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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 5

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

First Chronicles Chapter 5

1 Chronicles 5:1 "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he [was] the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright."

This is an explanation why Reuben’s family was not the first to have their genealogy, since he was actually the firstborn son of Jacob. There are two very good reasons that I can think of. One, he was punished for sleeping with his father’s wife. Reuben was Leah’s child. She, indeed, was the first wife of Jacob, but not the chosen wife of Jacob. Rachel was his beloved. Joseph and Benjamin were her children. The tribe of Judah would be the tribe that the promised Messiah would come through. This is the reason for Judah being first. The birthright of Reuben went to Joseph’s sons.

1 Chronicles 5:2 "For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him [came] the chief ruler; but the birthright [was] Joseph’s:)"

The lineage from Adam to Jesus would come through the tribe of Judah. The birthright was Joseph’s for his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

1 Chronicles 5:3 "The sons, [I say], of Reuben the firstborn of Israel [were], Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi."

Each one of these sons started a people. Hanoch was the father of the Hanochites, Pallu was the father of the Palluites, Hezron became the father of the Hezronites, And Carmi became father of the Carmites. At the time of the numbering in the wilderness, Reuben’s tribe had 46,500 men capable of fighting. Reuben’s inheritance was east of Jordan. We remember, God let him have this land for his herds.

1 Chronicles 5:4 "The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,"

1 Chronicles 5:5 "Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,"

1 Chronicles 5:6 "Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried away [captive]: he [was] prince of the Reubenites."

We are not told which of Reuben’s sons these descendents come through. We do know they are Reuben’s family. The name "Joel" means Jehovah is God. "Shemaiah" means Jehovah hath heard. There is really very little known of any of these people, except what we see in the verse above. Baal, in this instance, is a man’s name. Beerah has to be many, many years down from Reuben, because the Assyrian captivity was hundreds of years after their stay in Egypt.

1 Chronicles 5:7 "And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, [were] the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,"

1 Chronicles 5:8 "And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baal- meon:"

Jeiel was spoken of as being from the house of Joel in the time of the captivity. This census was, probably, taken by Tilgath-pilezer. It seemed, that Jeiel, Zechariah, and Bela were the leaders at the time of the captivity. Aroer, Nebo, and Baal-meon were the boundaries of where they lived. "Aroer" means nudity. It was a town on the north bank of the Arnon. Nebo was a town east of the Jordan river in the land of Reuben. Baal-meon was located 9 miles east of the Dead Sea.

1 Chronicles 5:9 "And eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the wilderness from the river Euphrates: because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead."

All of Reuben’s land was east of the Jordan river. It was a very fertile land for the grazing of his cattle. As his cattle grew in number, he needed more grazing land, and he expanded his land further to the east. The Euphrates River flows through Syria, Mesopotamia, and the city of Babylon.

1 Chronicles 5:10 "And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites, who fell by their hand: and they dwelt in their tents throughout all the east [land] of Gilead."

The Hagarites were believed to be descended from Hagar and Ishmael. The Reubenites seemed to be strong at the time of Saul, and expanded their land at will by these little wars. The small families around them were no match for Reuben’s army. It seemed, he took possession of whatever he desired.

1 Chronicles 5:11 "And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salcah:"

Gad was located on the east of Jordan and was neighbor to Reuben. Gad was the seventh son of Jacob, and was born to him by Zilpah, Leah’s maid. At this time, Bashan, probably, covered the upper half of Gilead. "Gad" means a troop. They were warlike people.

1 Chronicles 5:12 "Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan."

There is very little known of these men, except that they were of the tribe of Gad, and were their chief men in authority.

1 Chronicles 5:13 "And their brethren of the house of their fathers [were], Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven."

These people, above, are not mentioned anywhere else. In the 26th chapter of Numbers, we read that Gad’s family became the Zephonites, Haggites, Shunites, Oznites, Erites, Arodites, and the Arelites. The list of the sons of Gad is in the 46th chapter of Genesis.

1 Chronicles 5:14 "These [are] the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz;"

1 Chronicles 5:15 "Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers."

There is nothing more known of these, except the fact that they were Gad’s descendents.

1 Chronicles 5:16 "And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders."

We do know that Gad’s inheritance was east of the Jordan river in the land of Gilead.

1 Chronicles 5:17 "All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel."

There was a set of chronicles for Judah, and a set for the ten tribes of Israel. This verse is speaking of a time after the twelve tribes had split into ten, and two. Jeroboam was the first king of the ten tribes of Israel. Jotham of Judah was a much later king. These times were many years apart. This is speaking of two entirely different genealogies.

1 Chronicles 5:18 "The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, [were] four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war."

This is speaking of the two and one half tribes that were on the eastern side of the Jordan river. It seems, they had a census separate from the other tribes.

1 Chronicles 5:19 "And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab."

We learned earlier that the Hagarites were descended from Hagar. Jetur was one of the twelve sons of Ishmael, as well. His descendents were Ituraeans. Nephish is, probably, the same as Naphish, who was the eleventh son of Ishmael. Nodab is unknown.

1 Chronicles 5:20 "And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that [were] with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them; because they put their trust in him."

The army, spoken of here, is the two and one half tribes that were on the east side of the Jordan. It appears, they prayed to the LORD, and he helped them. The word "entreated" means surrounded.

1 Chronicles 5:21 "And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men an hundred thousand."

This shows what a vast amount of animals these people had accumulated through the years. These hundred thousand men were taken captive to work as slaves for the two and one half tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.

1 Chronicles 5:22 "For there fell down many slain, because the war [was] of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity."

The captivity, spoken of here, is the Assyrian captivity, where Israel was defeated and taken captive. They won the war, because God was with them.

1 Chronicles 5:23 "And the children of the half tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land: they increased from Bashan unto Baal-hermon and Senir, and unto mount Hermon."

Manasseh was the son of Joseph. He and Ephraim both received a portion from God. This verse, above, shows how their land allotment grew, when they won this war. The other soldiers took captives with them back to their homes. Manasseh just extended his border to include this land.

1 Chronicles 5:24 "And these [were] the heads of the house of their fathers, even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valour, famous men, [and] heads of the house of their fathers."

These heads of the tribe of Manasseh are not mentioned in another place, so they, possibly, do not enter into further parts of the genealogy.

1 Chronicles 5:25 "And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them."

As long as there had been an Israel, they had been unfaithful to God. It seemed, every time God helped them, it was not long until they would turn from Him to other gods. The worst part about marrying those who were not of God, was the fact that they might pick up their worship of false gods.

1 Chronicles 5:26 "And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day."

Notice, it is God who brings this punishment on His people for their unfaithfulness. In this particular instance, God uses people who are not followers of God to carry out His mission. We are all God’s creation, and we are all subject to His will. We are not all sons of God, however. We become sons of God, when we accept the Lord as our Saviour. Only believers in God are His children. The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh were on the eastern side of the Jordan. They were some of the fiercest fighters Israel had. They were supposed to protect Israel from attack from the east. We see, when God decided they were to be punished, they seemed to have no power at all. Assyria did not kill them, but took them captive as slaves. They would never be a united Israel again, and come back into the land. They would be scattered forever. The town and the river mentioned were in the area of Padan-aram.

1 Chronicles 5 Questions

1. Who was the firstborn of Israel?

2. What terrible sin did he commit?

3. Who was his birthright given to?

4. Reuben’s mother was _________.

5. Who did Jacob truly love?

6. What tribe would Messiah come through?

7. Who were the two sons of Joseph?

8. How many fighting men did Reuben’s tribe have?

9. Where was Reuben’s inheritance?

10. What does "Joel" mean?

11. What does "Shemaiah" mean?

12. Who took the census?

13. What does "Aroer" mean?

14. What kind of land did Reuben inherit?

15. Who were the Hagarites?

16. Who was Gad’s mother and father?

17. "Gad" means what?

18. Jeroboam was the first king of the ______ ________.

19. Who was Jetur?

20. Who was Nephish?

21. How many camels did they take in battle {mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:21}?

22. Who occupied the land won in this battle?

23. What did they do, that angered God?

24. Who stirred up Pul and Tilgath-pilneser against these Israelites?

25. What happened to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh?

26. Who are the creation of God?

27. How do we become sons of God?

Verses 1-10

1Ch 5:1-10

1 Chronicles 5:1-10

"And the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (for he was the first-born; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s couch, his birthright was given to Joseph the son of Israel; and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the prince; but the birthright was Joseph’s), the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel: Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Joel: Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shemei his son, Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites. And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned: the chief Jeiel, and Zechariah, and Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo, and Baal-meon: and eastward he dwelt even unto the entrance of the wilderness from the river Euphrates, because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead. And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand; and they dwelt in their tents throughout all the land east of Gilead."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Chronicles 5:1. In several preceding chapters and some to follow, the family registers receive attention from the inspired writer. But it has not been done according to the order of birth. The present verse takes up the register of Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. After stating that he was the firstborn, an explanation is injected into the account of why he did not retain his place in the blood line genealogy; that it was because of his sin about his father’s bed. (Genesis 35:22). That sin not only deprived him of this honor, but also of his property rights, which was a part of the advantage of being the firstborn. This inheritance was given to the descendants of Joseph, and by that a prophecy of Jacob was fulfilled. See Genesis 48:22; Deuteronomy 21:17; Joshua 17:14.

2 Chronicles 5:2. Chief ruler refers to Christ, who was from the tribe of Judah. Hence Reuben lost his property rights to Joseph, and the genealogy to Judah.

2 Chronicles 5:3-6. Tilgath-pilneser is the same as Tiglath-pileser who was of Assyria. Beerah was a prince among the descendants of Reuben, and this Assyrian king carried him off into the Assyrian captivity. (2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:7).

2 Chronicles 5:7-8. Beerah had some brethren who were chief men, and they are named in this paragraph.

2 Chronicles 5:9 - This particular man, Bela, took possession of some pasture land as far as the Euphrates River. The reader may ask whether this was justified by the promise to Abraham; Genesis 15:18 shows that it was.

2 Chronicles 5:10. The Hagarites were a people named after Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah. They occupied a territory east of Palestine that is otherwise called Gilead. While Hagar’s son was begotten by Abraham, the inheritance was to come through the son of his wife Sarah. (Genesis 25:5). It was proper, therefore, for these sons of Reuben to take this land, since they were descended from Isaac, the son of Sarah.

Verses 11-17

1Ch 5:11-17

1 Chronicles 5:11-17

"And the sons of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salecah: Joel the chief, and Shapham the second, and Janai, and Shaphat in Bashan. And their brethren of their fathers houses: Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jacan, and Zia, and Eber, seven. These were the sons of Abihail, the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Mishael, the son of Jeshishai the son of Hahdo, the son of Buz; Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of their fathers’ houses. And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in its towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, as far as their borders. All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel."

E.M. Zerr:

1 Chronicles 5:11. Gad was another of the tribes, and had some territory in the same place as that of the descendants of Reuben. The specific spot where they settled may be recognized by the mentioning of Bashan, the place where Og was king at the invasion of the Israelites under Moses.

1 Chronicles 5:12-16. This paragraph specifies some of the men of God who occupied this space formerly held by the king of Bashan.

1 Chronicles 5:17. The names given in the preceding paragraph had been enrolled in the time of Jotham and Jeroboam, rings of the two bodies of Israelites. Their right to some of the inherited and could therefore not be disputed.

Verses 18-22

1Ch 5:18-22

1 Chronicles 5:18-22

"The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilled in war, were forty and four thousand seven hundred and threescore, that were able to go forth to war. And they made war with the Hagrites, with Jetur, and with Naphish, and Nodab. And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them; for they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them, because they put their trust in him. And they took away their cattle; and of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men a hundred thousand. And there fell many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their stead until the captivity."

E.M. Zerr:

1 Chronicles 5:18. The two and a half tribes named here are the same whose request is recorded in Numbers 32. This request was granted, but they were expected to fight for the territory. Their military strength for doing so is described in this paragraph.

1 Chronicles 5:19-22. Some of this territory had been taken by Moses as the children of Israel were coming from Egypt. (Numbers 21:35; Numbers 32:33). While it was given to them, there was some resistance from part of the natives and they had to be fought. But God was with his people and caused the battle to be a success. They obtained the territory and kept it until the Assyrian captivity.

Verses 23-24

1Ch 5:23-24

1 Chronicles 5:23-24

"And the children of the half-tribe of Manesseh dwelt in the land: they increased from Bashan unto Baal-hermon and Senir and mount Hermon. And these were the heads of their fathers’ houses: even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valor, famous men, heads of their fathers’ houses."

E.M. Zerr:

1 Chronicles 5:23-24. The two and one half tribes are usually mentioned as one unit. But in the matter of settling the inheritance, the half tribe maintained its tribal distinction and occupied the land in its proper place.

Verses 25-26

1Ch 5:25-26

1 Chronicles 5:25-26

"And they trespassed against the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God destroyed before them. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and to the river Gozan, unto this day."

"Of him came the prince" (1 Chronicles 5:2). Despite the fact of the double portion, normally the right of the first-born, having been transferred to Joseph, "The Chronicler thought that the birthright of Joseph was nullified by the apostasy of North Israel," and that the blessing of the leadership of God’s people was transferred to Judah.

"Pul, and Tilgath-pilneser" (1 Chronicles 5:6; 1 Chronicles 5:26). The name of this ruler is given as Tiglath-pileser in 2 Kings 15:29. The variation in name could have come about by different pronunciations in diverse languages, or by difficulties some copyist might have found in copying it! If the latter had anything to do with it, this writer can identify with the problem; because copying all of these names has been indeed a painstaking and difficult assignment! "Pul and Tilgath-pilneser are the same man, Pul being his personal name which he retained as king of Babylon, and Tiglath-pileser his throne name as king of Assyria."

"The Hagrites" (1 Chronicles 5:10). "These were the same as the Arabs."[3]

"Jeroboam" (1 Chronicles 5:17). "This was Jeroboam II."

1 Chronicles 5:18-22 record an important victory over their enemies by the trans-Jordanic tribes, no record of which is found elsewhere in the Bible. This should warn us against assuming that the Bible records any such thing as a complete history of God’s people. "There may be many other gaps in Samuel and Kings which Chronicles does not fill."

Many of the events mentioned in this chapter are recorded in Genesis 25; Genesis 35; and Genesis 49; Exodus 6; Joshua 22:11, and in Numbers 1:20; Numbers 26:5. See our comments under those references in our commentaries.

"The king of Assyria ... carried them away" (1 Chronicles 5:26). This was the captivity of the tribes of Israel which inhabited the country east of Jordan. `It took place eleven years prior to the fall of Samaria (722 B.C.), that is, in 733 BC."

E.M. Zerr:

1 Chronicles 5:25-26. The inspired writer goes onward many generations to the overthrow of these tribes of Israel. The reason for their downfall is given to be the sin of idolatry. The very thing for which God enabled his people to drive out those nations, became the popular sin of them, so that he saw fit to punish them by a national downfall. This has already been mentioned in this chapter (1 Chronicles 5:6), and the original history of it is recorded in 2 Kings 15.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Chronicles 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-chronicles-5.html.
 
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