1 Chronicles 7
Pulpit Commentary
Now the sons of Issachar were, Tola, and Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four.
Verse 1. - The great tribes of Judah and Levi being now passed, as well as the minor ones of Simeon, Reuben, and Gad, we reach the sons of Issachar. Issachar was Jacob's fifth son by Leah (Genesis 35:23). In the list of Genesis 46:13 our Puah (פוּאָח) appears differently spelt as Phuvah (פֻוָּח), and Jashub is found as Job, which is corrected by the Samaritan Codex to Jashub, and this reading the Septuagint follows. In the other parallel passage (Numbers 26:23) the Phuvah form obtains, but the other names are the same as here. Tola. We read (Judges 10:1, 2) of another person of this name, who judged Israel twenty-three years, at Shamir, in Mount Ephraim, and who is called "the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar." This is a good instance of how the use of the same names, though in different order, clung to a tribe or family through long periods.
And the sons of Tola; Uzzi, and Rephaiah, and Jeriel, and Jahmai, and Jibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their father's house, to wit, of Tola: they were valiant men of might in their generations; whose number was in the days of David two and twenty thousand and six hundred.
Verse 2. - The six sons of Tola given here are stated to be the six heads of the house at the time of the census of David (2 Samuel 24:1-17). The verse further states that the Tolaites had grown to number at that time twenty-two thousand six hundred, and as this fact is not stated elsewhere, it is pretty clear proof that the compiler had other sources of information in addition to those possessed by us.
And the sons of Uzzi; Izrahiah: and the sons of Izrahiah; Michael, and Obadiah, and Joel, Ishiah, five: all of them chief men.
Verse 3. - Five. The name of Izrahiah's sons count up only four; but if, with four of Kennicott's manuscripts, the words, and the sons of Izrahiah, should be omitted, the five will count right for sons of Uzzi, and the little clause beginning this verse will correspond exactly with that beginning ver. 2. The Syriac, however, does not omit "and the sons of Izrahiah;" but alters the numeral "five" to "four."
And with them, by their generations, after the house of their fathers, were bands of soldiers for war, six and thirty thousand men: for they had many wives and sons.
Verses 4, 5. - The meaning of these verses, especially of the former of them, is not quite evident. This seems to say that as the Tolaites were in David's time twenty-two thousand six hundred, so the Uzzites taken from among them (or the "sons of Izrahiah," as the case may be) numbered thirty-six thousand additional. But were not the Uzzites included in the Tolaites? and did not the figure thirty-six thousand embrace the accumulated numbers, whilst the balance of fifty-one thousand necessary to make up the eighty-seven thousand of ver. 5, was drawn from all the other branches of the Issachar tribe? This is not the view, however, generally taken, and if the numbers of vers. 2 and 4 are distinct, the balance needful for ver. 5 will, of course, be twenty-eight thousand four hundred. It cannot be denied that this view is favoured by the special description applied to these Uzzites, or Izrahiahites, as bands of soldiers for war; their disposition and their training constituting possibly the reason of their being singled out for further description from among the sons of Tola. The statement of the total number of the tribe of Issachar in David's time is wonderfully corroborated by the two censuses of Moses - Numbers 1:28, 29, fifty-four thousand four hundred; and Numbers 26:23-25, sixty-four thousand three hundred. The total of Issachar, four score and seven thousand, is a good proportion of the aggregate total of all the tribes, given (2 Samuel 24:8, 9) as eight hundred thousand. Grove, however, adds all the above numbers, and makes thereby Issachar's total (see Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:901 b) one hundred and forty-five thousand six hundred, which seems disfavoured by the numbers at the second census of Moses. At the time of this census Issachar came third of all the tribes, only Judah and Dan taking precedence. The bands of soldiers for war. This expression culminates in the word (גְדוּדִים) "bands," which is applied (Genesis 49:19) to Gad, and almost invariably to the irregular but special bodies of fighting men of the nations round (Authorized Version, 1 Chronicles 12:23 is incorrect, the Hebrew word being different). The examples are too numerous to quote, but some of the more important instances are 2 Kings 6:23; 2 Kings 13:20; 2 Kings 24:2; Hosea 6:9; Hosea 7:1.
And their brethren among all the families of Issachar were valiant men of might, reckoned in all by their genealogies fourscore and seven thousand.
The sons of Benjamin; Bela, and Becher, and Jediael, three.
Verse 6. - The sons of Benjamin; Bela, and Becher, and Jediael, three. We have four passages for our authorities as to the sons of Benjamin, and it is not altogether easy to bring them into verbal harmony. They are Genesis 46:21; Numbers 26:38-41; the present passage; and ch. 8. Our present passage mentions three sons, as though they were all, and immediately proceeds to their posterity. The list in Genesis mentions ten, of whom, however, we know (Numbers 26:40; 1 Chronicles 8:3, 4) that three, Naaman, Ard, and Gem, were grandsons, being sons of Bela, under which circumstances the order in which the two former stand in Genesis is remarkable. Again, while Becher is given as the second son in both Genesis and our present place, he is not mentioned in Numbers 26:38-41 and in 1 Chronicles 8:1. Ashbel, who in Genesis is given as the third, is expressly called the second son. Among the Ephraimites, however (Numbers 26:35), a Becher, with his descendants the Bachrites, is mentioned, and it is not improbable that, by marriage, the family were at that time, for manifest reasons of inheritance and possession, reckoned in this tribe, though by blood of the tribe of Benjamin. This subject is skilfully discussed by Lord A. C. Hervey (Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:175). Lastly, Jediael of this passage and ver. 10 is not found in Genesis, in Numbers, or in our ch. 8. This name seems to have superseded in our passage the name Ashbel in Genesis, though it is impossible to speak certainly. It cannot be supposed to designate the same person, but rather a descendant in the same branch, whose family had come to importance "in the days of David."
And the sons of Bela; Ezbon, and Uzzi, and Uzziel, and Jerimoth, and Iri, five; heads of the house of their fathers, mighty men of valour; and were reckoned by their genealogies twenty and two thousand and thirty and four.
Verse 7. - And the sons of Bela. The first and last of the five (descendants or heads of families) here given, viz. Ezbon and Iri, are not found in previous places among Benjamite families, but are found (Genesis 46:16; Numbers 26:16) among Gadite families. It would seem that by David's time they had become in some aspects ranked among the Benjamites, though not originally of them.
And the sons of Becher; Zemira, and Joash, and Eliezer, and Elioenai, and Omri, and Jerimoth, and Abiah, and Anathoth, and Alameth. All these are the sons of Becher.
Verse 8. - Joash. This name, of which nothing else is known, is spelt with an ayin, not with an aleph, as are the names of the seven other persons called (Authorized Version) Joash. Jerimoth. This name is spelt with a tsere, and not, as the Jerimoth of ver. 7, with khirik. All the names of this verse must be regarded as those of heads of families, and not the literal sons of Becher.
And the number of them, after their genealogy by their generations, heads of the house of their fathers, mighty men of valour, was twenty thousand and two hundred.
The sons also of Jediael; Bilhan: and the sons of Bilhan; Jeush, and Benjamin, and Ehud, and Chenaanah, and Zethan, and Tharshish, and Ahishahar.
Verse 10. - Bilhan; Jeush. Both of these, us well as the name Bela, are of Edomitish origin (Genesis 36:5, 18, 27, 32).
All these the sons of Jediael, by the heads of their fathers, mighty men of valour, were seventeen thousand and two hundred soldiers, fit to go out for war and battle.
Shuppim also, and Huppim, the children of Ir, and Hushim, the sons of Aher.
Verse 12. - Shuppim... and Huppim. These two, called (Numbers 36:39) "Shupham and Hupham," and 1 Chronicles 8:5 "Shephuphan and Huram," are mentioned (Genesis 46:21) as among those who went down with Jacob into Egypt, are called "Muppim and Huppim," and are described as "sons of Benjamin." They are here described as sons of Iri, or Ir, which would make them great-grandsons of Benjamin, a thing impossible. Hushim, the sons of Aher. Nothing can be said with confidence of either of these names. The Hushim of Genesis 46:23 (called Shuham, Numbers 26:42) are expressly given as a family of Dan, while the Hushim of 1 Chronicles 8:8, 11, is manifestly the name, not of a family, but of an individual, and that a woman. Bertheau takes the opportunity of urging, in connection with this name, that Dan is not entirely omitted in our work of Chronicles! But his foundation is surely far too slender to build upon. Bertheau and Zockler (in Lange, 'Alt. Test.') would translate אַחֵר "another," or "the other," instancing not very pertinently, Ezra 2:31, and referring the allusion to Dan. He also thinks that this is corroborated by the expression, "the sons of Bilhah," in the next verse.
The sons of Naphtali; Jahziel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.
Verse 13. - The sons of Naphtali. In an order quite different from the otherwise parallel passages (Genesis 46:24; Numbers 26:48-50), the tribe of Naphtali is taken. Naphtali was the second son of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah, and in order of birth the fifth sen of Jacob, and was of course more closely allied to Dan, Ephraim, and Benjamin. The family was distinguished for its spirit throughout its history. At the Sinai census it numbered fifty-three thousand four hundred fighting men (Numbers 1:42, 43); but at the close of the wanderings through the wilderness its numbers had become only forty-five thousand four hundred. Its territory in the north, largely mountainous, bounded by Asher, Zebulun, and Manasseh, was some of the finest, and covered the district afterwards called Galilee, "the cradle of the Christian faith, the native place of most of the apostles, and the home of our Lord" (Grove). The slight difference in the spelling of Jahziel in Genesis, and of Shallum in Numbers, may be noticed. The following are interesting references to Naphtali in one or another portion of its history: - Deuteronomy 33:23; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32; Judges 1:33; Judges 5:18; 1 Chronicles 27:19; Ezekiel 48:3, 4, 34; Matthew 4:15; Revelation 7:6. It played a considerable and prominent part also in the conflicts with Titus and Vespasian, when the days of Jerusalem were numbered.
The sons of Manasseh; Ashriel, whom she bare: (but his concubine the Aramitess bare Machir the father of Gilead:
Verse 14. - The sons of Manasseh. The tribe of Manasseh has been partly treated of in 1 Chronicles 5:23-26, viz. those of the tribe who inhabited Gilead and Bashan. Here those who inhabited this side Jordan are treated cf. And it is very difficult to give any coherent account of the differences of this passage when compared with Numbers 26:28-34 and Joshua 17:1-4. In these places six families, or heads of families, are noted to only two, or at most three here, viz. Askriel, Shemida, and perhaps Abiezer (iq. Jeezer, Numbers 26:30; comp. with Joshua 17:2). The opening clause of this verse also is unmanageable as it stands. One way of reducing it to coherence would be to Supply the words "his wife" between whom and bars, the similarity of the Hebrew letters of which to those of the Hebrew for "whom" might possibly account for the loss of it. The parenthesis about the concubine would then read with emphasis. But there is not the slightest reason to suppose there was such a wife. Another way would be to read the concubine as the mother of Ashriel, and prefix a conjunction, and, to the second "bare;" i.e. and she bare, or, she bare also Machir." But it seems pretty plain from Numbers and Joshua that Ashriel was not strictly a son, but only descendant of Manasseh; and, further, the irresistible impression is that Machir was the only son, strictly speaking (see especially Genesis 50:23). The position of Ashriel in our present passage, first, is also very unsatisfactory in face of Genesis 50:23 and the other references already given.
And Machir took to wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister's name was Maachah;) and the name of the second was Zelophehad: and Zelophehad had daughters.
Verse 15. - Maachah. Of this Maachah, one among tea of the same name, nothing else is known. The Peshito Syriac makes her the mother instead of wife of Machir. The distinct mention of the marriage of a Manassite to a Benjamite woman is to be noticed. Zelophehad. The meaning of the preceding words, and the name of the second, is unintelligible. Zelophehad was son of Hephen, who was (through Gilead and Maehir) great-grandson of Manasseh (Joshua 17:3). The number and names and wise appeal and success of the daughters here spoken of, are given in Joshua 17:3-6; Numbers 26:33; Numbers 27:1-11; Numbers 36:5-12.
And Maachah the wife of Machir bare a son, and she called his name Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh; and his sons were Ulam and Rakem.
And the sons of Ulam; Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh.
Verse 17. - Bedan. While all the names of the preceding verse are strange to us, this name excites much interest, as possibly to be identified with the Bedan (1 Samuel 12:11) who is placed after Jerubbaal (i.q. Gideon), and before Jephthah and Samuel. Who in the Book of Judges is to answer to this Bedan of the Book of Samuel it is impossible to say. See Bishop Cotton's excellent short article (Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' L 177). These were the sons of Gilead (see ver. 14). The name Gilead surpassed the name Machir, and even rivalled that of Manasseh itself.
And his sister Hammoleketh bare Ishod, and Abiezer, and Mahalah.
Verse 18. - Abiezer. He is the nephew, then, of Gilead, and grandson of Machir. Gideon sprang from him (Judges 6:11; Judges 8:32). The name of the mother, Hammoleketh, is compounded of the article and Moleketh, or Meleketh, a Chaldee form, found several times in the Book of Jeremiah, of the word for "queen." Of Ishod and Mahalah nothing is known, but the latter name is identical with Mahlah, one of the five daughters of Zelophehad.
And the sons of Shemida were, Ahian, and Shechem, and Likhi, and Aniam.
Verse 19. - Shemidah, Joshua 17:2 tells us that the descendants of Shemida obtained their inheritance among the male children of Manasseh; and Numbers 26:32 places him in the Gilead family. Of Ahian, Likhi, Aniam, nothing else is known. Shechem. If this name is rightly placed under Shemi-dab, it must be concluded from Joshua 17:2 and Numbers 26:31 that it is a different Shechem from the one there found. This latter was also a Manassite, belonged to the family of Gilead, and was head of a family named Shechemites after him. His descendants are spoken of as the "sons of Shechem" in the above passage of Joshua.
And the sons of Ephraim; Shuthelah, and Bered his son, and Tahath his son, and Eladah his son, and Tahath his son,
Verses 20-27. - The chief difficulty of this passage lies in reconciling the points of chronology which it forces to the surface. Vers. 20, 21, purport to contain the line of descent from Ephraim through his son Shu-thelah to the seventh generation, viz. to another Shuthelah. The remaining two names, Ezer and Elead, may perhaps be two brothers of the first Shuthelah, i.e. own sons of Ephraim. If it be so, these two must not be supposed to correspond with Becher and Tahan, called "sons of Ephraim" in Numbers 26:35; for it is evident that they were generations succeeding Shuthelah. Now, Ephraim was born in Egypt (Genesis 46:20), so that, on the above showing, the actual sons of Ephraim must have made some incursion from Egypt into the territories of the settled or possibly aboriginal inhabitants of Gath, and met the fate over which Ephraim so mourned. Such excursions on the part of the Israelites out of Egypt have very little collateral evidence. But there would seem to be no impossibility in the matter, considering Genesis 50:13-23. Next, vers. 23-27 seem to say that in his sorrow Ephraim has another son, whom he names Beriah, and of whose line in the ninth descent comes Joshua, the son of Nun. This also is very doubtful. It may very possibly be that the parenthesis continues to the end of ver. 23 or 24, and that vers. 25-27 carry on the generations from ver. 21. Meantime welcome light breaks in at the stage (ver. 26) at which Ammihud and Elishama are mentioned. For we find these immediate ancestors of the great Joshua repeatedly mentioned at the period of the Exodus (Numbers 1:10; Numbers 2:18; Numbers 7:48, etc.); yet none of these places assist us to say that he did or did not come through Beriah. It is impossible to solve with any certainty the involved question of chronology and genealogy presented by this section. The passage is evidently mutilated and corrupt, though vindicating a high antiquity. Avery original presentation of the whole section, as ingenious as it is conjectural, by Lord A.C. Hervey, may be found in the art. "Shuthclah," Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3:1305. It is well worthy of attention that a great point is made in bringing Joshua to the place of the eighth generation from Joseph, in near analogy with the numbers in so many other known cases, of the generations that intervened from the descent into Egypt to the entrance into Canaan. There also may be found the most and best that can be said against the literal reading of what is here written respecting the men of Gath and the cattle.
And Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in that land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle.
Verse 21. - Because they - i.e, the men of Ephraim - came down to take away their cattle. This certainly may be translated, when they (i.e. the men of Gath) came down (i.e. into Goshen) to plunder their cattle (i.e. the cattle of Ephraim).
And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him.
And when he went in to his wife, she conceived, and bare a son, and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house.
(And his daughter was Sherah, who built Bethhoron the nether, and the upper, and Uzzensherah.)
Verse 24. - His daughter. If the literal interpretation of this whole section be accepted, according to which both Ephraim and Beriah must have passed their lifetime in Egypt, the "daughter," strictly so called, of either the one or the other could not have been the founder of the places here mentioned. The word "daughter" must, therefore, represent simply a female descendant. (For other references to Beth-heron, see Joshua 10:10, 11; Joshua 16:3, 5; Joshua 18:13, 14; Joshua 21:20-22.)
And Rephah was his son, also Resheph, and Telah his son, and Tahan his son,
Verse 25. - Of the names Rephah and Resheph nothing else is known.
Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son,
Non his son, Jehoshua his son.
Verse 27. - Non. The same as Nun (Numbers 13:8, 16).
And their possessions and habitations were, Bethel and the towns thereof, and eastward Naaran, and westward Gezer, with the towns thereof; Shechem also and the towns thereof, unto Gaza and the towns thereof:
Verse 28. - Naaran. This place is probably the same with the Naarath or Naarah of Joshua 16:7; though here it is said to be an eastward limit, and there its description might rather seem that of a southward limit. Gaza. This name can scarcely designate the well-known Gaza, assigned to Judah (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18), but so largely the prey of the Philistines (Judges 3:3; Judges 16:21; 1 Samuel 6:17).
And by the borders of the children of Manasseh, Bethshean and her towns, Taanach and her towns, Megiddo and her towns, Dor and her towns. In these dwelt the children of Joseph the son of Israel.
Verse 29. - The places mentioned in this verse were assigned to Manasseh. Bethshean was on the west of Jordan, and was within the borders of Issachar (Joshua 17:11-13; 1 Kings 4:11, 12). Dor was within the borders of Asher (Joshua 11:1, 2; Joshua 12:23; Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27, 28). Taanach. This place also lay within the borders of Issachar or Asher (Joshua 17:11, 12; Joshua 21:25; Judges 5:19). Megiddo. This place is constantly coupled with the preceding. It lay on the south of the plain of Esdraelon (Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:12; Judges 1:27; 1 Kings 4:12).
The sons of Asher; Imnah, and Isuah, and Ishuai, and Beriah, and Serah their sister.
Verse 30. - The same four sons and one daughter of Asher are found in Genesis 46:17; but the name of the second son is wanting to the list of families descended from Asher of Numbers 26:44-47, and the name of the daughter is given by itself, and not as furnishing a family.
And the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel, who is the father of Birzavith.
Verse 31. - These two grandsons are also found in the above lists of both Genesis and Numbers; but nothing is found there to explain the name Birzavith, which the Keri spells with yod, the Kethiv with van. With the former spelling its signification would be the "well of olives," and would point to its being the name of a place rather than of a person, and, as some think, that person a woman (Gesenius, 'Thes.,' 239). (For instances of the expression "father" of a place, see 1 Chronicles 2:51, 52; 1 Chronicles 4:4, 5.)
And Heber begat Japhlet, and Shomer, and Hotham, and Shua their sister.
Verse 32. - Japhlet. This son of Heber, not otherwise known, cannot be identified with the "Japhletite' of Joshua 16:3 (himself an enigma), on the south boundary of Ephraim, between the nether Beth-heron and Ataroth. Shomer; i.q. Shamer of ver. 34.
And the sons of Japhlet; Pasach, and Bimhal, and Ashvath. These are the children of Japhlet.
Verse 33. - Nothing, except what follows in the next verses, is known of the three sons of Japhlet given in this verse. In them we reach the fourth generation from Asher. The generations then travel forward through Helem, presumably a third brother of Japhlet, passing the sons of Shamer, or Shomer, presumably Japhlet's second brother.
And the sons of Shamer; Ahi, and Rohgah, Jehubbah, and Aram.
Verses 34, 35. - Ahi. It seems impossible to decide with certainty whether this is the name of a person or whether, with the vau, which otherwise begins the next word, it should not be translated "his brother," ie. the brother of Japhlet. In ver. 32 the names of three brothers are given, sons of Heber, viz. Japhlet, Shomer, and Hotham. Now, the name Helem, in ver. 35, is supposed to point to this Hotham. If it be so, it would so far be an argument that Ahi, in ver. 34, should be translated "his brother," in correspondence with the undoubted "his brother" of ver. 35. Of no one of the names in these verses is anything further known.
And the sons of his brother Helem; Zophah, and Imna, and Shelesh, and Amal.
The sons of Zophah; Suah, and Harnepher, and Shual, and Beri, and Imrah,
Verses 36-38. - Vers. 36 and 37 purport to give us eleven sons of Zophah, son of Helem, and grandson of Heber, and these bring us to the sixth generation from Asher; and again (ver. 38), we reach the seventh in descent from Asher, in the three sons of Jether, or Ithran, the tenth son of Zophah.
Bezer, and Hod, and Shamma, and Shilshah, and Ithran, and Beera.
And the sons of Jether; Jephunneh, and Pispah, and Ara.
And the sons of Ulla; Arah, and Haniel, and Rezia.
Verse 39. - Ulla. Whether in this verse we get to the eighth generation depends on who may be meant by Ulla. It is impossible to answer the question. The suggestion has been made that the name may, by some great error of copyists, stand for either Zophah's last son Beera, or, by happier conjecture, Jether's last son, Ara. But neither professes to be anything better than mere conjecture.
All these were the children of Asher, heads of their father's house, choice and mighty men of valour, chief of the princes. And the number throughout the genealogy of them that were apt to the war and to battle was twenty and six thousand men.
Verse 40. - Twenty and six thousand. The number of Asherites, "of twenty years old and upwards, able to go forth to war," given in Numbers 1:40, 41, was forty-one thousand five hundred. Forty years later (Numbers 26:44-47; comp. ver. 2) the number was fifty-three thousand four hundred. But it is supposed that the twenty-six thousand of this verse may refer only to a portion of the tribe, i.e. to the large and distinguished family of Heber. It is to be noticed that the name of the tribe of Asher is not found in the list of the "chief rulers" lower down in this book (1 Chronicles 27:16-22). The tone also in which reference is made to Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun coming to Jerusalem to Hezekiah's Passover (2 Chronicles 30:11) is very noticeable. This tribe, with Simeon, gave no judge to the nation, and of all the tribes west of the Jordan they stand by themselves in this respect. There is an ancient legend that the parents of St. Paul lived within the territories of Asher, at the place called Ahlab in Judges 1:31, otherwise Giscala, or Gush Chaleb. Against the uncertainty of the legend we may gratefully remember the certainty of the history of the "Anna,... daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser" (Luke 2:36).

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