Ezra wraps up the genealogy for the tribes of Israel (descendants of Jacob) with the bloodlines of Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim and Asher in one go. Whereas he took entire chapters to document the Levites and the tribes of Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Gad. Also, the names are a little different than what we’re used to seeing, and that’s confusing. I just spent 10 minutes comparing the names we’ve just read to the list of descendants given in Chapter 2:1. We don’t see Ephraim or Manasseh on this list. Manasseh, in my understanding, can be “substituted” for Joseph, but what about Zebulon and Dan? Is one of them Ephraim? I didn’t Google today. Don’t shame me. I’m just going to leave these questions in the air for now and hope someone does the homework for me. It’s wrong. I know. I’m doing it still. Speaking of Ephraim, his section contained one of my favorite things about this chapter. It seems Ephraim had a daughter worth mentioning in this long list of men (v. 24): “He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-boron and Uzzen-sheerah.” Sheerah sounds like a superstar! (And if you’re a kid from the ‘80s, she probably was!)
But why such short paragraphs for the descendants of these other brothers and sons of Israel? And why, oh WHYYYY, did the writer have to write them in this order, which is sort of just random, if you ask me. Then my mind went back to Ezra stooping over his desk and inking name after name by candlelight onto sheets of delicate papyrus. I imagined myself in his shoes, uncovering bits of information from whatever sources I had in front of me and jotting them down as I went. More than likely, the tribes of Judah, Reuben and Levi kept better records, because let’s face it, they had more responsibilities. Reuben was the oldest, and Levi produced the priests, which were most likely documented through Temple records. And Judah, well, Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, is the descendant of David, who can and will be traced directly to Jesus in later chapters. But we still don’t know why Judah – the fourth son, mind you, who did some real dumb stuff back in the day – was chosen as Jesus’ direct relative. It’s just one of those things, I guess. He just was. Anyway, that’s my reasoning as to why some of the brothers received whole chapters while these brothers were lumped all into one. Ezra probably did not have much information about them, so he jotted down what he found as best he could. I bet it was like a big, messy puzzle! And I bet Ezra would have appreciated the invention of Sticky Notes more than anyone on Earth!
Writing prompt: little things
What are some little things you noticed in this chapter. I didn’t write it above, but besides Ephraim’s daughter Sheerah, I also underlined Uzzi in verses 2 and 7. If you look, you can see these two Uzzis were second cousins. I was just imagining what it would be like if my cousin and I gave birth around the same time and named our babies the same thing. That actually happened to my son, which was odd at first but turned out to be just fine. Write about some little things you noticed in this chapter.