These chapters, which at first sight appear to be a mere wilderness of names, are see on closer inspection to contain an orderly arrangement, like a garden divided into separate beds. The writer begins with the line of descent from Adam to Noah, and then gives the descendants of each of Noah’s three sons (1:1-27).Arriving thus at Abraham, he lists the sons of Ishmael, and of Keturah, and Isaac’s two sons, Israel and Esau, with a list of the descendants of Esau (1:28-54). With chapter 2 begins the list of Israel’s sons, with their descendants. Judah comes first and is given the largest space (2:3 – 4:23), then Simeon(4;24-43), Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh (chapter 5), Levi (chapter 6), Issachar (7:1-5), Benjamin (7:6-12), Naphtali (7:13), Manasseh (7:14-19), Ephraim (7:20-29) and Asher (7:30-40). It will be noticed that two tribes are omitted. In chapter 8 the descendants of Benjamin are given more fully, leading up to the family of Saul and his descendants; chapter 9 gives a list of inhabitants of Jerusalem, and repeats the genealogy of Saul as an introduction to the story of his death in chapter 10. Amidst these lists of names are a number of passages that may be spiritually applied with profit to ourselves.
- Read 4:9, 10 and 5:18-22.What do you learn for your own life from the examples of: (a) Jabez, and (b) Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh about success and victory? Cf. Ps. 81:10; Col. 4:2; 1 John 5:4.
- Build for yourself a mental picture of the lives and service of the Levites, as described in chapter 6. Are there lessons to be learned from this passage about the nature of true worship?