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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The genealogies of Reuben, 1 Chronicles 5:1-10. Of Gad, 1 Chronicles 5:11-17. The exploits of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 5:18-22. The genealogy of the half tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 5:23, 1 Chronicles 5:24. The idolatry of these tribes and their captivity by the Assyrians, 1 Chronicles 5:25, 1 Chronicles 5:26.
1Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.
The sons of Reuben the first-born - As Reuben was the eldest son of Jacob, why was not his genealogy reviewed first? This verse answers the question; he lost the birth-right because of the transgression mentioned Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:4, and the precedency was given to Judah; from him therefore came the chief ruler. This appears to be the meaning of the place.
2For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
And of him came the chief ruler - This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: "From Judah the King Messiah shall proceed." The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: "Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph." - T.
3The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were, Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
4The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,
5Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,
6Beerah his son, whom Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.
Beerah his son - After their separation from the house of David the ten tribes continued to have princes of the tribes; and this continued till the time that Tiglath-pileser carried them captives into Assyria. At that time Beerah was their prince or chief; and with him this species of dominion or precedency terminated. According to the Targum, Beerah was the same as Baruch the prophet.
7And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,
8And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baalmeon:
Who dwelt in Aroer - This town was situated on the river Arnon; and Nebo was both a city and a mountain in the same country. They both lay on the other side of Jordan.
9And eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates: because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead.
10And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites, who fell by their hand: and they dwelt in their tents throughout all the east land of Gilead.
And they dwelt in their tents - 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.
11And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salchah:
12Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.
Joel the chief - "Joel, prince of the Sanhedrin; and Shapham, master of the college; and Jaanai and Shaphat, judges in Mathnan." - T.
13And their brethren of the house of their fathers were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven.
And their brethren - This verse is wanting both in the Syriac and in the Arabic.
14These are the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz;
15Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.
16And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.
The suburbs of Sharon - There were three places of this name: that mentioned here was a district in the country of Bashan beyond Jordan, (see Joshua 12:18); there was another that lay between Caesarea of Palestine and Joppa; and there was a third between Mount Tabor and the Sea of Tiberias. See Calmet.
17All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.
18The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.
19And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.
They made war with the Hagarites - This is probably the same war that is mentioned 1 Chronicles 5:10. Those called Hagarites in the text are everywhere denominated by the Targum הונגראיי Hongaraai, Hongarites.
20And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him.
They put their trust in him - Or, as the Targum says, "Because they trusted במימריה bemeymriah, in his Word."
21And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand.
They took away their cattle - This was a war of extermination as to the political state of the people, which nothing could justify but an especial direction of God; and this he could never give against any, unless the cup of their iniquity had been full. The Hagarites were full of idolatry: see 1 Chronicles 5:25.
22For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
For there fell down many slain - The hundred thousand men mentioned above were probably made slaves, and were not slain. The Targum says, one hundred thousand souls of men.
The war was of God - The Targum says, the war was מן מימרא דיי min meymera dayai, "from the Word of the Lord."
23And the children of the half tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land: they increased from Bashan unto Baalhermon and Senir, and unto mount Hermon.
24And these were the heads of the house of their fathers, even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers.
25And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.
The gods of the people of the land - We see the reason why God delivered the Hagarites into the hands of these tribes; they were abominable idolaters, and therefore God destroyed them.
26And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
Tilgath-pilneser - Many MSS. have תגלת Tiglath instead of תלגת Tilgath. The Syriac, the Septuagint, and the Chaldee, have the same reading as in 2 Kings 15:29, etc.
Brought them unto Halah - See the notes on 2 Kings 17:6 (note), and 2 Kings 18:11 (note), for many particulars of these wars, and consequent captivity. It is a pity that some method were not found out to harmonize the books of Kings with the books of Chronicles, that the variations might be seen at one view.