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!
1 Chronicles 7 - 9
7:1 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their fathers' houses, namely of Tola, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being 22,600. The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Isshiah, all five of them were chief men. And along with them, by their generations, according to their fathers' houses, were units of the army for war, 36,000, for they had many wives and sons. Their kinsmen belonging to all the clans of Issachar were in all 87,000 mighty warriors, enrolled by genealogy.
The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, and Jediael, three. The sons of Bela: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri, five, heads of fathers' houses, mighty warriors. And their enrollment by genealogies was 22,034. The sons of Becher: Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jeremoth, Abijah, Anathoth, and Alemeth. All these were the sons of Becher. And their enrollment by genealogies, according to their generations, as heads of their fathers' houses, mighty warriors, was 20,200. The son of Jediael: Bilhan. And the sons of Bilhan: Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tarshish, and Ahishahar. All these were the sons of Jediael according to the heads of their fathers' houses, mighty warriors, 17,200, able to go to war. And Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir, Hushim the son of Aher.
The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shallum, the descendants of Bilhah.
The sons of Manasseh: Asriel, whom his Aramean concubine bore; she bore Machir the father of Gilead. And Machir took a wife for Huppim and for Shuppim. The name of his sister was Maacah. And the name of the second was Zelophehad, and Zelophehad had daughters. And Maacah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she called his name Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh; and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. The son of Ulam: Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead the son of Machir, son of Manasseh. And his sister Hammolecheth bore Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah. The sons of Shemida were Ahian, Shechem, Likhi, and Aniam.
The sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, and Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead, whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to raid their livestock. And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah, because disaster had befallen his house. His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. Rephah was his son, Resheph his son, Telah his son, Tahan his son, Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, Joshua his son. Their possessions and settlements were Bethel and its towns, and to the east Naaran, and to the west Gezer and its towns, Shechem and its towns, and Ayyah and its towns; also in possession of the Manassites, Beth-shean and its towns, Taanach and its towns, Megiddo and its towns, Dor and its towns. In these lived the sons of Joseph the son of Israel.
The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber, and Malchiel, who fathered Birzaith. Heber fathered Japhlet, Shomer, Hotham, and their sister Shua. The sons of Japhlet: Pasach, Bimhal, and Ashvath. These are the sons of Japhlet. The sons of Shemer his brother: Rohgah, Jehubbah, and Aram. The sons of Helem his brother: Zophah, Imna, Shelesh, and Amal. The sons of Zophah: Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah. Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Ithran, and Beera. The sons of Jether: Jephunneh, Pispa, and Ara. The sons of Ulla: Arah, Hanniel, and Rizia. All of these were men of Asher, heads of fathers' houses, approved, mighty warriors, chiefs of the princes. Their number enrolled by genealogies, for service in war, was 26,000 men.
8:1 Benjamin fathered Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third, Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth. And Bela had sons: Addar, Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram. These are the sons of Ehud (they were heads of fathers' houses of the inhabitants of Geba, and they were carried into exile to Manahath): Naaman, Ahijah, and Gera, that is, Heglam, who fathered Uzza and Ahihud. And Shaharaim fathered sons in the country of Moab after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives. He fathered sons by Hodesh his wife: Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam, Jeuz, Sachia, and Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of fathers' houses. He also fathered sons by Hushim: Abitub and Elpaal. The sons of Elpaal: Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod with its towns, and Beriah and Shema (they were heads of fathers' houses of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who caused the inhabitants of Gath to flee); and Ahio, Shashak, and Jeremoth. Zebadiah, Arad, Eder, Michael, Ishpah, and Joha were sons of Beriah. Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber, Ishmerai, Izliah, and Jobab were the sons of Elpaal. Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel, Adaiah, Beraiah, and Shimrath were the sons of Shimei. Ishpan, Eber, Eliel, Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, Hananiah, Elam, Anthothijah, Iphdeiah, and Penuel were the sons of Shashak. Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, Jaareshiah, Elijah, and Zichri were the sons of Jeroham. These were the heads of fathers' houses, according to their generations, chief men. These lived in Jerusalem.
Jeiel the father of Gibeon lived in Gibeon, and the name of his wife was Maacah. His firstborn son: Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zecher, and Mikloth (he fathered Shimeah). Now these also lived opposite their kinsmen in Jerusalem, with their kinsmen. Ner was the father of Kish, Kish of Saul, Saul of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab and Eshbaal; and the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal; and Merib-baal was the father of Micah. The sons of Micah: Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. Ahaz fathered Jehoaddah, and Jehoaddah fathered Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri. Zimri fathered Moza. Moza fathered Binea; Raphah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. Azel had six sons, and these are their names: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. The sons of Eshek his brother: Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third. The sons of Ulam were men who were mighty warriors, bowmen, having many sons and grandsons, 150. All these were Benjaminites.
9:1 So all Israel was recorded in genealogies, and these are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel. And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith. Now the first to dwell again in their possessions in their cities were Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants. And some of the people of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem: Uthai the son of Ammihud, son of Omri, son of Imri, son of Bani, from the sons of Perez the son of Judah. And of the Shilonites: Asaiah the firstborn, and his sons. Of the sons of Zerah: Jeuel and their kinsmen, 690. Of the Benjaminites: Sallu the son of Meshullam, son of Hodaviah, son of Hassenuah, Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, Elah the son of Uzzi, son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephatiah, son of Reuel, son of Ibnijah; and their kinsmen according to their generations, 956. All these were heads of fathers' houses according to their fathers' houses.
Of the priests: Jedaiah, Jehoiarib, Jachin, and Azariah the son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, the chief officer of the house of God; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, son of Jahzerah, son of Meshullam, son of Meshillemith, son of Immer; besides their kinsmen, heads of their fathers' houses, 1,760, mighty men for the work of the service of the house of God.
Of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari; and Bakbakkar, Heresh, Galal and Mattaniah the son of Mica, son of Zichri, son of Asaph; and Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah the son of Asa, son of Elkanah, who lived in the villages of the Netophathites.
The gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their kinsmen (Shallum was the chief); until then they were in the king's gate on the east side as the gatekeepers of the camps of the Levites. Shallum the son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, and his kinsmen of his fathers' house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, keepers of the thresholds of the tent, as their fathers had been in charge of the camp of the LORD, keepers of the entrance. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was the chief officer over them in time past; the LORD was with him. Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the entrance of the tent of meeting. All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the LORD, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. And they lodged around the house of God, for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning.
Some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they were required to count them when they were brought in and taken out. Others of them were appointed over the furniture and over all the holy utensils, also over the fine flour, the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices, and Mattithiah, one of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with making the flat cakes. Also some of their kinsmen of the Kohathites had charge of the showbread, to prepare it every Sabbath.
Now these, the singers, the heads of fathers' houses of the Levites, were in the chambers of the temple free from other service, for they were on duty day and night. These were heads of fathers' houses of the Levites, according to their generations, leaders. These lived in Jerusalem.
In Gibeon lived the father of Gibeon, Jeiel, and the name of his wife was Maacah, and his firstborn son Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zechariah, and Mikloth; and Mikloth was the father of Shimeam; and these also lived opposite their kinsmen in Jerusalem, with their kinsmen. Ner fathered Kish, Kish fathered Saul, Saul fathered Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Eshbaal. And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal, and Merib-baal fathered Micah. The sons of Micah: Pithon, Melech, Tahrea, and Ahaz. And Ahaz fathered Jarah, and Jarah fathered Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri. And Zimri fathered Moza. Moza fathered Binea, and Rephaiah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. Azel had six sons and these are their names: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan; these were the sons of Azel.