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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Chronicles 1

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From Adam to Abraham

A. From Adam to Abraham.

1. (1Ch 1:1-4) From Adam to the Sons of Noah.

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

a. Adam, Seth, Enosh: The opening verse of the Books of Chronicles indicates something of their focus. We know that Adam and Eve actually had three sons by name (Genesis 4:1-2, 4:25) plus many other unnamed sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4). Yet in this first verse we read nothing of Cain or Abel; only of Seth. This indicates that the Chronicler was inspired by God to make a selective genealogy for a specific purpose.

i. The Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were originally one book, and focus historically on King David and his dynasty after him. The actual history begins with the death of Saul, but the stage is set with these genealogical tables. The story continues until the return of the exiles from the Babylonian captivity, leading many to think that the Books were written by Ezra or at least in his time.

ii. "Since Chronicles appears to be the work of an individual writer, who was a Levitical leaders, some identification with Ezra the priest and scribe (Ezra 7:1-6) appears possible from the outset." (Payne)

iii. We can imagine the importance of these genealogical lists for the returning exiles. The message of the continuity of God's work through the generations was important for them, as well as helping them to affirm their own place in that flow of God's work through the ages.

iv. "The principle design of the writer appears to have been this: to point out, from the public registers, which were still preserved, what had been the state of the different families previously to the captivity, that at their return they might enter on and repossess their respective inheritances. He enters particularly into the functions, genealogies, families, and orders of the priests and Levites; and this was peculiarly necessary after the return from the captivity, to the end that the worship of God might be conducted in the same was as before, and the by the proper legitimate persons." (Clarke)

v. "These books of the CHRONICLES are not the same which are so called, 1 Kings 14:19, and elsewhere, (because some passages said to be there mentioned are not found here,) but other books, and written by other persons, and for other ends." (Poole)

vi. "It was not in fact until the fourth century that A.D. that Jerome, the famous Bible translator, first applied the term 'Chronicle' to these books.... The mediating influence came from Luther, whose German title, Die Chronika, passed into English with Bible translations proliferated during the Reformation period." (Selman)

b. Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: This father and his three sons - each survivors of the flood - became the basis for the nations in the post-flood world.

i. The span from Adam to Noah and his sons is common to all humanity. This first chapter is "A summary of the 'generations' of Genesis, from Adam to Edom/Esau, shows that all the nations were God's creation and therefore part of his special purpose for Israel." (Selman)

2. (1Ch 1:5-7) The descendents of Japheth, the son of Noah.

The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Diphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshishah, Kittim, and Rodanim.

a. The sons of Japheth: It is commonly supposed that "The seven sons of Japheth founded the people of Europe and northern Asia." (Payne)

- From Javan came Greek Ionia
- From Gomer came the ancient Cimmerians of the Russian plains
- From Madai came the Medes and Persians of Iran
- From Tubal and Meshech came the inhabitants of the Turkish plateau

b. Kittim, and Rodanim: These are respectively the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes.

3. (1Ch 1:8-16) The descendents of Ham, the son of Noah.

The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabtecha. The sons of Raama were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and the Caphtorim). Canaan begot Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.

a. Ham: The descendants of Ham are the peoples who populated Africa and the Far East.

b. Cush: Apparently, this family divided into two branches early. Some founded Babylon (notably, Nimrod) and others founded Ethiopia.

i. Clarke cites an early Jewish Targum regarding Nimrod, who began to be a mighty one on the earth: "He began to be bold in sin, a murderer of the innocent, and a rebel before the Lord."

c. Mizraim: This is another way the Bible refers to Egypt. Put refers to Libya, the region of North Africa west of Egypt. Canaan refers to the peoples who originally settled the land we today think of as Israel and its surrounding regions.

i. From whom came the Philistines: "The Hamitic Philistines were 'sea peoples' before settling in Palestine, coming from the Casluhim, who were of Egyptian origin but are related to the Minoan culture of Caphtor (Crete) and the southern coast of Asia Minor." (Payne)

4. (1Ch 1:17-27) The descendents of Shem, the son of Noah.

The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, Aram, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech. Arphaxad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, and Abram, who is Abraham.

a. The sons of Shem: From Shem came Elam, who was an ancestor to the Persian peoples; Asshur, who was the father of the Assyrians; Lud was father to the Lydians who lived for a time in Asia Minor; and Aram was father to the Arameans, who we also know as the Syrians. Arphaxad was the ancestor to Abram and the Hebrews.

i. Significantly, these included the nations from under which the people of Israel were largely exiled (the Persians). As the Chronicler includes lists this sweeping panorama of all the nations as a part of God's plan, it assured Israel that they were still part of this plan and so were the nations to whom they had been exiled.

b. Uz: Later, a region in Arabia was named after this son of Aram.

Job came from the land of Uz (Job 1:1).

i. "Uz gave the name of the home of the patriarch Job (Job 1:1), who may thus have been an early Edomite descendant of Esau (cf. Lamentations 4:21)." (Payne)

ii. Some think that Jobab is another name for Job, but their names are actually quite different in the Hebrew. "Supposed by some to be the same as Job, whose book forms a part of the canon of Scripture. But in their names there is no similarity." (Clarke)

c. And Shelah begot Eber: "The name Eber forms the root of 'Hebrew'; but this patriarch was the ancestor not only of Abraham (v. 27), but also of a number of other unsettled people, know in ancient history as Habiru or Apiru." (Payne)

d. Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided: This seems to refer to the dividing of the nations at the tower of Babel described in Genesis 11:1-9.

B. The sons of Abraham and their descendents to David.

1. (1Ch 1:28) The sons of Abraham.

The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.

a. Isaac: This was the son of promise and the covenant, whose birth was announced in Genesis 17 and 18 and whose life is recorded in Genesis 21-27.

b. Ishmael: This was the son born of Hagar, blessed as a son of Abraham but not an heir to the promise or the covenant (Genesis 16 and 21).

2. (1Ch 1:29-31) The descendents of Abraham through Ishmael.

These are their genealogies: The firstborn of Ishmael was Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael.

a. These were the sons of Ishmael: God promised to make a great nation through Ishmael (Genesis 21:18). These descendants were the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise, ultimately fulfilled in the Arabic peoples.

3. (1Ch 1:32-33) The descendents of Abraham through Keturah.

Now the sons born to Keturah, Abraham's concubine, were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan were Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

a. All these were the children of Keturah: This was the second wife of Abraham, taken after the death of Sarah (Genesis 25:1-4).

4. (1Ch 1:34-42) The descendents of Abraham through Issac's son Esau.

And Abraham begot Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. The sons of Esau were Eliphaz, Reuel, Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zephi, Gatam, and Kenaz; and by Timna, Amalek. The sons of Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. The sons of Seir were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam; Lotan's sister was Timna. The sons of Shobal were Alian, Manahath, Ebal, Shephi, and Onam. The sons of Zibeon were Ajah and Anah. The son of Anah was Dishon. The sons of Dishon were Hamran, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. The sons of Ezer were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Jaakan. The sons of Dishan were Uz and Aran.

a. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel: Of these two sons, only Israel was chosen as the son of the promise and the heir of the covenant of Abraham. Nevertheless, the sons of Esau still were important to God and had a place in His eternal plan.

5. (1Ch 1:43-54) The Kings and Chiefs of Edom

Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: Bela the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. The name of his city was Avith. When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. And when Baal-Hanan died, Hadad reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pai. His wife's name was Mehetabel the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. Hadad died also. And the chiefs of Edom were Chief Timnah, Chief Aliah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon, Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom.

a. These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the children of Israel: It seems that the kings of Edom came into power before the kings of Israel. In this, the Chronicler reminds the reader that God's ways have their own timing and wisdom; a timing and wisdom which is sometimes apparent and sometimes not.

i. This list of the kings of Edom shows that Esau was indeed a blessed man (Genesis 33:8-16, Genesis 36), though he was rejected as the inheritor of the covenant of Abraham.

b. Bela … Jobab … Zerah … Husham: The steady repetition of the names may seem to be an irrelevant blur to the modern reader, but they have an important place in God's plan of the ages. If nothing else, they demonstrate the reality of prior generations and our connection to both them and God's broader plan - just as a walk through a graveyard can speak the same things to us.

i. "This is an ancient graveyard. The names of past generations who were born and died, who loved and suffered, who stormed and fought through the world, are engraven on these solid slabs. But there is no inscription to record their worth or demerit. Just names, and nothing more." (Meyer)

c. These were the chiefs of Edom: The chapter closes without a mention of the name of God in the entire chapter. Yet, as the Chronicler mentions these men as quoting from the sacred history of Genesis, God is the unspoken main character in the entire sweeping drama.

i. "This chapter has therefore become a panoramic view of God's dealings with humanity in both creation and redemption. God's name does not actually appear, of course, but his activity is visible everywhere to the discerning reader." (Selman)

ii. We see God almost everywhere in this chapter:

- We see God calling out for Adam, hiding in his shame.
- We see God blessing the birth of Seth, providing a son to replace on murdered and the other a murderer.
- We see God walking with Enoch.
- We see God calling to Noah and shutting the door of the ark.
- We see God speaking to the sons of Noah and making His covenant with them.
- We see God as the Most High, dividing an inheritance to the nations (Deuteronomy 32:8).
- We see God dividing the earth at the tower of Babel in the days of Peleg.
- We see God choosing a Babylonian from an idol worshipping family named Abraham.
- We see God stopping the sacrificial knife held over a surrendered Isaac.
- We see God orchestrating the choice of Israel over his brother Esau, despite all fleshly efforts of man to do otherwise.
- We see God blessing Esau and his descendants, as He promised to do.

© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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