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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

1 Chronicles 4

Verses 1-43

GENEALOGIES AND PEDIGREES

INTRODUCTION

With this begins the study of those historical books of the Old Testament written shortly after the return from the Babylonian captivity, the remainder of the series including 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

“Chronicles” means “diaries” or “journal,” and the books recapitulate sacred history from the time of Adam, in which the earlier books of the Old Testament are drawn upon and occasionally supplemented. The Holy Spirit, who is the real Author, has a right to do this when the occasion calls for it.

The closest relation exists between the Chronicles and Kings. The last- named were written, it is thought, by Jeremiah, and the first-named by a priest or Levite. Kings must have been compiled shortly after the people went into exile, Chronicles after their return. Kings deal more with the inner spiritual condition of things, Chronicles with the external modes of worship.

There are differences in the two records here and there. Not only are genealogies differently grouped, but names and places are changed, speeches of persons are presented from dissimilar aspects, religious festivals have more than one description given them, and things of that kind; but there is no contradiction not explainable by the changes incident to time, the later writer’s point of view, the object in mind, negligent transcribing and the like.

Why Chronicles were written is difficult to say, but there must have been some good reason for going over the ground again, “some new aspect of the history to signalize, and some new lesson to convey to the people of

God on returning from the captivity.” What these things may be must appear as we proceed.

SUBDIVISIONS

The first nine chapters contain the genealogies of the patriarchs, the twelve tribes, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem till the beginning of the kingdom, the purpose being to connect David, the great forerunner of the Messiah, as well as the priests and Levites of his time with the antediluvian patriarchs. They have been subdivided as follows:

The Patriarchs from Adam to Jacob and Esau, with the descendants of the latter till the era of the Edomite Kings (chap. 1). At first these names may not seem of importance to us, but we remember that the Holy Spirit caused them to be written and that is enough. And when we know how to awaken them from their sleep, they do not remain so dead as they at first appear, but revive the most important traditions of the ancient nations and families, like the petrifactions and mountain strata of the earth, which rightly questioned, tell the history of long vanished ages.

The Sons of Jacob, or the Generations of Judah till David, with David’s Posterity till Elioenai and His Seven Sons (1 Chronicles 2:1 to 1 Chronicles 4:23 ). In this we discover a biographic gem in the story of Jabez and his prayer (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ) of whom we are told nothing further. Verse 10 has homiletic value in the three things for which Jabez prayed and which he received prosperity, power, and protection.

Another homiletic suggestion is in the words, “There they dwelt with the king for his work” (v. 23). These potters “that dwelt among plants and hedges,” may have been artistic craftsmen adjacent to the royal gardens at Jerusalem, not merely in the reign of one king but all of them. Remains of these potteries have been found in recent times.

The Descendants of Simeon and the Tribes East of the Jordan till the Assyrian Captivity (1 Chronicles 4:24 to 1 Chronicles 5:26 ). This division is interesting, as it records two conquests or migrations of the Simeonites (1 Chronicles 4:38-43 ), and corroborates what we learned earlier about the small size of this tribe (compare 1 Chron. 5:27 with Numbers 1-4 and Joshua 19:1-9 ). In the same way compare the reference to Reuben, Joseph and Judah, 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 , with the earlier account in Genesis 49:0 . Nor should we permit such an inspired comment as chapter 5:20 to escape us.

The Levites and Their Locations (1 Chronicles 6:1-81 ).

This division may be broken up, thus: The sons of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:1-3 ); the priests down to the captivity (v. 4-15); the families of Gershom, Merari and Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:16-48 ); the office of Aaron and his line unto Ahimaaz (v. 49-53); the cities of the priests and the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:54-81 ).

The Remaining Tribes (1 Chronicles 7-8).

These tribes include Issachar (1 Chronicles 7:1-5 ); Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:6-12 ) Naphtali (1 Chronicles 7:13 ); Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:14-19 ); Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:20-29 ); Asher (1 Chronicles 7:30-40 ); the chief men of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8:1-32 ); the house of Saul (1 Chronicles 8:33-40 ). Dan and Zebulun are omitted, but why, no one knows. In the case of Dan, perhaps, it is judicial punishment because of their early and almost total fall into idolatry. They are omitted again in the list of Revelation 8:0 . Zebulun’s omission is more difficult to explain. It was a small tribe, especially just before and after the exile, but it was the tribe whose territory included Nazareth where Jesus dwelt.

The Inhabitants of Jerusalem till the Times of the Kings (1 Chronicles 9:0 ).

QUESTIONS

1. Name the post-exilian historical books.

2. Give the scope and general contents of the books of Chronicles.

3. Contrast Kings and Chronicles as to their history and character.

4. What are some of the points of difference between Kings and Chronicles, and how are they explained?

5. Give the contents of 1 Chronicles 1-9 in outline.

6. What can you recall of the history of Jabez?

7. Which two tribes are altogether omitted from these genealogies?

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/1-chronicles-4.html. 1897-1910.