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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

1 Chronicles 4

IV.

1 Chronicles 4:0. comprises (1) a compilation of fragmentary notices relating to the clans of Judah, their settlements and handicrafts, at an epoch which is not determined: this section serves at once as a supplement to the account of Judah already given in 1 Chronicles 1:3, and as a first instalment of the similar survey of the other tribes which follows (1 Chronicles 4:24-27); (2) similar notices relating to the tribe of Simeon (24-38).

Verse 1

(1) The sons of Judah.—Pharez only of these five was literally a son of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:3-4. We have, however, seen that all these names, with the possible exception of Carmi, represent great tribal divisions or clans; and as such they are called sons of Judah. For Carmi it is proposed to read the more famous name of Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9). This would give a line of direct descendants from Judah to the fifth generation, according to the genealogical presentation of 1 Chronicles 2:4; 1 Chronicles 2:9; 1 Chronicles 2:18-19. But the result thus obtained is of no special value. It has no bearing on the remainder of the section. Moreover, Carmi is mentioned (1 Chronicles 2:7) among the great Judean houses, and might have been prominent in numbers and influence at the unknown period when the original of the present list was drafted.

Verse 2

(2) Reaiah (or Jehoraah) the son of Shobal . . .—See 1 Chronicles 2:52, which also calls Shobal “father of Kirjath-jearim.” 1 Chronicles 2:53 adds that the Zorathites (Authorised Version, Zareathites) came of the clans of Kirjath-jearim. The present verse supplements the data of 1 Chronicles 2:0, by putting the clans of Zorah in immediate genealogical connection with Shobal. Their names—Ahumai and Lahad—occur nowhere else.

Verses 2-4

(2-4) Branches and settlements of the Hurites.

Verse 3

(3) And these were of the father of Etam.—Heb., And these (were) the father of Etam. Some MSS., the LXX., and the Vulg. read “and these (were) the sons of Etam;” other MSS., with the Syriac and Arabic versions, have “the sons of the father of Etam.” Both variants look like evasions of a difficulty. The unusual expression “and these—Abi-Etam” may be a brief way of stating that the clans whose names are given were the dominant houses of Etam (or Abi-etam; compare Abiezer, Judges 7:11; Judges 8:2). Etam is known from the history of Samson (Judges 15:8, and 2 Chronicles 11:6); Jezreel—not Ahab’s capital—from Joshua 15:56, and as the city of Ahinoam, wife of David, from 1 Chronicles 3:1. Both places were in the hill-country of Judah. The other three names are unknown.

Their sister.Their sister-town (see 1 Chronicles 1:39; 1 Chronicles 1:52, and Notes).

Hazelelponi.—Means “make shadow, O thou that regardest me!”

Verse 4

(4) And Penuel the father of Gedor.—Penuel occurs as a trans-Jordan town in Judges 8:8, and elsewhere. Here a Judean town or clan is meant.

Gedor.—See 1 Chronicles 2:51, and Note; Joshua 15:58. Now the ruin called Jedur.

Ezer the father of Hushah.—Ezer occurs as a name of clans and localities, as well as of persons. (Comp. Judges 7:24, Abi-ezri; 1 Chronicles 8:2, Abi-ezer; and 1 Samuel 4:1, Eben-ezer.) In 1 Chronicles 12:9 and Nehemiah 3:19 it is a man’s name.

Hushah.—The place is unknown, but several celebrated persons are called Hushathites—e.g., Sibbechai, one of David’s heroes, 1 Chronicles 11:29.

These are the sons of Hur.—A subscription to the short list of 1 Chronicles 4:2-4. ‘Both the Shobalite clans of Zorah (1 Chronicles 4:2) and those enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:3-4 were sons of Hur.

The firstborn of Ephratah.—See 1 Chronicles 2:19; 1 Chronicles 2:50.

The father of Beth-lehem.—At 1 Chronicles 2:51, Salma, son of Hur, is called father of Bethlehem.

Verses 5-7

FAMILIES THAT CAME OF ASH-HUR (1 Chronicles 4:5-7).

(5) And Ashur the father of Tekoa.—See 1 Chronicles 2:24, and Notes. If Ashur means the Hurites, the two wives, Helah and Naarah, may designate two settlements of this great clan.

(6) Hepher.—A district of southern Judah, near Tappuach (Joshua 12:17; 1 Kings 4:10).

Temeni is a Gentilic name, formed from the word Têmân, “the south.” This clan was called “the Southrons,” and doubtless lived with the others in the south of Judah.

Haahashtari is another nomen gentilicium, meaning the Ahashtarites (“muleteers;” comp. Esther 8:10).

(7) The sons of Helah are unknown from other sources.

Jezoar should be Zohar, according to the Hebrew margin. The Heb. text has Izhar.

Ethnan.Harlot’s hire (Hosea 9:1). There may have been a foreign element in this clan or township.

Verse 8

(8) Coz begat Anub.Coz (thorn) is unknown.

Anub.—LXX., Ενωβ. Comp. Anâb, (Joshua 11:21; Joshua 15:50), a town in the hill-country near Debir (Kirjathsepher). The word appears to mean “grape-town” so that “Coz begat Anub” reminds us of Matthew 7:16. Comp. Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 7:23.

Zobebah.—Heb., ha-zobebah, “she that goeth (or floweth) softly.” Perhaps so called from a neighbouring brook. Comp. Isaiah 8:6.

The families of Aharhel the son of Harum.—The word Aharhel signifies “behind the rampart;” Harum, “the elevated.” Perhaps Harum (ἡ ἄκρα) was the citadel of the clans of Aharhel. Notice the expression, “Coz begat the clans of Aharhel son of Harum,” which is hardly intelligible if taken literally.

(9–10) And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren.—Jabez (Heb., Iabêç) was a town of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:55), inhabited by certain clans of Sopherim, of the lineage of Salma son of Hur (1 Chronicles 2:50; 1 Chronicles 2:54-55). This is important, as giving a clue to the connection here, which is by no means clear upon the surface. It seems to prove that 1 Chronicles 4:8-10 are to be regarded as part of the list which begins at 1 Chronicles 4:5 : we may thus fairly assume, although the chronicler does not expressly state it, that 1 Chronicles 4:8 also concerns some clans of the Hurites (or Ash-hurites). Coz is not put into genealogical connection with the other Hurite houses; but it is reasonable to suppose that at the date of the present list the name was well known among the Hurites. “And Coz” may have fallen out of the Heb. text, as the same expression follows immediately (1 Chronicles 4:8).

Verse 9

(9) More honourable than his brethren.—Comp. what is said of Hamor son of Shechem in Genesis 34:19.

His brethren.—Perhaps the sons of Coz. The form of the Hebrew verb implies connection with 1 Chronicles 4:8.

His mother called his name . . .—Comp. Genesis 29:32-35, and especially Genesis 35:18.

With sorrow.—Rather, pain.

Verse 10

(10) Jabez called on the God of Israel.—Comp. Jacob’s vow at Bethel, Genesis 28:20-22, and his altar, El-’elohë Israel, “El is the God of Israel,” Genesis 33:20. Some have supposed that the peculiar phrase, “God of Israel,” indicates that the original Canaanite population of Jabez proselytised.

Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.—Literally, “if indeed thou wilt bless me.”

My coast.—My border or domain (fines).

And that thine hand.—Rather, and if thine hand will be with me, and thou wilt deal without (Heb. away from) evil, that I suffer not !—The prayer is expressed in the form of a condition, with the consequence (“then will I serve thee,” comp. Genesis 28:22) suppressed.

The name Jabez is twice explained; in 1 Chronicles 4:9 it is made to mean “he paineth,” in 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez prays to be saved from pain. Comp. the frequent allusions in the book of Gen. to the meaning of the name Isaac (Yiçhâq, “he laugheth”); Genesis 17:17, Abraham’s daughter; 1 Chronicles 18:12, Sarah’s incredulous laughter; 1 Chronicles 21:6, Sarah’s joy at the birth; 1 Chronicles 26:8, Isaac’s own mirth. These features of likeness to the language and thought of Genesis, prove the originality and antiquity of the section.

And God granted.—Literally, and God brought (caused to come). Hence Jabez was “honoured above his brethren,” 1 Chronicles 4:9. If the Sopherim of Jabez (1 Chronicles 2:55) were, as their name implies, writers or men of letters, we can understand that Jabez, like Kirjath-sepher, was a place of books, and was honoured accordingly. The art of writing among the peoples of Babylonia ascends to an unknown antiquity. The oldest inscription we possess in the Phoenician character is of the ninth century B.C., and the development of that character from its Egyptian prototype must have occupied some centuries. Perhaps this very tradition concerning their founder originally emanated from the “families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez.”

Verses 11-12

(11-12) A fragment relating to the “men of Rechah,” a name which occurs nowhere else, and for which Rechab appears a plausible correction. So the Vat., LXX. Ρηχάβ. Compare 1 Chronicles 2:55, where the Sopherim of Jabez are called Rechabites, and see Notes on the passage. These Rechabites united with the Salmaite branch of Hurites; and Hur was a son of Caleb, 1 Chronicles 2:19. Hence it is likely that the Chelub of 1 Chronicles 4:11 is identical with the Caleb-Chelubai of 1 Chronicles 2:0, who represents a main division of the Hezronites. Others suppose that the epithet, “brother of Shuah” (Shuhah), is meant to obviate this identification. The other names in this short section are wholly unknown. But their form shows at once that Beth-rapha and Ir-nahash (serpent city) are towns.

Paseah (lame; comp. Latin Claudius as a family name) recurs Nehemiah 3:6; and as the name of a clan of Nethinim, Ezra 2:49, Nehemiah 7:51. The subscription, “these are the men of Rechah” (Rechab), probably looks back as far as 1 Chronicles 4:8.

(13–15) The sons of Kenazi.e., the Kenizzite element in Judah. Kenaz was the name of an Edomite clan, 1 Chronicles 1:53, and of an old Canaanite race.

Othniel.Judges 1:13, one of the heroes of the conquest; Judges 3:9, he vanquishes Chushan-rishathaim, king of Aram-naharaim. In both passages he is called “son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.” The Kenizzites, who cast in their lot with the Calebites of Judah, were naturally called “younger brothers” of their new kindred.

Seraiah is unknown.

The sons of Othniel, Hathath.—Eathath means dread, Job 6:21. Comp. the name Hittites, from the same root. The sons of Othniel (lion of God) would be a terror to their foes.

And Meonothai” has perhaps been accidentally omitted at the end of this verse, before the same phrase in 1 Chronicles 4:14. Or the genealogist may have purposely omitted it, as implied by what follows 1 Chronicles 4:14. Meonothai is apparently a gentilic name, i.e., Meonothites. The name Maon occurs Joshua 15:55 as a Judcan town; and Maon was the residence of the Calebite Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:2-3.

Ophrah.—Occurs several times as the name of a town; in Jude 1:7 as the city of Gideon, who belonged to Manasseh; in Joshua 18:23, as a place in Benjamin. The latter may be meant here, as the boundaries of the tribes varied at different epochs.

Joab, father of the valley of Charashim.—Charashim means workers in wood, or metal, or stone, 1 Chronicles 14:1, 2 Chronicles 24:12, 1 Chronicles 22:15. This valley of craftsmen (Val-aux-forges, as Reuss translates it) is mentioned again, Nehemiah 11:35. Lod, that is Lydda-Diospolis of Roman times, was situate here; a place occupied by Benjamites after the return. In Nehemiah 7:11, Ezra 2:6, in a list of those who returned with Zerubbabel, mention is made of some “sons of Joab.” For the term father in this connection, comp. Genesis 4:20-21.

Theyi.e., the sons of Joab, were craftsmen or smiths.

Verse 15

(15) The sons of Caleb, son of Jephunneh.—Caleb son of Jephunneh is called the Kenizzite, Joshua 14:6-14. He obtained “a part among the children of Judah” (Joshua 15:13), “because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 14:14). If Caleb the Kenizzite and his clan were received among the Hezronite houses of Judah, this new division of the Hezronites would henceforth be known as “the house of Caleb,” 1 Samuel 25:3; or simply “Caleb” (= Chelubai, the Calebite). (See Notes on 1 Chronicles 2:42; 1 Chronicles 2:49.)

Elah occurred 1 Chronicles 1:52, as an Edomite princedom, like Kenaz in 1 Chronicles 1:53.

Naam is perhaps Naamah, Joshua 15:41, a town in the Shephelah.

And the sons of Elah, even Kenaz.—The Heb. is, and the sons of Mah and Kenaz, that is, two clans of Calebites called Elah and Kenaz. Comp. 1 Chronicles 4:13, and 1 Chronicles 2:42; 1 Chronicles 3:21. Some MSS., the LXX., Vulg., and Targum omit and before Kenaz. But the word Elah, with different points, might be read elleh, “these.” It may be suggested, therefore, that we have in this last sentence the subscription to the list begun at 1 Chronicles 4:13, ’çlleh bnê Qnaz, “these are the sons of Kenaz.” Others suppose a name omitted, and render: “and the sons of Elah . . . and Kenaz.” Jehaleleel may have dropped out after the like-sounding Elah.

Verse 16

(16) The sons of Jehaleleel.—Heb., Yehallel-çl, “he praiseth God.”

Ziph is known, from Joshua 15:21; Joshua 15:24, as one of the cities of the children of Judah, “towards the border of Edom, southwards.” Perhaps, therefore, the sons of Jehallel-el also were Edomite-Kenizzites. Another Ziph, perhaps our Ziphah, is mentioned as in the hill-country, Joshua 15:55.

Asareel is perhaps a dialectic form of Israel (See 1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:14.) A foreign clan might take the name of its adopted people.

Verse 17

(17) And the sons of Ezra.—Heb., son, but some MSS. have sons (see Note on 1 Chronicles 3:19; 1 Chronicles 3:21). Ezra means help = Ezer, 1 Chronicles 4:4.

Jether occurred 1 Chronicles 2:32, as a Jerahmeelite.

Epher recurs 1 Chronicles 5:24, as a Manassite name.

Jalon and Mered occur nowhere else.

And she bare.—Literally, conceived. Who bare the three sons, whose names follow, is not clear from the preceding statement, which includes none but male appellations. The LXX. reads, “And Jether bare Maron (Miriam),” &c, and the Syriac and Arabic omit 1 Chronicles 4:17-18. This confirms our suspicion that the text is faulty.

Verse 18

(18) And his wife Jehudijah [Margin is right, the Jewess] bare Jered.—It is obvious that a contrast with the sons of some non-Jewish wife is intended, and these latter ought already to have been mentioned. Clearly, therefore, the sentence “And these are the sons of Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took”—a sentence which is meaningless in its present position—must be restored to its original place after the first statement of 1 Chronicles 4:17. We thus get the sense: “And the sons of Ezra were Jepher and Mered, and Epher and Jalon. And these [the following] are the sons of Bithiah, daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took [to wife]; she conceived Miriam and Shammai and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. And his [Mered’s] wife the Jewess bare Jered . . . Zanoah.” Thus the house of Mered son of Ezra bifurcates into a purely Judæan and a mixed Egyptian group of families. Eshtemoa (1 Chronicles 4:17) lay south of Hebron, in the hil-country (Joshua 15:50).

Gedor.—See 1 Chronicles 4:4, where Penuel is called father of Gedor. The two lists may, and probably do, refer to different epochs.

Socho.Joshua 15:35; in the Shephelah, south-west of Jerusalem.

Zanoah.—Two Judæan towns were so named, one in the Shephelah, the other in the highlands (Joshua 15:34; Joshua 15:56).

Jekuthiel occurs here only; but comp. Joktheel (Joshua 15:38), a town in the Shephelah.

Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh.—Bithiah is apparently Hebrew, “daughter of Iah,” that is, a convert to the religion of Israel. It may be a Hebraized form of Bent-Aah, daughter of the Moon, or some like native name. Daughter of Pharaoh, if the nomenclature be tribal, need only mean an Egyptian clan which amalgamated with that of Mered. On the other hand, comp. 2 Chronicles 8:11 and 1 Kings 9:24, where the phrase is used in its literal sense.

Verse 19

(19) And the sons of his wife Hodiah.—The existing Hebrew text says, And the sons of Hodiah’s wife. Hodiah recurs as a man’s name in Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:5; but a very slight change—the addition of three letters—in the Hebrew would give the sense: “And sons of his Jewish wife, the sister of Naham, were the father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa,” &c.

Naham is unknown.

Keilah is a town in the Shephelah (Joshua 15:44), well known as the scene of David’s prowess and peril (1 Samuel 23:0).

Eshtemoa occurred in 1 Chronicles 4:17, in connexion with Ishbah, son of Ezra by Bithiah. (See Note there.) The Garmites and Maachathites are unknown clans. The former founded or were settled at Keilah. It appears that abi (“father of”) has dropped out of the text before Eshtemoa; the sense being that the Maachathites were settled at Eshtemoa; which, of course, they may have been, side by side with the half-Egyptian clan Ishbah. Maachah is mentioned, 1 Chronicles 2:48, as a concubine of Caleb. The list is still dealing with the Calebite division of Hezron.

Verse 20

(20) The Sons of Shimon.—Nothing is said elsewhere of them, or of the sons of Ishi. Ishi (1 Chronicles 2:31) is a Jerahmeelite name; but/as throughout tho section (1 Chronicles 4:2-19) we have found indications that the ramifications of the house of Caleb are the principal subject, and as 1 Chronicles 4:20 is appended to the rest, without any opposing remark, it, is highly probable that it also refers to some Calebite clans and towns.

Verses 21-23

II.—SONS OF SHELAH, THIRD SON OF JUDAH,
1 Chronicles 4:21-23 (omitted by Syriac version).

The Shelanite clans were not noticed in 1 Chronicles 2:0 (See Genesis 38:5 and 1 Chronicles 2:3.)

(21) Er.—This Er who founded Lecah is, of course, distinct from Er “the firstborn of Judah.” Lecah is unknown. Mareshah, a town in the lowlands of Judah, is connected with Caleb (1 Chronicles 2:42). Such statements are not contradictory. At different periods different tribal divisions might have been settled in the same city. The present statement need only mean that Mareshah was a Shelanite foundation.

The families of the house of them that wrought fine linen.—“The clans of the house of Byssus work at Beth-Ashbea.” Beth-Ashbea is an unknown place. It was the seat of some Shelanite houses engaged in growing flax and weaving linen. Such industries in ancient times were confined to hereditary guilds, which jealously guarded their methods and trade secrets.

(22) Jokim.—Comp. Jakim (1 Chronicles 8:9). Both are probably equivalent to Joiakim (Jehoiakim).

Chozeba.—Perhaps Chezib (Genesis 38:5), called Achzib (Joshua 15:44), the birthplace of Shelah; now the ruins of Kesâba. It was a town of the Shephelah.

And Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab.—The passage is obscure, because we know nothing further of Joash and Saraph. The LXX. render the whole verse: “And Joakim, and men of Chozeba, and Joas, and Saraph, who settled in Moab;” adding the meaningless words, καὶ . The word rendered “had the dominion” occurs sixteen times, and in twelve cases at least means “to marry.” Probably Isaiah 26:13, Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 31:32 are not exceptions. The right translation here, therefore, would seem to be “who married Moab,” a metaphor expressing settlement in that country (LXX., κατῴκησαν).

And Jashubi-lehem.—We have here a vestige of some form of the verb shûb (“to return”), as the LXX. (ἀπέστρεψεν) indicates; and “lehem” (Heb., lahem) may either signify “to them,” or represent the second half of the name Bethlehem. Reading (with one MS.) wayyâshûbû, we might translate, and they returned to themselves, i.e., to their Judæan home. (Comp. the story of the sojourn of Elimelech and his family in Moab, and the return of Naomi to Judah.) But Bêth might easily have fallen out before lahem, and if so, the statement is, and they returned to Bethlehem—another point of likeness to the story of the Book of Ruth. (2) Others render, “Reduced Moab and requited them” (way-yashîbû lahem); referring the notice to a supposed subjugation of Moab by two chieftains of Judah. (3) Others, again, have proposed: “Who married into Moab, and brought them home (wives).” (Comp. the story of Mahlon and Chilion in Ruth.) The Vulg. translates all the proper names, and continues: “Qui principes fuerunt in Moab, et qui reversi sunt in Lahem.” (Comp. also Ezra 2:6.)

And these are ancient things.And the events are ancient, that is, those just recounted.

Verse 23

(23) These were the potters.—Viz., the clans enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:22.

And those that dwelt among plants and hedges.—Rather, and inhabitants of Net aim and Gederah. Netaim means “plantations” (Isaiah 17:10). Solomon had pleasure-gardens near Bethlehem. See also the notice of Uzziah’s farms and vineyards (2 Chronicles 26:10). Gederah (Joshua 15:36), a town in the Shephelah.

There they dwelt with the king.—Literally, with the king in his work they dwelt there. This seems to say that the potteries of Netaim and Gederah were a royal establishment, as those of Sevres used to be. Perhaps the linen-weaving of Beth-Ashbea (1 Chronicles 4:21) should be included.

Verse 24

III.—THE TRIBE OF SIMEON: ITS CLANS, AND THEIR SETTLEMENTS AND CONQUESTS (1 Chronicles 4:24-43).

(24) The sons of Simeon.—The Pentateuch contains three lists of sons of Simeon, viz., Genesis 46:10, Exodus 6:15, and Numbers 26:12. Genesis and Exodus name six sons; Numbers agrees with the Chronicles in naming five, the Ohad of Genesis and Exodus being omitted. In place of our Jarib Numbers has Jachin; the other names are the same. Genesis and Exodus read Jemuel and Zohar for Nemuel and Zerah. Exodus 6:15 calls Shaul “son of a Canaanitess.” The mixed race of Shaul was the only Simeonite clan that became populous (1 Chronicles 4:25-27). The other clans are not further noticed by this genealogy.

Verse 27

(27) His brethren had not many children.—His brethren, i.e., his fellow-tribesmen. The other Simeonite clans (Numbers 26:12), are meant.

Neither did all their family multiply.—Rather, nor did they multiply their whole clan. The word clan (mishpahath) is here used in the wider sense of tribe. This remark is borne out by what we otherwise know of the tribe of Simeon. It was never historically important, and appears to have ultimately been absorbed by Judah, within which its domain was included (Joshua 19:1). (Comp. Genesis 49:7 : “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”)

Verse 28

II.—THE SEATS OF THE SIMEONITES UNTIL THE REIGN OF DAVID (1 Chronicles 4:28-33).

This list is parallel to Joshua 19:2-8. There are some variations, partly accidental.

(28) Beer-sheba, and Moladah, and Hazar-shual.Joshua 19:2 adds Sheba after Beer-sheba—an obviously mistaken repetition, making fourteen towns in all, whereas 1 Chronicles 4:6 concludes, “thirteen cities and their villages.” Beer-sheba is Bir-esseba; Moladah, Tel-Milh, south of Hebron; Hazar-shual (fox-village) is unknown.

Verse 29

(29) Many of the places assigned to Simeon in this list are reckoned among the towns of the extreme south of Judah in Joshua 15:26, et seq. Bilhah, or Balah, is, perhaps, Baalah (Joshua 15:29); Ezem (Authorised Version, Azem) and Eltolad are also mentioned there. Their sites are unknown.

Verse 30

(30) Bethuel.—Called Chesil in Joshua 15:30; Joshua 19:4 has Bethûl, a contraction like Hamul for Hamuel (1 Chronicles 4:26; comp. 1 Chronicles 2:5).

Hormah.—The ancient Zephath (Judges 1:17), now Sepata.

Ziklag.—Now Kasluj, east of Sepata (Joshua 15:30-31; 1 Samuel 27:6).

Verse 31

(31) Beth-marcaboth = “house of chariots.”

Hazar - susim = “village of horses;” for which Hazarsusah is an equivalent (susah being used as a collective word).

Beth-birei.—Probably a corrupt writing of Beth-lebaoth, “house of lionesses” (Joshua 19:6), for which Joshua 15:32 has the contraction Lebaoth. There were lions in the wilds of Judah (1 Samuel 17:34). (Comp. Judges 14:5; 1 Kings 13:24.)

Shaaraim (two gates) is Sharuhen (Joshua 19:6), and Shilhim (Joshua 15:32). Sharuhen is known from Egyptian inscriptions (Sharuhuna).

These were their cities unto the reign of David, and their villages.Joshua 19:6 shows that this is the right punctuation: “And Beth-lebaoth and Sharuhen: thirteen towns, and their villages.”

Unto the reign of David.—Does this mean that in the age of David the thirteen cities passed from the possession of the Simeonites? Ziklag, at all events, was at that time a Philistine borough (1 Samuel 27:6).

Verse 32

(32) And their villages.—This belongs to 1 Chronicles 4:31. The verb should be cancelled.

Etam, and Ain, Rimmon . . .—Why are these five cities separated from the former thirteen? The old Jewish expositors Rashi and Kimchi assert, that whereas the thirteen were lost to the Simeonites from the time of David, these five remained in their possession. The separation is made in Joshua 19:0 as well as here. (Many MSS. read “and Rimmon.”)

Five cities.Joshua 19:7 : “Ain, Rimmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages.” Etam may be a mistake for Ether. But there were two Etams, one in the hills of Judah, south of Bethlehem (see 1 Chronicles 4:3, Note; 2 Chronicles 11:6), and one in the south of Judah (Judges 15:8)—perhaps the place intended here. Ether occurs in Joshua 15:42 along with Ashan. Both were in the lowlands of Judah. Ain and Rimmon are spoken of as one place (Nehemiah 11:29): they must have been close to each other (comp. Buda-Pesth). Tochen only here.

Verse 33

(33) Unto Baal.—Called in Joshua 19:8 Baalathbeer (“lady of the well”). The same passage adds what appears to be the name of this group of villages, viz., Ramath-negeb, or Ramah of the southland. (Comp. 1 Samuel 30:27.)

These (Heb., this) were their habitations.—A conclusion of the list of towns of Simeon.

And their genealogy.—Heb., and they had their own registration (or, enrolment); that is, though their settlements lay within the territory of Judah, their clans were registered as belonging to a distinct tribe.

Verses 34-37

III.—EMIGRATION OF THE SIMEONITES: THEIR CONQUESTS (1 Chronicles 4:34-43).

(34-37) The thirteen princes (emirs) of Simeon who headed the expedition of their tribe in the age of Hezekiah (fl. 710 B.C.). None of them are otherwise known.

Verse 36

(36) Jaakobah.—Literally, to Jacob; a patronymic derived from Jacob, like the English Jacobs.

Verses 38-39

(38) These mentioned by their names.—Literally, these who have come (forward) with names, that is, have been adduced by name.

Were princes in their families.Ameers or chieftains in their clans.

And the house of their fathers increased.And their father-houses had spread greatly. Finding their territory too strait for them under these conditions, and probably also because of the encroachments of their powerful neighbours, the Judæans and Philistines, the Simeonite chieftains went forth at the head of their clans to seek new settlements.

And (so) they went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the east side of the valley.—Gedor can hardly be the town of that name in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:58). The LXX. read Gerar (Γεραρα).

Even unto the east side of the valley.So far as to the east of the valley, that is, apparently, the valley of or near the unknown Gedor, or Gerar. The only considerable valley south-east of Judah is the Arabah, below the Dead Sea. That this locality is meant appears likely from the vicinity of Mount Seir and the Amalekites (1 Chronicles 4:42).

To seek pasture for their flocks.—This statement is of interest as proving that even so late as the reign of Hezekiah, those Israelite clans which bordered on the desert were still nomades, like the Beidawis. (Comp. Genesis 13:5-12).

Verse 40

(40) And they found fat pasture and good.—If Gerar was the right reading in 1 Chronicles 4:39, we might compare Genesis 26:17 seq.

And the land was wide.Genesis 34:21. Literally, broad of both handsi.e., on both sides. An open plain is meant.

And quiet and peaceable.—Like Laish, which the Danites took by surprise (Judges 18:7; Judges 18:28).

They of Ham had dwelt there of old.—That is, they who were then dwelling there were Hamites or Canaanites (1 Chronicles 1:8).

Of old.—Literally, before (lephânîm); that is, before the Simeonite invasion.

Verse 41

(41) These who were written by name.—The Ameers enumerated in 1 Chronicles 4:34-37.

Smote their tents.—These Hamites, like the men of Laish, were nomades.

And the habitations that were found there.—Heb. text, the wells: Heb. marg., the Maonites, in Hebrew a very similar word. LXX., τοὺς Mivaíovs, the Maonites or Minacans. The text may be compared with the Syriac, which reads, “And all springs of water that were there they stopped up.” But the Margin is probably correct, as the verb which the Syriac supplies is wanting in the Hebrew. The Maonites appear to have been sojourners from Maon, south of the Dead Sea, near Petra, now called Maân. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:1.)

Destroyed them utterly.Devoted them to God for destruction; Joshua 6:17, “the city shall be accursed unto the Lord.” This practice was not peculiar to Israel, but was common to the Semitic races. Mesha, king of Moab, in like manner devoted the inhabitants of Nebo, 7,000 in number, to destruction in the name of ‘Ashtar-Chemosh. (See the Stele of Dibân, lines 14-17, in Dr. Ginsburg’s The Moabite Stone.)

Unto this day—That is, to the time when this record was first written, long before the chronicler borrowed it from his sources.

Verse 42

(42) Went.—Or, had gone (marched). The time of this expedition to mount Seir is not expressed; but for that very reason it is likely to have been nearly contemporaneous with the events just described. The band of five hundred would seem to have belonged to the clans which had already smitten the Hamites. Neither Ishi (Yish’i) nor his sons are otherwise known. If a totally different expedition were intended, the expression, “and of them—of the sons of Simeon—five hundred men,” would be a needlessly misleading periphrasis for, “And some of the sons of Simeon.” “Of them” can only refer to the clans whose emigration in the days of Hezekiah has been the subject of this section.

Verse 43

(43) The rest of the Amalekites that were escaped.—Literally, the remnant of the survivors (pelêtâh, an abstract collective word) belonging to Amalek. These Amalekites are usually supposed to have been some who had taken refuge in Seir from Saul and David’s exterminating wars (1 Samuel 14:48; 1 Samuel 15:7; 2 Samuel 8:12. Comp. 1 Chronicles 1:36, where Amalek appears as a partly Edomite stock.)

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/1-chronicles-4.html. 1905.