Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chapters 2–8. The Genealogies of the Tribes of Israel
The Chronicler deals very unequally with the tribes in their genealogies; as the following table shews:
1 Chronicles 2:1 to 1 Chronicles 4:23. Judah (102 verses).
1 Chronicles 4:24-43. Simeon (20 verses).
1 Chronicles 5:1-26. Reuben, Gad, and Eastern Manasseh (26 verses).
1 Chronicles 6:1-81. Levi (81 verses).
1 Chronicles 7:1-40. Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Eastern Manasseh (again), Ephraim, and Asher (40 verses).
1 Chronicles 8:1-40. Benjamin, though already noticed in 1 Chronicles 7:6-11 (40 verses).
Zebulun and (perhaps) Dan (cp. 1 Chronicles 7:12, note) are omitted.
It may easily be seen that the tribes in which the Chronicler is really interested are the three southern tribes, Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, together with the priestly tribe, Levi.
The order in which the tribes are mentioned is at first geographical, Judah and Simeon the southern tribes first, then the eastern tribes Reuben, Gad, Manasseh; the rest follow in no fixed order.
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.Ch. 1 Chronicles 5:1-10. The Genealogy of Reuben
1. he defiled] Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:4.
his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph] Cp. Genesis 48:5, “Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine”; words of Jacob which might be interpreted to mean that Reuben and Simeon are to be disinherited, and that Ephraim and Manasseh are to take their places.
the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright] i.e. though the birthright of Reuben has been given to Joseph, yet the genealogy of Joseph is not to be given before that of Reuben. In 1 Chronicles 5:2 it is shewn that Joseph, though possessing the birthright, was excelled by Judah. In this confusion of claims the natural order is followed and the genealogy of Reuben is given first.
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)2. Judah prevailed above his brethren] Cp. Genesis 49:8 (Jacob to Judah) “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.”
the chief ruler] R.V. the prince. The Heb. word is nâgîd, translated “captain” (1 Samuel 13:14, A.V.) and “ruler” (2 Samuel 7:8, A.V.). The prophets seem to prefer this word to melech, “king” as the title of the head of the Israelite state. The immediate reference is to David (Saul being virtually ignored by the Chronicler), but (since David is a typical character) a further reference in the words is possible. The Peshitta (a Judaeo-Christian work) translates, From him shall come forth (acc. to another reading, hath come forth) King Messiah.
The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were, Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.3. The sons of Reuben] The same four names (with one unimportant variation in spelling in A.V.) appear Genesis 46:9; Exodus 6:14.
Hanoch] the correct spelling of the familiar name Enoch; cp. 1 Chronicles 1:3.
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.6. Tilgath-pilneser] called Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29), and no doubt identical with Pul (ib. 2 Kings 15:19). See F. Hommel in Hastings’ Bible Dict., Assyria, p. 185. The Chronicler is therefore in error in speaking of Pul and Tilgath-pilneser as two persons; cp. 1 Chronicles 5:26.
And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,7. was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel] R.V. was reckoned; the chief; Jeiel.
And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baalmeon:8. Aroer] now ‘Ar‘âir, a heap of ruins near the wâdy Mojib, i.e. the Arnon (Joshua 12:2). It passed from Sihon king of the Amorites into the hands of the Reubenites at the Conquest (ib. Joshua 13:16). See Bädeker, p. 191.
Nebo and Baal-meon] A line drawn due N. from Aroer (see last note), passes close first to Ma‘in (which may be Baal-meon) and then to Jebel Nebâ, which evidently preserves the name of Mount Nebo.
Baal-meon] called more correctly Beth-baal-meon Joshua 13:17.
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.
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.10. in the days of Saul] Saul’s great victory over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11) may have paved the way for the expansion of Israel east of Jordan.
the Hegarites] R.V. the Hagrites as Psalm 83:6 (R.V. mg.). They were an Arab people. Details of the war are given 1 Chronicles 5:18-22.
the east land of Gilead] R.V. the land east of Gilead, i.e. the land between Gilead and the Euphrates (cp. 1 Chronicles 5:9).
And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salchah:11–17. The Genealogy and Settlements of Gad
11. Bashan] the wide district extending from the Jabbok on the S. to Hermon in the N. and from the Sea of Galilee on the W. to the mountains of Hauran on the E. Cp. 1 Chronicles 5:23.
Salchah] R.V. Salecah, is probably represented at the present day by the ruins of Salkhad due S. of the Jebel Hauran and almost due E. of Bostra.
Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.12. the next] R.V. the second. Cp. 2 Kings 25:18.
and Jaanai, and Shaphat] LXX, καὶ Ἰανεὶν ὁ γραμματεύς, “and Janin the scribe”; Targ., “and Janai the judge.”
And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven.13. of the house of their fathers … Jachan … and Heber] R.V. of their fathers’ houses … Jacan … and Eber.
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;
Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.15. chief of the house of their fathers] R.V. chief of their fathers’ houses.
And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.16. in Gilead in Bashan] Read, in Gilead, in Jabesh; cp. 1 Chronicles 10:11-12. The phrase in Gilead in Bashan yields no good sense, for Gilead means the southern, and Bashan the northern part of the territory of Israel east of Jordan.
suburbs] R.V. mg., pasture lands (as in 1 Chronicles 13:2).
Sharon] The well-known Sharon is to be identified with the maritime plain between Joppa and Caesarea. As however the text speaks here of the country E. of Jordan, some other Sharon at present unidentified, must be meant.
upon their borders] R.V. as far as 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.17. reckoned by genealogy] A specimen of this kind of reckoning is given in Nehemiah 7:5-65.
in the days of Jotham … and in the days of Jeroboam] “Reckoning by genealogy” is a phrase used only in the writings of the Chronicler (Chron., Ezra, Neh.), but the practice probably resembled what is called in other books “numbering the people.” The object however was different and corresponded with the circumstances of the returned exiles, who found themselves in the midst of a Gentile population in Judaea. The people were “reckoned by genealogy” not so much to take a census of them, as to inquire into the purity of their Israelite descent. The ancient term “numbering” would probably be a more suitable description of a transaction belonging to the days of Jotham. For Jotham see 2 Chronicles 27 and for Jeroboam 2 Kings 14:23-29. The last years of the reign of Jeroboam II. synchronized with part at least of the reign of Jotham.
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.18–22. The War of the Trans-Jordanic Tribes against the Hagrites
18. forty and four thousand] According to Joshua 4:13 “about forty thousand” from these tribes crossed the Jordan with Joshua to aid in the Conquest.
that went out to the war] R.V. that were able to go forth to war.
And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.19. the Hagarites] R.V. the Hagrites (cp. 1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:20).
Jetur, and Naphish, and Nodab] Jetur, Naphish, Kedemah are given as sons of Ishmael in 1 Chronicles 1:31.
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.20. they were helped] with divine assistance; cp. 1 Chronicles 15:26.
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.
For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.22. was of God] i.e. was prompted by God; cp. 1 Samuel 15:2-3.
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.23, 24. The Half Tribe of Manasseh
23. Baal-hermon] In Jdg 3:3 a mount Baal-hermon is mentioned. Here probably a city is meant, possibly Banias.
Senir] the name given by the Amorites to Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:9, R.V.).
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.24. of the house of their fathers] R.V. of their fathers’ houses.
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.25, 26. The Captivity of the Trans-Jordanic Tribes
25. they transgressed] R.V. they trespassed. The Hebrew verb has a special reference to unlawful or idolatrous worship and also to the violation of a consecrated thing; cp. Joshua 22:16; Joshua 22:20; Joshua 22:31.
the people of the land] R.V. the peoples of the land. Cp. R.V. Preface, pp. vi, vii.
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.26. stirred up the spirit] Cp. 2 Chronicles 21:16; 2 Chronicles 36:22.
Pul … and … Tilgath-pilneser] Both here and in 2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 15:29 (Pul … Tiglath-pileser) the two names are used as though two different persons were meant, but there is no doubt that Pul is the earlier and Tiglath-pileser the royal name of the same king. See note on 1 Chronicles 5:6.
unto Halah, etc.] In 2 Kings 15:29 it is said only, to Assyria; in 2 Kings 17:6 it is said that the Western tribes (“Samaria”) were carried away and placed in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan and in the cities of the Medes.
Halah] probably a district of Mesopotamia, but it has been proposed to identify it with Cilicia which was known to the Assyrians and was under their influence in the later days of their empire.
Habor] a river flowing into the Euphrates from the E., known to the Greeks as Χαβώρας or Ἀβόρρας.
and Hara] No place of this name is known; the reading may be corrupt for and in the cities of the Medes (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11).
the river Gozan] R.V. the river of Gozan. Gozan was a province of Mesopotamia.