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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 8

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-40


This chapter carries us back to the tribe of Benjamin, partly dealt with already (1 Chronicles 7:6-12). The tribe is reverted to for the same kind of reason that called for our 1 Chronicles 3:1-24. David was so important a character in the Judah tribe. And Saul, with whom the resume of Chronicle-history begins (1Ch 8:33; 1 Chronicles 9:39; 1 Chronicles 10:1-14.), belongs to the Benjamin tribe. Thus the genealogy of this tribe forms the perch to the history contained in this work, and the forty verses of this chapter rehearse the sons and chief men of Benjamin, with a view to bring into prominence the stock of Saul.

1 Chronicles 8:1, 1 Chronicles 8:2

These verses give five sons to Benjamin. Of the non-appearance of Becher here (1 Chronicles 7:6) and the appearance of Ashbel in his place, also of the non-appearance here of Jediael (1 Chronicles 7:6) and the appearance of Aharah (i.q. Ahiram, Numbers 26:38) in his place, notice has been taken on 1 Chronicles 7:6-12. Of the two additions to the sons of Benjamin here, viz. Nohah and Rapha, nothing is known elsewhere; yet it may be possible to count five families from Numbers 26:38, Numbers 26:39.

1 Chronicles 8:3-5

Nine sons are here assigned to Bela. Genesis (44:41) only finds us clearly three of them, and these in very different order, viz. Gera, Naaman, and Arel; and Numbers (Numbers 26:39, Numbers 26:40) finds us only three, viz. Ard, Naaman, and Shupham. Yet our Huram may correspond with Hupham, and then the four pairs of names—Shephuphan and Huram, Shupham and Hupham, Shuppim and Huppim, and Muppim and Huppim—may be interpreted as designating one and the same couple of persons. The recurrence of the name Gera in verse 5, so close upon the same name in verse 3, would of course be more remarkable, and point inevitably to the disordered state of the text, if it were necessary to suppose that these nine persons were really brothers, as well as called sons of Bela.

1 Chronicles 8:6, 1 Chronicles 8:7

Ehud. We are brought to a halt again by the sudden introduction of this name. Even if it stand for Abihud (1 Chronicles 8:3) or for Ahoah (1 Chronicles 8:4), why is it changed in so short an interval? It is impossible to establish order in these verses except by most gratuitous conjecture. But it may be supposed that the verses say that Ehud's people once belonged to Manahath, that the heads of them removed them to Geba (Joshua 18:24), and that he himself (query, Ehud? but commonly read Gera) removed them, and also Naaman, and Ahiah, and Gera (which look very much like the Naaman, Ahoah, and Gera of 1 Chronicles 8:4, 1 Chronicles 8:5); and finally that after the removing "he" had two fresh sons, Uzza and Ahihud.

1 Chronicles 8:8

Shaharaim. It has been proposed, in the utter obscurity here, to add this name as a third to Uzza and Ahihud. This may be a way out, but if so, instead of repeating "and Shaharaim," it might be more natural to keep the former enigmatic nominative and object to begat, whether Ehud or Gera. There can be little doubt that a copyist's error has given us them (אֹתָם) in place of אֶת, in the latter part of this verse, before the names of the wives. The sentence then would translate, "after his sending away [whether by divorce or not] Hushim and Baara his wives."

1 Chronicles 8:9-11

These verses give seven unknown sons of Ehud, Gera, or Shaharaim, as the case may be, by the wife Hodesh, whom one would have been glad to identify with Baara, and two unknown sons of the wife Hushim.

1 Chronicles 8:12-28

One of the sons of this last-named wife, Hushim, was named Elpaal. From 1 Chronicles 8:12 to 1 Chronicles 8:28 we have a numerous list of his descendants, evidently in different degrees of relationship, but with the thread picked up apparently several times, in the persons of the first-mentioned "sons," viz. the five, Eber, Misham, Shamed, Beriah, Shema (see 1Ch 8:16, 1 Chronicles 8:18, 1 Chronicles 8:21, 1 Chronicles 8:25, 1 Chronicles 8:27).

1 Chronicles 8:12

Ono and Lod. These places are not mentioned in Joshua as originally assigned to Benjamin. They were obtained or "built" afterwards. They are first mentioned in this passage, afterwards in Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 6:2; Nehemiah 7:37; Nehemiah 11:36. Led is, with little doubt, the Lydda of Acts 9:32.

1 Chronicles 8:13

Aijalon. A similar kind of history belongs to this place. It was assigned to Dan (Joshua 19:40-48). Unsubdued by them (Judges 1:34-36), the Ephraimites possessed it awhile (1 Chronicles 6:47-49), until it came to be more like the common property or care of Benjamin and Judah, situated as it was on their boundary line (1 Samuel 14:31; 2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 28:18).

1 Chronicles 8:28

These dwelt in Jerusalem (Joshua 18:28; 1 Chronicles 9:2-9; Nehemiah 11:1-4).

1 Chronicles 8:29-40

These verses are occupied with the immediate ancestors and posterity of Saul. And apparently the same account, minus some of its deficiencies, is repeated in the next chapter, 1Ch 8:35 -44. The two may be taken together here, and the latter will help the interpretation of the former.

1 Chronicles 8:29

The fatheri.e, the chief—of Gibeon. (For Gibeon, see Joshua 9:3, Joshua 9:7-18; Joshua 10:2; Joshua 11:19; Nehemiah 7:25; Nehemiah 3:7.) The father of Gibeon (1 Chronicles 9:35) was Jehiel (יְעִיאֵל; Chethiv spells with vau; not יְחִיאֵל, 1 Chronicles 15:24). Of Jehiel by this name we do not elsewhere read. And even if it were on other grounds possible to identify the person with the Abiel of 1 Samuel 9:1 and 1 Samuel 14:51, it is not possible to identify the names. Compare the similar remarkable omission of the name of the "father of Gibea" (1 Chronicles 2:49), an omission to be filled very possibly by this same name Jehiel.

1 Chronicles 8:30, 1 Chronicles 8:31

These verses contain the names of eight sons of Jehiel instead of the ten of 1 Chronicles 9:36, 1 Chronicles 9:37. Both of the missing names, however (viz. Ner after Baal, and Mikloth after Zacher), are introduced in verses immediately succeeding, where their sons are spoken of. One name, Zacher, also is spelt as Zechariah in 1 Chronicles 9:37. Both these passages agree in representing Net as the grandfather of Saul. Not so the two passages in Samuel (1 Samuel 9:1; 1 Samuel 14:51), the first of which writes Abiel in the place of the grandfather instead of great-grandfather, which, however, need occasion little difficulty; and the second of which would certainly allow Ner to be grandfather to Saul, but seems to call him uncle. Even then, if we accept what the passage allows, it is somewhat remarkable that in the next verse Ner should be signalized as father of Abner rather than of Kish—a difficulty, however, much less considerable if we accept the suggestion (see 'Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.) to translate verse 51 thus, by the substitution of the word "sons" for "son:" "And Kish the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner, were sons of Abiel." It must be remembered at the same time that this is not equivalent to saying that they were necessarily brothers, but only descendants of the chief of the family, of the Demarch or Phylarch under mention in the genealogy.

1 Chronicles 8:33, 1 Chronicles 8:34

The number of Saul's children was certainly nine. In addition to the four (1 Samuel 31:2) mentioned here, there was Ishui, probably standing second (1 Samuel 14:49), and there were two daughters, Merab and Michal (1 Samuel 14:49), and there were two sons by Rizpah (2 Samuel 21:8), named Armoui and Mephi-bosheth. Esh-baal; the same with Ishbo-sheth (2Sa 2:8; 2 Samuel 3:7-14; 2 Samuel 4:4-12). Merib-baal; the same with Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:12). Micah is, therefore, the great-grandson of Saul.

1 Chronicles 8:35

Tarea; spelt Tahrea in verse 41 of next chapter. Ahaz, the last of the four names contained in this verse, is supplied in italics, Authorized Version, next chapter, verse 41.

1 Chronicles 8:36

Jehoadah. The parallel passage in next chapter (verse 42) has Jarah; but some manuscripts have Jahdah (יַעְדָּה), which comes very near our Jehoadah (יִהוֹעַדָּה). Zimri. It is possible that this Zimri may rightly be identified with the usurper Zimri of 1 Kings 16:9-20.

1 Chronicles 8:37

Rapha. This name appears as Rephaiah in next chapter (verse 43).

1 Chronicles 8:38-40

The genealogy runs on from Micah to Ulam with nothing special to remark upon. Ulam is twelfth from Saul, while his "sons and sons' sons" (verse 40) are spoken of. The time of Hezekiah must be reached, therefore, who was thirteenth from David. The table of next chapter stops with the name Azel (1 Chronicles 9:44), and wears the appearance of having just missed the last two verses of this chapter.

1 Chronicles 8:39

The name Ulam is found also among the descendants of Gilead, grandson of Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:17).


1 Chronicles 8:1-40.-Readings between the lines.

"Reading between the lines," or extracting from these tables some moral truths which, if they do not contain, they may fairly suggest, we gather —

I. THAT ALLIANCES OFTEN END IN ENTANGLEMENTS AND ENTAIL UNCONSIDERED CONSEQUENCES. Shaharaim went into Moab and there married a Moabitess, having children of her (1 Chronicles 8:8). The names of his sons (1 Chronicles 8:9) were Moabitish—Mesha (see 2 Kings 3:4), Malcham (an idol of Moab; see 1 Kings 11:33 and Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:2). This fact points clearly to the evil influence under which his children came through this matrimonial alliance. If we "make affinity" with those who are not of like mind and like principles with ourselves, we must be prepared for serious spiritual consequences.

II. THAT HUMAN ACTIVITY MAY HAVE VERY LONG RESULTS. Shamed, the son of Elpaal, built two cities; one of them was Lod (1 Chronicles 8:12). This is identical with the Lydda of our New Testament (Acts 9:32), and with the modern Ludd. Here we have an instance of the results of one man's activity being witnessed more than thirty centuries after he has been gathered to his fathers. Who can say how far down the stream of time our influence will go? It may be visible to the eye of men for generations; it will be apparent to the eye of God to the end of time.

"Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And live for ever and for ever."

III. THAT VIOLENCE IS A BAD FOUNDATION OF REST AND POWER. In 1 Chronicles 8:13 we learn that, by a noteworthy coincidence, Beriah with Shema "drove away the inhabitants of Gath." In the previous chapter (1 Chronicles 8:21) we read that the inhabitants of Gath slew the sons of Ephraim. Truly "they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Violence seizes on a neighbour's land, and by violence is itself dispossessed. That which we gain by mere physical force we must be prepared to part with to the next comer who is stronger than we. The history of the world has, in a large and painful degree, been the record of unlawful seizure and reluctant forfeiture of lands and goods. How much wiser and better to secure by honourable and worthy means that which "no man taketh away" from us, treasure which we shall carry with us whithersoever we go, which time itself cannot steal, and death cannot hold in its grasp!

IV. THAT IT IS WISE TO STAMP BAD THINGS WITH AN EVIL NAME. Esh-baal (1 Chronicles 8:33) is the Ishbosheth of 2 Samuel 11:21; while Merib-baal (verse 34) is the Mephibesheth of 2 Samuel 4:4. In these two cases Baal is turned into Bosheth, which signifies shame. Thus, by a simple name, the heathen deity was branded with public reprobation. The evil thing was made to seem the ugly and offensive thing.it was. Nothing can be more perilous to the community than the wrapping up of a sin m some pleasant euphemism; e.g. if a daughter has been sinful she should not be called "unfortunate." Vice does not lose half its evil by losing all its grossness. If we label sin with a name that passes current in society, we are co-workers with the tempter himself. Speak of sin in terms that will bring it into disrepute and reprobation.

V. THAT FAITHFUL REMEMBRANCE IN THE DAY OF POWER IS AN EXCELLENT GRACE. The line of Jonathan is traced to many generations (verse 34, etc.). Is not the hand of David here? Is this not a sign that his vow (1 Samuel 20:15) was honourably fulfilled? What we promise as we are rising we should scrupulously discharge when we have attained the summit of our desires. Many are profuse in promises when the day of performance is distant, but very forgetful of their vows when the hour has come to redeem them. It is the mark of a true man to carry out with generous fulness all that he undertook when he was a long way from the goal and the prize.

VI. THAT THE THOUGHT OF A WORTHY ANCESTRY IS AN HONOURABLE INDUCEMENT TO WELL-DOING. "These dwelt in Jerusalem" (verses 28, 32). When the captives returned from Babylon there was a lack of men to populate the sacred city. In the country were inviting fields waiting for cultivation, while in the city was danger to be dared and civic duty, to be discharged. So that "the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem" (Nehemiah 11:2). The fact that their ancestors dwelt in the city would probably operate as a powerful inducement to lead many to offer themselves as citizens, and these would thus be led to serve their country in a very serious crisis. The knowledge of the honourable position taken by our ancestry is a very lawful motive to obedience and aspiration. We should, indeed, range ourselves on the right side, and do the noblest deeds because our God, our Saviour, summons us to his side and to the service of our race. But there are many subsidiary motives by which we may be impelled. And among these is the consideration of the part and place our fathers took in their day. We may well be inspired by the thought of their fidelity, their courage, their piety, their usefulness. We do well to cherish the ambition to be worthy of our sires, to maintain and magnify an honourable name, not only to be "the children of our Father who is in heaven," but the children of our earthly ancestors who dwelt in the city of God and wrought his work in the world.—C.


1 Chronicles 8:34.-Poor Mephibosheth!

The name Merib-baal, or Mephibosheth, recalls the story of one who was unfortunate from his birth to his grave; one on whom the burdens and disabilities of life pressed very heavily. And it reminds us that we find similar cases within the sphere of our personal experiences. There are always among us the lifelong victims of accidents; the bearers for weary years of congenital defects; those heavily weighted with frailty of the vital organs; the victims of incurable disease; the blind, deaf and dumb, idiot, lame, etc. Of all such we may regard Mephibesheth as a type, and with the class before our minds so typified, we may learn some lessons of practical importance and permanent application. The outline of the story of Mephi-bosheth is as follows:—He was the son of David's friend Jonathan, and, at the time of the catastrophe at Gilboa, when his father was slain, he was only five years old. In the excitement and alarm of the defeat, his nurse caught up the child to flee away with him, but she stumbled and fell, and caused thereby the child's incurable lameness. Mephi-bosheth grew up a weak and helpless cripple. The family estates were secured to him, but his affliction put him sadly in the power of his bailiff and manager, Ziba, who was of a self-seeking and treacherous disposition. By Ziba's schemings and misrepresentations, Mephibosheth fell under the displeasure of David at the time of the Absalomic rebellion, and, though explanations were eventually made, the scheming servant was allowed to retain the advantages he had gained. The affliction of Mephibosheth had its influence upon his character. He was of a gentle, retiring disposition, too ready to let others ride over him, but capable of warm affections, faithful to those he loved and from whom he had received kindnesses, and in the difficult circumstances of his life able to manifest great magnanimity of spirit (see 2 Samuel 4:5; 2Sa 9:1-13.; 2 Samuel 16:1-4; 2 Samuel 19:24-30; 2 Samuel 21:7). In the different recorded passages of his life these points find illustration.

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF SECURING HEALTH AND VIGOUR IN THE TIME OF CHILDHOOD. The relation of robust childhood to energy, happiness, and success in the years of maturity is becoming every day better understood and more fully realized. The conditions of civilized life put infancy under much disability, and much motherhood is concerned in the mastery of those disabilities, and the strong growing of the young life. Perils come out of hereditary taints, infantile diseases, and, as in Mephibosheth's case, the accidents, or ignorance, or carelessness of nurses. It is not, therefore, a little thing that mothers and all having to do with young children should be skilled in their work and trained into efficiency; and this duty we urge in faithfulness to the great Father, who gives this trust of his young children to the mothers. And no nobler or more responsible earthly work is committed to any one than this watching and culturing of the children.

II. THE INFLUENCE WHICH FRAILTY IN CHILDHOOD MAY HAVE UPON CHARACTER, The relation between our bodily frame and our moral character is fully recognized, though It is too subtle for us precisely and adequately to trace. Scripture admits it when it says of God, "He knoweth our frame." There is a kind of harmony between the two, so that strength in one is matched by a kind of strength in the other, and frailty in the one is matched by a kind of weakness in the other. This is seen in Timothy. He evidently had a weak and sickly bodily organization, and it was matched by a shrinking, retiring disposition, which St. Paul earnestly urged him to overcome, "enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." The secret of fretfulness in after life, of suspiciousness, despondency, absence of perseverance, and lack of proper self-reliance, may be found in the frailties of the childhood stages. And oftentimes even the bodily pamperings and self-indulgences and failure to hold the passions under wise restraints, which are degrading features of the permanent character, find their true genesis in the unnourished early life. This is a subject of practical bearing on the moral and spiritual well-being of the race, and deserves to be thoroughly thought out, and presented in careful and impressive detail. It becomes a consideration full of solemnity for all who deal with children, that the men and women may as plainly bear on their characters the marks of the neglect or error of mother and nurse, as Mephibosheth bore for his life the consequences of his childish fall.

III. THE DISABILITIES OF FRAILTY AND DEFORMITY IN THE IMPORTANT CRISES OF LIFE. As seen in Mephibosheth's inability to show his real feeling to David when the rebellion tested David's friends. His frailty put him into Ziba's hands. So it is found, again and again, that a man's poor constitution, or his lameness, or his partial deafness, or his deficient eyesight, or his passionate temper, come up against him, and close door after door which otherwise he might hopefully enter. And while this thought should make us very considerate and gentle with any who thus spend life under infirmities, it should also serve to impress the one lesson we are learning from Mephibosheth's life, viz. that too much care cannot be shown in dealing with the young, tender, imperilled life of our children. All this man's troubles were the fruitage of the fall in his childhood.

IV. THE MEASURE OF MASTERY OVER FRAILTY GAINED BY A SINCERE PIETY; or, to put it in Christian form, by a full consecration of heart and life to Christ. This is seen in Mephibosheth, whose piety finds expression in his submission under wrong. It is well illustrated in the life of Calvin, Melancthon, or Baxter, and in such frail men as Henry Martyn. The young man who was thought too weak-bodied to go as a missionary, nobly urged that "he wanted to give his very weakness to Christ." The history of Christ's Church most encouragingly records that God has ever found gracious ways in which feeble instruments might do his noblest works.—R.T.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 8". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/1-chronicles-8.html. 1897.
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