1 Chronicles begins with a long list of genealogies. We begin with Adam (1.1) and interestingly we don’t read of Cain or Abel:
“Adam, Seth, Enosh,”
What does this tell us, this selective reporting of family lines? We see that this is not supposed to be an all-encompassing family record (cf. Genesis 5.4) but instead intended to set the scene and to introduce the main players, so to speak.
In the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles, then, we progress from Adam to the patriarchs, through to the tribes of Israel, on to King Saul, and finally to the returning exiles. It’s important for us to know as we move through this amalgamation of history, events, people, and places, that there are evidently civil records excluded from the Biblical canon. For example, 1 Kings 14.19 (and other places) mentions ‘…the book of the Chronicles of…‘. This is not what we would call 1 and 2 Chronicles: that name comes from the fourth century A.D. and the pen of Jerome and later Martin Luther, whose German title ‘Die Chronika‘ was then Anglicised.
All that aside, what can we take from nine chapters of scene-setting, selective-family-line-tracing genealogy?
I would suggest that it helps us to root the people and the places of Scripture in history and in reality. None of these accounts start with ‘Once upon a time in a far away land…‘. We are setting the scene 1 Chronicles 1-9 with real people in real places (5.11, for example).
This means that when we are introduced to Saul, to David, to Solomon, and the vast and varied supporting cast of these books, we know who they are, where they come from, and their historical reality.
The same is true when we move into the New Testament and read passages like Luke 3.23-38. Jesus didn’t appear out of thin air: His humanity can be traced back to the very beginning (Luke 3.38). So, as you (possibly skim) read the beginnings of the Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (SKC) accounts bear this in mind: real people, real places, real problems, real sin, real solutions, and ultimately, a real Saviour.
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