Chronicles. Urg. Just reading the name could make a person sleepy! As we begin this book, which is as its title describes – a “chronicle” of the Israelites’ ancestry – let’s agree to try and have some fun with it. There is fun to be had, folks, in a long list of names and people and people groups that we’ve never heard of and don’t know the first thing about. I promise. Let’s just dig right in, shall we?
First, I want to emphasize that even though much of this text is going to go right over the tops of our heads, that we should be diligent in reading every line. You can even make a chart, if you’re so inclined. Making a visual of words in a text often helps to add another layer of understanding. I didn’t make a chart – yet – but I did underline some lines that stood out to me, some tidbits, I would call them, that lend some insight into how eventually we got to where we are today.
Verse 10 says Nimrod was the first heroic warrior on earth. Verse 12 tells us that the Philistines evolved from Ham’s branch of the tree. Verse 19 says … “the people of the world were divided into different language groups.” In verse 24, we learn that Abram, who we recognize as Abraham, descended from the line of Shem, who was Noah’s first son, and if you go to the beginning of the chapter, you’ll see that Noah’s lineage is traced back to Adam. Gorgeous.
Another thing I noticed is that most of the names in this opening chapter are of men, but there are a few women mentioned. For instance, verses 32 and 33 mention Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, who as far as we can tell from the text didn’t produce any heirs with names we might recognize. I thought that was curious. And why the mention of Lotan’s sister, Timna, in verse 39? And finally, Mehetabel, wife of Hadad the king, gets a shout out in verse 50. I’ve never heard of any of these ladies, so if you’re scratching your head right now, I’m right there with you.
However, if you’re bored out of your mind after reading this, I’m not right there with you! I’m a super nerd when it comes to reading text like this. Maybe my imagination will help you get into it a little more because when I read stuff like this, all I can picture is some person (most likely Ezra, according to Jewish tradition, as referenced in my NLT Bible), stooped over his writing table day after day after day, meticulously following and recording the family lines of those who came before us and giving us little hints in between about history and how things came to be. That’s why I said to read every line. It’s like searching for treasure. By reading every line, you’ll find those tiny elements that bind all these words together, and like geometry, one day, bam!, a little more of it will make sense.
Writing prompt: ancestrydotcom
Have you ever traced your family tree? Start today with a basic outline of your own family tree. Start with your father’s side, and go as far back as you can. Then do the same for your mother’s side. Try to appreciate Ezra’s efforts and the time it took to write both books of Chronicles as you’re documenting your own ancestry.