Jacob's Missing Descendant

by John P. Pratt
21 June 1997
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The following logic puzzle is taken directly from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament. I love logic puzzles and have collected them all my life, and this one just might be the best puzzle I have ever seen: it has all the elements of a great brain teaser. When I discovered it in the Bible, I submitted it to be published, but it was rejected by the puzzle magazines as being too serious, and by the scientific magazines as being too religious. I have not yet submitted it to a Bible commentary magazine, because I don't think they will recognize what a great puzzle it is and they won't believe such a great puzzle could be found in a bunch of "campfire stories," which is what many of them think Genesis is. So I am publishing it here so that you can all try it to see for yourselves.

The entire puzzle is below. I give references to the Bible so that you can check for yourself that it really is there, but I do not recommend trying to do the puzzle directly from the Bible. I have resolved any ambiguities of translation, so you can get a perfect score just from the information here.

Treat it just like any other logic puzzle: assume that it means exactly what it says and that there are no mistakes. When you are finished, you can find the answer by returning to my home page and searching for it by using the search engine.

Jacob's Missing Descendant

Jacob's extended family at the time he moved to Egypt is listed in the Bible, but some information about one descendant may have been purposely hidden. If there is no mistake in the following summary and interpretation of the Biblical account, what can you logically deduce about the identity of Jacob's missing descendant?

1. All seventy living souls of the house of Jacob, including all of his living male and female descendants, were in Egypt when he arrived there with those who accompanied him. (Gen. 46:6, 27).

2. Sixty-six of Jacob's descendants came to Egypt with him. This count includes only Jacob's literal offspring; none of his sons' wives is included (Gen. 46:26).

3. Except for Joseph and his two sons, who already resided in Egypt (Gen. 46:27), Jacob took with him all of his son(s), his sons' son(s), his daughter(s), his sons' daughter(s) (Gen. 46:7), and all of his great-grandchildren ("little ones," Gen. 46:5).

4. These are the names of Jacob's descendants when they had all arrived in Egypt, along with subtotals for each of his four wives (Leah, Zilpah, Rachel, and Bilhah):

a. Leah had 33 living descendants. Her sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, and her daughter was Dinah. Reuben's sons were Hanoch, Phallu, Hezron and Carmi. Simeon's sons were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Cannaanitish woman. Levi's sons were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Judah's sons were Er, Onan, Shelah, Pharez, and Zerah, but Er and Onan had died previously. Pharez' sons were Hezron and Hamul. Issachar's sons were Tola, Phuvah, Job and Shimron. Zebulun's sons were Sered, Elon and Jahleel (Gen. 46:8-15).
b. Zilpah had 16 living descendants. Her sons were Gad and Asher. Gad's sons were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. Asher's sons were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui and Beriah, and Serah was their sister. Beriah's sons were Heber and Malchiel (Gen. 46:16-18).
c. Rachel had 14 living descendants. Her sons were Joseph and Benjamin. In Egypt, the sons of Joseph and his wife Asenath, daughter of an Egyptian priest, were Manasseh and Ephraim. Benjamin's sons were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard (Gen. 46:19-22).
d. Bilhah had 7 living descendants. Her sons were Dan and Naphtali. Dan's son was Hushim. Naphtali's sons were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem (Gen. 46:23-25).