Preface: I have not abandoned Judges! We still have another article in Judges to go, but right now my daily readings are in 1 Chronicles, and the urge to talk about the “begats” struck me. I will do a proper introduction to the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles in my first article about the narrative beginning in 1 Chronicles, chapter 10. For now, I just wanted to give you a peek at what lies in store for us in the first nine, super-long chapters of the Chronicles.
One of my dearest friends said something very clever to me one day when we were discussing the Bible. She said there are two kinds of people in this world: people who read the begats and people who skip the begats–begatters and non-begatters. She looked at me and said, “You’re a begatter, aren’t you?”
I am, indeed. I love genealogy in general, but I’m a huge history nerd (I’ve mentioned that a time or two already), and I see a tremendous value in learning about foundational family trees. For example:
In the United States, with our relatively large land mass and our population of roughly 330 million people, we have many regional accents and dialects that stand out as remarkably distinct from one another. They are all sub-variants within the larger American variant of the English language.
In Minnesota and the Dakotas, for example, the accent is especially distinct, and it’s very easy to identify. It is the result of the long vowels in Scandinavian speech patterns (primarily Norwegian), and even centuries later, the people who grow up in that part of the United States speak with those long vowels, even if they have never learned one word of Norsk or had any exposure to native Scandinavian speakers.
If we didn’t have an understanding of that region’s ethnic ancestry, we would have no answer to the question, “Why do Minnesotans sound like that?” We can learn much more than bloodlines when we study genealogy, and it can give us fascinating insights into culture if we take the time to learn a bit about where people came from and how separate nations developed.
I am currently working my way through the famous “begats” of 1 Chronicles. I’m reading them in the New Living Translation, so the wording is smoother and contains father of or son of rather than begat and begotten, so it’s a bit easier. Still.
I totally get why people skip this part.
I would encourage you not to skip them, however, because of the aforementioned understanding I talked about with the example of dialects in America. We can hope to gain a similar understanding from these lists about how the different nations developed and why they were enemies or why they cooperated with each other. The author(s) of Chronicles no doubt wanted us to see the lineage of Judah and the Aaronic priesthood, but there is also a great deal in here that will help us contextualize and learn the origins of many nations mentioned in the Old Testament. Israel interacts with many of these groups in Scripture, and I have to believe that learning about the relationships will be quite useful.
I’m going through mine with a yellow highlighter and a pen, as usual, and I have confidence that it’s a worthwhile exercise.
Every time I see a familiar name, I highlight it and then highlight every name in his entire ancestry and progeny so that I will have an easier reference when I come back to it later. I can highlight with different colors later to differentiate tribes and nations or use colored ink to underline–whatever strikes my fancy. I don’t yet know what I will use this for or how I will end up applying the names/nations later, but I just have a feeling that I will be glad I studied these and got familiar with the divisions.
Happy “Begatting.” We will dive into 1 Chronicles, starting in chapter 10, after I’ve finished the series on Judges with a First Reading writeup on chapters 20 & 21.