Ten Generations or Eleven?

Question

10 generations from Adam to Noah
Adam, Seth, Enosh, …, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah
There are 10 generations if Adam and Noah are both included

10 generations from Noah to Abraham
Noah, Shem, Arpachshat, …, Nahor, Terah, Abraham
If we start with Noah, then there are 11 generations
If we start with Shem, then there are 10 generations.
Please explain.

 

 

4 weeks

Answers

  1. There are two ways to explain the count:

    There are ten generations from Adam until Noach:
    (1) Adam
    (2) Sheis
    (3) Enosh
    (4) Kenan
    (5) Mehalelel
    (6) Yered
    (7) Chanoch
    (8) Mesushelach
    (9) Lamech
    (10) Noach

    And then there are ten generations from Shem until Avraham: (starting after Noach)
    (1) Shem
    (2) Arpachshad
    (3) Shelah
    (4) Ever
    (5) Peleg
    (6) Re’u
    (7) Serug
    (8) Nachor
    (9) Terach
    (10) Avraham

    However, according to the Rabbis, Terach is not part of the spiritual lineage from Adam until Avraham. Therefore, he is not to be counted, and Noach is actually counted twice: once in the first block of ten generations and once in the second block of ten generations.

    And why Noach? Because Noach is the one who both ended the pre-Flood existence and he is also the first generation in the post-Flood existence.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team