1 Chronicles 4:10
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
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(10) Jabez called on the God of Israel.—Comp. Jacob’s vow at Bethel, Genesis 28:20-22, and his altar, El-’elohë Israel, “El is the God of Israel,” Genesis 33:20. Some have supposed that the peculiar phrase, “God of Israel,” indicates that the original Canaanite population of Jabez proselytised.

Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.—Literally, “if indeed thou wilt bless me.”

My coast.—My border or domain (fines).

And that thine hand.—Rather, and if thine hand will be with me, and thou wilt deal without (Heb. away from) evil, that I suffer not !—The prayer is expressed in the form of a condition, with the consequence (“then will I serve thee,” comp. Genesis 28:22) suppressed.

The name Jabez is twice explained; in 1Chronicles 4:9 it is made to mean “he paineth,” in 1Chronicles 4:10 Jabez prays to be saved from pain. Comp. the frequent allusions in the book of Gen. to the meaning of the name Isaac (Yiçhâq, “he laugheth”); Genesis 17:17, Abraham’s daughter; 1Chronicles 18:12, Sarah’s incredulous laughter; 1Chronicles 21:6, Sarah’s joy at the birth; 1Chronicles 26:8, Isaac’s own mirth. These features of likeness to the language and thought of Genesis, prove the originality and antiquity of the section.

And God granted.—Literally, and God brought (caused to come). Hence Jabez was “honoured above his brethren,” 1Chronicles 4:9. If the Sopherim of Jabez (1Chronicles 2:55) were, as their name implies, writers or men of letters, we can understand that Jabez, like Kirjath-sepher, was a place of books, and was honoured accordingly. The art of writing among the peoples of Babylonia ascends to an unknown antiquity. The oldest inscription we possess in the Phoenician character is of the ninth century B.C., and the development of that character from its Egyptian prototype must have occupied some centuries. Perhaps this very tradition concerning their founder originally emanated from the “families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez.”

1 Chronicles 4:10. Jabez called on the God of Israel — The living and true God, who alone can hear and answer prayer: and in prayer he had an eye to him as the God of Israel, a God in covenant with his people, the God with whom Jacob wrestled and prevailed, and was thence called Israel. Saying, O that thou wouldest bless me indeed! — He did not say in what respect he desired God to bless him, but leaves that to God, giving him, as it were, a blank paper, that he might write what he pleased. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings, and those are blessed indeed, who are blessed with them. God’s blessings are real things, and produce real effects. We can but wish a blessing: he commands it. And enlarge my coast — Prosper my endeavours for the increase of what has fallen to my lot: drive out these Canaanites, whom thou hast commanded us to root out; and therefore I justly beg and expect thy blessing in the execution of thy command. That thy hand might be with me — The prayer of Moses for this tribe of Judah was, that his own hands might be sufficient for him; but Jabez expects not that, unless he have God’s hand with him, and the presence of his power. God’s hand with us to lead, protect, strengthen us, and to work all our works in and for us, is indeed a hand sufficient for us, yea, all-sufficient. And keep me from evil — The evil of sin, the evil of trouble; all the evil designs of my enemies, and all disastrous events. That it may not grieve me — That it may not oppress and overcome me. He uses this expression in allusion to his name, which signifies grief: as if he had said, Lord, let me not have that grief which my name implies, and which my sin deserves. God granted him that which he requested — Prospered him remarkably in his undertakings, in his worldly business, in his conflicts with the Canaanites, and his endeavours after knowledge, and holiness, and other spiritual blessings.

4:1-43 Genealogies. - In this chapter we have a further account of Judah, the most numerous and most famous of all the tribes; also an account of Simeon. The most remarkable person in this chapter is Jabez. We are not told upon what account Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; but we find that he was a praying man. The way to be truly great, is to seek to do God's will, and to pray earnestly. Here is the prayer he made. Jabez prayed to the living and true God, who alone can hear and answer prayer; and, in prayer he regarded him as a God in covenant with his people. He does not express his promise, but leaves it to be understood; he was afraid to promise in his own strength, and resolved to devote himself entirely to God. Lord, if thou wilt bless me and keep me, do what thou wilt with me; I will be at thy command and disposal for ever. As the text reads it, this was the language of a most ardent and affectionate desire, Oh that thou wouldest bless me! Four things Jabez prayed for. 1. That God would bless him indeed. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings: God's blessings are real things, and produce real effects. 2. That He would enlarge his coast. That God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in himself, and in the heavenly Canaan, ought to be our desire and prayer. 3. That God's hand might be with him. God's hand with us, to lead us, protect us, strengthen us, and to work all our works in us and for us, is a hand all-sufficient for us. 4. That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of trouble, all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrow. God granted that which he requested. God is ever ready to hear prayer: his ear is not now heavy.It is remarkable that Jabez should be introduced without description, or patronymic, as if a well-known personage. We can only suppose that he was known to those for whom Chronicles was written, either by tradition, or by writings which have perished. In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez alludes to his name, "sorrowful" (margin): "Grant that the grief implied in my name may not come upon me!" 10. God granted him that which he requested—Whatever was the kind of undertaking which roused his anxieties, Jabez enjoyed a remarkable degree of prosperity, and God, in this instance, proved that He was not only the hearer, but the answerer of prayer. Jabez called on the God of Israel, when he was undertaking some great and dangerous service.

Oh that thou wouldst bless me indeed. I trust not to my own or people’s valour, but only to thy blessing and help.

Enlarge my coast; drive out these wicked and cursed Canaanites, whom thou hast commanded us to root out, and therefore I justly beg and expect thy blessing in the execution of thy command.

That thine hand might be with me, to protect and strengthen me against my adversaries.

That thou wouldst keep me from evil, or work with (for so the Hebrew prefix mem is sometimes used, as Song of Solomon 1:2 3:9 Isaiah 5:7,8), i.e. so-restrain and govern it.

That it may not grieve me; that it may not oppress and overcome me, which will be very grievous to me. The consequent put for the antecedent; and more is understood than is expressed. He useth this expression in allusion to his name, which signifies grief: q.d. Lord, let me not have that grief which my name implies, and which my sin deserves.

And Jabez called on the God of Israel,.... Or prayed to him, as the Targum; though some understand it as a vow, promising what he would do if God would do thus and thus for him; the Syriac and Arabic versions read in the third person, taking it to be what others, his parents and friends, wished for him:

let him bless thee,.... but they are doubtless his own words, and a supplication of his to the Lord:

saying, oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed; the Targum adds, with children; but he no doubt prayed for greater blessings than any outward or temporal ones are, even spiritual blessings, covenant blessings, the sure mercies of David, which are solid, substantial, durable, and irreversible:

and enlarge my coast; the Targum is,"multiply my borders with disciples.''It may be understood of an enlargement of the borders of his country, by expelling the Canaanites that might dwell in it, and of an increase of his worldly substance for good ends and purposes; or rather of a spiritual enlargement by deliverance from spiritual enemies, and of grace as to exercise; and particularly of spiritual light and knowledge, and of the affections and desires of the soul after divine things, see Psalm 4:1.

and that thine hand might be with me; the Targum adds, in business, prospering and succeeding him; the sense may be, that his hand of providence might be with him to protect him, of grace and love to comfort and help him in every time of need, of wisdom to direct him, and of power to keep him:

and that thou wouldest keep me from evil; from the evil of affliction, and especially from the evil of sin, and from the evil one, Satan, and from all evil men and evil company; the Targum is,"and make me companions such as I:am:''that it may not grieve me; alluding to his name Jabez, which he had from the sorrow and grief of his mother; and nothing is more grieving to a good man than the evil of sin, so contrary to the nature and will of God, being committed against a God of infinite love, grace, and mercy, whereby the name, ways, and truths of Christ are dishonoured, and the Spirit of God grieved, and saints are bereaved of much comfort; and therefore desire to be kept from it, knowing they cannot keep themselves, but the Lord can and will, at least from the tyranny of it, and destruction by it: the Targum is,"lest the evil figment (or corruption of nature) should move or provoke me:"

and God granted him that which he requested; as he does whatever is asked in faith, according to his will, and will make for his glory, and the good of his people; see 1 John 5:14.

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and {d} that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

(d) It is to be understood that then he would accomplish his vow which he made.

10. my coast] R.V. my border.

that thou wouldest keep me from evil] Lit. that thou wouldest make … from evil. Most probably the Heb. text is defective here, one or two words having fallen out, and we should supply the gap somewhat as follows, that thorn wouldest make [room (merḥâbh) for me, and wouldest redeem (phâdîthâ) me] from evil.

that it may not grieve me] R.V. that it be not to my sorrow; cp. last note.

Verse 10. - When Jabez grew to manhood he has learnt to estimate rightly the value of God's blessing. He invokes it, and depends upon it. His language implies the confidence that he had in the reality of providential blessing. For the expression, enlarge my coast, see Deuteronomy 12:20; Deuteronomy 19:8; and though we know nothing as matter of fact about the occasion of this prayer, we may assume that it was one when not selfishness and greed of larger territory, but just opportunity, had awakened a strong desire for enlargement of borders. It may have been a legitimate occasion of recovering his own, lost or wrongfully taken from him or his predecessors before him, or of expelling successfully from their hold upon it a portion of the original inhabitants of the promised land of God's people. That thine hand might be with me. Many are the beautiful parallels to be culled from the Word of God for this expression, as e.g. Ezra 7:9; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 139:5, 10; Isaiah 42:6. And that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! This, the last entreaty of the prayer, is the largest and most far-seeing. Warned by his own name, forewarned by his mother's emphasizing of her own pains in him, he thus concludes. Having begun in the evil of pain and excessive sorrow, he prays that he and his career may not so determine and end. He does not necessarily pray to be preserved from all suffering, but from such baneful touch of evil itself, its principle, its tyrannous, merciless hold, as might bring him to real and irreparable grief. Thus closes the whole prayer, each succeeding clause of which has been under the rule of the initial "if," translated with us, Oh that. This well-known Hebrew form of prayer supposes a solemn engagement, and that the answered prayer shall meet with the fulfilment of a vowed promise on the part of the suppliant, according to the pattern of Genesis 28:20. In the absence of that engagement here, we may notice, with Keil, the greater grace of the passage, in that it closes with the statement of the readiness to hear, and the abounding readiness to answer, on the part of Divine beneficence: And God granted him that which he requested. Evidently the thing that he asked pleased the Lord (1 Kings 3:10, 12); although it was in this case some form of riches, and long life for self, and the life of his enemies, that he asked, and was not altogether and in so many words "a wise and understanding heart." Perhaps, also there was in the way of asking, and in the exact occasion, unknown to us, something which quite justified the matter of the prayer, and which thus pleased the Lord. The remarkable and arresting episode could not have closed in more welcome or impressive way than when it is thus briefly but conclusively said, "And God granted him that which he requested." 1 Chronicles 4:101 Chronicles 4:8-10 contain a fragment, the connection of which with the sons of Judah mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2 is not clear. Coz begat Anub, etc. The name קוץ occurs only here; elsewhere only הקּוץ is found, of a Levite, 1 Chronicles 24:10, cf. Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 3:4 - in the latter passage without any statement as to the tribe to which the sons of Hakkoz belonged. The names of the sons begotten by Coz, 1 Chronicles 4:8, do not occur elsewhere. The same is to be said of Jabez, of whom we know nothing beyond what is communicated in 1 Chronicles 4:9 and 1 Chronicles 4:10. The word יעבּץ denotes in 1 Chronicles 2:55 a town or village which is quite unknown to us; but whether our Jabez were father (lord) of this town cannot be determined. If there be any genealogical connection between the man Jabez and the locality of this name or its inhabitants (1 Chronicles 2:55), then the persons named in 1 Chronicles 4:8 would belong to the descendants of Shobal. For although the connection of Jabez with Coz and his sons is not clearly set forth, yet it may be conjectured from the statements as to Jabez being connected with the preceding by the words, "Jabez was more honoured than his brethren." The older commentators have thence drawn the conclusion that Jabez was a son or brother of Coz. Bertheau also rightly remarks: "The statements that he was more honoured than his brethren (cf. Genesis 34:19), that his mother called him Jabez because she had borne him with sorrow; the use of the similarly sounding word עצב along with the name יעבּץ (cf. Genesis 4:25; Genesis 19:37., Genesis 29:32-33, Genesis 29:35; Genesis 30:6, Genesis 30:8, etc.); and the statement that Jabez vowed to the God of Israel (cf. Genesis 33:20) in a prayer (cf. Genesis 28:20), - all bring to our recollection similar statements of Genesis, and doubtless rest upon primeval tradition." In the terms of the vow, עצבּי לבלתּי, "so that sorrow may not be to me," there is a play upon the name Jabez. But of the vow itself only the conditions proposed by the maker of the vow are communicated: "If Thou wilt bless me, and enlarge my coast, and Thy hand shall be with me, and Thou wilt keep evil far off, not to bring sorrow to me," - without the conclusion, Then I vow to do this or that (cf. Genesis 28:20.), but with the remark that God granted him that which he requested. The reason of this is probably that the vow had acquired importance sufficient to make it worthy of being handed down only from God's having so fulfilled his wish, that his life became a contradiction of his name; the son of sorrow having been free from pain in life, and having attained to greater happiness and reputation than his brothers.
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