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Why does the Bible spend so much time with genealogies?

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:4-5

The Jewish culture focused heavily on inheritances and tribal loyalties. There was no government agency that kept track of social security numbers or lawyers filling out wills. In order to know who shared the wealth, tribes kept track of genealogies.

In Genesis 15, God promised Abraham to bless his family like the stars of the sky. The genealogies were proof that God’s promise came true.

When it came time for Abraham to find a wife for his son Isaac, he sent his servant out on a mission.

“I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:3-4

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob picked wives from their own family (cousins and second cousins). They didn’t want their bloodline to mix with people who worshipped false gods.

In Exodus, God made that a rule for all his people to marry only those from your country. The genealogies kept track of these relationships.

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:12-16

When the Messiah was promised through the line of David, the genealogy became a trail to follow and discover that promised one. Matthew 1 and Luke 3 track Jesus’ hereditary lineage through David to Joseph and Mary to prove that prophecy.

In this case, the genealogy proved God kept his promise and pointed to the One who would save the world from its sins and rule as king forever.