Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Timeline Tuesday: I & II Chronicles

I could hear the groans when the readers following the Take Ten schedule opened their Bible Friday to I Chronicles only to find that the first several chapters contain lengthy genealogies!
"Must we read genealogies again?"
"And why are we reading about Israel's kingdom years again? Didn't we finish them when we read II Samuel through II Kings?"
Ah! So glad you asked! Here are my answers:

"Yes . . . because they are there. And they are important. I'll explain."
"These books were compiled after the captives were allowed to return to their homeland. Again, I'll explain."
 Let's begin with the genealogies which start at the very beginning (a very good place to start; when you read you begin with ABC, when you study the history of mankind you begin with . . . Adam). With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

 Is it not amazing that after so many years had passed since Adam began this family tree, approximately 3,500 altogether by my calculations, the Israelites still had access to their family history? I'm envious!

The reason these records needed to be preserved was two-fold. At least.

First, these books of First and Second Chronicles were not predominantly a political history as were their Samuel and Kings counterparts but were written from the religious viewpoint. Even though most of the lineage contained within the ledger are of the tribe of Judah it was for the sake of documenting the line of the Messiah, a very "religious" thing, to say the least!

Second, as mentioned above these books were written following the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. It is possible that Ezra the priest (we'll be reading the book that bears his name in about a month) was the writer. The information contained in these lists and histories would help the nation resume their ceremonial temple duties.

Remember that most individuals did not have access to the scriptures and this would especially be true during the time of captivity. Daniel and scholars like him would be the exception. We'll discover later when we read the book of Ezra that there were men filling priestly positions that could not prove their lineage back to the tribe of Levi and therefore were removed from office. These genealogies provide the family registry for that important task as well since God had instructed that the family of Levi would be the priestly line. Since there were unqualified individuals during the kingdom years that were filling these offices it is no wonder that there was some confusion when worship was restored many years later!