Scriptures

1 Chronicles 7

Introduction

Gill, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.

‘In this chapter are given the genealogies of the tribes of Issachar, 1 Chronicles 7:1 of Benjamin, 1 Chronicles 7:6 Naphtali, 1 Chronicles 7:13, of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 7:14 of Ephraim, 1 Chronicles 7:20 and of Asher, 1 Chronicles 7:30, even of the chief men of them; and their numbers are reckoned as in the times of David. The tribes of Dan and Zebulun are omitted.’

Issachar

‘The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron—four in all. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam and Samuel—heads of their families. During the reign of David, the descendants of Tola listed as fighting men in their genealogy numbered 22,600. The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. The sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel and Ishiah. All five of them were chiefs. According to their family genealogy, they had 36,000 men ready for battle, for they had many wives and children. The relatives who were fighting men belonging to all the clans of Issachar, as listed in their genealogy, were 87,000 in all.’ 1 Chronicles 7:1-5

As we read through this chapter, we soon discover that the genealogies of Zebulun and Dan aren’t mentioned.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here is no account either of Zebulun or Dan. Why they only should be omitted we can assign no reason, only it is the disgrace of the tribe of Dan that idolatry began in that colony of the Danites which fixed in Laish, and called Dan, and there one of the golden calves was set up by Jeroboam. Dan is omitted, Revelation 7:4-8.’

Both the tribes of Issachar and Asher are noted because of the valiant soldiers who came from these two tribes. As with the spelling of the names, the variations can be noted by comparing the names in 1 Chronicles 7:1-5 with those that are listed in Genesis 46:13 and Numbers 26:23-25.

In reference to the numbers, compare the result of the numbering of Moses’ day, Numbers 1:29, and a later numbering that took place in Numbers 26:25. It appears that the time of conflict during these years wasn’t beneficial to population growth.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following concerning David’s generation.

‘The writer would seem by this passage to have had access to the statistics of the tribes collected by David, when he sinfully ‘numbered the people’. The numbers given in 1 Chronicles 7:4-5 probably came from the same source.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There are many discrepancies when these lists are compared with the lists cited in the marginal references to other scriptures, but it is no part of our purpose to attempt any explanation of them. The word son is used no less than nine different ways in the Bible. Also, there was a mixing of the tribes, for examples, as when, ‘Becher’s heiress married an Ephraimite which transferred his reckoning from the tribe of Benjamin to that of Ephraim.’ We also have placenames such as Anathoth also used as the names of persons, 1 Chronicles 7:8.’

Benjamin

‘Three sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker and Jediael. The sons of Bela: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth and Iri, heads of families—five in all. Their genealogical record listed 22,034 fighting men. The sons of Beker: Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jeremoth, Abijah, Anathoth and Alemeth. All these were the sons of Beker. Their genealogical record listed the heads of families and 20,200 fighting men. The son of Jediael: Bilhan. The sons of Bilhan: Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Kenaanah, Zethan, Tarshish and Ahishahar. All these sons of Jediael were heads of families. There were 17,200 fighting men ready to go out to war. The Shuppites and Huppites were the descendants of Ir, and the Hushites the descendants of Aher.’ 1 Chronicles 7:6-12

Here in the genealogies of Benjamin we find some discrepancies with the account which is given in the next chapter and with the accounts given in Genesis 46:21 and Numbers 26:38. Some believe that this genealogy is actually that of

Zebulun, assuming that a scribal error occurred because the first son of each son started with the name Bela.

Others believe that Dan is left out because of the extreme idolatry that was practiced by them since it was the northern most tribe of Israel, and so, they were in close association with the idolatrous nations to the north of Palestine.

The sons of Benjamin were Bela, and Becher, and Jediael, that’s three in total. Benjamin actually had ten sons, but only three are mentioned first, the latter of these seems to be the same with Ashbel, Genesis 46:21. Bela had five sons and they are thought by some to be the grandsons of Bela, because of the different names in 1 Chronicles 8:3.

Ehud was the second judge in Israel, Judges 3:12-30, but we don’t know anything about Kenaanah, and Zethan, and Tarshish, and Ahishahar.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘All these the sons of Jediael, by the heads of their fathers, mighty men of valour, were seventeen thousand and two hundred soldiers, fit to go out for war and battle. Which, with the above sums put together, make of the tribe of Benjamin, besides what follow, 59,430, who, if numbered by Joab, the account was not given in by him, 1 Chronicles 21:6.’

Shuppim, Huppim, and the children of Ir, were not sons of Benjamin, as they seem to be, if they are the same with Muppim and Huppim in Genesis 46:21 but his great-grandchildren, and are the same with Shupham and Hupham, from whom families of the tribe of Benjamin sprung, Numbers 26:39.’

The Targum calls them the inhabitants of a city, but of what is not said, unless Geba should be meant, 1 Chronicles 8:6 and Hushim, the sons of Aher, either the same with Aharah, the third son of Benjamin, 1 Chronicles 8:1 or Ahiram, Numbers 26:38, though some read the words, ‘the sons of another’, whom they supposed to be Dan, who otherwise is omitted, and Hushim is the only son of Dan, Genesis 46:23, where the same plural word is used as here, who, they think, is called another, by way of detestation, that tribe being guilty of gross idolatry, but he rather seems to belong to Benjamin.’

Naphtali

‘The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem—the descendants of Bilhah.’ 1 Chronicles 7:13

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The first fathers only of that tribe are named, the very same that we shall find, Genesis 46:24 / Numbers 26:48-50, only that Shillem there is Shallum here. None of their descendants are named, perhaps because their genealogies were lost.’

Manasseh

‘The descendants of Manasseh: Asriel was his descendant through his Aramean concubine. She gave birth to Makir the father of Gilead. Makir took a wife from among the Huppites and Shuppites. His sister’s name was Maakah. Another descendant was named Zelophehad, who had only daughters. Makir’s wife Maakah gave birth to a son and named him Peresh. His brother was named Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. The son of Ulam: Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead son of Makir, the son of Manasseh. His sister Hammoleketh gave birth to Ishhod, Abiezer and Mahlah. The sons of Shemida were: Ahian, Shechem, Likhi and Aniam.’ 1 Chronicles 7:14-19

This listing of names appears to be incomplete in reference to the listing of names found in Numbers 26:29-34, which includes four additional families.

The focus here is given so that the writer could establish the succession of descendants for the existence of Israel after the Babylonian captivity, specifically to identify those of the tribe of Levi.

Zelophehad is mentioned in Numbers 26:33 / Numbers 27:1-11 /Numbers 36:1-12, when the question came to Moses about female inheritance rights.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following concerning Abiezer.

‘His descendants formed one of the most important branches of the Manassites. They furnished to Israel the greatest of the Judges, Gideon Judges 6:11 / Judges 6:24 / Judges 6:34, and were regarded as the leading family among the so-called ‘sons of Gilead’.’

Ephraim

‘The descendants of Ephraim: Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son and Shuthelah his son. Ezer and Elead were killed by the native-born men of Gath, when they went down to seize their livestock. Their father Ephraim mourned for them many days, and his relatives came to comfort him. Then he made love to his wife again, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He named him Beriah, because there had been misfortune in his family. His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah. Rephah was his son, Resheph his son, Telah his son, Tahan his son, Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son and Joshua his son. Their lands and settlements included Bethel and its surrounding villages, Naaran to the east, Gezer and its villages to the west, and Shechem and its villages all the way to Ayyah and its villages. Along the borders of Manasseh were Beth Shan, Taanach, Megiddo and Dor, together with their villages. The descendants of Joseph son of Israel lived in these towns.’ 1 Chronicles 7:20-29

The spelling of some names are different here from what we have recorded in Numbers 26:35-36. Notice that the oppression involved the removal of the livestock, there is no other record of this event within the Scriptures. Because  Israel was a farming community, others came to raid their lands for food and livestock.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Ephraim.

‘Great things we read of that tribe when it came to maturity. Here we have an account of the disasters of its infancy, while it was in Egypt as it should seem, for Ephraim himself was alive when those things were done, which yet is hard to imagine if it were, as is here computed, seven generations off. Therefore I am apt to think that either it was another Ephraim or that those who were slain were the immediate sons of that Ephraim that was the son of Joseph. In this passage, which is related here only, we have, The great breach that was made upon the family of Ephraim. The men of Gath, Philistines, giants, slew many of the sons of that family, because they came down to take away their cattle,’ 1 Chronicles 7:21 / 1 Chronicles 7:21.’

Asher

‘The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel, who was the father of Birzaith. Heber was the father of Japhlet, Shomer and Hotham and of their sister Shua. The sons of Japhlet: Pasak, Bimhal and Ashvath. These were Japhlet’s sons. The sons of Shomer: Ahi, Rohgah, Hubbah and Aram. The sons of his brother Helem: Zophah, Imna, Shelesh and Amal. The sons of Zophah: Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah, Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Ithran and Beera. The sons of Jether: Jephunneh, Pispah and Ara. The sons of Ulla: Arah, Hanniel and Rizia. All these were descendants of Asher—heads of families, choice men, brave warriors and outstanding leaders. The number of men ready for battle, as listed in their genealogy, was 26,000.’ 1 Chronicles 7:30-40

Gill, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the sons of Asher.

‘Which, and his two grandsons born before Jacob went down to Egypt, are here reckoned as in Genesis 46:17, only it is here added Malkiel his second grandson, who is the father of Birzaith, which Jarchi interprets, prince of a city of this name, which signifies pure oil, which it might have from the abundance of olives about it, Asher being a tribe which abounded with them, Deuteronomy 33:24, though some of the Rabbis take it to be the name of a man, whose daughters, they say, as Jarchi observes, were very beautiful, having much oil to anoint with, and were married to kings and priests anointed with oil.’

The names given here were children of Asher, they were heads of their father’s house, principal men in their tribe, and respective families, they were the choice and mighty men of valour and were selected from others, being eminent for their courage and valour.

The number throughout the genealogy that were apt to war, and to battle, was twenty and six thousand men, that is, in the days of David, 1 Chronicles 7:4, this was the number, not of their chief men, nor of all the people in the tribe, but of their militia.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Of the tribe of Asher. Some men of note of that tribe are here named. Their militia was not numerous in comparison with some other tribes, only 26,000 men in all, but their princes were choice and mighty men of valour, chief of the princes, 1 Chronicles 7:40 / 1 Chronicles 7:40, and perhaps it was their wisdom that they coveted not to make their trained bands numerous, but rather to have a few, and those apt to the war and serviceable men.’

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