What does it say?
This reading frankly doesn’t say much to a Western contemporary reader. The opening chapters of Chronicles is yet another of the infamous biblical genealogies.
As before, don’t think you have to pronounce each name and interact with each detail. Just lightly run your eyes over the content of these two chapters and see if anything catches your attention.
What does it mean?
The books of Chronicles repeat much of what we have seen in the books of Samuel and will see in the books of Kings. However, the perspective is different. Chronicles, written much later, highlights the same time period from the perspective of the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin as well as the Levites.
Chronicles was written in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah and the return from the Babylonian captivity. The northern tribes were defeated and led into exile centuries earlier by the Assyrians. So the Israelites returning from Babylonia were predominantly from the southern tribes, the largest by far being the tribe of Judah. Today, instead of speaking of Israelites or Hebrews, we usually say Jews, the contracted form of Judah. Chronicles is a Jewish history in this sense.
Though we know the time and subject matter, we do not know with certainty the author of Chronicles. The purpose is to reconnect the returning Jews with their history. Some of the names are spelled differently just as any language evolves over time. This reading is included here in our chronological reading not because of the date of the writing, but of the subject matter.
Genealogies are hugely important in many cultures even today. They make that connection to the past to prepare us for today and the future. Here, the genealogy begins with Adam and quickly moves to Israel’s 12 tribes. Such genealogies were not intended to be exhaustive, but to outline history in ways easily committed to memory. The emphasis here is to remember that God’s story is one, beginning with Adam and including us. This is an important lesson for us to learn, too. There is one God, one story, one mission.
How will I respond?
I will prayerfully reflect on my place in God’s story, one life among billions. Yet every life has a place and purpose. What does my genealogy look like? What do I owe to my ancestors? Even dysfunctional families (like many in the Bible) have bright spots. Even if I don’t know my biological family, I am part of a spiritual genealogy. I have the ability to be a history maker and establish positive connections between generations and bear good fruit in the form of physical and/or spiritual descendants.