1 Chronicles 4:29
And at Bilhah, and at Ezem, and at Tolad,
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(29) Many of the places assigned to Simeon in this list are reckoned among the towns of the extreme south of Judah in Joshua 15:26, et seq. Bilhah, or Balah, is, perhaps, Baalah (Joshua 15:29); Ezem (Authorised Version, Azem) and Eltolad are also mentioned there. Their sites are unknown.

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.Among plants and hedges - Rather, "in Netaim and Gederah" Joshua 15:36.

With the king - Or, probably, "on the king's property." Both David and several of the later kings had large territorial possessions in various parts of Judaea 1 Chronicles 27:25, 1 Chronicles 27:31; 2 Chronicles 26:10; 2 Chronicles 27:4; 2 Chronicles 32:28-29.

27. his brethren had not many children—(see Nu 1:22; 26:14). No text from Poole on this verse. And they dwelt at Beersheba,.... posterity of Simeon; and this and the other places of their habitation are mentioned in the same order, and with very little variation of names to the end of 1 Chronicles 4:31, as in Joshua 19:2 and here, at 1 Chronicles 4:31 it is added:

these were their cities unto the reign of David; when, according to Kimchi, and other Jewish writers, he expelled them from thence, and restored them to the tribe of Judah.

And at Bilhah, and at Ezem, and at Tolad,
29. Tolad] in Joshua 19:4 Eltolad, but el in this case is probably only the Arabic definite article."These are the potters and the inhabitants of Netaim and Gedera." It is doubtful whether המּה refers to all the descendants of Shelah, or only to those named in 1 Chronicles 4:22. Bertheau holds the latter to be the more probable reference; "for as those named in 1 Chronicles 4:21 have already been denominated Byssus-workers, it appears fitting that those in 1 Chronicles 4:22 should be regarded as the potters, etc." But all those mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:22 are by no means called Byssus-weavers, but only the families of Ashbea. What the descendants of Er and Laadan were is not said. The המּה may consequently very probably refer to all the sons of Shelah enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:21 and 1 Chronicles 4:22, with the exception of the families designated Byssus-weavers, who are, of course, understood to be excepted. נטעים signifies "plantings;" but since גּדרה is probably the name of a city Gedera in the lowlands of Judah (cf. Joshua 15:36; and for the situation, see on 1 Chronicles 12:4), Netaim also will most likely denote a village where there were royal plantations, and about which these descendants of Shelah were employed, as the words "with the king in his business to dwell there" expressly state. המּלך is not an individual king of Judah, for we know not merely "of King Uzziah that he had country lands, 2 Chronicles 26:10" (Berth.); but we learn from 1 Chronicles 27:25-31 that David also possessed great estates and country lands, which were managed by regularly appointed officers.

We may therefore with certainty assume that all the kings of Judah had domains on which not only agriculture and the rearing of cattle, but also trades, were carried on.

(Note: From the arrangement of the names in vv. 2-20, in which Bertheau finds just twelve families grouped together, he concludes, S. 44f., that the division of the tribe of Judah into these twelve families did actually exist at some time or other, and had been established by a new reckoning of the families which the heads of the community found themselves compelled to make after deep and wide alterations had taken place in the circumstances of the tribe. He then attempts to determine this time more accurately by the character of the names. For since only a very few names in these verses are known to us from the historical books, from Genesis to 2 Kings, and the few thus known refer to the original divisions of the tribe, which may have maintained themselves till post-exilic times, while, on the contrary, a great number of the other names recur in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah; and since localities which in the earliest period after the exile were important for the new community are frequently met with in our verses, while such as were constantly being mentioned in prae-exilic times are nowhere to be found, - Bertheau supposes that a division of the tribe of Judah is here spoken of, which actually existed at some time in the period between Zerubbabel and Ezra. This hypothesis has, however, no solid foundation. The assumption even that the names in vv. 2-20 belong to just twelve families is very questionable; for this number can only be arrived at by separating the descendants of Caleb, 1 Chronicles 4:15, from the descendants of Kenaz, 1 Chronicles 4:13 and 1 Chronicles 4:14, of whom Caleb himself was one, and reckoning them separately. But the circumstance that in this reckoning only the names in 1 Chronicles 4:12-20 are taken into consideration, which no notice is taken of the descendants of Shelah the son of Judah, enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:21-23, is much more important. Bertheau considers this verse to be merely a supplementary addition, but without reason, as we have pointed out on 1 Chronicles 4:21. For if the descendants of Shelah form a second line of families descended from Judah, co-ordinate with the descendants of Pharez and Zerah, the tribe of Judah could not, either before or after the exile, have been divided into the twelve families supposed by Bertheau; for we have no reason to suppose, on behalf of this hypothesis, that all the descendants of Shelah had died out towards the end of the exile, and that from the time of Zerubbabel only families descended from Pharez and Zerah existed. But besides this, the hypothesis is decisively excluded by the fact that in the enumeration, vv. 2-20, no trace can be discovered of a division of the tribe of Judah into twelve families; for not only are the families mentioned not ranger according to the order of the sons and grandsons of Judah mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:1, but also the connection of many families with Judah is not even hinted at. An enumeration of families which rested upon a division either made or already existing at any particular time, would be very differently planned and ordered. But if we must hold the supposition of a division of the tribe of Judah into twelve families to be unsubstantiated, since it appears irreconcilable with the present state of these genealogies, we must also believe the opinion that this division actually existed at any time between Zerubbabel and Ezra to be erroneous, and to rest upon no tenable grounds. The relation of the names met with in these verses to the names in the books from Genesis to 2 Kings n the one hand, and to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah on the other, is not really that which Bertheau represents it to be. If we turn our attention in the first place to the names of places, we find that, except a few quite unknown villages or towns, the localities mentioned in vv. 2-20 occur also in the book of Joshua, and many of them even here and there throughout Genesis, in the book of Judges, and in the books of Samuel and Kings. In these latter they are somewhat more rarely met with, but only because they played no great part in history. The fact of a disproportionate number of these towns occurring also in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is connected with the peculiar character of the contents of these books, containing as they do a number of registers of the families of Judah which had returned out of exile. Then if we consider the names of persons in vv. 2-20, we find that not a few of them occur in the historical narratives of the books of Samuel and Kings. Others certainly are found only in the family registers of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, while others again are peculiar to our verses. This phenomenon also is completely accounted for by the contents of the various historical books of the Old Testament. For example, had Nehemiah not received into his book the registers of all the families who had returned from Babylon, and who took part in the building of the walls of Jerusalem, no more names would be met with in his book than are found in the books of Samuel and Kings. Bertheau attempts to find support for his hypothesis in the way in which the names are enumerated, and their loose connection with each other, inasmuch as the disconnected statements abruptly and intermittently following one another, which to us bring enigma after enigma, must have been intended for readers who could bring a key to the understanding of the whole from an accurate knowledge of the relations which are here only hinted at; but the strength of this argument depends upon the assumption that complete family registers were at the command of the author of the Chronicle, from which he excerpted unconnected and obscure fragments, without any regard to order. But such an assumption cannot be justified. The character of that which is communicated would rather lead us to believe that only fragments were in the hands of the chronicler, which he has given to us as he found them. We must therefore pronounce this attempt at an explanation of the contents and form of vv. 2-20 to be an utter failure.)

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