Is there an error here in the number of children from Jacob's wife Leah?

Genesis 46:15 says that "These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram,[c] besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all."

There are also issues in considering that Leah and Jacob are part of the 33 people listed.

In quoting the passage where they were listed, I will number them as they are named. The verses in this passage number 8 through 15, so I will substitute A through H in parentheses for the verse numbers so that they will not be confused with the numbering of the names in the list, which will be indicated in brackets. Er and Onan, in verse 12 (E) will not be counted, because they had died in Canaan, as the verse notes, before the Israelites went into Egypt.

(A) Now these are the names of the Israelites, Jacob and his offspring, who came to Egypt. [1] Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, (B) and the children of Reuben: [2] Hanoch, [3] Pallu, [4] Hezron, and [5] Carmi. (C) The children of [6] Simeon: [7] Jemuel, [8] Jamin, [9] Ohad, [10] Jachin, [11] Zohar, and [12] Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. (D) The children of [13] Levi: [14] Gershon, [15] Kohath, and [16] Merari. (E) The children of [17] Judah: Er, Onan, [18] Shelah, [19] Perez, and [20] Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the children of Perez [already counted as number 19] were [21] Hezron and [22] Hamul. (F) The children of [23] Issachar: [24] Tola, [25] Puvah, [26] Jashub, and [27] Shimron. (G) The children of [28] Zebulun: [29] Sered, [30] Elon, and [31] Jahleel (H) (these are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter [32] Dinah; in all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three).

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    There are also issues in considering... Jacob. There are other instances in Tanach where a list is described with a certain attribute (in this case, that the enumerated people were sons and daughters of Jacob), and yet that attribute is understood to apply to all but one person in the list. Per the Ibn Ezra's view (cited in Jay's answer) that Jacob himself was one of the 33 even though he's obviously not his own son, this is just one example of this phenomenon (cf. Gen. 35:26, where the description doesn't apply to Benjamin, and 36:15–16, where the description doesn't apply to Korah).
    – Fred
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:23
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    Hello Loah Badoon. Welcome to mi.yodeya. What do you mean by "There are also issues..."?
    – WAF
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:27

5 Answers 5


Rashi raises this question, and answers (probably based on the Midrash 94:9) that the 33rd is Yocheved, who wasn't born until they got to Egypt.

Ibn Ezra (on verse 23) rejects this explanation, and instead suggests that Jacob himself is included in the count.

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    Or based on the g'mara in Baba Basra, also quoted by Rada"k.
    – WAF
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:32
  • @WAF - I mentioned only the midrash because there too it mentions where she was born in order to include her in a count. I don't believe the Gemara there is addressing a counting question, it merely mentions where she was born.
    – Jay
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:49

Rashi addresses this issue and says the following (quoted from Sefaria)

שלשים ושלש THIRTY THREE — But in the enumeration above you will find only thirty-two. The one whose name is omitted is Jochebed who was born “between the walls” just as they entered the border city, as it is said (Numbers 26:59) “Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bore to Levi in Egypt — she was born in Egypt, but she was not conceived in Egypt (Sotah 12a).

Hope this clears up the issue.


Pirkei d'Rabi Eliezer 39 says that Hashem himself was counted with them to fulfil the posuk: "I (Hashem) will go down with thee into Egypt".


I have a theory that might relate to the miss translation of the verse.

Genesis 46:15 : These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

There is a grammatical inconsistency when the subject is Leah but in the middle the translator use HIS instead of HER. The translator might aware of this inconsistency since translator cannot connect the word HER with LEAH.

Translator knows the correct word is HER but it is not for LEAH. Then translator interpret the whole verse and give the HER word for Jacob, so it changed into HIS.

So I think the correct translation should be : Gen 46:15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, Dinah with HER daughter. These sons and daughters of HER were thirty-three in all.

The writer of the Bible stated the name of Dinah which is supposedly important. So Dinah and her daughter counts as 2 persons and added up with Leah's 31 sons to 33 persons.


Since Jochebed was born in Egypt she must be left out of the computation, since it is mentioned in 46:8 (and :26,27) it concerns the people who went to Egypt. Still the number 33 must be a scribal error. Since the total of ALL (Gen. 46:15) Leah's sons and daughter is 34. Yet 2 of them did not go to Egypt since they (Er and Onan) were death. Therefore the number 66 of Gen. 46:26 is a correct computation, if you use 32. Since then from Leah 32 went to Egypt, and 16 of Zilpah, 11 from Rachel, and 7 from Bilha. Total 66 descendants of Jacob went to Egypt (Gen. 46:26). Including Jacob with his 3 wifes (Rachel was dead), 70 was the total of the family who went to Egypt. (Gen. 46:27)

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