Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 8

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch

Verses 1-5

The families of Benjamin enumerated in this chapter were probably separated from those in 1 Chronicles 7:6-11, merely on the ground that all the registers which are grouped together in 1 Chron 7 were taken from another genealogical document than that from which the registers in our chapter, which form a supplement to the short fragments in 1 Chronicles 7:6-11, have been derived.

1 Chronicles 8:1-2

The sons of Benjamin and Bela. - The manner in which the five sons begotten by Benjamin are enumerated is remarkable, “Bela his first-born, Ashbel the second,” etc., since, according to Genesis 46:21, after the first-born Bela, Becher follows as the second son, and Ashbel is the third; while Aharah, Nohah, and Rapha are not met with there, quite other names occupying their place. In אחרח we can easily recognise the אחירם of Numbers 26:38, whence the enumeration in 1 Chronicles 8:1. harmonizes with the order in Numbers 26:38. It is therefore clear, that in our genealogy only those sons are mentioned who founded the families of Benjamin. The names נוחה and רפא are nowhere else met with among the sons of Benjamin; but we may conclude, partly from the agreement of the first three names with the heads of the families of Benjamin enumerated in Numbers 26:38, and partly from the agreement as to the number, which is five in both passages, that נוחה and רפא are intended to correspond to the שׁפוּפם and חוּפם of Numbers 26:39. The only question which then remains is, whether the variation in the names arises from these two sons of Benjamin having had different names, or from the families which issued from Shephupham and Hupham having afterwards perhaps received new names from famous chiefs, instead of the original designations, so that Nohah and Rapha would be later descendants of Shephupham and Hupham. Even this second supposition seems possible, since הוליד in such genealogical registers may denote mediate procreation. If, e.g., Nohah were a grandson or great-grandson of Shephupham the son of Benjamin, he might well be introduced in the genealogical lists of the families as begotten by Benjamin.

1 Chronicles 8:3-5

The sons of Bela. Of the six names borne by these sons, גּרא is twice met with; נעמן is found in Genesis 46:21 as the son, and in Numbers 26:40 as grandson of Benjamin; שׁפוּפן is another form of שׁפוּפם , Numbers 26:39; and חוּרם may be a transcriber's error for chuwpaam, Numbers 26:39, just as אדּר probably stands for ארדּ , Genesis 46:21. The occurrence of the name Gera would be incomprehensible only if בּנים denoted sons in the narrower sense of the word; but if בּנים fi tub are sons in the wider sense, i.e., descendants who founded fathers'-houses (groups of related households), two cousins might have the same name. In that case, Addar, Shephuphan, and Huram also may be different persons from Ard, Shephupham, and Hupham. Abihud and Abishua are met with as descendants of Benjamin only here, and 'achowach may be connected with אחיּה , 1 Chronicles 8:7.

Verses 6-7

Sons of Ehud. - The descent of Ehud from the sons, grandsons, and descendants of Benjamin, enumerated in 1 Chronicles 8:1-5, is not given. The names of Ehud's sons follow only at the end of the 1 Chronicles 8:7, “And he begat Uzza and Ahihud,” while the intermediate clauses contain historical remarks. These sons were “heads of fathers'-houses of the inhabitants of Geba,” i.e., Geba of Benjamin (1 Samuel 13:16), the Levite city, 1 Chronicles 6:45, which still remains as the half-ruinous village Jeba, about three leagues to the north of Jerusalem; see on Joshua 18:24. “And they led them captive to Manahath, viz., Naaman and Ahiah and Gera, this man led them captive.” The subject to ויּגלוּם are the men mentioned in the following verse, while the הוּא which follows shows that, of the three above mentioned, the last, Gera, was the author of their captivity. The place Manahath is not known, but is conjectured to be connected with Hazi-Hammanahti and Hazi-Hammenuhoth, 1 Chronicles 2:54 and 1 Chronicles 2:52; but we cannot ascertain with certainty whether the name denotes a city or a district, and the situation of it has not yet been discovered. Of the hostile collision of these Benjamite families also, no more detailed accounts have come down to us.

Verses 8-12

The descendants of Shaharaim. - The descent of Shaharaim from the sons and grandsons named in 1 Chronicles 8:1-3 is obscure, and the conjecture which connects him with Ahishahar of 1 Chronicles 7:10 is unsupported. He was the father of a considerable number of heads of fathers'-houses, whom his two or three wives bore to him. According to 1 Chronicles 8:8, he begat “in the country of Moab after he had sent them, Hushim and Baara his wives, away; (1 Chronicles 8:9) there begat he with Hodesh his wife, Jobab,” etc. When and how Shaharaim, a Benjamite, came into the country of Moab, is not known; all that can be gathered from our verse is that he must have lived there for a considerable time. שׁלחו is infin. Pi., the “ i ” being retained, and the Daghesh forte omitted with Sheva (cf. as to this formation, Ew. §238, d.). אתם , accus. of the pronoun, which, as it precedes its noun, is in gen. masc., although the names of women follow (cf. for this use of the pronoun, Ew. §309, c.). חוּשׁים and בּערה are women, as we learn from the following נשׁיו . By this parenthesis, the beginning of the main sentence has been lost sight of, and the הוליד is taken up again in ויּולד . As to הוליד with מן , cf. the remark on 1 Chronicles 2:8. חדשׁ is the third wife, which he took instead of those he had sent away. The seven names in 1 Chronicles 8:9, 1 Chronicles 8:10 are grouped together as sons or descendants of the last-named wife, by the concluding remark, “These his sons are heads of fathers'-houses.” Then, further, in 1 Chronicles 8:11, 1 Chronicles 8:12, the sons and grandsons of the first (divorced) wives, one of whom built the cities Ono and Lydda, are enumerated; but we have no means of determining whether the בּנה הוּא refers to Shemer, the last mentioned, or to Elpaal the father of the three sons, Eber, and Misham, and Shemer. It would, however, naturally suggest itself, that the words referred to the first. לד (Lod) is without doubt the city Lydda, where Peter healed the paralytic (Acts 9:32.). It belonged in the Syrian age to Samaria, but it was added to Judea by the King Demetrius Soter, and given to Jonathan for a possession (1 Macc. 11:34, cf. with 10:30, 38). In the Jewish was it was destroyed by the Roman general Cestius (Joseph. de Bell. Jud. ii. 19. 1), but was rebuilt at a later time, and became the site of a toparchy of Judea. In still later times it was called Diospolis, but is now a considerable Mohammedan village, lying between Jafa and Jerusalem to the north of Ramleh, which bears the old name Ludd, by the Arabs pronounced also Lidd. See v. Raumer, Pal. S. 10; Robins. Pal. sub voce; and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, S. 69f. Ono is mentioned elsewhere only in Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 7:37 and Nehemiah 11:35, along with Lod, and must have been a place in the neighbourhood of Lydda.

Verses 13-14

Heads of fathers'-houses of the tribe of Benjamin, who dwelt partly in Aijalon (1 Chronicles 8:13) and partly in Jerusalem. - Their connection with the heads of fathers'-houses already mentioned is not clear. The names ושׁמע בּריעה might be taken fore a fuller enumeration of the sons of Elpaal (1 Chronicles 8:12), were it not that the names enumerated from 1 Chronicles 8:14 or 15 onwards, are at the end of 1 Chronicles 8:16 said to be those of sons of Beriah; whence we must conclude that with וּבריעה , 1 Chronicles 8:13, a new list of heads of Benjamite fathers'-houses begins. This view is supported by the fact that the names from 1 Chronicles 8:14 or 1 Chronicles 8:15 to 1 Chronicles 8:27 are divided into five groups of families: the sons of Beriah (1 Chronicles 8:16), of Elpaal (1 Chronicles 8:18), of Shimhi (1 Chronicles 8:21), of Shashak (1 Chronicles 8:25), and of Jeroham (1 Chronicles 8:27). But as two of these, Beriah and Shashak, occur in 1 Chronicles 8:13, 1 Chronicles 8:14, and שׁמעי is probably another form of שׁמע , Bertheau conjectures that the last two names, Shashak and Jeroham, are represented by אחיו and ירמות dna א (1 Chronicles 8:14). ירחם and ירמות may be explained by the supposition of a transcriber's error, or by one person having two names; but the word אחיו is rendered by the lxx by ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ (= אהיו ); and the view that אחיו is a nom. prop. is opposed, as in 1 Chronicles 8:31, by the fact that the ו cop. is not found before the following שׁשׁק , for here, throughout, the names are all connected with each other by the w cop. Bertheau therefore conjectures that the text originally ran thus, ושׁשׁק אהיו ואלפּעל , and that the name Elpaal was dropped out; and that in consequence of that, אחיו had been punctuated as a nom. prop. These conjectures seem satisfactory, especially as it may be adduced in their favour that אהיו has been added to the name Elpaal to connect the names in 1 Chronicles 8:15 with the enumeration (1 Chronicles 8:13) interrupted by the parenthetical remarks. No certainty, however, can be attained in a matter so obscure. If a new series of groups of families begins with 1 Chronicles 8:13, we should expect an introductory formula, as in 1 Chronicles 8:6. Beriah and Shema are called heads of the fathers'-houses of the inhabitants of Aijalon, i.e., heads of the groups of related households inhabiting Aijalon, the present Jalo to the west of Gibeon (see on Joshua 19:42). It is quite consistent with this that their sons or descendants dwelt in Jerusalem. Next a heroic deed of theirs is related, viz., that they (in some war or other) turned to flight the inhabitants of Gath (without doubt Philistines). This remark reminds us of the statement in 1 Chronicles 7:21, that sons of Ephraim were slain by those born in Gath, because they had gone down to drive away the herds of the inhabitants. But Bertheau draws an erroneous conclusion from this fact, when he says that because in both passages the name Beriah occurs, both refer to the same event, and thereafter attempts by various hypotheses to make the Benjamites mentioned in our verse into Ephraimites. For the name Beriah is not at all so rare as to allow of our inferring from that alone that the various persons so called are identical, for Jacob's son Asher also named one of his sons Beriah; cf. 1 Chronicles 7:30 with Genesis 46:17. The notion that the Benjamites Beriah and Shema defeated those inhabitants of Gath who had slain the sons of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:21) is quite unsupported, as the Philistines lived at war and in feud with the Israelites for hundreds of years.

Verses 15-16

Several of the names of these six sons of Beriah who are mentioned in our verse occur elsewhere, but nowhere else are they met with as sons of Beriah.

Verses 17-28

Bertheau would identify three of the sons of Elpaal - Meshullam, Heber, and Ishmerai - with Misham, Eber, and Shemer, 1 Chronicles 8:12, but without any sufficient reason; for it is questionable if even the Elpaal whose sons are named in our verses be the same person as the Elpaal mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:12. Of these descendants of Elpaal, also, nothing further is known, and the same may be said of the nine sons of Shimhi, 1 Chronicles 8:19-21; of the eleven sons of Shashak, 1 Chronicles 8:22-25; and of the six sons of Jeroham, 1 Chronicles 8:26, 1 Chronicles 8:27, although some of these names are met with elsewhere singly. The concluding remark, 1 Chronicles 8:28, “These are heads of fathers'-houses,” refers, without doubt, to all the names from 1 Chronicles 8:15 or 1 Chronicles 8:14 to 1 Chronicles 8:27. “According to their generations - heads” is in apposition to the preceding, as in 1 Chronicles 9:24, but the meaning of the apposition is doubtful. The word ראשׁים can hardly be repeated merely for emphasis, as the old commentators understood it, in harmony with the Vulgate principes inquam , for why should this word be so emphasized? Bertheau thinks that “according to their births - heads” is to be taken to mean that those who are enumerated by name are not the heads living at the time of the preparation of this register, but the individual families, with the name of their progenitor after whom they were named in the genealogical lists. But how this meaning can be found in the words in question, I at least cannot understand. Can the individual families be called אבות ראשׁי , “heads of fathers'-houses”? The families are the fathers'-houses themselves, i.e., they are made up of the groups of related households comprehended under the name fathers'-houses. These groups of related households have, it is true, each of them either head, but cannot possibly be themselves called heads. The meaning seems rather to be that the persons named in the family registers, or registers of births, are introduced as heads (of fathers'-houses); and the reason why this is remarked would seem to be, to prevent those who are enumerated as the sons of this or that man from being regarded simply as members of fathers'-houses. The further remark, “these dwelt in Jerusalem,” is manifestly not to be taken to mean that the heads alone dwelt there, while the households that were subordinated to them lived elsewhere; for it signifies that they dwelt in Jerusalem with the households which composed their respective fathers'-houses. That the households dwelt there also is not stated, merely because the register contains only the names of the heads.

Verses 29-40

_ - 1 Chronicles 8:29-38 recur in 1 Chronicles 9:35-44 (see on that passage).

1 Chronicles 8:29-32

The ancestors of Saul. They dwelt mainly in Gibeon, but a branch of them were settled in Jerusalem, 1 Chronicles 8:32.f. In Gibeon, now El Jib, two hours north-west from Jerusalem (see on Joshua 9:3), dwelt the father of Gibeon, with his wife and his sons. The plural ישׁבוּ is used because there dwelt there, besides the father of Gibeon, also his wife and his sons. The father, i.e., the lord and possessor of Gibeon, was called, according to 1 Chronicles 9:35, Jehiel ( יעיאל , Keth. יעואל ), and his wife Maachah, a not uncommon female name (see on 1 Chronicles 2:48). The descent of Jehiel from Benjamin is not given. In 1 Chronicles 8:30 eight names are given as those of his sons, while in 1 Chronicles 9:36. ten are mentioned, the latter statement being correct; for a comparison of the two passages shows that in our verse two names have been dropped out, - Ner between Baal and Nadab, and Mikloth at the end, which must have originally stood in our register also, - for in 1 Chronicles 8:32, 1 Chronicles 8:33 their descendants are mentioned. זכר is called in 1 Chronicles 9:37 זכריה . These names are evidently those of actual sons of Jehiel who were progenitors of fathers'-houses (groups of related households), but in the case of only two is the race descended from these further noticed. In 1 Chronicles 8:32 we have that of the youngest Mikloth, who begat Shimeah, called in 1 Chronicles 9:38 Shimeam. These also (viz., Shimeah and his family) dwelt in Jerusalem אחיהם נגד , “before their brethren,” i.e., over against them, and אחיהם עם , “with their brethren.” The brethren are the other Benjamites in the first clause, those dwelling outside of Jerusalem and inhabiting the neighbouring country as far as Gibeon (1 Chronicles 8:30); in the second, those dwelling in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 8:28). From this it is clear that of the descendants of Abi-Gibeon only that branch which was descended from Mikloth went to Jerusalem.

1 Chronicles 8:33

The family of Ner. Ner begat Kish, and Kish Saul. According to 1 Samuel 9:1 and 1 Samuel 14:51, Kish was a son of Abiel. this statement, on account of which Bertheau proposes to make alterations in the text, may be reconciled with that in our verses, by the simple supposition that in our verse intermediate names mentioned in 1 Samuel 9:1, and probably others besides, are passed over, and Ner the son of Abi-Gibeon is named only because he was the progenitor of the line by which Saul was descended from him. Saul ( שׁאוּל ) is King Saul. Only three of his four sons, 1 Samuel 14:49, are mentioned-those, namely, who fell with him in the battle against the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31:2. The second is called, in 1 Samuel 14:49, Ishui, but in 1 Samuel 31:2 Abinadab, as in our register, whence we gather that Ishui is another name for Abinadab. The fourth, Eshbaal, is the same who is called in 2 Samuel 2:8, and elsewhere, Ishbosheth, who was set up as king in opposition to David by Abner (see on 2 Samuel 2:8).

1 Chronicles 8:34-39

Jonathan's sons and grandsons. His son is called here and in 1 Chronicles 9:40 Meribbaal, while in 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 9:6; 2 Samuel 16:1., 2 Samuel 19:25, he is called Mephibosheth, because the name “striver with Baal” has been changed into מפיבשׁת , exterminans idolum . This Meribbaal, who was lame in his feet (cf. 2 Samuel 4:4), had a son Micha ( מיכה , in 2 Samuel 9:12 written מיכא ), of whom came a numerous race. He had four sons (1 Chronicles 8:35), and the family of the last-named of these (Ahaz) is traced down, in 1 Chronicles 8:36-40, through ten generations to the great-grandson of Eshek. First it is traced from Ahaz to Alemeth (1 Chronicles 8:36); then through Zimri, brother of this latter, to Binea, by הוליד ; then further by בּנו (hisson) to Azel, of whom in 1 Chronicles 8:38 six sons are enumerated; and finally, in 1 Chronicles 8:39, the sons of his brother Eshek are named, and the sons and grandsons of the first-born of this latter are then enumerated. The last two verses are wanting after 1 Chronicles 9:44. The names in the two registers correspond, except at one point, where we cannot get rid of the discrepancy that for יחועדּה (1 Chronicles 8:36) there stands in 1 Chronicles 9:42 יערה both times, probably through an error of transcription, by which out of the shortened form יעדּה there arose יערה , ד and ר being interchanged. Besides this, instead of the תּארע of 1 Chronicles 8:35, we have in 1 Chronicles 9:41, according to the harder pronunciation of the gutturals, תּחרע ; and for רפה , 1 Chronicles 8:37, we have in 1 Chronicles 9:41 the longer original form רפיה . Now since Ahaz, whose posterity is traced down to the tenth generation, was descended from Jonathan in the third generation, and his grandfather Mephibosheth was a boy of five years of age at the death of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 4:4), the grandsons of Ulam, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:40, will be the thirteenth generation of Jonathan's descendants. Now Jonathan fell along with Saul in the year 1055 b.c., and consequently this thirteenth generation of Jonathan's descendants lived probably about 700 b.c., i.e., about 100 years before the Babylonian exile; for, according to the analogy of the royal race of David, we cannot reckon more than twenty-five years on an average for each generation.

(Note: Bertheau holds a contrary opinion to that given in the text, and thinks that by the numerous sons and grandsons of Ulam the son of Eshek we are brought down to post-exilic times, seeing that if Saul lived about 1080 b.c., and thirty years are reckoned to each one of the thirteen generations (Eshek being a descendant of Saul in the thirteenth generation), Azel and Eshek must have lived about 690 b.c. But this estimate is too high, for we cannot reckon sixty years to Saul and Jonathan from 1080 onwards, since Jonathan fell along with Saul in 1055, and his son Meribbaal was then hardly five years old, and must consequently have been born in 1060. For the following generations, moreover, not more than twenty-five years on an average should be reckoned. That being the case, the children ' s children of Ulam ' s sons, who were the twelfth generation of Micha ' s descendants, may have lived from 760 b.c. onwards, and during this period, from 760 to 700, may have increased to the troop of blooming grandchildren of Ulam mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:40. But even supposing that thirty years should be reckoned for each generation, the last-named generation of 150 grandsons and great-grandsons of Ulam would have lived in the period from 660 to 600, i.e., before the exile, or at least before the first great deportation of the people with Jehoiakim in the year 599 b.c.)

1 Chronicles 8:40

The sons of Ulam are called valiant heroes and archers, and must have shown the same capability for war by which the tribe of Benjamin had been distinguished at an earlier time; cf. Judges 20:16, and for קשׁת דּרכי , cf. 1 Chronicles 5:16. The subscription כּל־אלּה מ refers back to the superscription in 1 Chronicles 8:1, and binds all the names in our chapter together.

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 8". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.