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Lessons from Genealogy

by Kent Heaton

The "begots" and "begats" of the Bible can be laborious at times and difficult to pronounce. Often throughout the scriptures time is devoted to account for the family lines of thousands of people. The chronology of these individuals are important for two reasons:

  1. The nation of Israel was confirmed through the lineage of Abraham (Genesis 12:2);
  2. God put them there to prove the lineage of His son as being the "son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1) and the "son of Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:38).

It is easy to come to such readings and skip over them due to the difficulty of reading. However, embedded in these readings are fascinating stories that are important to the scheme of God's revelation.

The family of Cain (Genesis 4) tells about him building a city and naming it after his son Enoch. Contrary to popular belief that early man lived in caves and grunted like dumb apes, the son of Adam and Eve understood science, math and engineering to build a city. Jabal "was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron" (Genesis 4:20-22). The family of Adam listed in Genesis 5 shows how long man lived in the early days. While Methuselah gets the vote for the oldest man (969 years) Adam was not far behind living 930 years. Enoch (father of Methuselah) is found in Genesis 5:24 and he "walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" which is confirmed by the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 11:5.

After the flood the sons of Noah represent the three basic cultural dispersions of the world. Japheth's descendants are described as the "coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations" (Genesis 10:5). From the family of Ham came "Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:8-9). It also says of Nimrod that he went "to Assyria and built Nineveh" (Genesis 10:11). The city of Nineveh is a vital part of Old Testament history. Noah's third son Shem made up the eastern expansion and included the reference of "Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided" (Genesis 10:25).

Ezra's chronicles are filled with genealogies. I Chronicles mentions the son of Judah, Er, who was "wicked in the sight of the LORD; so He killed him" (I Chronicles 2:3; see also Genesis 38). Achan of Joshua 7 is referred to as Acar in I Chronicles 2:7. Abraham had eight children (I Chronicles 1:28-32); David had nineteen children listed "besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister" (I Chronicles 3:1-9). The great prayer of Jabez is found in I Chronicles 4:9-10. "Seraiah begot Joab the father of Ge Harashim, for they were craftsmen" (I Chronicles 4:14).

I Chronicles 11-12 lists the great army of David which included Benaiah who "killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a man of great height, five cubits tall. In the Egyptian's hand there was a spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and killed him with his own spear" (I Chronicles 11:22-23). Great reading and great stories intended for our learning (Romans 15:4). See how many more stories you can find.