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 three score, that went out to the war.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.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.
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.
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: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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. Genesis 46:16) are not named here, because the enumeration of the families of Gad had been already introduced by 1 Chronicles 5:11, and the genealogical connection of the families enumerated in 1 Chronicles 5:12., with the sons of the tribal ancestor, had not been handed down. In 1 Chronicles 5:12 four names are mentioned, which are clearly those of heads of families or fathers'-houses, with the addition "in Bashan," i.e., dwelling, for ישׁבוּ is to be repeated or supplied from the preceding verse. - In 1 Chronicles 5:13 seven other names occur, the bearers of which are introduced as brothers of those mentioned (1 Chronicles 5:12), according to their fathers'-houses. They are therefore heads of fathers'-houses, but the district in which they dwelt is not given; whence Bertheau concludes, but wrongly, that the place where they dwelt is not given in the text. The statement which is here omitted follows in 1 Chronicles 5:16 at a fitting place; for in 1 Chronicles 5:14 and 1 Chronicles 5:15 their genealogy, which rightly goes before the mention of their dwelling-place, is given. אלּה, 1 Chronicles 5:14, is not to be referred, as Bertheau thinks, to the four Gadites mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:12 and 1 Chronicles 5:13, but only to those mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:13. Nothing more was known of those four (1 Chronicles 5:12) but that they dwelt in Bashan, while the genealogy of the seven is traced up through eight generations to a certain Buz, of whom nothing further is known, as the name בּוּז occurs nowhere else, except in Genesis 22:21 as that of a son of Nahor. The names of his ancestors also are not found elsewhere among the Gadites.
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