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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 8

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



The narrative returns to the tribe of Benjamin. The present register is quite different from that preserved in 1 Chronicles 7:6-12, which, as we have seen, is an extract from a document drawn up for military purposes. Apparently based on a topographical register, this new list agrees better than the other with the data of the Pentateuch (Genesis 46:0; Numbers 26:0), allowance being made for the mistakes of generations of copyists. The chronicler may well have thought the short section of 1 Chronicles 7:0 too meagre as an account of a tribe which had furnished the first royal house, and had afterwards inseparably linked its fortunes with those of the legitimate dynasty. Here, therefore, he supplements his former notice. Perhaps, also, he returns to Benjamin by way of introduction to the royal genealogy with which the section concludes. In snort, he begins, as his manner is, at the beginning; and having to tell of Saul, starts from the tribal patriarch to whom the house of Saul traced back its long descent.

Verses 1-5

THE SONS OF BENJAMIN AND BELA (1 Chronicles 8:1-5).
(See Notes on 1 Chronicles 7:6-7.)

Bela his first-born.—The Hebrew word for “firstborn” in Genesis 46:21 may have been turned into the proper name Becher, by an ancient mistake of the scribes. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 7:6.)

Ashbel.—Probably the same as Jediael.

Aharah the same as Ahiram and Ehirosh.

(2) Nohah and Rapha.—These names do not occur in either of the other lists. The present series agrees with Numbers 26:38 in assigning five sons to Benjamin, of whom Bela is the first, and Ashbel the second. Further, there is enough likeness between the name Aharah here and Ahiram there to warrant our assumption of their original identity. But we cannot hence conclude that the Nohah and Rapha of our list answer to the Shephupham-Shupham and Hupham of the other. It is more likely that Nohah and Rapha represent different clans, which were prominent at the time when the present list was draughted. Rapha reminds us of the valley of Rephaim, south-west of Jerusalem, 1 Chronicles 11:15.

(3-5) The sons of Bela here are nine, like the sons of the suspected Becher, 1 Chronicles 7:8. But none of the names correspond.

(3) Addar the same as Ard, who in Numbers 26:0 is eldest son of Bela, but in Genesis 46:0 apparently his youngest brother.

Gera appears as brother of Bela in Genesis 46:21. The name is repeated in 1 Chronicles 8:5, probably by a scribe’s inadvertence; though there may have been two great Benjamite houses so designated.

Abihud (4) and Abishua are peculiar to the present list.

Naaman is a son of Bela in Numbers 26, a brother in Genesis 46:0.

Ahoah is peculiar, unless he be identified with the Ehi of Genesis 46:0.

Shephupham and Huram, younger sons of Bela in the present series, are in Gen. and Num. his younger brothers Muppim (Shuppim) and Huppim, or Shephupbam and Hupham. These fluctuations of statement are worth observing, because they demonstrate the vagueness of terms denoting various degrees of kindred, when used in describing tribal and clan relationships.

Verse 6

(6) And these are the sons of Ehud.—The Authorised Version makes no distinction between this Ehud and Ehud son of Gera, the famous Benjamite judge (Judges 3:15). The difference in the Heb. is so slight, that perhaps we may assume an original identity of the two names. In that case we get a link between the sons of Ehud and the house of Gera, 1 Chronicles 8:5. Others identify the present Ehud with the Abihud of 1 Chronicles 8:3, which is possibly correct: (Comp. Nadab-Abinadab, Dan and Abidan, Numbers 1:11.)

These are the heads of the fathers.—Heads of father-houses, i.e., of groups of kindred families or clans. The Hebrew text of the rest of this verse, and 1 Chronicles 8:7-8, is unusually obscure, partly owing to the construction, but chiefly because of the historical allusions which are no longer explicable with any certainty. Most interpreters assume a parenthesis after the words “and these are the sons of Ehud,” extending to the words “he removed them,” in 1 Chronicles 8:7.

Uzza and Ahihud are then “the sons of Ehud” referred to in 1 Chronicles 8:6.

Removed them.—Rather, carried them captive, or transported them. The same expression denotes the Babylonian exile or transportation, and was used in 1 Chronicles 5:26 of the Assyrian removal of the trans-jordanic tribes.

Verse 7

(7) And Naaman, and Ahiah, and Gera, he removed them.—The three clans here mentioned are commonly regarded as the authors of the expatriation of the people of Geba. Of Gera it is specially said “he removed them,” because Gera was the leading clan of the three. According to this interpretation the two verses (6-7) may be rendered: “And these are the sons of Ehud. (These are heads of clans belonging to the inhabitants of Geba, and men carried them away to Manahath—both Naaman, and Ahijah, and Gera, he it was who carried them away.) He begat Uzza and Ahihud.” That is to say, Uzza and Ahihud, two chiefs of clans settled at Geba (1 Chronicles 6:45), were forcibly removed by three other Benjamite clans to Manahath (see 1 Chronicles 2:52; 1 Chronicles 2:54). ‘Al manahath might perhaps be rendered “for the sake of peace,” referring to feuds between the clans of Geba.

Verse 8

(8) And Shaharaim begat children in the country of Moab.—Shaharaim is apparently out of all connection with the other Benjamite houses. He has been identified with Ahi-Shahar, 1 Chronicles 7:10, because his name has a similar meaning, and even with the mysterious Aher (hypothetically Shaher) of 1 Chronicles 7:12. It is simpler to suppose that weeth-Shaharaim, “and Shaharaim,” has dropped out at the end of 1 Chronicles 8:7 (see Note on 1 Chronicles 8:31). Expelled from Geba, Shaharaim found a refuge in Moab. (Comp. Ruth 1:0; 1 Samuel 22:3-4.)

After he had sent them away; Hushim and Baara were his wives.—The Heb. is certainly corrupt. The easiest correction is to read ‘eth-Hushim instead of ‘otham Hushim: “and Shaharaim begat in the country of Moab, after divorcing Hushim and Baara his wives, he begat (1 Chronicles 8:9) of Hodesh his wife, Jobab,” &c. This is supported by the LXX. The emigration of the clan Shaharaim, from its old home in Geba of Benjamin is called a divorce, in the figurative style of these genealogies; just as the amalgamation of clans is marriage. Hushim, in 1 Chronicles 7:12, is a Benjamite clan. In Moab, Shaharaim branched off into seven clans, whose names are given in 1 Chronicles 8:9-10.

Verse 9

(9) Hodesh his wife.—The new Moabite wife or settlement of Shaharaim. The names of two of the sons begotten in Moab have a Moabite cast—viz., Mesha’, comp. Mesha’ king of Moab, 2 Kings 3:4; and Malcham, comp. Malcham (Milcom) as a title of the god of Moab and Ammon, Jeremiah 49:1 (Heb.).

Verse 10

(10) Heads of the fathers.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 8:6.

Verse 11

(11) And of Hushim he begat . . .—The offspring of Shaharaim by Hushim before her divorce; in other words, two offshoots of the clan Shaharaim settled in the vicinity of Lod or Lydda (1 Chronicles 8:12), which took no part in the emigration to Moab.

Verse 12

(12) Shamer, or Shemer, occurred in 1 Chronicles 7:34 as a clan of Asher.

Who built.Ono and Lod. . . .—Literally, he built Ono and Lod and her daughters. The clause is a parenthesis referring to Shemer.

Ono, now Kefr Auna, recurs in Ezra 2:33, Nehemiah 7:37; Nehemiah 11:35, but is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is always coupled with Lod, and must have been near it.

Lod, the Lydda of Acts 9:32, is now the village of Ludd, north of Ramleh, between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Verse 13

(13) Beriah also, and Shema.—After these two names the Masoretic punctuators have put a stop. Thus 1 Chronicles 8:12-13 give five sons of Elpaal. Or 1 Chronicles 8:13 may be disconnected from 1 Chronicles 8:12, and Beriah and Shema regarded as beginning a new series of Benjamite clans.

Who were heads of the fathers. . . .—Rather, “THEY were heads of the clans of the inhabitants of Aijalon; THEY put to flight the inhabitants of Gath.” The pronoun is emphatic in both cases. The clans of Beriah and Shema, who were settled at Ajalon (Yalo), near Gibeon, appear to have expelled a Gittite population from Ajalon, and dwelt in their stead. At all events, there is evident allusion to some famous exploit, in which the two Benjamite houses were more fortunate than the Ephraimites Ezer and Elead (1 Chronicles 7:21). We must not identify this Benjamite Beriah with the Ephraimite Beriah of 1 Chronicles 7:23. There was also an Asherite clan of Beriah (1 Chronicles 7:30).

Verses 14-16

(14-16) Apparently nine sons of Beriah. But (1) in 1 Chronicles 8:14, the LXX. reads ὁ� instead of Ahio. With different vowels the Hebrew term would mean this. (2) All the other names in this list are connected by the conjunctive particle. It is therefore likely that this was once the case with Shashak. (3) 1 Chronicles 8:14-27 give five groups of Benjamite clans—viz., the sons of Beriah, the sons of Elpaal, the sons of Shimhi, the sons of Shashak, and the sons of Jeroham, all dwelling in Jerusalem. Apparently, their eponymous heads are named in 1 Chronicles 8:13-14—viz., Beriah (Elpaal? omitted by accident), Shema (the same as Shimhi; there is no h in the Heb.), Shashak, and Jeremoth (probably the same as Jeroham).

If this combination hold, the text of 1 Chronicles 8:14 may be thus restored: “And Elpaal his brother, and Shashak and Jeroham.” Elpaal will then be brother of Beriah (1 Chronicles 8:13), and perhaps son of Elpaal (1 Chronicles 8:12). Shashak and Jeremoth-Jeroham, and the six following names, are sons of Beriah.

Verses 17-18

(17-18) Seven sons of Elpaal.

Verses 19-21

(19-21) Nine sons of Shimhi (Shimei being the same as Shema). This is the same Hebrew name as that which at 2 Samuel 16:5 seq. the Authorised Version renders by Shimei.

Verses 22-25

(22-25) Eleven sons of Shashak (1 Chronicles 8:14), followed by six sons of Jeroham (Jeremoth, 1 Chronicles 8:14) in 1 Chronicles 8:26-27. The recurrence of the same names in the five groups is noticeable. Thus, a Zichri appears among the sons of Shimei (1 Chronicles 8:19), among the sons of Shashak (1 Chronicles 8:23), and among the sons of Jeroham (1 Chronicles 8:27). Of course the name may have been thus frequent among the Benjamite clans dwelling in Jerusalem. But it is possible to see in the fact an indication that, at the time when the present register was framed, some of these houses were no longer able to trace their pedigrees with certainty to one famous name rather than another.

Verse 28

(28) These were . . . chief men.These were: chiefs of clans; according to their birth-rolls, chiefs. All the names from 1 Chronicles 8:14 to 1 Chronicles 8:27 are included in this summation. The repetition of the word “chiefs” (Heb., heads) is peculiar. The writer can hardly have meant other than to warn his readers against the idea that the preceding names represent individual members of single families, whereas, in truth, they are “heads of clans.” (“Heads” in Hebrew may denote “companies,” or “divisions,” as at Judges 7:16, “And he divided the three hundred men into three heads.”)

These dwelt in Jerusalem.—This statement contrasts the five branches of Benjamin, whose sub-divisions have just been enumerated, with the clans that dwelt in Geba and Manahath (1 Chronicles 8:6), in Moab (1 Chronicles 8:9-10), in Lod and Ono (1 Chronicles 8:12), and in Ajalon (1 Chronicles 8:13), as well as with those who dwelt in Gibeou. (1 Chronicles 8:29).

Verse 29

(1 Chronicles 8:29-40).

1 Chronicles 8:29-38 recur at 1 Chronicles 9:35-44.

(29) At Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon.—His name (Jehiel) has been accidentally omitted. (See 1 Chronicles 9:35.) The verb dwelt is plural, “they dwelt;” a sufficient indication that the “father of Gibeon” merely represents the original population of that place under a collective name. Maachah would be a place in the neighbourhood.

Gibeon.—Now el-Jib, about eight miles north-west of Jerusalem.

Verse 30

(30) The sons of Abi-Gibeon—that is, the Benjamite clans of Gibeon. The name of Ner has fallen out between Baal and Nadab. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 9:36.) That of Baal is interesting. Comp. 1 Chronicles 8:33-34, where we find Eshbaal and Merib-baal (rather Meri-baal, i.e., “man of Baal”); comp. Merbal in Herod, vii. 88. It appears from Hosea 2:16 that the title Baal (lord) was once applied to Jehovah in common, speech: “Thou shalt call me Ishi, and shalt no more call me Baali.” After the name had become associated with a foreign and idolatrous cultus, it was discarded in favour of the synonymous Adon (Adonai).

Verse 31

(31) Ahio.—The recurrence of this name here lends some support to the Authorised Version in 1 Chronicles 8:14.

Zacher.—Heb., Zecher (comp. Shamer-Shemer), the Zechariah of 1 Chronicles 9:37, which is in fact the full form of the name. Such abbreviations are common. (See 1 Chronicles 5:26, Note.) After Zecher, the phrase and Mikloth has dropped out of the text, because 1 Chronicles 8:32 begins with the same words. (See 1 Chronicles 9:33.)

Verse 32

(32) Shimeah is essentially the same word as Shimeam (1 Chronicles 9:38). The latter is a mimmated form (i.e., a more ancient form of the noun, with the original ending m).

And these also dwelt with their brethren in Jerusalem, over against them.—Literally, And they also, before their brethren, dwelt in Jerusalem with their brethren. The verse seems to tell us that of all the stock of Gibeon only the branch of Mikloth-Shimeah settled in Jerusalem. When, we are not informed. Some think the reference is to the repeopling of Jerusalem after the Restoration (Nehemiah 11:1). “Before their brethren.”—Before in Heb. means east, as behind means west. The clans in question dwelt in Jerusalem, to the east of their fellow-tribesmen in Gibeon.

With their brethren—that is, with the other Benjamite clans settled in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 8:16-28).

Verse 33

(33) The house of Saul It is not said here that Saul’s immediate family was settled at Gibeon. From 1 Samuel 10:26; 1 Samuel 15:34, and 2 Samuel 21:6, we learn that Gibeah, or “Gibeah of Saul,” was the seat of the king. It is gratuitous to suppose that the chronicler has confounded two different places.

And Ner begat Kish.1 Samuel 9:1 gives the following pedigree of Kish: Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Bechorath, son of Aphiah; and 1 Samuel 14:51 states that Kish the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner, were sons of Abiel. The omission of intermediate names is not uncommon in these lists. We may, therefore, suppose that some members of the genealogical series are here omitted between Ner and Kish. The father of Abner was, of course, only a namesake of the present Ner, which is perhaps a clan, not an individual.

Saul begat Jonathan.—So 1 Samuel 14:49; 1 Samuel 31:2; save that the former passage has Ishui for Abinadab. This seems to be a case of double naming. Others identify Ishui with Ishbosheth.

Abinadab.—Comp. Nadab, 1 Chronicles 8:30. Both are probably Divine titles, meaning “the father (i.e., Jehovah) is noble.” Comp. Kammusu Nadbi, “Chemosh is my prince,” the name of a Moabite king, mentioned by Sennacherib. Ner and Kish also both occurred in 1 Chronicles 8:30 as Gibeonite clans. Here they (or at least Kish) may be said to be personal names.

Esh-baal.2 Samuel 2:8, Ish-bosheth, David’s rival king. Esh-baal (“man of Baal”) is the true name. Ish-bosheth (“man of shame”) is a sort of euphemism, avoiding the very mention of an idol. So the Merib-baal (“Baal strives;” rather, perhaps, Meri-Baal, “man of Baal”) of 1 Chronicles 8:34 appears in 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 9:6, &c, as Mephibosheth, where probably the right reading is Meribbosheth. In like manner, idols are styled “abominations.” 1 Kings 11:5 : “Milcom the abomination (i.e., god) of the sons of Ammon,” and elsewhere. Beth-el, the sanctuary of the golden calf, or rather bullock, is called Beth-aven. The “house of God” is a “house of wickedness” (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Joshua 7:2.) (See Note on 1 Chronicles 8:30.)

Verse 35

(35) Tarea.Ta’rea. Tahrea (1 Chronicles 9:41) is a harder pronunciation of the same name. The name Shime’ah, or Shime’am (1 Chronicles 8:32) appears to be a similar softening of the name Shime’ah (2 Samuel 13:3).

Verse 36

(36) Jehoadah.—Heb., Jeho’addah. 1 Chronicles 9:42 gives Jarah (Heb., Ja’rah), a mistake arising from the common confusion of the Heb. d and r. The name there should be read, “Jo’addah,” a contraction of the present form.

Alemeth.—In 1 Chronicles 7:8 a son of Becher; in 1 Chronicles 6:60 a Levitical town. The name is apparently personal here.

Verse 38

(38) Bocheru.—Some MSS. read “his firstborn,” with which, with different points, the LXX. and the Syriac agree. This seems right, as the conjunctive particle is wanting between Azrikam and the doubtful word, and Bocheru would be anomalous as a proper name. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 8:40.)

Azel.—A place near Jerusalem was so called (Zechariah 14:5; Micah 1:11).

Verse 39

(39) Eshek his brother—that is, the brother of Azel, and son of Eleasah (1 Chronicles 8:37). The elder line is first developed.

Verse 40

(40) And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers.—The ancient prowess of the Benjamites is recorded in Judges 20:0. Their left-handed slingers were famous. (See also Judges 3:15 seq.)

Archers.—Literally, treaders of the bow (1 Chronicles 5:18). The meaning is that they drew their bows by resting the foot against them, the bows being large.

Had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty.—What was their date? If we may assume that no names have been omitted, we are concerned with the fourteenth generation from Jonathan, the friend of David. The era of David has been fixed at about 1055-1045 B.C. ; so that the great-grandsons of Ulam may have flourished about 635-625 B.C. (1055 minus 420), in the reign of Josiah. The omission of names, however, is as possible and as likely in the present series as elsewhere; and it is obvious that one or two additional members would carry the list past the exile (B.C. 588). There are reasons for believing that the posterity of Ulam really represent a family of the period of the Return. Their number is favourable to the supposition. Comp. Ezra 2:18; Ezra 2:21; Ezra 2:23; Ezra 2:27; Ezra 2:30 for families of about the same dimensions, which returned with Zerubbabel. Further, the reference in 1 Chronicles 8:8-10 to a sojourn of certain Benjamite houses in Moab may be connected with the mention in Ezra 2:6; Ezra 8:4; Nehemiah 3:11, and elsewhere, of the “sons of the Pasha of Moab” (Pahath Mo’ab. This word pahath used to be reckoned among the indications of the late origin of the Chronicle. Now, however, it is known to be an ancient Semitic term. Comp. the Assyrian pihatu). Ono and Lod (1 Chronicles 8:12) may be compared with Ezra 2:33, and the singular names Elam (1 Chronicles 8:24) and Azmaveth (1 Chronicles 8:36), with the “sons of Elam” (Ezra 2:7), and “the sons of Azmaveth,” or “Beth-azmaveth” (Ezra 2:24; Nehemiah 7:28). The name Bocheru (in 1 Chronicles 8:38) has been classed with Gashmu (Nehemiah 6:6), but the latter is an Arab, and there is seemingly no MS. authority for Bocheru. Ishmael (1 Chronicles 8:38) reminds us of “Ishmael son of Nethaniah, of the seed royal” (2 Kings 25:25), who survived the fall of Jerusalem.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/1-chronicles-8.html. 1905.
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