I Chronicles 4



After the large space given to the “sons of David,” of the

tribe of Judah, in the previous chapter, this chapter returns for twenty-three

verses to group together a few additional ramifications of the same tribe,

whose registers were for some reasons, perhaps not very evident,

preserved and known. The first verses follow in the direction already

indicated in ch. 2., near the end of which we were left with Shobal and

Haroeh, probably the same with Reaiah (the same name as Reaia, ch.5:5,

though not the same person).


1  The sons of Judah; Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and

Shobal.  2 And Reaiah the son of Shobal begat Jahath; and Jahath

begat Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.”

The Carmi of v. 1 is considered to lie doubtful between the Carmi of ch.2:7

or the Chelubai of v.9 of the same chapter, in which last alternation the five

names of this verse would repeat the line of descent with which ch. 2 had made

us familiar. Even then the object or advantage of repeating the first four of these,

so far as what follows is concerned, is not evident. We keep near the close

of ch. 2. also in respect of another allusion to the Zorathites (v.53), whose

families were replenished by the two sons of Jahath, Ahumai and Lahad, of

all of whom this is all we know.


3 “And these were of the father of Etam; Jezreel, and Ishma, and Idbash:

and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi:  4  And Penuel the father of

Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah.  These are the sons of Hur, the

firstborn of Ephratah, the father of Bethlehem.” Etam is, with little doubt,

the name of a place (II Chronicles 11:6) in Judah, south of Jerusalem. It was near

Tekoah (v. 5, and ch. 2:24) and Bethlehem (next verse). The hiatus in the

first clause may possibly be supplied by “the families of” from the last

verse, or, more fitly, by “the sons of,” inasmuch as some manuscripts have

it so. The Septuagint, however, and Vulgate displace “the father of” (i.e.

chief of), replacing it by “the sons of.” The Syriac Version leaves out any

notice of the sister, Hazelelponi, and gives the former part of the verse

thus: “These are Amina-dab’s sons, Ahizareel, Nesma, and Dibas, Pheguel

and Husia; These are the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratha, who was

the father,” etc. With this the Arabic Version is partly in agreement, but

closes the verse with the words, “These are the sons of Hur, son of

Ephratha, the father of whom [plural] was of Bethlehem.” The Chronicle

Targum translates, “the rabbis dwelling at Etam.” This variety indicates

the difficulty felt by each in turn. The verse, however, purports to give the

names of three brothers and one sister (Hazelel-poni, i.e. the shadow

looking at me) connected with Etam, as in the following verse Penuel with

Gedor (ch.2:51) and Ezer with Hushah (ch.11:29; II Samuel 23:27).

Of no one of these, in all six other descendants of Hur, additional to those

found at the close of ch. 2., is anything distinct known. It is to be noted that

Hur himself is here called father of Bethlehem, while (ch.2:51) his son

Salma is so called.


5 “And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.

6 And Naarah bare him Ahuzam, and Hepher, and Temeni, and

Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah.  7 And the sons of Helah

were, Zereth, and Jezoar, and Ethnan.”  Another before-mentioned person

(ch.2:24) is brought forward, viz. Ashur, the posthumous son of Hezron by

Abia, now again, as there, styled father, or chief, of Tekoa, a town, as above,

near Etam, Bethlehem, etc. He is brought forward that the names of his two

wives, with four children to the latter of them and three to the former, may

be given. The Roman Septuagint unaccountably gives different names to

the mothers, and reverses the groups of the four and three children.

Nothing else is known of these nine persons. The last two names of the

group of four more resemble in form the name of the head of a family than

an individual name; and for Jezoar, the middle name of the group of three,

the easy Keri of “and Zohar” is followed by the Septuagint, and was

followed by our 1611 Authorized Version.


8 “And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel

the son of Harum.”  The link of connection between the persons named in this

verse and the tribe of Judah is utterly unknown. The introduction of them, abrupt

as it is, is, however, paralleled by many others immediately following in

this chapter, as well as elsewhere. Nothing has yet been produced in

elucidation of any one of the persons designated by these names, or of their

relation to the context.


9 “And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother

called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.”

This is not less true of the name of vs. 9-10, which, however,

has made its own mark amid the whole scene. The episode of these two

verses, offering itself amid what should seem, superficially, a dry mass of

dead names, is welcome and grateful as the oasis of the desert, and it warns

us that life lies hidden at our every footfall on this ground, spread over

though it is with monument and inscription, and hollow, as we thought,

with the deadest of the dead. But the glimpse of old real life given us in this

brief fragment of a biography is refreshing and is very suggestive. It seems

an insufficient and unnatural method of accounting for the suddenness of

the appearance of this episode to suppose (‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ in

lee.) that the name of Jabez was well known, from any cause, to those for

whom Chronicles may be supposed to have been primarily intended. We

prefer by far one account of it, viz. that the work in our hands is not in its

original complete state; or, variously put, that it is in its uncompleted

original state. No root corresponding to the characters of this name in

present order is known; it is possible that some euphonic reason makes the

name xB[]y" out of the real word (future Kal) bxe[iy", i.e. he causes pains.

We cannot suppose there would be any “play” appreciable on a

transposition of alphabetical characters for mere play’s sake. The

resemblance that almost each part of this brief and abruptly introduced

narration bears to incidents recorded in Genesis 34:19; 33:20;

4:25; 29:32; 28:20) and Exodus speaks for itself, and strongly

countenances the supposition that it is a genuine deposit of the genuinely

olden history of Judah. The mother’s reason for the naming of the child;

the language and matter and form (Genesis 17:18-20; Exodus 32:32)

of the prayer of the child, when presumably he was no longer a

child; and the discriminating use of the words Elohim (v. 10) of Israel, as

compared with the name Jehovah (ch.2:3; v.41 here), generally

found here, — all help to produce this impression, although some of these

particulars would carry little conviction by themselves; e.g. a mother’s

reasons for assigning the name of her child long outlived the earlier times

alone. Upon the whole, and regarding the passage in its present place, we

may say that it must be very much misplaced, or else must be understood

to connect Jabez with some branch of the family of Coz. There is the more

room to assume this in the vagueness of the last preceding clause, “The

families of Aharhel the son of Harum.” The origin of the theories of some

of the older Jewish writers, to the effect that Jabez was a doctor in the law,

with a school of scribes around him, is probably to be found in the desire to

find a connection between his proper name, Jabez, and the place so named

(ch. 2:55), and where, as we are told, “families of scribes

dwelt,” belonging to the Kenites. That these were connected with

Bethlehem, through Salma, and that Jabez of our present passage was also

of a family connected with Bethlehem, is worthy of notice, but is not

enough by a long way to countenance the thought, in spite of Targum and

Talmud (Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ sub vet.). The Targum, as well here as

in (Ibid) , identifies Jabez with Othniel “son of Kenaz” (Joshua 15:17; Judges

1:13; 3:9), or more probably “the Kenizzite” merely; but there is nothing to sustain

such an identification. The description, he was more honorable than his brethren,

finds a close parallel, so far as the word honorable goes, in Genesis 34:19;

although the honorableness of Shechem, the person there in question,

does not come out to anything like the same advantage with that of Jabez,

nor at all in the same direction. The word, however, is precisely the same,

is often used elsewhere, and uniformly in a good sense, although the range

of its application is wide. The essential idea of the root appears to be

weight.” The phrase may therefore be supposed to answer to our

expressive phrase, a “man of weight “ — the weight being sometimes due

chiefly to character, at other times to position and wealth in the first place,

though not entirely divorced from considerations of character. We may

safely judge, from what follows, that the intention in our present passage is

to describe Jabez as a man of more ability and nobility than his brethren. It

can scarcely be doubted that the meaning that lies on the surface is the

correct interpretation, when it is said that his mother named him Jabez,

saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. The sorrow refers to unusual

pains of travail, not to any attendant circumstances of domestic trial, as e.g.

that the time of his birth was coincident with her own widowhood, as

happened to the wife of Phinehas, when she named her offspring Ichabod

(I Samuel 4:19-22).


10 “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou

wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine

hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil,

that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he

requested.”  When Jabez grew to manhood he has learnt to estimate rightly

the value of God’s blessing. He invokes it, and depends upon it. His

language implies the confidence that he had in the reality of providential

blessing. For the expression, enlarge my coast, see Deuteronomy

12:20: 19:8; and though we know nothing as matter of fact about the

occasion of this prayer, we may assume that it was one when not

selfishness and greed of larger territory, but just opportunity, had

awakened a strong desire for enlargement of borders. It may have been a

legitimate occasion of recovering his own, lost or wrongfully taken from

him or his predecessors before him, or of expelling successfully from their

hold upon it a portion of the original inhabitants of the promised land of

God’s people. That thine hand might be with me. Many are the beautiful

parallels to be culled from the Word of God for this expression, as e.g.

Ezra 7:9; Psalm 80:17; 119:173; 139:5, 10; Isaiah 42:6. And that

thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! This, the last

entreaty of the prayer, is the largest and most far-seeing. Warned by his

own name, forewarned by his mother’s emphasizing of her own pains in

him, he thus concludes. Having begun in the evil of pain and excessive

sorrow, he prays that he and his career may not so determine and end. He

does not necessarily pray to be preserved from all suffering, but from such

baneful touch of evil itself, its principle, its tyrannous, merciless hold, as

might bring him to real and irreparable grief. Thus closes the whole prayer,

each succeeding clause of which has been under the rule of the initial “if,”

translated with us, Oh that. This well-known Hebrew form of prayer

supposes a solemn engagement, and that the answered prayer shall meet

with the fulfillment of a vowed promise on the part of the suppliant,

according to the pattern of Genesis 28:20. In the absence of that

engagement here, we may notice, with Keil, the greater grace of the

passage, in that it closes with the statement of the readiness to hear, and

the abounding readiness to answer, on the part of Divine beneficence:

And God granted him that which he requested. Evidently the thing that he

Asked pleased the Lord (I Kings 3:10, 12); although it was in this case some

form of riches, and long life for self, and the life of his enemies, that he

asked, and was not altogether and in so many words “a wise and

understanding heart.” Perhaps, also there was in the way of asking, and in

the exact occasion, unknown to us, something which quite justified the

matter of the prayer, and which thus pleased the Lord. The remarkable and

arresting episode could not have closed in more welcome or impressive

way than when it is thus briefly but conclusively said, “And God granted

him that which he requested.”



The Prayer of Jabez (vs. 9-10)


 “And Jabez… enlarge my coast.” No syllable nor whisper is heard by us of

the child that cost the mother so much suffering in bringing into the world,

from the time that he was named till he is now arrived at manhood. Then

he is again introduced with this testimony, that he is “more honorable than

his brethren.” The probability is that this expression does not refer

exclusively to honorableness of moral and religious character. It is an

equal probability, considering the remarkably uniform usage of the word in

a favorable sense, and the balance of its use in even a high sense, that it

does by no means exclude these elements. The intermediate time is left to

our imagination to fill up. It was not like that intermediate time of our

Saviour’s life, lit up only by the incident of the temple and the discussion

with the doctors, when Jesus was but twelve years of age. We are

warranted in permitting imagination to depict all that interval as one

continuous growth of goodness and display of spotless holiness, and it is

for quite other reasons that we there bid imagination learn reverence and

caution, and chasten itself. Not so here; in the darkness and the silence of

some twenty years or more, we are sure that there mingled error and

imperfection and sin, with whatever else there was of redeeming feature in

character and conduct. Still maturity finds Jabez an honored man.

Considering all things, that was not a little thing to say. But better and

more to our purpose, it reveals him a man of prayer — a man who knew,

who believed in, who practiced prayer. Nay, there is something in the first

opening of his mouth in this prayer which prepossesses us, and invites

special consideration. Let us notice:



OF HIS PRAYER. He prays to the “God of Israel.” It is true that these

words are not found here within the borders of the prayer itself, but it is

also true that the historian says that it was to the “God of Israelthat the

prayer of Jabez was directed. This descriptive designation of God would

mean at least three things with Jabez. The God of Israel is for him,


Ø      the God of his fathers;

Ø      the God who had often wrought wonderful works of interposition,

of deliverance, of victory and conquest, on behalf of His people; and

Ø      He is especially the God whose pronounced and most gracious

Covenant of truth and mercy was with Israel.


The aids of memory are great aids for faith. A lively memory of long-past

mercies also tends to kindle gratitude.  He who comes with gratitude into the

Divine presence wins fresh favor, gains fresh gifts. So also to have promises is

one thing. These we all have. To take hold of them, avail ourselves of them,

grasp them, is another and far greater thing. To live by the light, and in the

strength and joy of the covenant, is the grandest privilege any man

 could possess.



PRAYER, It is the prayer of well-defined petition. Jabez wants a blessing,

knows the blessing that he wants, asks it with fervor. He asks it with

earnest emphasis. All argues his belief in the need of superhuman help, in

the reality of such a thing as superhuman help, and in the availing power of

prayer to obtain. This constitutes genuine prayer. It is not, indeed, any one

of those high forms of spiritual exercise, the meditation of the unseen, the

apprehension of Divine realities, the spirit’s communion with the Father of

all spirit, and refreshment from His presence. But, on the other hand, it is

the prayer which links on earth to heaven, and shows a human hand taking

hold, with the free permission of mercy, of God. Jabez goes far on to say,

“I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26), when he says,

“Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!” The emphasis “indeed” is the

emphasis of importunity, not of distrust. The meaning, as every reader of the

Hebrew knows at once, is “Oh that thou wouldest greatly bless me!” As

though Jabez meant, “Unworthy as I am, oh that thou wouldest grant me a

great blessing!” How often our posture is prayer, our language prayer, our

prayer tone, yet the reality, the definiteness, the heart of prayer, is far from us!

We ask and have not (James 4:3), because we really know not what our

own asking is. In the midst of vague form and heartless performance,

nothing is asked.


  • The instance we have here, and which we shall not do wrong in

drawing into a precedent, of prayer offered, and acceptably offered, the

burden of which is temporal good, family and private advantage, substance

and possession. These all belong to the very structure and texture of our

present human life and character. They much tend to make or mar our

character. The way in which we get them, use them, give them again, is

often the criterion, and very decisive criterion, of everything with us, for

good or for harm. The great man of business and the man of great property

are borne on a strong current, are tossed on deceitful, dangerous tides; but

it may none the less be that, under certain conditions, they are fulfilling

appointed and most important offices in the general scene of the world’s

traffic. But how much securer that man must feel who has gained, and

gained much, not by sharp practice, chicanery, unscrupulousness, but by

clear views, determined wishes, diligent devotion, and the liberal

blessing,” the “great” blessing of God!  Desire for earthly substance is

Not necessarily mere earthly desire. It is too true that it is too often this, but

not always. Some of the greatest men of business in the world have been,

and are to-day, the best men of business in the Church. By their liberality

and charity, by their beneficence and philanthropy, the “cords have

been lengthened, the stakes strengthened,” of the tabernacle of the

Lord God of Israel. And their watchfulness, their prayerfulness, their

sustained Christian consistency and humility, have been an example far

and wide.


  • THE PRAYER FOR THE HAND.  “And that thine hand might be

with me.” This amplifying petition follows significantly upon the more

definite and specific entreaty of the beginning of the verse. It also takes us

into the ancient workshop of language. The countenances of us all, and their

infinitely various expression, come from the different combinations of a very

few features and other elements. All our words come from the immense

number of combinations possible between and among twenty-six letters.

And the amazing proportion of the whole vast mass of our language comes

from the figurative and the analogic appropriations of what would otherwise be,

and once was, a very scanty vocabulary. This is especially observable of our

religious and devotional language, though none truer of it than of our ordinary

language.  The twenty-third psalm, and very many sentences of other psalms,

give abundant illustrations of the way in which figurative language at once

doubles, but in point of fact far more than doubles, language. And the

sentence of the text is one of the most elementary and most plain of all

illustrations of the kind. The first uses of a hand, the many uses of a hand,

lend a wealth of imagery, and thereby of enrichment, to language. From the

suggestion of the prayer of Jabez to the effect that “the hand” of God

might be with him, let us take opportunity to view some of the chief

scriptural representations of the exercise of the Divine hand and of the

effects thereof, and thus lead up again to the prayer before us. And we

often read of:


Ø      The Creative Hand.   Man is spoken of as the work of God’s

creative hands: “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me”

(Psalm 119:73). So also the heavens: “The heavens are the

work of thy hands” (Ibid. 102:25). So, again, the earth and the sea:

“The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land”

(Ibid. 95:5). And all living things and things inanimate: “Thou madest

 him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put

all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts

 of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and

whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas” (Ibid. 8:5-8).

(See also glorious reminiscences to the same effect, Job 10:8;

14:15; 34:19; Isaiah 48:13; 64:8.)


Ø      The Hand of the Sovereign, Absolute Owner (Job 5:18; 12:10;

Daniel 5:23; Ecclesiastes 9:1; I Chronicles 29:12,16; Psalm 31:15.)


Ø      The Hand of the Perpetual, Bountiful Giver (Psalm 95:7;

104:28-29; 145:16.)


Ø      The Hand of One that Delivers, Uplifts, and Upholds  

(Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 5:15; Ezra 7:9; Nehemiah 2:8;

Psalm 44:3; 63:8; 73:23; Isaiah 51:16.)


Ø      The Hand of the Corrector and Chastiser. (Judges 2:15;

Psalm 32:4; 38:2; 39:10; 106:26; Job 2:10; 19:21.)


Ø      The Hand of Widest Sway and Sovereign Control

of power to rule and power to overrule. (Isaiah 40:12; 48:13;

Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:35.)


Ø      The Hand that Exalts to Real Honor. (See the

splendid description of Isaiah 62:3; Psalm 16:11.)

(at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”

and to think that people run to and fro throughout the

earth looking for that which does not satisfy.  Come to

the presence of God for “joy….pleasure” – CY – 2012)


Ø      The Hand that Pledges and Secures Absolute and

Everlasting Safety.  See such passages as more than satisfy

the soul; they go far even “to ravish it with the thoughts” of the glory

signified. “I have graven thee on the palms of my hand” (Isaiah

49:16); “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck

them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is

greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of

 my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). And, as during

all our lifetime it had been the lesson to be learnt that our breath is in

God’s hands, and all our ways and our times in His sovereign hand,

so at last it is permitted us to breathe the spirit into that same mighty,

merciful, safe hand: “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm

31:5; Luke 23:46). Perhaps it was not all of these powers of the

Divine hand that could have been as familiar to Jabez as they may

be to us; yet it is evident that he knew and had prized the meaning

and the virtue of the hand of God. And he does not ask to know it

in one particular way nor in another. He does not dictate or

suggest, at least, not beyond a certain very wide margin. He prays

that the Divine hand may be “with” him — now to help on, now to

stop; now to uphold, now, if necessary, to cast down; now to put it

on his lips, and to bid his mouth be dumb, and himself wait the sovereign

will of a sovereign God — patient, content, trustful; now to release those

lips and open his mouth, that he might render grateful praise to the

bountiful Giver of all good, or the loving and careful Protector of all those

who put their trust in Him. When Jabez says, “Oh that thine hand might

be with me!” he puts himself into that vast and secure hand of God, and

wishes nothing more, nothing better for himself, than as the little child,

feeble, uncertain, and easily wearying, to take the strong hand of his

Father.  He had simple faith that the hand, the presence of which “with”

him he entreated, would be under all events a “good hand upon” him. The

surrender of dependence betokened by the prayer was justly as hopeful

as it was trustful. We need nothing more than that the hand of God, in

 all its varied exercise, should be with us. But when we have thus

prayed, we may not forget what our prayer has been. And in great

variety of experience on our own part — experience of sorrow, and

difficulty, and toil, and slowness, as well as in all the converse of these

respectively — we must remember to trace and acknowledge the

tokens of that hand for which we prayed being with us,

and not another hand, inferior in goodness and wisdom as well as

power.  For often the variety and contrasts and reverses of our own

mutable state reflect the ever-varying and adapting presence and

 grace of One who is in Himself THE UNCHANGING!   How

often has our own hand misdone, how often has the hand of others

misled or misdirected us! How blessed is he who can say that, for his

prayer, God has “beset him behind and before, and has laid

His hand upon him!”


  • THE PRAYER OF VICTORY OVER EVIL  “And that thou wouldest

keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.” This is the last petition of

the prayer of Jabez. While the foregoing petition was very comprehensive

and wide-reaching in one sense, this is comprehensive and farseeing in

another. There could scarcely be a larger or a wiser entreaty than that God

would vouchsafe the perpetual presence of His hand — the hand that

makes, that gives, that leads, that upholds, that shields, that at last saves

with an everlasting salvation.  Nor, on the other hand, could there easily be

offered prayer that should more betoken self-knowledge, self-distrust, and

a wise estimate of the constantly endangered position in which any man

may justly describe himself as placed in this present world, than the prayer

with which Jabez now sums up what he has to say: “And that thou

wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” Of the few

petitions of our Lord’s Prayer, this forms one, and an emphatic one,

“Deliver me from evil.” Evil is a large enemy. In one shape or another,

it is ever threatening to attack. And if in anything we need superior help,

it is in combating a foe so ubiquitous, so persevering, so subtle, and so

essentially disastrous. We may observe here:



BEEN LEARNED FROM PAIN. Pain is intrinsically evil in this

world. It was no original part of it. It is now utilized in many a

direction. It is now overruled to many and high advantages. But it is

none the less to be noticed as foreign in itself to the nature of God, to

the conception of a perfect creation, to the bliss of man. Yet as things

are, and as we are, it is wise to learn from even bodily pain. It is often

because we will not learn from other suggestions that we are compelled

to learn from the actual experiences of pain. We may probably put

down something higher to the credit of Jabez. We do not know as fact

that he himself had been called to endure much pain, or any at all

noteworthy. But he knew his own name.  He knew what it meant,

and how it had come to be given to him. He took the warning of it,

and the forewarning of his mother’s method of emphasizing what

were her opinions and convictions on the subject. It was not the mark

of Cain that was on his open brow. But the name of a mother’s love

and anguish mingled was named upon him. And he prays to the

Mightier than he, to preserve him so from evil, that it might not bring

him to fulfill in his nature what was confessedly his name. Two things

may be ever well remembered respecting pain:


o       that it must faithfully and honestly be ranked among the enemies

of God and the antagonists of perfect nature; but


o       that for a time, and for our present condition, it may be a timely

lesson, a source of valuable suggestion, the adapted caution of

the hour, the safeguard that may act with the quickness and the

certainty of an instinct.  Yet, whatever may be said justly and

correctly respecting the acquired uses of pain, Jabez offers his

petition deprecatory of that evil, the fruit and end of which is

mere pain.



BEEN LEARNED ABOUT EVIL ITSELF. It is evident, from the very

words of Jabez’s prayer, that he distinguishes between evil and gratuitous

pain, or unrewarding “grief,” as it is here expressed. Evil, i.e. suffering,

calamity, more or less of occasional adversity, disappointment, are the

absolute lot of man here. It would be vain to shut the eyes to the fact, folly

to deny it. But there are immense differences within the range and the

limits of what is called evil. Jabez had learnt this. He does not pray to be

kept from all suffering, vicissitude, adversity, disappointment, though

doubtless he would fain be kept from as much of this as may be. But we

are to understand that he earnestly deprecates the baneful touch of evil

itself. He discerns what its essential principle is. He dreads its tyrannous

rule, its merciless hold, its mocking treatment of those who have trusted it,

and, if unstayed, its destructive results. He prays, accordingly, to be kept

from the evil that would “assault and hurt the soul,” and prove the herald

of irreparable grief. It is such intrinsic form of evil which the

uncompromising petition of our Lord’s Prayer puts upon the lips of all his

disciples. How certain and distinct this difference is! How much “evil”

there is, through which we all are called to pass! But the deep water does

not overflow us. (“When thou passest through the waters, I will be

with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee…

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, they Saviour.”

Isaiah 43:2-3)  How much disappointed hope and sorrow’s visit there is

for the very best of men, by which in part they have been helped to become

what they already are, right and excellent and devout, and by which the

best of today become yet better tomorrow!  This is the “evil we receive

also at the hand of God, as well as” his good (Job 2:10).  It is chastening,

purifying, elevating. But contrast with this the sorrow that worketh death.

Contrast with this the “wounded spirit.” Contrast with this the evil that

Hardens hearts, sears consciences, cradles remorse, and is fruitless of

everything else but unavailing regret. And we shall be ready to join to pray,

“That thou wouldest keep me from evil, that” its gratuitous “grief”

may not be mine.




BEEN WELL LEARNED. There are some passages of life when the

best and hardest work is the best and most earnest prayer. Not so here.

It is said the sailor always has his enemy before him, and the battle ceases

not till the haven is won. And men live in such a scene of evil, such

surroundings of evil, such dispositions of evil, such a very atmosphere of

evil, men are tossed upon such an ocean of evil, that the danger will prove

overwhelming in some direction, unless a man “pray always” (Luke 18:1),

and pray this prayer of Jabez. No armor of one’s own, no self-knowledge,

no vigilance, no pride of foreknowledge, no mere creed of distrust of the

vain world, and the wicked heart, and the soul’s chief adversary,

will suffice.  This living, hearty, earnest prayer will alone command the

sure victory in the most critical of warfare.


We may note that this verse ends with “And God granted him that

which he requested.”


11“And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the father

of Eshton. 12  And Eshton begat Bethrapha, and Paseah, and Tehinnah

the father of Irnahash. These are the men of Rechah.”  Of the whole of the

group of names, contained in these two verses, it must be said that we are in the

dark. The suggestion of Grove, in his article,  Ir-enahash” (Smith’s ‘Bible

Dictionary’), is worth notice, that possibly the verses may be a reminiscence of

some Canaanitish graft on Judah — the Shuah (hj;Wv) of v.11 pointing to the

Shua ([W"v)of  ch. 2:3; Genesis 38:2. Beth-rapha (the house of

the giant) looks more like the name of a place than of a person, though the

text needs a person, and such may be covered possibly by this name,

though it be of a place. Ir-nahash (the city of the serpent). Jerome, in his

Quaestiones Hebraicae in Parah,’ asserts or repeats the assertion of some

one else that this is no other place than Bethlehem; taking Nahash as a

synonym with Jesse. Unlikely as this is, no place of the name is known.


13 “And the sons of Kenaz; Othniel, and Seraiah: and the sons of Othniel;

Hathath.  14 And Meonothai begat Ophrah: and Seraiah begat Joab, the

father of the valley of Charashim; for they were craftsmen.  15 And the sons

of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and Naam: and the sons of Elah,

even Kenaz.”  We return here to the neighborhood of names not quite

strange. From comparison of the many passages in Numbers, Joshua, and

Judges, which contain references to Othniel and Caleb (son of Jephunneh),

the stronger conclusion to which we are led is that Othniel was the younger

brother of Caleb (probably not by both the same parents) and Kenaz a

forefather, of course not literally father. The conclusion is not arrived at

without difficulty, or with any real certainty. In the present instance, e.g.,

why should Othniel, if the younger brother and so expressly and repeatedly

mentioned, be taken first? For the possible Kenaz of this passage, we might

then refer to ch.1:53; Genesis 36:42. Hathath. The marginal reading, which

joins Meonothai at once to Hathath, and then supplies “who” before

begat Ophrah,” is decidedly to be adopted. Joab son of Seraiah is not to

be assumed to be one with Joab son of Zeruiah. The valley of the Charashim

(see also Nehemiah 11:35), i.e. smiths, or craftsmen, lay east of Jaffa, and

behind the plain of Sharon; and is said by Jerome, in his ‘Quaestiones Hebraicae

in Paral.,’ to have been, according to tradition, named so because the architects

of the temple came thence. Iru. Perhaps the real name is Ir, and the final vau

rather an initial for the next name. Elah. Probably another name is wanting after

this, which the vau will then join to Kenaz; otherwise, as vau will not translate

even,” the following name will become, as in the margin, Uknaz. The wanting

name might be the Jehalaleel of the next verse. This last name is in the Hebrew

identical with the Jehalelel of our Authorized Version (II Chronicles 29:12).


16“And the sons of Jehaleleel; Ziph, and Ziphah, Tiria, and Asareel.”  Of

none of the characters of this verse can anything be said beyond what appears here.


17  And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and

Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of

Eshtemoa.  18 And his wife Jehudijah bare Jered the father of Gedor,

and Heber the father of Socho, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And

these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took.”

From the tangle of these verses it is hopeless to attempt any certain conclusions.

The fact of the antithesis of the Jewess wife (by some assigned as wife to Ezra),

and the presumably Egyptian wife mentioned in the latter verse, is perhaps just

enough in the general obscurity to suggest that Mered, the asserted husband of

the latter, is to be understood as the husband of the former also But to compass

so much as this, we have to overlook omission in v.17 and inversion in v. 18.

There is a tone about the verses, due to names they contain, that might

suggest to us the times of Egypt and Moses, and traditions in keeping do

not fail to come to view in Jerome (‘Quaestiones,’ etc.; see also art.

“Meted,” Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary’). The four places, Eshtemoa, Gedor,

Socho, Zanoah, may all with tolerable confidence be identified in

Joshua 15:48-58, as of the number of the cities “in the mountains,”

though Zanoah and Socho are found also “in the valley” (Ibid. ch.15:33-

36). In this passage the Septuagint gives us no help, but betrays its own

perplexity, offering to make Jether the father of Miriam; while the Syriac

and Arabic versions simply skip the verses as incoherent.


19 “And the sons of his wife Hodiah the sister of Naham, the father of

Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite.”  The first clause

of this verse in the Hebrew is, And the sons of the wife of Hodiah. The margin

offers the Jewess again for Hodiah.  Nothing is known explanatory of the

descriptive word Garmite here. Its meaning, according to Gesenins, is “bony.”

Eshtemoa is here distinguished from the same-spelt word in v.17 by the

description the Maachathite, Maachad being a region at the foot of Hermon,

bordering on and belonging to Syria.


20 “And the sons of Shimon were, Amnon, and Rinnah, Benhanan, and

Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were, Zoheth, and Benzoheth.”  The names of

this verse obtain no light from other passages. The Septuagint (Alexandrian), in loc.,

 speaks of “Someion, the father of Jomam,” in the former verse which probably

stands for this Shimon. Also the Septuagint for Vulgate, instead of counting

Benhanan as the name of a third son, translate it, as of Rinnah “son of Hanan.”

Ishi; not to be confused with ch. 2:31, son of Appaim. Our Authorized Version,

following the Vulgate, does not translate Ben-zoheth, while the Hebrew would

read naturally “Zoheth, and the son of Zoheth.”


21 “The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah,

and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house

of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea, 22 And Jokim,

and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in

Moab, and Jashubilehem. And these are ancient things.  23  These were

the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt

with the king for his work.” The first of these verses takes us back to ch.2:3,

where the first three of the patriarch Judah’s sons are introduced in the genealogy,

as Er, Onan, and Shelah; where of Er it is said, “He was evil in the sight of the

Lord; and He slew him;” and where nothing is added of Onan or Shelah. It would

appear now that Shelah gave the name of the slain brother to his son. Respecting this

Er of Lecah — with little doubt the name of a place — and Laadah, nothing else can

be adduced; but Marebah (Ibid. v.42) is the name of a place in the Shefelah, given

in the same passage with Kailah and Nezib (Joshua 15:44; see also II Chronicles

11:8; 14:9). The fine linen (xWB) here spoken of is, according to Gesenius,

equivalent in this passage and in the later Hebrew, to the byssus of the Egyptians

(Exodus 26:31; II Chronicles 3:14), the vve, from which the Syrian byssus

 (Ezekiel 27:16), to which xWB does more strictly apply, is distinguished in

some other places.  It was of fine texture, costly, and used as the clothing of

kings (ch. 15:27), of priests (II Chronicles 5:12), and of the very wealthy

(Esther 1:6; 8:15). Gesenius says that, after long research and dispute,

microscopic investigations in London have concluded that the

threads of the cloth of byssus are linen, not cotton. Ashbea ([Beça") is not

yet recognized elsewhere. Jokim. Gesenius considers this name (μyqiwOy) as

a contracted form of μyqiy;wOy (Joiakim) of Nehemiah 12:10. Chozeba.

The meaning of this name is “lying;” not found elsewhere, it is probably the

same as the byzika", a town in the tribe of Judah (Genesis 38:5), and

that is probably the same as the Byzika", of the “valley” list of Judah cities

(Joshua 15:44) and of Micah 1:14, where it is mentioned in near

connection with the Mareshah, which also accompanies it in the above

valley” list. Joash. This name appears in three forms: va;wOy, as in the text

And II Kings 12:20; va;wOjy], as in Ibid. v.1; and v[;wOy, as in ch.7:8. Seraph.

This is the word the plural of which gives us our seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and is from

a root of somewhat uncertain meaning. The different significations to which the root

seems to lend itself in the substantive, according as it is used in the singular or plural,

are startling (see Gesenius, ‘Lexicon,’ sub voce). The apparent meaning of this

verse is that there was a time of old, when the above, of whom we can

ascertain nothing elsewhere, ruled over Moab. Jerome, in the Vulgate, has

made a strange rendering of this verse by translating some of the proper

names, and reading at least one of them, the first, as though it were a form

in the Hebrew (μyqiy;), which it is not.  Thus Jokim is turned into

Elimelech, and the men of Chozeba into Mahlon and Chillon of the Book

of Ruth, and Jashubi-lehem into Naomi and Ruth; and the last clause of the

verse is equivalent to citing the Book of Ruth. Barrington (‘Genealogies,’

1:179) regards Jokim as Shelah’s third son in this enumeration; and ethers

regard Jashubi-lehem as his fourth son. The preposition l] prefixed to

ba;wOm and following the verb, is to be noted v. 23 brings us to the last of

Judah, and leaves us to part with the account of the tribe in the same

obscurity which has lately involved it. The plants and hedges are probably

an instance of inopportune translation of proper names, which should

rather appear as Nelaira and Gedara, the former place or people not found

elsewhere, but the latter possibly referred to in Joshua 15:36. Again, who

they were that were the potters, is not clear — whether all of the preceding

verse, or the last mentioned. From the last clause it may be probably safely

concluded, that those designated, whoever they were, were employed

habitually in the service, not indeed of one king necessarily, but of the

succession of royalty. Passages that may be taken to throw interesting light

upon this subject are ch.27:25-31; II Chronicles 26:10; 27:4; 32:27-29.





Weavers, Husbandmen, and Potters (vs. 21-23)


This portion of the book contains the record of the descendants of Shelah,

one of the sons of Judah. The chronicler mentions incidentally the

employments of several of these ancient families. Some were engaged in

weaving byssus, or fine linen. Others were occupied in tilling the estates

and tending the herds and flocks of the king. Others, again, pursued the

calling of the potter. Now, there is no reason for surprise in meeting with

such references in a book of the canonical Scriptures. There is a religious

side to all such useful and respectable vocations. Those who follow them

may not always be aware of the fact; but a fact it certainly is.




The soil which is tilled, the vegetable substances which that soil produces,

the minerals which are dug from it, are all of God. “The earth is the Lord’s,

and the fullness thereof.”  (Psalm 24:1)




The limbs of the body, the strength of the muscles, the skill of the intelligent and

designing mind, are all needed for the production of the results. Every artificer

is himself a miracle of creative power and wisdom; and He who framed

the workman is glorified in the handiwork.




DIVINE PLAN. The arts, useful and aesthetic, tend to the comfort and the

development of humanity. All the conveniences of human life are

instrumental in furthering the purposes of God.




And useful classes of society furnish the largest proportion of strength to our

Churches. These have often been the salt of society, when the wealthy,

luxurious, and dissolute on the one hand, and the idle and predatory on the

other, would have introduced corruption and death into the body politic.



The Dignity of All Work (vs. 21-23)


These verses set before us the interesting fact that God recognizes a man’s

occupation, and knows precisely his sphere and his work. Another striking

illustration of the precision of the Divine knowledge, and the observation

even of a man’s handicraft, is found in Acts 10:5-6, where God gives

these minute directions: “Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon,

whose surname is Peter; he lodgeth with one Simon, a tanner, whose

house is by the seaside.In these verses different occupations are

honorably mentioned; some wrought fine linen; others were potters and

gardeners and hedgers; and so is suggested to us the honorableness and

usefulness of all kinds of work. There was no such sentiment among the

Jews as unhappily prevails in all so-called highly civilized countries, that

there is a kind of degradation in having to work for your own living. Every

Jewish boy was required to learn a trade, and the greatest rabbis preserved

their dignity and learning along with service to the community in some

humble occupation. (in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.”

(Genesis 3:19)  - Consider:



there is one law more absolute for mankind than another, it is that they

shall work. They are set in this earth-garden, as Adam was in Paradise, to

win it, to use its forces, to dress it, to keep it. For “work’ man is endowed.

He has muscles with the needed physical strength, and hands with the

needed physical skill, and brains with the needed guidance and control.

And he is in the midst of conditions that demand work; the earth will only

yield her stores and her increase in response to man’s work. If a man “will

not work,” then the law God has put into the very creation of the earth is,

that, “he shall not eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)  And THIS WORK-

CONDITION IS DESIGNED BY GOD  to bear directly on  man’s

 moral training. Only by and through work can character grow

and unfold. Toil is testing and trial, out of which alone can virtue

 be born.  So all work is noble and holy.



is lost. It becomes a diversified and complicated thing. As men live

together in cities a thousand fresh wants, real and fancied, become created,

and trades are multiplied for the supply of the thousand wants. Work is

divided and subdivided; sometimes it seems a higher kind, and sometimes a

lower. While some must work by hand, others are called forth to work by

voice, and pen, and brush, and chisel, and brain. Thousands must toil in

various ways to supply the necessaries of life, and tens of thousands must

toil to supply the ever-increasing demand for luxuries. And so, in civilized

times, work seems too often to grow into man’s curse; and he toils at

sweat of brain as well as of face; and spends strength and health and life in

winning bread from those who “fare sumptuously every day, and are

clothed in purple and fine linen” (Luke 16:19); and we cannot greatly

wonder that men should grow hard, and lose the high and inspiring thought




DIGNITY. Its usefulness to others. It must be done “not unto selL” And

so God has “set the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6), and put fathers

and mothers under the pressure of family responsibility, that in toiling for

others they may win the joy of work.



TRUE PLACE. It must be done as service to God. Then work bears

upon the culture of religious character, and becomes a stepping-stone upward

to the heavenly. Character is both exhibited and cultured by it; and no kind of

occupation can be regarded as mean into which character can be put,

and by which others may be served, and God may be glorified. Potters,

gardeners, hedgers, and workers in fine linen may all win the “Well done,

good and faithful servant.”  (Luke 19:17)


24 “The sons of Simeon were, Nemuel, and Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, and

Shaul:  25  Shallum his son, Mibsam his son, Mishma his son.

26  And the sons of Mishma; Hamuel his son, Zacchur his son, Shimei

his son.  27  And Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters: but his

brethren had not many children, neither did all their family multiply,

like to the children of Judah.”  The second of the twelve tribes is now taken,

and occupies but small space as compared with Judah preceding, or Levi and

Benjamin when their turn comes. The comparison of the enumeration of

the sons of Simeon here with that in Genesis 46:10, Exodus 6:15, is

helpful in detaching the idea that the compiler of Chronicles copied direct

from Genesis and Exodus, or that he depended exclusively on identical

sources of information. That comparison shows six names in both of those

passages for only five here, and it shows also difference in three of the

names, viz. Jemuel, Zohar, and Jachin, for Nemuel, Zeta, and Jarib. On the

other hand, the list of Numbers 26:12 is in exact agreement with our

list here (the omission of Ohad in both being sufficiently accounted for by

one and the same reason), with the exception of Jarib here for Jachin still

there; and this solitary difference may justly be suspected to be nothing but

an early corruption of resh for caph and beth for nun. V. 25 contains three

descents from one of these — Shaul. Of Shallum, the first, it may be noted

that there are fourteen others of the same name in the Old Testament; and

of Mibsam and Mishma (whom some call brothers, surely in error), that

there were others of the same name (and certainly given as brothers), viz.

the sons of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13-14; ch. 1:29-30). V. 26 adds apparently

another three descents, viz. from Mishma. Of the first-named of these,

Hamuel, it may be noted that the name appears in many Hebrew

manuscripts as Chammuel; of the second-named, Zacchur, that six others

of the same name (though the Authorized Version gives them Zaccur) are

found in Numbers, the First Book of Chronicles, and Nehemiah; while on

the third, Shimei (of which name the Old Testament contains fifteen

others), our attention is especially detained as father of sixteen sons and six

daughters, though it is observed that his brethren (query Hammuel and

Zacchur) had not large families. The smallness of the whole tribe relatively

to Judah, was only saved from being smaller by him. With this agrees the

census of Numbers 1:23, 27; 2:4, 13; 26:14. It is possible that this

Shimei is the same with Shemaiah of v. 37.


28 “And they dwelt at Beersheba, and Moladah, and Hazarshual,

29 And at Bilhah, and at Ezem, and at Tolad,  30 And at Bethuel, and at

Hormah, and at Ziklag,  31 And at Bethmarcaboth, and Hazarsusim, and

at Bethbirei, and at Shaaraim. These were their cities unto the reign of

David.  32  And their villages were, Etam, and Ain, Rimmon, and Tochen,

and Ashan, five cities:  33 And all their villages that were round about the

same cities, unto Baal. These were their habitations, and their genealogy.”

These “thirteen cities with their villages” and “five cities” are found, with some

slight differences, in Joshua 19:1-9 (compare 15:26-32, 42). They were carved out

of the “portion of Judah,” which had been found disproportioned during the interval

that elapsed between the first settlements, viz. of Judah and the sons of Joseph, and

the completion of the settlements westward of Jordan (Joshua 18:1-6; compare

Judges 1:3,17). From the second of these groups, Tochen (see suggestion in’

Speaker’s Commentary,’ in loc.) is omitted in Joshua 19:7, where only

four cities” are summed. The allusion (v. 31) to the reign of David is

sufficiently explained by the fact that during his persecuted wanderings he

was often in the portion of Simeon, to three of the cities of which he sent

presents from the spoils of the Amalekites (I Samuel 30:26-31); and

Ziklag became his own (I Samuel 27:6), special mention being made of

how it passed into the tribe of Judah. The fuller name of Baal (v. 33) is

given as Baalath-beer in Joshua 19:8, where it is followed by the

additionRamath [height] of the south.” It may be noted that this

description of the allotment of Simeon begins with Beer-sheba and ends

with Baalath-beer. The expression (v. 33), and their genealogy” —

μc;j]y"t]hi infinitive Hithp., used as a noun — will be more properly translated,

their table of genealogy, or their registration. The following μh,l; may then

refer to “their habitations” rather than themselves, so that the clause, as a whole,

would mean, “These were their dwellings, and their registration was correct to

them.” Bertheau, however, takes the meaning to be, “And there was their family

register to them,” i.e. “They had their own family register.”



Dwellings and Genealogies (v. 33)


In many instances the chronicler records not only the names of the families

of Israel, but the places where they were settled in fixed habitations. When

the land of Canaan was conquered, it was parceled out among the several

tribes. In this way family relationships and sentiment were closely

connected with territorial possession. Even certain households were

attached to estates and villages. And as the Hebrews were an agricultural

and pastoral people, it was natural that they should cherish an hereditary

regard for the lands tilled by their fathers. The sons of Simeon transmitted

to their posterity certain cities and. villages. “These were their habitations,

and their genealogy.”



SANCTIONED. There are many who, as travelers and explorers, as

soldiers and seamen, etc., may serve society without having any fixed

abode; and homelessness may be profitable discipline in youth. But,

generally speaking, a home is the best sphere of labor, the best pledge of

diligence, the best guarantee of responsibility; and it is well for those who,

from generation to generation, can retain the same feelings towards an

ancestral abode.




SERVICE. The public census, the domestic register, the family tree, the

civil and ecclesiastical registration of births, deaths, and marriages, are all

valuable. They may be abused by pride, but they are more likely to foster

humiliation. They are useful for civil purposes, contributive to family

feeling and promote patriotism. The squire, the yeoman, the laborer, are

all susceptible to the influence of hereditary feeling and local associations.



places and certain families have been noticeable and memorable for piety.

And true religion is not content to deal with the individual; it seeks to

leaven families with its influence, and to penetrate villages, cities,

and nations with its light and spiritual power and grace.


34 “And Meshobab, and Jamlech, and Joshah, the son of Amaziah,

35 And Joel, and Jehu the son of Josibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son

of Asiel,  36 And Elioenai, and Jaakobah, and Jeshohaiah, and Asaiah,

and Adiel, and Jesimiel, and Benaiah,  37 And Ziza the son of Shiphi,

the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of

Shemaiah; 38 These mentioned by their names were princes in their

families: and the house of their fathers increased greatly. 39 And they

went to the entrance of Gedor,” -  The place Gedor cannot be identified in

this connection. There is a town of the name situated in the mountainous district

of Judah between Halhul and Beth-zur, to the north of Hebron (Joshua 15:58).

It is evident that this cannot be the place we require here. There is another town

of the name (ch. 12:7), probably belonging to Benjamin, and which as little admits

of being fitted in here. Both the Alexandrine and the Vatican Codex of the Septuagint,

however, evidently read r;dG] for rdoG]. Now, Gerar of the Philistines would suit

well for position and description, and also (Genesis 10:14) for the allusion found here

(v. 40) to the dwelling there “of old” of the people of Ham. The Hebrew word,

however, generally applied to the valley of Gerar (lj"n", wady) is not the word used

here of Gedor (ay]g;h", ravine). Not only are references frequent to the fertility of

Gerar, but the significance of that in II Chronicles 14:14 speaks for itself. This

alteration of reading, however, with acceptance of the Septuagint manuscripts,

cannot be regarded as altogether satisfactory – “even unto the east side of the

valley, to seek pasture for their flocks. 40 And they found fat pasture and

good, and the land was wide, and quiet, and peaceable; for they of Ham

had dwelt there of old.  41 And these written by name came in the days of

Hezekiah king of Judah, and smote their tents, and the habitations that

were found there,” -  So the Authorized Version, which has mistakenly Anglicized

 a word which should have been left a proper name, “the Maonites,” i.e. the people

elsewhere called in the Authorized Version the Mahunim. In doing this, our translators

followed the Targum, copied by Luther and Junius (but see Gesenius, ‘Thesaurus,’

1002 a; ‘Notes on Burckhardt,’ 1069; Bertheau, in ‘Chronik.;’ and

Septuagint reading). Unto this day, in this verse, as also in v. 43, must

not be understood to mark the date of the compiler of Chronicles, but that

of the document or authority upon which he as a compiler drew — anterior,

of course, to the Captivity - “and destroyed them utterly unto this day, and

dwelt in their rooms: because there was pasture there for their flocks.”

These verses record an organized and determined movement in quest of new

and rich territory on the part of some of the tribe of Simeon. They were thirteen

princes of the tribe of Simeon who led the movement, possibly representing

respectively the “thirteen cities” given above. The movement took place in the

days of Hezekiah king of Judah (B.C. 726-698). That the house of their fathers

had increased greatly is probably mentioned as some explanation of the cause

of the movement. Though in one name out of the thirteen (v. 35) the ancestors

are traced to the third generation, and in another (v. 37) to the fifth, no name is

reached of the sons of Simeon enumerated in vs. 24-27. These mentioned

by their names is to be translated strictly these coming by names; and it is open

to question whether the word of v. 41, μybiWtK]h, be not omitted after

μyaiB;h"; so that the passage would read, “These that came, written by

names, were princes in their families.” Of the names, twenty-two in all,

found in these verses, just so much is known as is here written.


42 “And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five hundred men,

went to mount Seir, having for their captains Pelatiah, and Neariah,

and Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi.  43 And they smote the rest

of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day.”

These verses give the further exploits, with a view of settlement, of certain of

the tribe of Simeon. And of them we should prefer to apply to those already

mentioned (vs. 34-41), did the expression stand alone. But the following

clause in apposition, of the sons of Simeon, seems intended to prevent the

supposition that they are the Simeonites to whom alone allusion is made. It is

a question whether the movement of v. 42 is to be understood as arising out

of that other the account of which closes in v. 41, or whether it were not a

coordinate movement. It still would probably enough spring from the same

intrinsic causes. The allotment of the tribe of Simeon carved out of that of

Judah was found too small for their growing numbers, though Simeon was

not of the most numerous. Nor is it necessary to suppose — perhaps it is

rather necessary to correct the impression — that this expedition, issuing

in a permanent settlement, lay at all near the conquests of the “thirteen princes.”

It is, on the whole, most natural to consider that one event concludes with v. 41,

and that the following events (vs. 42-43) are distinct and independent. All

requisite light as to who these “smitten Amalekites” were, is for them too

significantly furnished by comparison of I Samuel 27:8; 30:1;  II Samuel 8:12;

with I Samuel 14:48; 15:7. Of the names, five in number, found in this verse,

just so much an no more is known.



The Simeonites (vs. 31-43)


This tribe is classed with that of Judah, as their possessions were partly

taken out of their extensive territory (see Joshua 19:1). As Simeon had

only a limited portion of the land of Judah, they were forced to seek

accommodation elsewhere. In consequence of their sloth or cowardice,

some of the cities within their allotted territory were only nominally theirs,

and were never taken from the Philistines till David’s time, when, the

Simeonites having forfeited all claim to them, he transferred them to the

tribe of Judah (see I Samuel 27:6). Let us learn two lessons from this tribe —

first, with reference to this transfer, and second, with reference to the sad

results that followed the supineness or cowardice which characterized it.


  • We learn from Genesis 49:5-7 that cruelty characterized this son of

Jacob, and that righteous retribution followed. Also we see how one sin

begets another. Cruelty has in its train cowardice. True bravery and

magnanimity is the result of a nature ennobled by Divine grace. Wherever

we find cruelty, there we may be certain to find cowardice and supineness.

One strengthened grace strengthens every other in the man. One

indulged sin weakens every grace, and begets sins which bear that

sin’s “image and superscription” at every turn and throughout

 many generations. Simeon’s descendants, though not personally guilty

of their father’s sin, have the brand upon them. Their sins are but the

outward ripple on the stream where their father cast in the first stone

of crime. Thus Simeon’s sin lived in his generations. Thus men live long

after they are dead. All true living influence begins to be potent after we

have disappeared from the scene. How solemn, then, how awfully

responsible, is each one’s life!


  • Now look at the sad results of their supineness. Inasmuch as they did not

fight the Philistines and gain possession of their cities, David took them

from them and allotted them to Judah. What a remarkable confirmation of

our Lord’s words, “To him that hath [Judah] shall more be given;

and from him that hath not [Simeon] even that he hath shall be

taken away”!  (Matthew 25:29)  See another consequence of this

supineness. They sought larger territory, and found it in the pastures of

Gederah. For a time all seemed bright and prosperous. But soon they

were attacked by foes, and had to fly to Mount Seir. This would have

been unnecessary had they been valiant, fought the Philistines, and

become possessed in reality of what they had only nominal

possession before. Reader, learn the solemn warning. “Fight the good

fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:12); Make your

 calling and election sure(II Peter 1:10).  Make that nominal

possession of Christ — that profession of religion you wear — a reality,

a true and living possession. Thus will you, too, save yourself from similar

results, and will reap your reward.



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