1 Chronicles 5:18
The 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.
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(18-22) A war of conquest between the three tribes east of Jordan, and their Arab neighbours. The date is not given.

(18) Of valiant men.—“All that were valiant men, bearing shield and sword, and drawing bow, and-trained in warfare, were 44,760, going out in the host” Comp. what is said in 1Chronicles 12:8; 1Chronicles 12:21, of the Gadites and Manassites, who joined fortunes with David. The number of the warriors of the three tribes nearly corresponds to the number (40,000) assigned in Joshua 4:13. It evidently rests upon some official census, of which the chronicler had the record or among his authorities. The data of the Pentateuch (Numbers 1, 26) are quite different,

(19) Hagarites.—See 1Chronicles 5:10.

Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.—In 1Chronicles 1:31, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah are the last three of the twelve tribes of Ishmael. As Nodab is mentioned nowhere else, the word may be a corruption of Kedemah, or rather Kedem. The first two letters might have been mistaken for h, the d is common to both words, and b and m are often confused in Hebrew writing. Jetur is the original of the classical name Ituraea, the modern El-Jedur.

(20) And they were helped against them.—The same word recurs in 1Chronicles 15:26 : “And when God helped the Levites that bare the Ark.” In both places strictly natural events are regarded as providential. Here the Divine hand is recognised as controlling the issues of an invasion; there as permitting the Ark to be successfully removed from its temporary resting place.

For they cried to God in the battle.—No doubt the Arab warriors also cried to their gods in the fierce struggle for life; and their faith, such as it was, gave them strength for the battle. (Comp. Psalm 18:3-6 and Psalm 18:41.) The whole sentence to the end of the verse looks like a reason added to the narrative by the chronicler himself.

(21) And they took away their cattle.—The numbers are large, but not at all incredible. Flocks and herds naturally constituted the chief wealth of these nomade tribes. Comp. the annual tribute in kind paid by Mesha, king of Moab, to Ahab of Israel (2Kings 3:4): “a hundred thousand lambs, and a hundred thousand rams in fleeces.”

Sheep.—The Heb. word denotes both sheep and goats; pecora.

Of men an hundred thousand.And persons (soul of man, a collective expression) a hundred thousand. In Numbers 31:32-35 the booty taken from Midian is far greater, but only 32,000 virgins were saved from the general slaughter of the vanquished. The number here may be corrupt, but we do not know enough about the numerical strength of the Arabian peoples to be able to decide. The captives would be valuable as slaves. Sennacherib boasts that he took 200,150 persons “small and great, male and female,” from the cities of Judah.

(22) There fell down many slain.—Hence the richness of the plunder. The warriors of the Arabian allies were probably exterminated.

The war was of God.—Comp. 2Chronicles 25:20. This accounts for the completeness of the Arabian overthrow. It is a human instinct to see tokens of Divine activity in great national catastrophes, as well as in the more awful phenomena of nature. In prophetic language, a “day of the Lord” had overtaken the sons of Hagar and their kindred.

And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.—When they were carried away to Assyria by Tiglath-Pileser, 1Chronicles 5:6; 1Chronicles 5:26.

1 Chronicles 5:18-20. The sons of Reuben, &c. — These three tribes, or at least so many of them as made a great army, joined their forces together, consisting of their best soldiers, to invade the country of the Hagarites. They were helped against them — Against the Hagarites, who, it seems, fought stoutly; but God assisted the Israelites, enduing them with extraordinary courage and success, in consequence of their crying to him, and putting their trust in him, in his power, mercy, and faithfulness to his promise.

5:1-26 Genealogies. - This chapter gives some account of the two tribes and a half seated on the east side of Jordan. They were made captives by the king of Assyria, because they had forsaken the Lord. Only two things are here recorded concerning these tribes. 1. They all shared in a victory. Happy is that people who live in harmony together, who assist each other against the common enemies of their souls, trusting in the Lord, and calling upon him. 2. They shared in captivity. They would have the best land, not considering that it lay most exposed. The desire of earthly objects draws to a distance from God's ordinances, and prepares men for destruction.The writer refers here to two registrations, one made under the authority of Jeroboam II when he was king and Israel flourishing, the other made under the authority of Jotham, king of Judah, during the troublous time which followed on the great invasion of Tiglath-pileser. There is nothing surprising in a king of Judah having exercised a species of lordship over the trans-Jordanic territory at this period. 18-22. Hagarites—or, "Hagarenes," originally synonymous with "Ishmaelites," but afterwards applied to a particular tribe of the Arabs (compare Ps 83:6).

Jetur—His descendants were called Itureans, and the country Auranitis, from Hauran, its chief city. These, who were skilled in archery, were invaded in the time of Joshua by a confederate army of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, who, probably incensed by the frequent raids of those marauding neighbors, took reprisals in men and cattle, dispossessed almost all of the original inhabitants, and colonized the district themselves. Divine Providence favoured, in a remarkable manner, the Hebrew army in this just war.

No text from Poole on this verse.

The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh,.... These all joined together, living together on the one side of Jordan:

of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war; strong able bodied men; and not only able to bear and carry arms, sword in one hand, and shield in another; but were men of valour and courage, and had military skill, and knew how to handle their arms to advantage:

were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war: that used to go out when there was occasion, and did at this time.

The 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 skillful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.
18–22. The War of the Trans-Jordanic Tribes against the Hagrites

18. forty and four thousand] According to Joshua 4:13 “about forty thousand” from these tribes crossed the Jordan with Joshua to aid in the Conquest.

that went out to the war] R.V. that were able to go forth to war.

Verses 18-22. - These verses appear to be the fuller development of the war in Saul's time, mentioned in ver. 10 - the account apparently there delayed till the genealogy of the tribe of Gad had been given, and which still seems premature till the contents of vers. 23 and 24 should have been given. 1 Chronicles 5:18War of the trans-Jordanic tribes of Israel with Arabic tribes. - As the half-tribe of Manasseh also took part in this war, we should have expected the account of it after 1 Chronicles 5:24. Bertheau regards its position here as a result of striving after a symmetrical distribution of the historical information. "In the case of Reuben," he says, "the historical information is in 1 Chronicles 5:10; in the case of the half-tribe of Manasseh, in 1 Chronicles 5:25, 1 Chronicles 5:26; as to Gad, we have our record in 1 Chronicles 5:18-22, which, together with the account in 1 Chronicles 5:25, 1 Chronicles 5:26, refers to all the trans-Jordanic Israelites." But it is much more likely that the reason of it will be found in the character of the authorities which the author of the Chronicle made use of, in which, probably, the notes regarding this war were contained in the genealogical register of the Gadites.

1 Chronicles 5:18

חיל מן־בּני belongs to the predicate of the sentence, "They were the sons of Valour," i.e., they belonged to the valiant warriors, "men bearing shield and sword (weapons of offence and defence), and those treading (or bending) the bow," i.e., skilful bowmen. מלחמה למוּדי, people practised in war; cf. the portrayal of the warlike valour of Gad and Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 12:8, 1 Chronicles 12:21. "The number 44,760 must be founded upon an accurate reckoning" (Berth.); but in comparison with the number of men capable of bearing arms in those tribes in the time of Moses, it is somewhat inconsiderable: for at the first numbering under him Reuben alone had 46,500 and Gad 45,650, and at the second numbering Reuben had 43,730 and Gad 40,500 men; see on Numbers 1-4 (Numbers 1:2, S. 192).

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