THE CONTINUITY OF THE UNIVERSAL MISSION OF GOD’S COVENANT PEOPLE REFLECTED IN TRACING ISRAEL’S ORIGINS BACK TO ADAM
Andrew Hill: God is everywhere assumed but nowhere mentioned in genealogies. The Chronicler also takes it for granted that his audience knows well the stories and personalities associated with the names logged in the genealogies. This fact is important to understanding the rest of the Chronicles as well. The highly selective retelling of Israel’s history presupposes the Chronicler’s audience knows their Hebrew Bible. . .
More important are the theological threads unifying this opening genealogy.
(1) The nations are introduced in such a way that all peoples are placed inside rather than outside the purposes of God’s electing love.
(2) The nation of Israel lies at the center of the genealogical scheme. Thus, the Israel of the Chronicler’s day is united with the earlier Israel and with the nations.
Iain Duguid: The Chronicler reminds Jews after the exile that they share a common humanity, created and known in its diversity by God. They are descendants of Abraham and Israel, but their ongoing story is part of a bigger picture of God’s purpose for all peoples. . .
In short, this chapter brings together both a universal perspective of all humanity with its diversity and also a particularity as the line focuses, first to Seth and on to Abraham, then to Isaac and (in 1 Chron. 2:1) to Israel. From that point forward, the book’s focus will be on the Lord’s covenant people.
J. A. Thompson: This section may be regarded as a preamble to the main genealogy in 2:3–9:1. In 1:1–2:2 the name “Israel” does not appear. The nation yet to come into being was hidden within the general body of humankind. Meanwhile the genealogies of chaps. 1–9 pursue their way, giving a panorama of the human background out of which the people of Israel emerged. The nation yet to be born emerged in due course from the Semites, one of the three great families of humankind: the Japhethites, the Hamites, and the Semites.
The Chronicler established Israel’s place in the world through the lengthy genealogies of chaps. 1–9 so that his audience might understand anew their role among the nations. Their mission was universal in nature, enabling all peoples to know the Lord through God’s appointed means, the Jerusalem temple. It was temple more so than kingship that indicated the presence of God’s rule on earth. As long as there was the temple, Israel had its peculiar role among the nations.
The genealogies provided for the reconstituted Israel a sense of God’s universal and ongoing work in the world. This continuity of design fueled Israel’s ambition to be the holy vessel that God had envisioned for it (Exod 19). This same sense of continuity with God’s work through the ages motivated the apostles to found the church in the shadow of Israel’s religious tradition. But more importantly, it was the universal setting that explained the drive to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13). God’s people whether in past generations or in the present have this same commission to reach beyond themselves with the gospel to all the peoples of God’s created world (Rom 1:16–17). . .
We may ask why this book burdens the reader with seemingly endless genealogies. Perhaps the best answer is provided by M. Wilcock, who observes that the generations after the exile needed a sense of history and legitimacy. In other words, they needed roots. Using the analogy of a tree, Wilcock observes that the genealogies reach from the very deepest root— Adam—to the very topmost branches of the tree—people who were living in the Chronicler’s lifetime. With these roots God’s people knew who they were and how they were to live. They may have felt like the most insignificant of peoples (a small, backwater country in the great Persian Empire), but the genealogies served to remind them that they were not only a people with a rich history but that their history was God’s history.
Frederick Mabie: Thus, while the Chronicler’s genealogical survey reviews the past, it also works to produce hope in God at the present because of the covenantal possibilities for the future. Similarly, the image of continuity between the past and present facilitates hope that God is still at work through his people. This message of continuity is part of the Chronicler’s message of hope and call to covenantal obedience for his postexilic audience. While the history of Judah is clearly punctuated with sin and unfaithfulness, it is nonetheless permeated by divine grace and faithfulness. Indeed, the Chronicler’s genealogical survey echoes the words of Jeremiah that God’s mercies are new each morning and that his faithfulness is great.
I. (:1-27) ADAM TO ABRAHAM
A. (:1-4) Adam to Noah
“Adam, Seth, Enosh, 2 Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, 3 Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, 4 Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth.”
August Konkel: The general division of the nations among the three sons of Noah is clear: three spheres of peoples and lands converge in the region of Israel. The world is described from an Israelite point of view, looking in the three directions of inhabited lands.
Mark Boda: The line of Cain is ignored and unnecessary in light of the fact that Noah would become the founder of a new humanity after the Flood.
B. (:5-7) The Descendants of Japheth
“The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
6 And the sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah.
7 And the sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.”
C. (:8-16) Descendants of Ham
“The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.
9 And the sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabteca;
and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.
10 And Cush became the father of Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
11 And Mizraim became the father of the people of Lud, Anam, Lehab, Naphtuh, 12 Pathrus, Casluh, from which the Philistines came, and Caphtor.
13 And Canaan became the father of Sidon, his first-born, Heth, 14 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 15 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 16 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites.”
D. (:17-27) Descendants of Shem
“The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech.
18 And Arpachshad became the father of Shelah and Shelah became the father of Eber.
19 And two sons were born to Eber, the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.
20 And Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 21 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 22 Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, 23 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 24 Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, 25 Eber, Peleg, Reu, 26 Serug, Nahor, Terah, 27 Abram, that is Abraham.”
J.A. Thompson: The shorter name Abram (abram) is of uncertain meaning, though probably it means “the father is exalted.” The name rarely was used in the Old Testament. The name Abraham (abrāhām) probably means “father of a multitude,” and from the late perspective of the Chronicler in this genealogical context it testified to the verity of God’s promises and to his faithfulness.
II. (:28-33) SONS OF ABRAHAM
“The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael. 29 These are their genealogies:
the first-born of Ishmael was Nebaioth, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 30 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, 31 Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah; these were the sons of Ishmael.
32 And the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine, whom she bore, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
And the sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan.
33 And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah.
All these were the sons of Keturah.”
J.A. Thompson: Only the descendants of Jokshan (v. 32) and Midian (v. 33) are listed, those of Dedan being ignored (cf. Gen 25:3–4). The descendants of Dedan were South Arabians. Perhaps the Chronicler thought they were only peripheral to his main theme.
III. (:34-42) SONS OF ISAAC
“And Abraham became the father of Isaac.
The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel.”
A. (:35-37) Descendants of Esau
“The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.
36 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zephi, Gatam, Kenaz, Timna, and Amalek.
37 The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.”
B. (:38-42) Descendants of Seir
“And the sons of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.
39 And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna.
40 The sons of Shobal were Alian, Manahath, Ebal, Shephi, and Onam.
And the sons of Zibeon were Aiah and Anah.
41 The son of Anah was Dishon.
And the sons of Dishon were Hamran, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran.
42 The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan and Jaakan.
The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran.”
August Konkel: No genealogical link from Esau to Seir is provided in Genesis or Chronicles. An etymological link is made at the birth of Esau (Gen 25:25); the firstborn of Rebekah was both red (Edom) and hairy (Seir). The geographical location of Seir is uncertain. Edom is generally east of the southern Arabah (the rift valley through the Jordan and the Dead Sea and extending southward); a traditional site for Mount Seir is located there (Jebel esh-Sheraʾ), southeast of the Dead Sea. Seir often appears as a synonym for Edom (Gen 32:3; Num 24:18). Seir was the home of the Horites until they were displaced by the Edomites (Deut 2:12; cf. Gen 36:20). The designation of Seir probably changed over time.
IV. (:43-54) RULERS IN EDOM
A. (:43-51a) Early Kings in Edom
“Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king of the sons of Israel reigned.
Bela was the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dinhabah.
44 When Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah became king in his place.
45 When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites became king in his place.
46 When Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab, became king in his place; and the name of his city was Avith.
47 When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah became king in his place.
48 When Samlah died, Shaul of Rehoboth by the River became king in his place.
49 When Shaul died, Baal-hanan the son of Achbor became king in his place.
50 When Baal-hanan died, Hadad became king in his place; and the name of his city was Pai, and his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.
51 Then Hadad died.”
B. (51b-54) Chiefs of Edom
“Now the chiefs of Edom were:
chief Timna, chief Aliah, chief Jetheth,
52 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon,
53 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar,
54 chief Magdiel, chief Iram.
These were the chiefs of Edom.”
(2:1-3) TRANSITION – SONS OF ISRAEL
“These are the sons of Israel:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, 2 Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.”
Frederick Mabie: The account of the two sons of Isaac spills into ch. 2 and ends with the listing of the actual twelve sons of Jacob/Israel (1 Ch 2:1–2). These sons will constitute both the geographical organization of the future nation that will likewise be named “Israel” (the tribal territories). As such, 1 Chronicles 2:1–2 serves as both a conclusion to ch. 1 and an introduction to chs. 2 and following (cf. Japhet, 65; Selman, 95).