This broke me. Not the book itself, although it took an audiotape and a long drive to get through it, but the write up. I had originally planned to illustrate it with a family tree. Except that the first four verses of the first chapter are a vertical family tree through thirteen generations from Adam to Japheth. The fifth verse lists Japheth’s seven sons. Verses six and seven list the sons of two of Japheth’s seven sons, one of whom had three sons and the other four. And it just keeps going.
There are more than a hundred names (although only approximately 75 unique individuals because of course every father is listed twice, once as a “son of” and then again as a “father of”) within the first 26 verses of chapter 1, at which point we get to the sons of Abraham: Isaac and Ishmael, who at least are names I recognize. After that, there are a lot more names that I don’t recognize at all. A lot.
The first chapter has 54 verses. The book as a whole has 29 chapters. And it’s the first of two scrolls that make up Chronicles 1 and Chronicles 2 respectively.
What do you even do with this?
Although as a baby name book, it’s pretty excellent. If you can get over some of the names themselves. I do feel like no one should be named after Ham (1:4), but then there’s Tilgathpilneser (king of Assyria, listed in 5:6 and again in 5:26 because why make things easy to keep track of?), since that is a bitching name.
“I wanted to give my son a biblical name, but also a unique one.”
“So, little baby Tilgathpilneser?”
“We call him Tilgy.”
(Also, rather than just a name in a list, like so many are, we learn that God roused Tilgathpilneser’s spirit in order to punish the Israelites – even the Reubenites! – so… there’s that? 5:26)
The family trees just keep going, but we do occasionally get some few verses dotted here and there giving a few details about what’s actually happening with and to at least some of these people.
There’s also the occasional woman mentioned, such as Hammoleketh who bore three children of unspecified gender (but certainly not unspecified name!) listed in 7:18. And then there’s Sherah (7:24) who makes me grin because Shera! Princess of Power! which was a favorite cartoon that dates me horribly (and also aged horribly.)
We also get to a few parts where the people don’t always have names, but do have hereditary positions of employment such as porters of various quarters, overseers of vessels, cooks, and singers. Of course, sometimes they do have names, and those many, many names are listed. (chapter 9.)
And, sometimes there isn’t familial connections, just being in the same battle but still needing a chapter devoted to the roll call of those valiant warriors. (chapter 11).
By chapters 15, it became too much for the original writer apparently because it breaks down into numbers rather than lists of names, or at least lists of names associated with the number of children rather than lists of names associated with lists other lists of names.
Chapters 16-22 actually get back to story telling with King David and the ark of the covenant, a list of rules of behaviors, and the temple that David really wants to build and has very specific ideas about but that can’t be built within his lifetime because God says so and thus needs to be described to his son Solomon for him to do later.
After that break, chapters 23-27 are back to genealogies and employment records.
Chapters 28-29 are a rousing speech that King David gives, somewhat about the greatness of the Lord but mostly about exactly what the temple he wants built after he dies to look like, described in extremely excruciating detailed instructions. It all finally ends with a quick summary of King David’s reign (good) and his biographies (three of them) and mention that King Solomon is the next king.
Summary: There are a lot of people and population increases geometrically over time if couple has more than two kids. They’re mostly employed being porters, priests, singers, cooks, warriors, and kings. And wow, does King David want to be in charge of building his temple even if it can’t be started until after he dies.
Moral: As time goes by, being one more name in a long list of names is not a great legacy, in my ever so humble opinion.
Next up: Chronicles 2