Chronicles: Genealogy

April 12, 2011

Remakes and reruns–always compared to the first and always trying to differentiate themselves from the first.  Growing up I know I took Chronicles as a kind of rerun.  “How did two of these make it in here?  Is this some kind of warm up for the New Testament’s Gospel fourpete?”

Last week I got a great chance to study Chronicles as a whole, finally setting it apart from Samuel/Kings as I’d never gotten to before, and oh was it good.  Here’s round one of where I settled in the story…

Chronicles begins with what to modern ears might seem like the narrative version of a nice 2×4 to the face: a genealogy.  And this one is a big one too.  Nine chapters big!  This has got to be the second graveyard of many read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans (Second to Leviticus of course).  Painful as it may be though, Chronicles initial desert has bloomed–at least for me–as it has come to express much of the questions that drive the following narrative.

Beginning his story with a Genealogy, the Chronicler has…

  • …framed his story/questions within the context of all of humanity.  Not only does the story begin with Adam, but in a highly extraneous move, the author includes a fairly extended table of nations (53 verses)
  • …reminded us of God’s promise to Adam.  By beginning with Adam, we cannot help but remember that through the woman God had promised to crush evil.
  • …alerted us to the story’s prominent characters: Levi and Judah.  Half of the genealogy’s 400 verses are spent on these two sons of Jacob and their progeny.  As with Adam, these characters remind us of worship/priesthood and ruling/kingship–again, harkening back to God’s promise that the scepter would not depart from Judah until he comes to whom it belongs (Genesis 49:10-12).  And the Chronicler wastes no language in reminding us that the leader would come from Judah (I Ch 5:1-2)
  • …given us a new ending.  Chronicles begins with the knowledge that Israel is headed in to exile (I Ch 5:26; 6:15; 8:6-7), they will live there for an extended period of generations (I Ch 3:17-24) and they will return from the exile (I Ch 9:1f).  There’s no question over whether exile is coming.  Instead the question surrounds life as post-exiles.  Moses has already described post-exile life (Dt. 30:1-10), but this isn’t it.

Equipped with the opening genealogy, the reader has to ask: 1) How will God crush evil as he promised to Adam? 2) What is this Judahite ruler going to be/rule like?  3) How are we supposed to live as post-exilic people?

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