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Deeper Commentary

1Ch 8:1 Benjamin became the father of Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third-
Although the Chronicles genealogies and record tends to focus upon the Levites, the genealogy of Benjamin is perhaps stressed here because it is to provide a backdrop to Saul, whom we will begin reading about when the narrative begins in 1 Chron. 10. But that genealogy will begin specifically at :29. Here we are reading of the Benjamites who lived in Jerusalem (:28). Benjamin was originally in Benjamite territory.  

1Ch 8:2 Nohah the fourth and Rapha the fifth-
Gen. 46:21 says that Benjamin had ten sons when the Jacob family moved into Egypt, but here seven of them are in fact his grandsons. Benjamin was hardly a child when the brothers came to buy corn. He was in his 20s, and according to the Hebrew text he had ten sons already, and presumably some daughters; perhaps suggesting that his father's favouritism and obsession with him had not been helpful morally, and had resulted in him having multiple relationships from a young age. However, the LXX lists only three sons, and makes the rest of the list the sons of Bela. And yet Benjamin would not have been old enough to have been a grandfather. So it could be that he had married a woman who had children of her own who became Benjamin's, or that he somehow adopted these children. There would have been a very large extended family around Jacob, and maybe these children were simply under the care of Benjamin. However, the genealogy in Num. 26:40 appears to support the LXX text here, with Ard and Naaman given as grandsons of Benjamin and not sons. We must remember that genealogies, numbers and dates are not used in Semitic languages in the strictly literalistic way in which they are in European languages. Heb. 7:10 can therefore argue that Melchizedek blessed Levi because he blessed Abraham, and Levi was a descendant of Abraham, "yet in the loins of his father". And this establishes Melchizedek as greater than Levi, and in turn, the priests descended from him. That argument may appear very stretched and even technically inaccurate to European ears. But it had absolute validity in Hebrew thought. And so the grandchildren of Benjamin, yet unborn, could be listed as being in existence when Benjamin went into Egypt, and even be numbered amongst the group at that time. This is why the grandchildren of the maids are counted as if they are the direct children of the maids; see on Gen. 46:9,18. We likewise read that Jacob brought his twelve sons out of Mesopotamia, including Benjamin (Gen. 35:24,26). But Benjamin was born later, in Canaan. But on this basis of being counted as "in the loins of" an ancestor, Benjamin could also be presented as having come out of Mesopotamia. If this kind of thing were better appreciated by Bible readers, it would be better understood that there was no personal pre-existence of the Lord Jesus in actuality, although He is spoken of as existing prior to His birth.

1Ch 8:3 Bela had sons: Addar, Gera, Abihud-
The simple truth is that Benjamin, the "little one" (Gen. 44:20), has more descendants listed to his name than any of the brothers. Is. 60:22 clearly alludes to this- "a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation". It is the theme of the patriarchal family; the firstborns are deposed, the elder serves the younger, the weak become strong, the little one becomes mighty.

1Ch 8:4 Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah-
These names of Benjamin's sons / grandsons recur in :7. Perhaps the sons of Ehud were named after those of Benjamin / Bela, as a sign of loyalty to the founding fathers of the tribe. There seems another example of this noted on :16. See on :22.

1Ch 8:5 Gera, Shephuphan and Huram-
See on :4. These names, meaning "grain", "serpent like" and "white", hardly reflect much spirituality. Indeed the true Israel of God had very shaky beginnings, and their founding fathers were nothing at all to be proud of in spiritual terms. They were to be God's people by grace alone.

1Ch 8:6 These are the sons of Ehud, who are the heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Geba, and they carried them captive to Manahath-
This Ehud appears rather abruptly, and may be the same as "Abihud" of :3. But the judge of Israel, Ehud, was a Benjamite who was son of Gera (Jud. 3:15), and he sounds like the same person. So these men listed as "sons of Ehud" may  actually simply be 'relatives of' Ehud, for "sons of" is a very vague phrase in Hebrew. In this case we would be learning that Ehud's family were carried captive to Manahath, a place in Moab. And this would explain his motivation in fighting to free Israel from Moabite domination.   

1Ch 8:7 Naaman, Ahijah and Gera. He carried them captive, and he became the father of Uzza and Ahihud-
See on :4. The idea may be that Ehud had two sons after his relatives had been taken captive to Moab. Their names, "strong" and "riddle", may refer to Ehud's being left-handed, and his slaying of Eglon by that strength. See on :8.

1Ch 8:8 Shaharaim divorced his two wives, Hushim and Baara. Later, when he lived in the country of Moab, he married Hodesh-
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.

But the translation of this verse is very difficult and I suggest we may be intended to understand that Shaharaim ['double dawn'] went into captivity in Moab, and there he had many children. This would then connect with how when Ehud's relatives went into captivity in Moab, he had two sons and vowed to liberate Israel from Moab (:7)- which he did.

1Ch 8:9 his wife and had seven sons: Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam-
These children of his second marriage were a new beginning for Shaharaim, perhaps that is the sense of his name, 'double dawn'. But their names include the god Malcam of Ammon [which was likely also worshipped in Moab where they had been in captivity], which doesn't give the impression of much spirituality.

1Ch 8:10 Jeuz, Shachia and Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of fathers’ households-
As noted on :9, these names all tend to have idol or apostate associations. Jeuz = 'departure / apostacy', Shachia = 'captivation', Mirmah = 'deceit'.

1Ch 8:11 By Hushim he became the father of Abitub and Elpaal-
But in :8 we read he had divorced Hushim. Perhaps he remarried her, an abomination under the law. Maybe that is also the reference of his name, 'double dawn'. The theme of spiritual weakness is again continued.

1Ch 8:12 The sons of Elpaal: Eber, Misham and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod with its towns-
The Chronicles genealogies were rewritten for the exiles, to enable them to better locate themselves within Israel's history. These cities featured in the restoration (Ezra 2:33; Neh. 7:37; 11:35). The Targum adds “Which the children of Israel ravaged and burnt with fire, when they made war on the tribe of Benjamin in Gibeah”.

1Ch 8:13 and Beriah and Shema, who were heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who put to flight the inhabitants of Gath-
This appears in purposeful contrast to how 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 8:14 and Ahio, Shashak, Jeremoth-
From :13,14 we appear to have a new list of Benjamite heads of families. The names from :14 - :27 are divided into five groups: the sons of Beriah (:16), Elpaal (:18), Shimei (:21), Shashak (:25) and Jeroham (:27).

1Ch 8:15 Zebadiah, Arad, Eder-
Arad, "fugitive / exile", is one of several examples of names which sound appropriate to the exiles; see on :18. The message of the genealogies was and is that God's people had been in defeat, exile and captivity before, but had survived.   

1Ch 8:16 Michael, Ishpah and Joha, the sons of Beriah-
I suggested on :14 that this is a new list of Benjamite heads of families, separate to that which precedes it. But the names Beriah and Shashak repeat (:16,25) what is in :13,14. It could be the names simply repeat, as we saw on :4, where the sons of Ehud were named after those of Benjamin / Bela, as a sign of loyalty to the founding fathers of the tribe. Perhaps this was a tradition of the Benjamites. See on :22.  

1Ch 8:17 and Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber-
We wonder whether these are sons of the same Elpaal of :12. But as suggested on :16, to recycle personal names appears to have been a Benjamite tradition, as it has been in many tribes worldwide.

1Ch 8:18 Ishmerai, Izliah and Jobab, the sons of Elpaal-
These names again, as noted on :15, are examples of names which sound appropriate to the exiles. Ishmerai ("He who will be preserved"), Izliah ("Yah will draw out") and Jobab ("weeper", as the exiles wept by the rivers of Babylon). The message of the genealogies was and is that God's people had been in defeat, exile and captivity before, but had survived.

1Ch 8:19 and Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi-
Names again pertinent to the exile; respectively, "He will raise up / He will remember / He will give".

1Ch 8:20 Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel-
Elienai is “My eyes look towards Jehovah", which was the feeling of the faithful captives in Ps. 123:2.

1Ch 8:21 Adaiah, Beraiah and Shimrath, the sons of Shimei-
"Yah has adorned" (Adaiah) and "Yah has created" (Beraiah) state the parents' faith that what God had promised, to create (Is. 65:17) and adorn (Jer. 31:4) a restored Israel, He had as good as done. For this is the essence of faith- to feel and believe that what is not yet fulfilled has in fact happened, so certain is God to come through with His purpose (Mk. 11:24).

1Ch 8:22 and Ishpan, Eber, Eliel-
Again we see the repetition of the name Eliel (:20). This confirms the suggestion on :4,16,17 that this chapter is not in fact hopelessly jumbled by various editors, but simply reflects a common tribal tradition of repeating names. We recall how Israel and Judah both had a king called Jehoram at the same time (2 Kings 1:17).

1Ch 8:23 Abdon, Zichri, Hanan-
As noted on :22, many of these names repeat; another Zichri is in :19.

1Ch 8:24 Hananiah, Elam, Anthothijah-
Perhaps meaning a person from Anathoth, which was in Benjamin and was a priestly town, where Jeremiah was from (Jer. 1:1). But the form in which it is here means 'Yah answers'.   

1Ch 8:25 Iphdeiah, and Penuel the sons of Shashak-
I suggested on :14 that this is a new list of Benjamite heads of families, separate to that which precedes it. But the names Beriah and Shashak repeat (:16,25) what is in :13,14. It could be the names simply repeat, as we saw on :4, where the sons of Ehud were named after those of Benjamin / Bela, as a sign of loyalty to the founding fathers of the tribe. Perhaps this was a tradition of the Benjamites. See on :22. 

1Ch 8:26 and Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah-
"Shehariah", "Yah has sought", has relevance to God's seeking of His lost sheep at the restoration, as prophesied in Ez. 34 and often. But they had to seek Him (Hos. 5:15 uses the same word for "sought"); and the meeting of the searching God with the man searching for Him can be electric, the Father meeting the prodigal.

1Ch 8:27 Jaareshiah, Elijah and Zichri, the sons of Jeroham-
There is also a Zichri in :19,23; see on :22. "Elijah", 'Yahweh is the God', would be a challenge to Israel's common idea that they could serve Yahweh through serving the other gods. But their one and only God was to be Yahweh, and that left no space for worshipping any other god.

1Ch 8:28 These were heads of fathers’ households throughout their generations, chief men: these lived in Jerusalem-
This appears to begin the summary of the Jerusalem Levites and their division of labour which finishes in 1 Chron. 9:34. 

1Ch 8:29 In Gibeon there lived the father of Gibeon, whose wife’s name was Maacah-
The following genealogical information on Saul is to provide background for the historical narrative which will begin with the death of Saul in 1 Chron. 10. And it begins with the point that Saul was grandson of the founder of Gibeon, or Gibeah of Saul. When he made out to Samuel that he was from an insignificant family, he was [like us when facing God's call] making desperately untrue excuses.

1Ch 8:30 and his firstborn son Abdon, and Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab-
When a passage is repeated twice, surely God wishes us to perceive something. 1 Chron. 8:30-34 is repeated in 9:36-40. The reason seems to be that the name 'Baal' was used by the leaders of Israel. Gibeon's children included Kish and Baal , Kish's son was king Saul, Saul had a son called Eshbaal  as well as Jonathan, David's beloved friend; and Jonathan had a son called Meribbaal . These are not the names as recorded elsewhere; evidently the Chronicles record is highlighting the fact that there was a strand of weakness for idols in the family of Saul, including in Jonathan- who was a type of us in his friendship of David / Jesus. Surely this helps us to better relate to him; his love of David, his appreciation of David's righteousness, his belief that David would have the future Kingdom, struggled against the fact that the worldly influence of his father and great-grandfather still rubbed off upon him.

1Ch 8:31 Gedor, Ahio and Zecher-
We note that none of the names of the sons of Kish feature the 'Yah' prefix or suffix. Saul didn't come from a spiritual background, and yet the Spirit of God was strong enough to change him and give him "another heart". Just as it can transform secular, irreligious man today.

1Ch 8:32 Mikloth became the father of Shimeah. They also lived with their brothers in Jerusalem, over against their brothers-
The idea is that some of the family lived in Jerusalem, 'opposite', as it were, the family who remained in Gibeah. Jerusalem was originally in Benjamin's territory. Mikloth may refer to another brother of Saul. For the purpose of this genealogy is to introduce us to Saul.

1Ch 8:33 Ner became the father of Kish; and Kish became the father of Saul; and Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab and Eshbaal-
See on 1 Sam. 16:8. 1 Sam. 31:2; 1 Chron. 10:2 read "Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua", whereas 1 Sam. 14:49 has "Jonathan, Ishvi and Malchishua". "Ishvi" may be another name for Abinadab; or we may note that the word means "and the second...", which would make sense in 1 Sam. 14:49. The genealogies of 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39 also mention Esh-Baal or Ishbosheth; perhaps his name mentioning the "Baal" compound was the reason for its exclusion. Having such a name reflects upon Saul's lack of total devotion to Yahweh.

1Ch 8:34 The son of Jonathan was Merib Baal; and Merib Baal became the father of Micah-
Merib-baal (1 Chron. 8:34; 9:40) could mean 'the shame of Baal', but there is evidence that Saul's daughter Michal had an idol and it is likely that even Jonathan was not free of idolatry. Idolatry has always been a besetting weakness amongst even the best of God's people. He is called "Mephibosheth" in 2 Sam. 9:6, which is apparently a name which would have arisen from changing his original name, Meribbaal 'man of Baal' (1 Chron. 8:34), to something which means 'the dispeller of shame'. i.e. Baal. The suffix 'baal' could suggest that even Jonathan was closer to idolatry than we would like, and at least he didn't use the 'Yah' suffix in the name of his children. But Mephibosheth had perhaps repented of this, renouncing Baal as shameful, and yet still struggled to believe in the extent of Yahweh's grace to him through David.

Tragically, we so often read of Yahweh's people carrying the names of Baal or other gods within their own names- e.g. Merib-baal (1 Chron. 8:34; 9:40); Ishbaal (1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39); Baal-yada (1 Chron. 14:7); and perhaps worst of all, Baal-Yah (1 Chron. 12:5). Is our 'name' or personality before God the same tragic mixture of flesh and spirit?

1Ch 8:35 The sons of Micah: Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz-
Micah may refer to another brother or son of Saul, or possibly to a child of Jonathan. For the purpose of this genealogy is to introduce us to Saul. "Melech", "king", may refer to the son or relative whom Saul favoured to succeed him, as kings often didn't choose their firstborn sons to succeed them. In this case, it reflects his refusal to believe the reality of the fact that David was to succeed him. Men are all the time in denial of God's word and all the evidence that it is going to come true, and act and plan as if sleepwalking or in amnesia, as if it will not.

1Ch 8:36 Ahaz became the father of Jehoaddah; and Jehoaddah became the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth and Zimri; and Zimri became the father of Moza-
Jehoaddah is called Jarah in 1 Chron. 9:42. "Jarah" is the very same word for "honeycomb" used in the record of how Jonathan ate of a honeycomb after his great victory over the Philistines, and his father Saul sought to kill him for it (1 Sam. 14:27). We are reading here of the relatives of Saul, so it may well be that this child was named in favour of and respect for Jonathan rather than Saul.

1Ch 8:37 Moza became the father of Binea; Raphah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son-
We may wonder this particular line of Saul's family is recorded. We note that unlike the names of Saul's brothers, the names of this branch generally speak of God or spiritual things. Perhaps the names carried significance to those for whom these genealogies were first prepared. Or maybe the idea is that those who are spiritually minded are the ones whose name is preserved.

1Ch 8:38 Azel had six sons, whose names are these: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel-
As noted on :37, these are all generally Godly or spiritual names. The fact they are all such names is surely a signpost to the fact that Azel was a spiritual person. And yet Saul's branch of the family didn't have such names. This may be to point up the way that God it seems willfully chose a person from an unspiritual background, when there were more spiritually qualified people even within his own wider family. Because He wished to declare His power of transformation in that man, through the work of the Spirit on his heart; even though Saul was to later refuse to cooperate. But this, it seems, was God's potential plan for him.

1Ch 8:39 The sons of Eshek his brother: Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third-
Ulam is twelfth from Saul, although generations are often skipped in these genealogies. So seeing that Hezekiah was thirteenth from David, we can conclude that it was Isaiah or Hezekiah who may have first ordered these genealogies to be drawn up, although they were rewritten at the times of the exiles.

1Ch 8:40 The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, one hundred and fifty. All these were of the sons of Benjamin
Saul is likewise described as a "mighty man of valour" (1 Sam. 9:1). The impression is given that he was from a family which included many such people. And yet this would mean that Saul was making excuses when he attempts to turn down Samuel's call of him to kingship; for he therefore wrongly claimed that he was from a small and insignificant, unqualified family in Benjamin. We too can make all manner of dumb excuses and paint a quite wrong self image- in order to avoid God's call.