Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.1 Chronicles 5:1. The son of Israel — This is added emphatically, because the sons of Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim were treated as if they had been the immediate sons of Jacob. The genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright — This is the second reason which showeth both why Reuben’s genealogy was not first mentioned, and if another tribe was to be ranked before it, why that was Judah, and not Joseph, because the order of their genealogy was not to be ruled by the birthright, but by a higher privilege, which was given to Judah.
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)1 Chronicles 5:2. For Judah — Not the person, (for in person Joseph prevailed,) but the tribe of Judah. Prevailed — Excelled the other tribes, especially in the following privilege. And of him — Rather, For of him, as the Hebrew ו, vau, is often used: this being a reason of the foregoing assertion, or declaration, showing wherein he did prevail. Came the chief ruler — The government was, by God’s promise and appointment, to be seated chiefly and most durably in that tribe, first in David and his successors, and then in the Messiah, who sprang out of Judah, (Hebrews 7:14,) which was a far greater privilege than the birthright. But, or although, the birthright was Joseph’s — So this prevents or removes an objection to Judah’s precedency taken from the birthright.
The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were, Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,
Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,
Beerah his son, whom Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.
And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,1 Chronicles 5:7-8. And his brethren — The other sons of Reuben, and their posterity. Were the chief — Hebrew, the head: each was the head of his family. Who dwelt in Aroer, even, &c. — Namely, the Reubenites, all those here before mentioned, as appears, both by the following verses, which relate to the whole tribe, and by the agreement of this description of their inheritance with that Joshua 13:15-16.
And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baalmeon:
And eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates: because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead.1 Chronicles 5:9. And eastward he inhabited — That is, the tribe of Reuben. Unto the entering in of the wilderness, &c. — From Jordan and the wilderness, beyond it unto Euphrates. Or, of the wilderness, which lies toward, or reacheth to the river Euphrates — Namely, the great wilderness of Kedemoth, (Deuteronomy 2:26,) which was extended far and wide toward Euphrates: for that was the eastern border of Reuben’s possession, and not Euphrates, to which their habitation never reached. Because their cattle were multiplied — Which forced them to enlarge their habitation as far as they could toward Euphrates.
And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites, who fell by their hand: and they dwelt in their tents throughout all the east land of Gilead.1 Chronicles 5:10. In the days of Saul they made war — The Gadites and Manassites joining with them in the war, 1 Chronicles 5:18-19. With the Hagarites — The Ishmaelites who dwelt in Arabia Deserta. They dwelt in their tents — The Israelites took possession of their lands, and tents or houses, which lay eastward from the land of Gilead. Thus God fulfilled his promise to his people: he cast out the enemy from before them by little and little, and gave them their land as they had occasion for it.
And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salchah:
Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.1 Chronicles 5:12. Joel the chief — The prince of the tribe, or, at least, of the family, when they were numbered, namely, in the days of Jotham, 1 Chronicles 5:17. In Bashan — That is, either who dwelt in the city of Bashan, or who abode in Bashan to defend the city and country, when their brethren went out to war against the Hagarenes, 1 Chronicles 5:19.
And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven.
These are the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz;1 Chronicles 5:14-15. These are the children of Abihail — These seven last named. Ahi, chief of the house of their fathers — Ahi was the head or chief of the houses or families of those seven named 1 Chronicles 5:13.
Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.
And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.1 Chronicles 5:16. They dwelt in Gilead — That is, the children or tribe of Gad inhabited a part of Gilead, the Reubenites and Manassites dwelling in other parts of it, Deuteronomy 3:12. In Bashan — In the land of Bashan, as is said, 1 Chronicles 5:11. And in her towns — In some of her cities and towns. In all the suburbs of Sharon — Not that Sharon in Canaan, but that to the east of Jordan, namely, in the fields and pasture-grounds of it. Upon their borders — The borders of Gilead and Bashan. For Gilead, properly so called, or the greatest part of it, belonged to the Reubenites, and the greatest part of Bashan to the Manassites; and the Gadites, whose habitation was between these two tribes, had those parts of both these countries which lay toward their borders.
All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.1 Chronicles 5:17. In the days of Jotham king of Judah — Who, reigning long, partly in his father’s days, and partly by himself, and being at leisure from wars and troubles, thought this a fit season to examine the state of his people. And in the days of Jeroboam — Probably Jeroboam the second, of whom see 2 Kings 13:13-14. This does not imply that Jotham and Jeroboam reigned at the same time; but only that in their several reigns this account was taken.
The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.1 Chronicles 5:18-20. The sons of Reuben, &c. — These three tribes, or at least so many of them as made a great army, joined their forces together, consisting of their best soldiers, to invade the country of the Hagarites. They were helped against them — Against the Hagarites, who, it seems, fought stoutly; but God assisted the Israelites, enduing them with extraordinary courage and success, in consequence of their crying to him, and putting their trust in him, in his power, mercy, and faithfulness to his promise.
And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.
And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him.
And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand.1 Chronicles 5:21. Of their camels fifty thousand — For camels were very numerous in Arabia, being used in war and for burdens, &c., and being very patient of thirst, and therefore most fit for those hot and dry countries. Of men a hundred thousand — Whom they took prisoners, and either used as slaves, or sold them for such.
For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.1 Chronicles 5:22. For there fell down many slain — Besides those taken captive, a great number were slain in the battle. Because the war was of God — Undertaken in his fear, and carried on in a dependance on him. Then we may expect to prosper in any enterprise, and then only, when we take God along with us. And they dwelt in their steads — Most or all of those valiant men who were engaged in this war, who were forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty, (1 Chronicles 5:18,) settled themselves in the country which they had conquered, and remained there until the captivity, of which see 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6.
And the children of the half tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land: they increased from Bashan unto Baalhermon and Senir, and unto mount Hermon.1 Chronicles 5:23. The half-tribe of Manasseh — Having spoken of the Reubenites, (1 Chronicles 5:3-10,) and next of the Gadites, (1 Chronicles 5:11, &c.,) he now comes to the Manassites. Dwelt in the land — In the same country with the Reubenites and Gadites, on the other side of Jordan, namely, in the northern part of that land.
And these were the heads of the house of their fathers, even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers.
And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.1 Chronicles 5:25. They transgressed against the God of their fathers — Had they kept close to God and their duty, they would have continued to enjoy both their ancient lot and their new conquests; but lying upon the borders, and conversing with the neighbouring nations, they learned their idolatrous usages, and transmitted the infection to the other tribes: and for this God had a controversy with them.
And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.1 Chronicles 5:26. The God of Israel — Who had been a husband to Israel, and whose jealousy burned like fire, when Israel went a whoring after other gods. Stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, &c. — That is, so governed his counsels and affections, that he brought his forces against this people rather than others. God served his own purposes by the designs of those ambitious monarchs, employed them first to chastise those revolters, and when that did not reduce them, wholly to root them out. These tribes were first placed, and they were first displaced. They would have the best land, not considering that it lay most exposed. They who are governed more by sense than by reason or faith in their inclinations and choices, may expect to fare accordingly.