Lectionary Calendar
Friday, April 19th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 4

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-43

CRITICAL NOTES.] Obscurity often arising from brevity conspicuous in this passage. Yet we discern an order in it, indicated in first verse. It contains descendants of Shobal, Hur, Carmi, Hezron, and of Pharez. The section chiefly of local interest, intended to point out founders of some of the towns in the province of Judah [Murphy]. Reaiah conjectured to be same as Haroeh, 1 Chronicles 2:52.

1 Chronicles 4:3-4. Descendants of Hur. Father, i.e., joint founders of Etam, a town on rocky hills of Judah (Judges 15:8; 2 Chronicles 11:6). Gedor, now Jedur (Joshua 15:58). Hushak, of unknown site, but indication of the place (2 Samuel 23:7; 1 Chronicles 11:29).

1 Chronicles 4:5-10.—Descendants of Ashur (Carmi), posthumous son of Hezron by Abia, called father or chief of Tekoa; with two wives, three children to one, and four to the other. Jabez, 1 Chronicles 4:9, son or maternal kinsman of Ashur, who names the town (1 Chronicles 2:55).

1 Chronicles 4:11-15.—Descendants of Hezron. Chelub, brother of Shuah, to distinguish him from others. The group in 1 Chronicles 4:11-12, unknown. In 1 Chronicles 4:13-15 return to names not quite strange. Even (and) Kenas, 1 Chronicles 4:15, translate as marg. Uknas, or suppose a name (Jehaleel) to have fallen out after Elah.

1 Chronicles 4:16-20.—Descendants of Pharez. From 1 Chronicles 4:17-18, difficult to come to any conclusions. And these, an interesting phrase, indicative of sojourn of these persons in Egypt, when Israel was free, prosperous, and respected. “It was then as becoming for a sovereign of Egypt to give a daughter in marriage to Mered, as at a later period a sister-in-law to Hadad. This Pharaoh may have been the last of the dynasty that preceded the eighteenth” [cf. Murphy].

1 Chronicles 4:21-23.—Descendants of Judah. We have been ascending from Shobal to Hur, to Carmi, to Hezron, to Pharez; now we rise to Judah himself. A list of descendants of his son Shelah hero given [cf. Murphy]. Linen, a staple commodity of Egypt. Ashbea, a descendant of Shelah, had a factory there. 1 Chronicles 4:23, last of Judah, and leave the tribe in obscurity. Some of these potters, and others gardeners.

1 Chronicles 4:24-43.—The sons of Simeon. Classed with Judah, because possessions partly in their territory (Joshua 19:1). Differences of particulars in list occasioned by some having more than one name (cf. Genesis 46:10; Exodus 6:15, and Numbers 26:12-13). 1 Chronicles 4:27, Shimei distinguished from his brethren by a large family. “Progeny of Simeon here traced to settlement in Canaan.” 1 Chronicles 4:28-33, His territory. Eighteen cities given in Joshua 19:2-7. Changes in name took place in time between Joshua and David. 1 Chronicles 4:34-38, Subsequent increase of certain families of Simeon; princes, 1 Chronicles 4:38. “The number of names is thirteen, corresponding to number of cities in first list (1 Chronicles 4:28-31), so that it may be suspected that the princes mentioned were registered chiefs of those cities in time of Hezekiah (see 1 Chronicles 4:41)” [Speak. Com.]. 1 Chronicles 4:39-40, the first migration. Valley into which mountain streams ran to fertilise the land, suitable for Simeonites, quiet and peaceable on account of seclusion and long undisturbed inhabitants. Ham, 1 Chronicles 4:40, on their way to Africa induced by fertility of soil and abundance of water. 1 Chronicles 4:41-43, further migrations. Days of Hez., hence date of Simeonite expedition, before captivity of ten tribes (2 Kings 18:8). Rest, 1 Chronicles 4:43, remnant left by Saul’s great slaughter (1 Samuel 15:7-8), and by David (2 Samuel 8:12).


THE CHIEFS OF JUDAH.—1 Chronicles 4:1-23

Judah the most famous and most important of all tribes. A tribe which survived other tribes, and whose register was specially cared for.

I. Posterity of Shobal (1 Chronicles 4:1-4). From these came the Zorathites (ch. 1 Chronicles 2:53).

II. Posterity of Ashur (1 Chronicles 4:5-10). Ashur, posthumous son of Hezron (ch. 1 Chronicles 2:24), whose mother was probably a daughter of Carmi. If so, he is grandson of Carmi, hence introduction of this name in 1 Chronicles 4:1.

III. Posterity of Chelub (1 Chronicles 4:11-20). Men of Rechah as inhabitants of an unknown place of that name.

IV. Posterity of Shelah (1 Chronicles 4:21-23). Shelah, son of Judah, a family ingenious and industrious above others. Honest labourers are the salt of society; the healthy, luxurious and dissolute, the idle and predatory would corrupt it.

1. Craftsmen (1 Chronicles 4:14). A wise arrangement that men should be fitted for different employments.

2. Weavers (1 Chronicles 4:21). This an ancient and skilful labour. Children excelled and became famous in their business. “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good.”

3. Rulers in Moab (1 Chronicles 4:22). Entrusted with power for many generations. But this long ago (“ancient things”). A great change. Fathers had dominion then, posterity in servitude now!

4. Potters, and

5. Gardeners (1 Chronicles 4:23). “With the king,” on the king’s property; or preferring to stay with him in Babylon rather than return to their own country. “Unworthy the name of Israelites are those who dwell among plants and hedges rather than go to Canaan.”


This a strange description in a catalogue of names. The man worthy of remembrance, an honoured name deserving attention.

I. The circumstances of his birth. Born in sorrow.

1. Sorrow the lot of all (Genesis 3:16). Man born to sorrow as sparks fly upward (Job 14:1).

2. This, perhaps, special sorrow, which the mother wished to perpetuate in name. O. T. names significant of qualities and circumstances of life. Benjamin (Ben-oni), son of my sorrow, by Rachael; son of my right hand, by the father.

“I do beseech you,

Chiefly that I might set it on my prayers,
What is your name?” [Shakespeare].

II. The dignity of his Character. “More honourable.” Not a title of position or office as “The Hon.” and “The Right Hon.,” &c.

1. Honourable in himself, literally “a man of weight.” Jews say, a famous doctor of the law who had disciples and founded a city which took his name (ch. 1 Chronicles 2:55). But honourable and upright in personal character and conduct. A man of prayer and fervent piety, whose name is held in everlasting remembrance.

2. More honourable than others. Some think he was exalted above them as judge, signalised in war, or gained larger estates than his brethren. Not richer in material wealth, but in moral worth; more dignified in private life, more distinguished in action and public philanthropy. “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.” Seek this honour of character and life, not worldly honour which decays like a flower, but honour from God, perpetual and true.

THE REMARKABLE PRAYER.—1 Chronicles 4:10

Many things deserving attention, which make it a model of thoughtful, earnest, and successful prayer.

I. Its spiritual characteristics. Devotion an expression of spirit, not lips.

1. Its view of God. Right views of God essential. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is,” &c. Not Jehovah, the Almighty, Self-existent, and Eternal; but God of Israel, the covenant God who keeps his word and never forgets his people.

2. Its humble tone, a kind of vow. If thou wilt bless me, thou shalt have my heart and service (Jacob. Genesis 28:20), but without thee undone, &c.

3. Its earnest spirit. “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.” Language of ardent feeling and intense desire, becoming and needful. “O God, let me not fall from earnestness. Grant me to hate every false way,” cried Thomas Chalmers.

II. Its worthy object. Most personal and direct, straight as an arrow to the point.

1. For personal blessing. “Bless me indeed.” This the beginning, the most needful of all.

2. For successful undertaking. “Enlarge my coast.” Expulsion of Canaanites, or special effort in which he desired to succeed. All success from God. Pray when you enter life, start business, begin some fresh pursuit, take a journey, or enter a new residence.

3. For preservation from danger. “Thine hand with me.” His undertaking risky. He wanted something beside reputation, shields, and soldiers. Wealth, friendship, and human aid, nothing without God. “Uphold me with thy right hand.”

4. For deliverance from evil. Evil of sorrow implied in his name. Deeply impressed with his mother’s conduct. Let it not be. Desired to be joy and help to parents, not a grief. Evil of sin generally. In remembrance of Achan, perhaps. Sin ever brings sorrow, “keep me from evil.” Deliver me from its guilt and consequences. “Let sin have no dominion over me.”

III. Its gracious answer. “God granted him that which he requested.” God preserved in danger, gave success in enterprise, delivered from grief and sin, and exalted him to honour and position. This to magnify his grace, encourage piety and prayer.

“In all thou dost, first let thy prayers ascend,
And to the gods thy labours first commend;
From them implore success, and hope

A prosperous end.” [W. Fleming].


According to a worldly standard, this list includes more hon. names than that of Jabez. But in the estimation of heaven, the only reputation that will live must have connection with God. The words we specially emphasise are, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast!” Some analogies suggested by the sea-coast may teach the following lessons.

I. An enlarged “coast” suggests an expanded horizon. Carnal sympathies and lack of faith limit to narrow visions of divine truths and holy revelations. Our spiritual relations determine whether soul vision commands outlook from a small bay, or toward broad ocean. To the mother of Jabez his entrance into the world was associated with some special suffering, and she named him “sorrowful.” Years rolled on, God by his prophet knighted him and pronounced him “more honourable than his brethren.” Even so now according to our faith will be the significance of our individual history. Let our vision be bounded by time and sense only, and life will be a baptism of grief. Let faith widen our coast, expand our horizon, and all along the coast the lamps of “hope” shall hang, and a “more honourable” name be gained than those who refuse the “faith, which is the substance of things not seen, and by which the elders obtained a good report.”

II. An enlarged “coast” suggests a broader surface. The glory of a coast is its wide sweep of the ocean. There go ships, whose massive keels skim the surface of the waters. There floods lift up their voice, whose swelling waves declare the fulness of its strength. Such in figure is the human soul when possessed and enlarged by the Spirit of God. What sublime possibilities of divine enlargement belong to the heart of man! Sin circumscribes, hems in, and we are “straitened in ourselves.” But the coast may be enlarged; hills of difficulty be removed, and mountains of unbelief levelled, until an expanded horizon sheds calm and enlivening radiance all around, and the renewed soul takes up the language of a renewed earth (Isaiah 60:4-5).

III. An enlarged “coast” suggests a more extended pathway. Sometimes a narrow strip of land forms the only path when walking on the sea-coast. Then we are in danger of falling, slipping over a precipice; and but for a helping hand many would have thus perished. These words are singularly applicable. Similar are those of the Psalmist, Psalms 18:35-36; Psalms 119:32 (Proverbs 4:12). This enlarged pathway will secure two things.

(1) Safety. “Kept” by the divine hand. No other power to keep. In the king’s highway alone is security. This a way of holiness. “A highway shall be there, it shall be called the way of holiness.”

(2) Peace. Jabez not only desires safety, but prays that sin may not “grieve” him. This a fine test of sincerity of prayer and the cleanness of heart. What various motives, prompt obedience to divine laws! What a great gulph of moral disparity between the sayings, Sin hurts me physically, and sin grieves me spiritually! [The Study, 1874].


1 Chronicles 4:10. The Mighty Hand. Available, ever ready, and always sufficient. A hand of universal control and perpetual activity. “God’s right hand doeth valiantly.”

1 Chronicles 4:13. Othniel’s adventure (cf. Joshua 15:15-16; Judges 1:12-13; Judges 3:9). The brave man waits not for numbers and applause. Enough for him to know the cause is just, that danger threatens, that action is required.

“Where duty bids, he confidently steers,
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And, trusting in his God, surmounts them all.”

1 Chronicles 4:18. The Egyptian convert. Thin passage records a very interesting fact, the marriage of an Egyptian princess to a descendant of Caleb.

1. The marriage must have taken place in the wilderness.
2. The barriers of a different national language and national religion kept the Hebrews separate from the Egyptians; but they did not wholly prevent intimacies, and even occasional intermarriages between private individuals of the two nations.
3. Ere such unions, however, could be sanctioned, the Egyptian party must have renounced idolatry, and this daughter of Pharaoh, as appears from her name, had become a convert to the worship of the God of Israel [Jamieson].


THE POSTERITY OF SIMEON.—1 Chronicles 4:24-43

The sons of Simeon are classed with those of Judah, because their possession was partly taken out of the extensive territory of Judah (Joshua 19:1).

I. The cities they possessed. The same list given (Joshua 19:2-6) with a little difference in spelling; eighteen given. Virtue and self-control better than taking a city (Proverbs 16:32).

II. The conquests they made. In the days of Hezekiah a generation animated to conquests.

1. Some took Gedor (1 Chronicles 4:39). A place in Arabia, the entrance of Gedor, inhabited by Ham’s posterity.

2. Others took Mount Seir (1 Chronicles 4:42). Smote the remnant of devoted Amalekites and possessed the country. The curse pronounced on Ham and Amalek, though dormant, was not dead. To Simeon the curse (Genesis 49:5-7) was a blessing, to the others a terrible reality.

III. The prosperity they enjoyed.

1. Increase of numbers. They increased wonderfully, but not like the children of Judah (1 Chronicles 4:27).

2. Enlargement of boundaries. In possession of limited area, they were forced to seek accommodation elsewhere. They established themselves in the fertile pastures of Gedor (Gerar), which soon proved inadequate, and a new colony settled on Mount Seir. They enjoyed a land of peace and plenty, numerous flocks and quiet habitations. Thank God for fixed homes, but ever guard against the perils of prosperity.

SURVEY OF THE GENEALOGY.—1 Chronicles 4:1-43

I. How great the obscurity of most men! Not many known and prominent here. But obscurity hides not God. We are great if the world gains by our life and example.

II. What folly to seek place and power only here! From place we shall be ejected, and of power we shall be deprived. A family of princes were captives in exile (1 Chronicles 4:22). “Where will ye leave your glory?”

III. How needful to secure renown hereafter! Better to have names written in heaven than rolled in lists of honour and published in daily papers. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” said the dying Haller, when friends congratulated him on the honour of receiving a visit from the Emperor Joseph II.

ORIGIN AND USE OF ARTS AND INVENTIONS.—1 Chronicles 4:14; 1 Chronicles 4:21-23

I. Useful arts emanate from the wisdom and goodness of God. In early history man taught of God in special callings. Human inventions had no existence save in the purpose of God. Proof from reason and scripture. “This also cometh from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.”

II. Useful arts are beneficial in their tendency. They mitigate human toil and alleviate suffering; prolong human life, increase sources of comfort, and secure universal peace.

III. Therefore all engaged in useful arts promote the welfare of society. It is better to excel in trade than to gain dominions of territory. In the construction of the tabernacle an illustration of this principle. Let us be among the “willing-hearted” and the “wise-hearted,” and contribute our share. “Produce! produce! were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a product, produce it in God’s name! ’Tis the utmost thou hast in thee: out with it, then” [Carlyle].


1 Chronicles 4:32. These cities unto reign of David. In consequence of the sloth or cowardice of the Simeonites, some of the cities within their allotted territory were only nominally theirs, but were never taken from the Philistines until David’s time, when the Simeonites having forfeited all claim to them, he assigned them to his own tribe of Judah [Jamieson]. Hence danger of delay.

1 Chronicles 4:33. Habitations and genealogy; or Homes and Registers.

1 Chronicles 4:38. Princes in Families. Thirteen names corresponding with number of cities in first list (1 Chronicles 4:28-31), so that the princes mentioned were registered chiefs of those cities in the time of Hezekiah (see 1 Chronicles 4:41) [Speak. Com.].

1. Families and kingdoms of divine appointment.
2. Rulers of families and kingdoms represented God and order, justice and truth.
3. Hence subjection needful for order, happiness, and success.

1 Chronicles 4:40. Fat pastures.

1. Prepared by God, natural formation.
2. Discovered by God’s direction. They found, did not create. Application in comfortable homes, favourable situations and spiritual refreshment.

1 Chronicles 4:43. Doom of Amalek. Sin not forgotten, judgment not neglected nor fails in execution. Curses may be dormant but not dead. “Preservation from the sword of Joshua (Exodus 17:13), of Saul (1 Samuel 15:7), and of David (2 Samuel 8:12) was but a reservation to this utter destruction, which God had solemnly sworn, with hand laid upon his own throne (Exodus 17:16)” [Trapp].

1 Chronicles 4:39-43. A fragment of famous history. Learn from this chronicle of events—

1. Expedition first, under thirteen leaders, with many followers, against Hamites and Mehurrim.

2. Expedition second, smaller, but more adventurous. Under four chiefs, a band of 500 smote powerful enemies and possessed their quarters. Be valiant for God spiritually.


1 Chronicles 4:9. Honourable. Virtue and honour are such inseparable companions that the heathens would admit no man into the temple of honour who did not pass through the temple of virtue.

“If it be of a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive”


1 Chronicles 4:10. Evil. The greatest evil is sin.

1. In the nature of it, as being contrary to the greatest good, even God.
2. In the effect and consequences of it here and hereafter.
3. Therefore to pray against sin is to pray against all other evils whatever; for the devil, the evil one, cannot hurt us but by sin [Bishop Hopkins].

Be with me. Ora et labora is the legend of the Christian’s faith, and the plan of his life. His fervent prayer begets honest, manly, unshrinking work; his work as it is faithful and it is faithful in proportion as he realises it is for God, throws him back upon prayer [Stevenson].

1 Chronicles 4:14; 1 Chronicles 4:21; 1 Chronicles 4:23. Craftsmen, potters, &c. If all men affected one and the same trade of life or pleasure of recreation, it were not possible they could live one by another; neither could there be any use of commerce, whereby life is maintained. It is good reason we should make a right use of this gracious dispensation of the Almighty, that we should improve our several dispositions and faculties to the advancing of the common stock, and that we should neither encroach upon each other’s profession nor be apt to censure each other’s recreation [Bishop Hall].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-chronicles-4.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile