1 Chronicles 5:2
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
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(2) For Judah prevailed above his brethren.—Literally, was mighty among his brethren. Comp. Jacob’s blessing (Genesis 49:8-10): “Judah, thou—thy brethren shall praise thee, Thy hand shall be on the neck of thy foes, Thy father’s sons shall bow before thee. Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor doom-staff from between his feet,” &c. (See also Judges 1:1-2, where Judah is divinely commissioned to lead the attack upon the Canaanites.) At the census of Moses, Judah greatly outnumbered any other single tribe (Numbers 1:27).

And of him came the chief ruler.—“And from him (one was to become) prince.” Literally, and for a princeout of him. (Comp. Micah 5:1.) LXX., εἰς ἡγούμενον ἐξ αὐτοῦ. David is meant, as in 1Samuel 13:14. We may also remember the word of the apostolic writer: “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah” (Hebrews 7:4). The prophecy concerning the royal dignity of Judah is only thus exhausted of its meaning.

But the birthright was Joseph’s, who actually received the “double portion” in the two tribal domains of Ephraim and Manasseh.

1 Chronicles 5:2. For Judah — Not the person, (for in person Joseph prevailed,) but the tribe of Judah. Prevailed — Excelled the other tribes, especially in the following privilege. And of him — Rather, For of him, as the Hebrew ו, vau, is often used: this being a reason of the foregoing assertion, or declaration, showing wherein he did prevail. Came the chief ruler — The government was, by God’s promise and appointment, to be seated chiefly and most durably in that tribe, first in David and his successors, and then in the Messiah, who sprang out of Judah, (Hebrews 7:14,) which was a far greater privilege than the birthright. But, or although, the birthright was Joseph’s — So this prevents or removes an objection to Judah’s precedency taken from the birthright.

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.His birthright was given ... - In particular, the right of the first-born to a double inheritance Deuteronomy 21:17 was conferred on Joseph, both by the expressed will of Jacob Genesis 48:22 and in the actual partition of Canaan Joshua 16-17. But though the birthright, as respecting its material privileges, passed to Joseph, its other rights, those of dignity and pre-eminence, fell to Judah; of whom came the chief ruler, an allusion especially to David, though it may reach further, and include a glance at the Messiah, the true "Ruler" of Israel Micah 5:2. CHAPTER 5

1Ch 5:1-10. The Line of Reuben.

1. Now the sons of Reuben—In proceeding to give this genealogy, the sacred historian states, in a parenthesis (1Ch 5:1, 2), the reason why it was not placed first, as Reuben was the oldest son of Jacob. The birthright, which by a foul crime he had forfeited, implied not only dominion, but a double portion (De 21:17); and both of these were transferred to Joseph, whose two sons having been adopted as the children of Jacob (Ge 48:5), received each an allotted portion, as forming two distinct tribes in Israel. Joseph then was entitled to the precedency; and yet, as his posterity was not mentioned first, the sacred historian judged it necessary to explain that "the genealogy was not to be reckoned after the birthright," but with a reference to a superior honor and privilege that had been conferred on Judah—not the man, but the tribe, whereby it was invested with the pre-eminence over all the other tribes, and out of it was to spring David with his royal lineage, and especially the great Messiah (Heb 7:14). These were the two reasons why, in the order of enumeration, the genealogy of Judah is introduced before that of Reuben.

Judah; not the person, (for so Joseph prevailed,) but the tribe of Judah.

Prevailed above his brethren; excelled the other tribes in number and power, and especially in the following privilege.

And of him, or for of him, as the Hebrew vau is oft used; this being a reason of the foregoing assertion, or a declaration wherein he did prevail.

Came the chief ruler; the government was by God’s promise and appointment to be seated chiefly and most durably in that tribe, first in David and his successors, and then in the Messiah, who sprang out of Judah, Hebrews 7:14, which was a far greater privilege than the birthright. Or, as to the ruler, (i.e. as to the point of dominion,) he was more than he, or preferred before him, i.e. before Joseph, who is named in the very next clause, the pronoun being referred unto the following noun, which is frequent among the Hebrews, as Psalm 87:1 105:19.

But the birthright; or,

although, as vau is oft used; so this prevents or removes an objection against Judah’s precedency taken from his birthright.

For Judah prevailed above his brethren,.... That is, the tribe of Judah prevailed above the rest in number, in valour, and courage, and in dignity; wherefore the genealogy is not reckoned according to birthright, but dignity and dominion; hence this genealogical account began with Judah:

because of him came the chief ruler; David and the kings of Judah, his successors; and above all, from him the Prince Messiah was to spring, and did, according to Genesis 49:10 so both the Syriac and Arabic versions read,"out of Judah should go forth the King Messiah:"

but the birthright was Joseph's or "though" (p) it was; yet Judah having the dominion and dignity, that tribe is first genealogized.

(p) Licet, ibid. (Tigurine version)

For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came {b} the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)

(b) That is, he was the chiefest of all the tribes according to Jacob's prophecy, Ge 49:8, and because Christ would come from him.

2. Judah prevailed above his brethren] Cp. Genesis 49:8 (Jacob to Judah) “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.”

the chief ruler] R.V. the prince. The Heb. word is nâgîd, translated “captain” (1 Samuel 13:14, A.V.) and “ruler” (2 Samuel 7:8, A.V.). The prophets seem to prefer this word to melech, “king” as the title of the head of the Israelite state. The immediate reference is to David (Saul being virtually ignored by the Chronicler), but (since David is a typical character) a further reference in the words is possible. The Peshitta (a Judaeo-Christian work) translates, From him shall come forth (acc. to another reading, hath come forth) King Messiah.

1 Chronicles 5:2The families of the tribe of Reuben. - 1 Chronicles 5:1, 1 Chronicles 5:2. Reuben is called the first-born of Israel, because he was the first-born of Jacob, although, owing to his having defiled his father's bed (Genesis 49:4), his birthright, i.e., its privileges, were transferred to the sons of Joseph, who were not, however, entered in the family register of the house of Israel according to the birthright, i.e., as first-born sons. The inf. התיחשׂ with ל expresses "shall" or "must," cf. Ew. 237, e., "he was not to register," i.e., "he was not to be registered." The subject is Joseph, as the Rabbins, e.g., Kimchi, have perceived. The clauses after הוּא כּי form a parenthesis, containing the reason of Reuben's being called ישׂראל בּכור, which is still further established by its being shown (in 1 Chronicles 5:2) how it happened that Joseph, although the birthright was given to him, according to the disposition made by the patriarch (Genesis 48:5.), yet was not entered in the family registers as first-born. The reason of this was, "for Judah was strong among his brethren, and (one) from him became the Prince;" scil. on the strength of the patriarchal blessing (Genesis 49:8-12), and by means of the historic fulfilment of this blessing. The "prevailing" of Judah among his brethren showed itself even under Moses at the numbering of the people, when the tribe of Judah considerably outnumbered all the other tribes (cf. t. i. 2, S. 192). Then, again, it appeared after the division of the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Judah being called by a declaration of the divine will to be the vanguard of the army in the war against the Canaanites (Judges 1:1.); and it was finally made manifest by the נגיד over Israel being chosen by God from the tribe of Judah, in the person of David (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:4 with 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 25:30). From this we gather that the short, and from its brevity obscure, sentence ממּנוּ וּלנגיד bears the signification we have given it. "But the birthright was Joseph's;" i.e., the rights of the progenitor were transferred to or remained with him, for two tribal domains were assigned to his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, according to the law of the first-born (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).

After this parenthetic explanation, the words "the sons of Reuben, the first-born of Israel," 1 Chronicles 5:1, are again taken up in 1 Chronicles 5:3, and the sons are enumerated. The names of the four sons correspond to those given in Genesis 46:9; Exodus 6:14, and Numbers 26:5-7.

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