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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Chronicles 1



THE genealogies, for which the Chronicles are specially noted, are to most modern readers the least interesting portions of the Bible. But it should be remembered that to the returned exiles they were of the greatest interest and importance. From Ezra 2:61-63, we learn that certain “children of the priests” were unable to find a record of their genealogy, and “therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood,” and not allowed to “eat of the most holy things.” The inheritance of the land was also dependent on one’s ability to show his family in Israel, and thus show title to the heritage of his fathers. As the tribe territories and boundaries, which are so carefully detailed in Joshua, have for us little interest, but were of the first importance to ancient Israel, so these genealogies had for the Jews of Ezra’s time a value and a charm which we of a distant age and race are not capable of fully appreciating. To the Jew, also, they presented a synopsis of ancestral history, and for all time they will stand a monumental witness to the genuineness of the biblical records. For no man would ever have fabricated these dry lists of names, and so confirm the ancient histories, to which they furnish a sort of index.

In this first chapter we have a collection of genealogies extending from Adam to Israel, placed as an historic background to the Chronicles of the chosen nation. Ten distinguished patriarchs of the primeval world are first named, (1 Chronicles 1:1-4,) and then the descendants of the three sons of Noah are so grouped (namely, Japheth, 5-7, Ham, 8-16, Shem, 17-27) as to end with Abram, the great father of the faithful. Abram, however, was the father of many nations, and therefore called Abraham, (1 Chronicles 1:27, compare Genesis 17:5,) and his descendants through Ishmael and Keturah are named before the sons of Isaac, 1 Chronicles 1:28-33. The birth of Isaac and the names of his two sons are then formally stated, (1 Chronicles 1:34,) and the rest of the chapter is taken up with a list of the descendants of Esau.

These genealogies are all to be found in fuller form in the book of Genesis, chaps. 5, 10, 11, 25, 36. Whether they were abridged by our author directly from Genesis, or taken by him from some other book of genealogies, cannot now be determined, but the former supposition is every way probable. “The author has thus shown,” observes Wordsworth, “that however other nations might boast of their antiquity, it was the Hebrew nation alone which could trace its origin in an uninterrupted series of links from the creation of man; and that this nation had been preserved amid the ruins of empires, and amid many revolutions and afflictions due to its defections from God.”

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.