Reuben a Key Element in Genealogy of Judith



Damien F. Mackey



The genealogy of the heroine Judith (8:1) is said to be “the longest genealogy of any woman in the Bible, sixteen known ancestors …”. It traces all the way back to two Simeonite chieftains, Salamiel, Sarasadai, at the time of Moses (Numbers 1:6).

In the Douay version, however, in which these ancestral names vary somewhat, we get this unexpected addition, “the son of Simeon, the son of Reuben”.


After undertaking a massive historical revision in Volume One of my university thesis,

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background


I then proceeded in Volume Two to locate, in the era of King Hezekiah of Judah (c. 700 BC), the fearless Simeonite heroine, Judith of Bethulia, whom I introduced as follows in Chapter 3 (p. 65):



Judith is introduced in 8:1 with an impressive Simeonite genealogy, going back (as we already read in Chapter 5, p. 129) some sixteen generations, to two known Simeonite chieftains, Salamiel and Sarasadai (var. Shelumiel and Zurishaddai), contemporary with Moses, even appointed by Moses (cf. Numbers 2:12). Thus Judith was of noble stock. And so we read (Judith 8:1): “[Judith] was the daughter of Merari son of Ox son of Joseph son of Oziel son of Elkiah son of Ananias son of Gideon son of Raphain son of Ahitub son of Elijah son of Hilkiah son of Eliab son of Nathanael son of Salamiel son of Sarasadai son of Israel”. The Douay version, which includes “Simeon” in the list, strangely as “the son of Ruben” gives from slight to significant variants for some of these ancestral names. [Thus Idox (for Ox); Ozias (for Oziel); Elai (for Elkiah); Jamnor (for Ananias); Gedeon (for Gideon); Raphaim (for Raphain); Achitob (for Ahitub), etc.]

– Proponents of the historicity of [Book of Judith] argue that it would have been quite pointless for the author to have gone to all that trouble of listing so extensive a genealogy if the person Judith never existed.

– Critics, though, claim the opposite: … that this is a kind of desperate measure to give the book a semblance of authenticity.

In the next verse (v. 2), as noted by Pope … “… we are given details about the death of Judith’s husband [Manasses] which (viii, 2-4) can hardly be attributed to art, but are rather indications that Judith represents a really existing heroine”.

Moreover there is – as we read and discussed in the previous chapter – an approximately millennium-long tradition of historicity associated with [Book of Judith].


… a rabbinic commentary had already reached this conclusion … that Beerah was the same as Beeri, the father of the prophet Hosea, who was thus a descendant of Reuben.


Apart from the two ancient Simeonite chiefs Salamiel and Sarasadai, however, I have never since been able to connect any of the other genealogical names, or their variants. Though I had, in my thesis, proposed an identification for Judith’s presumed father, Merari. More to be said about him. And I had totally ignored the Reuben element in the Douay, thinking it an aberration: Reuben was certainly not the father of Simeon, Jacob (Israel) was (Genesis 35:22-23).

Lately though, I, perhaps frustrated by my inability to make further progress, decided to look at the tribe of Reuben, to see if it could provide any added assistance. And it was in the Reubenite genealogy of I Chronicles 5:6 that I discovered the important leader named Beerah:

The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph)— the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel:

Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

The descendants of Joel:

Shemaiah his son, Gog his son,

Shimei his son, Micah his son,

Reaiah his son, Baal his son,

and Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria took into exile. Beerah was a leader of the Reubenites.

In order to indicate what possible significance the Reubenite chief Beerah could have for the subject at hand, I need to continue further with my introduction of Judith, which introduces, in turn, one Beeri, father of the prophet Hosea. But before I do that I need to note that, after I had perceived a possible connection between Beerah and Beeri, I read that a rabbinic commentary had already reached the conclusion (see Biblical Prophets in Byzantine Palestine: Reassessing the Lives of the Prophets, p. 45: that Beerah was the same as Beeri, the father of Hosea, who was thus a descendant of Reuben.

The reader will quickly realise from the following why I consider this to be significant, given my blood connection of the prophet Hosea with Judith the Simeonite (thesis, pp. 65-66):

Judith’s Family


The Simeonites of Bethulia may have been, like the Naphtalians in [Book of Tobit], a closely-knit clan, intermarrying. We are told for instance that Judith’s husband, Manasseh [Manasses], now dead, had “belonged to [Judith’s] tribe and family” (v. 2). After his death by sunstroke during a barley harvest, Manasseh was given a very patriarch-like burial, in a cave in a field: “So they buried him with his ancestors in the field between Dothan and Balamon” (v. 3; cf. Genesis 25:9). That Manasseh’s burial was actually in a “cave” is noted in 16:23.

Obviously Judith and her ancestors, and her husband, were tribally related to Uzziah of Bethulia and his father, Micah. [A ref. to Judith 6:14-15: “… Bethu′lia and placed [Achior] before the magistrates of their city, who in those days were Uzzi′ah the son of Micah, of the tribe of Sim′eon, and Chabris the son of Gothon′iel, and Charmis the son of Mel′chiel]. But, as I shall argue below, and in the Excursus on Isaiah (beginning on p. 87), there was also a family relationship. Judith’s father was one Merari (8:1), of whom she appears to have been immensely proud. She calls herself “Judith daughter of Merari” in her victory canticle (16:6). Merari was, it seems, a well-known figure. Being a descendant of Simeonite leaders of Moses’ time, Merari would himself have been of noble Israelite blood. Jewish tradition calls him ‘Beeri’, according to Moore,1303 rather than Merari, and this I think is both somewhat curious, and also significant. It is curious because the only other ‘Judith’ in the Jewish Scriptures, a Hittite woman whom Esau married, also had a father called Beeri (Genesis 26:34). It is significant, at least in my context, because in the Excursus on Isaiah I shall be identifying:

  1. Merari/Beeri also with the father of the prophet Hosea, one Beeri (Hosea 1:1); and

(b) the prophet Hosea (var. Osee) with both the prophet Isaiah and Uzziah (var. Ozias) of

Judith’s Bethulia.


This (a) – (b) will mean that Uzziah and Judith of Bethulia shared the same father, Merari/Beeri. Now, whilst Uzziah’s father was named, as we saw, Micah, not Merari,

that information can read like a gloss to [Book of Judith], similar to the Arioch and Achior situation discussed on pp. 46-47 of the previous chapter.

Finally, I shall be connecting Micah of [Book of Judith] with Isaiah’s father, Amos, not through name, but through the prophet Micah, whom biblical commentators consider to have been so like Amos that they refer to him as “Amos redivivus”. (See Excursus, p. 87).

Judith’s father will therefore be identified with the famous prophet Amos.

Judith was probably a half-sister of Uzziah/Isaiah, of a different mother. She was no

doubt much younger than Uzziah, being in fact only a girl according to the testimony of Bagoas, the Rabsaris, later in the Assyrian camp: ‘Let this pretty girl not hesitate to come to my lord [Holofernes] to be honored in his presence …’ (Judith 12:13). This

Jewish girl may have been approximately the age of the youthful Joan of Arc, whom she resembles too in her bold will and courage, if not in her tactics. Certainly Stocker has perceived likenesses between the two heroines, and she has further noted that Joan of Arc was, in her time, regarded as being a ‘second Judith’.1304

For comparisons between Judith and Joan of Arc, see my:

Judith of Bethulia and Joan of Arc

The Excursus on Isaiah, referred to above, is to be found in Volume Two of my thesis, beginning on p. 87, titled: Excursus: Life and Times of Hezekiah’s Contemporary, Isaiah. This Excursus now needs to be re-written in part, as I ‘over-cooked’ some of my alter egos.

On the positive side (though still open to future revision):


Concerning Isaiah himself, I am still of the opinion that he is to be identified with the prophet Hosea and with the Simeonite Uzziah of the Book of Judith. See my more recent:


Family of Prophet Isaiah as Hosea’s in Northern Kingdom


Concerning Isaiah’s father, Amos, I am still of the opinion that he is to be identified with Hosea’s father, Beeri, and with Uzziah’s father Micah (also the prophet) and with Merari of the Book of Judith.

On the negative side:


The Isaiah complex mentioned above can no longer be further extended, as in my thesis, to embrace also – despite the incredible similarities of language – the prophet Nahum.

For my new opinion on this, see my two-part:

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted


and much less can Isaiah be extended to embrace the far earlier prophet Jonah. See my:

Prophet Jonah and the Beginnings of a New History

Beerah of Reuben


With the possible inclusion now of the Beerah of I Chronicles 5:6 into the already complex prophetic mixture as ‘reciped above, what sort of pudding do we end up with?

Again, here are some ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’.

On the positive side (though still open to future revision):


This would account for the seemingly bizarre Reuben element in the Douay genealogy of the Simeonite Judith.

Beerah as Beeri father of Hosea would accord with a rabbinic tradition.

Chronologically it fits very well with my Judith reconstruction, with Beerah having been taken into captivity at the time of Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria – the Judith incident occurring later, at the time of Sennacherib of Assyria.

The Book of Judith 4:3 refers to a recent return from exile, thought to be the Babylonian one. It would actually refer to the earlier one caused by Tiglath-pileser III.

Beerah’s leadership status (I Chronicles 5:6) would be in accord with what I wrote of the status of Uzziah (thesis, Volume Two, p. 67): “Uzziah is entitled in the Douay version both “the prince of Juda[h]” (8:34) and “the prince of the people of Israel” (13:23).1306 He was therefore no mean official”.

The Reubenite element could also open up further possibilities for explaining the tricky genealogy of Judith.

On the negative side:


The Reubenite element adds further levels of complexity to the already difficult family connections and geography of my thesis reconstruction.

How does one merge Simeonites with Reubenites?

Perhaps readers with better knowledge of how biblical genealogies work will be able to assist here.


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