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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

1 Chronicles 7

Verses 1-40

B. The House of Israel chs. 4-7

The writer’s next concern was to trace the line of people to whom and through whom God promised to bring blessing and salvation. That nation was Israel, the descendants of Jacob. The writer viewed Israel as consisting of 12 tribes, not just the tribes represented by the returnees from Babylonian exile. The nation as a whole would have a future. [Note: See Howard, pp. 253-56, for a discussion of the Chronicler’s concern to demonstrate the unity of all the Israelites throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles.]

Verses 1-40

5. The remaining families of Israel ch. 7

The tribes the writer listed were Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher. Why did he omit Dan and Zebulun? The inclusion of these tribes would have resulted in a total of 14 tribes since he had counted Levi and had dealt with both halves of Manasseh separately. Evidently to keep the whole number of tribes at 12 he omitted these. [Note: John Sailhamer, First and Second Chronicles, p. 26.] Another possibility is that perhaps the tribes of Dan and Zebulun had little influence or relevance among the Jews who made up the returned exiles. [Note: Payne, "1, 2 Chronicles," p. 357.] That there were 12 tribes seems to have been more important to the writer than how he counted them as 12. The writers of both the Old and New Testaments used many different combinations each totaling 12 in the many lists of the 12 tribes that appear in Scripture. By listing 12 tribes the Chronicler emphasized that the whole nation was intact. The term "all Israel" occurs over 40 times in Chronicles, and there are also many occurrences of the phrases "all the house of Israel" and "all the tribes of Israel."

"At a time when the northern tribes had long been in exile, the Chronicler provides a genealogical listing for all the tribes (except Zebulun and Dan); in giving such a list, the Chronicler is (1) expressing his awareness of continuity with the larger number, (2) showing his concern to include the northern tribes rather than to exclude them, (3) suggesting that he regarded the schism as neither permanent nor desirable, and (4) possibly giving some expression to an eschatological hope for a revival of the nation in its largest extent." [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 196.]

"Individuals without lineage in the course of time took their names from the cities in which they were located, and their names were enrolled genealogically among the ancestors of Israel." [Note: Braun, 1 Chronicles, p. 109.]

In these chapters (4-7), the writer stressed the following central features of God’s covenant relationship with Israel. The leadership of Judah that even swallowed up another tribe came to a head in David and his descendants. The Transjordanian tribes experienced the results of unfaithfulness to God. The tribe of Levi enjoyed the privilege of priesthood in Israel. The writer also drew attention to the 12-tribe structure of the one Israelite nation.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-chronicles-7.html. 2012.