Introduction

A careful study of the genealogies provided in the first 9 chapters of Chronicles provides the following information:

  • There are 886 male names, 25 female names, and 25 names for nations or people groups.

  • The most popular male name is Azariah (7 times) which means “the Lord has helped”, and Maacah (no meaning known) is the most popular female name with 4 appearances.

  • No names begin with the letters “F”, “Q”, “V”, “W”, “X” or “Y”.

  • However, the top 5 starting letters of names are “A” (130), “J”, (110), “S” (105), “E” (75), and “M” (61). Together these spell “James”.

OK, if you’re beginning to question my sanity then you’re probably beginning to get the point I’m trying to make: Anyone can put together “Bible codes” or just plain useless statistical information; but that’s not why we study the Bible—we study to hear God speaking to us personally. So how and why does He use genealogies? Consider this quote from Thomas Fuller in his Scripture Observations:

“Lord, I find the genealogy of my Saviour strangely chequered with four remarkable changes (Matt. 1:7,8) in four immediate generations.

1. Roboam begat Abia;
that is, a bad father begat a bad son.
2. Abia begat Asa;
that is, a bad father, a good son.
3. Asa begat Josophat;
that is, a good father, a good son.
4. Josaphat begat Joram;
that is, a good father, a bad son.

I see, Lord, from hence, that my father's piety cannot be entailed; that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son.”

Paul explained:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
―2 Timothy 3:16-17

As you can see from Thomas Fuller’s example, this even means genealogies.

[Note: This is one of the few Walk with the Word studies that does not include the Scripture for practical purposes of space. You’ll need to use your own Bible.]

General Overview

Q: What are some of the reasons for genealogies in the Bible?

  1. They’re the proof of the fulfillment of God’s promises, such His covenants with Abraham and David, the Messiah, etc.
  2. They’re proof of spiritual warfare.
  3. They’re the physical proof of the existence of God.
  4. They separate the Word of God from all other works of fiction and/or legends, folk tales, myths, etc.
  5. They tie God’s plan together from Genesis through Revelation.

They document the messianic bloodline. They don’t just identify the person of Jesus as the Messiah but show that in His bloodline are sinners and Gentiles, further establishing God’s intention to include the entire world in His plan of salvation.

 

[Read 1:1-23]

Q: What is this a genealogy of?

A: The world.

Q: How does God see all the nations of the world? In relationship to what are they described throughout Scripture?

A: All nations are seen and referenced by their roots going back to one of Noah’s sons: Japheth, Ham, or Shem.

  • Japheth is the father of many general nations.
  • Ham is the father of almost all of the “bad nations” on earth.
  • Shem is the bearer of the messianic seed line resulting in Christ and Israel as well as other nations such as the Ludites, Aramites, etc.

Point: Descendants of all 3 sons of Noah are present at Christ’s birth, death, the descending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the End Times. It’s a constant reminder of God’s intent to reconcile all nations to Him. It’s also interesting to note that all the “bad nations” God directed Israel to destroy are descendants of Ham, listed as sons of Canaan.

 

[Read 1:24-54]

Q: What is this a genealogy of?

A: The Middle East.

  • Proves that Abraham was, indeed, the father of many nations as God promised.

  • Indicates the familial relationships of others nations to Israel such as Edom and Midian.

  • Helps us understand why there were those outside the nation of Israel with whom God communicated and had a relationship (Job, Nineveh, the magi, etc.) and why some of today’s false religions trace their roots back to the same roots as Judaism and Christianity.

Point: Because the Old Testament emphasizes Israel, the genealogies remind us lest we forget:

  1. ALL had an equal chance to follow God.
  2. ALL had the original, proper teaching concerning God through their common father Noah. (Remember, Job was NOT a Jew, but do you doubt he was a devout believer?)
  3. Idolatry and all other sins of pride that led away from God came from those who CHOSE to turn their back on Him.
  4. Helps us understand that God’s plan is for ALL the peoples of the earth, not just one nation.
 

[Read Chapter 2]

Q: Who is this a genealogy of?

A: Judah.

Q: Are there any teachings that come from Judah’s lineage that speak beyond the basic mechanics of a genealogy?

A: The listing of Er and Onan in v.3, and Achar in v.7, along with the accounts of their deaths are an example to be handed down to “the living” as to the consequences of disobedience. (Their accounts are fully documented in Genesis and Joshua.) There are many such examples throughout.

 

[Read Chapter 3]

Q: Who is this a genealogy of?

A: David.

Q: Why has the genealogy gone from Judah to David without first documenting the other tribes of Israel first?

A: This genealogy is configured as a sort of “funnel” that begins with the world, narrows down to the Middle East, narrows down to Israel, still further to Judah and specifically down to David to document the messianic bloodline that will produce the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Q: The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage to David’s son Solomon, but Luke traces it back to David’s son Nathan. Why is this NOT a contradiction?

A: By studying genealogies closely, we find that sometimes a father has no sons, only daughters. Since the Jewish birthright is handed down through the mother, the daughter is usually listed along with whomever she married, and her son is listed as a direct descendant of her father. Therefore one genealogy is through Mary and her fathers, the other through Joseph and his fathers. In EITHER event, they BOTH fulfill God’s promise that the Messiah will be a direct descendant of David.

Point: Now that you know that David had many more children than just the 17 sons whose names were written here, and just ONE of those sons—Solomon—had over 1,000 wives, you can see why Herod was panicked and ordered all the children killed at the appearance of the Magi for Jesus’ birth. By Herod’s time there were most likely THOUSANDS of people that could claim a direct lineage to the throne back through David, all of which would be perceived by Herod to be a potential threat.

Q: How do we know that these genealogies are not necessarily complete in every detail?

  1. In Matthew 1:5 we learn that Rahab (the Gentile harlot who helped Israel in their conquest of Jericho) became the wife of Salmon of the tribe of Judah. One of her direct descendants is Boaz the father of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, through whom would come the Messiah.

  2. In Ruth 4:17 we learn that Naomi is the mother of Obed, the direct descendant of Rahab and thus on to the Messiah through David.

Point: Every genealogy throughout the Bible is not just a technical or historical document included for informational purposes, but has something specific to teach. The inclusion/addition of information from one genealogy to another is practical (Can you imagine if EVERY name between Adam and Christ were listed?) in terms of highlighting something being taught by God.

List the tribes in chapter 2:

1. ____________________
2. ____________________
3. ____________________
4. ____________________
5. ____________________
6. ____________________
7. ____________________
8. ____________________
9. ____________________
10. ____________________
11. ____________________
12. ____________________

List the tribes in chapters 2-8:

1. ____________________
2. ____________________
3. ____________________
4. ____________________
5. ____________________
6. ____________________
7. ____________________
8. ____________________
9. ____________________
10. ____________________
11. ____________________

List the tribes in chapter 12:

1. ____________________
2. ____________________
3. ____________________
4. ____________________
5. ____________________
6. ____________________
7. ____________________
8. ____________________
9. ____________________
10. ____________________
11. ____________________
12. ____________________
13. ____________________

[Read Chapters 4-8]

Q: Who is this a genealogy of?

A: Israel.

Q: This is NOT a trick question: How many tribes are there?

A; There are at least 13, and it’s possible from a certain perspective to identify 14. The reason there can be 13 is that Levi is often not listed as it belongs to the Lord rather than the nation. It was the only tribe not given a specific portion of the land but provided cities and land among all the other tribes. There can technically be as many as 14 because Joseph is often interchangeable with either of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Sometimes Joseph alone is mentioned, which includes both his sons, and sometimes they are split out for different reasons.

Q: Therefore, which tribes are listed in THIS genealogy? Which are missing?

A: To be accurate, there are 2 listings in chapters 2-8 and a third listing in 1 Chronicles 12. They are:

  • 1 Chronicles 2: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Neither Ephraim nor Manasseh are specifically mentioned as they are assumed to be included under Joseph.

  • 1 Chronicles 2-8: Judah, Simeon, Reuben, Gad, Levi, Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher. Not mentioned are Dan and Zebulun. This shows the difference in how the land was eventually apportioned as opposed to who was strictly born to whom. Perhaps there’s a lesson here about obedience, spiritual sonship and spiritual inheritance?

  • 1 Chronicles 12: Judah, Simeon, Levi, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan, Asher, Reuben, and Gad. Here they are described as “division equipped for war” and that is why both Ephraim and Manasseh show in place of Joseph. Note that there are a total of 13 tribes listed.

Q: Which tribes comprised the northern kingdom of Israel and were carried away into captivity by Assyria, and which were the southern kingdom of Judah that were carried away to Babylon? What is missing and why?

A: The northern kingdom (everyone except Judah and Benjamin) were carried away to Assyria nearly 300 years before the 2 tribes of the southern kingdom. What is missing, however, is Levi. In reality, they lived among all the tribes, but would have been more greatly concentrated in and around Jerusalem in Judah because of the temple.

Q: If 10-1/2 tribes were carried off by Assyria and have not clearly been shown to have returned from exile, how is it possible that all of the tribes exist from that point on?

A: Those that remained faithful in their relationship with God understood the need to maintain contact with Jerusalem and His temple in order to be fully compliant with the Law. Scripture is clear that Believers from ALL tribes migrated south and lived amongst a nation PREDOMINANTLY composed of Judah and Benjamin, NOT exclusively. When “Judah” was carried away, ALL the tribes were essentially carried away and likewise returned.

Q: Why does Dan disappear from the list?

A: Dan was originally assigned land in the south. Unwilling to follow God’s command and root out the enemies in the area, they sought what they thought would be a better place for themselves and migrated to the very northern tip of Israel. It’s evident from the biblical account that along the path of their migration they introduced idolatry to the other tribes and established a center of false worship in their new land. They were the first tribe conquered by Assyria, and in the listing of the 144,000 sealed from the 12 tribes in Revelation 7, they are conspicuously absent, most likely destroyed for their sin.

It’s interesting to note that 1 of Jesus’ 12 disciples—Judas—became an instrument of Satan and was both destroyed and replaced. The genealogies continually reinforce that nothing guarantees a continued relationship with the Lord except a right heart.

Q: So is there actually a “13th Tribe” or “Lost Tribe” of Israel?

A: No. Scripture clearly accounts for everyone. What there has been as in the case of Dan is God’s working.

 

[Read chapter 9]

Q: What is the significance of this genealogy?

A: It documents the genealogical enrollment of those returning from exile. In particular, note the reference in v.1 to “the Book of the Kings of Israel” that is the definitive genealogical source document. It indicates not only that there are other records, but that the genealogical excerpts provided in the Bible have a deeper purpose and meaning.

 

Overall Application

  • Can you see that God’s plan is for the whole world, but working through a special group of people (Israel)? Can you see why Paul goes into detail about God’s work to reconcile both Jew and Gentile, and the work yet to be completed through Israel?

  • How do you feel personally knowing that the messianic seed line contains both Jews and Gentiles, both righteous and sinner?

  • Can you see in the different listings of the tribes of Israel the continuing work of God? And that it is yet to be completed? Can you see that He keeps ALL of His promises? What does this mean to you?

  • If God sees relationships and history through Noah’s sons, how is this useful for interpreting Scripture and understanding the End Times? Is our worldview aligned with God’s? End