THE PARTNERSHIP OF BENJAMIN WITH JUDAH IN SUPPORTING THE DAVIDIC LINE DERIVES FROM ITS CLOSE ASSOCIATION
– WITH THE SOURCE OF THE KINGDOM
IN THE GENEALOGY OF SAUL AND
– WITH THE PROMISED LAND OF JERUSALEM
Iain Duguid: Benjamin is given prominence by its closing outer position in the chiastic arrangement of the genealogies of the “sons of Israel” and also by the amount of detail provided. Its importance is warranted, both as the tribe of the first king, Saul, and in its joining with Judah as a major participant in the narrative that follows (e.g., 12:16; 2 Chron. 11:1, 3, 10, 12, 23). Further, after the exile the Persian province of Yehud included parts of the areas originally allocated to Judah and Benjamin in Joshua 15 and 18, centering on Jerusalem.
In contrast to the earlier brief list of Benjaminites, based on a military census and without mention of land occupation (1 Chron. 7:6–12), this list includes more than four times the number of names, locations are given (8:6, 8, 12, 13, 28, 29, 32), and only verse 40 includes military census details. As for other tribes, the first generation is named, followed by focus on one son (vv. 1–5) and then a diverse collection of clans associated with specific towns (vv. 6–28). The concluding section (vv. 29–40) has Saul as its center, with four generations of ancestors and twelve of descendants. Linking the two halves is mention of many who “lived ( . . . ) in Jerusalem” (vv. 28, 32).
Martin Selman: Benjamin’s appearance here, therefore, is a sign of its partnership with Judah in preserving Israel’s identity and traditions. In particular, the antiquity of Benjamin’s claim to its tribal territory must have been a real source of encouragement for Chronicles’ readers who lived in the same area (cf. 9:2ff.). The land mattered, because it was part of a promise which God had not withdrawn.
Andrew Hill: The genealogy of the tribe of Benjamin functions as a sequel to the brief listing of Benjamites found in 7:6–12. It also serves as an introduction to the genealogy of Saul in 9:35–44. Wilcock has suggested the expansion of the Benjamite genealogy is due to the fact that Benjamin was a “royal” tribe, given the anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king. It is true that the focus of Chronicles is the idea of Israel’s kingship, whether located in the tribe of Benjamin or Judah. Selman has countered that the allocation of additional space in the Chronicler’s record for the tribe of Benjamin is more likely an issue of geography, especially the settlement of the tribe in and around Jerusalem (8:6, 12, 13, 28, 32). Japhet observes that the geographical principle governing the genealogical prologue confirms Selman’s argument. She depicts the sequence as a circle beginning with Judah (2:3–4:23) that widens to include the peripheral tribes and then returns to the center (Jerusalem, ch. 9) through the tribe of Benjamin (ch. 8).
The tribal territory of Benjamin is important since it represents a portion of the covenant promise made to Abraham about a specific geographical region (Gen. 12:1–3). The very fact that this piece of real estate remains a part of the postexilic province of Judah is testimony to the Chronicler’s audience that God has been faithful to his Word.
Beyond that, however, the tribes of Benjamin and Judah essentially formed the southern kingdom of Judah and later the postexilic province of Judah. Selman has recognized a parallel between Judah as the first tribe listed in the genealogical prologue and Benjamin as the last tribe mentioned in that both lists emphasize tribal geography. Not only do these two tribes form the core of the restoration community geographically and numerically, but also they are partners in preserving Israel’s social and political identity and maintaining the Hebrew religious tradition.
Thomas Constable: There were Benjamites who lived in Jerusalem (8:28; 9:34) and others who lived in Gibeon (8:29; 9:35). Both of these towns were important religious centers. Gibeon was where the central sanctuary stood during most of Saul’s reign and from then on until Solomon built the temple. Nonetheless it was not God’s chosen place of worship. The ark was never in the sanctuary at Gibeon. Rather, the Gibeon site was the people’s choice, even as Saul was. God’s choice was Jerusalem (2 Chron. 6:6). God did not choose Saul or Gibeon, but He had chosen David and Jerusalem. David and Jerusalem are the two major pieces in God’s plan of salvation and blessing in Chronicles.
J. Barton Payne: The tribe of Benjamin not only produced the family of King Saul, that was prominent for many generations (8:33-40; 9:39-44), but also ranked second to Judah itself in post-Exilic Jewish society (Neh 11:4, 7, 31, 36).
H. L. Ellison: The very full details about Benjamin as contrasted with most of the other tribes should not be put down to the availability of greater information, but should be regarded as a tribute to Benjamin’s loyalty to the Davidic line.
I. (:1-28) SETTLEMENT OF BENJAMINITE FAMILIES BY GEOGRAPHY
A. (:1-7) Descendants of Benjamin in Geba – Especially Sons of Bela and Ehud
“And Benjamin became the father of Bela his first-born, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third, 2 Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth. 3 And Bela had sons: Addar, Gera, Abihud, 4 Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, 5 Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram. 6 And these are the sons of Ehud: these are the heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Geba, and they carried them into exile to Manahath, 7 namely, Naaman, Ahijah, and Gera– he carried them into exile; and he became the father of Uzza and Ahihud.”
Mark Boda: The first section of Benjamin’s genealogy uses a segmented format to trace Benjamin’s line down four generations from Benjamin through Bela to Abihud/Ehud, to Gera, to Gera’s sons (Uzza, Ahihud). Multiple sons are listed for each generation, but the line of only one of these sons is then traced to the next generation. The account of this line ends with a reference to an exile to Manahath, but it is uncertain whether it was Benjaminites who were deported to Manahath, whether Benjaminites deported former non-Israelite inhabitants of Geba to Manahath, or whether Benjaminite clans deported other Benjaminite clans to Manahath. Interestingly, Manahath is associated with the sons of the Calebite Salma in 2:54, among whom also are found the inhabitants of Bethlehem. It is possible that this exile to Manahath suggests Benjaminite inclusion in the heart of Judahite territory and identity, but this is not certain.
B. (:8-13) Descendants of Shaharaim in Moab, Ono, and Lod
“And Shaharaim became the father of children in the country of Moab, after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives. 9 And by Hodesh his wife he became the father of Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam, 10 Jeuz, Sachia, Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of fathers’ households. 11 And by Hushim he became the father of Abitub and Elpaal. 12 And the sons of Elpaal were Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod, with its towns; 13 and Beriah and Shema, who were heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who put to flight the inhabitants of Gath;”
Iain Duguid: More numerous is the list of more than forty names of those who “lived in Jerusalem” (1 Chron. 8:28). Here is a striking reminder to hearers that Jerusalem had a substantial Benjaminite population alongside descendants of David (3:4, 5) and the priests and Levites serving at the temple (6:10, 32).
Andrew Hill: There is some question as to how Ono and Lod became cities of Benjamin when they were originally part of the tribal allotment of Dan (i.e., “the area facing Joppa”; Josh. 19:46). As the tribe of Ephraim gained in influence, it took control of the cities of Ono and Lod. Since Benjamin shared a border with Ephraim, it seems likely that the two cities were absorbed by Benjamin and Judah at the division of the monarchy.
Peter Wallace: Ono and Lod are ancient cities in the western part of the land – in the territory of Judah rather than Benjamin, but we have already seen that ancient tribal borders were not always followed carefully!
Mark Boda: Both of these sections cast a shadow across Benjamin’s past by noting Benjaminite foreign sojourns (8:6-8), which are always linked in Chronicles to some sinful cause (see 2 Chr 33; 36 and especially 2 Chr 6:36-39). The reference to the divorcing of wives (8:8) does not appear to be a positive feature, since it is followed by a marriage to a wife in a foreign land (8:9). The fact that the line of one of the divorced wives dominates the list suggests the Chronicler’s disapproval.
C. (:14-28) Descendants of Ahio and others in Aijalon and Jerusalem
“and Ahio, Shashak, and Jeremoth. 15 And Zebadiah, Arad, Eder, 16 Michael, Ishpah, and Joha were the sons of Beriah. 17 And Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber, 18 Ishmerai, Izliah, and Jobab were the sons of Elpaal. 19 And Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, 20 Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel, 21 Adaiah, Beraiah, and Shimrath were the sons of Shimei. 22 And Ishpan, Eber, Eliel, 23 Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, 24 Hananiah, Elam, Anthothijah, 25 Iphdeiah, and Penuel were the sons of Shashak. 26 And Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, 27 Jaareshiah, Elijah, and Zichri were the sons of Jeroham. 28 These were heads of the fathers’ households according to their generations, chief men, who lived in Jerusalem.”
II. (:29-40) GENEALOGY OF SAUL’S FAMILY
Mark Boda: This genealogy focuses on the line of Saul, linking his ancestors to both Gibeon and Jerusalem, as well as tracing an enduring line of descendants after his death. It will be repeated in 9:35-44 (save 8:39-40), and there it will function to introduce the story of Saul, which begins in chapter 10. In chapter 8, however, it is used to bolster the size of the Benjaminite account, making it the third-longest account after Judah (chs 2-4) and Levi (ch 6).
A. (:29-32) Militia at Gibeon
“Now in Gibeon, Jeiel, the father of Gibeon lived, and his wife’s name was Maacah; 30 and his first-born son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, 31 Gedor, Ahio, and Zecher. 32 And Mikloth became the father of Shimeah. And they also lived with their relatives in Jerusalem opposite their other relatives.”
John Schultz: The first section is centered on Saul, the best known of all the Benjaminites in the Old Testament. The genealogy, most of which is repeated in 9:35-44, follows the same pattern as the two preceding it, with the main figures in the center dividing the rest into two parts: the period up to Saul and his four sons (vv. 29-32), and twelve generations from Saul’s sons Jonathan (vv. 33-40).
August Konkel: This list is supplementary to the Benjamites that lived in Jerusalem. The name of the father of the Gibeonites is not in the text; the name Jeiel is found in the parallel passage in Chronicles (cf. 1 Chron 9:35) and in a few Greek manuscripts. The parallel passage includes Ner as a son of Jeiel (9:36), a significant point because the genealogy of Saul begins with Ner (8:33). Reference to his wife Maakah may allude to a non-Israelite element within the Benjamites. Gibeon was at the center of the Hivite population of the area (Josh 9:3–7), a foreign enclave within the Benjamite territory. Descendants of Mikloth resided opposite their brothers (8:32 AT) in Jerusalem, another reminder that in the division of Benjamin, Jerusalem was within its territory. Some families from Gibeon relocated to Jerusalem, in proximity to other Benjamites.
In the time of Solomon, Gibeon and Jerusalem were affiliated with each other. Solomon offered sacrifices in Gibeon, where God granted him wisdom in a vision (1 Kings 3:3–14), but returned to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices there after the vision (1 Kings 3:15; cf. 2 Chron 1:3–6). After the temple was built in Jerusalem, Solomon received a second vision like that at Gibeon (1 Kings 9:2). For a time both Gibeon and Jerusalem served as places of worship, as indicated by the associations of the royal family in both places.
Though Gibeon was famous as a shrine site, it is recognized here for being a military garrison. The phrase translated father of Gibeon (v. 29) perhaps means “commandant of Gibeon” (i.e., the person in charge of the military garrison there) rather than patriarch. The sons associated with him would be his subordinate officers. These functioned in cooperation with the garrison at Jerusalem in defense of the country.
B. (:33-40) Family of Saul
“And Ner became the father of Kish, and Kish became the father of Saul, and Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Eshbaal. 34 And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal, and Merib-baal became the father of Micah. 35 And the sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. 36 And Ahaz became the father of Jehoaddah, and Jehoaddah became the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri became the father of Moza. 37 And Moza became the father of Binea; Raphah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. 38 And Azel had six sons, and these were their names: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. 39 And the sons of Eshek his brother were Ulam his first-born, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third. 40 And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor, archers, and had many sons and grandsons, 150 of them. All these were of the sons of Benjamin.”
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s treatment of the line of Benjamin ends with a focus on the family line that will both culminate in and proceed from Saul. As noted above, the majority of this genealogical survey is reiterated at the end of the next chapter (compare vv.29–38 and 9:35–44) in order to set up the Chronicler’s summary of the kingship of Saul (ch. 10).
This genealogy of the family line of Saul focuses on two cities: Gibeon (v.29) and Jerusalem (v.32). The city of Gibeon (also a Levitical city; cf. Jos 21:17) was located in the central hill country on the western side of the Benjamite plateau about five and a half miles northwest of Jerusalem. As with the cities noted in the first part of the chapter (vv.1–28), Gibeon was located at the intersection of important roads (passes) connecting the hill country with the Shephelah. The double mention of the city of Jerusalem within the genealogy of Benjamin (vv.28, 32; also cf. 9:3, 38) may be a subtle connection with the notion of Saulide/Benjamite (versus Davidic/Judahite) kingship as Jerusalem is listed among the tribal inheritance of both Benjamin and Judah (cf. Jos 18:28; Jdg 1:21; but also see Jos 15:8, 63).
August Konkel: The Chronicler concludes his expansion of Benjamite history with a genealogy of Saul, beginning two generations before Saul and extending many generations to the families of Azel and Eshek (vv. 38–40). These mighty warriors were the continuation of the distinguished royal family. The list records ten generations from Micah, in the time from Solomon to Ulam (vv. 35, 39), a period near the end of the kingdom of Judah, just before the destruction of Jerusalem. Saul is thus connected with his larger tribal history and with a noble heritage that carried on throughout the kingdom period.