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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 1

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-54

CRITICAL NOTES.] The writer gives no explanation or introduction, presumes upon the knowledge of the reader, and simply enumerates names from Creation to the Flood, contained in Genesis 5:0. The Deluge, 1,656 years from the creation of Adam.

1 Chronicles 1:1-4.—These names embrace Genesis 1-9, which the reader is presumed to know. This furnishes a principle of interpretation to other parts of the book. The Hebrew pointing will often account for the orthography of the names.

1 Chronicles 1:5-7.—List of sons and grandsons of Japheth (cf. Genesis 10:0. Noah’s sons in order of Genesis 10:1). Beginning with Japheth, youngest, to dispose of what is not exactly required, the writer gives seven sons—three through Gomer, the eldest son, and four through Javan, the fourth son.

1 Chronicles 1:8-16.—Descendants of Ham, sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons. Four sons of Ham; six grandsons, including Nimrod, through Cush, the eldest son of Ham; seven grandsons through Mizraim, second son of Ham; two great-grandsons through Raamah, Cush’s fourth son; 30 altogether.

1 Chronicles 1:17-27.—Shem’s descendants to Abraham. A pause half way at the name of Peleg, 1 Chronicles 1:19, to mention Joktan, his brother, and then Joktan’s thirteen sons, 1 Chronicles 1:20-23. Then repeating the first five names of lineal descent, and picking up the thread at Peleg, the remaining five to Abraham are given—Genesis 11-17—given as briefly as possible. Abraham the tenth from Noah, and twentieth from Adam.

1 Chronicles 1:28-33.—The collaterals of Isaac. This reaches from Genesis 16-25. Isaac put first as child of promise, though born fourteen years after Ishmael (Genesis 17:25; Genesis 21:5). So Shem put first, though second son. This must be kept in mind in examination of lists. From call of Abraham to birth of Isaac, thirty years. 1 Chronicles 1:29-31 taken from Genesis 25:12-16. Their generations, a new starting-point, modified from Genesis 25:12, to include Isaac as well as Ishmael. 1 Chronicles 1:32-33 abridged from Genesis 25:1-4. The sons of Dedan omitted (Murphy).

1 Chronicles 1:34-37.—Descendants of Esau (cf. Genesis 36:10-14). Timna, 1 Chronicles 1:36, seems to have been concubine of Eliphaz and Amalek, another son by her. 1 Chronicles 1:37, four grandsons of Esau by Reuel.

1 Chronicles 1:38-42.—Descendants of Seir. Seir probably a Shemite, though his relation is unrecorded (cf. Murphy). Twenty-seven names given agree with Genesis 36:20-27, except for Homam, Alian, Shephi, Amram, and Jakan we have Hemam, Alvan, Shepho, Hemdan, and Akan.

1 Chronicles 1:43-50.—The Kings of Edom (cf. Genesis 36:31-43). Before any king, before Israel had any civil government, or became a nation with a king. There are eight names, the parentage or the land of each given.

1 Chronicles 1:51-54.—The Dukes of Edom. Eleven given. Some think a list of places, not of persons, compared with Genesis 36:15; Genesis 36:41; Genesis 36:43. This ch. contains genealogies which embrace about 2,300 years. Not a remark given apparently, moral, religious, or didactic. It connects Israel with Adam, and retraces the pedigree of men to its original source.



Names are potent things, represent mighty factors, sustaining forces in life, and important periods in history. We are apt to think genealogies are dry, and names of no significance, but Scripture nomenclature reads a different lesson. How suggestive the names in 1 Chronicles 1:11

I. The creation of man. Adam first and representative of the race. The historic man, apparently no “prehistoric man.” The creation of man a decree and last work of God, the crowning point of all. In man, and through man, nature finds its purpose and transformation.

II. The inspiration of hope. Seth means fixed, settled, or compensation. He came in the place of Abel taken away. At birth of Cain, Eve hasty in joy (I have gotten the man); in Abel (vanity, perishable) desponding; in Seth confident. Divine power compensated for what human cruelty took away, inspired hope of permanent blessing. God can wonderfully comfort. If one gone, He can give another. He can strengthen, establish, and perpetuate the family and the Church, so that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”

III. The beginning of public worship. Enos designates weakness, human frailty, a sorrowful remembrance of Abel (Psalms 8:5; Psalms 90:3). How soon are hopes dashed! But God becomes great when we feel small. “Then began men to call upon (proclaim, announce) Jehovah” (Genesis 4:26). A new line of promise in Enoch (Enos) after line of Cain had lost it. Hope finds expression in formal worship. The Sethites merge into a community, outline a church, and publicly honour Jehovah. In a new race and a believing generation God’s name ever presented with higher glory and greater attractions.

SOLEMN VIEWS OF HUMAN LIFE.—1 Chronicles 1:1-4

I. The beginning of human life. In Adam a distinct beginning of humanity on earth, not as a physical act merely or completion of physical progress. It happened in the supernatural and spiritual. “Not merely formation, animation, but direct, divine inspiration” (Genesis 2:7) [Tayler Lewis]. From the first man spring all the race. History and science cannot present the contrary. “The first man was made a living soul.”

II. The length of human life. Before the Flood men long-lived (cf. Genesis 5:0). Accounted for

1. By natural causes. Habits simple, food nutritious, and climate healthy.

2. By providential design. To establish institutions, people the earth, and propagate truth.

III. The corruption of human life. The Cainites ungodly—first civilisation worldly, art and culture misused, polygamy prevails, races intermix, unbelief and Titanic pride corrupt the race. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

IV. The destruction of human life. Evil contagious, rapidly spread and deteriorated the race. They were flesh, wholly carnal or animal. “He also is flesh” (Genesis 6:3). In wanton deeds, divine warnings despised, the Holy Spirit grieved. The world ripe for judgment. God repented, that is, changed his procedure, not his purpose, concerning man (Genesis 6:7-8). The Flood swept “every living thing from off the earth.”

V. The deliverance of human life. A few were saved (1 Peter 3:20). Noah and his family preserved, and were progenitors of a redeemed race. God held human life sacred, bound himself by signs never more to destroy it by flood. Noah, the last of Sethic race and first in the line of Shem, a second ancestor of the human family. Man rises to a higher place in the world. As a believer he is saved from general wreck, inherits a new earth purged from sin, and becomes heir of a righteousness by faith.


Glancing at these names, what an insight into human life, human activity and circumstances!

I. The unity of the race. The race not merely represented but comprehended in Adam. “Made of one (blood) all nations of men” (Acts 17:26). Mankind not “a living sand-heap,” without generic connection. The Bible sees in Adam “the power of a single life—men one before they became many; and as many, still one.” One natural “fatherhood,” and one “common brotherhood” in him. “One touch of nature makes the world kin.”

II. The progress of the race. Every movement implies beginning, progress, and consummation. This makes history.

1. In knowledge. Not from barbarism at first, but from supernatural light shining directly or indirectly on human steps.

2. In arts. Lamech’s three sons authors of inventions (Genesis 4:20-23). Culture and science as old as humanity. Barbarism and brutality result from corrupt civilisation.

3. In civil government. Cities built, states founded, kingdoms formed, titles given, and rulers chosen.

4. In population. Beginning from a single pair, in seven generations the human family attained considerable increase. “If Abraham’s stock, in less than 400 years, amounted to 600,000, Cain’s posterity, in the like time, might arise to the like multitude” [Willet]. It should remind of the reality and power of God’s blessing (Genesis 1:28).

5. In religion. Abel’s piety revived in the godly Sethites. “While the family of Cainites, by the erection of a city and the invention and development of worldly arts and business, were laying the foundation for the kingdom of this world, the family of the Sethites began, by united invocation of the name of the God of grace, to found and erect the kingdom of God” [Delitzsch]. Separation from ungodly associates needful. This, with social worship, checks declension and secures advancement.

III. The declension of the race. Before the Flood, licentiousness and violence, pride and self-gratification. This

1. Seen in sinful works. Nothing wrong to build cities, handle harps, and cultivate poetry and music. These intended for the benefit of men, and should be consecrated to the service of God. But sadly misapplied when they lead to pride and forgetfulness of God.

2. Seen in ungodly lives. Cain, the murderer; Lamech, the polygamist; Nimrod, the powerful tyrant (Genesis 10:8). “The earth was filled with violence.”

3. Seen in significant names. Qualities, principles, and characteristics seen in names of Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Lamech, &c. (Genesis 4:23-26). Adah and Zillah indicative of sensual attractions. Learn the danger of intellect and civilisation separated from religion, the downward progress of sin, and the necessity, in these days of science and mechanical invention, of steadfastly fearing God and maintaining public worship.

“Grieved at his heart when, looking down, he saw
The whole earth filled with violence” [Milton].

POSTERITY OF NOAH’S SONS.—1 Chronicles 1:5-23

I. The enemies of the Church. 1. Sons of Japhet (1 Chronicles 1:5-7 and Genesis 10:2-5). Trace the wide world-wandering, in which future generations disappear from the theocratic line.

2. Sons of Ham (1 Chronicles 1:8-16). Hamite culture early, corrupt and mixed with Cainite elements.

II. Allies of the Church (1 Chronicles 1:17-23). In the line of Shem we have the gravitation of humanity to its centre, the gradual preparation for the calling of Abraham, and for the Messianic descent. Shem’s history, the last in the world, first in the kingdom of God.

THE MIGHTY HUNTER.—1 Chronicles 1:10

In the formal register of Genesis 10:8-12, a brief account of an individual inserted. A fact of importance, because it concerned the Hebrews to know that though their own ancestors came from the region where Nimrod played so conspicuous a part, the great kingdom, afterwards known as Babylon, was of Cushite, not of Semitic origin [Dr. Dods].

1. His descent. Cush begat Nimrod. He is put back before the time of Abraham and assigned to the Ethiopian race.

2. His occupation. “He was a mighty hunter.” Hunting of ravenous beasts a benevolent act for the human race. Powerful huntsmen pioneers of civilisation, as in the myth of Hercules. Nimrod, successful, became a great man, conqueror, and ruler.

3. His extensive empire (Genesis 10:10-12). As a mighty hunter, he founded a powerful kingdom. The founding of the kingdom is shown to have been the consequence or result of his strength in hunting, so that the hunting was most intimately connected with the establishment of the kingdom. Figuratively, he was “a hunter of men” (“a trapper of men by stratagem and force,” Herder), and became a tyrant and oppressor of liberty (cf. Keil, Genesis 10:9).

4. His great fame. Recognised as mighty; became a proverb, “It is said,” &c. Expression before the Lord added as if God himself must take note of his skill. Some think that blame is intended, that his notoriety for boldness and wickedness is expressed; something so bad that God could not take his eyes from it. Learn the responsibility of power. Check the tendency to do homage to greatness which takes the form of “hero-worship.” Wisely use and not abuse the endowments entrusted to your care.

“O execrable son, so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority usurped, from God not given” [Milton].


Genealogies and their use.

1. In helping Jews to identify their tribes. After return from captivity, all confusion. In prospect of future, needful to revise and reconstruct.
2. In illustrating Jewish History. Here and there names of great importance, and significant of solemn crises of history.
3. In tracing the descent of the Messiah.

1 Chronicles 1:1; 1 Chronicles 1:4; 1 Chronicles 1:28. Three covenants—Adam, Noah, and Abraham. Double names—Abraham, the natural and spiritual name; Jacob, supplanter and prince.

1 Chronicles 1:10. Nimrod’s threefold position.

1. As the pioneer of civilisation;
2. As oppressor of patriarchal liberties;
3. As the instrument of God for the development of the world [Lange].

1 Chronicles 1:19. Peleg, or Division of the earth. Its time, method, design, and commemoration (Genesis 10:25).

1 Chronicles 1:24-27 (Genesis 11:0). Other nations shaken off—line from Shem to Abraham given here.

1. Ishmaelites (1 Chronicles 1:29-31): 12 sons = 12 princes (Genesis 17:20).

2. Midianites, children of Keturah (1 Chronicles 1:32-33).

3. Edomites (1 Chronicles 1:36-54, cf. Genesis 36:0): (a) Kings of Edom (1 Chronicles 1:43-50); (b) Dukes of Edom (1 Chronicles 1:51-54).

1 Chronicles 1:47. Hadad dead (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:43). Notice

1. Changes in earthly governments—“reigned and died.”
2. Uncertainty of human life: (a) In life’s circumstances, “reigned”; (b) In life’s end, “died.”

1 Chronicles 1:1-54. In list we find:

1. Progenitors of a new race.
2. Founders of great nations. Napoleon vowed that he would found a family, though not himself, of great lineage. Many famous men: Adam, the first man; Methuselah, the oldest; Lamech, polygamist, musician, and poet; Enoch, Noah, Nimrod, Abraham, &c. Great events: Creation of man; invention of arts; translation of Enoch; flood of Noah; call of Abraham, &c. Suggested subjects: “The Antiquity of Man”; The Origin of Civilisation; The Division of Nations; The Unity of the Race; The Foundation of the Israelitish People.

“For human weal, Heaven husbands all events” [Young].


1 Chronicles 1:1. These chronicles have a mission. As no star was useless in the heavens, and as every atom has been created for a purpose, so God would not devote these chapters to a pedigree without design. The end is Christ.

1 Chronicles 1:1. Adam. Every human being is a volume worthy to be studied, and I thank God that my own lot is bound up with that of the human race [Channing]. No man can think too highly of his nature, or too meanly of himself [Young].

1 Chronicles 1:5-18. Threefold division of nations according to the names Japheth, Ham, and Shem. For part played by the several races in civilisation, cf. Fairbairn’s Studies in Phil. of Religion, and Noah’s prophecy (Genesis 9:25-27). “All these sons, the white posterity of Japheth, the yellow and dark sons of Ham, however they may live in temporal separation, are all still God’s children, and brothers to one another.”

1 Chronicles 1:27. Abram. The tenth from Noah, and the twentieth from Adam. The letter H, which was added to the original name of the patriarch, occurs twice in the sacred name of Jehovah. It was added, also, to the name of Sarai. The addition in each case seems to mark a new and closer relation to God. “And I will write upon him the name of my God” [J.H. Blunt] (Genesis 17:5). The sacramental character of a name consists in its divine appointment to represent and commemorate and testify some special grace and blessing, and so to be a permanent pledge of its bestowal. Wilkinson, Personal Names, &c.

1 Chronicles 1:44-45. Bela dead, Jobab reigned in his stead. A great hand is sometimes laid even on the fly-wheel of life’s engine [George Macdonald].

“What exhibitions various hath the world
Witness’d of mutability in all
That we account most durable below!
Change is the diet on which all subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last destroys them” [Cowper].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-chronicles-1.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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