Why all the names in the Bible?


Why do so many chapters of the Bible flood the reader with extremely long and difficult lists of names?

I am not talking about the beginning of Matthew which has a clear purpose of establishing the genealogy of Christ, but the very long lists in the old testament. I read through the names but in the end I struggle to discern what the Holy Spirit is hoping to transmit through the authors listing these names in such great detail.

The only thought I have had is to help us defend the authenticity of the Bible through its meticulous details such as these lists but other than that I struggle to understand why they are there.


They were originally intended to assure the people of Israel of their linage and claims to the lands God gave them. For us it tells us what the lists in Matthew and Luke tell us, that Israel is indeed God’s chosen nation from which, as he promised to Abraham, would come the redeemer and savior of the world. The names listed would make more sense to you if you read about them in a reliable commentary, such as Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary. He 'susually quite good about explaining the circumstances and meaning of such passages. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the link.:thumbsup: I was looking at getting the book but it was too expensive.


It is a presentation of all the historical people that met God, or are part of the story of man’s encounter with God. Of course all these names expected the promised Messiah, and would want to be related to him…right? Also these people included their names in the Biblical story because they met God, and God let them be included as a memorial. It would be like having you picture taken with a movie star, coud you sign this for my sister ?:smiley:


You’re welcome. :tiphat:


Dear OP;

If you have a Kindle, many of Haydock’s smaller offerings like “OT Prophets” and “OT Wisdom Books”, or “New Testament commentary” are available for 99 cents via KINDLE on Amazon.com

Check it out.


From the footnotes in the RSV-2CE about 1 Chronicles.

“1:1: Much space is given to genealogies in Chronicles. Postexilic Judaism was greatly interested in these in its efforts to preserve the race.”


Rethink your question, given your clarification…if the genealogy of Christ is important, how would Matthew and Luke presented it if it had not been in the Old Testament?


Good point but the names listed in the OT largely outnumber the names used/needed in the NT for the description of the genealogy of Christ.


You should be able to find a reasonably priced used copy on either e-Bay or addall.com.


Even so, they are names which the people would recognize as important to their lineage–to the lineage of the promised Messiah. Matthew and Luke do not give all the names because that wasn’t necessary, since they were already listed in the OT. Rather, they simply wanted to show his descent was legitimate and of the house of David.


This site should answer some of your Bible related questions:


I suggest you do some reading up on biblical archaeology/history to understand the different time periods in the Old Testament.

Many cultures are big on “genealogy” lists via oral tradition; the Israelites were no exception. Many ethnic groups in the Middle East are big on oral transmission of family history and describing the other cultures around them.

Also, when reading the Torah (first 5 books of the OT) you will realize that the writers of those books were huge on listing different place names, listing specific geographical locations, and describing/naming the various ethnic groups that lived around them. I think that is why I find the OT fascinating, because these qualities extend throughout. Many of the geographical locations in the OT can’t even be found yet. The authors also make random notes about obscure ethnic/religious groups that we may know very little about and I find that rather amusing.

Of course, we would expect that once the Israelites started writing their scriptures down, it would only make sense to include all the oral things that belonged to their tradition.


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