Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 9-10

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1 Chronicles 9 – Post-Exilic Jerusalem

Our study of genealogies in 1 Chronicles began with Adam the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1), followed by the sons of Noah and their ancestries (1 Chronicles 1:5-26). In the post-diluvian era (after the flood), the LORD called Abraham out from “Ur of the Chaldees” (Genesis 11:31) and established with him a covenant that through him and his seed, “all families of the earth [would] be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). To Abraham was born Isaac (1 Chronicles 1:27, 34), whose son Jacob (also called Israel, 1 Chronicles 1:34) was the father of twelve sons (1 Chronicles 2:1-8:40).

1 Chronicles 9

Our study of the genealogies of the sons of Jacob, who were the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, concluded in 1 Chronicles 8. 1 Chronicles 9 began with the summary statement, “So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression” (1 Chronicles 9:1). With those words, our study of Israel’s history carries us from the reigns of the kings in Israel and Judah to the Jew’s return from Babylonian captivity.

The Israelites (1 Chronicles 9:2-9)

Recorded in Ezra 1:1-2 was the decree of King Cyrus of Persia, who set the Jews free to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 9 recorded the names of the tribes, families, and heads of households who returned from the Babylonian exile and resettled in Canaan (1 Chronicles 9:4-34).

Five tribes were represented in the families that repopulated Jerusalem: Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh (1 Chronicles 9:3). (The mention of Ephraim and Manasseh is notable, for they were among the ten tribes of northern Israel that were taken captive by Assyria).

The Priests (1 Chronicles 9:10-13)

Among those who returned to Jerusalem were priests whose names were recorded by families and heads of households.

The Duties of the Priests and Levites (1 Chronicles 9:14-34)

With the priests were Levites who assisted them as musicians (1 Chronicles 9:14-16; Nehemiah 11:15-18; Nehemiah 12:28-29) and porters (identified as “keepers of the gates of the tabernacle,” 1 Chronicles 9:17-23). The porters, or gatekeepers, were supervisors of the Temple chambers and treasuries (1 Chronicles 9:24-32). Some Levites were trustees of Temple vessels and the preparations of elements used in worship and offering sacrifices (1 Chronicles 9:28-32). Singers are also noted in 1 Chronicles 9:33.

The Genealogy of King Saul (1 Chronicles 9:35-44)

1 Chronicles 9 concluded with the historian recording King Saul’s genealogy and his sons (1 Chronicles 9:35-44; 1 Chronicles 8:29-40).

1 Chronicles 10 – King Saul’s Death and the Rise of David to the Throne

The Humiliating Defeat of Israel and the Deaths of Saul and His Sons (1 Chronicles 10:1-10)

1 Chronicles 10 rolled the calendar back from the repopulation and rebuilding of Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity to the tragic conclusion of King Saul’s reign. The writer of 1 Chronicles returned to the Philistines’ victory over Israel (1 Chronicles 10:1-2) and the deaths of King Saul and his sons (1 Chronicles 10:1-6). Perhaps to explain the end of the house and lineage of Saul and the rise of the Davidic line, we are reminded that Saul fell upon his sword and died (1 Chronicles 10:5-6; 1 Samuel 31:1-13).

A national disgrace followed when the Philistines discovered the bodies of Saul and his sons on the battlefield (1 Chronicles 10:8). The Philistines then stripped their bodies of their armor (1 Chronicles 10:9a), beheaded Saul (1 Chronicles 10:9b) and hung their bodies on the wall of Bethshan (1 Samuel 31:12). Adding to the humiliation, the Philistines displayed Saul’s severed head and put his armor in the temple of Dagon, the fish god (1 Chronicles 10:10; 1 Samuel 31:9).

The Heroic Effort of the Men of Jabesh-gilead (1 Chronicles 10:11-12)

Learning of the humiliation that had befallen their king, the men of Jabeshgilead “arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days” (1 Chronicles 10:12; 1 Samuel 31:11-13).

Three Reasons for King Saul’s Death and the End of His Dynasty (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

We read that “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13a). Though his failures were many, most likely the transgression that is to be noted here was his failure to kill Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and sparing the best of the spoils for himself (contrary to God’s command that all were to be killed, 1 Samuel 15; 1 Samuel 28:17-18). We are also reminded that Saul disobeyed the law of the LORDand sought “counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it (1 Chronicles 10:13b; 1 Samuel 28:5-10). Finally, Saul died because he “inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him” (1 Chronicles 10:14a).

With those words, the dynasty of Saul ended, and the LORD “turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (1 Chronicles 10:14). A man of God’s choosing would rule Israel, and David’s reign ushered in a time of revival and prosperity.

Questions to consider:

1) Why were the people of Judah taken captive to Babylon? (1 Chronicles 9:1)

2) Who were the first Israelites to return to their land after their exile in Babylon? (1 Chronicles 9:2)

3) What sons of King Saul were killed in battle against the Philistines? (1 Chronicles 10:1-6) 

4) How did King Saul die on the battlefield? (1 Chronicles 10:4-6)

5) Why did Saul die? (1 Chronicles 10:13)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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