Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why are all those long, tedious genealogies in the Bible?

OK, come on, you know you've said it!  No one who has read seemingly endless 'begats' hasn't wondered why the omnipotent, sovereign Lord would have chosen to include such detailed information that appears to be totally irrelevant to our lives today in His inspired Word.

My friends, never doubt that God has a purpose in every word in the Word!

In my quiet time, I've been reading through the Archaelogical Study Bible that Randy gave me for Christmas over a year ago - I'm in 1 Chronicles, which tells you two things - first, I haven't been consistently reading since I got it and second, this Bible isn't a 'read it through in a year' sort of thing.  With extensive footnotes and wonderful photos and articles on various archaelogical finds that uphold the truth of scripture, this Bible provides incredible insights into the culture in which the Bible was written.

To give a little more background (and I promise I AM getting to the point), last fall I was in a Bible study on the book of Ruth with some dear friends and we spent some time really delving into the character of Boaz, as well as Ruth and Naomi.  But we missed a little gem that I found this morning in 1 Chronicles 2:10-12, "Ram was the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab, the father of Nahshon, the leader of the people of Judah.  Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed and Obed the father of Jesse."  Boaz' grandfather was Nahshon, 'the leader of the people of Judah.'  If you're familiar with the story of Ruth, Boaz rescued her from the destitute life of a widow despite the fact that she was a foreigner from the land of Moab, a historical enemy of Israel.  Boaz' father, Salmon was married to Rahab - the same Rahab who assisted the Israelite spies in Joshua 2.  Although the Bible doesn't give us the names of the two spies, I have to imagine that Salmon was one of them and that he rescued Rahab, who was also a foreigner.  A native of Jericho, Rahab is commonly referred to as a prostitute, although she might have been an innkeeper.  The history of Boaz' father and grandfather is IMPORTANT!  It gives us wonderful human insight into the character of the real man named Boaz.  He was not just a wealthy landowner, he was part of the social elite.  A 'prince' of his tribe, essentially.  And yet he 'humbled himself' to serve as 'kinsman-redeemer' for Ruth.  Isn't that a beautiful picture of Christ?

But wait - the best part is yet to come!  It is delivered in another one of those long lists of genealogies that we so often skim over in our reading.  Found in Matthew 1: 5-16, we see that Rahab, Boaz and Ruth appear again in the genealogy of Joseph.   Again we see a member of this family line marrying a woman who the common wisdom of the day would have rejected.  In fact, they appear again in the genealogy found in Luke 3.  Many scholars believe that this genealogy is that of Mary since it appears to diverge at the point of David's son (one being through his son Solomon and one through his son Nathan, also by Bathsheba according to 1 Chron. 3:5). 

So the next time you're tempted to 'just skip the genealogies' - DON'T!  Take a moment to pray and ask God to show you something new even in these seemingly mundane verses!  You just might be amazed.


  1. Felicia, That was very well written and made a lot of sense. How often will you be writing here so I know to check it out to see what you have written? Keep it up you're on to something.
    Love you,

  2. Thank you Mom! I don't know how often I'll be writing, because it will likely be as I feel led - I have a terrible time coming up with something when 'assigned'. I just draw a complete blank. It will also depend on available time; but I will always post on facebook that I've updated so you will know that way.

    Thanks! I love you too!