I hope my question will not be considered too broad. I am writing young adult fiction taking place during the Exodus (from just before the 10th plague until just after the giving of the second set of tablets). To do this, I have to fill in the spaces, mainly adding in women that Torah/etc does not mention (but that are of course present), as well as children. I will make up names/etc as needed but I want a story true to Jewish sources. I follow what’s in Torah first, then other parts of the Bible, then I consider (but don’t always use) various commentaries, Midrash, and so forth.

Looking at our core family, timed to the beginning of the Exodus…

Jochebed is present (and quite elderly) but her husband Amram has passed (some commentaries say he’s alive but I think it could go either way).

Moses: We know he has two sons by his wife Zipporah, Gershom and Eliezer (the 3 of them will not join the story until (just before?) Mt. Sinai). I assume they are small children because they fit with their mother on a single donkey. They also do not have tasks in those first couple of years. We know they later grow up, marry, and have at least one child each. I’m going to put them at about ages 2 and 6. I’m assuming there are no daughters because, though daughters generally get left out of the narrative, it would be really odd if they weren’t mentioned on the initial trip from Midian or when Zipporah’s father came to meet Moses. (Although my story ends before it is relevant, I am going with the view that Zipporah is the Cushite woman and Moses only married once.)

Miriam: Tanach does not mention a spouse or children but traditionally Caleb is said to be her husband (and we know his ancestors and descendants). This makes Hur Miriam’s son. Again, no mention of daughters and I’m going to just give her the one child. Hur has 4 sons, Uri, Shobal, Salma, Hareph, and an unknown number of daughters. Hareph has a son Beth-gader and Shobal has a son Kirjathjearim. Then Uri has a son Bezalel, who is the master craftsman for the building projects of the second year. There is commentary that says Bezalel is an extremely gifted child when given the task, so I’m going to make him 12 at the start. I will add in daughters for Hur and his children, as well as spouses for all adults with children. Bezalel will have multiple child cousins.

Aaron: We know Aaron has 4 sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Initially, only the two older sons are in training to become priests but the younger two take over after their brothers' deaths. Torah is clear that Nadab and Abihu had no children, which to me means they were young (say, 20 and 22) and not yet married. Their younger brothers must be teens. Torah states, more than once at the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, that only men who were under the age of 20 during the first census will be allowed to enter Canaan, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. Eleazer (then high priest) is there though, which means he must have been under 20 during the first census and under 19 at the start of Exodus. Ithamar would be even younger. I will probably make them 11 and 14, or something around there. So their wives and children happen long after my story ends.

Aaron also has daughters (thank you Mi Yodeya for laying this out in an older question), but we don’t know their names, how many, or their ages relative to their brothers. I have created 3 daughters, two older than the boys, married with kids, and one born in the middle of the boys and newly married with maybe one child. I used names of (lesser known) Jewish women in Tanach but not from the Exodus. Two husbands I made up but one daughter I have married to Zithri, her father’s first cousin (birth orders in the genealogy make it likely that they’d be the same age). These 3 daughters will have children ages 0 to maybe 7 or 8 years.

So my question is: Have I missed anything in outlining the descendants of the three children of Jochebed and Amram? Are there any names (or other information) for children or spouses beyond what I have? Are any of my assumptions impossible? Thanks!

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Jochebed: I don't remember ever seeing a source whether she was alive or not. Based on the Midrash she would have been 210; even following the Ibn Ezra and others she had to be at least 100. But there were miracles all over the place.

Amram: The Midrash, quoted by the Ramban, says he had died, I guess this is where you're coming from. As you said, you can go either way here.

About the men under 20: based on the Midrash, the tribe of Levi was excluded. And this is important because Elazar was married and had a child, Pinchas. (Although I guess he could have been 18 or something.)

I've always speculated that Itamar had daughters. Evidence: the Midrash interprets "they didn't have children" as a criticism of Nadav and Avihu, implying that their brothers did. He most likely didn't have sons yet because Pinchas according to one opinion didn't become a Kohen with his grandfather, father, and uncles because he was already born and not explicitly included in the instructions, and only became one later by a special decree from G-d. There's no mention of this weird status held by anybody else. So that leaves daughters. It's not watertight by any stretch. This is all only talking about that time. We know he had sons later.

I assume you have Moses and Aaron's ages right, because they're explicit in the verses, but also be careful to keep track of Caleb's age. He was 40 at the time of the spies, so 38 or 39 at the time of the Exodus. He, Chur, and Uri had kids at VERY young ages.

Miriam was much older than he was. The number in my head is 85 but I don't remember the precise source. In any case 85 is a lower bound, because younger than 5 is not so plausible for speaking to the princess who found Moses.

Beth-gader and Kirjathjearim are places, not people. "Father" of a place means the leader of that place, which is not relevant to your story because the places are in Israel and they only became leaders later on.

You haven't mentioned Aaron's wife's name and family. They were prominent people.

"Initially, only the two older sons are in training to become priests but the younger two take over after their brothers' deaths." - this is partly right. Nadav and Avihu did have a more prominent role (example) and it seems that the younger brothers were more on the logistics side (example, note that he kept this role later). But all four of them were training to become priests from the start


If you want to include more unusual and controversial Midrashim, Eldad and Meidad may have been Moses's half brothers.

  • "This exegesis teaches of Jochebed’s longevity, and that she was still alive when Moses died. This is corroborated by another early midrash, that states that Jochebed was one of the offspring of Jacob who went down to Egypt and was also among those who entered the land of Canaan (Seder Olam Rabbah 9)." jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/jochebed-midrash-and-aggadah – Cyn Oct 10 at 0:43
  • Thanks so much for taking the time to go through this. I'm going to answer bit by bit. When I started researching descendants I just wrote the answers. Now I'm documenting sources, but I don't have them all. <p>So...Miriam was definitely older than Moses (80) and probably Aaron (83). Most sources seem to put her at 86, so I am too. Caleb 43? For real? That seems hard to imagine given that his grandson is at least a teen. Are you saying that middle-aged Miriam had a baby with a 15 year old boy? Or something... – Cyn Oct 10 at 0:57
  • From your link re Caleb, I see contradiction. Am I missing something? Joshua 14. Verse 7: "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land." Verse 10: "It is forty-five years since the LORD made this promise to Moses, when Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old." – Cyn Oct 10 at 1:06
  • @Cyn you're right, I was going too fast and made a mistake. 40 is right which makes him even younger. (But note the Midrashic part is that he was Miriam's husband, not his age. His age is straight out in the text.) – Heshy Oct 10 at 11:27
  • @Cyn unrelated - I also added another paragraph, last one before the horizontal line – Heshy Oct 10 at 12:44

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