1 Chronicles 5-6
(Genealogy Continued)

April 26th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Aaron and his sons offered the sacrifices on the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Altar of Incense; they were in charge of all the work surrounding the Holy of Holies. They made atonement for Israel following the instructions commanded by Moses, servant of God.

- 1 Chronicles 6:49 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

These next two chapters review the genealogy of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, and Levi. Chapter 5 appears to begin in a slightly awkward manner when the author interrupts himself to explain how the pecking order was changed among the sons of Jacob:

    The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel —

    (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph)

    — the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel:

        Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

    -1 Chronicles 5:1-3 (NIV)

This set of verses is a little difficult to read as presented in most versions of the Bible, but when you break it out in your mind as shown above then it becomes clearer. The author was identifying Reuben as the firstborn, and then realized, mid-thought, that the original audience knew that the rulers had come from Judah and recognized that Judah’s line had been explained first. Therefore, the author figured he should explain why the firstborn was not the one from who the royal line derived, and then he finished his line of thought.

Chapter 5 also includes a summary of the descendants of Gad and Manasseh (son of Joseph). There are a few notable explanatory comments to explain the history of these three northern tribes. One verse notes that God responded positively when they cried to him in battle (1 Chronicles 5:20), while the other notes that God sent them into exile after they transgressed against him and “prostituted themselves” to other gods (1 Chronicles 5:25).

In chapter 6 we can read about the descendants of Levi. The importance of this tribe for the author’s purposes can be implied by its relative size. The genealogy for the tribe of Levi is longer than the record for any other tribe in 1 Chronicles – except Judah. From the structure in this section we can clearly deduce that the author decides when to skip generations and when not to skip and can use that knowledge as we try to understand what has been written and apply it to what we have previously read. For example, at the beginning of this chapter we read the following:

    The sons of Levi:

    Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

    The sons of Kohath:
    Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.

    The children of Amram:
    Aaron, Moses and Miriam.

    The sons of Aaron:
    Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

    - 1 Chronicles 6:1-3 (NIV)

These verses only record three generations from Levi to Moses (and his siblings Aaron and Miriam). But we know from the book of Exodus that 400 years had passed between Levi and Moses and that the tribe of twelve sons had expanded into hundreds of thousands of people. But in the last verse shown above we recognize the direct sons of Aaron from the book of Exodus. The first two sons had a short-lived career in the priest-hood because they did not follow orders (Leviticus 10:1-2), but the other two carried out their role with honor. However, the notation of Aaron establishes the genealogical chain of those eligible for the priesthood. The author desired to ensure that this protocol was continued and that the people were aware of the duties of the other Levites, including service at the temple and performance of music.

The list of musicians that is provided later in the chapter is a reminder that music was an important part of worship and should be resumed when the temple is rebuilt (for this book was written after the destruction of the temple and the exile of the people from Israel and Judah).

    These are the persons David appointed to lead the singing in the house of God after the Chest was placed there. They were the ministers of music in the place of worship, which was the Tent of Meeting until Solomon built The Temple of God in Jerusalem. As they carried out their work, they followed the instructions given to them.

    These are the persons, together with their sons, who served by preparing for and directing worship: from the family of the Kohathites was Heman the choirmaster, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.

    - 1 Chronicles 6:31-38 (MSG)

Reflection and Application

Reuben was eldest of Jacob’s (Israel’s) sons, but lost his inheritance because he committed a sin by sleeping with one of Jacob’s concubines (Genesis 35:22). Instead of upholding the honor of his position in the family, Reuben committed a sin that has been recorded for all following generations to read. His tribe served the nation faithfully by battling the people from other countries in the north, but was exiled to Assyria with the other northern tribes of Israel and never returned. Meanwhile, his brother Judah earned the distinction of producing a royal line of kings and of serving as the namesake for the surviving remnant of the nation.

The knowledge that any sin can lead to disastrous consequences should help us to avoid sin. The results may not be as drastic and long-term as they were for Reuben, but there are always victims and consequences. This is one of the lessons that we can take away from this part of 1 Chronicles. Another take-away is to remember to cry out to God when we are up against formidable opponents, as the northern tribes did in their more faithful moments.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your position in the family birth order and how has that shaped you?
    2. What is the impact on you when there is music during worship?
    3. For what type of help would you like to cry out to God today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you are the King of kings. Help us to remain loyal to your word and to cry out to you for help when we are in trouble.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Chronicles 7-9 (Genealogy Concluded)

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