1 Chronicles Chapter 5
Verses 1-2: To take the concubine was to usurp the “father’s” role as head of the family. “Reuben” had committed such a sin (Gen. 35:22), for which he was denounced in Jacob’s prophetic blessings of his sons (Gen. 49:3-4). Although the privilege of “the first born” was transferred to “Joseph,” his firstborn son through Rachel (Gen. chapter 48), nevertheless the messianic reckoning passed to the line of “Judah” in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy (Gen. 49:8-10).
Verses 1-10: The first tribe listed is “Reuben,” since he was the “first-born” of Jacob (Genesis 29:32).
(Genesis 48-15-22), tells more about how Reuben’s “birthright” ended up with the “sons of Joseph.
1 Chronicles 5:1 “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.”
Are as follow (in 1 Chronicles 5:3), where the account begins; for what comes between this and that is in a parenthesis.
“For he was the firstborn”: Of Jacob by his wife Leah; that must be owned, and Jacob allows it (Gen. 49:3). And yet the genealogy in this book begins not with him, as might on that account be expected; the reason follows:
“But, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed”: By lying with Bilhah his concubine.
“His birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel”: His beloved son by his beloved wife Rachel and so had a double portion given him. His two sons being equally ranked with the other sons of Jacob, and became distinct tribes, and each had their lot in the land of Canaan (see Gen. 48:5 compared with Deut. 21:17).
“And the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright”: Or, “but the genealogy”, etc. Neither after the birthright of Reuben, which he had by nature, being Jacob’s firstborn; nor after the birthright of Joseph, which be had by his father’s gift, as it might be thought it should. The reason of which follows in the next scripture.
This is an explanation why Reuben’s family was not the first to have their genealogy, since he was actually the firstborn son of Jacob. There are two very good reasons that I can think of. One, he was punished for sleeping with his father’s wife. Reuben was Leah’s child. She indeed, was the first wife of Jacob, but not the chosen wife of Jacob. Rachel was his beloved. Joseph and Benjamin were her children. The tribe of Judah would be the tribe that the promised Messiah would come through. This is the reason for Judah being first. The birthright of Reuben went to Joseph’s sons.
1 Chronicles 5:2 “For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him [came] the chief ruler; but the birthright [was] Joseph’s:)”
“Judah prevailed”: In accordance with Jacob’s blessing (Gen. 49:10), the king of Israel is to come from Judah. This prophecy had historical reference to the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam Chapter 7; 1 Chron. Chapter 17), with full messianic implications.
The lineage from Adam to Jesus would come through the tribe of Judah. The birthright was Joseph’s for his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
1 Chronicles 5:3 “The sons, [I say], of Reuben the firstborn of Israel [were], Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.”
(As in Genesis 46:9).
“Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi”: So (Gen. 46:9; Exodus 6:14; Num. 26:5-7). Considering the prominence of Hezron and Carmi among the clans of Judah, it is remarkable to find their names recurring among the main branches of Reuben.
Each one of these sons started a people. Hanoch was the father of the Hanochites, Pallu was the father of the Palluites, Hezron became the father of the Hezronites, and Carmi became father of the Carmites. At the time of the numbering in the wilderness, Reuben’s tribe had 46,500 men capable of fighting. Reuben’s inheritance was east of Jordan. We remember, God let him have this land for his herds.
1 Chronicles 5:4 “The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son,”
Who was either the son of Carmi last mentioned, or rather of Hanoch, Reuben’s firstborn, since the descendants of him were the princes of the tribe. His posterity in succession were, Shemaiah, Cog, Shimei, Micah, Reaia, Baal, Beerah; of whom we know no more than their names, and by these the descent is carried down to the captivity by Tiglath-pileser, as follows.
1 Chronicles 5:5 “Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son,”
The line of succession here given must be broken by one great gap or several smaller ones, since nine generations before Tiglath-pileser would carry us back no further than the reign of Rehoboam.
1 Chronicles 5:6 “Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried away [captive]: he [was] prince of the Reubenites.”
“Tilgath-pilneser”: The king of Assyria (745-727 B.C.), who threatened Judah and made Ahaz pay a tribute (2 Kings 16:7-20; 2 Chron. 28:16-21).
We are not told which of Reuben’s sons these descendants come through. We do know they are Reuben’s family. The name “Joel” means Jehovah is God. “Shemaiah” means Jehovah hath heard. There is really very little known of any of these people, except what we see in the verse above. Baal, in this instance, is a man’s name. Beerah has to be many, many years down from Reuben, because the Assyrian captivity was hundreds of years after their stay in Egypt.
1 Chronicles 5:7 “And his brethren by their families, when the genealogy of their generations was reckoned, [were] the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah,”
Either the brethren of Beerah, or the rest of the posterity of Reuben.
“When the genealogy of their generations was reckoned”: Either in the times of Jotham and Jeroboam (1 Chron. 5:17), or at the time of their captivity, as in the preceding verse.
“Were the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah”: These were the principals or heads of their families.
1 Chronicles 5:8 “And Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who dwelt in Aroer, even unto Nebo and Baal-meon:”
The pedigree of Bela, another principal man in the tribe of Reuben, is traced up to Joel the father of Shema; the same with Shemaiah, according to Kimchi and Ben Melech (1 Chron. 5:4).
“Who dwelt in Aroer”: Which belonged to the tribe of Gad, and was rebuilt by them (Num. 32:34), wherefore Kimchi observes, it may be interpreted, either from Aroer, or on the border of it, Bela dwelt.
“Even unto Nebo, and Baal-meon; of which see (Num. 32:38).
Jeiel was spoken of as being from the house of Joel in the time of the captivity. This census was probably taken by Tilgath-pilneser. It seemed, that Jeiel, Zechariah, and Bela were the leaders at the time of the captivity. Aroer, Nebo, and Baal-meon were the boundaries of where they lived. “Aroer” means nudity. It was a town on the north bank of the Arnon. Nebo was a town east of the Jordan River in the land of Reuben. Baal-meon was located 9 miles east of the Dead Sea.
1 Chronicles 5:9 “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.”
Either Bela, or the tribe of Reuben.
“Unto the entering in of the wilderness”: The wilderness of Kedemoth, which was near to Sihon king of Heshbon, whose land the Reubenites inhabited (Deut. 2:26).
“From the river Euphrates”: A learned man thinks that this river Phrat was different from the Euphrates near Babylon, which was northward, since this was to the east or southeast.
“Because their cattle were multiplied in the land of Gilead”: Therefore their habitation was extended further, even to the river Euphrates, as in the days of David and Solomon (2 Sam. 8:3).
All of Reuben’s land was east of the Jordan River. It was a very fertile land for the grazing of his cattle. As his cattle grew in number, he needed more grazing land and he expanded his land further to the east. The Euphrates River flows through Syria, Mesopotamia, and the city of Babylon.
1 Chronicles 5:10 “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.”
This is a historical notice dealing with the Ishmaelite descendants of Hagar (compare Gen. 25:12-18).
The Hagarites were believed to be descended from Hagar and Ishmael. The Reubenites seemed to be strong at the time of Saul, and expanded their land at will by these little wars. The small families around them were no match for Reuben’s army. It seemed he took possession of whatever he desired.
1 Chronicles 5:11 “And the children of Gad dwelt over against them, in the land of Bashan unto Salcah:”
Or by them, the Reubenites; and one part of Gilead was given them between them, and the other to the half tribe of Manasseh.
“In the land of Bashan, unto Salcah”: For though all Bashan is said to be given to the half tribe of Manasseh (Deut. 3:13), yet that is to be understood of the greater part of it. All of that which belonged to Og, but what did not. The Gadites, either from the first, or in later times, inhabited even as far as Salcah, which was one of the cities of Og (Deut. 3:10). And which Benjamin of Tudela makes mention of, being called by the same name in his days.
Gad was located on the east of Jordan and was neighbor to Reuben. Gad was the seventh son of Jacob, and was born to him by Zilpah, Leah’s maid. At this time, Bashan, probably covered the upper half of Gilead. “Gad” means a troop. They were warlike people.
1 Chronicles 5:12 “Joel the chief, and Shapham the next, and Jaanai, and Shaphat in Bashan.”
In this and the following verse are reckoned up the principal men in the tribe of Gad, and the chief of all was Joel, another from him in the tribe of Reuben (Chron. 5:4).
“And Shapham the next”: The second chief man, from whom, Reland conjectures, Shophan, a city in the tribe of Gad, had its name (Numbers 32:35).
“And Jaanai”: From whom Dan-jaan might be called, as Michaelis intimates (2 Sam. 24:6).
“And Shaphat in Bashan”: Not Shaphat the father of Elisha, according to a tradition of the Jews, mentioned by Kimchi; which is not at all probable.
There is very little known of these men, except that they were of the tribe of Gad, and were their chief men in authority.
1 Chronicles 5:13 “And their brethren of the house of their fathers [were], Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven.”
Who were also men of eminence and note in them.
“Were, Michael, and Meshullam, and Sheba, and Jorai, and Jachan, and Zia, and Heber, seven”: So they are as here mentioned by name.
These people above, are not mentioned anywhere else. In the chapter of (Numbers 26), we read that Gad’s family became the Zephonites, Haggites, Shunites, Oznites, Erites, Arodites, and the Arelites. The list of the sons of Gad (is in the 46th chapter of Genesis).
1 Chronicles 5:14 “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;”
That is, the seven before mentioned. They were the posterity of Abihail, whose pedigree is traced from his father Huri to Buz, the intermediate progenitors being Jaroah, Gilead, Michael, Jeshishai, Jahdo.
1 Chronicles 5:15 “Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, chief of the house of their fathers.”
Which Ahi was a principal man in the families the seven above men belonged to; besides them, or those three, were every one of them heads of families.
There is nothing more known of these, except the fact that they were Gad’s descendants.
1 Chronicles 5:16 “And they dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders.”
In that part of it which belonged to the tribe of Gad.
“In Bashan, and in her towns”: (see 1 Chron. 5:11).
“And in all the suburbs of Sharon, upon their borders”: There were two Sharons, one to the west of the land of Israel near the Mediterranean Sea, which is mentioned (in Acts 9:35), as near Lydda and Joppa. And the other to the east or northeast, beyond Jordan, which is here meant.
We do know that Gad’s inheritance was east of the Jordan River in the land of Gilead.
1 Chronicles 5:17 “All these were reckoned by genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.”
All before mentioned.
“In the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel”: Not that those two kings reigned at the same time, and one and the same reckoning is meant. But, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, there were two reckonings. His words are, “in the days of Jotham there was an account taken of the families of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh” (1 Chron. 5:17). And so had there been in the days of Jeroboam the second. Then at their restoring by Jeroboam out of the hands of Hamath and Syria, and now at their arming against the Assyrian, under whom they fell in the time of Pekah, and are never again restored to Israel.
There was a set of chronicles for Judah, and a set for the ten tribes of Israel. (Verse 17), is speaking of a time after the twelve tribes had split into ten and two. Jeroboam was the first king of the ten tribes of Israel. Jotham of Judah was a much later king. These times were many years apart. This is speaking of two entirely different genealogies.
These genealogies are likely based on a military census in the days of “Jotham king of Judah” (750-732 B.C.), and “Jeroboam king of Israel (793-753 B.C.).
Verses 18-22: These verses contain a further notice of the “Hagarites” of Trans-Jordan and their battles against the two and one-half tribes that settled east of the Jordan. This section is important for its recognition of “God’s” divine government in operation, directing political affairs among men in accordance with His intended purposes.
1 Chronicles 5:18 “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 skillful in war, [were] four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.”
By including “sons of Reuben, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh,” the biblical writer clearly emphasizes “all Israel”, including those tribes located east of the Jordan River (Num. 34:13-15).
This is speaking of the two and one half tribes that were on the eastern side of the Jordan River. It seems, they had a census separate from the other tribes.
1 Chronicles 5:19 “And they made war with the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab.”
“With Jetur, and Nephish”: With the posterity of these men, who were sons of Ishmael (Gen. 25:15). And so was Nodab; perhaps the same with Kedemah, mentioned along with the other two there; so Hillerus thinks.
We learned earlier that the Hagarites were descended from Hagar. Jetur was one of the twelve sons of Ishmael, as well. His descendants were Ituraeans. Nephish is probably the same as Naphish, who was the eleventh son of Ishmael. Nodab is unknown.
Verses 20-25: A profound theme (of both 1 and 2 Chronicles), is that when the people “cried out to God in the battle, He listened “because they put their trust in Him (2 Chron. 14:11-13; Psalms 9:10; 22:4-5). Still, they were prone to forget when facing the next battle. Every child of God, even “men of valor,” must remember to depend on Him rather than relying on themselves.
1 Chronicles 5:20 “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 entreated of them; because they put their trust in him.”
The Israelites were helped against the Ishmaelites, to fight with them, and overcome them; either by their brethren of the house of Israel, as the Targum. Those on this side Jordan; or rather by the Lord, to whom they cried, and who was entreated by them as follows.
“And the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them”: They and their confederates and auxiliaries, the Ituraeans, etc.
“For they cried to God in the battle”: Which at first seems to have gone against them. And they prayed to God, as the Targum, while they were fighting, that he would appear for them, and give them victory.
“And he was entreated of them”: He received their prayer, as the same paraphrase; he heard them, and answered them.
“Because they put their trust in him”: In his power and providence, and not in their own strength, courage, and military skill. The Targum is, “because they trusted in his word”.
The army spoken of here, is the two and one half tribes that were on the east side of the Jordan. It appears, they prayed to the LORD and he helped them. The word “entreated” means surrounded.
1 Chronicles 5:21 “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.”
Which they brought with them, and they found in their camp when they fled, or in their fields.
“Of their camels fifty thousand”: With which Arabia abounded, and were fit to travel with in those hot and desert countries, being strong to carry burdens, and able to bear much thirst. The Arabians, as Diodorus Siculus reports, brought up camels, for almost all the uses of life. As for the sake of their milk and flesh to feed upon, as well as for carrying burdens in common. And which in time of war they loaded with provisions for the army, and fought upon. One of them carrying two archers with their backs to each other, the one to meet the enemy in front, the other to annoy those that pursued them. And so the Parthians made use of camels both to fight on, and to carry provisions for their soldiers.
“And of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand”: Which these Hagarites kept both for food and clothing, and some of them might be now taken with them to supply their army. The Spartans carried sheep with them in their expeditions, as sacrifices to their gods. But it need not be supposed that these creatures, and those that follow, were in such large numbers with the Hagarites in the battle, but were afterwards found, partly in their camp, and partly in the places inhabited by them.
“And of asses two thousand”: Used to ride on, and carry loads, and also to plough with. And in all these lay the wealth of men in those times and countries (see Job 1:1).
“And of men one hundred thousand”: So that they took captive above as many more as their army consisted of.
This shows what a vast amount of animals these people had accumulated through the years. These hundred thousand men were taken captive to work as slaves for the two and one half tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
1 Chronicles 5:22 “For there fell down many slain, because the war [was] of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.”
“The exile”: The Assyrian deportation of 722 B.C. is meant (compare 28:16-21).
The captivity spoken of here, is the Assyrian captivity where Israel was defeated and taken captive. They won the war because God was with them.
1 Chronicles 5:23 “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.”
Not in the land of the Hagarites, but in the land of Gilead and Bashan beyond Jordan, given them by Moses. The writer, having reckoned the genealogies of some of the principal men of Reuben and Gad, proceeds to give a short account of some principal men in this half tribe.
“They increased from Bashan”: Where they first settled, and extended their possessions.
“Unto Baal-hermon and Senir, and unto Mount Hermon; mountains which lay to the north of the land of Canaan, and are what geographers call Antilibanus.
Manasseh was the son of Joseph. He and Ephraim both received a portion from God. This verse shows how their land allotment grew, when they won this war. The other soldiers took captives with them back to their homes. Manasseh just extended his border to include this land.
1 Chronicles 5:24 “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 valor, famous men, [and] heads of the house of their fathers.”
Some of the principal men of this half tribe.
“Even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel”: But of none of these we read elsewhere, excepting Hepher and Azriel (Num. 26:31).
“Mighty men of valor, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers”: Men that obtained a name for their strength, courage, and valor, and military exploits. And were the chiefs of the families in this half tribe, and by whom they were denominated. So from Hepher were the family of the Hepherites, and from Azriel the family of the Azrielites, as in the place before quoted.
These heads of the tribe of Manasseh are not mentioned in another place, so they possibly do not enter into further parts of the genealogy.
1 Chronicles 5:25 “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.”
The folly of Trans-Jordan Manasseh is immediately apparent: they had stupidly turned from the “God” who had given them the victory (verses 18-22). Therefore, God must, in turn, send judgment against them. That judgment would likewise take the form of warfare (verse 26).
As long as there had been an Israel, they had been unfaithful to God. It seemed, every time God helped them, it was not long until they would turn from Him to other gods. The worst part about marrying those who were not of God, was the fact that they might pick up their worship of false gods.
1 Chronicles 5:26 “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.”
“Pul” and “Tilgath-pilneser” (Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria), were the same individual. (See the note on 2 Kings 15:19-20). Accordingly, the sentence should be translated, “The spirit of Pul king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser.”
Notice it is God who brings this punishment on His people for their unfaithfulness. In this instance, God uses people who are not followers of God to carry out His mission. We are all God’s creation, and we are all subject to His will. We are not all sons of God however. We become sons of God, when we accept the Lord as our Savior. Only believers in God are His children. The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh were on the eastern side of the Jordan. They were some of the fiercest fighters Israel had. They were supposed to protect Israel from attack from the east. We see when God decided they were to be punished, they seemed to have no power at all. Assyria did not kill them, but took them captive as slaves. They would never be a united Israel again and come back into the land. They would be scattered forever. The town and the river mentioned were in the area of Padan-aram.
1 Chronicles Chapter 5 Questions
1. Who was the firstborn of Israel?
2. What terrible sin did he commit?
3. Who was his birthright given to?
4. Reuben’s mother was _________.
5. Who did Jacob truly love?
6. What tribe would Messiah come through?
7. Who were the two sons of Joseph?
8. How many fighting men did Reuben’s tribe have?
9. Where was Reuben’s inheritance?
10. What does “Joel” mean?
11. What does “Shemaiah” mean?
12. Who took the census?
13. What does “Aroer” mean?
14. What kind of land did Reuben inherit?
15. Who were the Hagarites?
16. Who was Gad’s mother and father?
17. “Gad” means what?
18. Jeroboam was the first king of the ______ ________.
19. Who was Jetur?
20. Who was Nephish?
21. How many camels did they take in battle (mentioned in verse 21)?
22. Who occupied the land won in this battle?
23. What did they do, that angered God?
24. Who stirred up Pul and Tilgath-pilneser against these Israelites?
25. What happened to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh?
26. Who are the creation of God?
27. How do we become sons of God?