1 Chronicles 4 through 8 – The Tribes of Israel and their Descendants
“How barren to us is this register, both of incident and interest! And yet, as barren rocks and sandy deserts make integral and necessary parts of the globe; so do these genealogical tables make necessary parts of the history of providence and grace in the maintenance of truth, and the establishment of the church of Christ. Therefore, no one that fears God will either despise or lightly esteem them.” (Adam Clarke)
“Here tribes, and individual men, are seen as gaining importance and value in proportion as they co-operated in the purpose of God.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
A. The tribes comprising the later Kingdom of Judah.
1. (4:1-23) The descendants of Judah.
The sons of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. And Reaiah the son of Shobal begot Jahath, and Jahath begot Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites. These were the sons of the father of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi; and Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer was the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah the father of Bethlehem. And Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah. Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. The sons of Helah were Zereth, Zohar, and Ethnan; and Koz begot Anub, Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. Chelub the brother of Shuhah begot Mehir, who was the father of Eshton. And Eshton begot Beth-Rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Ir-Nahash. These were the men of Rechah. The sons of Kenaz were Othniel and Seraiah. The sons of Othniel were Hathath, and Meonothai who begot Ophrah. Seraiah begot Joab the father of Ge Harashim, for they were craftsmen. The sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The son of Elah was Kenaz. The sons of Jehallelel were Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel. The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. And Mered’s wife bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. (His wife Jehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Sochoh, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.) And these were the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took. The sons of Hodiah’s wife, the sister of Naham, were the fathers of Keilah the Garmite and of Eshtemoa the Maachathite. And the sons of Shimon were Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-Hanan, and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were Zoheth and Ben-Zoheth. The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of the linen workers of the house of Ashbea; also Jokim, the men of Chozeba, and Joash; Saraph, who ruled in Moab, and Jashubi-Lehem. Now the records are ancient. These were the potters and those who dwell at Netaim and Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work.
a. The sons of Judah were: Since the focus of these genealogies is the dynastic line of David, it makes sense that the tribe of Judah is listed first.
i. “Ezra expected his readers to recognize (from 2:5, 18, 50) that the five descendants of Judah, from Perez to Shobal, were not brothers but successive generations. ‘Carmi’ must therefore be a scribal error for Caleb.” (Payne)
b. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: This man Jabez is one of the more interesting briefly-mentioned people of the Old Testament. We only know of him from this text, and from the town of scribes that may have been named after him or associated with him (1 Chronicles 2:55).
i. “While through these genealogies, and indeed through all the history, we are occupied with those connected with government and the procession of events leading to universal issues, it is refreshing to be halted by the story of one man who took his need directly to God and obtained the answer of God’s grace.” (Morgan)
ii. “On these accounts he was more honourable than his brethren. He was of the same stock and the same lineage; he had neither nobility of birth, nor was distinguished by earthly titles; in all these respects he was on a level with his brethren: but God tells us that he was more honourable than them all; and why? because he prayed, because he served his Maker, and because he lived to do good among men; therefore he received the honour that cometh from God.” (Clarke)
c. His mother called his name Jabez: This name is associated with pain or sorrow. For some reason, probably surrounding the circumstances of his birth, his mother named him this. Because of the strong importance of the idea of a name in ancient Hebrew culture, this idea of pain was heavy with and upon Jabez – perhaps especially in his growing up.
d. And Jabez called on the God of Israel: Jabez was honored, and we know little more of him than that he was a man of prayer and that his prayer was answered. One way to gain honor in the Kingdom of God is through prayer, instead of through ambition and achievement. Jabez had four basic requests in his prayer.
i. First, Jabez prayed to be blessed indeed. There are many who are blessed, but they are not blessed indeed. That is, they have something that is in one sense a blessings (such as family, salvation, wealth, fame, health, security), but yet because of fundamental dissatisfaction in their life, they are not blessed indeed.
· Even worse, sometimes blessings turn out to be a curse to us in that we make an idol of the blessing. In this, we see the great wisdom of Jabez’s prayer.
· In the same way, many things that are outwardly curses end up being blessings indeed to us.
ii. Jabez prayed for enlarged territory. Virtually all older commentators agree with Matthew Poole that Jabez called on the God of Israel “when he was undertaking some great and dangerous service,” in particular the conquest of the land of Canaan. Therefore, when he prayed “enlarge my territory,” it was to “drive out these wicked and cursed Canaanties, whom thou hast commanded us to root out, and therefore I justly beg and expect thy blessing in the execution of thy command.” (Poole)
· Adam Clarke quotes a Chaldean translation of this prayer, with the line: and enlarge my borders with disciples. This, together with the scribal city associated with his name, indicates (but does not prove) that Jabez’s desire for more territory was not only to displace the wicked, but also to advance the cause of godliness through the multiplication of disciples.
iii. Jabez asked that the hand of God would be with him. “The ‘hand of the Lord’ is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people (see Joshua 4:24 and Isaiah 59:1).” (Wilkinson)
· The phrase the hand of the Lord is used many times in the Old Testament, and often in a negative sense – that is, in the sense of God’s hand being against someone in judgment. Here Jabez prayed that the hand of the Lord would be with him.
· In Psalm 77:10, the Psalmist wrote: I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. Here Jabez prayed in advance for something to remember later – to see the hand of God with him now.
iv. Jabez asked to be kept from evil and that he would not cause pain. Some other translations render this with the idea that pain Jabez did not want to cause was his own. “He used this expression in allusion to his name, which signifies grief; Lord, let me not have that grief which my name implies, and which my sin deserves.” (Poole)
· In this Jabez recognized the evil in this world, no doubt because he had lived through much pain in his life.
· In this Jabez recognized that he needed God to keep him from evil.
· In this Jabez recognized that the hand of God to bless us can transform the evil and pain of life.
e. So God granted him what he requested: This, of course, is the measure of effective prayer – that it is answered from heaven (allowing that “No” or “Wait” can also be an answer). Yet when we are close to the heart of God and pray for the things important to Him and His kingdom, we expect that our prayers will be granted (1 John 5:14).
i. “If we take up the character and conduct of Jabez in the view given by the Chaldee, we shall not only see him as a pious and careful man, deeply interested in behalf of himself and his family, but we shall see him as a benevolent man, labouring for the welfare of others, and especially for the religious instruction of youth. He founded schools, in which the young and rising generation were taught useful knowledge, and especially the knowledge of God. He had disciples, which were divided into three classes, who distinguished themselves by their fervour in the worship of God, by their docility in obediently hearing and treasuring up the advices and instructions of their teachers, and by their deep piety to God in bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. The spirit of prophecy, that is, of prayer and supplication, rested upon them.” (Clarke)
ii. “Reader, imitate the conduct of this worthy Israelite that thou mayest be a partaker of his blessings.” (Clarke)
f. And these were the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took: “The wife of Mered here intended is Bithiah (v. 18). Her identification as a daughter of Pharaoh would locate this event during the early part of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt (before 1800 b.c.), the union probably being made possible because of Joseph’s prominence.” (Payne)
g. These were the potters and those who dwell at Netaim and Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work: Since the broad focus of these chapters is to point to the tribe of Judah and especially to the family of David, these receive special mention because they worked for the king and lived with the king. Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful sermon on this verse, with four points under the title With the King for His Work!
i. Our King has many kinds of servants. He has soldiers, watchmen, heralds, scribes, musicians, house servants, gardeners, servants for the children. We should therefore value the different servants and understand and value our own place of service.
ii. All who live with our King must work. “They did not live on the king’s bounty and dwell on the king’s country estates to do nothing, but they dwelt there for his work. I do not know whether all that call my Master ‘Lord’ have caught this idea. I have thought that some of our church members imagine that the cause of Christ was a coach, and that they were to ride on it, and that they would prefer the box seat.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Those that work for the King ought to live with Him. “Now, those that live with Jesus Christ have a sort of secret alphabet between themselves and him. Oftentimes when a Christian man does the right thing . . . Do you know why he had that knack? He lived with his Master, so he knew what you knew not. He knew the meaning of his Master’s eye, and it guided him.” (Spurgeon)
iv. We are working for the King. “And after you have received Christ then you shall go forth and serve him. Put out an empty hand and receive Christ into it by a little faith, and then go and serve him, and the Lord bless you henceforth and for ever.” (Spurgeon)
2. (4:24-43) The descendants of Simeon.
The sons of Simeon were Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, and Shaul, Shallum his son, Mibsam his son, and Mishma his son. And the sons of Mishma were Hamuel his son, Zacchur his son, and Shimei his son. Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brothers did not have many children, nor did any of their families multiply as much as the children of Judah. They dwelt at Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar Shual, Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth Marcaboth, Hazar Susim, Beth Biri, and at Shaaraim. These were their cities until the reign of David. And their villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Tochen, and Ashan; five cities; and all the villages that were around these cities as far as Baal. These were their dwelling places, and they maintained their genealogy: Meshobab, Jamlech, and Joshah the son of Amaziah; Joel, and Jehu the son of Joshibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel; Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, and Benaiah; Ziza the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah; these mentioned by name were leaders in their families, and their father’s house increased greatly. So they went to the entrance of Gedor, as far as the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks. And they found rich, good pasture, and the land was broad, quiet, and peaceful; for some Hamites formerly lived there. These recorded by name came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and they attacked their tents and the Meunites who were found there, and utterly destroyed them, as it is to this day. So they dwelt in their place, because there was pasture for their flocks there. Now some of them, five hundred men of the sons of Simeon, went to Mount Seir, having as their captains Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. And they defeated the rest of the Amalekites who had escaped. They have dwelt there to this day.
a. The sons of Simeon . . . these were the dwelling places: Simeon and Levi, two of the sons of Jacob, massacred the men of the city of Shechem (Genesis 34:24-30, 49:5-7) and were therefore cursed to be scattered. Therefore, the tribe of Simeon did not have a province to call their own, only these cities, villages, and dwelling places.
i. “Simeon was granted lands in Palestine only within the arid southwestern portions of Judah (Joshua 19:1-9; cf. 15:26, 28-32); and it campaigned cooperatively with Judah in their conquest (Judges 1:3).” (Payne)
ii. “For after the division of Solomon’s kingdom in 930 b.c., elements of Simeon either moved to the north or at least adopted its religious practices (cf. the inclusion of Beersheba along with the shrines of Ephraim that are condemned in Amos 5:5) . . . Other Simeonites carried on in a seminomadic life in isolated areas that they could occupy, such as those noted at the close of this chapter.” (Payne)
iii. “This genealogy is very different from that given in Genesis 46:10, and Numbers 26:12. This may be occasioned by the same person having several names, one list taking one name, another list some other, and so on: to reconcile is impossible; to attempt it, useless.” (Clarke)
b. But his brothers did not have many children, nor did any of their families multiply as much as the children of Judah: The census data both at the beginning and the end of the Book of Numbers indicates that the population of the tribe of Simeon decreased radically during the wilderness years of the exodus. They were among the largest tribes at the beginning and among the smallest tribes at the end.
i. “Of this tribe was that shameless fornicator, Zimri (Numbers 35), as also Judas Iscariot, as Jerome affirmeth.” (Trapp)
B. The tribes of Israel settling east of the Jordan River.
1. (5:1-10) The descendants of Reuben.
Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s; the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, and Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria carried into captivity. He was leader of the Reubenites. And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was registered: the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah, and Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, as far as Nebo and Baal Meon. Eastward they settled as far as the entrance of the wilderness this side of the River Euphrates, because their cattle had multiplied in the land of Gilead. Now in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand; and they dwelt in their tents throughout the entire area east of Gilead.
a. Reuben the firstborn of Israel; he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given: This answers the question, “If Reuben was the first-born son, why is he not listed first?” It was because of the sin described in this verse, which disqualified Reuben from being first among the sons of Israel.
b. Now in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites: “The Hagarites were tribes of Nomade, or Scenite, Arabs; people who lived in tents, without any fixed dwellings, and whose property consisted in cattle. The descendants of Reuben extirpated these Hagarites, seized on their property and their tents, and dwelt in their place.” (Clarke)
2. (5:11-22) The descendants of Gad.
And the children of Gad dwelt next to them in the land of Bashan as far as Salcah: Joel was the chief, Shapham the next, then Jaanai and Shaphat in Bashan, and their brethren of their father’s house: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jachan, Zia, and Eber; seven in all. These were 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, was chief of their father’s house. And the Gadites dwelt in Gilead, in Bashan and in its villages, and in all the common-lands of Sharon within their borders. All these were registered by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel. The sons of Reuben, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war, who went to war. They made war with the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all who were with them, for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him. Then they took away their livestock; fifty thousand of their camels, two hundred and fifty thousand of their sheep, and two thousand of their donkeys; also one hundred thousand of their men; for many fell dead, because the war was God’s. And they dwelt in their place until the captivity.
a. For they cried out to God in the battle: As these men of Gad did what God called them to do, they trusted in Him in the midst of the battle. Because they put their trust in Him, God delivered them in the battle.
i. Trapp on for they cried to God in the battle: “So did Jabez (chapter 4); Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20); the thundering legion; the late king of Sweden, whose prayer before the great battle of Lutzen – where he fell, – was, ‘Jesus vouchsafe this day to be my strong helper; and give me courage to fight for the honour of thy name.’ Prayer alone he held the surest piece of his whole armour.”
b. Also one hundred thousand of their men; for many fell dead, because the war was God’s: This describes the unique wars of judgment God called Israel to bring against the Canaanites when they came into the Promised Land.
i. “This was a war of extermination as to the political state of the people, which nothing could justify but a special direction of God; and this he could never give against any, unless the cup of their iniquity had been full. The Hagrites were full of idolatry: see 1 Chronicles 5:25.” (Clarke)
3. (5:23-26) The descendants of the eastern tribe of Manasseh.
So the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land. Their numbers increased from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir, or Mount Hermon. These were the heads of their fathers’ houses: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel. They were mighty men of valor, famous men, and heads of their fathers’ houses. And they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He carried the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan to this day.
a. They were mighty men of valor, famous men, and heads of their fathers’ houses: These original settlers of the eastern tribe of Manasseh were godly and bold men. Their desire to settle east of the Jordan River did not reflect an ungodly desire on their part.
b. And they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land: Despite the good start for the eastern tribe of Manasseh, this is how they ended up. Their distance from the people of Israel in general and the spiritual life of the nation in particular seemed to weaken their devotion to God and strengthen their attraction to the gods of the peoples of the land.
i. “The remaining verses of chapter 5 describe an early, joint military campaign (vv. 18-22, elaborating v. 10) – in which God rewarded their faith and their prayers with a great victory over the Ishmaelites – and their later deportation to Assyria (vv. 25-26), as the result of collective apostasy.” (Payne)
C. The tribe of Levi.
1. (6:1-30) The descendants of Levi.
The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Eleazar begot Phinehas, and Phinehas begot Abishua; Abishua begot Bukki, and Bukki begot Uzzi; Uzzi begot Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begot Meraioth; Meraioth begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Ahimaaz; Ahimaaz begot Azariah, and Azariah begot Johanan; Johanan begot Azariah (it was he who ministered as priest in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem); Azariah begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Shallum; Shallum begot Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begot Azariah; Azariah begot Seraiah, and Seraiah begot Jehozadak. Jehozadak went into captivity when the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. These are the names of the sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei. The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. Now these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers: Of Gershon were Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, and Jeatherai his son. The sons of Kohath were Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. The sons of Elkanah were Amasai and Ahimoth. As for Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah were Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, and Elkanah his son. The sons of Samuel were Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second. The sons of Merari were Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.
a. The sons of Levi were: This chapter describes the descendants of Levi and of Aaron. The entire tribe of Levi had a special place in Israel, given over to the service of God generally. Within the tribe of Levi was a special priestly family descended from Aaron. All priests were therefore Levites, but not all Levites were priests.
i. “It has been well remarked that the genealogy of Levi is given here more ample and correct than that of any of the others. And this is perhaps an additional proof that the author was a priest, felt much for the priesthood, and took care to give the genealogy of the Levitical and sacerdotal families, from the most correct tables; for with such tables we may presume he was intimately acquainted.” (Clarke)
ii. As previously seen, Simeon and Levi were both cursed to be scattered because of their massacre of the men of Shechem (Genesis 34:24-30, 49:5-7). God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi and scatter them among Israel. Yet the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as curse.
b. In the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem: “So called to distinguish it from the second temple, which was built or in building when these books were written.” (Poole)
c. When the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar: According to pattern, the inspired historian saw the hand of God even in the great tragedy that still afflicted Judah at the time of writing Chronicles. It was not the Babylonian Empire that carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity, but it was the Lord.
2. (6:31-48) The musicians for the House of the Lord.
Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest. They were ministering with music before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they served in their office according to their order. And these are the ones who ministered with their sons: Of the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. And his brother Asaph, who stood at his right hand, was Asaph the son of Berachiah, the son of Shimea, the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah, the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei, the son of Jahath, the son of Gershon, the son of Levi. Their brethren, the sons of Merari, on the left hand, were Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shamer, the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. And their brethren, the Levites, were appointed to every kind of service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
a. Whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest: The dramatic entry of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem is described in both 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15-16.
i. The fact that David appointed these men over the service of song shows that the musical worship of God is important, it is worthy of attention, and should be organized. In fact, it is specifically said they served in their office according to their order.
ii. It could perhaps be said that the artistic temperament resists organization, and it is certainly possible to be too ordered and too rigid, refusing to allow a proper flexibility in the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, organization and order remain part of a good music ministry.
iii. They were ministering with music: Their ministry was music. It was sacred service before the Lord, worthy of their dedication and hard work.
b. Heman the singer: This man is mentioned several times in connection with temple worship in the days of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 15:17-19, 16:41-42, 25:1-7, 2 Chronicles 5:12-13). He was an important part of the ceremonies connected with bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and the dedication of the temple.
i. Psalm 88 is attributed to Heman: A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. To the Chief Musician. Set to “Mahalath Leannoth.” A Contemplation [Maschil] of Heman the Ezrahite.
ii. Psalm 88 shows us a man well acquainted with sorrow and trouble: For my soul is full of troubles (88:3) . . . I am like a man who has no strength (88:4) . . . Your wrath lies heavy upon me (88:7). Some of the sweetest songs come from the heaviest sorrow.
iii. Psalm 88 also shows us a man who could take his grief to the Lord: But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You (88:13). It is not a confident or triumphant psalm, but the undercurrent of trust and refuge in God runs through the song of sorrow.
c. And his brother Asaph, who stood at his right hand: Partnered with Heman the singer was Asaph, making for one of the great worship-leading combinations in history.
i. This is the first mention of Asaph in the Bible; the Asaph listed in 2 Kings 18:18 and 18:37 is a different man. Asaph was a man of wide and long-lasting influence among God’s people.
· 1 Chronicles 15:17-19 mentions Asaph as a fellow singer with Heman and Ethan.
· 1 Chronicles 16:5 describes Asaph as the chief at the ceremony bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.
· 1 Chronicles 16:7 says that David delivered a psalm to Asaph and his brethren at that ceremony. Apparently, David wrote the psalm and Asaph and his brethren performed it.
· 1 Chronicles 16:17 says that Asaph was left with the responsibility to daily minister before the ark of the covenant when it was brought into the Jerusalem in David’s time.
· 1 Chronicles 25:6 says that Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman served in music under the authority of King David.
· 2 Chronicles 20:14 and 29:13 indicate that the influence of Asaph lasted far beyond his death, in that future worship leaders and musicians were known as the sons of Asaph, even to the days of Ezra (Ezra 2:41, 3:10; Nehemiah 7:44, 11:17 and 22).
ii. 12 Psalms are attributed to Asaph (Psalm 50 and Psalms 73 through 83).
d. Appointed to every kind of service of the tabernacle of the house of God: The Levites served God in almost every conceivable way, both practical and spiritual in appearance. Every kind of service is important and precious to God.
3. (6:49-53) The family of Aaron.
But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. Now these are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, Zadok his son, and Ahimaaz his son.
a. But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar: The priesthood descended from Aaron and Aaron only. He, his sons, and their descendants were the only ones authorized to offer sacrifices on the altar.
b. And to make atonement for Israel: Only an authorized priest could make atonement. Though Jesus was not descended from Aaron, He was nevertheless an authorized priest according to the order of Melchezidek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).
c. Now these are the sons of Aaron: Not listed are the two disobedient sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) who were judged for bringing a strange fire of corrupt worship to the altar (Leviticus 10).
4. (6:54-81) The cities and common-lands of the Levites.
Now these are their dwelling places throughout their settlements in their territory, for they were given by lot to the sons of Aaron, of the family of the Kohathites: They gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, with its surrounding common-lands. But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. And to the sons of Aaron they gave one of the cities of refuge, Hebron; also Libnah with its common-lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its common-lands, Hilen with its common-lands, Debir with its common-lands, Ashan with its common-lands, and Beth Shemesh with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Benjamin: Geba with its common-lands, Alemeth with its common-lands, and Anathoth with its common-lands. All their cities among their families were thirteen. To the rest of the family of the tribe of the Kohathites they gave by lot ten cities from half the tribe of Manasseh. And to the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, they gave thirteen cities from the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. To the sons of Merari, throughout their families, they gave twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben, from the tribe of Gad, and from the tribe of Zebulun. So the children of Israel gave these cities with their common-lands to the Levites. And they gave by lot from the tribe of the children of Judah, from the tribe of the children of Simeon, and from the tribe of the children of Benjamin these cities which are called by their names. Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath were given cities as their territory from the tribe of Ephraim. And they gave them one of the cities of refuge, Shechem with its common-lands, in the mountains of Ephraim, also Gezer with its common-lands, Jokmeam with its common-lands, Beth Horon with its common-lands, Aijalon with its common-lands, and Gath Rimmon with its common-lands. And from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Aner with its common-lands and Bileam with its common-lands, for the rest of the family of the sons of Kohath. From the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh the sons of Gershon were given Golan in Bashan with its common-lands and Ashtaroth with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its common-lands, Daberath with its common-lands, Ramoth with its common-lands, and Anem with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its common-lands, Abdon with its common-lands, Hukok with its common-lands, and Rehob with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its common-lands, Hammon with its common-lands, and Kirjathaim with its common-lands. From the tribe of Zebulun the rest of the children of Merari were given Rimmon with its common-lands and Tabor with its common-lands. And on the other side of the Jordan, across from Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, they were given from the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its common-lands, Jahzah with its common-lands, Kedemoth with its common-lands, and Mephaath with its common-lands. And from the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its common-lands, Mahanaim with its common-lands, Heshbon with its common-lands, and Jazer with its common-lands.
a. Now these are their dwelling places throughout their settlements: According to Numbers 18:20-24, the tribe of Levi had no province of land as the other tribes did. Their inheritance was the Lord Himself and the tithes that the people of God brought to them.
b. They gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, with its surrounding common-lands: After this pattern, the Levites were “sprinkled” throughout the land of Israel by giving them cities in the different tribal provinces, cities together with surrounding common-lands (Numbers 35:1-8).
D. The other tribes of Israel.
1. (7:1-5) The descendants of Issachar.
The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron; four in all. The sons of Tola were Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Jibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their father’s house. The sons of Tola were mighty men of valor in their generations; their number in the days of David was twenty-two thousand six hundred. The son of Uzzi was Izrahiah, and the sons of Izrahiah were Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Ishiah. All five of them were chief men. And with them, by their generations, according to their fathers’ houses, were thirty-six thousand troops ready for war; for they had many wives and sons. Now their brethren among all the families of Issachar were mighty men of valor, listed by their genealogies, eighty-seven thousand in all.
a. Thirty-six thousand troops ready for war: “For Israhiah and his four sons, even with ‘many wives,’ to have ‘36,000’ warriors seems unlikely, as does the total (vv. 2-5) of 145,600 for just one tribe of the Twelve. This appears to be the first of nine passages in Chronicles where elep (‘thosuand’) might be better interpreted as allup (‘chief’).” (Payne)
2. (7:6-12) The descendants of Benjamin.
The sons of Benjamin were Bela, Becher, and Jediael; three in all. The sons of Bela were Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri; five in all. They were heads of their fathers’ houses, and they were listed by their genealogies, twenty-two thousand and thirty-four mighty men of valor. The sons of Becher were Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jerimoth, Abijah, Anathoth, and Alemeth. All these are the sons of Becher. And they were recorded by genealogy according to their generations, heads of their fathers’ houses, twenty thousand two hundred mighty men of valor. The son of Jediael was Bilhan, and the sons of Bilhan were Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tharshish, and Ahishahar. All these sons of Jediael were heads of their fathers’ houses; there were seventeen thousand two hundred mighty men of valor fit to go out for war and battle. Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir, and Hushim was the son of Aher.
a. Ehud: This was the famous leader for Israel noted in Judges 3:12-30.
b. The son of Aher: Many believe that is better rendered the sons of Aher and is a veiled reference to the tribe of Dan, who is not otherwise mentioned in this genealogy.
i. “The sons of Aher; but divers take the Hebrew word aher for a common, not proper name, and render the words this, another son, or the son of another family or tribe, to wit, of Dan, as may be gathered.” (Poole)
ii. There are at least four things that support the idea that this is a veiled reference to the tribe of Dan:
· In Genesis 46:23 Hushim is mentioned as the son of Dan.
· The next verse in 1 Chronicles (7:13) mentions the sons of Bilhah, who was mother to both Dan and Naphtali, also mentioned in that verse.
· Otherwise the genealogy of Dan is left out.
· Hebrew writers sometimes used the word another (aher) to describe “an abominable thing which the writer disdained to mention; whence they call a swine, which to them was a very unclean and loathsome creature, another thing.”
iii. “And it must be remembered that the tribe of Dan had made themselves and their memory infamous and detestable by that gross idolatry, which began first and continued longest in that tribe, Judges 18.” (Poole)
3. (7:13) The descendants of Naphtali.
The sons of Naphtali were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.
4. (7:14-19) The descendants of the Western Tribe of Manasseh.
The descendants of Manasseh: his Syrian concubine bore him Machir the father of Gilead, the father of Asriel. Machir took as his wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose name was Maachah. The name of Gilead’s grandson was Zelophehad, but Zelophehad begot only daughters. (Maachah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she called his name Peresh. The name of his brother was Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. The son of Ulam was Bedan.) These were the descendants of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh. His sister Hammoleketh bore Ishhod, Abiezer, and Mahlah. And the sons of Shemida were Ahian, Shechem, Likhi, and Aniam.
a. But Zelophehad begot only daughters: Zelophehad is one mentioned in Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11 and 36:1-12 when the question came to Moses about female inheritance rights.
5. (7:20-29) The descendants of Ephraim.
The sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eladah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead. The men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle. Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. Now his daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon and Uzzen Sheerah; and Rephah was his son, as well as Resheph, and Telah his son, Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, and Joshua his son. Now their possessions and dwelling places were Bethel and its towns: to the east Naaran, to the west Gezer and its towns, and Shechem and its towns, as far as Ayyah and its towns; and by the borders of the children of Manasseh were Beth Shean and its towns, Taanach and its towns, Megiddo and its towns, Dor and its towns. In these dwelt the children of Joseph, the son of Israel.
a. The sons of Ephraim: “The Ephraimites were famous for their wealth, power, and prowess; but withal they are noted for insolent, proud, and quarrelsome.” (Trapp)
6. (7:30-40) The descendants of Asher.
The sons of Asher were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. The sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel, who was the father of Birzaith. And Heber begot Japhlet, Shomer, Hotham, and their sister Shua. The sons of Japhlet were Pasach, Bimhal, and Ashvath. These were the children of Japhlet. The sons of Shemer were Ahi, Rohgah, Jehubbah, and Aram. And the sons of his brother Helem were Zophah, Imna, Shelesh, and Amal. The sons of Zophah were Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah, Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Jithran, and Beera. The sons of Jether were Jephunneh, Pispah, and Ara. The sons of Ulla were Arah, Haniel, and Rizia. All these were the children of Asher, heads of their fathers’ houses, choice men, mighty men of valor, chief leaders. And they were recorded by genealogies among the army fit for battle; their number was twenty-six thousand.
a. Their sister Serah . . . their sister Shua: “The rabbins say that the daughters of Asher were very beautiful, and were all matched with kings or priests.” (Clarke)
7. (8:1-40) The descendants of Benjamin.
Now Benjamin begot Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third, Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth. The sons of Bela were Addar, Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram. These are the sons of Ehud, who were the heads of the fathers’ houses of the inhabitants of Geba, and who forced them to move to Manahath: Naaman, Ahijah, and Gera who forced them to move. He begot Uzza and Ahihud. And Shaharaim had children in the country of Moab, after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives. By Hodesh his wife he begot Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam, Jeuz, Sachiah, and Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of their fathers’ houses. And by Hushim he begot Abitub and Elpaal. The sons of Elpaal were Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod with its towns; and Beriah and Shema, who were heads of their fathers’ houses of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove out the inhabitants of Gath. Ahio, Shashak, Jeremoth, Zebadiah, Arad, Eder, Michael, Ispah, and Joha were the sons of Beriah. Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber, Ishmerai, Jizliah, and Jobab were the sons of Elpaal. Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel, Adaiah, Beraiah, and Shimrath were the sons of Shimei. Ishpan, Eber, Eliel, Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, Hananiah, Elam, Antothijah, Iphdeiah, and Penuel were the sons of Shashak. Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, Jaareshiah, Elijah, and Zichri were the sons of Jeroham. These were heads of the fathers’ houses by their generations, chief men. These dwelt in Jerusalem. Now the father of Gibeon, whose wife’s name was Maacah, dwelt at Gibeon. And his firstborn son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zecher, and Mikloth, who begot Shimeah. They also dwelt alongside their relatives in Jerusalem, with their brethren. Ner begot Kish, Kish begot Saul, and Saul begot Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab, and Esh-Baal. The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal, and Merib-Baal begot Micah. The sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. And Ahaz begot Jehoaddah; Jehoaddah begot Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begot Moza. Moza begot Binea, Raphah his son, Eleasah his son, and Azel his son. Azel had six sons whose names were these: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. And the sons of Eshek his brother were Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third. The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor; archers. They had many sons and grandsons, one hundred and fifty in all. These were all sons of Benjamin.
a. Now Benjamin: The tribe was already mentioned in 1 Chronicles 7:6-12, but is given more attention here. One reason for this is because the most of these settlements were in the area of Jerusalem, which was the main area that the returning exiles came to in the days Chronicles was written.
i. “Chronicles elaborates this material, not simply because of the significance of King Saul and his family, as it continued a dozen generations after him, but primarily because of the importance of Benjamin as a tribe, which ranked second only to Judah in postexilic society.” (Payne)
b. Ner begot Kish, Kish begot Saul: “This Ner is also called Abiel (1 Samuel 9:1). The Hebrews tell us that his proper name was Abiel; and that he was called Ner – that is, a lamp or torch – because he outshone in holiness.”
c. The son of Jonathan was Merib-Baal: “The same as Mephi-bosheth; for, as the Israelites detested Baal, which signifies lord, they changed it into bosheth, which signifies shame or reproach.” (Clarke)
d. Azel had six sons whose names were these: “Of the six sons of Azel, mentioned 1 Chron 8:38, R.S. Jarchi says that their allegorical expositions were sufficient to load thirteen thousand camels! No doubt these were reputed to be deeply learned men. There was a time when the allegorizers and metaphor-men ranked very high among theologians, even in our own enlightened and critical country. At present they are almost totally out of fashion. May they never recover their footing! But what a shameful hyperbole is that of Jarchi! The writings of six men a load for thirteen thousand camels!” (Clarke)
e. The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor; archers: Archers is in “Hebrew, that tread the bow; for the bows of steel, which these used, required great strength to bend them; which therefore they did by treading the bow with their feet, and pulling the string with both their hands.” (Poole)
© 2006 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission