These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi…
I. WE SEE THE MASS OF LIVES THAT ARE CROWDED INTO A BRIEF ERA. The ages soon empty their contents into eternity.
II. WE SEE HOW THE MINUTE DETAILS OF INDIVIDUAL LIFE ARE LOST IN THE AGGREGATE OF HISTORY. The heroes' battles are forgotten. The remembrance of our great calamities is no more. The life of the greatest king is summed up into a sentence on the page of the world's history.
III. WE SEE THE GREAT EFFORT OF LIFE TO CULMINATE IN, AND GIVE PROMINENCE TO, THE BIRTH OF ITS HEROES AND EMANCIPATORS. The whole of these lives were preparatory to the lives of Moses and Aaron. All before them were introductory. There is a gradual process in life. Life is ever trying to find emphatic expression in the conduct of the good. History makes this apparent.
IV. WE SEE HERE THAT INDIVIDUAL LIVES DERIVE THEIR GREATNESS FROM THE CALL OF GOD TO SERVICE, RATHER THAN FROM SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.