1 Chronicles 1–4: Adam, Abraham & Israel

Read the Bible in 2011Week 32: Tuesday

Abraham became the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel [Jacob]….These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
1 Chronicles 1:34, 2:1–2

Tuesday’s Bible reading is 1 Chronicles 1–4. 1 Chronicles begins the postexilic historical books of the Old Testament. Gleason Archer writes this in his introduction to 1 and 2 Chronicles:

“The purpose of these two volumes is to review the history of Israel from the dawn of the human race to the Babylonian captivity and Cyrus’ edict of restoration. This review is composed with a very definite purpose in mind, to give to the Jews of the Second Commonwealth the true spiritual foundation of their theocracy as the covenant people of Jehovah. This historian’s purpose is to show that the true glory of the Hebrew nation was found in its covenant relationship to God…Always the emphasis is upon that which is sound and valid in Israel’s past as furnishing a reliable basis for the task of reconstruction which lay ahead. Great stress is placed upon the rich heritage of Israel and its unbroken connection with the patriarchal beginnings (hence the prominence accorded to genealogical lists).”1

The chapters in today’s reading begin the genealogies of Israel. Reading through name after name can be heavy going. Watch for names you recognize. Look also for patterns. For example, here’s 1:1–4 and 1:24:

“Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth….”

“Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram, that is Abraham.”
1 Chronicles 1:1–4, 1:24

Verse 4 ends with Noah and his sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. In the following verses the descendants of each of the three sons are names. Then in verse 24, the genealogy goes back to pick up the direct line from Shem to Abraham.

Next, after naming Abraham’s sons, Ishmael and Isaac, some of Ishmael’s descendants are named, and then Isaac’s sons Esau and Israel (Jacob). Some of Esau’s descendants are given and mention of kings of Edom. Chapter 2 then goes back to Israel, and begins the genealogies of his twelve sons. As you can see some lines are dropped because God’s covenant with Abraham was established with Isaac and Israel.

Chapters 2–8 are genealogies of the twelve tribes, but they begin with Judah because David is from the tribe of Judah.

If you find it too much to read so many names in one sitting (as I do!), then read through a family group and note familiar names and any omissions, and come back again later. Remember the importance these genealogies would have had for those who had been in exile, probably most of whom would never before have seen the land of Israel (cf. Ezra 3:12) that God had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Gleason L. Archer, Jr., “Postexilic Historical Books: 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,” A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 404.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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