REMEMBER THE FORMER MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR IN THE NORTHERN TRIBES AS YOU CELEBRATE GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
August Konkel: The Chronicler includes all the tribes of Israel not yet discussed. Dan is not actually named, but a comparison with the Chronicler’s sources shows that he included it as one of the sons of Bilhah. The absence of Zebulun seems to be a result of some serious textual disruptions present in this chapter. The chapter breaks down into five sections: Issachar (7:1–5), Benjamin (vv. 6–11), the sons of Bilhah (vv. 12–13), the sons of Joseph (vv. 14–29), and Asher (vv. 30–39). These five sections are quite different from each other. Issachar, Benjamin, and Asher are distinguished by the length that is devoted to one tribe. Each records the father’s house (rather than a simple genealogy), and all three have an emphasis on military enumeration. The sons of Bilhah are highly abbreviated; the sons of Joseph lack the military associations but include information on their settlements.
J.A. Thompson: Chapter 7 consists of smaller genealogies within the framework of the Chronicler’s major interests of Judah, Levi, and Benjamin. The source of this material was largely Numbers 26, but something was culled from a military census list. The order of presentation escapes us now. It may have been the order he found in his sources, which were in any case inadequate. They had to be “supplemented” from available archives, largely contemporary Judean. There is nothing about Dan or Zebulun despite a brief notice in 2:1–2.
Andrew Hill: This section of the Chronicler’s genealogical prologue contains the final installment of Hebrew tribal lists, broadly classified as northern and in certain cases Transjordan tribes. This treatment of six Israelite tribes is remarkably brief (forty verses) when compared to the preceding register of Levites (eighty-one verses). Yet the listing is in keeping with the Chronicler’s overall purpose in the retelling of Israelite history. The inclusion of both the prominent and obscure northern Hebrew tribes is necessary for presenting a complete historical overview of Israel to the restoration community.
Iain Duguid: The second group of tribes surrounding Levi in the Chronicler’s chiastic arrangement is those north of Judah and west of the Jordan. The three most northerly tribes (Issachar, Naphtali, Asher), rather than being a single block, are interposed with the major tribes (Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh), having the effect of bringing all together as a whole. Unlike the Transjordanian tribes, there is no mention of being taken into exile by the Assyrians (cf. 1 Chron. 5:22, 26), thus foreshadowing later mention of faithful Israelites from the north (2 Chron. 30:1, 18; 34:9). Only the records of Ephraim and Manasseh include geographical information (1 Chron. 7:28–29).
Although Zebulun, a northerly tribe, is not included, it has been mentioned in the Levitical cities (6:63, 77) and will appear in later narrative (e.g., 12:33, 40; 27:19). Dan is another notable absence. This may be intentional due to its alternative idolatrous worship (Judges 18), although Dan is included in troops loyal to David (12:35; 27:22). Alternatively, perhaps both Zebulun and Dan are missing due either to lack of information resulting from the Assyrian invasion (cf. the brevity of Naphtali’s list; 7:13) or to scribal error.
Throughout this chapter the presentation is positive. The tribes of Issachar, Naphtali, and Asher are not named among those who “lived in Jerusalem” after the return (9:3), but they are included in the genealogies of the “sons of Israel.” Even though details may be limited in extent (e.g., down to Joshua, 7:27; or, for the most northern tribes, the time of David, 7:2), similarly to the preceding scope of the Levitical allocations among these tribes (6:61–81) the overall vision continues of an all-embracing Israel.
I. (:1-5) ISSACHAR – MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR
“Now the sons of Issachar were four: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron. 2 And the sons of Tola were Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Samuel, heads of their fathers’ households. The sons of Tola were mighty men of valor in their generations; their number in the days of David was 22,600. 3 And the son of Uzzi was Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah were Michael, Obadiah, Joel, Isshiah; all five of them were chief men. 4 And with them by their generations according to their fathers’ households were 36,000 troops of the army for war, for they had many wives and sons. 5 And their relatives among all the families of Issachar were mighty men of valor, enrolled by genealogy, in all 87,000.”
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s brief treatment of the genealogy of the tribe of Issachar reflects the style of a military census, and the mention of David may imply a census from that time (perhaps even David’s ill-fated census of 1Ch 21; cf. 2Sa 24).
Andrew Hill: Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob, the fifth son born to him by Leah (Gen. 30:17). His name means “hired workman,” and Jacob’s deathbed blessing of Issachar plays on that meaning in predicting that Issachar’s descendants will toil in forced labor gangs (Gen. 49:15). Issachar is often paired with Zebulun in lists of the Israelite tribes (e.g., Deut. 33:18–19). The tribe of Zebulun is absent from this tribal register, but the list does agree with the ordering of the earlier reference to the twelve sons of Israel (1 Chron. 2:1). Williamson detects no particular significance in the sequence of tribal names in this passage, apart from the fact the list simply reflects the order of the Chronicler’s source.
The genealogy of Issachar is both descending (i.e., parent to child) and segmented (i.e., it demonstrates breadth in listing a single generation of descendants as well as depth in citing successive generations from a common ancestor). The muster tallies (7:2, 4, 5) suggest the record originally belonged to a military census from the time of David (see 7:3).
Mark Boda: The connection to David stresses the purpose of the list for the Chronicler. Issachar represents a key military resource for the Davidic kingdom, foreshadowing their participation in David’s army in the Chronicler’s narrative in 12:32, where they will be singled out as those who “understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” Issachar is given the highest number of warriors in the genealogical accounts of the northern tribes, reflecting the Chronicler’s high estimation of this tribe.
Peter Wallace: Why should you care about the mighty warriors of Issachar? Issachar has now been lost for nearly 3,000 years! Why should you care about 87,000 fighting men in David’s day? One of the points that the Chronicler will come back to over and over again – is that when God’s people are rightly related to their God, blessing and honor (in some form) will be theirs. Remember Issachar! Because “back in the day” – the glorious day of David, the Messiah of Israel – Issachar had 87,000 mighty warriors!
II. (:6-12) BENJAMIN – MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR
“The sons of Benjamin were three: Bela and Becher and Jediael. 7 And the sons of Bela were five: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri. They were heads of fathers’ households, mighty men of valor, and were 22,034 enrolled by genealogy. 8 And the sons of Becher were Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jeremoth, Abijah, Anathoth, and Alemeth. All these were the sons of Becher. 9 And they were enrolled by genealogy, according to their generations, heads of their fathers’ households, 20,200 mighty men of valor. 10 And the son of Jediael was Bilhan. And the sons of Bilhan were Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tarshish, and Ahishahar. 11 All these were sons of Jediael, according to the heads of their fathers’ households, 17,200 mighty men of valor, who were ready to go out with the army to war. 12 And Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir; Hushim was the son of Aher.”
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s genealogical survey of the tribe of Benjamin is also the topic of ch. 8 and the end of ch. 9 (9:35–44). As such, the tribe of Benjamin receives the third largest coverage by the Chronicler (after Judah and Levi). While the genealogical information on the lineage of the tribe of Benjamin in chs. 8 and 9 largely focuses on the lineage before and after Saul, this genealogy is incomplete and does not directly include the Saulide family line.
Andrew Hill: The tribe of Benjamin was a transitional group in terms of Israelite geography, buffering Judah in the south and the rest of the tribes to the north. The insertion of the Benjamite genealogy at this juncture serves to introduce the more extensive family tree of Benjamin that follows in chapter 8. The highlighting of Benjamin calls to mind the fact that this tribe was also the transitional tribe of Hebrew kingship. King Saul hailed from Benjamin, and the Chronicler uses his genealogy and royal history as a preface to the history of the Davidic dynasty.
III. (:13) NAPHTALI
“The sons of Naphtali were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.”
IV. (:14-29) JOSEPH
A. (:14-19) Cisjordan Manasseh – Highlighting the Role of the Mothers
“The sons of Manasseh were Asriel, whom his Aramean concubine bore; she bore Machir the father of Gilead. 15 And Machir took a wife for Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister’s name was Maacah. And the name of the second was Zelophehad, and Zelophehad had daughters. 16 And Maacah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she named him Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. 17 And the son of Ulam was Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh. 18 And his sister Hammolecheth bore Ishhod and Abiezer and Mahlah. 19 And the sons of Shemida were Ahian and Shechem and Likhi and Aniam.”
Frederick Mabie: (:14-19) — The Chronicler’s treatment of the lineage of Joseph’s son Manasseh continues his earlier description of the part of tribe of Manasseh that opted to settle in Transjordan (cf. 1Ch 5:23–24). This Cisjordanian or western component of the tribe of Manasseh implies at least one point of intermarriage between the line of Manasseh and surrounding people groups (i.e., through Manasseh’s Aramean concubine [v.14] and perhaps Makir’s wife Maacah [v.16; cf. Jos 12:5]). As noted above (see comments on 2:3–8), the mention of such intermarriage by the Chronicler seems to reflect his understanding of God’s creative and faithful sovereignty rather than being a marker of spiritual compromise (as reflected at Ne 13:23–27).
B. (:20-27) Ephraim – Overcoming Temporary Loss
“And the sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah and Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, 21 Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead whom the men of Gath who were born in the land killed, because they came down to take their livestock. 22 And their father Ephraim mourned many days, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Then he went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son, and he named him Beriah, because misfortune had come upon his house. 24 And his daughter was Sheerah, who built lower and upper Beth-horon, also Uzzen-sheerah. 25 And Rephah was his son along with Resheph, Telah his son, Tahan his son, 26 Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, 27 Non his son, and Joshua his son.”
J.A. Thompson: This pericope (:20-29) is composed of three major parts:
(1) the genealogy from Ephraim to Joshua (vv. 20–21a, 25–27);
(2) a historical notice concerning the birth of Beriah which interrupts the genealogy of Joshua (vv. 21b–24); and
(3) a list of villages occupied by the sons of Joseph (vv. 28–29).
Andrew Hill: The story of Ezer and Elead is unique to Chronicles. Commentators are quick to note that the historical interlude serves etiological purposes, explaining the name Beriah (or “misfortune,” 7:23 [similar to the Jabez story, 4:9–10]) and the place name Uzzen Sheerah (7:24). The Chronicler, however, inserts the account as an example of temporary loss and setback overcome providentially by human initiative. What better way to remind his audience that the setback of the Exile was only temporary?
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s summary of the lineage of Joseph’s son Ephraim is presented in tandem with that of Joseph’s son Manasseh (cf. the summary of vv.28–29 below; also see Jos 17:14–18). Unlike the balance of genealogies in this chapter, the Chronicler provides settlement information for Ephraim (along with Manasseh) and does not include the military-like census numbers reflected in most of the other genealogies of this section. This divergence suggests that the Chronicler had a different set of sources (or additional sources) available for the prominent “House of Joseph.”
Note that the Chronicler’s summary of the tribe of Ephraim ultimately culminates with Joshua, the son of Nun, whom Yahweh used to deed the Promised Land and begin the process of occupying it—another way in which the Chronicler uses his genealogical summaries to draw attention to the covenantal hope(s) available for “all Israel.”
C. (:28-29) Settlement of Ephraim and Cisjordanian Manasseh
“And their possessions and settlements were Bethel with its towns, and to the east Naaran, and to the west Gezer with its towns, and Shechem with its towns as far as Ayyah with its towns, 29 and along the borders of the sons of Manasseh, Beth-shean with its towns, Taanach with its towns, Megiddo with its towns, Dor with its towns. In these lived the sons of Joseph the son of Israel.”
Frederick Mabie: In fact, the majority of the towns listed here (e.g., Gezer, Beth Shan, Taanach, Megiddo, and Dor) were previously listed as towns out of which the Israelites were unable to drive out the Canaanites. Thus the Chronicler is possibly including these cities to foster hope in his audience in God’s faithfulness to bring about the fullness of covenantal blessings as his people demonstrate obedience (see Jdg 3:1–4; see N. Naʾaman, “Sources and Redaction in the Chronicler’s Genealogies of Asher and Ephraim,” JSOT 49 : 99–111).
V. (:30-40) ASHER – MIGHTY MEN OF VALOR
“The sons of Asher were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah, and Serah their sister. 31 And the sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel, who was the father of Birzaith. 32 And Heber became the father of Japhlet, Shomer and Hotham, and Shua their sister. 33 And the sons of Japhlet were Pasach, Bimhal, and Ashvath. These were the sons of Japhlet. 34 And the sons of Shemer were Ahi and Rohgah, Jehubbah and Aram. 35 And the sons of his brother Helem were Zophah, Imna, Shelesh, and Amal. 36 The sons of Zophah were Suah, Harnepher, Shual, Beri, and Imrah, 37 Bezer, Hod, Shamma, Shilshah, Ithran, and Beera. 38 And the sons of Jether were Jephunneh, Pispa, and Ara. 39 And the sons of Ulla were Arah, Hanniel, and Rizia. 40 All these were the sons of Asher, heads of the fathers’ houses, choice and mighty men of valor, heads of the princes. And the number of them enrolled by genealogy for service in war was 26,000 men.”
J.A. Thompson: Asher was a peripheral tribe, descended from Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah (Gen 46:17). Evidently they furnished a useful body of fighters for Israel’s army, 26,000, a reduced number from the 41,500 of Num 1:40–41; 2:27–28, and 53,400 of Num 26:47, perhaps reflecting accurately the situation at a later date.
John Schultz: These names are based on a military census list (cf. v. 40), combined with the basic clan names (v. 30) from Genesis 46:17 and Numbers 26:44-46, and, as with Issachar, only on clan (Beriah) is followed through. The genealogy has several symmetrical patterns, as is structured around two descendants who each had four descendants, viz. Heber (v. 32) and his offspring Helem (v. 35). Since Helem is probably identical with Hotham (v. 32), and Shomer (v. 32) with ‘Shemer’ (v. 34, RSV), descendants of each of Heber’s sons occur in verses 33-35. The first two each had three sons, assuming Abi (v. 34, NIV, NEB) is really ‘his brother’ (GNB, RSV). Further descendants of Helem occur in verses 36-39, possibly in a regular pattern based on the names in verse 35. Zophah clearly recurs in verse 36, and the same may apply to Imna/Imra (v. 36), Shelesh/Shilshah (v. 37), and Amal/Ulla (v. 39). Ithran (v. 37) also appears to be the same as Jether (v. 38). Some of the names seem to be connected with the southern parts of Mount Ephraim, in the area where Saul’s asses went missing (cf. 1 Sam. 9:4-5). This may well explain the inclusion of Asher after Ephraim (the order is different in 1 Chr. 2:1-2), but its significance for a tribe that was otherwise located in western Galilee remains unclear.