I’ve come to the point in my Bible-in-a-year schedule where I am reading 1 Chronicles, and after a brief break of a few Psalms, I will be reading 2 Chronicles. If I was reading the King James Version, this is where I would find all those “begats” everyone skims over. Since I am reading the New Living Translation, instead of “begat” is says “was the father of.” There is still the tendency to skim.
The thought crossed my mind today that I could get caught up in my reading schedule if I just skimmed both books of Chronicles instead of reading each name, most of which I cannot even pronounce. But I’m trying very hard not to do that. I am hoping that by reading it more carefully and thoughtfully I will get more out of it than I would be skimming.
As I’ve been reading, I’ve wondered what is the purpose of all this genealogy in these two books. It’s not like anyone reading now knows who even a fraction of these people are. But it occurred to me that when they were first written, people did recognize the names and the family relationships. Chronicling the genealogy starting with descendants of Adam would have lent a great deal of credibility to the writing and to other works by the same author.
Genealogy can be very interesting if it is your own family. My sister has spent a lot of time researching our family genealogy, and I have had the benefit of that by her sending me our family tree with ancestors back to the 1500s coming from Finland. Starting with what she had done, I’ve added a few names by researching census and other historical records. When I was in New York recently, I did a little research at Ellis Island to see if any of our ancestors immigrated through there.
Several times in 1 Chronicles, the writer makes reference to the genealogical records, and says that “a search was made in the records.” 1 Chronicles 26:31. Just as my sister, and to a much lesser extent I, have searched various genealogical records to recreate our family tree, the writer of Chronicles made a search of contemporaneous records of family histories.
Maybe the most important thing about 1 and 2 Chronicles is the sense of family history that it imparts. Thinking like that makes it much easier to read each name rather than skim. After all, I wouldn’t skim in reading my own family history, so I shouldn’t skim in reading the family history of Israel either.