1 Chronicles 5
This chapter gives us some account of the two tribes and a half that
were seated on the other side Jordan.
I. Of Reuben,
1 Chronicles 5:1-10.
II. Of Gad,
1 Chronicles 5:11-17.
III. Of the half-tribe of Manasseh,
1 Chronicles 5:23,24.
IV. Concerning all three acting in conjunction we are told,
1. How they conquered the Hagarites,
1 Chronicles 5:18-22.
2. How they were, at length, themselves conquered, and made captives,
by the king of Assyria, because they had forsaken God,
1 Chronicles 5:25,26.
1 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was
the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his
birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel:
and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.
2 For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the
chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
3 The sons, I say, of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were,
Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
4 The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his
5 Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,
6 Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried
away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.
7 And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of
their generations was reckoned, were the chief, Jeiel, and
8 And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel,
who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baal-meon:
9 And eastward he inhabited unto the entering in of the
wilderness from the river Euphrates: because their cattle were
multiplied in the land of Gilead.
10 And in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagarites,
who fell by their hand: and they dwelt in their tents throughout
all the east land of Gilead.
11 And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land
of Bashan unto Salchah:
12 Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and
Shaphat in Bashan.
13 And their brethren of the house of their fathers were,
Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and
Zia, and Heber, seven.
14 These are the children of Abihail the son of Huri, the son
of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of
Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz;
15 Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house
of their fathers.
16 And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in
all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.
17 All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham
king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.
We have here an extract out of the genealogies,
I. Of the tribe of Reuben, where we have,
1. The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that
Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might
challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling
his father's concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to
Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency.
Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men's
names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben's
seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben's sin. Yet, though that
tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying
of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness.
Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the
next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the
course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the
birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited
these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any
one, and therefore they were divided.
(1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him,
Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child's part (for so Jacob by
faith blessed them,
and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a
figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But,
(2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the
Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time,
Messiah the Prince,
This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph's;
and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.
2. The genealogy of the princes of this tribe, the chief family of it
(many, no doubt, being omitted), to Beerah, who was head of this clan
when the king of Assyria carried them captive,
1 Chronicles 5:4-6.
Perhaps he is mentioned as prince of the Reubenites at that time
because he did not do his part to prevent the captivity.
3. The enlargement of the coasts of this tribe. They increasing, and
their cattle being multiplied, they crowded out their neighbours the
Hagarites, and extended their conquests, though not to the river
Euphrates, yet to the wilderness which abutted upon that river,
1 Chronicles 5:9,10.
Thus God did for his people as he promised them: he cast out the enemy
from before them by little and little, and gave them their land as they
had occasion for it,
II. Of the tribe of Gad. Some great families of that tribe are here
(1 Chronicles 5:12),
seven that were the children of Abihail, whose pedigree is carried
upwards from the son to the father
(1 Chronicles 5:14,15),
1 Chronicles 5:4,5,
is brought downwards from father to son. These genealogies were
perfected in the days of Jotham king of Judah, but were begun some
years before, in the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. What
particular reason there was for taking these accounts then does not
appear; but it was just before they were carried away captive by the
Assyrians, as appears
2 Kings 15:29,31.
When the judgments of God were ready to break out against them for
their wretched degeneracy and apostasy then were they priding
themselves in their genealogies, that they were the children of the
covenant; as the Jews, in our Saviour's time, who, when they were ripe
for ruin, boasted, We have Abraham to our father. Or there might
be a special providence in it, and a favourable intimation that though
they were, for the present, cast out, they were not cast off for ever.
What we design to call for hereafter we keep an inventory of.
|The Defeat of the Hagarites.
||B. C. 750.|
18 The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of
Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and
to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty
thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.
19 And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and
Nephish, and Nodab.
20 And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were
delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for
they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them;
because they put their trust in him.
21 And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty
thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of
asses two thousand, and of men a hundred thousand.
22 For there fell down many slain, because the war was of
God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
23 And the children of the half tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the
land: they increased from Bashan unto Baal-hermon and Senir, and
unto mount Hermon.
24 And these were the heads of the house of their fathers,
even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and
Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valour, famous men, and
heads of the house of their fathers.
25 And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and
went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God
destroyed before them.
26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of
Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and
he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and
the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and
Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
The heads of the half-tribe of Manasseh, that were seated on the other
side Jordan, are named here,
1 Chronicles 5:23,24.
Their lot, at first, was Bashan only; but afterwards they increased so
much in wealth and power that they spread far north, even unto Hermon.
Two things only are here recorded concerning these tribes on the other
side Jordan, in which they were all concerned. They all shared,
I. In a glorious victory over the Hagarites, so the Ishmaelites were
now called, to remind them that they were the sons of the
bond-woman, that was cast out. We are not told when this
victory was obtained: whether it be the same with that of the
Reubenites (which is said
1 Chronicles 5:10
to be in the days of Saul), or whether that success of one of
these tribes animated and excited the other two to join with them in
another expedition, is not certain. It seems, though in Saul's time the
common interests of the kingdom were weak and low, some of the tribes
that acted separately did well for themselves. We are here told,
1. What a brave army these frontier-tribes brought into the field
against the Hagarites, 44,000 men and upwards, all strong, and brave,
and skilful in war, so many effective men, that knew how to manage
1 Chronicles 5:18.
How much more considerable might Israel have been than they were in the
time of the judges if all the tribes had acted in conjunction!
2. What course they took to engage God for them: They cried to
God, and put their trust in him,
1 Chronicles 5:20.
Now they acted as Israelites indeed.
(1.) As the seed of believing Abraham, they put their trust in
God. Though they had a powerful army, they relied not on that, but
on the divine power. They depended on the commission they had from God
to wage war with their neighbours for the enlarging of their coasts, if
there was occasion, even with those that were very far off, besides the
devoted nations. See
They depended on God's providence to give them success.
(2.) As the seed of praying Jacob, they cried unto God,
especially in the battle, when perhaps, at first, they were in
danger of being overpowered. See the like done,
2 Chronicles 13:14.
In distress, God expects we should cry to him; he distrains upon us for
this tribute, this rent. In our spiritual conflicts, we must look up to
heaven for strength; and it is the believing prayer that will be the
3. We are told what success they had: God was entreated of them,
though need drove them to him; so ready is he to hear and answer
prayer. They were helped against their enemies; for God never yet
failed any that trusted in him. And then they routed the enemy's army,
though far superior in number to theirs, slew many
(1 Chronicles 5:22),
took 100,000 prisoners, enriched themselves greatly with the spoil, and
settled themselves in their country
(1 Chronicles 5:21,22),
and all this because the war was of God, undertaken in his fear
and carried on in a dependence upon him. If the battle be the Lord's,
there is reason to hope it will be successful. Then we may expect to
prosper in any enterprise, and then only, when we take God along with
II. They shared, at length, in an inglorious captivity. Had they kept
close to God and their duty, they would have continued to enjoy both
their ancient lot and their new conquests; but they transgressed
against the God of their fathers,
1 Chronicles 5:25.
They lay upon the borders, and conversed most with the neighbouring
nations, by which means they learned their idolatrous usages and
transmitted the infection to the other tribes; for this God had a
controversy with them. He was a husband to them, and no marvel
that his jealousy burnt like fire when they went a whoring after
other gods. Justly is a bill of divorce given to the adulteress.
God stirred up the spirit of the kings of Assyria, first one and
then another, against them, served his own purposes by the designs of
those ambitious monarchs, employed them to chastise these revolters
first, and, when that humbled them not, then wholly to root them
1 Chronicles 5:26.
These tribes were first placed, and they were first displaced. They
would have the best land, not considering that it lay most exposed. But
those who are governed more by sense than by reason or faith in their
choices may expect to fare accordingly.