Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
1Ch 5:1-10. The Line of Reuben.
1. Now the sons of Reuben—In proceeding to give this genealogy, the sacred historian states, in a parenthesis (1Ch 5:1, 2), the reason why it was not placed first, as Reuben was the oldest son of Jacob. The birthright, which by a foul crime he had forfeited, implied not only dominion, but a double portion (De 21:17); and both of these were transferred to Joseph, whose two sons having been adopted as the children of Jacob (Ge 48:5), received each an allotted portion, as forming two distinct tribes in Israel. Joseph then was entitled to the precedency; and yet, as his posterity was not mentioned first, the sacred historian judged it necessary to explain that "the genealogy was not to be reckoned after the birthright," but with a reference to a superior honor and privilege that had been conferred on Judah—not the man, but the tribe, whereby it was invested with the pre-eminence over all the other tribes, and out of it was to spring David with his royal lineage, and especially the great Messiah (Heb 7:14). These were the two reasons why, in the order of enumeration, the genealogy of Judah is introduced before that of Reuben.
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
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,
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.
9. Eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates—The settlement was on the east of Jordan, and the history of this tribe, which never took any part in the public affairs or movements of the nation, is comprised in "the multiplication of their cattle in the land of Gilead," in their wars with the Bedouin sons of Hagar, and in the simple labors of pastoral life. They had the right of pasture over an extensive mountain range—the great wilderness of Kedemoth (De 2:26) and the Euphrates being a security against their enemies.
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.
And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salchah:
1Ch 5:11-26. The Line of Gad.
11-15. the children of Gad dwelt over against them—The genealogy of the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh (1Ch 5:24) is given along with that of the Reubenites, as these three were associated in a separate colony.
Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.
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;
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.
16. Sharon—The term "Sharon" was applied as descriptive of any place of extraordinary beauty and productiveness. There were three places in Palestine so called. This Sharon lay east of the Jordan.
upon their borders—that is, of Gilead and Bashan: Gilead proper, or at least the largest part, belonged to the Reubenites; and Bashan, the greatest portion of it, belonged to the Manassites. The Gadites occupied an intermediate settlement on the land which lay upon 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. All these were reckoned … in the days of Jotham—His long reign and freedom from foreign wars as well as intestine troubles were favorable for taking a census of the people.
and in the days of Jeroboam—the second of that name.
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. Hagarites—or, "Hagarenes," originally synonymous with "Ishmaelites," but afterwards applied to a particular tribe of the Arabs (compare Ps 83:6).
Jetur—His descendants were called Itureans, and the country Auranitis, from Hauran, its chief city. These, who were skilled in archery, were invaded in the time of Joshua by a confederate army of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, who, probably incensed by the frequent raids of those marauding neighbors, took reprisals in men and cattle, dispossessed almost all of the original inhabitants, and colonized the district themselves. Divine Providence favoured, in a remarkable manner, the Hebrew army in this just war.
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.
For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
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.
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.
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. the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul—the Phalluka of the Ninevite monuments (see on 2Ki 15:19).
and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser—the son of the former. By them the trans-jordanic tribes, including the other half of Manasseh, settled in Galilee, were removed to Upper Media. This was the first captivity (2Ki 15:29).