Friday, August 9, 2013

1 Chronicles 3:1-5:26


The books of Chronicles were written for Judahites who had returned to their homeland from their exile in Babylon. So, after 538 BCE, maybe as late as 400 BCE. Chapter 3 lists the descendants of kings David and Solomon, that is, the dynastic kings of Judah. Athaliah, Judah's one queen, (2 Kings 11) is not included in the list. She was not descended from David. She didn't reign long and wasn't any good, anyway. Some of the monarchs are given different names than the ones recorded in the books of Kings.

1 Chronicles 3:22 poses an interesting problem:

The son of Shecaniah: Shemaiah. And the sons of Shemaiah: Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat, six.

What's wrong here? There are only five sons named, not six. I've written elsewhere that a doctrine of biblical inerrancy is useless because we don't have any inerrant Bibles. So, there you go.

Chapter 4 lists the descendants of Judah and Simeon. Judah's family tree includes the only reference in the Bible to a certain Jabez. Jabez prayed:

Jabez was honored more than his brothers; and his mother named him Jabez saying, "Because I bore him in pain."Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!" And God granted what he asked. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

Jabez wouldn't be worth mentioning at all except that a book, The Prayer of Jabez, became a bestseller a few years ago. I haven't read it but I understand that it promises blessings to those who say Jabez's prayer every day for 30 days. This seems to me a rather mechanistic view of God. Say the right words, perform the proper actions, get what you want. I don't believe that God works this way. I did, however, like the T-shirt that said:

I prayed the prayer of Jabez for 30 days and all I got was this lousy shirt.

That and the "Left Behind" boxer shorts made me giggle like a schoolgirl.

The name "Jabez" means, or sounds like the Hebrew word for, "pain." I think the Chronicler includes this prayer, not as a model for believers to follow, but as a way to counteract Jabez's unfortunate name.

Chapter 5 deals with the two and a half Israelite tribes that settled in the Transjordan: Reuben, Gad, and 1/2 Manasseh. God punishes their infidelities.

The stained glass window depicted above graphically shows the descendants of Jesse, the father of David. His sons literally grow from a branch sprouting from Jesse's loins. I found the photo at this website.

Scripture quotes in this post are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.

Next: 1 Chronicles 6

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