1 Chronicles 4:17
And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) And the sons of Ezra.—Heb., son, but some MSS. have sons (see Note on 1Chronicles 3:19; 1Chronicles 3:21). Ezra means help = Ezer, 1Chronicles 4:4.

Jether occurred 1Chronicles 2:32, as a Jerahmeelite.

Epher recurs 1Chronicles 5:24, as a Manassite name.

Jalon and Mered occur nowhere else.

And she bare.—Literally, conceived. Who bare the three sons, whose names follow, is not clear from the preceding statement, which includes none but male appellations. The LXX. reads, “And Jether bare Maron (Miriam),” &c, and the Syriac and Arabic omit 1Chronicles 4:17-18. This confirms our suspicion that the text is faulty.

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.She bare Miriam - Rather, "she conceived." The mother is not mentioned, and it seems impossible to restore the original text with any certainty. 17, 18. she bare Miriam—It is difficult, as the verses stand at present, to see who is meant. The following readjustment of the text clears away the obscurity: "These are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took, and she bare Miriam, and his wife Jehudijah bare Jezreel," &c. Ezra; the son of Ashriel last named.

She bare; she, i.e. Bithiah, bare unto Mered, as may seem by comparing this with 1 Chronicles 4:18.

And the sons of Ezra,.... Who was perhaps the son of Asareel, last mentioned:

Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon; only one of them, Mered, is after mentioned:

and she bare Miriam; which is not the name of a woman, but of a man, as Kimchi observes; and, according to him, his mother was the wife of Mered, which he gathers from the next verse; though she seems to be the wife of Ezra, who bare him other sons:

and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa; a prince of a city in the tribe of Judah, so called, Joshua 15:50.

And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. and Jalon: and she bare Miriam] As the text stands she has no antecedent. It has therefore been proposed to transfer from 1 Chronicles 4:18 the words And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took, and put them after Jalon. Bithiah then appears as the mother of Miriam, Shammai and Ishbah, and the difficulty of the absence of her sons’ names from 1 Chronicles 4:18 disappears. For father of Eshtemoa see 1 Chronicles 2:14 note, and for Eshtemoa see Joshua 21:14.

Verses 17, 18. - From the tangle of these verses it is hopeless to attempt any certain conclusions. The fact of the antithesis of the Jewess wife (by some assigned as wife to Ezra), and the presumably Egyptian wife mentioned in the latter verse, is perhaps just enough in the general obscurity to suggest that Mered, the asserted husband of the latter, is to be understood as the husband of the former also But to compass so much as this, we have to overlook omission in ver. 17 and inversion in ver. 18. There is a tone about the verses, due to names they contain, that might suggest to us the times of Egypt and Moses, and traditions in keeping do not fail to come to view in Jerome ('Quaestiones,' etc.; see also art. "Meted," Smith's 'Bible Dictionary'). The four places, Eshtemoa, Gedor, Socho, Zanoah, may all with tolerable confidence be identified in Joshua 15:48-58, as of the number of the cities "in the mountains," though Zanoah and Socho are found also "in the valley" (Joshua 15:33-36). In this passage the Septuagint gives us no help, but betrays its own perplexity, offering to make Jether the father of Miriam; while the Syriac and Arabic versions simply skip the verses as incoherent. 1 Chronicles 4:17Ezra, whose four sons are enumerated, is likewise unknown. The singular בּן is peculiar, but has analogies in 1 Chronicles 3:19, 1 Chronicles 3:21, and 1 Chronicles 3:23. Of the names of his sons, Jether and Epher again occur, the former in 1 Chronicles 2:53, and the latter in 1 Chronicles 1:33 and 1 Chronicles 5:24, but in other families. Jalon, on the contrary, is found only here. The children of two wives of Mered are enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:17 and 1 Chronicles 4:18, but in a fashion which is quite unintelligible, and shows clear traces of a corruption in the text. For (1) the name of a woman as subject of ותּהר, "and she conceived (bare)," is wanting; and (2) in 1 Chronicles 4:18 the names of two women occur, Jehudijah and Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh. But the sons of Jehudijah are first given, and there follows thereupon the formula, "and these are the sons of Bithiah," without any mention of the names of these sons. This manifest confusion Bertheau has sought to remove by a happy transposition of the words. He suggests that the words, "and these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered had taken," should be placed immediately after וילון. "By this means we obtain (1) the missing subject of ותּהר; (2) the definite statement that Mered had two wives, with whom he begat sons; and (3) an arrangement by which the sons are enumerated after the names of their respective mothers." After this transposition the 1 Chronicles 4:17 would read thus: "And the sons of Ezra are Jether, Mered, ... and Jalon; and these are the sons of Bithia the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took; and she conceived (and bare) Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah, the father of Eshtemoa (1 Chronicles 4:18), and his wife Jehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, etc." This conjecture commends itself by its simplicity, and by the clearness which it brings into the words. From them we then learn that two families, who dwelt in a number of the cities of Judah, were descended from Mered the son of Ezra by his two wives. We certainly know no more details concerning them, as neither Mered not his children are met with elsewhere. From the circumstance, however, that the one wife was a daughter of Pharaoh, we may conclude that Mered lived before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The name Miriam, which Moses' sister bore, is here a man's name. The names introduced by אבי are the names of towns. Ishbah is father (lord) of the town Eshtemoa, in the mountains of Judah, now Semua, a village to the south of Hebron, with considerable ruins dating from ancient times (cf. on Joshua 15:50). היהוּדיּה means properly "the Jewess," as distinguished from the Egyptian woman, Pharaoh's daughter. Gedor is a town in the high lands of Judah (cf. on 1 Chronicles 4:4). Socho, in the low land of Judah, now Shuweikeh, in Wady Sumt (cf. on Joshua 15:35). Zanoah is the name of a town in the high lands of Judah, Joshua 15:56 (which has not yet been discovered), and of a town in the low land, now Zanua, not far from Zoreah, in an easterly direction (cf. on Joshua 15:34). Perhaps the latter is here meant. In 1 Chronicles 4:19, "the sons of the wife of Hodiah, the sister of Naham, are the father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite." The stat. contr. אשׁת before הודיּה shows that Hodiah is a man's name. Levites of this name are mentioned in Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:5; Nehemiah 10:11. The relationship of Hodiah and Naham to the persons formerly named is not given. קעילה is a locality in the low land of Judah not yet discovered (see on Joshua 15:44). The origin of the Epithet הגּרמי we do not know. Before אשׁתּמע, אבי with ו copul. is probably to be repeated; and the Maachathite, the chief of a part of the inhabitants of Eshtemoa, is perhaps a descendant of Caleb by Maachah (1 Chronicles 2:48).
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