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Finding Harmony somewhere in Chronicles: Surprises in the Bible

November 4, 2013

P1040512My grandfather Ivan Stauffer’s Bible, who died in a car accident before I was born.
Shown here with creative fabric made in South Africa, and a basket made by my niece Anna.

You never know what you’ll find in the Bible.

I’m plodding through the Old Testament. I started a while ago (recounted in an earlier Another Way newspaper column, here). And lest you think I’m bragging on myself, this was TWO years ago when I started trying to get through it again. I’m like the slow cooker of Bible readers.

I just got through second Kings with my stomach churning, with its tales of child sacrifice and how each king was just like his father and committed all these atrocities. Not much peace and harmony in Kings.

And just when you worry about what happens if people actually crack open a “Gideon” Bible at random in a motel room and read this stuff, a line or phrase or story hits you with some detail and you’re ready to keep plodding through again.

So the other day I started Chronicles, which I understand to be kind of a rehashing of the events recorded in Samuel and Kings but “from a different point of view,” says my Today’s English Version, which I’m now reading from. Chronicles also has a whole lot of genealogy. “Adam was the father of Seth, Seth the father of Enosh …” and on and on and sometimes when the boys are in short supply a female descendant or two is named as well. Yay.

And then there in 1 Chronicles 4: 14 is something I’m sure I never read before or at least never noticed, “Seraiah was the father of Joab, the founder of Handcraft Valley, where all the people were skilled workers.” Another version calls it the “Valley of Artisans.” (See a neat list of all the different ways this is referred to in the Bible, here.)

Handcraft Valley! Valley of Artisans! What great names for a craft store or craft mall, or a magazine, or blog! And no one’s even taken Handcraft Valley yet. (At least according to Google.)

This tells us several things: that not everyone was good at weaving cloth and making pottery and crafting items out of wood or building a house out of stones. It tells us that it was a recognized specialty, an art form. Just like today.

Sometimes when we read about people from earlier times we assume that if everyone had to weave and then make their own clothing, or throw their own pots, that everyone was just good at these things. But the fact that there were “skilled workers” mentioned means to me that some were better than others, just like today.

In other words, they were pretty much just like people today—all of us created in the image of God. Especially God’s creative side. God reveled in creativity. And God made us that way too, no matter how things turn out. Which is pretty cool.

Later in 1 Chronicles the writer notes, “There were potters in the service of the king.” I’m guessing that was an advanced guild.

Then I start 1 Chronicles 5 and we find another interesting Chronicle surprise: “These are the descendants of Reuben, the oldest of Jacob’s sons. Because he had sex with one of his father’s concubines, he lost the rights belonging to the first born son…”

Well, that’s putting it right out there. Always interesting, the Bible. Sounds like a great plot for a novel…

Creativity juices flowing, anyone?

P1040511

Here are two fall trees I saw yesterday. While God made us to be creative,
Joyce Kilmer put it so memorably, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” See Trees.

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From → Faith, Writing Life

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