THE GREAT CLANS OF ISSACHAR, BENJAMIN, NAPTHALI, WEST MANASSEH, EPHRAIM, AND ASHER.
(1–5) The tribe of Issachar, its clans and their military strength.
(1) Now the sons of Issachar.—Heb., and to the sons—i.e., “and as for the sons of Issachar, Tola, Puah, &c., four were they.” The Vatic, LXX., has the dative; the Alex, the nominative, which is perhaps a correction. The four names are given Genesis 46:13, where the second is Puwwah, the third lôb; and Numbers 26:23, where also the second name is Puwwah, but the third Iāshûb (he returns). The Heb. text here is Iāshîb (he makes return); the Hebrew margin, adopted by the Authorised Version, is the same as the text of Numbers 26
(2-6) These verses supply names and facts not found elsewhere. We have here some of the results of the census of David (2 Samuel 24, and below, 1 Chronicles 21).
(2) Heads of their father’s house—Rather, chiefs of their father-houses (septs or clans).
Of Tola.—Belonging to Tola, that is, to the great clan or sub-tribe so called.
In their generations.—According to their registers or birth-rolls.
Whose number.—The number of the warriors of all the six groups of the Tolaite branch of Issachar.
In the days of David.—See the census (1chron xxi,).
(3) Izrahiah . . .—All these names contain a divine element. Izrahiah means “Iah riseth (like the sun)” (comp. Malachi 4:2); Michael, “who like God?” (Comp. Isaiah 40:18; Isaiah 40:25.) Before Ishiah and has fallen out.
Five: all of them chief men.—Heb., five chiefs (heads) altogether (all of them). But perhaps the punctuation should be as in the Authorised Version. 1 Chronicles 7:7.)
(4) By their generations.—Heb., after or according to their birth-rolls or registers. The census of the Uzzite warriors was taken “according to their birth-rolls and their father-houses” (septs or clans).
Bands of soldiers.—Heb., troops of the host of war or of the battle-host.
For they had many wives and sons.—They are the clans represented by the hereditary chiefs Izrahiah, Michael, and the rest.
(5) And their brethren.—Fellow-tribesmen.
Families.—Clans (mishpehôth). The verse states
the number of warriors for the whole tribe of Issachar in David’s census at 87,000. Render: “And their kinsmen, of all the clans of Issachar, valiant warriors. Eighty-seven thousand was their census for the whole (tribe).”
Reckoned in all by their genealogies.—Heb., hithyahsâm, a difficult word peculiar to the chronicler in the Old Testament, but reappearing in the Rabbinic Hebrew. The present form is a verbal noun with suffix pronoun, and means “their enrolling” or “enrolment,” their census; cp. ἀπογράφεσθαι, (Luke 2:1). As the Tolaites were 22,600, and the sons of Izrahiah 36,000, the other son of Issachar must have amounted to 28,400, to make up the total of 87,000 for the tribe. At the first census of Moses (Num. i 29), the warriors of Issachar were 54,400; at the second (Numbers 26:25) they were 64,300. (Comp. Judges 5:15; Judges 10:1 for the ancient prowess of Issachar.)
Bela and Becher and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim and Huppim and Ard.
All the lists make Bela the first of Benjamin’s sons. In other respects they differ greatly. 1 Chronicles 7:6 assigns him two brothers—Éecher and Jediael. Of these, Becher occurs in Genesis 46, Jediael here only.
(6) Benjamin.—Before this word bnê (sons of . . .) has been lost, because Benjamin in Hebrew begins with the same three letters. The present list of the sons of Benjamin may be compared with three others, that of Gen. xlvi 21, that of Num. xxvi 38-41, and that of the next 1chron 1 Chronicles 7:1-5.
(6) Becher with different vowels would mean firstborn; and the original reading in Genesis 46 may have been Bela bechoro—“Bela his firstborn,” as in 1 Chronicles 8:1.
Jediael, friend of God, may be a substitute for Ashbel, i.e., Eshbaal, man of Bel or Baal. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 3:8, Eliada for Beeliada.) Ashbel is the second son of Benjamin in Numbers 26 and 1 Chronicles 8, and the third (perhaps second) in Genesis 46
Heads of . . . fathers.—Rather, heads of their father-houses, i.e., chieftains.
And were reckoned by their genealogies.—And their census was 22,034. This number represents the fighting strength of the Belaites,. who are here identified with their heads.
The sons of Becher.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 7:6. The nine Benjamite houses here enumerated might have been known as “sons of the firstborn.” They are nowhere else recorded. The remarkable name Elioenai is frequent in the Chronicles. (See 1 Chronicles 3:23; 1 Chronicles 4:36; 1 Chronicles 7:8; Ezra 10:22; Ezra 10:27; uncontracted, Eliohenai, 1 Chronicles 26:3, Ezra 8:4.)
Anathoth and Alameth (Alemeth) were Levitical towns in Benjamin (1 Chronicles 6:60).
Jerimoth, or Jeremoth (a son of Bela, 1 Chronicles 7:7), looks like another local name. (Comp. Jarmuth and Ramoth.) It also occurs often in the Chronicles (eight or nine times). The clans may have borne the names of their seats.
Bilhan.—1 Chronicles 1:42, a son of Seir. Perhaps an Edomite element in Benjamin. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 2:34; 1 Chronicles 4:18; 1 Chronicles 2:46, and especially the case of Caleb the Kenizzite.)
Jeush.—So Heb., margin. Text, Jeish; a son of Esau (1 Chronicles 1:35).
Benjamin.—It is curious that a Benjamite clan should have borne the tribal name. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 4:16, Asareel and Note.)
Ehud.—A namesake of Ehud the judge, who slew Eglon the Moabite oppressor of Israel (Judges 3:15). Ehud the judge was a son of Gera, and Gera was a division of Bela (1 Chronicles 8:3; 1 Chronicles 8:5).
Chenaanah (Canaanitess) is perhaps a Canaanite house which had amalgamated with the bnê Jediael.
Tharshish.—Elsewhere the name of a famous Phœnician colony in Spain. The name occurs once again as a personal name (Esther 1:14, one of the seven Persian princes). In Exodus 28:20, and six other places, it is the name of a gem.
Ahishahar.—Brother of dawn. (Comp. Shaha-raim—double dawn, 1 Chronicles 8:8, and Isaiah 14:12, ben-shahar—son of dawn.) Perhaps the common Arab designation bnê qedem—“sons of the east”—is similar.
The sum of the warriors of Benjamin is thus 54,434. The Mosaic census (Numbers 26:41) gave 45,600. An increase of barely 14,000 in the course of atleast three centuries may seem too small. But the tribe was well-nigh exterminated in the vengeance which Israel took for the crime of Gibeah (Judges 20:47).
Hushim, the sons of Aher.—The name Hushim (a plural form) recurs at 1 Chronicles 8:8; 1 Chronicles 8:11, as a Benjamite clan. Aher looks like a variant of the Ahiram of Numbers, and the Ahrah of 1 Chronicles 8, and perhaps of the Ehi-Rosh of Genesis. From this it would appear that the whole verse is an appendix to the genealogy of Benjamin. The word Aher, however, happens to mean another, and if the reading were certain (comp. the variants Ahiram, Ahrah, &c), would be very singular as a proper name. The clause has been rendered “Hushim. sons of another;” and this odd expression has been taken to be a veiled reference to the tribe of Dan, whose name is omitted in the present section. Genesis 46:23, “And the sons of Dan, Hushim,” a statement occurring like the present clause between that of the sons of Benjamin and the sons of Naphtali, is cited in support of this view. This last coincidence is certainly remarkable; but the following considerations are decidedly adverse to the view in question: 1. Numbers 26:42 calls the offspring of Dan, Shuham, not Hushim, though there also Dan follows Benjamin. 2. Dan is, indeed, omitted here, but so also is Zebulun, just as Gad and Asher are omitted in 1 Chronicles 27:16-22; and Naphtali here has only one verse 3. The chronicler’s dislike of the tribe of Dan is probably an unfounded supposition, suggested by some accidental omissions; he has mentioned that tribe by name in 1 Chronicles 2:2; 1 Chronicles 12:35; 1 Chronicles 27:22. If the omission in the present list be neither accidental nor due to imperfect MSS., it may be ascribed to later editors of the book. (Comp. Judges 18 and Revelation 7:5-8.)
Sons of Bilhah.—Dan and Naphtali were her sons (Genesis 46:25). That does not, however, prove that a reference to Dan is intended here. Both in Genesis, 50100, and in the present text, grandsons are reckoned
THE TRIBE OF WEST MANASSEH (1 Chronicles 7:14-19). 1 Chronicles 7:14-15 are very obscure.
Zelophehad has five daughters, but no sons. Numbers 26:29-33 gives the same line with additions thus:—
This last passage is important, because it expressly declares that the names all represent clans, with the exception of Zelophehad, who “had no sons, but daughters.” It also shows that Asriel was great-grandson of Manasseh. The parenthesis of 1 Chronicles 7:14, therefore, appears to be intended to warn the reader that Asriel was the “son” of the Aramean concubine of Manasseh, mediately through descent from Machir.
We have no means of further elucidating the import of this curious tribal record. That it relates to West Manasseh is inferred from its position here, as well from the fact that 1 Chronicles 5:23-24 treated of East Manasseh. (See also Joshua 17:1-5.) The name of Gilead, however, points to the transjordanic half of the tribe. The whole passage seems to assert an Aramean and a Benjamite element in the population of Western Manasseh.
Ulam and Rakem (Rekem) were probably sons of the elder, Peresh, whose line would naturally be continued, as usual.
These were the sons of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh.—These words appear to refer to a series of names which has dropped out of the text, but which may be inferred from Numbers 26:30-32 to have included Abiezer (of which Jeezer is a contraction) and Shemidah. (See the genealogy, 1 Chronicles 7:14, Note.) 1 Chronicles 7:17 b and 1 Chronicles 7:18 may thus have read, “These were the sons of Gilead, &c. Abiezer . . . Shemidah. (Now his sister Hammoleketh had borne Ish-hôd and Abiezer and Mahalah.) And the sons of Shemidah were,” &c. (1 Chronicles 7:19).
Hammoleketh—or, the queen, as the Vulg. renders it, may be conceived of here as a half-sister and consort of Gilead.
Ishod = Man of majesty.
Ahian, Likhi, and Aniam, are not mentioned elsewhere.
Shuthelah (Numbers 26, 35) was head of the first of the four Ephraimitic clans (mishpehôth). The names of six successive chieftains of his line appear to be given in 1 Chronicles 7:20-21, ending with his namesake Shuthelah. It is likely, however, that these names really represent clans, as in other similar cases. (Comp. Numbers 26:29-33.) “Bered” (Genesis 16:14) is a local name, a place in the desert of Shûr. But Bered may be a mistake for Becher. So “Tahath” (Numbers 33:26) was a desert station of Israel. But Tahath may well be a corruption of Tahan, son of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:25, and Numbers 26:35).
(21) Ezer and Elead.—Apparently these names are coordinated with the Shuthelah of 1 Chronicles 7:20, as sons of Ephraim. Elead is a masculine form of Eleadah.
Whom the men of Gath. . . .—Literally, and the men of Gath who were born in the land slew them; for they had come down to take their cattle.
Born in the land—That is, aborigines of Canaan as contrasted with the Ephraimites, who were foreign invaders. Others think the real aborigines of Philistia, the Avim of Deuteronomy 2:23, are meant. In 1 Chronicles 7:21-22 we have a brief memorial of an ancient raid of two Ephraimite clans upon the territory of Gath, for the purpose of lifting cattle, much as the Highland freebooters used to drive off the herds of their Lowland neighbours.
They came down.—The reference of the pronoun is not quite clear. Conceivably the Gittites were the aggressors. The expression “carne down” is often used of going from Canaan to Egypt, but not vice versa. It can hardly, therefore, apply to an invasion of Gath by Ephraimites from Egypt. And the phrase “born in the land” excludes an expedition of Gittites to Goshen. It seems, then, that the descent was made upon Philistia from the hill country of Ephraim, in the early days of the settlement of the tribe in Canaan.
Built may mean rebuilt, or restored, or fortified (Joshua 6:26; Psalm 102:16; 2 Chronicles 11:6).
Beth-horon the nether, and the upper.—The two Beth-horons (Joshua 10:10) were apparently a Canaanite foundation. They are now Beit ur et-Tahta and Beit-ur el-Fariqa—i.e., Lower and Upper Beitur.
Uzzen-sherah.—Sherah’s ear, or peak, only mentioned here. The relation of Sherah to Beth-horon may be compared with that of Achsah to the Negeb of Judah (Joshua 15:19. Cf. also Joshua 17:4).
(1 Chronicles 7:28-29).
Comp. 1 Chronicles 6:54, sqq., where a list of the cities of the Levites is similarly added to their tribal registers.
(28) And their possessions.—Heb., and their domain and their seats were Bethel and her daughters; “their domain,” that is, the domain of both divisions of the tribe of Joseph.
Bethel—originally assigned to Benjamin (Joshua 18:22), belonged later to the northern kingdom. The present list appears therefore to be younger than the disruption of Solomon’s empire.
Naaran, or Naarah (Naapá) (Joshua 16:7) was a town north-east of Jericho. Gezer lay on the southwest border of Ephraim (Joshua 16:3), Shechem (Nablûs, Νεάπολις) on the north. Gaza: so the LXX„ Vulg. (Aza which represents the Hebrew ‘Azzāh, i.e., Gaza), and Targum; but a great number of MSS. and seventeen editions read Ayyah, a place not mentioned elsewhere, but doubtless lying on the north-west border of Ephraim.
(29) And by the borders of the children of Manasseh.—Literally, and upon the hands of the sons of Manasseh, a favourite phrase with the chronicler, occurring nine times in Chronicles and once in Ezra. (See Note on 1 Chronicles 6:31.) The four cities lay within the territory of Issachar and Asher, but were assigned to Manassen (Joshua 17:11). They mark the northward marches of the two houses of Joseph, as the cities of 1 Chronicles 7:28 mark the southward. They long withstood the Israelite occupation (Joshua 17:12-16; see also Judges 5:19. “Then fought the kings of Canaan, in Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo.”)
(30, 31) The sons of Asher; Imnah. . . . Malchiel.—This is a literal transcript of Genesis 46:17. Comp. also Numbers 26:44-46, where the clan (mishpahath) of each eponym is assigned; but the name of Isaah (Heb., Yishwāh) does not appear.
Beriah.—Also the name of an Ephraimitic stock (1 Chronicles 7:23). Malchiel is called the “father (chief or founder) of Birzavith” only here. The Heb. margin has Birzayith, perhaps “well of olive” (be-er zayith); the text, Berazôth or Barzûth. It is probably the name of a place.
Jehubbah.—Heb. margin has we-Hubbah, “and Hubbah,” which is correct according to the prevailing form of this list (and before each name).
Aram is the ordinary name of the Syrians east and west of the Euphrates. It may here designate a clan of half -Aramean extraction.
(35–39) And the sons of his brother Helem.—Apparently the offshoots of Helem, “brother” of Sheraer-Shomer. If we construe brother in the strict sense, we must assume that Helem is the same as Hotham (1 Chronicles 7:32), and that one or the other name is corrupt. But Helem may be the name of another chief house of Asher not directly connected with that of Heber. The brotherhood then would be that of the tribe, not of the clan or family.
Jephunneh.—The name of the father of Caleb the Kenizzite.
Arah is in Hebrew quite different from Ara.
And the number throughout the genealogy.—Better, and their census, in the host, in the battle—their number in men was 26,000.” Perhaps we should render in the case of service in war. The census here given has reference only to the number of males qualified for military service. In the Mosaic census (Numbers 1:41) the total of males of the tribe of Asher was 41,500; and a generation later, the fighting men were 53,000 (Numbers 26:47). The date of the present census is not assigned. If it be that of David, which appears likely, the tribe may have declined in numbers and importance by his day. (Comp. Judges 5:17. “Asher continued at the sea-shore, and abode on his creeks;” i.e., did not bestir himself for the war).