Biblical Genealogies (Come, Follow Me: Week 6 Part 6/6) Genesis 6-11, Moses 8 | Jan 31-Feb 6 – powered by Happy Scribe
Why are there long genealogy lists in the Bible? In Genesis Five, there’s a chapter long list of ancestors down to Noah, and again in Genesis ten to eleven large passages are devoted to outlining the descendants and people in the table of nations. They can seem long and tedious, but these genealogies were important to people in the biblical world, and they have important lessons to teach. Long genealogy lists are found all over the ancient Near East, ancient Babylon, Assyria, Sumer, Egypt, and Ugh. All have records of King lists.
Some of these lists have been found on monuments, on papyrus, or even on the walls of tombs, temples, and chapels. Most of them are also long and tedious. They list each King in a line of succession, sometimes with dates, sometimes with incredibly long lifespans. Often a King would trace their lineage back to an important King, a founder of a dynasty, or even a divine being like a God. The purpose of these lists was to establish legitimacy for the King.
If a King could trace their family line back to a God in their pantheon or to the first King of their dynasty, they believed that it gave them a strong claim to their throne and even that they had a divine right to rule. When we come across these lists in the Bible, they not only speed us forward in time to the next good story, but they also give the next main character legitimacy, and importance. In the case of Genesis eleven, it’s Abraham. The genealogy in Genesis eleven ends with Terra began Abram and migrating to Haran from or of the Caldis. And Terra took Abram his son, and launched the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarah his daughterinlaw, his son, Abram’s wife.
And they went forth with them from or of the Caldes to go into the land of Canaan, and they came into Huron and Dwelt. There, the Book of Genesis traces a lineage all the way from Noah’s Sunshine down to Abraham to let the reader know that Abraham is important. Abraham is Holy. He is a Prophet of God, directly descended from Shem, who was descended from the first man, Adam, who was made in the image of God. The Book of Mormon echoes this pattern in the Book of Ether.
Ether one begins with a long genealogy list that traces the lineage of Ether back to Jared. By beginning the book with the genealogy from Ether to Jared, it establishes the authority of the Prophet and author Ether. It also ties the origins of the Jaredite civilization back to the divine encounter that God had with the brother of Jared. Latterday Saints do something similar with priesthood ordination. Sometimes before going on a mission, a prospective missionary might receive a card or paper detailing their priesthood lineage.
It tracks who gave them their priesthood authority and who gave it before them, all the way back to Joseph Smith, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John and ultimately Jesus Christ. It’s a sign of legitimacy that they can trace their priesthood authority all the way back to God. And even if you don’t hold the priesthood, all latterday Saints are invested in tracing their legitimacy. Through family history and temple work, we are taught that one of the most important works on the Earth is sealing the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers. By doing sealing work for our families, we forge a welding link all the way back to Adam and back to God.
So whether you’re a descendant of pioneers or a new member of the Church, we can all work on our family history and trace our lineage back through the ceiling Covenant. By doing so, we can rest assured in the knowledge that we are legitimate divine sons and daughters of God. We are of a Royal and divine lineage that grants us the blessings of Thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and eternal life.