1 Chronicles 4
In this chapter we have,
I. A further account of the genealogies of the tribe of Judah, the most
numerous and most famous of all the tribes. The posterity of Shobal
the son of Hur
(1 Chronicles 4:1-4),
of Ashur the posthumous son of Hezron (who was mentioned,
1 Chronicles 2:24),
with something particular concerning Jabez
(1 Chronicles 4:5-10),
of Chelub and others
(1 Chronicles 4:11-20),
1 Chronicles 4:21-23.
II. An account of the posterity and cities of Simeon, their conquest of
Gedon, and of the Amalekites in Mount Seir,
1 Chronicles 4:24-43.
|The Sons of Judah; The Prayer of Jabez.
||B. C. 1720.|
1 The sons of Judah; Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and
2 And Reaiah the son of Shobal begat Jahath; and Jahath begat
Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.
3 And these were of the father of Etam; Jezreel, and Ishma,
and Idbash: and the name of their sister was Hazelel-poni:
4 And Penuel the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of
Hushah. These are the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah,
the father of Bethlehem.
5 And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and
6 And Naarah bare him Ahuzam, and Hepher, and Temeni, and
Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah.
7 And the sons of Helah were, Zereth, and Jezoar, and Ethnan.
8 And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel
the son of Harum.
9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his
mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with
10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou
wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine
hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from
evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which
One reason, no doubt, why Ezra is here most particular in the register
of the tribe of Judah is because it was that tribe which, with its
appendages, Simeon, Benjamin, and Levi, made up the kingdom of Judah,
which not only long survived the other tribes in Canaan, but in process
of time, now when this was written, returned out of captivity, when the
generality of the other tribes were lost in the kingdom of Assyria. The
most remarkable person in this paragraph is Jabez. It is not said whose
son he was, nor does it appear in what age he lived; but, it should
seem, he was the founder of one of the families of Aharhel, mentioned
1 Chronicles 4:8.
I. The reason of his name: his mother gave him the name with this
reason, Because I bore him with sorrow,
1 Chronicles 4:9.
All children are borne with sorrow (for the sentence upon the woman is,
In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children), but some with much
more sorrow than others. Usually the sorrow in bearing is afterwards
forgotten for joy that the child is born; but here it seems it
was so extraordinary that it was remembered when the child came to be
circumcised, and care was taken to perpetuate the remembrance of it
while he lived. Perhaps the mother called Habez, as Rachel called her
son Benoni, when she was dying of the sorrow. Or, if she recovered it,
yet thus she recorded it,
1. That it might be a continual memorandum to herself, to be thankful
to God as long as she lived for supporting her under and bringing her
through that sorrow. It may be of use to be often reminded of our
sorrows, that we may always have such thoughts of things as we had in
the day of our affliction, and may learn to rejoice with trembling.
2. That it might likewise be a memorandum to him what this world is
into which she bore him, a vale of tears, in which he must expect
few days and full of trouble. The sorrow he carried in his name
might help to put a seriousness upon his spirit. It might also remind
him to love and honour his mother, and labour, in every thing, to be a
comfort to her who brought him into the world with so much sorrow. It
is piety in children thus to requite their parents,
1 Timothy 5:4.
II. The eminence of his character: He was more honourable than his
brethren, qualified above them by the divine grace and dignified
above them by the divine providence; they did virtuously, but he
excelled them all. Now the sorrow with which his mother bore him was
abundantly recompensed. That son which of all her children cost her
most dear she was most happy in, and was made glad in proportion to the
We are not told upon what account he was more honourable than his
brethren, whether because he raised a greater estate, or was
preferred to the magistracy, or signalized himself in war; we have most
reason to think it was upon the account of his learning and piety, not
only because these, above any thing, put honour upon a man, but because
we have reason to think that in these Jabez was eminent.
1. In learning, because we find that the families of the scribes
dwelt at Jabez
(1 Chronicles 2:55),
a city which, it is likely, took its name from him. The Jews say that
he was a famous doctor of the law and left many disciples behind him.
And it should seem, by the mentioning of him so abruptly here, that his
name was well known when Ezra wrote this.
2. In piety, because we find here that he was a praying man. His
inclination to devotion made him truly honourable, and by prayer he
obtained those blessings from God which added much to his honour. The
way to be truly great is to be truly good and to pray much.
III. The prayer he made, probably like Solomon's prayer for wisdom,
just when he was setting out in the world. He set himself to
acknowledge God in all his ways, put himself under the divine blessing
and protection, and prospered accordingly. Perhaps these were the heads
on which he enlarged in his daily prayers; for this purpose it was his
constant practice to pray alone, and with his family, as Daniel. Some
think that it was upon some particular occasion, when he was straitened
and threatened by his enemies, that he prayed this prayer.
1. To whom he prayed, not to any of the gods of the Gentiles; no, he
called on the God of Israel, the living and true God, who alone
can hear and answer prayer, and in prayer had an eye to him as the God
of Israel, a God in covenant with his people, the God with whom Jacob
wrestled and prevailed and was thence called Israel.
2. What was the nature of his prayer.
(1.) As the margin reads it, it was a solemn vow--If thou
wilt bless me indeed, &c. and then the sense is imperfect, but may
easily be filled up from Jacob's vow, or some such like--then thou
shalt be my God. He did not express his promise, but left it to be
understood, either because he was afraid to promise in his own strength
or because he resolved to devote himself entirely to God. He does, as
it were, give God a blank paper, let him write what he pleases: "Lord,
if thou wilt bless me and keep me, do what thou wilt with me, I will be
at thy command and disposal for ever."
(2.) As the text reads it, it was the language of a most ardent
and affectionate desire: O that thou wouldst bless me!
3. What was the matter of his prayer. Four things he prayed for:--
(1.) That God would bless him indeed: "That, blessing, thou wilt
bless me, bless me greatly with manifold and abundant blessings."
Perhaps he had an eye to the promise God made to Abraham
In blessing, I will bless thee. "Let that blessing of Abraham
come upon me." Spiritual blessings are the best blessings, and those
are blessed indeed who are blessed with them. God's blessings are real
things and produce real effects. We can but wish a blessing: he
commands it. Those whom he blesses are blessed indeed.
(2.) That he would enlarge his coast, that he would prosper his
endeavours for the increase of what fell to his lot either by work or
war. That God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in
himself and in the heavenly Canaan, ought to be our desire and prayer.
(3.) That God's hand might be with him. The prayer of Moses for this
tribe of Judah was, That his own hands might be sufficient for
but Jabez expects not that this can be the case, unless he have
God's hand with him and the presence of his power. God's hand
with us, to lead us, protect us, strengthen us, and to work all our
works in us and for us, is indeed a hand sufficient for us,
(4.) That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of
trouble, all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt
him, nor grieve him, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of
sorrow: in the original there is an allusion to his name. Father
in heaven, deliver me from evil.
4. What was the success of his prayer: God granted him that which he
requested, prospered him remarkably, and gave him success in his
undertakings, in his studies, in his worldly business, in his conflicts
with the Canaanites, and so he became more honourable than his
brethren. God was of old always ready to hear prayer, and his
ear is not yet heavy.
11 And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the
father of Eshton.
12 And Eshton begat Beth-rapha, and Paseah, and Tehinnah the
father of Irnahash. These are the men of Rechah.
13 And the sons of Kenaz; Othniel, and Seraiah: and the sons of
14 And Meonothai begat Ophrah: and Seraiah begat Joab, the
father of the valley of Charashim; for they were craftsmen.
15 And the sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and
Naam: and the sons of Elah, even Kenaz.
16 And the sons of Jehaleleel; Ziph, and Ziphah, Tiria, and
17 And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher,
and Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the
father of Eshtemoa.
18 And his wife Jehudijah bare Jered the father of Gedor, and
Heber the father of Socho, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.
And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh,
which Mered took.
19 And the sons of his wife Hodiah the sister of Naham, the
father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite.
20 And the sons of Shimon were, Amnon, and Rinnah, Benhanan,
and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were, Zoheth, and Benzoheth.
21 The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of
Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the
house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea,
22 And Jokim, and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph,
who had the dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem. And these are
23 These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants
and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.
We may observe in these verses,
1. That here is a whole family of craftsmen, handicraft tradesmen, that
applied themselves to all sorts of manufactures, in which they were
ingenious and industrious above their neighbours,
1 Chronicles 4:14.
There was a valley where they lived which was, from them, called the
valley of craftsmen. Those that are craftsmen are not therefore to
be looked upon as mean men. These craftsmen, though two of a trade
often disagree, yet chose to live together, for the improving of arts
by comparing notes, and that they might support one another's
2. That one of these married the daughter of Pharaoh
(1 Chronicles 4:18),
which was the common name of the kings of Egypt. If an Israelite in
Egypt before the bondage began, while Joseph's merits were yet fresh in
mind, was preferred to be the king's son-in-law, it is not to be
thought strange: few Israelites could, like Moses, refuse an alliance
with the court.
3. That another is said to be the father of the house of those that
wrought fine linen,
1 Chronicles 4:21.
It is inserted in their genealogy as their honour that they were the
best weavers in the kingdom, and they brought up their children, from
one generation to another, to the same business, not aiming to make
them gentlemen. This Laadah is said to be the father of those that
wrought fine linen, as before the flood Jubal is said to be the
father of musicians and Jabal of shepherds, &c. His
posterity inhabited the city of Mareshah, the manufacture or staple
commodity of which place was linen-cloth, with which their kings and
priests were clothed.
4. That another family had had dominion in Moab, but were now in
servitude in Babylon,
1 Chronicles 4:22,23.
(1.) It was found among the ancient things that they had the
dominion in Moab. Probably in David's time, when that country
was conquered, they transplanted themselves thither, and were put in
places of power there, which they held for several generations; but
this was a great while ago, time out of mind.
(2.) Their posterity were now potters and gardeners, as is supposed in
Babylon, where they dwelt with the king for his work, got a good
livelihood by their industry, and therefore cared not for returning
with their brethren to their own land, after the years of captivity had
expired. Those that now have dominion know not what their posterity may
be reduced to, nor what mean employments they may be glad to take up
with. But those were unworthy the name of Israelites that would
dwell among plants and hedges rather than be at the pains to
return to Canaan.
24 The sons of Simeon were, Nemuel, and Jamin, Jarib, Zerah,
25 Shallum his son, Mibsam his son, Mishma his son.
26 And the sons of Mishma; Hamuel his son, Zacchur his son,
Shimei his son.
27 And Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his
brethren had not many children, neither did all their family
multiply, like to the children of Judah.
28 And they dwelt at Beer-sheba, and Moladah, and Hazar-shual,
29 And at Bilhah, and at Ezem, and at Tolad,
30 And at Bethuel, and at Hormah, and at Ziklag,
31 And at Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susim, and at Beth-birei, and
at Shaaraim. These were their cities unto the reign of David.
32 And their villages were, Etam, and Ain, Rimmon, and
Tochen, and Ashan, five cities:
33 And all their villages that were round about the same
cities, unto Baal. These were their habitations, and their
34 And Meshobab, and Jamlech, and Joshah the son of Amaziah,
35 And Joel, and Jehu the son of Josibiah, the son of Seraiah,
the son of Asiel,
36 And Elioenai, and Jaakobah, and Jeshohaiah, and Asaiah, and
Adiel, and Jesimiel, and Benaiah,
37 And Ziza the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of
Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah;
38 These mentioned by their names were princes in their
families: and the house of their fathers increased greatly.
39 And they went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the east
side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks.
40 And they found fat pasture and good, and the land was
wide, and quiet, and peaceable; for they of Ham had dwelt there
41 And these written by name came in the days of Hezekiah king
of Judah, and smote their tents, and the habitations that were
found there, and destroyed them utterly unto this day, and dwelt
in their rooms: because there was pasture there for their
42 And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five
hundred men, went to mount Seir, having for their captains
Pelatiah, and Neariah, and Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of
43 And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped,
and dwelt there unto this day.
We have here some of the genealogies of the tribe of Simeon (though it
was not a tribe of great note), especially the princes of that tribe,
1 Chronicles 4:38.
Of this tribe it is said that they increased greatly, but not
like the children of Judah,
1 Chronicles 4:27.
Those whom God increases ought to be thankful, though they see others
that are more increased. Here observe,
1. The cities allotted them
(1 Chronicles 4:28),
of which see
&c. When it is said that they were theirs unto the reign of
(1 Chronicles 4:31)
intimation is given that when the ten tribes revolted from the house of
David many of the Simeonites quitted these cities, because they lay
within Judah, and seated themselves elsewhere.
2. The ground they got elsewhere. When those of this tribe that
revolted from the house of David were carried captive with the rest
into Assyria those that adhered to Judah were remarkably owned of God
and prospered in their endeavours to enlarge their coasts. It was in
the days of Hezekiah that a generation of Simeonites, whose tribe had
long crouched and truckled, was animated to make these bold efforts.
(1.) Some of them attacked a place in Arabia, as it should seem, called
the entrance of Gedor, inhabited by the posterity of accursed
(1 Chronicles 4:40),
made themselves masters of it, and dwelt there. This adds to the glory
of Hezekiah's pious reign, that, as his kingdom in general prospered,
so did particular families. It is said that they found fat pastures,
and yet the land was quiet; even when the kings of Assyria were
giving disturbance to all their neighbours this land escaped their
alarms. The inhabitants being shepherds, who molested none, were not
themselves molested, till the Simeonites came and drove them out and
succeeded them, not only in the plenty, but in the peace, of their
land. Those who dwell (as we do) in a fruitful country, and whose land
is wide, and quiet, and peaceable, have reason to own themselves
indebted to that God who appoints the bounds of our habitation.
(2.) Others of them, to the number of 500, under the command of four
brethren here named, made a descent upon Mount Seir, and smote the
remainder of the devoted Amalekites, and took possession of their
1 Chronicles 4:42,43.
Now the curses on Ham and Amalek had a further accomplishment, when
they seemed dormant, if not dead; as had also the curse on Simeon, that
he should be divided and scattered
yet to him it was turned into a blessing, for the families of Simeon,
which thus transplanted themselves into those distant countries, are
said to dwell there unto this day
(1 Chronicles 4:43),
by which it should seem they escaped the calamities of the captivity.
Providence sometimes sends those out of trouble that are designed for