I used to think that there were parts of the Bible that were , to be blunt, just plain boring. Parts that didn’t serve any useful purpose I could see. Or any purpose that was relevant to me in this day and age. For example, starting off the New Testament with this:
Matthew 1 New International Version (NIV)
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, 8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, 15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
So we establish the lineage of Jesus. There are some lessons in here (like the inclusion of people with poor choices), but for the most part the names were there for me to skim over like Abraham… blah…blah…David….blah…blah Joseph, Jesus.
Then one day we were doing a daily bible reading and I started wondering what the early church would have thought of this genealogy. Would it be just as boring to them as soon as they got through it once and established the lineage of Jesus? What about the 2nd or 3rd or any subsequent reading? Would they start going blah…blah…blah as well? Then it occurred to me that these Hebrew names all had meanings and that to a Hebrew speaker/listener they may have some meaning that I am missing in English. So I compiled a list of the meanings of the names in Hebrew and plugged them in. Here is what happened:
This is the genealogy of ‘Yahweh Saves’ the Messiah the son of ‘Beloved’, the son of the ‘Father of Nations’:
The ‘Father of Nations’ was the father of ‘Laughter/Rejoicing’, ‘Laughter/Rejoicing’ the father of ‘Supplanter’, ‘Supplanter’ the father of ‘The Praise of Yahweh’ and his brothers, ‘The Praise of Yahweh’ the father of ‘Burst Forth’ and ‘Sunrise’, whose mother was ‘A Palm’, ‘Burst Forth’ the father of ‘Walled/Protection’, ‘Walled/Protection’ the father of ‘High/Lofty’, ‘High/Lofty’ the father of ‘Kindred of the Prince’, ‘Kindred of the Prince’ the father of ‘Fortelling’, ‘Foretelling’ the father of ‘Clothing/Perfect/Peace’, ‘Clothing/Perfect/Peace’ the father of ‘Swiftness’, whose mother was ‘Large/Great’, ‘Swiftness’ the father of ‘Servant/Worshipper’, whose mother was ‘Companion/Friend’, ‘Servant/Worshipper’ the father of ‘Gift’ and ‘Gift’ the father of King ‘Beloved’.
‘Beloved’ was the father of ‘Peace’, whose mother had been ‘The Lord is my Light’s’ wife, ‘Peace’ the father of ‘Yahweh has Judged’, ‘Yahweh has Judged’ the father of ‘My Father is Yahweh’, ‘My Father is Yahweh’ the father of ‘Physician’, ‘Physician’ the father of ‘Yahweh has Judged’, ‘Yahweh has Judged’ the father of ‘Exalted by Yahweh’, ‘Exalted by Yahweh’ the father of ‘My Power is Yahweh’, ‘My Power is Yahweh’ the father of ‘Yahweh is Upright/Perfect’, ‘Yahweh is Upright/Perfect’ the father of ‘Yahweh Has Held’, ‘Yahweh Has Held’ the father of ‘Yahweh Strengthens’, ‘Yahweh Strengthens’ the father of ‘Cause to Forget’, ‘Cause to Forget’ the father of ‘Faithful/Roaring Stream’, ‘Faithful/Roaring Stream’ the father of ‘Yahweh Heals’, and ‘Yahweh Heals’ the father of ‘Yahweh Prepares’ and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon: ‘Yahweh Prepares’ was the father of ‘Lent of God’, ‘Lent of God’ the father of ‘Offspring/Seed’, ‘Offspring/Seed’ the father of ‘Renowned’, ‘Renowned’ the father of ‘Raised Up By God’, ‘Raised Up By God’ the father of ‘A Court In Israel’, ‘A Court in Israel’ the father of ‘Righteous’, ‘Righteous’ the father of ‘God Will Establish in Israel’, ‘God Will Establish in Israel’ the father of ‘My God Is Majestic’, ‘My God is Majestic’ the father of ‘God is my Help’, ‘God is My Help’ the father of ‘Gift of God’, ‘Gift of God’ the father of ‘Supplanter’, and ‘Supplanter’ the father of ‘God will Add’ the husband of ‘Bitter’, and ‘Bitter’ was the mother of ‘Yahweh Saves’ who is called the Messiah.
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from ‘Father of Nations’ to ‘Beloved’, fourteen from ‘Beloved’ to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from thexile to the Messiah.
Suddenly, something that had been boring and dreary was filled with imagery and meaning. It was like I could see a grand, sweeping vista of the nature of God and his plan from Abraham to Jesus. He had put these gems in here to tell us about Himself and let us have a taste of his glory. Reading through this account now is not boring at all but instead practically forces me to stop and think about the meaning and symbolism of each intersection of God with man. It is as if God’s word was like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons (wah wah wah wawawah) and I was tuning it out. Once more this went back to my own pride (see previous post on Indescribable) and my “knowing” what this passage was for and assuming that it didn’t apply to me that much.
As a visual I took all the definitions I had made (I will include them below) and did a word cloud. As you can see God leaps! off the page. You can’t avoid it when you look at it like this.
God has this wonderful way of taking the blah and making it fresh and exciting. I hope and pray that I never put God in that ‘boring’ box again.
Here are the definitions I used.
Note: some definitions are indeterminate and could be one of several choices. And remember that some may not have 1 to 1 counterparts in English.
- Abraham – Father of nations (Their Strength, Their Protection)
- Isaac – he will laugh, he will rejoice
- Jacob/Israel – supplanter / prevails with God (God Contended)
- Judah – Praised (the praise of Yawheh, confession)
- Tamar – Palm
- Perez – Break through, burst forth
- Zerah – Sunrise
- Hezron – Enclosed (walled)
- Ram – High, lofty (Exalted)
- Amminadab – Kindred of the prince (my people are generous)
- Nahshon – That foretells
- Salmon – Garment (peaceable, perfect, he that rewards)
- Rahab – Largeo
- Boaz – Swiftness
- Ruth – Companion, Friend
- Obed – Servant, worshipper
- Jesse – Wealthy, Jehovah exists (Gift)
- David – Beloved
- Uriah – The Lord is my light
- Solomon -Peace
- Rehoboam – He enlarges the people
- Abijah – The Lord is my father (my father is Yahweh)
- Asa – Physician (Doctor)
- Jehosaphat – Jehovah has judged (Yahweh has judged)
- Jehoram – Jehovah is exalted (exalted by Yahweh)
- Uzziah – my power is Jehovah (my power is Yahweh)
- Jotham – Jehovah is perfect (Yahweh is upright)
- Ahaz – Has held (Yahweh has held)
- Hezekiah – God is my strength (yahweh strengthens)
- Manasseh – Cause to forget
- Amon – secret, faithful, roaring stream (the hidden one)
- Josiah – Jehovah has healed (Yahweh supports)
- Jeconiah – Preparation of the Lord (who Yahweh establishes, preparation)
- Shealtiel – asked of God (lent of God)
- Zerubabbel – seed, offspring
- Abihud – possesor of renown
- Eliakim – God rises (raised up by God)
- Azor – helper, a court in Israel
- Zadok – Righteous
- Akim – God will establish in Israel
- Elihud – my God is majestic
- Eleazar – My God has helped (God is my help)
- Matthan – Gift of God (gift)
- Jacob – supplanter
- Joseph – He will add (increase)
- Mary – Bitter
- Jesus – Jehovah saves (Yahweh saves)