Structure in 1 Chronicles

Structure in 1 Chronicles February 25, 2016

1 Chronicles begins with a list of 13 names, from Adam to Japheth. From Genesis 10, we know that the list is broken into two lists, 10 + 3. The first ten names mark generations from Adam to Noah; the list of three names are all from the same generation, the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Their descendants are listed in reverse order:

A. Shem, 1:4

B. Ham, 1:4

C. Japheth, 1:4

C’. Sons of Japheth, 1:5-7

B’. Sons of Ham, 1:8-16

A’. Sons of Shem, 1:17-23

Then we have another list of names, 1o this time, from Shem to Abraham. From there, the Chronicler focuses his genealogy exclusively on the descendants of Abraham. The two lists of ten generations enclose the “primordial genealogy.” There is no fall in this list. Cain and Abel are ignored, as the list moves straight from Adam to Seth, and there is no reference to the flood. Babel gets a glancing reference in verse 19: in the days of Peleg “the earth was divided.”

Japheth and Ham have a place, but they’re structurally folded into the generations of Shem.The structure instead highlights three key names, Adam, Noah, and Abraham, three originators, three fathers of humanity, spaced neatly at ten-generation intervals. Adam is the father of the human race, Noah of postdiluvian humanity, Abraham of the new humanity that is Israel.


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