC           2801 BC            130

Salah                    460            3131 BC           2671 BC            130

Eber                     404            3001 BC           2597 BC            134

Peleg                    339           2867 BC            2528 BC           130

Reu                       339           2737 BC            2398 BC           132

Serug                    330           2605 BC            2275 BC           130

Nahor                   304           2475 BC            2171 BC           179

Terah                    205           2296 BC            2091 BC           130

Abram                  175           2166 BC            1991 BC           100

Isaac                     180           2066 BC            1886 BC             60

Jacob                    147           2006 BC            1859 BC             90

*Enoch was raptured and did not see death. 

*Cainan’s genealogy is not listed in the Masoretic text. 


In the Hebrew Masoretic Text of Genesis 5, there are 1,656 years from the creation of Adam to the Flood (the Flood lasted for 1 year). In Genesis 11, there are 352 years from the Flood to the birth of Abram/Abraham. There are 2,008 total years from Adam to the birth of Abram.

In the Greek Septuagint text (LXX) of Genesis 5, there are 2,242 years from the creation of Adam to the Flood. If you notice the above LXX charts, they show Methuselah dying 14 years after the Flood. Obviously, this is an error that is corrected with a revised LXX manuscript later in history (see below). In Genesis 11, there are 1,232 years from the Flood to the birth of Abraham. There are 3,474 total years from Adam to the birth of Abram.

Regarding the chronology of the antediluvian and postdiluvian patriarchs, there are 1,466 years of difference between the MT and the LXX texts. The chronology of the LXX is nearly a millennia and a half longer than the MT.

Starting with the birth of Terah, the biblical timeframes for both the MT and LXX match. No matter if you start the creation of Adam and Eve at 4174 BC (MT) or 5640 BC (LXX), both texts come together, chronologically speaking, at the birth of Terah in 2296 BC. Genesis 11:32 says that Terah died when he was 205 years old, and he died in Haran. Genesis 12:4 says that Abraham was 75 years old when he departed from Haran, so that means Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born. According to the MT and LXX, Terah was born in 2296 BC, Abram was born in 2166 BC, Isaac in 2066 BC, and Jacob in 2006 BC.

Jacob and his family moved to Egypt in 1876 BC. According to Exodus 12:20, the children of Israel were in Egypt for 430 years. That would place the Exodus in 1446 BC. The 430 years in Egypt are known as the “long sojourn.” However, the Septuagint version adds “and in Cainan,” so that would only be 215 years in Egypt. This is known as the “short sojourn.” For the purpose of this article, we will go by the long sojourn. For the dates of the “short sojourn” chronology, deduct 215 years or go to for more information.

1 Kings 6:1 says, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month; that he began to build the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1). 480 years minus 1446 BC is 966 BC. That was the year Solomon began to build the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This is as far as we will take this chronology study. See the above link for further Biblical chronology.


The numerical differences found in the three textual witnesses of the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 (MT, LXX, and the Samaritan Pentateuch) have been the subject of debate and controversy for at least seventeen centuries. Each textual interpretation yields a different chronology from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abraham, as you can tell by the charts above. I have listed the individual differences found in the MT and LXX below. As I said before, when you add them up, the difference is 1,466 years. Evidently, one of them has to be wrong. More on this later.


Patriarch             Masoretic                Septuagint

Lamech                 777 years                  753 years*

Arphaxad             438 years                   535 years*

Cainan (2nd)      not mentioned             460 years

Salah                     433 years                   460 years*

Eber                      464 years                   404 years*

Peleg                    239 years                    339 years

Reu                       239 years                    339 years

Serug                    230 years                    330 years

Nahor                   148 years                   304 years*


Patriarch             Masoretic               Septuagint

Adam                     130 years                  230 years

Seth                       105 years                  205 years

Enosh                      90 years                   190 years

Cainan                     70 years                  170 years

Mahalalel                65 years                  165 years

Enoch                       65 years                  165 years

Methuselah          187 years                  167 years*

Lamech                  182 years                  188 years

Arphaxad                35 years                   135 years

Salah                        30 years                  130 years

Eber                          34 years                  134 years

Peleg                        30 years                  130 years

Reu                           32 years                  132 years

Serug                       30 years                   130 years

Nahor                       29 years                  179 years*

*Indicates changes made in future LXX manuscripts

The majority of the time-span differences in both categories amount to 100 years longer for the patriarchs recorded in the LXX. Regarding the life span category for Genesis 5, there is only one discrepancy, and that is Lamech, which doesn’t amount to that much (6 years). However, there are eight discrepancies in the Genesis 11 account. Regarding the paternal age (begotten) category, there are eight discrepancies in the Genesis 5 genealogy and seven in the Genesis 11 genealogy.

Some of these differences can be attributed to scribal errors that occurred when new copies were being made from the manuscript texts that were being used at the time, but some of them seem to be intentional. This is called a recension, where a deliberate editorial revision of a text is made. It appears either the LXX was intentionally inflated to create a longer chronology, or the MT was deflated to give a shorter chronology. There have been many theories on why this was done, and you can find plenty of them online (for either side), but we will refrain from doing that with this article.

In comparison with the manuscript evidence for both the Hebrew text and the Samaritan Pentateuch, for which textual variants (specifically chronogenealogies) are absent, the LXX doesn’t fare as well. There are several major uncial manuscripts (MSS) of the Greek LXX from the 4-5th century AD. The oldest MS is that of the Vatican Library called Vaticanus and was written in the 4th century AD. Another old MS we have available is the 5th-century Alexandrinus Codex. Both manuscripts contain the majority of the Greek Old Testament and the majority of the Greek New Testament.

By the time the Alexandrinus Codex (and possibly others) of the LXX was written, there were several changes made to the chronogenealogies, as I noted above with the asterisk symbol (*).

Arphaxad’s age at death was changed from 535 to 565 years. Salah’s lifespan age was changed from 460 to 533 years. Eber’s total age was changed from 404 to 504 years. Nahor’s total age was changed from 304 to 208 years.

Regarding the begotten ages of the patriarchs, Methuselah’s age was changed from 167 to 187 years. Nahor’s age was changed from 179 to 79 years. By inflating Methuselah’s age by 20 years, it pushed the year of the flood back 20 years. The result was Methuselah dying six years before the flood and Lamech 35 years. This Alexandrinus MSS recension corrects the mistake of the earlier manuscript, which had Methuselah dying after the flood. Some recensions have the begotten age for Methuselah at 182 years, which would mean Methuselah died the same year of the flood, similar to the MT.

The Samaritan Pentateuch’s genealogies for Genesis 5 are basically the same as the MT for the begotten ages except for Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech. They are deflated by 100, 120, and 135 years respectively. Their lifespans are different as well. Jared’s has been deflated by 65 years, Methuselah’s by 249 years, and Lamech’s by 124 years. This would place both Methuselah and Lamech dying the year of the flood in 1615 AM (anno mundi).

Another unique feature of the LXX is the introduction of a Cainan in the list of generations in Genesis 11. After Shem and Arpachshad, a second Cainan is listed who lived 460 years and who was 130 years old when his firstborn son was born. This Cainan does not appear in the Hebrew text, nor is he found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, or Syriac versions. Josephus does not have him listed either. However, he is found in the Book of Jubilees. Whereas the LXX gives the figure of 130 as the age of Cainan at the time of the firstborn, the Book of Jubilees assumes the figure of 57 years. Although there have been numerous speculations, the mystery of this Cainan remains largely unresolved. It appears the LXX needs this patriarch in the lineage to acquire the 2166 BC date for Abraham’s birth.

In the next part, we will examine some of the many explanations or reasons why one of these manuscript texts was either inflated or deflated.

Randy Nettles

The post The Septuagint Vs. the Masoretic Text, Part II :: By Randy Nettles appeared first on Rapture Ready.

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