I was given a puzzle by someone who was concerned for me. I was told that the Newer Testament cannot be trusted because it contradicts Torah. In response I said that contradictions in Torah are in interpretation, not in the text itself. To prove the point, I was given two passages: one in the Newer Testament and one in Torah. “How can one trust the Newer Testament when it can’t correctly recount something as simple as the number of people who descended into Egypt? I asked for some time to discover the answer for myself.
— The number of Jacob’s direct descendants, including Joseph who was in Egypt, was seventy. [Exodus 1:5]
— Thus, the number of people who came to Egypt with Jacob, who were his blood descendants, was sixty six, not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons. Joseph’s sons, born to him in Egypt, added another two individuals. The number of individuals in Jacob’s family who came to Egypt was seventy. [Genesis 46:26-27]
Your ancestors emigrated to Egypt with only seventy individuals, but now Hashem your G-d has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky. [Deuteronomy 10:22]
According to my acquaintance, there is a discrepancy with this passage:
— The Joseph sent and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons. [Acts 7:15]
While some may be bothered by this, and some may say the number problem is immaterial. However, I wanted to find a reason for the discrepancy. I happened to find the answer in an unusual place.
— And all the persons of Jacob who entered Egypt were seventy persons. Therefore, all these sons and little ones of his were seventy, but five died in Egypt before Joseph and they had no children. And the two sons of Judah, Er and Onan, died in the land of Canaan and they had no sons. And the children of Israel buried those who perished and they were set among the seventy nations. [Jubilees (Sefer Hayovalim) 44:33-34]
Simply put, the three texts in Torah give us the number of blood relatives who settled in the land of Goshen. The Newer Testament text tells us the number of people who began the journey. As one man said, the Book of Jubilees, being most likely a post-Babylonian exile book, is probably glossed to rectify two different traditions that may have developed in the transmission of the Torah.
Perhaps exidence to the differing traditions can be found here: Exodus 1:5 LXX, Genesis 46:27 LXX, and 4QExod(b), and 4QGen-Exod(a) LXX, read “seventy-five,” but Deuteronomy 10:22 LXX reads, “seventy.”