1 Chronicles 4


A second genealogy of Judah, 1-23.

The account of Jabez, 9, 10.

The genealogy of Simeon, 24-27.

Their cities, 28-31.

Their villages, and where situated, 32, 33.

The heads of families, 34-38.

Where they settled; and what was their occupation, 39-43.


Verse 1. The sons of Judah] A genealogy of this tribe has

already been given in the second chapter. It is here introduced

again, with some variations. Probably there were different copies

in the public registers; and the writer of this book, finding that

this second one contained some remarkable particulars, thought

proper to insert it in this place: and no reader will regret the

insertion, when he carefully considers the matter.

Verse 3. These were of the father of Etam] "And these are the

rabbins (doctors) living at Etam, Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash."-T.

Verse 7. And Ethnan.] After this word we should, with the

Targum, read Coz, whose posterity is mentioned in the next

verse. Coz was probably the same as Kenaz.

Verse 8. The son of Harum.] Jabez should be mentioned at the end

of this verse, else he is as a consequent without an antecedent.

Verse 9. And Jabez was more honourable] This whole account is

variously understood by some of the principal versions. I shall

subjoin a translation of each.

SEPTUAGINT.-"And Igabes was more glorious than his brethren; and

his mother called his name Igabes, saying, I have brought thee

forth as Gabes. And Igabes invoked the God of Israel, saying, If

in blessing thou wilt bless me, and enlarge my borders, and thy

hand be with me, and wilt give me understanding not to depress me:

and God brought about all that he requested."

SYRIAC.-"And one of these was dear to his father and to his

mother; and he called his name [Syriac] ainai, MY EYE. And he said

to him, In blessing may the Lord bless thee, and enlarge thy

boundary; and may his hand be with thee; and may he preserve thee

from evil, that it may not rule over thee; and may he give to thee

whatsoever thou shalt request of him!"

ARABIC.-"And this one (Hastahar or Harum) was beloved of his

father and his mother: and they called his name [Arabic] aina, MY

EYE; and they said unto him, May the Lord bless thee, and multiply

thy people, and may his hand be present with thee, because thou

wast born in Beth-lehem!"

These two latter versions seem to have copied each other, and

the Vulgate is nearly, like ours, a literal rendering of the

Hebrew; but the Chaldee is widely different from all the rest:-

CHALDEE.-"And Jabets also, he is Othniel, honourable and skilled

in the law beyond his brethren, whose mother called his name

Jabets, because she had borne him with sorrow. And Jabets prayed

to the God of Israel, saying, O that in blessing thou wouldest

bless me with children, and enlarge my borders with disciples; and

that thy hand may be with me in business, that thou mayest make me

like to my companions, that evil concupiscence may the less grieve

me! And the Lord granted that which he prayed for."

Of this honourable person we know nothing but what is here

mentioned, nor does the name occur in any other part of Scripture

except in 1Ch 2:55, where it appears to be the name of a

place, but is understood by the Chaldee to be the name of a

person, as here. Though I have noticed this particularly in the

note on that place, yet I think it right to add the Chaldee here,

that all that concerns this worthy person may be seen at one


1Ch 2:55: "The families of the Rechabites, the son of Eliezer,

the son of Moses, the disciples of Jabets; he was Othniel, the son

of Kenaz. And he was called Jabets, Yabets, because in his

counsel [ beytsatih, from yaats, he counselled,

advised, &c.] he instituted a school for disciples. They were

called Tirathim, , because in their hymns their voices

were like trumpets, [from ra, to sound like a trumpet;

see Nu 10:9; 2Ch 13:12,] and

Shimathim, , because in hearing, they lifted up their

faces, i.e. in prayer, [from shama, he heard, hearkened,]

and Suchathim, , because they were overshadowed with the

spirit of prophecy, [from sach, a tabernacle, or extended

covering.]" For farther particulars, see at the end of this

chapter. See Clarke on 1Ch 4:43.

Verse 12. These are the men of Rechah.] "These are the men of

the great Sanhedrin."-T.

Verse 15. Caleb the son of Jephunneh] We have already met with

this eminent person in Nu 13:6, 30; 14:24, and elsewhere; and

seen his courageous piety and inflexible integrity. The Targum

says here, "They called him Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, because

he had purged his soul from the counsel of the spies."

Verse 18. And his wife Jehudijah] The Targum considers the names

in this verse as epithets of Moses: "And his wife Jehuditha

educated Moses after she had drawn him out of the water: and she

called his name Jered, because he caused the manna to descend upon

Israel; and Prince Gedor, because he restored the desolations of

Israel; Heber also, because he joined Israel to their heavenly

Father; and Prince Socho, because he overshadowed Israel with his

righteousness, and Jekuthiel, because the Israelites waited on the

God of heaven in his time, forty years in the desert; and prince

Zanoah, because God, on his account, had passed by the sins of

Israel. These names Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, called him

by the spirit of prophecy, for she became a proselyte; and Mered

took her to himself to wife: he is Caleb, and was so called

because he opposed the counsel of the spies."-T. A similar

explanation is given by Jarchi.

Verse 21. That wrought fine linen] "Of the family of those who

worked in fine flax to make garments for kings and priests."-T.

Verse 22. And Joash, and Saraph] "And the prophets and scribes

which sprang from the seed of Joshua, and the Gibeonites, whose

office it was to serve in the house of the sanctuary, because they

had lied to the princes of Israel; also Joash, who is the same as

Mahlon; and Saraph, who is the same as Chilion, who took wives

of the daughters of Moab and Boaz, the chief of the wise men of

the college of Bethlehem, and of those who existed in former


Verse 23. These were the potters] "These are the disciples of

the law, for whose sake the world was created; who preside in

judgment, and establish the world; and they build and perfect the

fallen down house of Israel: they dwelt there with the Shechinah

of the King of the world, in the study of the law and the

intercalation or months, and determining the commencement of years

and festivals: and they computed the times from heaven in the days

of Ruth, the mother of kingdoms, to the days of Solomon the

king."-T. I am afraid this paraphrase gives us as little light as

the text itself, which speaks of potters, and those who dwelt

among plants and hedges. They were probably brickmakers; perhaps

potters also, who had their dwelling in low grounds, and

fabricated the clay into pots and bricks that was digged up in

forming fences in the king's domains.

Verse 24. The sons of Simeon] This genealogy is very different

from that given in Ge 46:10, and Nu 26:12. This may be

occasioned by the same person having several names, one list

taking one name, another list some other, and so on: to reconcile

is impossible; to attempt it, useless.

Verse 27. Neither did all their family multiply] In Nu 1:23 the

number of all the families of Simeon was fifty-nine thousand three

hundred; and that of Judah was, Nu 1:27, not less than

seventy-four thousand six hundred. When the next census was

made, Num. 26, the tribe of Judah amounted to seventy-six thousand

five hundred, an increase of one thousand nine hundred; while the

tribe of Simeon amounted only to twenty-two thousand two hundred,

a decrease of thirty-seven thousand one hundred. It was at that

time the smallest tribe in Israel.

Verse 31. These were their cities unto the reign of David.] It

appears that David took some of the cities of the Simeonites, and

added them to Judah; Ziklag for instance, 1Sa 27:6.

As the tribe of Simeon had withdrawn their allegiance from the

house of David, the kings of Judah extended their domination as

far as possible into the territories of that tribe, so that they

were obliged to seek pasture for their flocks at Gedor, and in the

mountains of Seir, as we find 1Ch 4:39-42.

Verse 40. They of Ham had dwelt there of old.] These were

probably either Philistines or Egyptians, who dwelt at Gedor,

which was situated in the environs of Joppa and Samnia.

Those whom the five hundred Simeonites expelled from Seir were

Amalekites, 1Ch 4:43.

Verse 43. They smote the rest of the Amalekites] Those who had

escaped in the war which Saul made against them, (see 1Sa 14:48,)

and from David, who had attacked them afterwards, 2Sa 8:12.

THE expedition of the Simeonites mentioned here, against Gedor

and Seir, was in the days of Hezekiah; and, as Calmet conjectures,

near about the time of the captivity of the ten tribes, when the

remnant of Simeon would feel themselves obliged to retire more

southward, into Arabia Petraea, for fear of the Jews. These may

be probable conjectures.-See Calmet.

There are several things in the account of Jabez that are very


1. He appears to have been a child brought into the world with

great difficulty, at the risk of his own life and that of his

mother. So much seems to be implied in, she bare him with

sorrow, i.e., with peculiar sorrow and danger.

2. To perpetuate the merciful interposition of God in her own

and her son's behalf, she gave him a name that must have recalled

to her and his remembrance the danger to which both their lives

were exposed, and from which they could not have been extricated

but by the especial help of God. She called his name Jabez, &c.

3. He was brought up in the fear of God; he was no idolater; he

worshipped the God of Israel, and he showed the sincerity of his

faith by frequent and earnest prayer.

4. His prayer was at once both enlightened and pious. He had

piety towards God, and therefore he trusted in him: he knew that

he was the fountain of all good, and therefore he sought all

necessaries both for body and soul from him. He prayed to the God

of Israel.

5. Both the matter and manner of his prayer were excellent. His

heart was deeply impressed with its wants, and therefore he was

earnest and fervent; O that thou wouldest bless me indeed;

im barech tebarecheni; "O that in blessing thou

wouldest bless me!" Let me live under thy benediction! Do thou

diligently and frequently bless me!

6. He prays for the things necessary for the body as well as for

the soul: And enlarge my coasts-grant me as much territory as may

support my family. Let the means of living be adequate to the

demands of life; let me have the necessaries, conveniences, and,

as far as they may be safely intrusted with me, the comforts of

life! O that thou wouldest enlarge my coasts!

7. He is conscious that without the continual support of God he

must fail; and therefore he prays to be upheld by his power: That

thy hand might be with me! May I ever walk with thee, and ever

feel the hand of thy power to support and cover me in all

the trials, dangers, and difficulties of life; and the hand of thy

providence to supply all my wants in reference to both worlds!

8. He dreads both sin and suffering, and therefore prays against

both: O that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not

grieve me! Sin and misery are in every step of the journey of

life; keep me from sin, that I grieve thee not; and keep me from

sin, that I render not myself miserable! We can never offend God

without injuring ourselves; he that sins must suffer. Thorns

and scorpions are everywhere in the way to perdition; and he that

walks in it must be torn and stung. He alone is happy who walks

in the ways of God. Keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.

9. Prayers that have a right aim will have a right answer; Jabez

did not pray in vain, for God granted him that which he requested.

He was continually blessed; his family was increased; the hand of

God was upon him for good. He was saved from sin, and saved from

the pangs and sufferings of a guilty conscience.

10. If we take up the character and conduct of Jabez in the view

given by the Chaldee, we shall not only see him as a pious and

careful man, deeply interested in behalf of himself and his

family, but we shall see him as a benevolent man, labouring for

the welfare of others, and especially for the religious

instruction of youth. He founded schools, in which the young and

rising generation were taught useful knowledge, and especially the

knowledge of God. He had disciples, which were divided into three

classes, who distinguished themselves by their fervour in the

worship of God, by their docility in obediently hearing and

treasuring up the advices and instructions of their teachers, and

by their deep piety to God in bringing forth the fruits of the

Spirit. The spirit of prophecy, that is, of prayer and

supplication, rested upon them.

11. He did not do these things merely as a duty he owed to God

and his fellows, but from the abundance of a generous and loving

heart: In his counsel he erected a school of disciples. God had

blessed him with temporal things, and he secures their continuance

by devoting them to his service; he honours God with his

substance, and God honours him with his especial blessing and


12. On these accounts he was more honourable than his brethren.

He was of the same stock and the same lineage; he had neither

nobility of birth, nor was distinguished by earthly titles; in all

these respects he was on a level with his brethren: but God tells

us that he was more honourable than them all; and why? because he

prayed, because he served his Maker, and because he lived to do

good among men; therefore he received the honour that cometh from

God. Reader, imitate the conduct of this worthy Israelite, that

thou mayest be a partaker of his blessings.

The things added by the Targumist might have been derived from

authentic tradition.

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