Generation (תּוֹלדֶה, γένεσις, the act; γέννημα, the result: דּוֹר, γενεα, a period). Considerable obscurity attends the use of this word in the English version, which arises from the translators having merged the various meanings of the same original word, and even of several different words, in one common term, "generation." The remark, too, is just, that in the literal translations of the Scriptures, the word "generation" generally occurs wherever the Latin has generatio, and the Greek γενεά or γένεσις (Rees's Encyclopedia, article Generation). The following instances seem to require the original words to be understood in some one of their derivative senses: Ge 2:4," These are the generations" (תּוֹלדוֹת; Sept. ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως; Vulg: generationes), rather "origin," "history," etc. The same Greek words, Mt 1:1, are rendered "a genealogy," etc., by recent translators: Campbell has "lineage." Ge 5:1, "The book of the generations" (סֵפֶר תּוֹלדרֹ; Sept. as before; Vulg. liber generationis) is properly a family register, a history of Adam. The same words, Ge 37:2, mean a history of Jacob and his descendants; so also Ge 6:9; Ge 10:1, and elsewhere. Ge 7:1, "In this generation" (בִּרּור הַזֶּה; Sept. ἐν τῇ γενεᾶ'/ τάυτῃ, Vulg. in generatione hac) is evidently "in this age." Ge 15:6, "In the fourth generation" (רּוֹר; Sept. γενεά, Vulg. generatio) is an instance of the word in the sense of a certain assigned period. Ps 49:19, "The generation of his fathers" (עִראּרּוֹר אֲבוֹתָיו, Sept. γενιᾶς πατέρων αύτοῦ) Gesenius renders "the dwelling of his fathers," i.e. the grave, and adduces Isa 38:12.: Ps 73:15, "The generation of thy children" (רּוֹר בָּנֶיךָ, Sept. γενεὰ τῶν υἱῶν σοῦ) is "class," "order," "description;" as in Pr 30:11-14. Isa 53:8, "Who shall declare his generation?" (רּוֹרוֹ; Sept. τὴν γενεὰν αὐτοῦ τίς διηγήσεται, Vulug. generatio) Lowth renders "manner of life," in translation and note, but adduces no precedent. Some consider it equivalent to זֶרִע, verse 10: γενεά (Sept.) answers to זֶרִע, Es 9:28. Josephus uses πολλήν γενεάν, Ant. 1:10, 3 (Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, volume 1, Washington, 1836-9; Pauli, Analect. Hebraic. page 162, Oxford, 1839). Michaelis renders it, "Where was the providence that cared for his life?" Gesenius and Rosenmuller, "Who of his contemporaries reflected?" Seiler, "Who can describe his length of life?" In the New Testament (Mt 1:17), γενεαί is a series of persons, a succession from the same stock; so used by Josephus (Ant. 1:7, 2); Philo (Vit. Mos. 1:603); Mt 3:7, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, is well rendered by Doddridge and others "brood of vipers." Mt 24:34, ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη means the generation or persons then living contemporary with Christ (see Macknight's Harmony for an illustration of this sense). Lu 16:8, εἰς τὴν γενεὰν τἡν ἑαυτῶν, "in their generation," etc., wiser in regard to their dealings with the men of their generation; Rosenmuller gives, inter se. 1Pe 2:8, γένος ἐκλεκτόν, is a "chosen people," quoted from Sept. Vers. of Isa 43:20. The ancient Greeks, and, if we may credit Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, the Egyptians also, assigned a certain period to a generation. The Greeks reckoned three generations for every hundred years, i.e., 331 years to each; Herod. 2:142, γενεαὶ τρεῖς ἀνδρῶν ἑκατὸν ἔτεά ἐστι, "Three generations of men make one hundred years." This is nearly the present computation. To the same effect Clem. Alexandrinus speaks (Strom. 1:2); so also Phavorinus, who, citing the age of Nestor from Homer (Il. 1:250), τῷ δ ἤδη δύο μὲν γενεαί, "two generations," says it means that ὑπερἑβη τὰ ἑξήκοντα ἔτη, "he was above sixty years old." The Greeks, however, assigned different periods to a γενεά at different times (Perizonius, Orig. Egypt. page 175 sq.; Jensius, Fercul. Literar. page 6). The ancient Hebrews also reckoned by the generation, and assigned different spaces of time to it at different periods of their history. In the time of Abraham it was one hundred years (comp. Ge 15:16, "In the fourth generation they shall come hither"). This is explained in verse 13, and in Ex 12:40, to be four hundred years.

Caleb was fourth in descent from Judah, and Moses and Aaron were fourth from Levi. In De 1:35; De 2:14, Moses uses the term for thirty- eight years. In later times (Baruch 6, in the Epistle of Jeremiah, ver. 2) γενεά clearly means ten years. In Mt 1:17, γενεά means a single descent from father to son. Homer uses the word in the same sense (II. 1:250); also Herodotus (1:3). (See Gesenius's and Robinson's Lexicons, under the above Heb. and Gr. words.) — Kitto, s.v. SEE GENEALOGY.

Definition of generation

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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