Matthew Poole's 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.The line of Reuben unto the captivity: their war against the Hagarites, 1 Chronicles 5:1-10. The chief men and habitation of Gad, 1 Chronicles 5:11-17. The number of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, that marched against the Hagarites, and overcame them, 1 Chronicles 5:18-24. They are all carried captive into Assyria, 1 Chronicles 5:25,26.
For he was the first-born: these and the following words 1 Chronicles 5:3, which are enclosed within a parenthesis, seem to be inserted here as an answer to a secret objection, or as a reason why Reuben’s genealogy was not set down first, but Judah’s was put before it, which is double; the first follows immediately, the other is in the last clause of this verse. His birthright, i.e. the right of the first-born, which, although it contain in it something of dominion, Genesis 27:1,32, which Joseph had in his own person, Ge 49; yet principally consisted in having a double portion, as appears from Deu 21:17, which Joseph enjoyed both in his person and in his posterity, which had two parts of twelve in Canaan. And it is Joseph’s posterity which is here considered.
Unto the sons of Joseph; Ephraim and Manasseh, each having a distinct portion.
The sons of Israel: this is added emphatically, because they were reputed and treated as if they had been the immediate sons of Jacob; of which see Genesis 48:5.
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, as it might seem most fit for the former reason; because, saith he, the order of their genealogy was not to be ruled by the birthright but by a higher privilege, which was given to Judah, and which here follows.
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)Judah; not the person, (for so Joseph prevailed,) but the tribe of Judah.
Prevailed above his brethren; excelled the other tribes in number and power, and especially in the following privilege.
And of him, or for of him, as the Hebrew vau is oft used; this being a reason of the foregoing assertion, or a declaration 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. Or, as to the ruler, (i.e. as to the point of dominion,) he was more than he, or preferred before him, i.e. before Joseph, who is named in the very next clause, the pronoun being referred unto the following noun, which is frequent among the Hebrews, as Psalm 87:1 105:19.
But the birthright; or,
although, as vau is oft used; so this prevents or removes an objection against Judah’s precedency taken from his birthright.
The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were, Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.No text from Poole on this verse.
The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,Joel was the son either of Carmi last mentioned; or rather of Hanoch, Reuben’s first-born, because he and his were successively princes of this tribe, as may be gathered from 1 Chronicles 5:6.
Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,No text from Poole on this verse.
Beerah his son, whom Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.No text from Poole on this verse.
And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,His brethren, i.e. the other sons of Reuben, and their posterity.
The chief, Heb. the head; each was the head of his family.
And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baalmeon:Who dwelt, to wit, the Reubenites, all these 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 eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates: because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead.He inhabited, i.e. the tribe of Reuben.
From the river Euphrates; from Jordan and the wilderness beyond it unto Euphrates. Or,
of the wilderness, which lies towards or reacheth to the river Euphrates, namely, the great wilderness of Kedemoth, Deu 2:26, which was extended far and wide towards Euphrates; for that was the eastern border of Reuben’s possession, and not Euphrates, to which their habitation never reached.
Their cattle were multiplied; which forced them to enlarge their habitation as far as they could eastward towards 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.They made war; the Gadites and Manassites joining with them in the war, 1 Chronicles 5:18,19.
With the Hagarites; the Ishmeelites, who dwelt in Arabia the Desert.
They dwelt in their tents; the Israelites took possession of their lands, and tents or houses.
Throughout all the east land of Gilead; which lay eastward from the land of Gilead.
And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salchah:No text from Poole on this verse.
Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.The chief; the prince of the tribe, or at least of his family, when they were numbered, to wit, in the days of Jotham, 1 Chronicles 5:17.
Shaphat in Bashan, i.e. who dwelt in the city of Bashan. Others thus, Who abode in Bashan to defend the city and country, when their brethren went out to war against the Hagarites, 1 Chronicles 5:18,19.
And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;These are the children; these seven last named.
Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.This Ahi was the head or chief of the houses or families, either,
1. Of those seven named 1 Chronicles 5:13; or,
2. Of Abdiel and Guni last named, and of their fifties.
And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.They dwelt, i.e. the children or tribe of Gad.
In Gilead, i.e. in part of Gilead; for the Reubenites and Manassites dwelt in other parts of it, Deu 3:12,13,16.
In Bashan; in the land of Bashan, as it is said, 1 Chronicles 5:11.
Quest. How come the Gadites to dwell in Bashan, when all Bashan is expressly said to be given to the half tribe of Manasseh, Deu 3:13 Joshua 13:29,30?
Answ. All Bashan is put for the greatest part of it by a synecdoche, very frequent in Scripture and all authors; and so the Gadites might possess a part of it. And thus both Bashan and Gilead are used for parts of them, Joshua 17:1, where it is said of Machir a Manassite, that he had Gilead and Bashan. And as it is unquestionably true that Gilead is taken sometimes more largely for all the land of the Israelites beyond Jordan, sometimes more strictly for that part of it which borders upon Mount Gilead; of which See Poole "Joshua 17:1"; the like may be presumed concerning Bashan; and so in its strictest sense it might be all given to the Manassites, and yet in its largest sense might comprehend a part of the land belonging to the Gadites.
In her towns, i.e. in some of her cities and towns.
In all the suburbs, i.e. in its fields and pasture grounds, 1 Chronicles 27:29. Of Sharon; not that within Jordan, Isaiah 35:2, but another without Jordan.
Upon their borders, to wit, of Gilead and Bashan; for Gilead properly so called, or the greatest part of it, belonged to the Reubenites; and Bashan, or the greatest part of it, to the Manassites; and so the Gadites (whose habitation was between the Reubenites and Manassites) had those parts of both their countries which were towards their borders. Or,
unto their borders, i.e. as far as the suburbs or fields of Sharon, which were last mentioned, were extended.
All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.In the days of Jotham king of Judah; who reigning long, partly in his father’s days, and partly by himself, 2Ki 15, and being at leisure as to wars or troubles, thought this a fit season to examine the state of his people.
In the days of Jeroboam; either the second of that name, of whom see 2 Kings 13:13. Or rather the first Jeroboam; partly because he is called simply Jeroboam, without any addition; which shows that he speaks of the most famous of the two; and partly because this work of taking an account of the people doth far better agree to the times of Jeroboam the First, when the kingdom of Israel was first erected and established, and broken off from that of Judah, when it was necessary for Jeroboam to know his own strength, and the numbers of his people, than to the times of Jeroboam the Second, when the kingdom of Israel was broken, and near to its ruin.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.i.e. With the posterity of Jetur, &c., who were Ishmeelites, as appears from Genesis 25:15.
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.They were helped against them, to wit, by God, 1 Chronicles 5:22, who gave them extraordinary courage and success.
All that were with them; their friends and allies in this war.
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.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 an 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.The war was of God; God put them upon it, and mightily assisted them in it.
They dwelt, i.e. that party of these tribes which went out to this war, being 44,760 men; or part of them by the consent of the rest.
Until the captivity; of which 2 Kings 15:29 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.Having discoursed of the Reubenites, 1 Chronicles 5:3, &c., and next of the Gadites, 1 Chronicles 5:11, &c., he now comes to the Manassites.
In the land, i.e. in their land, to wit, in the northern part of the land beyond Jordan.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Stirred up the spirit; he so governed his counsels and affections, that he should bring his forces against this people rather than others. Of Halah, Habor, &c., see 2 Kings 17:6 18:11.