Genealogies are often hard to read because their relevance is not usually inherently obvious. However God has chosen to include several of them in the bible. Let us consider a few functions that this one may perform:
- Esau’s prosperity was a fulfilment of God’s promise to be faithful to all His people, despite Esau’s folly of giving up his birthright.
- To protect Esau’s descendents, the Edomites, from being annihilated by the Israelites when they entered the land of Canaan. The family tree provided surety of protected lineage (Deut 1:8; 2:2-5; 20:16-18).
- To provide information that could be used to establish the lineage of the Messiah, by ruling in or ruling out certain descendents from the line of David that led to Jesus.
For detail on these points and an interesting discussion of all the lessons that we can learn from Esau’s family life see “A Hairy Tale” (Genesis 36:1-37:1) available at bible.org
How easy it is to miss the point of this Christian life! The Samaritans were having a bitter feud with the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so much so that they rejected anyone travelling toward Jerusalem because of it. They allowed their petty opinions to cloud their judgment so much that they refused to let the Lord find lodging among them when He arrived with his entourage. What a pity. What a terrible shame. The Samaritans in missing the point provide a vivid contrast to Jesus’ own behaviour. When he turned toward his crucifixion he “set his face” toward Jerusalem (v51). How easy it is to turn aside from God’s calling, to get distracted by dramas on the side of the road or to meander around the garden path. Jesus could have travelled by a less direct route which would have avoided the Samaritan villages, but Jesus’ face was set straight toward the mission. Once the timing was right he did not waiver from God’s will. He was resolute, determined and committed despite all the inconvenience and suffering that would come with it. May we be equally obedient to God’s calling on us.