1 Chronicles 1:1-4
A. LIST OF GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO NOAH. These verses contain a line of genealogical descents, ten in number, from Adam to Noah, adding mention of the three sons of the latter. The stride from Adam to Seth, and the genealogy's entire obliviousness of Cain and Abel, are full of suggestion. All of these thirteen names in the Hebrew and in the Septuagint Version, though not those in the Authorized Version, are facsimiles of those which occur in Genesis 5:1-32. They are not accompanied, however, here, as they are there, by any chronological attempt. Probably the main reason of this is that any references of the kind were quite beside the objects which the compiler of this work had in view. It is, however, possible that other reasons for this chronological silence may have existed. The uncertainities attaching to the chronology found in Genesis, as regards this table, may have been suspected or evident—uncertainties which afterwards proclaim themselves so loudly in the differences observable between the Hebrew, Samaritan, and Septuagint versions. Thus the Hebrew text exhibits the total aggregate of years from Adam to the birth of Noah, as amounting to one thousand and fifty-six; the Samaritan version to seven hundred and seven only; and the Septuagint to as many as sixteen hundred and sixty-two; nevertheless, all three agree in adding five hundred years onward to the birth of Shem, and another hundred years to the coming of the Flood. It must be remarked of this first genealogical table, whether occurring here or in Genesis, that, notwithstanding its finished appearance, notwithstanding the impression it undoubtedly first makes on the reader, that it purports to give all the intervening generations from the first to Shem, it may not be so; nor be intended to convey that impression. It is held by some that names are omitted, and with them of course the years which belonged to them. There can be no doubt that this theory would go far to remove several great difficulties, and that some analogies might be invoked in support of it, from the important genealogies of the New Testament. The altogether abrupt opening of this book—a succession of proper names without any verb or predication—cannot be considered as even partially compensated by the first sentence of Genesis 9:1-29; "So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah." This verse applies directly to the genealogies of Israel and the tribes, beginning Genesis 2:1, while under any circumstances, we must look on the first portion of this book as a series of tables, here and there slightly annotated, and suddenly suspended before the eyes.
1 Chronicles 1:5-7
B. LIST OF SONS AND GRANDSONS OF JAPHETH. After the mention of Noah's three sons, in the order of their age (though some on slender ground think Ham the youngest), this order, as in Genesis 10:2, is reversed; and the compiler, beginning with Japheth, the youngest, apparently with the view of disposing of what his purpose may not so particularly require, gives the names of seven sons and seven grandsons, viz. three through Gomar, the eldest son, and four through Javan, the fourth son. These fourteen names are identical in the Authorized Version with the list of Genesis 10:2-4. The Septuagint, though not identical in the spelling of the four names Madai, Tiras, Tarshish, and Kittim, shows no material differences in the two places. In the Hebrew, according to the text and edition consulted, very slight variations are found in the orthography of Tubal ( וְתֻבָּל here for וְתֻבָל) and Tarshish ( וְתַרְשִׁישָׁח here for וְתַרְשִׁישׁ)and in the adoption of Riphath and Dodanim in this book for Diphath and Rodanim. The names Kittim and Dodanim look less like names of individuals than of such family, tribe, or nation as descended from the individual. At the close of this short enumeration, we have .in Genesis the statement, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." It is evident here also that, whether the compiler borrowed from the Book of Genesis itself, or from some common source open to both, his objects are not exactly the same. Time and the present position and condition of that part of his people for which he was writing governed him, and dictated the difference. Accordingly we do not pause here on the colonizings and the fresh seats and habitations of the sons and grandsons of Japheth. The subject, one of extreme interest, and the threads of it perhaps not so hopelessly lost as is sometimes thought, belongs to the place in Genesis from which the above verse is cited. It may, however, be written here that the rather verbose disquisitions of Joseph Mede are neither altogether unin-retorting nor in some parts of them unlikely. They form Discourses 47, 48, bk. 1..
1 Chronicles 1:8-16
C. LIST OF THE SONS, GRANDSONS, AND GREAT-GRANDSONS OF HAM. This list consists of four sons of Ham, of six grandsons, including Nimrod, through Cush, the eldest son of Ham; of seven grandsons through Mizraim, the second son of Ham; of eleven grandsons through Canaan, the fourth son of Ham; of two great-grandsons through Raamah, Cush's fourth son;—thirty descendants in all. No issue is given of Put, the third son of Hem. The parallel list is found in Genesis 10:6-20. The names agree in the Authorized Version, with minute differences, e.g. Put here for Phut there, and so the Philistines for Philistine, Caphthorim for Caphtorim, Girgashite for Girgasite. They are similarly in agreement in the Hebrew text of the two places, with minute differences, e.g. וְסַבְתָּא here for וְסַבְתָּה there; וְרַעְמָא for וְרַעְמָה for לוּדיִים וְרַעְמָה for צִידוֹן לוּדיִים for הַעַרְקִי צִידֹן. However, in Genesis the following statements are added to Nimrod's name:—"He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty. hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; the same is a great city." And again, at the close of the enumeration of sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons, follow the statements, "And afterwards were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comsat to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations."
1 Chronicles 1:10
The Septuagint supplies the word κυνηγὸς after γίγας. Also after this description of Nimrod, it proceeds to the enumeration of the posterity of Shem, omitting all mention of Ham's grandsons through Mizraim and Cainan. Up to that point the names in this book and Genesis are in agreement in the Septuagint Version. It is evident that some of the names in this portion of the genealogy are not strictly those of the individual, but of the tribe or nation which came to be, as, for instance, Mizraim, Ludim, the Jebusite, the Amorite, and so on.
1 Chronicles 1:16
This verse furnishes us with one illustration of the assertion made above, that the clues to the ethnological and ethnographical statements of these most ancient records are not necessarily all hopelessly lost. In the name Zemarite, it is suggested by Michaelis, that we have allusion to the place Sumra, on the west coast of Syria, this Sumra being the Siniyra of Pliny ('Hist. Nat.,' 5.20), and of the Spanish geographer of the first century, Pomponius Mela (1. 12). But the place Zimira, in company with Arpad, is found in the Assyrian inscriptions of Sargon, n.o. 720, leaving little cause to hesitate in accepting the identification of Michaelis. Certainty, however, cannot be felt on the subject.
1 Chronicles 1:17-27
D. THE LIST OF SHEM'S DESCENDANTS TO ABRAM. This list is broken in two; it pauses a moment exactly halfway to Abram, at the name Peleg, to mention Peleg's brother Joktan and Joktan's thirteen sons. Then, repeating the first five names of lineal descent, and picking up the thread at Peleg, the list gives the remaining five to Abram. In the first half of this list, we have apparently the names of nine sons of Shem, but, as Genesis explains, really the names of five sons, and through Aram, the last of them, the names of four grandsons. Another grandson, through Arphaxad the third son, follows, and through this grandson two consecutive lineal descents bring us, in the name Peleg, half-way to Abram. It is here the lineal table pauses to give Joktan and his thirteen sons. The names then in this portion of the list are twenty-six in number. In the Authorized Version they correspond with those in Genesis, except that Meschech ( וָמֶשֶׁךְ ) here is called Mash ( וָמַשׁ) there; Shelah here is spelled Salah there; and Ebal ( עֵיבָל) here is written Obal ( עוֹבָל) there. The difference between the Hebrew texts justifies the first and last of these variations in the Authorized Version, but in all other respects those texts are in entire accord with one another, for this paragraph. The Septuagint gives very little of this portion of the list. It corresponds, whether with the Hebrew or the Authorized Version, only as far as to the name Arphaxad, after which it carries down the line at once to Abram by the remaining eight names as given in our twenty-fourth to twenty-seventh verses. Nor is it in agreement with its own version in Genesis, which has points of important variation with the Hebrew text also. It is then at this break of the list that, after the names of Joktan's sons, we have in Genesis these words, "And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lauds, after their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the Flood." Upon this follows the account of Babel, in nine long verses, and then a chronological summary is furnished in lineal descent only from Shem to Abram. It is with the names in this chronological summary that those in this second part of our list (verses 24-27) are found to agree. But any attempt at reproduction of the chronology found in Genesis is again absent here. At this point a significant stage of these genealogies is reached. The ever-broadening stream of population now narrows again. Two thousand years have flown by, then Abraham appears on the stream and tide of human life. Of that long period the life of Adam himself spanned nearly the half. So far we learn without partiality of all his descendants in common. But henceforth, the real, the distinct purpose of the genealogy becomes apparent, in that the line of the descendants of Abraham, and that by one family, alone is maintained, and proves to be a purpose leading by one long straight line to Christ himself. With Abraham "the covenant of innoceney," long forfeited in Adam, is superseded by the everlasting "covenant of grace," and we lose sight in some measure of Adam, the "common father of our flesh," to think of a happier parentage found in Abraham, the "common father of the faithful."
1 Chronicles 1:28-37
E. LIST OF THE SONS, GRANDSONS, AND OTHER DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM. In the first of these verses the new form of the name of Abraham is at once used in place of the old form. And the names of two of his sons are given, Isaac the son by Sarah, and Ishmael the son by Hagar, his Egyptian bondwoman. That these stand in the inverse order of their birth and age requires no explanation. The distinct and separate mention of these two sons, apart from all the others, is of course in harmony with Genesis 21:12, Genesis 21:13, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed." Although stated in the first place in the order of importance, and Isaac takes precedence of Ishmael, the name of this latter and of his posterity are treated of first. To note each clear instance of this kind will guard us against inferring, in cases not clear, anything positive, one way or the other, respecting seniority merely from order. The order either of age or of historic importance may be given in the first instance, to be immediately reversed in favour of the order which shall enable the writer to clear out of his way the less important.
1 Chronicles 1:29-31
Contain the list of Ishmael's sons, twelve in number. The names in the Authorized Version and in the Hebrew text are identical respectively with those in Genesis 25:1, Genesis 25:3-15, except that for Hadar there we read Hadad here. In the Septuagint we have Idouma, Choudan, Iettar here, for Douma, Choddan, and Ietur there. At the close of this list in Genesis we have joined on to "these are the sons of Ishmael," the clauses, "and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren."
1 Chronicles 1:32, 1 Chronicles 1:33
Contain the list of Abraham's sons by Keturah, here called one of his concubines; but in Genesis, "a wife," and apparently not taken by Abraham till after Sarah's death (Genesis 25:1-4). The sons are six; the grandsons, two by the son placed second in order, and five by the son placed fourth in order; in all thirteen names. But the passage in Genesis gives also three great-grandsons, through the second grandson. All the thirteen are in the Authorized Version identical in the two places and in the Hebrew text; but in the Septuagint slight differences occur, as Zembram, Iexan, Madam, Sobak, Soe, Daidan, Sabai, Opher, Abida, and Eldada here, for Zombran, Iezan, Madal, Iesbok, Soie, Dedan, Saba, Apheir, Abeida, and Eldaga there. It is carefully stated in Genesis 25:5, Genesis 25:6, after the enumeration of Keturah's children, and in spite of her having been called "wife" in the first verse, that "Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his sou, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country."
1 Chronicles 1:34-37
Lead us on to the descendants of Isaac, the more important branch of Abraham's family. It breaks again at once into two, Esau, the less important, treated of first; and Israel, reserved till we enter on 1 Chronicles 2:1-55. Of Esau, the names of five sons are given; and of seven grandsons by the first in order, and four grandsons by the second in order of these sons. In Genesis 36:1-5 we have the names of the five sons of Esau, which correspond in the Authorized Version and in the Hebrew text exactly with those of this list. We have there in addition the names of their mothers respectively, who were "daughters of Canaan," Adah of the Hittites, mother of the first; Bashamath of the Ishmaelites, mother of the second (and by these two lines came the seven and four grandsons); and Aholibamah of the Hivites, mother of the remaining three sons. The names correspond also in the Septuagint in the two places, with the minute differences of Eliphaz and Ieoul here, for Eliphas and Ieous there. Then follow the names of seven grandsons of Esau though his son Eliphaz, of whom the first five are found and in agreement (Genesis 36:11), with the exception of Zephi here for Zepho there, both in the Authorized Version and in the Hebrew text. But the sixth name here, Timna, is explained in Genesis as the name of a concubine of Eliphaz, by whom he had the son Amalek, who appears here as the seventh son. There can be no doubt that we come here upon a transcriber's error, and it would be easily amended if we read "and by Timna, Amalek," vice "and Timna and Amalek." If this be the correct account of the matter, the grandsons of Esau of course count one fewer here. These two names also tally in the Authorized Version and in the Hebrew text in the two places; while for all seven names the agreement in the Septuagint is exact, except that we read Gootham here for Gothom there. There remain, in verse 37, four grandsons to Esau, by Reuel. Their names agree with Genesis in the Authorized Version, in the Hebrew text, and in the Septuagint, except that this last reads Naches here for Nachoth there.
1 Chronicles 1:38-42
F. LIST OF DESCENDANTS OF SEIR. These verses contain the names of seven sons of Seir and one daughter, and of grandsons through every one of the seven sons, viz. two through Lotan the first, five through Shobal the second, two through Zibeon the third, one through Anah the fourth, four through Dishon the fifth, three through Ezar the sixth, and two through Dishan the seventh,—twenty-six names in all, or, including the one daughter, who is introduced as Lotan's sister, twenty-seven. The first question which arises is, who Seir was, now first mentioned here. He is called in Genesis 36:20 "Seir the Horite," and the only previous mention of the name Seir in that chapter is in Genesis 36:8, "Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom;" while we read in Genesis 14:6, "The Horites in mount Self;" in Genesis 32:3, "To the land of Seir, the country of Edom." For anything we know of the person Self, then, we are confined to these two notices—that in Genesis 36:20 and the one in our text. The name signifies "rough;" and whether Seir. the person, took the name from Seir, the place (a mountain district, reaching from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf), or vice versa, it would seem plain that the proper name belonged to the head of the tribe, which had become located there, and was, of course, not in the line of Abraham. This tribe, called Horites—Hori being the name of Seir's eldest grandson—or Troglodytes, acquired their name from hollowing out dwellings in the rocks, as at Petra. They were visited evidently by Esau: he married at least one of his wives from them; and his descendants, the Edomites, in due time dispossessed and superseded them (Deuteronomy 2:12). No doubt some were left behind, and contentedly submitted to the Edomites and became mingled with them. These considerations put together account for the introduction here of the names of Seir and his twenty-seven descendants, while the particulars of their genealogy, so far as here given, would lie easily to hand. The sons of Seir are called in Genesis also "dukes" ( אַלּוּפֵי ), a word answered to by the later "sheikhs;" and they are called "dukes of the Horites," or "the dukes of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Self." The twenty-six or twenty-seven names under notice agree in the Authorized Version entirely with those in Genesis 36:20-27, except that for Homam, Allan, Shephi, Amram, and Jakan here, we have Hemam, Alvan, Shepho, Hemdan, and Akau there. Also in the Hebrew the texts agree in the two places as regards these names, with the same exceptions. But in the Septuagint the names differ much more in the two places. Thus for ωσὰρ, δισάν (or λισάν), ἀλὼν ταιβὴλ σωφὶ ωνάν, αιθ σωνὰν δαισὼν ̓εμερὼν ̓ασεβὼν, ἰεθρὰμ, and ακάν here, we have ἀσὰρ, ρισὼν γωλὰμ γαιβὴλ σωφὰρ ωμὰρ ἀίε, ἀνά δησὼν ἀμαδὰ ἀσβὰν ἰθρὰν, and ἱουκάμ there. When the name of Anah is reached in Genesis, it is added, "This was that Anah that found the mules [ אֶת־הַיַּבִים, more probably 'hot springs,' as the finder of which Anah is supposed to have been called Beeri] in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon, his father." And again, when Dishon is mentioned as the son of Anah, there is added, "And Aholi-bamah the daughter of Anah." Note is made of her name, no doubt, for the same kind of reason as Timna is mentioned above. Aholibamah (i.q. "Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite," Genesis 26:34 ) enjoys notice inasmuch as she became the wife of Esau; and Timna, as she became the concubine of Esau's son Eliphaz, and thereby the mother of Amalek.
1 Chronicles 1:42-50
G. LIST OF KINGS OF EDOM. These verses contain a list of kings who reigned in Edom, during a period expressly notified as anterior to the institution of kings in Israel. Some further point of practical use than has been yet ascertained may lie in the preservation of these snatches of Edom's history. Something surely hangs on the emphatic but otherwise gratuitous statement, that kings were unknown in Israel when this line reigned in Edom. It may turn out to cover the fulfilment of some obscure point of prophecy, or to subserve some important chronological purpose; but wedged in as it is, it cannot be permitted to count for nothing. That it stands in identical words in Genesis 36:31 increases not a little the attention to be paid to it. It has hence been asserted far too dogmatically, as by Spinoza, that the Book of Genesis was no work of Moses; or again, that the passage, in the course of some transcription of manuscripts, had found its way from Chronicles, through a marginal note, at last into the text of Genesis (see Kennicott). But these positions are only forced by the assumption that kings must have reigned in Israel before the sentence could have been written, which is an unnecessary assumption. Kings had been promised to Jacob (Genesis 35:11), as among his posterity, and had been prophesied of by Moses (Deuteronomy 28:36). It may have been that Edom, secure in her kings for generations, had been wont to make her boast of them. in comparison of and in presence of her neighbours, and the remark may have thence originated. Lastly, it has been correctly pointed out that the structure of the sentence in the original does not at all necessitate the suggestion (of which in the English Version there is confessedly the appearance), that kings had already been in Israel. At the same time, too great stress must not be laid upon this, for the slight alteration of translation that would suit the time for Genesis, would throw it out again for our text here, and yet the words of the original are identical. These kings are eight in number; the parentage or the land of each is given. It is to be noticed that the line of royalty is not hereditary, and that several dukes, or heads of tribes, or princes of districts, rule under the king. The names, whether of persons or places, agree in the Authorized Version as they occur here and in Genesis 36:31-39, except that Saul is here spelt Shaul, and that we have here Hadad and Pai for Hadar and Pan there. These two differences are occasioned by the Hebrew text, and are the only differences between the two Hebrew texts, except that חוֹשָׁם here is given חֻשָׁם there, and that the incorrect spelling here of עֲיִות is found right ( עֲוִית) in Genesis. The superfluous statement, Hadad died also, which begins our fifty-first verse, is not found in Genesis. In the Septuagint the variations between the two places are greater, as well as those from the Hebrew text in either place. Thus we have Asom, Gethaim, Sebla, Roboth, Balaennor, Achobor, Adad, here, for Asom, Getthaim, Samada, Robboth, Ballenon, Achobor, Arad, there. There is also an entire omission here of the name of the wife of the last king, with those of her mother and grandmother, all of which are given in the passage of Genesis, as found in the Hebrew text.
1 Chronicles 1:44
It is not impossible that this Jobab is one with Job. The allusions in Genesis 36:11 to "Eliphaz the Temanite" have directed attention to this; and it has been favoured by the Septuagint and the Fathers.
1 Chronicles 1:48
Rehoboth by the river; i.e. the Euphrates, to distinguish it probably from "the city Rehoboth" of Genesis 10:11.
1 Chronicles 1:51-54
H. LIST OF ELEVEN DUKES OF EDOM. These, the remaining verses of 1 Chronicles 1:1-54; appear to give a list of eleven dukes of Edom, emphasized apparently as "the dukes of Edom," as though there were none before or after them. But see Genesis 36:15, Genesis 36:41, Genesis 36:43, the study of which can scarcely leave a doubt on the mind that this list is not one of persons but of places; e.g. "the duke" of the city, or region of "Timnah," and so on. The places were dukedoms. The names of these verses, in both Authorized Version and Hebrew text, are an exact counterpart of those found in Genesis 36:40-43, except that Aliah here (so Allan, Genesis 36:40) stands for Alvah in Genesis. In the Septuagint we have Golada, Elibamas, and Babsar here, for Gola, Olibemas, and Mazar there. Thus this first chapter contains those genealogical tables which concern the patriarchs from Adam up to Israel, spanning a stretch of some two thousand three hundred years, and embracing also tables of Edom and certain of the descendants of Edom up to the period of kings. The chapter contains not a single instance of a remark that could be described as of a moral, religious, or didactic kind. Yet not a little is to be learnt sometimes, not a little suggested, from omission and solemn silence as well as from speech; no more notable instance of which could perhaps be given, when we take into account time, place, and circumstances, than that already alluded to in the omissions involved in the following of the name of Seth upon that of Adam. The genealogies of this chapter, with their parallels in Genesis, are notable also for standing unique in all the world's writing, and far over all the world's mythology, for retracing the pedigree of the wide family of men, and especially of the now scattered family of the Jew, to its original. From the time of the close of our Chronicle genealogies, supplemented by the earliest of the New Testament, no similarly comprehensive but useful, ambitious but deliberately designed and successfully executed enterprise has been attempted. And as Matthew Henry has well said, since Christ came, the Jews have lost all their genealogies, even the most sacred of them, "the building is reared, the scaffold is removed; the Seed is come, the line that led to him is broken off."
Homilies By J.R. Thomson
1 Chronicles-On the whole book-Chronicles.
It has pleased God that a large part of Old Testament Scripture should take the form of history. The sacred books of the Hebrews consist largely of a record of the national life. Here we read of the birth and growth of the chosen people, their prosperity, their conquests, their defeats and captivities, their lawgivers, priests, prophets, kings, and patriots. This Book of Chronicles contains the genealogies of Hebrew tribes and families, and the annals of the nation during the long and glorious reign of David. There must be reasons why the volume which contains the revelation of the Divine character and will should, in so many parts, assume the historical form.
I. There is A GENERAL RELIGIOUS PURPOSE answered by history. Man is social, and is appointed by Providence to live in families, tribes, and nations. Religion not only summons the individual to live a life of allegiance and submission to the unseen power of righteousness and grace, but requires men in their political relations to abide beneath the guiding eye of the Eternal.
1. Historical records promote national life.
2. They encourage a sense of national unity and responsibility. "Not only," says a great writer, "does the nobleness of a nation depend on the presence of this national consciousness, but also the nobleness of each individual citizen." The same writer adduces the Jews as an illustration of this principle.
3. They furnish us with practical political lessons. Bossuet has admirably shown of what service history must needs be to princes and rulers.
4. They represent good and evil principles in living instances.
5. To the devout mind they are full of indications of the presence and the energy of God, the moral Ruler and Lord of all.
II. There is a SPECIAL RELIGIOUS USE in Jewish history.
1. It is the history of a very remarkable and favoured—we should say chosen—people.
2. it records direct interpositions of the hand of God. In the obligation to obedience and service, in the chastisement of lawlessness and rebellion, the Christian can trace a Divine power, whatever race or nation he reviews in the pages of history or contemplates with an observant eye. The peculiarity of the Israelitish chronicles lies here—the Divine power is acknowledged from page to page.
3. The history of the Jews is an epitome of the history of mankind. Within that little territory of Palestine there lived a microcosm of humanity. The parallel is ever presenting itself to our vision.
4. The record of Israel is the story of the preparation for the advent of Christianity. The Old Testament points on to the New. This Book of Chronicles, in its biography of David, leads the mind on to him who was David's Son and David's Lord.
1. This book should be read with interest as presenting an especially Levitical view of Hebrew history.
2. The reader should be on the watch for gleams of light amidst the sombre catalogues of Israelitish names.
1 Chronicles 1-9 On the first nine chapters—Genealogies.
Most readers of the Scriptures shrink from perusing the lengthy genealogical tables which constitute so large a part of the Books of Numbers and of Chronicles. It is difficult to feel any interest in persons of whom we know nothing but the name. The lists of Hebrew names constitute dry and unattractive reading. Yet, as every man amongst ourselves who has a distinguished pedigree takes pleasure in tracing his own descent by means of "the family tree" which he has in his possession, so it is reasonable to suppose that the Jews regarded their recorded genealogies with pleasure and pride. There are, however, reasons why we also should contemplate these family records with interest.
I. There are GENERAL REASONS why genealogies should be recorded and preserved.
1. Family life is ordained by God. Revelation teaches us that the family is a Divine institution, and society can only prosper and retain stability when fixed upon this basis.
2. Family feeling is consequently natural and Divine. The relationships of the household are bound up with deep, tender, and beneficial sentiments.
3. Family recollections and records are of human interest and moral advantage. When the father tells the story of his boyhood to his son, the grandfather to his grandson, there is a natural interest felt, and a wholesome feeling of family life and community developed.
4. In many instances family history is an important part of national history. The story of the reigning family in a monarchical country, and of families distinguished for hereditary ability and patriotism in all countries, can scarcely be omitted from the chronicles of a nation.
5. The federal family feeling is contributive to the religious life. "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts."
II. There are SPECIAL REASONS why the genealogies of the Jews should be preserved. The fact that they have been thought worthy of so prominent a place in the canonical Scriptures is indicative of their importance to the national and religious life of the Hebrew people.
1. In some instances these genealogies evince the faithfulness of God in the fulfilment of prophecy. This is especially the case with regard to the character and functions of the several tribes of Israel.
2. In some instances these tables indicate the functions of families in the nation and in the service of the sanctuary. Thus the tribe of Judah is pointed out as the monarchical, the tribe of Levi as the ministerial tribe, and the family of Aaron as the priestly family.
3. One especial purpose of Hebrew genealogy was to provide that the descent of the Messiah should be duly traced, and that the predictions of Scripture should be thus obviously fulfilled. The genealogies of the Evangelists should be read in connection with those of the books of the Old Testament. The Son of David, the descendant of Abraham, is thus shown to be the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind.—T.
1 Chronicles 1:10.-A mighty one.
In the early history of the world and in the early history of most nations there arise, out of the dimness, great gigantic figures. We know little of such; but they impress the imagination, and their names suggest great qualities and memorable deeds. Such a figure is Nimrod, of whom we read that "he began to be mighty upon the earth."
I. Observe an instance of the NATURAL INEQUALITY OF MAN WITH MAN. Many are forgotten; one is remembered; and he who is remembered is, in some respects, superior to his fellows. This inequality is divinely ordered, and, on the whole, must be admitted to contribute to the welfare of society. The respects in which men are great and distinguished are very various. Some are admired for their bodily powers, their daring; others for their wisdom; others, again, for their sanctity.
II. Observe MEN'S NATURAL TENDENCY TO DO HOMAGE TO GREATNESS. This often takes the form of "hero-worship," to use the expression of one of our most influential thinkers and writers. The disposition to hero-worship is neither an unmixed good nor an unmixed evil.
III. Consider THE CONSEQUENT RESPONSIBILITY OF POWER AND GREATNESS, When used for an evil end, power is indeed a curse. The selfish, the ambitious, the cruel, are a scourge to humanity. On the other hand, a wide range of influence is the means of the usefulness of these who are alike good and great. The more the talents, the more serious the reckoning at last with the Lord and Judge. History largely consists of the records of the achievements of the mighty. What an account must some such have to render at the last!
1. See that the greatness you admire be true greatness, moral grandeur, spiritual dignity.
2. Whether your endowments be lavish or slender, seek to use aright what a wise Providence has entrusted to your care.—T.
Homilies By R. Glover
1 Chronicles 1-6-On the genealogical tables of the first six chapters of the First Book of-Chronicles.
It is worth while to read these long lists of names. It is like standing on a river-bank and watching the flow of time. Solemn thoughts of transiency of life, of fame, of importance, are suggested by them. Solemn thoughts of responsibility are started by them, and appeals to act worthily of the past rise from them. They deepen our respect for our grand old world, the nurse of heroes and of saints —
"Where half the soil has trod the rest
In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages."
They reconcile us, to some extent, to inevitable evils in the present, showing that wars and conflicts have been the order of the day from the beginning. Observe more particularly —
I. How broadly the writer of this book lays THE BASIS OF HUMAN BROTHERHOOD, He is intensely devoted to the Jewish priesthood—almost certainly one of them. Some, therefore, would expect only narrowness from him. Priest, presbyter, or pastor are all supposed to have more contracted views than neighbours. But he commences his genealogies, not with Moses, nor Jacob, nor Abraham, but with Adam; recognizing at the outset that mankind is of one blood, one essential nature, one need, one capacity. This is one of the grand differences between the Bible religion and all other ancient religions. It recognized a common brotherhood of mankind beneath the common fatherhood of God. Let us learn this lesson, and go back a little further than the Commonwealth or the Conquest, and remember the English race is not made of different clay from the rest of mankind. All had the same origin, and all, therefore, are capable of the same elevation.
II. Observe, secondly, IT BECOMES US TO RECOGNIZE OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO THE PAST. No Jew could read these records without feeling it. If possessing fertile land, they owed it to others—to the Simeonites, five hundred, who occupied Mount Seir (1 Chronicles 4:39-43); to the men of Reuben, extirpating Arab tribes and dwelling in their place for centuries; to Caleb, for possessing Hebron; to Machir and to Jair, and to many such. If enjoying the arts of life, they should remember how much of these were inherited. They would recall with advantage "Joab, the father of the valley of craftsmen" (1 Chronicles 4:14); those who "wrought fine linen of the house of Ashbea' (1 Chronicles 6:21); and "the potters" and "those that dwelt among plants and hedges" (1 Chronicles 6:23). If they rejoice in their exquisite poetry, and their music probably matching it in worth, they should remember David and Heman (1 Chronicles 6:33), Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:39), and Merari (1 Chronicles 6:44). It is well to remember the debt we owe to the past. Science did not begin in the nineteenth century, nor good laws, nor philanthropy, nor even statesmanship. We stand on the shoulders of the past. Some are too confident and presumptuous, as if what we possess had been achieved and not inherited. See that we do something for posterity, and transmit in finer volume the advantages we have enjoyed.
III. Observe THE LONG BLESSING THAT FOLLOWS THE GODLY, The priestly line of Aaron is traced through a thousand years of eminence down to the time of the Captivity, and then it is still strong. The royal line of David is traced down to the Captivity, the crown resting on some member of his family through seventeen generations, and traced subsequently in the eminence of Zerubbabel, who is one of the leaders of the return. Blessing of long lines of progeny, inheriting parents' success, are seen in many other cases, e.g. Caleb's. A grandson of the prophet Samuel (Heman) inherits his poetic fire. Evil extends its traces and its curse to the third or fourth generation of those that hate God; good carries its blessing to "thousands of generations" of those that love him. Do right and do good, and none can limit your power of blessing your fellow-men. Yet observe, lastly —
IV. THE PROMISE OF THE START IS SOMETIMES BROKEN, AND THE UNPROMISING BEGINNING TURNS OUT WELL. Some of Aaron's sons (Nadab and Abihu) have an awful fate; some of Judah's an unhappy character. But sometimes a family, beginning badly, improves; for example, here is Judah's, who in the course of a few generations had in it Er, Onan, and Achan ("the troubler of Israel"); yet it runs itself clear, and gets better, purer, and stronger as it goes on. Therefore despair of none, nor of yourself. Heart within and God overhead, whatever you have been, you may become a blessing to great multitudes.—G.
Homilies By R. Tuck
Verse. 1, etc.-The mission of Scripture genealogies.
Since "all Scripture is… profitable," etc. (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 3:17), we may inquire what is the purpose of the many genealogical records that are preserved for us, and how they stand related to the higher spiritual objects of the Divine revelation. It appears that genealogies have always possessed a peculiar attraction for Orientals; and still nothing so quickly seizes their attention, or pleases them so much, as a summary or review of their histories. The genealogies of Scripture, therefore, help to give naturalness and the sense of genuineness to it as entirely an Eastern composition. It would be made a plea against the authenticity if such genealogies were not found in it. Sufficient reason for the lists which commence the Books of Chronicles may be found in the date and circumstances of their composition. Whoever was the editor, we are sure that the work was prepared after the return from captivity and subsequent to the building of Zerubbabel's temple. The condition of the people called for such a review of the national history as would impress upon them their connection with a long and glorious past, and would freshen to their view the great principles on which the national prosperity had rested. "The people had not yet gathered up the threads of the old national life, broken by the Captivity. They required to be reminded, in the first place, of their entire history, of the whole past course of mundane events, and of the position which they themselves held among the nations of the earth. This was done, curtly and drily, but sufficiently, by means of genealogies." Such a picture of the past revived hope and encouraged high aspirations for the future. Such a summary became a virtual introduction to the Gospels, and these genealogies may be compared with those found in St. Matthew and St. Luke. But beyond the use of "genealogies" to Orientals generally, and to the returned captives of that age in particular, we inquire what comprehensive truths for the race, and so for us, they may be designed to impress. And we may fix attention on three:
I. THE UNITY OF GOD. This was the first and essential truth committed to the trust of the Abrahamic race. This they were to conserve for the world during the long ages of man's "free experiment." It was opposed by the dualism of Persia, and the more common polytheism, which associated "gods" with particular localities and countries. It is significant that after the Captivity the Israelites never relapsed into idolatry; but such a genealogy as this helped them to realize fully that the God of their restoration was the "one God" of their fathers, and the God of the whole earth, who could not be limited in thought to any locality, nation, or name. Illustrate and enforce the jealousy of the Divine unity, and the position of this truth, as the very foundation of the Christian doctrine. There may be no question on this point; we, and all the generations that have ever lived, have to do with one God, the same, the only Lord God Almighty. If we are at peace with him, then we have none else to fear. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
II. THE UNITY OF THE RACE. All mankind, from the great first parent, Adam, are gathered together in the genealogy as one race. Thus is resisted the tendency of some nations to a pride of superiority over others, as though they were of another origin and kind; and the disposition of Israel to exclusiveness as a people specially favoured by God. God made all (Acts 17:26); God cares for all that he has made. And any apparently special dealings with one race are designed for the good of the whole. In these modern times attention is being freshly given to what is called the "solidarity" of the race, and that fact is assumed to explain much that seems mysterious. But this is precisely the impression which Scripture designs to produce by its genealogies: with this further moral aim, that thus it confirms the claims of the great human brotherhood.
III. THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE DEALINGS WITH THE RACE. This is the chief impression made by a review of the world's past history. It may be illustrated in relation to
We may firmly stay our hearts upon the world's experience of the unity of God's dealings. He is the Lord; he changes not: "His years are throughout all generations." This conviction concerning God is the basis of social order, of earthly governments, of the redemptive scheme, and of man's ideal of righteousness. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" These genealogies also stand in special relation to the promise of Messiah, the Saviour. They show a Divine purpose being wrought through all the ages, and reveal it accomplished at last in the Child of the Virgin Mary. But they teach that the dominion of this Messiah is wide as the race, and long as the ages. It is to be universal and everlasting. As a practical conclusion, it may be shown that the depressing influence exerted on us by the brevity of human life, and by the uprising and falling of dynasties and nations, is corrected by this revelation—in the genealogies—of the "Faithful One," "whose years are throughout all generations;" and who so solemnly declares, "All souls are mine."—R.T.
1 Chronicles 1:1-4.-The two great race-heads.
It is a significant thing that Scripture so distinctly affirms a double beginning for the human race, and sets before us two great human fathers. It is usual to speak of our "father Adam," but it would be at least as truthful to speak of our "father Noah." The period from Adam to Noah is given us very briefly, and it is scarcely more than a record of names. The one fact that comes out so prominently is that the first descendants of Adam lived lives that were so prolonged as to be almost inconceivable to us. And it is equally evident that the new race born of Noah was a race of short-livers, their allotted time on earth not being greatly in excess of our own. Here are facts so important as to be a fitting subject for consideration.
I. THE HEAD OF THE LONG-LIVERS. Adam was himself a long-lived man. We know that physical death was not the judgment on his sin, though the embittering of death by a smiting conscience, and by the sufferings of disease engendered by sin, undoubtedly was. How long men's earthly lives might have been if they had preserved the purity of Eden, we may only imagine, but some hint of it is given in the experiment God made of permitting even the banished ones to live for a thousand years. Can we conceive the Divine thought in permitting for a time these prolonged lives?
1. The earth was to be won by the human race; its stores were to be discovered, and their uses shown. This beginning of the arts of civilized life would make more rapid progress if one man could carry his experience over several generations, getting full time for the outworking of his thoughts and plans. We know too often now how sadly invention and discovery are stopped by the early death of the workers.
2. It might be expected that man would have a fuller and fairer moral trial if his time on earth were thus prolonged, and it might reasonably be hoped that the continuous experience of God's goodness would lead him to repentance and restored relations with God. This expectation, however, was not fulfilled, but man's self-will took advantage of the security of life, and grew into an awful majesty and pride of power, that necessitated the Divine interference in an overwhelming judgment. And it became declared for all the ages that too prolonged life is not the best thing for sinful and self-willed human creatures. It is a trust too great. It is better for man's highest welfare that upon him should constantly rest the sense of the brevity of life. He only perverted to his uttermost ruin the longer trust. So Adam is the father of a race that is passed and done with. We are not his children in the sense of being placed under the same time-conditions.
II. THE HEAD OF THE SHORT-LIVERS. This is the first and chief distinction between the races before and after the Flood. Noah had a cleansed earth to possess, but he carried over into it some relics of the older evil in his family, and so commenced the new trial under disability. Before, the race had kept in one stream; under the new condition it divided into three great streams, represented by Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and it is found by scholars now that this is stilt the substantial division of the human race. But everywhere we find the condition of the shortened life. "Brief life is here our portion." And this is made one of the most important influences in the moral training of mankind. Show how it fills each day with importance; prevents any man reaching extreme degrees of crime; solemnizes with the shadow of coming judgment, etc. Now, he only "liveth long who liveth well;" and we need to pray with Moses, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Impress the duty of seeking at once salvation, and at once to be found faithful, in view of the brevity of our life. Compare Jacob's confession, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been," etc.—R.T.
1 Chronicles 1:10.-Nimrod, the first conqueror.
Previous to this verse we find recorded only names. Nimrod is recalled to mind by a brief but suggestive description. "He began to be mighty upon the earth." It is further narrated in Genesis (Genesis 10:9) that "he was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord." From this it appears that prover