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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 2

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-55

CRITICAL NOTES.] The sons of Israel. Names more numerous than Genesis, without regard to order. Greater interest by filling up former accounts.

1 Chronicles 2:3-12.—Posterity of Judah. 1 Chronicles 2:1-2, sons of Leah first; sons of Rachel between Dan and Naphtali (cf. Genesis 29-35). 1 Chronicles 2:3-8, Judah first, pre-eminent (Genesis 49:8), and descendants given to third generation. 1 Chronicles 2:3-4, abridged from Genesis 38:0, and 1 Chronicles 2:5 found in Genesis 46:0. 1 Chronicles 2:6-8, descendants of Zerah, Zimri, Zabdi in Joshua 7:1; the other four given 1 Kings 4:31; called “sons of Mahol,” or “sons of music.” Achar (Achan, Joshua 7:1), “troubler.” 1 Chronicles 2:10, Ram, first as ancestor of David. Line given in Ruth 4:18-22. “The five names from Salma to David cover a period of at least 450 years from the Exodus to the birth of Solomon.”

1 Chronicles 2:13-15.—Sons of Jesse. Three eldest (1 Samuel 16:6-9); next three here only. Some think Raddai is Rei (1 Kings 1:8).

1 Chronicles 2:18-20.—In remainder of this ch. the writer obtains scarcely any assistance from the earlier Scriptures, and must have drawn almost entirely from genealogical sources, accessible to him, which have since perished (Speak. Com.). Caleb, son of H. (1 Chronicles 2:18), to distinguish him from other Calebs in ch. Hur, companion of Aaron (Genesis 17:12). Bezaleel, famous artificer (Exodus 31:2).

1 Chronicles 2:21-24.—Resumed reference to Hezron. Jair, son of Manasseh (Numbers 32:41), belonged to Judah by father’s side, yet attached himself to the house of Machir. His wife an heiress, and her inheritance was to follow her tribe (cf. Numbers 27, 36), cf. Murphy. He pushed his conquests far and wide (Deuteronomy 3:14).

1 Chronicles 2:25-41.—A second interruption in account of Caleb’s posterity. Descendants of Jerahmeel, 1 Chronicles 2:25-27. 1 Chronicles 2:28-33, sons of Onan to seventh generation in line of Shammai, to fourth in Jada.

1 Chronicles 2:42-49.—Offspring of Caleb resumed, probably of Jerioth, a different mother, 1 Chronicles 2:18. Two concubines of Caleb introduced, 1 Chronicles 2:46-49. Ephah’s sons unknown. Second concubine mother of four or five sons and a daughter.

1 Chronicles 2:50-55.—A little difficulty in these verses. Some maintain only one Caleb, and others that there were several (cf. Speak. Com.). 1 Chronicles 2:55, scribes, civil or ecclesiastical officers of Kenite origin, classed with Judah, not as descendants, but dwelling in its territory, intermixed through kindly feeling and incorporated with them (Exodus 18:10-19; Numbers 10:29-32; 1 Samuel 15:6). Rechab, 1 Chronicles 2:55, father or progenitor of the Rechabites who retained to late date nomadic habits of Kenite ancestors (cf. Jeremiah 35:10; 2 Kings 10:15).


THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS.—1 Chronicles 2:1-2

This is a most important register of Israel, who should dwell alone and not be reckoned among nations. Notice—

I. The six sons of Leah—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon (Genesis 29:32-35). Learn—

1. God’s grace in Leah’s fruitfulness. Leah loved less than Rachel (Deuteronomy 21:15). God works above human thoughts, neither to compensate Leah for lack of Jacob’s love, nor to punish Jacob for sinful partiality; but to manifest sovereign power, to teach that children are a heritage from him, and to indicate his purpose in fixing the line of promise, not by the fruit of nature, but the gift of grace.

2. Leah’s gratitude expressed in names of her sons—Reuben, behold a son; Simeon, hearing; Levi, joined; Judah, praise. “God hath endued me with a good dowry” (Genesis 30:20).

II. The two sons of Rachel—Joseph and Benjamin.

1. In Joseph renewed faith; reproach taken away, an expression of spiritual life and dependence, not on human device (mandrakes), but on God for offspring and help.

2. In Joseph revived hope. “He shall add” another son (Genesis 30:24). Grateful for one, she expects God will give another. Experience of divine faithfulness a great help in looking to the future. “Experience (worketh) hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.” The wish was realised, but she died in Benjamin’s birth. The fulfilment of our wishes may be dangerous and fatal.

A FAMILY HISTORY.—1 Chronicles 2:3-12

In this record of Judah, as in all families, a record bright and cheering, dark and disgraceful.

I. A record of family shame. Some were wicked, guilty of abominable crimes.

1. Sin ending with untimely death. Er’s wickedness great, a special sin in Israel’s descendants, a defiance of God and his word to make them a numerous nation. Onan refused to raise up children in his brother’s name. An indication of his envious disposition and vile pollution of body. Both displeased the Lord, and were cut off by untimely death. Many, it is feared, act in the same way—dishonour body and destroy soul (Genesis 38:8-10).

2. Sin connected with shame. Tamar guilty of incest (Genesis 38:16-18).

3. Sin bringing trouble. “Achar the troubler of Israel.” “He transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and wrought folly (trouble) in Israel” (Joshua 7:15). In Israel, in the Church, and among the people of God, with God’s presence to provide for them and protect them! guilty of theft, sacrilege, and invading the rights of God, by converting for private use what is designed for his glory. Achan, branded with disgrace, a monument of judgment, and a perpetual warning. These sins were early, unnatural, and grievous. Yet Thamar received a place in the Toledoth of Christ (Matthew 1:3), and the “valley of Achor” becomes “a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15).

II. A record of family honour. The potentiality of families great. Children become saints or scourges, joys or sorrows.

1. Some greatly distinguished in position. Ram, an ancestor of David (Ruth 4:18-22); Nahshon, a prince in Judah, and led the van during encampment of Israel in wilderness; Salma was in post of honour when they entered Canaan.

2. Others excelled in mental qualities. Varied gifts of body and mind in members of the same family. (a) Eminent in wisdom—Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara, the glory of their father’s house. For when Scripture magnifies the wisdom of Solomon, he is declared to be wiser than these four men (1 Kings 4:30). When Joseph was in authority they dwelt in Egypt, cultivated natural talents, distinguished for social wisdom and fine arts, and became eminent among the sons of Egypt and the East. (b) Skilled in music. The family of Zerah, or Ezrah, said to be sons of Machol, or the choir (1 Chronicles 15:17-19). Psalms 88:0 is ascribed to Heman the Ezrahite, and Psalms 89:0 to Ethan the Ezrahite. Hence they were choristers, skilled in music and its kindred arts—poetry, singing, and dancing. These qualities cultivated in tribe of Judah, and attained highest lustre in David and Solomon. Thus families have their sunshine and their shame, their glory and decline, their troublers and comforters. Secure your name in the record of heaven, that when the page of history fades, your title may never expire.


1 Chronicles 2:1. Pre-eminence. Reuben, natural firstborn; Levi, legal firstborn; Judah, Messianic firstborn. “The names of Jacob’s sons a type of human weakness and divine salvation in his house” [Lange].

1 Chronicles 2:3. Er and Onan. One acted “wicked in the sight of the Lord,” another “displeased the Lord.” Both the same in perverting a natural ordinance, militating against purity and development of the theocratic family, and deserving Divine reprobation.

1 Chronicles 2:4. Tamar. Guilty of temptation, practised deception, and committed incest. These events in Judah’s family display the goodness and severity of God, illustrative of grace and judgment. “Why did God and the Holy Ghost permit these shameful things to be written? Answer:

1. That no one should be self-righteous.
2. That none should despair on account of sin.
3. To remind us that Gentiles, by natural right, are mother, brothers, sisters of our Lord” [Luther, in Lange, Genesis 28:0].

1 Chronicles 2:6. Sons of Zerah. A famous choir. Influence of music in the family and the Christian Church. “The music of the spheres” [Shakespeare].

1 Chronicles 2:7. Achor, the transgressor and troubler. The connection of sin with trouble. Trouble leadeth to discovery of sin. Sin ending in death of individuals and punishment of community. “That man perished not alone in his iniquity” (Joshua 22:20).


THE FAMILY OF JESSE.—1 Chronicles 2:13-15

“A special account kept of this family for the sake of David and the Son of David, a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).” Several principles illustrated in history of this family.

I. The mistakes of human judgment. A family of imposing persons—Eliab, majestic in appearance; Abinadab and Shammah, great in physical power and brave in battle (1 Samuel 17:13). “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” No! look not on the beauty of countenance and the height of stature, &c.

II. The law of divine choice. David chosen. Weak things to confound mighty; cripples to overcome giants, and shepherds to rule men. Unlikely men to the front. God takes out of range of appearances, pays no regard to human prejudice. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Learn that human judgment is not infallible. God’s choice is best; submit to it, and seek its proof in its spiritual gifts and results.

THE DESCENDANTS OF CALEB.—1 Chronicles 2:18-24; 1 Chronicles 2:42-49

In the list we find—

I. Persons of note. Hur, the companion of Aaron, who rendered help to Moses and to Israel on the mount (Exodus 17:10); Bezaleel, the famous artificer of the Tabernacle, grandson of Hur (Exodus 31:2); Jair, the taker of cities, to which he gave his name (Numbers 32:41): threescore cities (towns or livings) fell before his valour (Joshua 13:30). Hezron himself was eminent, one of the seventy that went down to Egypt with Jacob (Genesis 46:12).

II. Illustrative incidents. Events displaying God in history and God in the family.

1. In human families. One childless (1 Chronicles 2:30); another no sons (1 Chronicles 2:34). Intermarriage in 1 Chronicles 2:34-35. Perhaps the Egyptian was upright and wise, and became a proselyte to the Jewish religion.

2. In human history. Ephrath (1 Chronicles 2:19), named after her who gave the name to the town Ephrath, which is Jerusalem. “We begin here to learn the interesting and unexpected fact that the intercourse of Israel with the localities in Palestine, where their ancestors had acquired property, was kept up so long as they were a free and honoured people” [Murphy]. Machir is called “father of Gilead” (1 Chronicles 2:21), who was born before death of Joseph (Genesis 50:23). “Gilead, memorable in history of Jacob and the scene transacted there remembered by Joseph, an observant youth at the time of the parting covenant between Laban and Jacob. If Jacob established any title to the mount at that time, this would be an additional reason for calling a son of Machir after this celebrated spot” [Murphy]. Thus we learn that God can make the obscurest eminent, and smallest service memorable. He presides over the destinies of families and the relationships of life. We can trace Divine impress upon records of history.


Since Hur was the son, not the father, of Caleb, a difficulty presented here. Best way to read “sons” for “son” before the word Hur. All difficulty will disappear, and we shall have the sense. “These (the list in 1 Chronicles 2:42-49) were the sons of Caleb. The sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah, were Shobal … Salma … Hareph.” The clause “these were the sons of Caleb” corresponds exactly to that which concludes the genealogy of Jerahmeel (1 Chronicles 2:32), and properly belongs to what has gone before, not to what follows [Speak. Com.]. In the list we discover—

I. The company of colonisers. Fathers, first settlers of places. Shobal, Salma, Hareph; the four families mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:53, who left parents and residence (Kirjath-jearim) to colonise towns and villages in neighbourhood from which sprang Zorah and Eshtaol.

II. The family of scribes (1 Chronicles 2:55). A trio of civil or ecclesiastical officers, the heads of whom were Tirah, Shimea, and Suchah, of Kenite origin, dwelling in Judah, but distinguished from another Kenite clan which dwelt in Mannasseh (Judges 4:11).

III. The famous Rechabites (1 Chronicles 2:55). Not only famous for nomadic habits of their ancestors (2 Kings 10:15), but for honourable connection with the ancient Abrahamic tribe of the Kenites to which the father-in-law of Moses belonged (Judges 1:16; 1 Samuel 15:6; 1 Samuel 27:10). Their descendants were men of character and influence, and highly commended by God (Jeremiah 35:18-19).


1 Chronicles 2:13-15. The story of Boaz. Prominent in the Book of Ruth. The character of Jesse, as indicated by the incident of the text.

1 Chronicles 2:19. Bezaleel, art consecrated to God. Jair, prowess and valour employed in advancing the cause of God.

1 Chronicles 2:24. Hezron was dead. A suggestive hint, a solemn reminder, in pursuits of life and conquests of nations that earthly possessions cannot be kept.

“And that small model of the barren earth,
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones” [Shakespeare].

“Nothing can we call our own, but Death.”

1 Chronicles 2:55. Scribes. A class devoted to exposition of law, instruction of the nation, and preservation of its records

1. A noble calling. To study and expound sacred books, intone society, and spread the will of God.

2. A family calling. “The families of the scribes.” Hereditary pursuits in all communities. Advantageous to fix traditions and habits in persons, to pursue studies in cities, colleges, and schools.

3. A needful calling. The revelation of God, written and printed, requires study, application, and circulation. A literary profession useful to society; a learned ministry the want of the times. “Writing is now the mightiest instrument on earth” [Channing]. “The families of the scribes. These were the public notaries, or, as some think, text-men, who took the literal interpretation, as distinct from Wise, that is, teachers of traditions, and from Disputers, that is, teachers of allegories and mysteries (see 1 Corinthians 1:20; Jeremiah 8:9; Ezra 7:6). The first were the best of the three, and of these were the Rechabites, who being Shuchathites, that is, dwellers in tents, might dwell where they pleased, and now dwelt at Jabez, a place which seemeth to have its name from that good Jabez of Judah, who prayed so hard (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:10), having haply the help of these holy Kenites, the posterity of Jethro (see Judges 1:16).” [Trapp].

1 Chronicles 2:18-55. I. What multitudes unknown! Men with names and nothing more. They live, die, and are buried in oblivion! So we think. But what do we know of history? Best men, quiet service, and patient endurance gain no record. II. But men unknown and most obscure may be honoured. “Nobodies” become “notabilities,” and through divine grace introduce Christ to man and bless the world. “There will be a resurrection of names some day,” says Ruskin.

“Whose silent prayers and labours Heaven employs
To do the good, whilst others make the noise” [Jane Taylor].


1 Chronicles 2:1-13. Sons of Israel, sons of Judah, &c. “The child is truly and literally ‘the heir of all the ages.’ The past, with all its legacies, has existed for it, just as all the future will be its own. To whatsoever heights of human excellence it may rise, or to whatsoever depths of human degradation it may sink, the child is now an element in the sum of human life; a new unit in the aggregate of mankind. It is therefore worthy both of study and reverence. Did we but form an adequate conception of the dignity and also the marvellousness of human existence, the oldest man might well stand bareheaded and thoughtful in the presence of a babe” [Anon.]. (Luther’s schoolmaster taking his hat off to his pupils.)

1 Chronicles 2:19; 1 Chronicles 2:24. Was dead.

“How he marks his way

With dreadful waste of what deserves to shine!
Art, genius, fortune, elevated power!
With various lustres these light up the world,
Which Death puts out, and darkens human race” [Young].

1 Chronicles 2:18-55. Live for something. Do good and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storms of time can never destroy. Write your name by kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never be forgotten. No, your name, your deeds will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind as the stars on the brow of evening. They shall shine as brightly on earth as stars of heaven [Dr. Chalmers].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-chronicles-2.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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