1 Chronicles 4:9
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
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(9) More honourable than his brethren.—Comp. what is said of Hamor son of Shechem in Genesis 34:19.

His brethren.—Perhaps the sons of Coz. The form of the Hebrew verb implies connection with 1Chronicles 4:8.

His mother called his name . . .—Comp. Genesis 29:32-35, and especially Genesis 35:18.

With sorrow.—Rather, pain.

1 Chronicles 4:9. Jabez was more honourable, &c. — For courage and fervent piety. His mother called his name Jabez — That is, sorrowful; saying, Because I bare him with sorrow — She had hard labour when she was in travail with him. She records this, that it might be a memorandum to herself, to be thankful to God as long as she lived, for bringing her through that sorrow: and a memorandum to him, that she bore him into a vale of tears, in which he might expect few days and full of trouble. And the sorrow implied in his name might serve to put a seriousness upon his spirit.

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!" 1Ch 4:9-20. Of Jabez, and His Prayer.

9, 10. Jabez—was, as many think, the son of Coz, or Kenaz, and is here eulogized for his sincere and fervent piety, as well, perhaps, as for some public and patriotic works which he performed. The Jewish writers affirm that he was an eminent doctor in the law, whose reputation drew so many scribes around him that a town was called by his name (1Ch 2:55); and to the piety of his character this passage bears ample testimony. The memory of the critical circumstances which marked his birth was perpetuated in his name (compare Ge 35:15); and yet, in the development of his high talents or distinguished worth in later life, his mother must have found a satisfaction and delight that amply compensated for all her early trials. His prayer which is here recorded, and which, like Jacob's, is in the form of a vow (Ge 28:20), seems to have been uttered when he was entering on an important or critical service, for the successful execution of which he placed confidence neither on his own nor his people's prowess, but looked anxiously for the aid and blessing of God. The enterprise was in all probability the expulsion of the Canaanites from the territory he occupied; and as this was a war of extermination, which God Himself had commanded, His blessing could be the more reasonably asked and expected in preserving them from all the evils to which the undertaking might expose him. In these words, "that it may not grieve me," and which might be more literally rendered, "that I may have no more sorrow," there is an allusion to the meaning of his name, Jabez, signifying "grief"; and the import of this petition is, Let me not experience the grief which my name implies, and which my sins may well produce.

Jabez; one of the fathers of the families of Aharhel last mentioned.

More honourable than his brethren, for courage, and especially for true and fervent piety, expressed in the following petition.

And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren,.... The Targum adds,"and wiser in the law than his brethren;''or he might be a man of great wealth and riches, or of great strength and courage, all which make a man honourable; or he may be so called, because a praying man, as follows, a man of devotion and religion, a man of God, see 1 Samuel 9:6, but who he was is not easy to say, probably a son or brother of Harum, or however that belonged to one of the families of Aharhel, mentioned in the preceding verse; for that he was Othniel, as say the Targumist and other Jewish writers (z), is not probable, and besides is after spoken of distinct from him, 1 Chronicles 4:13.

and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, because I bare him with sorrow; either with sorrow for her husband, being dead, or by reason of very sharp pains she endured at the birth of him; he was another Benoni.

(z) T. Bab. Temurah, fol. 16. 1.

And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name {c} Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.

(c) Otherwise called Othniel, Jud 1:13.

9. The connexion of this verse also does not appear, but according to Targ. (on 1 Chronicles 4:13) Jabez = Othniel, the nephew of Caleb.

And Jabez etc.] Render, And Jabez came to be hononred above his brethren, but his mother had called his name, etc. The man with the ill-omened name staved off ill-fortune by his prayer. Jabez = “He bringeth sorrow.”

Verse 9. - This is not less true of the name of vers. 9, 10, which, however, has made its own mark amid the whole scene. The episode of these two verses, offering itself amid what should seem, superficially, a dry mass of dead names, is welcome and grateful as the oasis of the desert, and it warns us that life lies hidden at our every footfall on this ground, spread over though it is with monument and inscription, and hollow, as we thought, with the deadest of the dead. But the glimpse of old real life given us in this brief fragment of a biography is refreshing and is very suggestive. It seems an insufficient and unnatural method of accounting for the suddenness of the appearance of this episode to suppose ('Speaker's Commentary,' in lee.) that the name of Jahez was well known, from any cause, to those for whom Chronicles may be supposed to have been primarily intended. We prefer by far one account of it, viz. that the work in our hands is not in its original complete state; or, variously put, that it is in its uncompleted original state. No root corresponding to the characters of this name in present order is known; it is possible that some euphonic reason makes the name יַעְבּצ out of the real word (future Kal) יַעִצֵב, i.e. he causes pains. We cannot suppose there would be any "play" appreciable on a transposition of alphabetical characters for mere play's sake. The resemblance that almost each part of this brief and abruptly introduced narration bears to incidents recorded in Genesis (Genesis 34:19; Genesis 33:20; Genesis 4:25; Genesis 29:32; Genesis 28:20) and Exodus speaks for itself, and strongly countenances the supposition that it is a genuine deposit of the genuinely olden history of Judah. The mother's reason for the naming of the child; the language and matter and form (Genesis 17:18-20; Exodus 32:32) of the prayer of the child, when presumably he was no longer a child; and the discriminating use of the words Elohim (ver. 10) of Israel, as comps, red with the name Jehovah (1 Chronicles 2:3; 5:41), generally found here, - all help to produce this impression, although some of these particulars would carry little conviction by themselves; e.g. a mother's reasons for assigning the name of her child long outlived the earlier times alone. Upon the whole, and regarding the passage in its present place, we may say that it must be very much misplaced, or else must be understood to connect Jabez with some branch of the family of Coz. There is the more room to assume this in the vagueness of the last preceding clause, "The families of Aharhel the son of Harum." The origin of the theories of some of the older Jewish writers, to the effect that Jabez was a doctor in the law, with a school of scribes around him, is probably to be found in the desire to find a connection between his proper name, Jabez, and the place so named (1 Chronicles 2:55), and where, as we are told, "families of scribes dwelt," belonging to the Kenites. That these were connected with Bethlehem, through Salma, and that Jabez of our present passage was also of a family connected with Bethlehem, is worthy of notice, but is not enough by a long way to countenance the thought, in spite of Targum and Talmud (Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' sub vet.). The Targum, as well here as in 1 Chronicles 2:55, identifies Jabez with Othniel "son of Keuaz" (Joshua 15:17; Judges 1:13; Judges 3:9), or more probably "the Kenizzite" merely; but there is nothing to sustain such an identification. The description, he was more honourable than his brethren, finds a close parallel, so far as the word honourable goes, in Genesis 34:19; although the honourableness of Shechem, the person there in question, does not come out to anything like the same advantage with that of Jabez, nor at all in the same direction. The word, however, is precisely the same, is often used elsewhere, and uniformly in a good sense, although the range of its application is wide. The essential idea of the root appears to be "weight." The phrase may therefore be supposed to answer to our expressive phrase, a "man of weight " - the weight being sometimes due chiefly to character, at other times to position and wealth in the first place, though not entirely divorced from considerations of character. We may safely judge, from what follows, that the intention in our present passage is to describe Jabez as a man of more ability and nobility than his brethren. It can scarcely be doubted that the meaning that lies on the surface is the correct interpretation, when it is said that his mother named him Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. The sorrow refers to unusual pains of travail, not to any attendant circumstances of domestic trial, as e.g. that the time of his birth was coincident with her own widowhood, as happened to the wife of Phinehas, when she named her offspring "Ichabod" (1 Samuel 4:19-22). 1 Chronicles 4:91 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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