Picture yourself walking home from Jerusalem, circa 400 B.C., after observing the Passover at Zerubbabel’s temple. Or watering your sheep at Bethel. Or watching the sun set over the Jordan, in the Persian province of Beyond the River.
And you’ve heard that your ancestors – people you never knew – had once possessed a land. It was a land that had been promised to them by God and delivered to them by God. And it would have been your inheritance, if it had not also been taken from them by God.
Chronicles, we’ll discover, was written for different purposes and with different emphases than the historical books of Samuel and Kings. Chronicles is not a record of everything that happened but rather a deliberate exercise of memory creation: producing a narrative that would commend to the postexilic children of Israel their story, connecting them with their history, their land, their inheritance.
Today’s reading will conclude the genealogical introduction, picking up with brief histories of Jacob’s other sons: Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Asher, as well as Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim. It’s noticeable that they receive much less airtime than Judah and Levi, though some brief narratives are threaded throughout.
Chapter 8 is devoted to Saul’s lineage, which is revisited at the end of chapter 9. This is significant to the story because chapter 10, which we’ll read tomorrow, opens with the deaths of Saul and his sons. Between these, most of chapter 9 is devoted to returning exiles. It’s noted that some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem. But of greatest interest by far are the Levites, whose families, and duties, are recorded in detail. Assume that this is not a mistake, and that the author has emphasized the families and roles of the ministers of the LORD’s Temple for a reason.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Chronicles 7 through 9. Now let’s read it!
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.