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1 Chronicles 2:10-12 Generations to David

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, September 27, 2023

10 Ram became the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, the prince of the people of Judah. 11 Nahshon became the father of Salma, Salma became the father of Boaz, 12 Boaz became the father of Obed, Obed became the father of Jesse.

Nashon is called a nassi, a prince or exalted leader of his tribe. Modern readers should resist any temptation to make a comparison between the 20th century acronym “nazi” (which had to do with national socialism and many sinful and abominable acts in World War II-era Germany) and the Hebrew word nassi, pronounced with a soft s like our word “posse.” This title was commonly used by all of the tribes in the days of Moses, which is when Nahshon was prince of Judah (see Numbers 7:11-12). When the Israelites broke camp at Mount Sinai and whenever they moved from place to place during the forty years, “the divisions of the camp of Judah went first, and under their flag, Nahshon son of Amminadab was in command” (Numbers 10:14).

Are there some missing names? Perez was perhaps a young man of fifteen when his father and grandfather moved the family to Egypt in the days of Joseph (March or April, 1876 BC; Genesis 46:1). But in addition to being such a young man, he was also already the father of Hezron and Hamul, since they are numbered with the group. Hezron’s son was Ram, and if we take the list from Ram to Nahshon at face value, Ram would seem to be the grandfather of Nahshon, the prince of Judah when Israel left Egypt. But there are 430 years between Perez going down to Egypt and his descendant Nahshon coming out (Exodus 12:40-41; Galatians 3:17). Since patriarchs are no longer recorded as having the immense lifespans of the men before the flood or in its immediate aftermath, it appears that some generations might be missing. If we use conservative numbers and assume some older ages for begetting sons (say, 50, to help with round numbers), it seems likely that there were at least seven generations, not just four, from Perez to Nahshon.

1876 . . . Perez enters Egypt with his son Hezron (a newborn?)
1826 . . . Hezron has Ram
1776 . . . Ram has Ram’s son
1726 . . . Ram’s son has Amminadab’s father
1676 . . . Amminadab’s father has Amminadab
1626 . . . Amminadab has a son
1576 . . . Amminadab’s son has Nahshon’s father
1526 . . . Nahshon’s father has Nahshon
1466 . . . Nahshon (at 60) has Salmon (Salma)
1446 . . . The Exodus

But is this necessarily the case? I said that patriarchs of this time were “no longer recorded as having immense lifespans,” but that is an argument from silence. Could Hezron, Ram, and Amminadab simply have become fathers at very old ages, around one hundred years each? It is not beyond imagination. The years could work out this way:

1876 . . . Perez enters Egypt with his son Hezron (a newborn?)
1776 . . . Hezron has Ram
1676 . . . Ram has Amminadab
1576 . . . Amminadab has Nahshon
1460 ? . . Nahshon has Salmon (Salma)
1446 . . . The exodus, with 130-year old Nahshon the Prince of Judah

The same question can be asked of the generations between Salmon (our text has Salma) and Jesse, the father of David. This was another period of about 400 years. Are some names missing here? How serious is the question? David’s ancestor was Ruth, a woman from Moab. In fact, this section of Chronicles is identical to the short genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22, apart from the title “prince of Judah” added here for Nahshon. God said, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation” (Deuteronomy 23:3). An Edomite or an Egyptian could, however, in the third generation (Deuteronomy 23:8). Should we ask if there could be ten generations from Boaz (and Ruth the Moabitess) to King David, since David certainly entered into the assembly of the Lord?

It’s not so easy to assemble a list of years to construct such a genealogy for this. We know the approximate year that David was born (1040 BC, since he was thirty when he became king, 2 Samuel 5:4), but we don’t know where in the chronology of Judges the Ruth story takes place. Was it in 1300? 1200? 1100? If it were in 1100, before the time of Samson, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for seven or eight additional generations from Obed (Ruth’s son) to Jesse, David’s father, to shoehorn them all between Obed and Jesse who are side-by-side in our list, even if they were all just fifteen (like old grandpa Perez) when they became dads.

However, something in the Deuteronomy passage should end the whole question. The Lord says “any of his” descendants (that is, of a Moabite male). A woman from another nation could be taken as a wife and their children were considered to be Israelites on account of their circumcision (Exodus 12:48). David’s eligibility for kingship was not based on his distance from Ruth, but simply the demand of the people (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:1-3). As for his entrance into the Lord’s assembly, David’s line was traced from Judah, not from Moab, nor Moab’s mother, nor from Lot, Moab’s father (Genesis 19:36-37).

We who put our trust in Jesus are not brought into the family of believers on account of our ancestry at all, but by faith alone. Yet we benefit from this study of the ancestry of our Savior Jesus because we see the care the Holy Spirit has taken to show how the promise was fulfilled, from one generation to the next. And in doing so, the Holy Spirit shows us something else. He cares about our generation, too! He loves “the generation of those who seek him” (Psalm 24:6), and he commands us: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18). When we consider all of the ways our God has provided for the nurturing of our faith, strengthening us with word and sacrament, trimming and sweeping away mistaken notions with the law, delighting us with the gospel, using the creeds and confessions of our little church to remind us and teach us with quotations of passages put together in a simple and useful way, we can’t help but praise him for the work of Moses and the prophets, of the Apostles and evangelists. And following them, the faithful labor of men like our dear Doctor Martin Luther and our very own childhood pastors and teachers—and our parents, too. God bless them all, and God bless us, “the blessed generation of the upright” (Psalm 112:2).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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