Sunday, October 5
1 Chronicles 5: This chapter begins with a brief explanation why Reuben, though IsraelŐs eldest son, did not inherit nor transmit the right of primogeniture. (In fact, however, throughout the Bible GodŐs favorable choice most often seems to fall elsewhere than on the eldest son.) The reasons given here reflect the narratives in Genesis.
Dealing with ReubenŐs settlements east of the Jordan and Dead Sea (verse 8) apparently prompts the authorŐs mind to remain in that general location and discuss the tribe of Gad (verses 11-17) and the half-tribe of Manasseh (verses 23-24) that settled in Gilead and Bashan. This sequence interrupts the authorŐs pattern of adhering to lists of the sons as they appear in Genesis 46:16 or Numbers 26:15-18.
The mention of Sharon in verse 16 is most mysterious, because the Plain of Sharon in nowhere near that area.
In verse 17 the author traces his source material to a census made in the mid-eighth century.
This chapter has two notices of wars against the Arabians, one in the late eleventh century (verse 10) and one at an apparently later period. These wars with the Arabians, however, did not context the Holy Land itself, bet regions to the east thereof.
The chapterŐs closing verses (25-26) indicate the irony that these eastern tribes, victorious in war by GodŐs favor, nonetheless succumbed to the religion of those whom they defeated. This explain their massive deportation by Tiglathpileser in 734. The material here is drawn from 2 Kings 15:19,29; 17:6; 18:11. Thus, an Assyrian emperor is portrayed as an instrument in the hand of the supreme Lord of History.
Monday, October 6
1 Chronicles 6: Next into consideration come the sons of Levi, the priestly tribe. We observe a certain stylization as the genealogy beings. There are twelve priestly generations from Aaron to the Solomonic temple (verses 1-10) and another twelve generations from that temple to the post-exilic temple (verses 11-15; Ezra 3:2).
The listing of the levitical singers (verses 31-48) is unusually detailed, suggesting that the author had access to more ample source material for this section.
Although Korah was punished for rebellion against Aaron (Numbers 16:16), his descendents (verse 37) served as Levitical musicians and are credited with compiling some of the Book of Psalms (42-49, 84-88). The Asaph in verse 39 is also well known in the Psalms (73-83).
The Zadokites, the descendents of Zadok (verse 53),became the chief priestly family at the time of David, who is the true hero of the Books of Chronicles. In the New Testament the Zadokites are called Sadducees, who were chief among those who rejected DavidŐs final Heir.
The Levites were not given a special tribal portion of the Holy Land like the other tribes but were dispersed throughout all the other tribes, so that the latter would benefit from their priestly ministry (verses 54-81). The Levites were allotted specific cities among the tribes, the first being the ancient shrine of Hebron (verse 55), which was also appointed as a city of refuge (verse 57). Indeed, we observe that all the major cities of the Holy Land, except Jerusalem, were designated as priestly cities Ń Debir, Bethshemesh, Anathoth, Shechem, Gezer, Aijalon, Golan, Ramoth (both of them), Kadesh, Tabor, and so forth.
Tuesday, October 7
1 Chronicles 7: This chapter reveals how little detailed interest our author entertains for the tribes of the Northern Kingdom, which had rebelled against the House of David in 922 B.C. On the other hand, perhaps few earlier records were available to him. For some of these tribes (Naphtali, for instance) the author had hardly more at his disposal than the lists in Genesis 46 and Numbers 26. Many census records of the Northern Kingdom had perished at IsraelŐs fall to the Assyrians in 722.
The specific details of the tribe of Isaachar (verses 1-7) come from Genesis 46:13 and Numbers 26:23-25. The numbers given here, however, are quite a bit higher than those indicated in the census of Numbers 1 and 26.
Although the Hebrew text of verses 7-11 indicates the tribe of Benjamin, this reading most certainly comes from a copyistŐs error (bene zebulun, or "sons of Zebulun," was mistaken for benjamin) and later was appropriately corrected in one of the Greek manuscripts to read "Zebulun" instead of Benjamin. This is the usual sequence, after all, in which Holy Scripture refers to Zebulun, nor would there be any mention of Zebulun in the entire list in I Chronicles unless it were here. Moreover, the names given here do not correspond to the Benjaminite names in Chapter 8, nor Genesis 46:21, nor Numbers 26:38. As we know from Genesis 49:13, Zebulun was situated on the seashore, just under Phoenicia, and perhaps this fact is reflected in the name "Tarshish" in verse 10, the same name as that ancient port (Cadiz) beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, from which ships came to the Middle East from the other end of the Mediterranean. In short, read this section as referring to Zebulun, not Benjamin.
Similarly, verse 12 appears to refer to the tribe of Dan, inasmuch as Hushim is identified in Genesis 46:23 as a son of Dan. DanŐs name seems to have dropped out of the text by a scribal error. (In Hebrew the name has only two letters, somewhat similar in shape.) The Naphtali list in verse 13 is identical with Genesis 46:24. The Manasseh list (verses 14-19) includes both parts of that tribe and indicates its relationship to Syria. In the large tribe of Ephraim (verses 20-29), the most notable person is Joshua (verse 27).
Although the tribe of Asher (verses 30-40) is unusually ample with personal names, there are no place names. Asher sat geographically furthest from Jerusalem.
After this rather sketchy outline of the northern tribes, the author is now ready to treat of the tribe of Benjamin, situated on the border between the north and the south in the Holy Land. Since Benjamin is the tribe of Saul, IsraelŐs first king, the author will use this treatment to move from pure listing to a narrative of the kingdom which David will assume in due course.
Wednesday, October 8
1 Chronicles 8: Just as the genealogies of 1 Chronicles emphasized David at the beginning, so they concentrate on Saul at the end. Thus, the final one is SaulŐs own tribe, Benjamin. The initial list here (verses 1-28) is partly from Genesis 46:21 and Numbers 26:38-40, but there are discrepancies. Indeed, no other part of Chronicles is so full of textual difficulties as this section. Someone has suggestedŃand the suggestion seems plausible, that the ancient scribes, having copied out seven whole chapters containing almost nothing but names, were suffering from unusual fatigue and ennui.
We recognize Ehud (verse 6) as the left-handed Judge from this right-handed (ben-jamini) tribe (Judges 3:12-30).
Jerusalem, now introduced in verses 28 and 32, will be treated at length in the following chapter.
Although the authorŐs intent in verses 29-40 was to present SaulŐs ancestry and lineage, the method is not direct and straightforward. After presenting Jeiel (cf. 9:5) and his progeny, he moves to SaulŐs immediate family, which does not seem to be connected to Jeiel. Even the relationships portrayed here among Abner, Kish, Ner, and Saul are difficult to reconcile with 1 Samuel 14:50-51. We must bear in mindŃfor certainly the author of 1 Chronicles bore in mindŃthat this was the family that was ultimately rejected and replaced by DavidŐs.
Thursday, October 9
1 Chronicles 9: As we have seen, the author of Chronicles was careful to treat last the tribe of Benjamin and the house of Saul among the sons of Israel, because this sequence permitted him to move, almost seamlessly, from mere list to real narrative. Likewise, it is an easy step for him now to go to Jerusalem, which sat on the southern border of the tribe of Benjamin.
Jerusalem had not been part of the land inherited by the twelve tribes at the time of Joshua. It remained a Canaanite (or, more specifically, a Jebusite) stronghold until taken by DavidŐs forces in 992 B.C. and made the capital of the united kingdom (2 Samuel 5:6-7). This is why we find Jerusalem, unlike the other cities of the Promised Land, inhabited by Israelites from several of the tribes (verse 3).
Because the Ark of the Covenant was transferred to Jerusalem shortly after it became DavidŐs capital, the city was quickly transformed into a religious center, a whole generation before SolomonŐs construction of the temple there. Hence, it is scarcely surprising that the capital was home to a high number of priest, Levites, and other liturgical ministers (verses 10-22). The Chronicler describes their several responsibilities (verse 23-34).
In verse 35 the author returns to the genealogy of Saul, in order to prepare for the Battle of Gilboah (1000 B.C.) at the beginning of the next chapter.
The Jehoirab in verse 10 is the forebear of the Maccabees, about whom we will be reading in December.
Friday, October 10
1 Chronicles 10: This text may be supplemented by the accounts in 1 Samuel 31 and Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 6.14.7-9.
Following a pattern we have now come to expect, the Chronicler has nothing good to say for Saul. The latterŐs sole significance was that his downfall prepared the way for David. Consequently, the bookŐs actual narrative commences with SaulŐs downfall at the Battle of Gilboah, bringing SaulŐs twenty yearsŐ of reign to an end. Although the wounded Saul died by his own hand, it was really the Lord who slew him (verse 14).
The assertion that all of SaulŐs family perished (verse 7) must be understood in a sense compatible with the subsequent seven yearsŐ reign of Ishbosheth in the north (2 Samuel 2Ń3) and the survival of Mephibosheth (9:7; 16:3). Perhaps the Chronicler intends to include here the deaths of those men years later. In fact, he has already listed other sons of Saul in 9:39-40.
Even though the Chronicler has nothing good to say for Saul, he does record the fact that some of SaulŐs contemporaries took a different view (verse 12).
Saturday, October 11
1 Chronicles 11: The material in this chapter is drawn from two widely separated parts of 2 Samuel. Verses 1-9 reflect the material in 2 Samuel 5:1-10, while verses 10-47 come from 2 Samuel 23:8-39.
We note that the material in the first four chapters of 2 Samuel is simply missing. There is no mention of the brief reign of Ishbosheth, the crisis of Abner, the subsequent negotiations, JoabŐs hand in AbnerŐs death. Instead, the story skips immediately to the gathering of the tribes at Hebron (DavidŐs firs t capital) to make David the king. There is no suggestion that Israel was politically divided between north and south (a division that would reappear at SolomonŐs death in 922). Indeed, in place of "all the tribes of Israel" in 2 Samuel 5:1, we now have simply "all Israel" in verse 1. That is to say, the nation is completely united; even the tribal distinctions are lost. Thus, Jerusalem is captured by "David and all Israel" (verse 4).
Especially noteworthy is the place of Joab in this narrative. First, this is the only place in Holy Scripture that explains how Joab came to be DavidŐs chief commander (verses 6-7). Second, only this text speaks of JoabŐs role in the repair and reconstruction of Jerusalem (verse 8). Third, Joab is never criticized in Chronicles, which even omits DavidŐs final curse on him (1 Kings 2:5).