The Scriptorium

Backup to Go Forward

Here's the real test of reading genealogy. 1 Chronicles 9.1-44

Gleanealogy: Forward, Ever Forward (4)

Pray Psalm 105.42-45.
For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.
Praise the LORD!

Sing joyfully and with thanksgiving Psalm 105.26-45.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
He brought His people from Egypt alive, and made their joy and song revive.
He made the nations’ land their own, and all the wealth that they had known.

To them He granted the promised land, the portion of His gracious hand.
Though they were few, and wandered far, He kept them close within His heart.

So let us all in our Savior confide, and in His holy Law abide.
Let us observe His glorious Word, and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!

1 Chronicles 9.1-44.

1. When were these genealogies published? Why?

2. The genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-8 lead to this chapter. What is the focus of this chapter? Why does it end with Saul?

We come at last to the “big frog” of our study of genealogies. The motherload. The encyclopedia of genealogical records. The big kahuna: The genealogies recorded in 1 Chronicles 1-9. Take a deep breath.

We can’t do these nine chapters justice in one brief note. Instead, I want to illustrate some things from these lists, and I encourage you to read through these chapters over the next few days, letting my comments guide your eyes.

First, the genealogies reach all the way back to Adam, tracing through Abraham and all his sons, up to the generation of those returning from captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chron. 1.1.1, 28; 9.3-27). Included are key names recalling important moments in Israel’s covenant relationship with God: Seth (1.1), Noah (1.4), Tamar (2.4), Caleb (2.42), David (3.1), and Jeconiah (3.17 – king when Israel went into captivity). This is like a highlights reel of Israel’s history. Each of these names would have brought to mind images and affections to remind the returning exiles of their duties and calling.

Next, strangely enough, there are all the genealogies of the nations around Israel (1.29-33; 1.38-54). God did not want His people to forget the nations. The nations are their project, even though they have been their enemies for generations.

A line is quickly drawn from Judah (recall Gen. 49.8-12) to David (2.3-15), and this is because the story of Israel will “pick up” with David and come forward from him to the present, once the genealogies have been established. The genealogies are like a prelude to an opera, in which you get snippets and quotes of all the songs and themes that will unfold once the curtain is raised. David’s family is elaborated in detail (3.1-24) before another recapitulation of the line of Judah commences (4.1ff.). This tracing of Judah’s line includes the conquest and settling of the land, as if to emphasize to those returning from captivity that they have a similar duty ahead of them (cf. 4.10). Genealogies that follow mention place-names, as if to broaden the vision of those returning beyond Jerusalem to all the land of promise (4.24ff.).

The genealogies of the other tribes are provided, so that the list includes all Israel, not unlike the censuses we saw in Numbers. We’re beginning to get the impression that this return from Babylon is meant to be like the first conquest of the land, only without all the violence.

Read slowly and in places you’ll feel a rhythm to these genealogies, and you’ll even come across some rhyming of names. These devices were used to help make the genealogies easier to remember. The people listed at the end of these genealogies were the returnees, the people with whom God was renewing His covenant. They were returning to the place God had appointed to them, to resume the project they had abandoned seventy years earlier. Everything about these lists of names is meant to conjure all the genealogies from the past, and the events of God’s sovereign care and leading attached to those lists.

The genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9 bend toward Saul and his offspring, before veering to David as the first king descended from Judah. The detailed arrangements for the temple which David provided are again rehearsed, undoubtedly to give guidance for the work that lay ahead for these returnees (1 Chron. 6, 9). David’s kingly line is traced all the way to Jeconiah, when the kingship ends (3.1-17). This list seems deliberately included to invoke the question, “Who is to be king now?” That question is left unanswered, and will remain so until the Lion of the tribe of Judah arrives. So these genealogies invoke not only memories but anticipation as well.

Israel took a second census in Numbers to show that God’s grace had sustained them through forty years of rebellion. 1 Chronicles 1-9 goes further, providing not only a census of the returning exiles but a genealogy tracing all the way back to Adam, and through all the epochs and stages of God’s covenant faithfulness. The genealogies are a reminder of God’s grace and a summons to return to His covenant place and project as His devoted covenant people.

1. What would the return to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity in Babylon have been like without these genealogies?

2. The genealogy of Judah and David was recorded all the way through to those returning from Babylon? Why was there no king?

3. How do you expect to benefit, as a participant in God’s covenant project, by reading through these genealogies?

This chapter expresses that one end of recording all these genealogies was, to direct the Jews, when they returned out of captivity, with whom to unite, and where to reside. Here is an account of the good state into which the affairs of religion were put, on the return from Babylon. Every one knew his charge. Work is likely to be done well when every one knows the duty of his place, and makes a business of it. God is the God of order.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Chronicles 9.1

Thank You, Lord, for including me in Your
people, and for giving me a place – my Personal Mission Field – to work on Your project, which today will require me to…

Pray Psalm 105.1-12.
The genealogies mark the faithfulness of God in keeping and advancing His Word. Praise and thank Him for His great faithfulness, and seek His faithfulness in specific ways for the day ahead.

Sing Psalm 105.1-11.
Psalm 105.1-12 (Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High; call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land; sing praise for all the works of His hand.

Glory in God, rejoice in heart, all you who seek His holy part.
Him and His strength and presence seek; His works proclaim, His judgments speak.

You holy children of Abraham, You chosen ones of Jacob, stand!
He is our Lord, of wondrous worth; His judgments are in all the earth.

He will His covenant faithfully guard – His oath, the promise of His Word.
That which He to our fathers swore, He will perform forevermore!

T. M. Moore

The genealogies of Scripture reveal the heart of God in His covenant relationship with His people. To learn more about God’s covenant, order our book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here. You can learn to sing all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes by ordering a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore