Genealogy

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The Israelites placed a great value on genealogical records so that each person's familial background would be understood. Liberties were taken with the genealogies on some occasions for reasons of emphasis; an example being the division of the generations of Jesus Christ as recounted in Matthew 1 into three tidy groups of fourteen. This would be done as a memory device and possible for literary symmetry and in no way takes from the accuracy of the genealogy in this particular instance as its stated purpose was to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That names have been omitted from this record, indicating that certain generations have been left out, does not overwhelm its goal. The genealogies of the book of Genesis may also contain gaps but in this case they are often accompanied by a number of years assigned to each individual. In this case the purpose of the genealogy would be to place certain events and people in time so that it is much less likely for generations to have been skipped.

The genealogical records within the Bible serve three primary functions:

Domestic – Used to determine the individual’s social position, privileges, and obligations; such as the rights falling upon the first born son.

Political – Used to determine hereditary office, as well as to settle legal claims such as that pictured in the book of Ruth.

Religious – Used to establish membership, function, and descent of priestly and levitical duties and position.