1 Chronicles 2:10–17 (ESV)

10 Ram fathered Amminadab, and Amminadab fathered Nahshon, prince of the sons of Judah.

This line from Judah through Ram is the line that brings us to Jesse and thus to David, who will stand at the centre of the Chronicler’s whole view of history. It is ironic how, at this point, David is only given a passing reference in 1 Chronicles 2:15 when it is borne in mind that he is the focal point of the Chronicler’s entire genealogical survey.

It is here that the idea of a family tree comes to mind, particularly the root or the stump of the tree that originates in Jesse (Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10). But the Chronicler is also equally interested in the main trunk of the tree (from Ram to Jesse; 1 Chronicles 2:10–12) and also the spreading branches (the offspring of Jesse; 1 Chronicles 2:13–17).1

The genealogy of Jesse as presented in 1 Chronicles 2:13–17 diverges from earlier records in Scripture. David is presented as the eighth son of Jesse in 1 Samuel 16:10–11, but the Chronicler lists him as the seventh. The Chronicler was indeed aware of this fact because in 1 Chronicles 27:18 he names Elihu as the brother that is missing here.2 This probably fits in with the Chronicler’s theological purpose; by making David the seventh son, the writer may have wished to portray him as a uniquely favoured offspring.3 It now becomes clear that the compiler of these genealogies was selective in his choice of names, resulting in a fragmented record that accords well with his overall purpose in compiling the genealogies.

Going according to the Chronicler’s list, only nine generations span the period between Judah and David (from Perez to Jesse). He seems, therefore, to have pieced it together himself, and as the generations listed here are not nearly enough to cover the nine centuries between Judah’s migrating to Egypt and Solomon’s building the temple (Exodus 12:40; 1 Kings 6:1), we may take it that he is concerned much less with completeness than with continuity. 4 This in no way implies dishonest reporting. If it so suits the aim of the compiler, he can skip generations if he so pleases. This implies general elasticity in biblical genealogies. The term father can apply to any male ancestor and not necessarily the biological father. In the same way, the term son can denote any male descendant down the family line.5

In this section, the Chronicler refers to Nahshon as a prince of the sons of Judah. The term could also be translated as chief (Numbers 2:3); nāsî’ is a word commonly used by the Chronicler for leaders of tribes or clans.6 The reason for the inclusion of this snippet of information about this particular individual is unclear other than he had a reputation for leadership foreshadowing the prowess of David himself.

Zeruiah, listed as David's sister in 1 Chronicles 2:16, is named in 2 Samuel 2:18 as the mother of Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Interestingly, only the Chronicler identifies Zeruiah and Abigail as sisters of David (1 Chronicles 2:16; 2 Samuel 17:25).7 The sisters mentioned here were actually half-sisters. Their father was a man named Nahash (2 Samuel 17:25). It would appear that Jesse married Nahash’s widow as his second wife.8

The first instance of intermarriage within David’s family is recorded in Abigail’s marriage to a foreigner, Jether the Ishmaelite, which produced a son named Amasa (1 Chronicles 2:17). In 2 Samuel 17:25, however, the father of Amasa is given as Ithra (a variant of Jether) the Israelite rather than Ishmaelite (probably a textual corruption).9 The sons of Zeruiah and Abigail were famous warriors during the reign of King David (2 Samuel 2:18–19; 2 Samuel 19:13). The genealogy, therefore, makes it apparent that David entrusted the leadership of his troops to his own relatives. Absalom’s choice of Amasa to replace Joab (2 Samuel 17:25) was for similar reasons.10 This same Amasa would lead Absalom’s army in rebellion against David (2 Samuel 17:25), which suggests that the Chronicler was alluding not only to the instability of the kingdom and the need to rely on the Lord alone but possibly also to the danger of certain foreign marriages.11