Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Chronicles 2

For my weekly quiet time, I studied I Chronicles 2.  Here are some items.

1.  I Chronicles 2 mentions intermarriages between Israelites and Gentiles.  This is why there are scholars who dispute that Ezra wrote the I Chronicles, since Ezra seemed to be so opposed to intermarriage.  Rabbinic Judaism tended to have a problem with the intermarriages in I Chronicles, so rabbis interpreted many of the Gentile spouses as proselytes to Judaism.  When they become proselytes, they are now Jews, and thus they can marry Israelites.

2.  I Chronicles 2 mentions people who did not have children.  Matthew Henry in addressing this launched into a mini-sermon about divine providence and how even people without children can be beloved of God: Isaiah 56, after all, praises the eunuchs who hold fast to God’s covenant.  I do not know what I Chronicles thinks about those who did not have children: whether it has Matthew Henry’s attitude, or views those without children as being somehow cursed by God, or punished for some sin.  There was one person, Sheshan, who was said to have no sons, yet a son is mentioned (vv 31, 34).  Artscroll says that the son could have died, or he could have been born after the events of vv 34-35.

3.  There is debate about whether the Caleb of I Chronicles 2:18 is the Caleb of the Book of Numbers and the Book of Joshua.  Both have a daughter named Achsah, but they have different fathers, and the Caleb of I Chronicles 2:18 is neatly situated within the genealogy of Judah.  The United Church of God’s commentary quotes Henri Roussier, who said that what is going on is that the Caleb of Numbers and Joshua—-a non-Israelite—-is being incorporated into the genealogy of Israel in I Chronicles 2:18.  A non-Israelite is being reckoned as an Israelite!

4.  On the topic of Caleb, Roddy Braun in the Word Biblical Commentary says that “The fact that Caleb and others traditionally associated with the extreme south of Judah are here removed to the center of the tribe’s traditional territory may reflect some post-exilic interests, in which the misfortune of the exile has led to a resettlement and continued diffusion of earlier more independent and farther removed peoples” (page 46).  This tells me that I Chronicles is telling the past in light of its present: rather than going with what the Book of Joshua says about the place of Caleb’s territory, it is placing Caleb’s territory in a place that fits post-exilic realities.

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