New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

1Ch 7:1 Of the sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron, four-
Not all of the tribes have their genealogies given, and the detail is far less than for Judah and Levi. The details also varies between the tribes, with Dan getting no mention and Naphtali only one verse. This is because the purpose of these genealogies was for the exiles of Judah at the time of the restoration. But the call was for the ten tribes to return at the same time, and there were some of the ten tribes who remained in the land after the mass deportation to Assyria. These would have joined with the people of Judah in going into captivity in Babylon. Perhaps just the information relevant to them is recorded.

1Ch 7:2 The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam and Shemuel, heads of their fathers’ houses, of Tola; mighty men of valour in their generations. Their number in the days of David was twenty-two thousand six hundred-
This may refer to the census taken by David which resulted in wrath upon Israel (2 Sam. 24:1). That census was incomplete because not all Israel wanted to pay the temple tax associated with a census. And so here we just have the number of fighting men [which was what David had wanted to know] of the clan of Tola.

1Ch 7:3 The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. The sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel and Isshiah, five; all of them chief men-
These are all Godly names. Maybe that corroborates the suggestion on :2 that these were those numbered at the time of 2 Sam. 24:1 who paid the temple tax associated with a census. Those who didn't pay it weren't numbered. And it was the more Godly who would have paid it.

1Ch 7:4 With them, by their generations, after their fathers’ houses, were bands of the army for war, thirty-six thousand; for they had many wives and sons-
The mention of many wives continues the theme of these genealogies- the moral weakness of the people, especially in terms of marital relationships, is constantly noted.

1Ch 7:5 Their brothers among all the families of Issachar, mighty men of valour, reckoned in all by genealogy, were eighty-seven thousand-
Ezra 2:62 records Judah being ‘reckoned by genealogies’, using the same Hebrew word which is the hallmark of the Chronicles genealogies (1 Chron. 4:33; 5:1,7,17; 7:5,7,9,40; 9:1,22). And in this context, Is. 40:26 compares God’s ‘bringing out’ of Judah from Babylon with His ‘bringing out’ the stars by their individual names, all wonderfully known to Him. Ps. 87:6 had prophesied something similar about the restoration of Zion’s fortunes: “The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there”. The Kingdom of God was to be the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom- but they had to actually get on and restore it rather than wait for it to come.

1Ch 7:6 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher and Jediael, three-
Jediael (“Known to God”) is substituted for the pagan Ashbel (“Man of Baal” in Gen. 46:21, following the principle that the name of Baal should be removed from the mouths of God's people (Hos. 2:17).

1Ch 7:7 The sons of Bela: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth and Iri, five; heads of fathers’ houses, mighty men of valour. They were reckoned by genealogy twenty-two thousand and thirty-four-
The apparent difference with the list in 1 Chron. 8:3-5 is that we are here reading the numbers of fighting men taken at the time of the census in 2 Sam. 24:1. At the time of a census, the temple tax had to be paid, or else plague would come. Plague was chosen by God as the punishment for Israel at this time, because many refused to be counted as they didn't want to pay the temple tax. Hence David took false guilt in feeling personally guilty for the plague. But it seems that some paid the tax for others, and so "sons" are counted to them who may not have been their literal sons. See on :11 for an example.   

1Ch 7:8 The sons of Becher: Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jeremoth, Abijah, Anathoth and Alemeth. All these were the sons of Becher-
Some of these are names of places (1 Chron. 6:60; Jer. 1:1), and it seems in all the genealogies there is a confusion between people and places. The settlements around a city are therefore often called the sons or daughters of that city.

1Ch 7:9 They were reckoned by genealogy, after their generations, heads of their fathers’ houses, mighty men of valour, twenty thousand two hundred-
The purpose of the census in David's time was to find out how many soldiers there were. But it seems that whilst numbering them, there was also in some cases a note made of their genealogies.

1Ch 7:10 The son of Jediael: Bilhan. The sons of Bilhan: Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tarshish and Ahishahar-
Jediael had only one son, but the sons of his son were counted to him. I suggest this was because he paid the temple tax for them at the time of the census when they were numbered; see on :11.

1Ch 7:11 All these were sons of Jediael, according to the heads of their fathers’ households, mighty men of valour, seventeen thousand and two hundred, who were able to go forth in the army for war-
The particular detail given about the men of Jediael reflects how he was willing to pay the temple tax at the time of the census (see on :2). And I suggested on :6 that he had broken free of his weak spiritual background and changed his name to a more Godly name.

1Ch 7:12 Shuppim also, and Huppim, the sons of Ir, Hushim, the sons of Aher-
The addition of others, as if connected with Jediael but not his direct relatives ["Shuppim also..."] could be explained by the suggestion on :2,6, and :11 that Jediael paid the temple tax for these people. Therefore they were numbered under his name, but were not his relatives.

1Ch 7:13 The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah-
Naphtali gets only one verse. I suggested on :1 some reasons for this. There would have been few from the far north of Israel, where Naphtali was, amongst the exiles from Judah.

1Ch 7:14 The sons of Manasseh: Asriel, whom his concubine the Aramitess bore. She bore Machir the father of Gilead-
These records seem to stress the weakness and occasional strength of these children of God. This is one of the major lessons from Chronicles. Every now and then, the list of names is interrupted by a piece of information which indicates God's awareness of their spirituality. For example, the fact some men had more than one wife or a wife from a nation other than Israel is often recorded (1 Chron. 1:32; 2:3,26,35,48; 4:18; 5:1; 7:14; 8:8). The way these interruptions occur in the lists of names stands out. This is surely to indicate two things: that many faithful men (e.g. Abraham and Caleb, 1 Chron. 1:32; 2:46) made mistakes in this area of life, and secondly that all down the centuries God has not forgotten that they married out of the faith, or that they allowed the pressures of their surrounding world to influence them to break away from the ideal one man: one woman standard of Eden. These two facts provide us with both warning and comfort, in that although God is sensitive to failure, He is still able to justify men, to count them as if they are righteous for the sake of their covenant relationship with Him, even though (e.g.) their married life was not completely in order.

1 Chron. 2:21 adds: "Afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he took as wife when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub". We again have the theme of marital and sexual weakness in the family of Israel. Machir was Manasseh’s oldest son by a Syrian, Gentile woman. It was the Divine intention that marriage should be within the tribes of Israel so as to keep the inheritance which God intended. But here we have Manasseh and Judah intermarrying.

1Ch 7:15 Machir took a wife of Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister’s name was Maacah; and the name of the second was Zelophehad: and Zelophehad had daughters-
The fact God allows His children to live His truth on different levels needs to be grasped firmly by us, lest we become discouraged that others live on an apparently lower level than we do in some aspects of life. Being surrounded by ‘lower levels’ ought to inspire us to the higher levels. Zelophehad had only daughters; usually, in his context, a man would have taken concubines in order to produce sons. The record of his only having daughters is presented in the context of genealogies which show that many Israelite men had more than one wife (1 Chron. 7:15). But Zelophehad wasn’t dragged down by this; God inspired him to maintain the higher level which he had chosen to live by. He didn't use the principle of Jephthah's vow. And his daughters likewise refused to be limited by their status as females, but obtained an inheritance amongst their brethren (Num. 27:1-7).

1Ch 7:16 Maacah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she named him Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh; and his sons were Ulam and Rakem-
"Peresh" means 'dung' (s.w. Ex. 29:14; Lev. 4:11). Here we have an example of how some names were birth names; and others, like this, were names which reflected life experience and character, and were what others called the person. Which is why people had multiple names.

1Ch 7:17 The son of Ulam: Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh-
This Bedan is perhaps the judge mentioned in 1 Sam. 12:11 about whom we do not read in the book of Judges.

1Ch 7:18 His sister Hammolecheth bore Ishhod, and Abiezer, and Mahlah-
We note the prominence given to this woman. Her name means 'Queen of Molech', the god to whom children were sacrificed. Her infamy is therefore noted, continuing the theme of the genealogies noting the widespread spiritual weakness of the people. But from her came Abiezer, from whom Gideon was descended. So we are again taught that a man can overcome bad background by response to God's word and His love.

1Ch 7:19 The sons of Shemida were Ahian, and Shechem, and Likhi, and Aniam-
Shemida appears out of context here, but Josh. 17:2 says he was also one of the male descendants of Manasseh. Seeing no other pedigree is given, perhaps Shemida was adopted into the tribe, maybe having been a Gentile.

1Ch 7:20 The sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son-
Called Shuthelah, Becher, Tahan and Eran in Num. 26:35,36.

1Ch 7:21 Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead, whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to take away their livestock-
The men of Gath are recorded as slaying some of the men of Ephraim the largest tribe (1 Chron. 7:21), whereas the men of Benjamin, the smallest tribe, slew the men of Gath (1 Chron. 8:13). It is God's way of showing how He works through the small and confounds the things which appear mighty.

1Ch 7:22 Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him-
It is unclear when this skirmish with the men of Gath occurred (:21). It could have been whilst Israel were living in Goshen. For their father Ephraim, the patriarch, was still alive, and his brothers. This means that the Israelites in Goshen were still not converted by their experience of Joseph's grace, and the great beneficence of Pharaoh towards them. They still hankered for more cattle, and raided southern Palestine in order to steal.

1Ch 7:23 He went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son, and he named him Beriah, because it went evil with his house-
Ephraim would have been very old by this point. Having a child in old age after the death of adult children... is absolutely psychologically credible. The inspired record is indeed credible at every point.

1Ch 7:24 His daughter was Sheerah, who built Beth Horon the lower and the upper, and Uzzen Sheerah-
The context of :23 suggests Sheerah was either the daughter or granddaughter of Ephraim the patriarch. This would confirm the suggestion on :22 that Israel in Egypt had more contact with Canaan than we might imagine. She apparently build settlements there.

1Ch 7:25 Rephah was his son, and Resheph, and Telah his son, and Tahan his son-
The "he" is either Ephraim himself or Beriah (:23). Rephah and Resheph are names with pagan god associations. But from this background was to come faithful Joshua (:27).

1Ch 7:26 Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son-
Unusually for the genealogies, we have here probably a complete genealogy from Ephraim who entered Egypt with Jacob, to Joshua who came out of Egypt.

1Ch 7:27 Nun his son, Joshua his son-
"Nun" means "to sprout", so Joshua is presented as the shoot; which is a Messianic term in Zechariah. Joshua, with the same meaning as 'Jesus', could potentially have been a Messiah figure, but he failed to live up to the full potential.

1Ch 7:28 Their possessions and habitations were Bethel and its towns, and eastward Naaran, and westward Gezer, with its towns; Shechem also and its towns, to Azzah and its towns-
Gezer is not the more well known Gaza, which was in Judah not Ephraim.

1Ch 7:29 and by the borders of the children of Manasseh, Beth Shean and its towns, Taanach and its towns, Megiddo and its towns, Dor and its towns. In these lived the children of Joseph the son of Israel-
But Beth Shean was in Issachar (Josh. 17:11-13; 1 Kings 4:11,12). Dor was in Asher (Josh. 11:1,2; 12:23; 17:11; Jud. 1:27,28). Taanach was within either Issachar or Asher (Josh. 17:11,12,25; Jud. 5:19). But these towns were also given to Ephraim (1 Chron. 7:29). As each Israelite was promised some personal inheritance in the land, rather than some blanket reward which the while nation received, so we too have a personal reward prepared. But the precise nature of that reward is as it were negotiable by us now, according to our spiritual ambition. Just as Caleb chose Hebron and secured it for himself.

1Ch 7:30 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and Serah their sister-
The mention of women in this list is unusual. The names are of those who became heads of family clans within the tribes. So the mention of Serah would mean that she became a head of family; although rare or unknown in the world around them, this was not totally unheard of in the Jacob family and we see in this the respect of women amongst them.

1Ch 7:31 The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel, who was the father of Birzaith-
"Birzaith" is female, and may refer to a place name ["well of olives"]. "Father of" is used about founding cities in 1 Chron. 2:51,52; 4:4,5. 

1Ch 7:32 Heber became the father of Japhlet, Shomer, Hotham and Shua their sister-
Shomer and Hotham of :32 are Shamer and Helem of :34,35.

1Ch 7:33 The sons of Japhlet: Pasach, Bimhal and Ashvath. These are the children of Japhlet-
The apparently needless repetition of Japhlet as the father may be because as noted on :2,7,11, these names were produced at the time of David's census of 2 Sam. 24:1, and that meant that those numbered had to pay the temple tax or else plague would come. Japhlet perhaps paid the tax for the three sons, and this is stressed. Plague was chosen by God as the punishment for Israel at this time, because many refused to be counted as they didn't want to pay the temple tax. Hence David took false guilt in feeling personally guilty for the plague. But it seems that some paid the tax for others, and so "sons" are counted to them who may not have been their literal sons. See on :11 for an example.   

1Ch 7:34 The sons of Shemer: Ahi, Rohgah, Jehubbah and Aram-
Jehubbah ['hidden place'] and Aram ['upland'] appear more appropriate as place names than personal names.

1Ch 7:35 The sons of Helem his brother: Zophah, Imna, Shelesh and Amal-
Shomer and Hotham of :32 are Shamer and Helem of :34,35.

1Ch 7:36 The sons of Zophah: Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, Imrah-
This list of 11 sons of Zophah may also include his grandchildren.

1Ch 7:37 Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Ithran and Beera-
Several of the names of the 11 "sons of Zophah" (:36) are known place names, or sound as if they are; e.g. "Bezer" means 'inaccessible place', more appropriate to a place than a person.

1Ch 7:38 The sons of Jether: Jephunneh, Pispa and Ara-
Here and in :39 we appear to have the mention of people (Jether and Ulla) of whom we have no background information. Perhaps they are also "sons of Zophah" of :36.

1Ch 7:39 The sons of Ulla: Arah, Hanniel and Rizia-
Ulla is a female name. Yet she was a household head and mighty soldier (:40). The genealogies are noted for their mention of significant women.

1Ch 7:40 All these were the children of Asher, heads of the fathers’ houses, choice and mighty men of valour, chief of the princes. The number of them reckoned by genealogy for service in war was twenty-six thousand men
In 1 Chron. 12:36 Asher's troops were 40,000, and even more in Num. 1:41; 26:47. The smaller number here is because as explained on :33, this list was compiled at the time of the census of 2 Sam. 24:1. Those numbered had to pay the temple tax or else plague would come. Plague was chosen by God as the punishment for Israel at this time, because many refused to be counted as they didn't want to pay the temple tax.