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12 September. 1 Chronicles chapters 1-2
Of all the books of the Bible I think this one is the hardest to write about, at least the first few chapters. For they concern entirely the genealogies of the tribes and clans of Israel, purportedly going right back to the mythical first man Adam (which means that somewhere back along the line it ceases to be historical).
Why was genealogy so important? As we recently saw in the book of Ezra/Nehemiah, when the people returned from captivity to re-establish a Jewish state in and around Jerusalem, it was important to be able to prove that one was descended from Jacob (Israel), and in the case of priest and temple servants (Levites) to be able to prove descent from a particular tribe. Otherwise, how were people (even if they had been living in the Jewish community in exile) to be distinguished from the ritually “unclean” gentiles living in the land to which they had returned?
It can be equally important today, as witnessed by a recent news item about a man who had been born and lived in Britain all his life, contributing to the economy, but had now been told that he has no right to remain or work here any longer. According to strict immigration rules, as his English father was not married to his non-British mother at the time of his birth, there was no qualifying reason for him to count as British, since only the mother’s nationality counts in the case of an unmarried couple.
To any sensible person that was completely unacceptable, and I believe the decision has now been reversed. His birth here, and the many years he had worked unchallenged, were more relevant and important than rules intended to limit numbers of immigrants.
The Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus, fortunately, has no such limitations or rules. As St Paul wrote, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. Anyone may claim their birthright as a child of God, by acknowledging that they “believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).