Day 35: The Family Tree

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 1-12, Ps 52-53

Today, we begin a set of readings that offer a re-telling of what we have just read the last few days in 1 and 2 Kings. The Chronicler gives us a second perspective on the period of Israel’s history from King Saul to exile.

It is significant that, in putting the Bible together as we know it, early church leaders were perfectly comfortable allowing these books to stand alongside each other. After all, they do not tell the story quite the same way, sometimes even remembering the details differently.  Perhaps this should not surprise us. After all, stories handed down orally have a way of morphing over time; and any account of history is influenced by the author’s own context and purpose, including the way in which he or she has been impacted by that history.

One of the first things we notice about the Chronicler’s perspective is that family history is very important. 1 and 2 Chronicles was composed sometime after Israel’s return from exile, at a time when the threat that they could be wiped out by their neighbors was still very real. So, in order to help the people remember who (and whose) they are, the Chronicler painstakingly builds the family tree, going all the way back to Adam.

One of the things I love most about today’s reading are the pauses the writer makes along the way to share anecdotes about members of the family. It reminds me of the genealogy work that both my grandfather and my father-in-law have done, compiling the raw data that reminds us where we came from, while also collecting the stories that help us get to know our ancestors a little better. As we start our jaunt through these next few days, I can almost hear the Chronicler saying, “Here, son. Pull up a chair. Let me tell you a thing or two about your family.”

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