By William Johnstone
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Additional resources for 1 and 2 Chronicles: Volume 1: 1 Chronicles 1-2 Chronicles 9: Israel's Place among Nations
Thus, allusively and indirectly, the theme of the whole work has been sounded. 2. S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles (London: SCM Press, 1993), pp. 63-64. 1 Chronicles 1-2 Chronicles 9 36 The Narrowing Line of Choice: The Pattern of the Generations ADAM A Ten Generations B NOAH (3 branches, 74 names) Ham SHEM Japhet A Ten Generations B ABRAHAM (3 branches, 24 names) ISAAC Ishmael (2 branches, 65 names) Esau Keturah ISRAEL The pattern of use of the parent source in Genesis is ABAB: A, severe reduction to a mere list of names; B, close reproduction.
In order to make that clear a new, pyramidal, arrangement of the tribes has to be worked out. Levi is supported on either side by the tribes adopted by Israel as his first-born after the failure of Reuben and the inadequacy of Judah—the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48). The tribes in ch. 5 thus climax appropriately in the half-tribe of Manasseh: they are involved in exemplary incidents of how the sovereignty of God may be expressed and recognized on earth, but also in cautionary incidents of defrauding God, which require precisely the agency of the Levites to restore, as is indicated in ch.
Just as Judah, the tribe from which the royal house of David springs, heads the first list of tribes, so Benjamin, from which the unsuccessful first attempt at monarchy—that of Saul—emerged, heads the last list of tribes, and also concludes that last list in order to form the link into the story of the unsuccessful monarchy which begins in 1 Chronicles 10 with the reign of Saul, the Benjaminite. Another factor in this arrangement is that Judah and Benjamin conjointly constitute the southern kingdom, the part of Israel to survive longest in the land.