Monday, August 19, 2013

1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40


I'm back. I have returned from Pittsburgh, from the 2013 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA and I'm ready to resume the year of blogging biblically. If you have been reading along, we are now a little more than 1/3 of the way through this project.

I should care about the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles more than I do. I recognize that genealogy can be fascinating. I don't watch a lot of television but I enjoy the show Who Do You Think You Are? in which celebrities have their ancestry researched. The stories are often compelling.

My wife has been tracing her own genealogy and mine. I like the fact that my family tree includes royalty and war heroes and Mayflower passengers and the founder of a town in Virginia. It is interesting to know what lies in my family's past--to find out where I came from, if you will.

Genealogy is important. It establishes legitimacy and confers identity. That's what these early chapters of 1 Chronicles are about. The books of Chronicles were written for Israelites (well, Judahites) who had returned from exile in Babylon. They wanted answers to questions like "Who are our legitimate rulers?" "Who are the authentic priests?" "Who are the heirs of YHWH's covenant?" and "Who are we?"

I live in modern, individualistic western culture. I know that my ancestry is important to my identity. How much more must ancestry mattered in the collectivistic culture of ancient Israel. In that time and place people were not defined as individuals so much as members of their family, village, clan, tribe, and nation. It is no wonder they were interested in genealogy.

So I should care more about 1 Chronicles 1-9 than I do. It's just that I am much more interested in stories than in lists.

The seventh chapter of 1 Chronicles traces the descendants of Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher. Chapter 8 follows the family tree of Israel's first king, Saul, from his ancestor Benjamin through a few generations of Saul's descendants.

Next: 1 Chronicles 9-11

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