I finally decided that this time round the Bible I would read all the genealogies, too, line by line, rather than give them a lick and a promise.
Because I was reading at a snail’s pace rather than a gallop, I noticed a few intriguing entries in the endless list of 1 Chronicles 1-9:
“And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah, because disaster had befallen his house” (7:23).
“Beriah” means “tragedy.” But that’s all we are told. We are not given to know what the disaster was. It is not important to the Chronicler—or to God—that we be let in on that.
“His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah” (7:24).
This is fascinating because all the other names in this interminable genealogy are men. What’s the story with Sheerah? What kind of woman was this, in a man’s world, who built towns?
How about this entry:
“And Shaharaim fathered sons in the country of Moab after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives” (8:8).
We will never know what drama lies behind this terse and cryptic reference to a man and his marital troubles. Why did Shaharaim send away his wives? Were they unfaithful? Or was he a bad man? Who knows?
Here’s a footnote about one of David’s mighty men who stuck close to David when he was on the lam from Saul:
“And Beniah, the son of Jehoiada … struck down two heroes of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen” (11:22).
These truncated tales leave us wanting more. Often we forget that behind all the action recorded in our sacred books are countless other human-interest stories that were never told and that have receded into history like the wake of a motorboat.
All these people were caught up in the complications of their own lives, which seemed so important at the time and now have passed away and are completely forgotten. Their loves, their wars, even their names have vanished from the earth.
Since we are such a passing vapor, what kinds of lives should we live for this brief hour? The Scripture answers: “lives of holiness and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).