Click here to learn more!
1 Chronicles 7:1
The great tribes of Judah and Levi being now passed, as well as the minor ones of Simeon, Reuben, and Gad, we reach the sons of Issachar. Issachar was Jacob's fifth son by Leah (Genesis 35:23). In the list of Genesis 46:13 our Puah (פוּאָח) appears differently spelt as Phuvah (פֻוָּח), and Jashub is found as Job, which is corrected by the Samaritan Codex to Jashub, and this reading the Septuagint follows. In the other parallel passage (Numbers 26:23) the Phuvah form obtains, but the other names are the same as here. Tola. We read (Judges 10:1, Judges 10:2) of another person of this name, who judged Israel twenty-three years, at Shamir, in Mount Ephraim, and who is called "the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar." This is a good instance of how the use of the same names, though in different order, clung to a tribe or family through long periods.
1 Chronicles 7:2
The six sons of Tola given here are stated to be the six heads of the house at the time of the census of David (2 Samuel 24:1-10.24.17). The verse further states that the Tolaites had grown to number at that time twenty-two thousand six hundred, and as this fact is not stated elsewhere, it is pretty clear proof that the compiler had other sources of information in addition to those possessed by us.
1 Chronicles 7:3
Five. The name of Izrahiah's sons count up only four; but if, with four of Kennicott's manuscripts, the words, and the sons of Izrahiah, should be omitted, the five will count right for sons of Uzzi, and the little clause beginning this verse will correspond exactly with that beginning 1 Chronicles 7:2. The Syriac, however, does not omit "and the sons of Izrahiah;" but alters the numeral "five" to "four."
1 Chronicles 7:4, 1 Chronicles 7:5
The meaning of these verses, especially of the former of them, is not quite evident. This seems to say that as the Tolaites were in David's time twenty-two thousand six hundred, so the Uzzites taken from among them numbered thirty-six thousand additional. But were not the Uzzites included in the Tolaites? and did not the figure thirty-six thousand embrace the accumulated numbers, whilst the balance of fifty-one thousand necessary to make up the eighty-seven thousand of 1 Chronicles 7:5, was drawn from all the other branches of the Issachar tribe? This is not the view, however, generally taken, and if the numbers of 1 Chronicles 7:2 and 1 Chronicles 7:4 are distinct, the balance needful for 1 Chronicles 7:5 will, of course, be twenty-eight thousand four hundred. It cannot be denied that this view is favoured by the special description applied to these Uzzites, or Izrahiahites, as bands of soldiers for war; their disposition and their training constituting possibly the reason of their being singled out for further description from among the sons of Tola. The statement of the total number of the tribe of Issachar in David's time is wonderfully corroborated by the two censuses of Moses —Numbers 1:28, Numbers 1:29, fifty-four thousand four hundred; and Numbers 26:23-4.26.25, sixty-four thousand three hundred. The total of Issachar, four score and seven thousand, is a good proportion of the aggregate total of all the tribes, given (2 Samuel 24:8, 2 Samuel 24:9) as eight hundred thousand. Grove, however, adds all the above numbers, and makes thereby Issachar's total one hundred and forty-five thousand six hundred, which seems disfavoured by the numbers at the second census of Moses. At the time of this census Issachar came third of all the tribes, only Judah and Dan taking precedence. The bands of soldiers for war. This expression culminates in the word (גְדוּדִים) "bands," which is applied (Genesis 49:19) to Gad, and almost invariably to the irregular but special bodies of fighting men of the nations round (Authorized Version, 1 Chronicles 12:23 is incorrect, the Hebrew word being different). The examples are too numerous to quote, but some of the more important instances are 2 Kings 6:23; 2Ki 13:20; 2 Kings 24:2; Hosea 6:9; Hosea 7:1.
1 Chronicles 7:6
The sons of Benjamin; Bela, and Becher, and Jediael, three. We have four passages for our authorities as to the sons of Benjamin, and it is not altogether easy to bring them into verbal harmony. They are Genesis 46:21; Numbers 26:38-4.26.41; the present passage; and Numbers 8:1-4.8.26. Our present passage mentions three sons, as though they were all, and immediately proceeds to their posterity. The list in Genesis mentions ten, of whom, however, we know (Numbers 26:40; 1 Chronicles 8:3, 1 Chronicles 8:4) that three, Naaman, Ard, and Gem, were grandsons, being sons of Bela, under which circumstances the order in which the two former stand in Genesis is remarkable. Again, while Becher is given as the second son in both Genesis and our present place, he is not mentioned in Numbers 26:38-4.26.41 and in 1 Chronicles 8:1. Ashbel, who in Genesis is given as the third, is expressly called the second son. Among the Ephraimites, however (Numbers 26:35), a Becher, with his descendants the Bachrites, is mentioned, and it is not improbable that, by marriage, the family were at that time, for manifest reasons of inheritance and possession, reckoned in this tribe, though by blood of the tribe of Benjamin. This subject is skilfully discussed by Lord A. C. Hervey (Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:175). Lastly, Jediael of this passage and verse 10 is not found in Genesis, in Numbers, or in our Numbers 8:1-4.8.26. This name seems to have superseded in our passage the name Ashbel in Genesis, though it is impossible to speak certainly. It cannot be supposed to designate the same person, but rather a descendant in the same branch, whose family had come to importance "in the days of David."
1 Chronicles 7:7
And the sons of Bela. The first and last of the five (descendants or heads of families) here given, viz. Ezbon and Iri, are not found in previous places among Benjamite families, but are found (Genesis 46:16; Numbers 26:16) among Gadite families. It would seem that by David's time they had become in some aspects ranked among the Benjamites, though not originally of them.
1 Chronicles 7:8
Joash. This name, of which nothing else is known, is spelt with an ayin, not with an aleph, as are the names of the seven other persons called (Authorized Version) Joash. Jerimoth. This name is spelt with a tsere, and not, as the Jerimoth of 1 Chronicles 7:7, with khirik. All the names of this verse must be regarded as those of heads of families, and not the literal sons of Becher.
1 Chronicles 7:10
Bilhan; Jeush. Both of these, us well as the name Bela, are of Edomitish origin (Genesis 36:5, Genesis 36:18, Genesis 36:27, Genesis 36:32).
1 Chronicles 7:12
Shuppim… and Huppim. These two, called (Num 36:1-13 :39) "Shupham and Hupham," and 1 Chronicles 8:5 "Shephuphan and Huram," are mentioned (Genesis 46:21) as among those who went down with Jacob into Egypt, are called "Muppim and Huppim," and are described as "sons of Benjamin." They are here described as sons of Iri, or Ir, which would make them great-grandsons of Benjamin, a thing impossible. Hushim, the sons of Aher. Nothing can be said with confidence of either of these names. The Hushim of Genesis 46:23 (called Shuham, Numbers 26:42) are expressly given as a family of Dan, while the Hushim of 1 Chronicles 8:8, 1 Chronicles 8:11, is manifestly the name, not of a family, but of an individual, and that a woman. Bertheau takes the opportunity of urging, in connection with this name, that Dan is not entirely omitted in our work of Chronicles! But his foundation is surely far too slender to build upon. Bertheau and Zockler (in Lange, 'Alt. Test.') would translate אַחֵר "another," or "the other," instancing not very pertinently, Ezra 2:31, and referring the allusion to Dan. He also thinks that this is corroborated by the expression, "the sons of Bilhah," in the next verse.
1 Chronicles 7:13
The sons of Naphtali. In an order quite different from the otherwise parallel passages (Genesis 46:24; Numbers 26:48-4.26.50), the tribe of Naphtali is taken. Naphtali was the second son of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah, and in order of birth the fifth sen of Jacob, and was of course more closely allied to Dan, Ephraim, and Benjamin. The family was distinguished for its spirit throughout its history. At the Sinai census it numbered fifty-three thousand four hundred fighting men (Numbers 1:42, Numbers 1:43); but at the close of the wanderings through the wilderness its numbers had become only forty-five thousand four hundred. Its territory in the north, largely mountainous, bounded by Asher, Zebulun, and Manasseh, was some of the finest, and covered the district afterwards called Galilee, "the cradle of the Christian faith, the native place of most of the apostles, and the home of our Lord" (Grove). The slight difference in the spelling of Jahziel in Genesis, and of Shallum in Numbers, may be noticed. The following are interesting references to Naphtali in one or another portion of its history: —Deuteronomy 33:23; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32; Judges 1:33; Jdg 5:18; 1 Chronicles 27:19; Ezekiel 48:3, Ezekiel 48:4, Ezekiel 48:34; Matthew 4:15; Revelation 7:6. It played a considerable and prominent part also in the conflicts with Titus and Vespasian, when the days of Jerusalem were numbered.
1 Chronicles 7:14
The sons of Manasseh. The tribe of Manasseh has been partly treated of in 1 Chronicles 5:23-13.5.26, viz. those of the tribe who inhabited Gilead and Bashan. Here those who inhabited this side Jordan are treated of. And it is very difficult to give any coherent account of the differences of this passage when compared with Numbers 26:28-4.26.34 and Joshua 17:1-6.17.4. In these places six families, or heads of families, are noted to only two, or at most three here, viz. Askriel, Shemida, and perhaps Abiezer (iq. Jeezer, Numbers 26:30; comp. with Joshua 17:2). The opening clause of this verse also is unmanageable as it stands. One way of reducing it to coherence would be to Supply the words "his wife" between whom and bars, the similarity of the Hebrew letters of which to those of the Hebrew for "whom" might possibly account for the loss of it. The parenthesis about the concubine would then read with emphasis. But there is not the slightest reason to suppose there was such a wife. Another way would be to read the concubine as the mother of Ashriel, and prefix a conjunction, and, to the second "bare;" i.e. and she bare, or, she bare also Machir." But it seems pretty plain from Numbers and Joshua that Ashriel was not strictly a son, but only descendant of Manasseh; and, further, the irresistible impression is that Machir was the only son, strictly speaking (see especially Genesis 50:23). The position of Ashriel in our present passage, first, is also very unsatisfactory in face of Genesis 50:23 and the other references already given.
1 Chronicles 7:15
Maachah. Of this Maachah, one among tea of the same name, nothing else is known. The Peshito Syriac makes her the mother instead of wife of Machir. The distinct mention of the marriage of a Manassite to a Benjamite woman is to be noticed. Zelophehad. The meaning of the preceding words, and the name of the second, is unintelligible. Zelophehad was son of Hephen, who was (through Gilead and Maehir) great-grandson of Manasseh (Joshua 17:3). The number and names and wise appeal and success of the daughters hero spoken of, are given in Joshua 17:3-6.17.6; Numbers 26:33; Numbers 27:1-4.27.11; Numbers 36:5-4.36.12.
1 Chronicles 7:17
Bedan. While all the names of the preceding verse are strange to us, this name excites much interest, as possibly to be identified with the Bedan (1 Samuel 12:11) who is placed after Jerubbaal (i.q. Gideon), and before Jephthah and Samuel. Who in the Book of Judges is to answer to this Bedan of the Book of Samuel it is impossible to say. See Bishop Cotton's excellent short article. These were the sons of Gilead (see verse 14). The name Gilead surpassed the name Machir, and even rivalled that of Manasseh itself.
1 Chronicles 7:18
Abiezer. He is the nephew, then, of Gilead, and grandson of Machir. Gideon sprang from him (Judges 6:11; Judges 8:32). The name of the mother, Hammoleketh, is compounded of the article and Moleketh, or Meleketh, a Chaldee form, found several times in the Book of Jeremiah, of the word for "queen." Of Ishod and Mahalah nothing is known, but the latter name is identical with Mahlah, one of the five daughters of Zelophehad.
1 Chronicles 7:19
Shemidah, Joshua 17:2 tells us that the descendants of Shemida obtained their inheritance among the male children of Manasseh; and Numbers 26:32 places him in the Gilead family. Of Ahian, Likhi, Aniam, nothing else is known. Shechem. If this name is rightly placed under Shemi-dab, it must be concluded from Joshua 17:2 and Numbers 26:31 that it is a different Shechem from the one there found. This latter was also a Manassite, belonged to the family of Gilead, and was head of a family named Shechemites after him. His descendants are spoken of as the "sons of Shechem" in the above passage of Joshua.
1 Chronicles 7:20-13.7.27
The chief difficulty of this passage lies in reconciling the points of chronology which it forces to the surface. 1Ch 7:20, 1 Chronicles 7:21, purport to contain the line of descent from Ephraim through his son Shu-thelah to the seventh generation, viz. to another Shuthelah. The remaining two names, Ezer and Elead, may perhaps be two brothers of the first Shuthelah, i.e. own sons of Ephraim. If it be so, these two must not be supposed to correspond with Becher and Tahan, called "sons of Ephraim" in Numbers 26:35; for it is evident that they were generations succeeding Shuthelah. Now, Ephraim was born in Egypt (Genesis 46:20), so that, on the above showing, the actual sons of Ephraim must have made some incursion from Egypt into the territories of the settled or possibly aboriginal inhabitants of Gath, and met the fate over which Ephraim so mourned. Such excursions on the part of the Israelites out of Egypt have very little collateral evidence. But there would seem to be no impossibility in the matter, considering Genesis 50:13-1.50.23. Next, Gen 50:23 -27 seem to say that in his sorrow Ephraim has another son, whom he names Beriah, and of whose line in the ninth descent comes Joshua, the son of Nun. This also is very doubtful. It may very possibly be that the parenthesis continues to the end of verse 23 or 24, and that verses 25-27 carry on the generations from verse 21. Meantime welcome light breaks in at the stage (verse 26) at which Ammihud and Elishama are mentioned. For we find these immediate ancestors of the great Joshua repeatedly mentioned at the period of the Exodus (Numbers 1:10; Numbers 2:18; Numbers 7:48, etc.); yet none of these places assist us to say that he did or did not come through Beriah. It is impossible to solve with any certainty the involved question of chronology and genealogy presented by this section. The passage is evidently mutilated and corrupt, though vindicating a high antiquity. Avery original presentation of the whole section, as ingenious as it is conjectural, by Lord A.C. Hervey, may be found in the art. "Shuthclah," Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3:1305. It is well worthy of attention that a great point is made in bringing Joshua to the place of the eighth generation from Joseph, in near analogy with the numbers in so many other known cases, of the generations that intervened from the descent into Egypt to the entrance into Canaan. There also may be found the most and best that can be said against the literal reading of what is here written respecting the men of Gath and the cattle.
1 Chronicles 7:21
Because they—i.e, the men of Ephraim—came down to take away their cattle. This certainly may be translated, when they (i.e. the men of Gath) came down (i.e. into Goshen) to plunder their cattle (i.e. the cattle of Ephraim).
1 Chronicles 7:24
His daughter. If the literal interpretation of this whole section be accepted, according to which both Ephraim and Beriah must have passed their lifetime in Egypt, the "daughter," strictly so called, of either the one or the other could not have been the founder of the places here mentioned. The word "daughter" must, therefore, represent simply a female descendant. (For other references to Beth-heron, see Joshua 10:10, Joshua 10:11; Joshua 16:3, Joshua 16:5; Joshua 18:13, Joshua 18:14; Joshua 21:20-6.21.22.)
1 Chronicles 7:25
Of the names Rephah and Resheph nothing else is known.
1 Chronicles 7:27
Non. The same as Nun (Numbers 13:8, Numbers 13:16).
1 Chronicles 7:28
Naaran. This place is probably the same with the Naarath or Naarah of Joshua 16:7; though here it is said to be an eastward limit, and there its description might rather seem that of a southward limit. Gaza. This name can scarcely designate the well-known Gaza, assigned to Judah (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18), but so largely the prey of the Philistines (Judges 3:3; Judges 16:21; 1 Samuel 6:17).
1 Chronicles 7:29
The places mentioned in this verse were assigned to Manasseh. Bethshean was on the west of Jordan, and was within the borders of Issachar (Joshua 17:11-6.17.13; 1 Kings 4:11, 1 Kings 4:12). Dor was within the borders of Asher (Joshua 11:1, Joshua 11:2; Joshua 12:23; Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27, Judges 1:28). Taanach. This place also lay within the borders of Issachar or Asher (Joshua 17:11, Joshua 17:12; Joshua 21:25; Judges 5:19). Megiddo. This place is constantly coupled with the preceding. It lay on the south of the plain of Esdraelon (Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:12; Judges 1:27; 1 Kings 4:12).
1 Chronicles 7:30
The same four sons and one daughter of Asher are found in Genesis 46:17; but the name of the second son is wanting to the list of families descended from Asher of Numbers 26:44-4.26.47, and the name of the daughter is given by itself, and not as furnishing a family.
1 Chronicles 7:31
These two grandsons are also found in the above lists of both Genesis and Numbers; but nothing is found there to explain the name Birzavith, which the Keri spells with yod, the Kethiv with vau. With the former spelling its signification would be the "well of olives," and would point to its being the name of a place rather than of a person, and, as some think, that person a woman. (For instances of the expression "father" of a place, see 1 Chronicles 2:51, 1 Chronicles 2:52; 1Ch 4:4, 1 Chronicles 4:5.)
1 Chronicles 7:32
Japhlet. This son of Heber, not otherwise known, cannot be identified with the "Japhletite' of Joshua 16:3 (himself an enigma), on the south boundary of Ephraim, between the nether Beth-heron and Ataroth. Shomer; i.q. Shamer of verse 34.
1 Chronicles 7:33
Nothing, except what follows in the next verses, is known of the three sons of Japhlet given in this verse. In them we reach the fourth generation from Asher. The generations then travel forward through Helem, presumably a third brother of Japhlet, passing the sons of Shamer, or Shomer, presumably Japhlet's second brother.
1 Chronicles 7:34, 1 Chronicles 7:35
Ahi. It seems impossible to decide with certainty whether this is the name of a person or whether, with the vau, which otherwise begins the next word, it should not be translated "his brother," i.e. the brother of Japhlet. In 1 Chronicles 7:32 the names of three brothers are given, sons of Heber, viz. Japhlet, Shomer, and Hotham. Now, the name Helem, in 1 Chronicles 7:35, is supposed to point to this Hotham. If it be so, it would so far be an argument that Ahi, in 1 Chronicles 7:34, should be translated "his brother," in correspondence with the undoubted "his brother" of 1 Chronicles 7:35. Of no one of the names in these verses is anything further known.
1 Chronicles 7:36-13.7.38
1 Chronicles 7:36 and 1 Chronicles 7:37 purport to give us eleven sons of Zophah, son of Helem, and grandson of Heber, and these bring us to the sixth generation from Asher; and again (1 Chronicles 7:38), we reach the seventh in descent from Asher, in the three sons of Jether, or Ithran, the tenth son of Zophah.
1 Chronicles 7:39
Ulla. Whether in this verse we get to the eighth generation depends on who may be meant by Ulla. It is impossible to answer the question. The suggestion has been made that the name may, by some great error of copyists, stand for either Zophah's last son Beera, or, by happier conjecture, Jether's last son, Ara. But neither professes to be anything better than mere conjecture.
1 Chronicles 7:40
Twenty and six thousand. The number of Asherites, "of twenty years old and upwards, able to go forth to war," given in Numbers 1:40, Numbers 1:41, was forty-one thousand five hundred. Forty years later (Numbers 26:44-4.26.47; comp. Numbers 26:2) the number was fifty-three thousand four hundred. But it is supposed that the twenty-six thousand of this verse may refer only to a portion of the tribe, i.e. to the large and distinguished family of Heber. It is to be noticed that the name of the tribe of Asher is not found in the list of the "chief rulers" lower down in this book (1 Chronicles 27:16-13.27.22). The tone also in which reference is made to Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun coming to Jerusalem to Hezekiah's Passover (2 Chronicles 30:11) is very noticeable. This tribe, with Simeon, gave no judge to the nation, and of all the tribes west of the Jordan they stand by themselves in this respect. There is an ancient legend that the parents of St. Paul lived within the territories of Asher, at the place called Ahlab in Judges 1:31, otherwise Giscala, or Gush Chaleb. Against the uncertainty of the legend we may gratefully remember the certainty of the history of the "Anna,… daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser" (Luke 2:36).
HOMILIES BY J.R. THOMSON
1 Chronicles 7:22.-Mourning and consolation.
There is much obscurity about this passage, as recording an historical incident. But, though it is not easy to decide who the persons referred to were and at what time they lived, the incident is a witness to the community of human nature, both in the bitterness of the earthly lot and in the consolations with which it abounds. We have here brought before us —
I. BEREAVEMENT. From the first it has been the fate of men to endure this sorrow, for our days on earth are as a shadow, and death takes away from us all in turn the joys of our hearts, the desire of our eyes, the objects of our hopes. And it is to be observed that the sudden and violent death of our beloved ones is peculiarly distressing. When the young are cut down by wicked hands, in tumult or in war, the shock to survivors is especially painful.
II. MOURNING. Lamentation for our dead is natural and right. "Jesus wept" at Lazarus's grave. There is such a thing as sanctified sorrow. In certain cases, even poignant grief and prolonged mourning are excusable. "The heart knoweth his own bitterness." The parent weeps for the children because they are not.
III. SYMPATHY AND CONSOLATION. Those who are near akin or intimate friends are expected to offer their affectionate condolence to the bereaved in the hour of sorrow and desolation. This is the obligation of friendship and its privilege also. Helpful and consolatory is true sympathy; for who would wish to bear his heaviest burden alone? Yet the most profitable ministrations in bereavement are those by which the heart of the bereaved is directed to take refuge in the fatherly wisdom and love of God, and in the tender sympathy of that High Priest who "in all our afflictions.; is afflicted," and who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."—T.
1 Chronicles 7:24.-A famous woman.
We know nothing else of Sherah than is recorded in this verse. Whether she did herself build or enlarge and fortify these towns, or whether this was the work of her descendants, is not easy to decide. The fact, in any case, is of interest for us, that her name should be put upon record in this passage, and should be associated with great works.
I. A WOMAN MAY BE SELECTED BY PROVIDENCE TO FULFIL SOME VAST DESIGN. History records great feats of feminine valour; for women have defended castles and cities by their heroism, and delivered nations, by personal bravery and by the enthusiastic support they have commanded. Some nations, as e.g. our own, number among their sovereigns queens of singular sagacity and statesmanship. In art and in literature, and even in science, women have, in our own times, won for themselves a high position and a wide renown.
II. THE WORK OF NOBLE WOMEN IS ESPECIALLY TO BUILD. If not cities, societies and families have again and again been built up in strength and stateliness and serviceableness through feminine wisdom, sympathy, and devotedness. A gifted and fascinating woman has often been the architect of fortune, and, as the centre and inspiration of intellectual and social life, has not only laid the foundations, but reared the edifice of political and social power.
III. A GIFTED WOMAN'S WORTHIEST WORK IS WORK FOR GOD. How many such shine from the pages of inspiration! Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, in the Old Testament; the Maries, Priscilla, Dorcas, Lydia, in the New Testament, may serve as examples. No work is so congenial to the female character, so truly graceful and ornamental to the feminine life, as work for Christ.
IV. A WOMAN WHO SERVES THE LORD AND LEAVES AN EXAMPLE OF PIETY AND USEFULNESS IS WORTHY OF BEING HELD IN LASTING REMEMBRANCE, If the inspired writer thought well to record the name of the builder of Beth-heron, surely the memory of the noblewomen of our Lord's spiritual kingdom should never fade.—T.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
1 Chronicles 7:1-13.7.19.-The old order changeth.
It is a significant fact that, in this enumeration of names and these references to ancient times, the only complimentary epithets used relate to military affairs. "Their brethren among all the families of Issachar were valiant men of might" (1 Chronicles 7:5); "The sons of Be]a… mighty men of valour" (1 Chronicles 7:7); "The sons of Becher… mighty men of valour" (1Ch 7:8, 1 Chronicles 7:9; see 1 Chronicles 7:11). We have here an illustration of the fact —
I. THAT MILITARY VALOUR FORMED A LARGE PART OF ANCIENT VIRTUE. The history of the ancient peoples, Egyptians, Assyrians, Greek, Romans, etc; proves this statement with only too monotonous a repetition. The history of the Jews, the ancient people of God, adds one more note of confirmation. We might have supposed it would be otherwise; we might have judged that they would constitute the one exception to the rule. But, so doing, we should have erred. War involves certain most painful incidents, but it is not absolutely and intrinsically wrong. The simple fact that God sanctioned it in many instances, that he commanded his people to engage in it, and that he desired to be inquired of and supplicated in regard to it, distinctly settles that point.
1. It has to be remembered that war does call out the heroic virtues of
(1) patient endurance,
(2) implicit trust in a faithful leader,
(3) courageous daring of utmost danger, and consequent
(4) readiness to resign that which is most precious at the call of duty, on behalf of country or in obedience to what seems to be the will of God.
2. It has to be remembered that men have engaged in it without any conscious departure from the obligations they were under to their kind; therefore without any sense of its evil, and therefore without any injury to their conscience and character. The idea that all warfare is positively wrong is a modern sentiment. With quite as clear a conscience armies have gone out to battle as merchants have left home to traffic, or travellers to explore, or even missionaries to evangelize. Other thoughts are in our minds, other feelings in our hearts, because we have learnt —
II. THAT HUMAN LIFE IS NOW TO BE REGARDED AS A VERY SACRED THING. At the feet of Christ we have learnt that one human soul is a thing of inestimable worth. Hence we have come to prize, as most precious, one human life; and hence we have learnt to shrink from voluntarily taking it away. That which God only can give or renew, from which he requires so much, and on which such great and lasting issues hang,-this is something to be reverently treated. And we have been led to regard with aversion, with deep repugnance, that ruthless system, war, which mows down human bodies without remorse, and which counts amongst its triumphs the number of the slain. We gratefully recognize the fact that, under the beneficent reign of the Prince of peace, we are arriving at the conclusion —
III. THAT THE WORTHIEST TRIUMPHS WE CAN WIN ARE THOSE WE GAIN IN PEACEFUL CONTESTS.
1. In the struggle we maintain against the enemies within us: the privation we inflict on ourselves in foregoing things which are evil and injurious, the perseverance with which we contend against recurring passions that will not be soon silenced and slain.
2. In the war which we wage against the adversaries of God and man: the hardship we suffer (2 Timothy 2:3), the risk we run (danger sometimes ending in death itself, as many a missionary chronicle will tell), the loyalty we show to our great Captain, the faith we exercise in the overruling mind and the conquering arm of our redeeming God.—C.
1 Chronicles 7:20-13.7.24.-Divine compensations.
We have, in brief, a story of family life which still has its interest and application to us in our domestic relations. We gather —
I. THAT GRIEVOUS AFFLICTION SOMETIMES FALLS ON A HUMAN HOME WITH OVERWHELMING SUDDENNESS. Several sons of one "house" were slain in one day. Whichever party was the aggressor, and whether the Israelites were guilty or unfortunate, the blow fell with terrible effect on the elders of the family. "Ephraim their father mourned many days" (1 Chronicles 7:22). "Misfortunes never come alone" is only a hasty and false generalization: they generally do come alone. It is far truer to say, "One by one our sorrows meet us." For usually God tempers our griefs by sending them singly and with more or less of interval as also of preparation. More often than not the evil which awaits us "casts its shadow before it," and we prepare our hearts for the coming trouble. But sometimes it is otherwise. Occasionally, awful, aggravated, multiplied sorrows surge around us, and all the waves and billows of distress go over us without forewarning; from the height of prosperity and joy we go down, in one bitter hour, to the dark depth of loss and woe. No man can tell what tragedy is at hand for himself and his house. The holiest, the most beloved of God, may be standing, at any moment, in immediate peril of an almost unendurable calamity.
II. THAT GOD HAS MERCIFUL COMPENSATIONS IN STORE FOE HIS STRICKEN CHILDREN. He wounds that he may heal; and that, as he heals, he may bless and save. It may be that he will send:
1. Human sympathy. Ephraim's "brethren came to comfort him." Though the sympathy of human hearts cannot "do" anything for us, as men of coarse minds say, it can and does introduce into our hearts a soothing balm which is very precious to sensitive and responsive souls. It is seldom wasted; it is generally appreciated, and is often most highly esteemed. Or God may provide:
2. That which replaces the loss. To the bereaved Ephraim he gave another child, whose name, Beriah, was pathetically suggestive of this sad breach, but whose presence in the home must have gone no small way to repair it. And now it often happens that, instead of the child that is taken, comes the infant who is sent to fill its parents' hearts as well as its mother's arms; or instead of the fortune that is lost the competency that is gained. Or God may send:
3. Some other compensating gift. From this stricken house he took away some parental love by the death of sons, but he gave a large measure of parental joy by the enterprising spirit of a daughter (1 Chronicles 7:24). It may be well for us that God should exchange one source of happiness for another. Long-continued enjoyment of one satisfaction often begets a false and guilty notion of independence, and even right of possession in the human heart. So God withdraws his gift which is ceasing to be a blessing; but he gives in place of it some other good which will work no evil to the soul.
4. Spiritual acquisition. When Ephraim was "mourning many days," his heart was tender, his mind docile, his soul receptive. Then, we may venture to say, he looked up to God with special earnestness, with filial submission, with peculiar devotion. Great sorrows, sweeping away earthly satisfactions and revealing our own helplessness, make the aid and arm of man seem but feebleness and cast us back on God. Then we hide in him; then we find that he is the Refuge and the Strength of his people, the true Dwelling-place of the human soul in all generations. In great and deep affliction, as at no other time, we
(1) see the meaning and feel the force of sacred truths;
(2) come into close fellowship with the Father, the Friend, the Comforter of the human spirit;
(3) realize the littleness of earthly life and the preciousness of the heritage which is beyond. Bereft of human wealth, we are "rich towards God."—C.
1 Chronicles 7:27.-Joshua and Jesus: resemblance and contrast.
The identity of the names—the one being the Greek form of the other—has led the Church to look on the Hebrew Captain as a type of the Saviour of the world. (For confirmation, see Hebrews 4:8.) There are certain resemblances, though the contrasts are as striking if not as numerous.
I. RESEMBLANCES BETWEEN JOSHUA AND JESUS.
1. They both bore the same name.
2. They both brought to the people of God deliverance from the enemies of God.
3. They were both obedient to "him that sent them," and wrought out the work which he gave them to do.
4. They both led (or, lead) the people of God into the promised land.
5. They both began their earthly life in obscurity, and rose (or, have risen) to the highest point of human honour.
II. CONTRASTS BETWEEN THE HUMAN CAPTAIN AND THE DIVINE DELIVERER.
1. Joshua was engaged in the work of his life for (at least) thirty years; the Lord for (at most) three.
2. Joshua fought with carnal weapons, and won victories with sword of steel; Christ fought only with spiritual weapons, and his conquest is the triumph of truth and grace.
3. Joshua had good reason to fear that by his death his life-work would be undone; the Saviour had the best reason to know that by his death his lifework would be sealed and crowned.
4. Joshua led a nation into a land which would prove a temporary inheritance; the redeeming Lord leads the human race "into everlasting habitations," into the one city which is eternal. Better the humblest post amongst the followers of Jesus than the proudest place in the ranks of Joshua.—C.
HOMILIES BY F. WHITFIELD
Joshua 7:1-6.7.26; Joshua 8:1-6.8.35.—Genealogies: Issachar, Naphtali, Ephraim, Asher, Benjamin.
Two conspicuous features are presented in these chapters—genealogy and warfare. Only those are numbered who were found in the registers, and these are all soldiers and "mighty men of valour." They are described in the seventh chapter (Jos 8:11 -40) as "fit to go out for war" and "apt to the war." Thus it is with all God's people. They are of the genealogy. They are "born again," "not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." Their names are in the register, too, not in the earthly book—the baptismal register only, of which these earthly registers of Israel may be considered as figures—but in the "Lamb's book of life." They know their genealogy, they can trace their pedigree. They are "sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty." Christ is their elder Brother. And they are all "soldiers." They were redeemed for this end, that they should be "good soldiers of Jesus Christ," and "war a good warfare." But how are they to become "valiant," "apt," "fit"? By the discipline of the Holy Spirit, by the afflictions and trials and sufferings of the way, which often make the heart to bleed and the eye to weep. We are told that Solomon bad "eighteen thousand stone-squarers" in preparing the stones in Lebanon for the temple on Zion. God has many more than these in preparing his "living stones" in this Lebanon-world for the glorious temple on Mount Zion. We have an instance of this spiritual discipline in this chapter (1 Chronicles 7:21-13.7.23). It seems to have been an episode in Egypt before Israel had left it. The patriarch Ephraim was then alive, and at a very advanced age. The men of Gath came suddenly down upon the family of Ephraim (for they, not Ephraim, were the aggressors, if we substitute the word "when" in Joshua 8:21 for "because," the correct rendering) for the purpose of plundering their flocks. Ephraim's sons were slain. The aged father was deeply afflicted. In accordance with Eastern custom (see Job 2:11; John 11:19), distant relatives came to offer their condolences. So deeply did the bereavement weigh upon the aged father that he perpetuated the memory of his sorrow by calling his next son "Beriah, because it went evil with his house." So suddenly do calamities overtake us here l We know not what a day may bring forth. The postman's knock may dash the fairest schemes to pieces and drape our landscape in gloom. Oh, what is there sure here? Nothing but Christ. And, like the mother of Jabez and Ephraim here, our sorrows come, and we, in our unbelief and short-sightedness, look at our sorrows and see nothing else. We see not the bow of mercy spanning the cloud—the love that is behind—and so we hang our heads in sorrow, and we write "Jabez" on this and "Beriah" on that. Oh that we could trust that love more in darkness as well as in light!—W.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
1 Chronicles 7:2-13.7.5.-The Divine gift of physical strength.
It is remarked as being the peculiar trust and endowment of some men that they were bodily strong. They are spoken of as "valiant men of might." In the line of this endowment came their life-mission, and in the use of this trust they would be finally judged. On St. Paul's principle that the "body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body," we are delivered from sentimental undervaluing of our physical frame, and consequent neglect of its culture into health and vigour, or monastic efforts to humble it into a due subjection to the spirit. In view of the relations between bodily strength and religious life, we ought to regard health, vigour, energy of frame, as great gifts from God and, as all Divine gifts are, great and responsible trusts. In the older times physical strength found its readiest sphere in armies and wars. So the vigour indicated in these verses took the form of valour. The modern sentiments concerning peace and war materially differ from those of earlier ages. The modern admiration of peace and horror of offensive war befit a condition of advanced civilization and the tolerably complete division of the earth's habitable countries among the different races and nations. Still, we must fully recognize that war has had its important place in the ordering and training of the world. It has often proved to be the best judgment on, and corrective of, serious moral evils; and so there has always been a place and a work for the "mighty man of valour." On Joubert's principle, "Force till right is ready," the physical restraints of social order must come before the intellectual and moral ones; and in such early times and first stages of national development, physical strength, warlike skill, power of command, and valour, are properly recognized as Divine gifts, and they are as truly such as are the gifts of statesmanship, diplomacy, and arbitration in quieter, more developed, more civilized times. The laws that regulate the use of all our bodily gifts may be effectively illustrated in relation to this one of valour. It may be pointed out:
1. That it may never be used for schemes of personal aggrandizement.
2. That it may act be prostrated to any evil uses, of tyranny or passion.
3. That it is for use in all ways of loyalty, obedience, brotherhood, and piety.
And there is still the place and the work for the gift of physical strength, though not so much call for it in armies and battlefields. Great things have been done for humanity by the physical endurance of explorers and travellers, such as Livingstone and Stanley and the members of Arctic expeditions. Great things are done in the saving of life by strong-armed and brave-hearted sailors in our lifeboats, and by firemen in our great cities. Still the demand for manual labour and bodily strength is made, in field and workshop and yard. And though so large a proportion of modern toil is mental rather than bodily, and consequently physical vigour is unduly despised, it remains true that the man of mind imperils his mind by failure to culture his body into strength. It remains true for the intellectual nineteenth century, as for every other, that bodily strength is a gracious Divine gift, which should be treasured, kept, cultured, exercised, and put to all noble and holy uses. Appeal, especially from the Christian standpoint, that Christ expects faithfulness to the whole trust which he commits to us; and holds us responsible for the measure of bodily health and energy we maintain, as well as for the culture of character, mind, and soul which we may gain. "Body, soul, and spirit" together make the living sacrifice, which is our "reasonable service."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 7:15.-Woman's rights in ancient times.
The condition and the disabilities of Eastern women should be explained, described, and duly contrasted with the position won by women in all Christian countries. Especially deal with their secluded lives in their harems, or private apartments; the utter neglect of their education and culture; their disadvantages in never going out into society; and their utterly dependent position, involving the crushing of their personal wills, or the leaving them undeveloped and unexercised. And yet among them some women made for themselves spheres, by force of their character and ability. Give Bible illustrations, such as Sarah, Rebekah, Moses' mother, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Jezebel, Athaliah, etc. Always women have found spheres among the children and dependents, but sometimes wider and public spheres have opened to them. Women have little recognized legal or public rights in the East. Woman has no standing apart from her husband, and this makes the lot of the Eastern widow so inexpressibly sad. The name Zelophehad recalls a remarkable exception—a case in which women, having no male protector, succeeded in securing and maintaining their own rights; and the story is detailed in the Scripture as affording important instructive features. Compare the modern assertion of woman's legal and governmental rights, and tell how modern legislation has aided in removing women's disabilities. This Zelophehad was a descendant of Manasseh, who died during the wilderness wanderings, leaving no sons, only five daughters, who, by the custom of the time, would be treated as unable to inherit his estates. These five daughters appealed to Moses (Numbers 27:1-4.27.7), on the ground that their father had not died under any such judgment as disabled his children, and they asked to be authorized to stand as his heirs. The matter was a new and difficult one, and Moses took it directly to God, and by Divine direction established the new rule that when there were no sons the daughters might claim the rights of heirs. A remarkable illustration of the wise adjustment of law in its practical application to new and unanticipated cases. Bishop Wordsworth says, "It seems to have been God's design in the Levitical dispensation to elevate woman from the degradation into which she had fallen, and to prepare her gradually for that state of dignity and grace to which she is now advanced in the gospel by the incarnation of the Son of God, the Seed of the woman."
I. WOMAN'S PLACE IN FAMILY LIFE. There she properly takes a headship, bearing rule over both children and dependents. Illustrate by the interesting picture of the "virtuous woman and wife" given in the Book of Proverbs. If the woman be but a member of the family and not the head, still there is the due and honourable place of childhood, sisterhood, and friendship. No woman lacks a sphere of kindly useful service save the woman who wants none, because life is for her a mere low self-sphere. Plead for the nobility of womanly duties and relations in the home. Martha and Mary could even prove ministers to the bodily needs of a Friend who was the world's Saviour; many a woman since has "entertained angels unawares."
II. WOMAN'S PLACE IN PUBLIC LIFE. Home, in most cases, provides ample and satisfying spheres. But for women who are free from family ties suitable public spheres are found among other women, among the suffering, the poor, and the children; and where there is endowment literature finds work for woman. These spheres are daily enlarging. They should be fully detailed, and an earnest plea should be made against the wasting of woman's powers when such broad spheres claim her abilities and energies, and on them she may enter into the joy of "serving Christ."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 7:21, 1 Chronicles 7:22.-Common family sorrows.
In these verses is given a very touching episode, and yet it is a very commonplace incident that is narrated. A father gains the news that his sons have been attacked by foes and killed, and, as the poor father sits stricken with the great sorrow, his brethren, his relatives, come to mourn with him and to comfort him. Children are an anxiety and care, all through our relations with them, when "about us" in the frailties of their childhood, and when away from us in the wilfulnesses of their young manhood. Sick-scenes and death-scenes are familiar to most parents, and few human homes last long unbroken. Nor is the comforting of loving friends other than a commonplace and yet most gracious fact of our modern life. Still, the thrill of hand and tear-filled eye and sympathetic word bring relief and rest to burdened and bereaved hearts. Life repeats itself over and over again, and tells its tale of grief and loss concerning one family after another. So it was in the olden times. Ephraim mourns the loss of his children, and his brethren come to comfort him; and thus it is seen that family life becomes a moral training for us all; and as the experiences of sickness, sorrow, and loss go round to one after another, we all come under the great Father's sanctifying, and find out how "good it is even to be afflicted."
I. THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. Here especially the greater loss of their death rather than the toss by removal, which never quite quenches hope. Such loss comes at various stages, and we never know at which of their ages the stroke falls lightest. It comes in various ways, slowly or suddenly, and we never can tell which way seemed to crush us most. The reaper cuts the "bearded grain" and the "flowers;" beautiful infants fly away, bright childhood fades, and blooming youth is smitten; and all we can say about it we say after Jacob, "If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." On this we may dwell somewhat more fully.
II. THE PARENTAL GRIEF AT THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. "Ephraim mourned many days." Such grief is well illustrated in David's wailing over Absalom, Elijah's friend's grief over her dead child, and the poor Nain widow going out to bury her only son. The Eastern thought about the children helps to explain the intensity of their grief. Easterns conceived of their own earthly existence as continued in their children—they had a kind of immortality in their children, and they pleased themselves with the idea that their descendants would reach higher dignity and place than they had done. So for their children to die was a plucking down of lofty imaginations, an uprooting of carefully raised hopes. And so it is in measure for us, as may be most tenderly illustrated in the case of the talented young Hallam, whose early death Tennyson deplores in his "In Memoriam."
III. THE FAMILY BONDS SANCTIFIED IN THE LOSS OF CHILDREN. Such points as these may be unfolded and illustrated. If rightly, piously borne, the death of children may be used:
1. To the producing of a hallowing tenderness of feeling on all the members.
2. To a solemnizing estimate of the relative interests of this brief life and the coming eternal one.
3. To the self-denying efforts of each member to comfort the others, often involving most precious lessons in self-restraint.
4. To the reknitting of the family bonds. One member of a home realized as being away in the heavenly brings wondrously near and makes affectingly real all that belongs to the "unseen and eternal." And in family griefs we are "comforted, in order that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."—R.T.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 7". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent