Today’s passage is a geographic tour of Israel developed out of the family lines of Judah, Simeon, Rueben and Levi. You’ll remember yesterday that Judah’s line through David was recounted, tracing his descendants through the kingdom and exile. Today, Judah is afforded additional space, and it’s remembered that because of Rueben’s defilement, Judah …became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.
At the opposite bookend is Levi, whose descendants are commended for serving as priests and the sons of Merari, in particular, whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. Their dwelling places, and specifically their cities of refuge, are catalogued here, as though remembering them keeps the kingdom and all its promise alive.
In between there is Simeon, whose family lived in the South near Beersheba, and who in Hezekiah’s time conquered the Amalakite remnant at Mount Seir. There is the aforementioned Reuben, who lost his birthright but whose descendants, with those of Gad and half of Manasseh, occupied the East Bank of the Jordan. They were remembered as valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war… But they broke faith with the God of their fathers, and whored after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile...
If you pay close attention you’ll meet one named Jabez, who was more honorable than his brothers, whose life is oddly defined by pain. You’ll be reacquainted with Caleb, son of Jephunneh. You’ll meet potters who lived in the king’s service, and singers who performed at Solomon’s Temple.
And you’re allowed to marvel at the importance of this record. Written, in some cases, a thousand years after its characters had lived. Who would go to such effort to compile this, and for what purpose would it be so well preserved?
Our verse for this week is Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Chronicles 4 through 6. Now let’s read it!
1 Chronicles 4 - 6
4:1 The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. Reaiah the son of Shobal fathered Jahath, and Jahath fathered Ahumai and Lahad. These were the clans of the Zorathites. These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazzelelponi, and Penuel fathered Gedor, and Ezer fathered Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem. Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives, Helah and Naarah; Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. The sons of Helah: Zereth, Izhar, and Ethnan. Koz fathered Anub, Zobebah, and the clans of Aharhel, the son of Harum. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. Chelub, the brother of Shuhah, fathered Mehir, who fathered Eshton. Eshton fathered Beth-rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah, the father of Ir-nahash. These are the men of Recah. The sons of Kenaz: Othniel and Seraiah; and the sons of Othniel: Hathath and Meonothai. Meonothai fathered Ophrah; and Seraiah fathered Joab, the father of Ge-harashim, so-called because they were craftsmen. The sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh: Iru, Elah, and Naam; and the son of Elah: Kenaz. The sons of Jehallelel: Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel. The sons of Ezrah: Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. These are the sons of Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered married; and she conceived and bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah, the father of Eshtemoa. And his Judahite wife bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. The sons of the wife of Hodiah, the sister of Naham, were the fathers of Keilah the Garmite and Eshtemoa the Maacathite. The sons of Shimon: Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon. The sons of Ishi: Zoheth and Ben-zoheth. The sons of Shelah the son of Judah: Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the clans of the house of linen workers at Beth-ashbea; and Jokim, and the men of Cozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who ruled in Moab and returned to Lehem (now the records are ancient). These were the potters who were inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah. They lived there in the king's service.
The sons of Simeon: Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, Shaul; Shallum was his son, Mibsam his son, Mishma his son. The sons of Mishma: Hammuel his son, Zaccur his son, Shimei his son. Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brothers did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah. They lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri, and Shaaraim. These were their cities until David reigned. And their villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Tochen, and Ashan, five cities, along with all their villages that were around these cities as far as Baal. These were their settlements, and they kept a genealogical record.
Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah the son of Amaziah, Joel, Jehu the son of Joshibiah, son of Seraiah, son of Asiel, Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah, Ziza the son of Shiphi, son of Allon, son of Jedaiah, son of Shimri, son of Shemaiah—these mentioned by name were princes in their clans, and their fathers' houses increased greatly. They journeyed to the entrance of Gedor, to the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks, where they found rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful, for the former inhabitants there belonged to Ham. These, registered by name, came in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and destroyed their tents and the Meunites who were found there, and marked them for destruction to this day, and settled in their place, because there was pasture there for their flocks. And some of them, five hundred men of the Simeonites, went to Mount Seir, having as their leaders Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. And they defeated the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.
5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son; though Judah became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Joel: Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria carried away into exile; he was a chief of the Reubenites. And his kinsmen by their clans, when the genealogy of their generations was recorded: the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah, and Bela the son of Azaz, son of Shema, son of Joel, who lived in Aroer, as far as Nebo and Baal-meon. He also lived to the east as far as the entrance of the desert this side of the Euphrates, because their livestock had multiplied in the land of Gilead. And in the days of Saul they waged war against the Hagrites, who fell into their hand. And they lived in their tents throughout all the region east of Gilead.
The sons of Gad lived over against them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah: Joel the chief, Shapham the second, Janai, and Shaphat in Bashan. And their kinsmen according to their fathers' houses: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber, seven. These were the sons of Abihail the son of Huri, son of Jaroah, son of Gilead, son of Michael, son of Jeshishai, son of Jahdo, son of Buz. Ahi the son of Abdiel, son of Guni, was chief in their fathers' houses, and they lived in Gilead, in Bashan and in its towns, and in all the pasturelands of Sharon to their limits. All of these were recorded in genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.
The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, 44,760, able to go to war. They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him. They carried off their livestock: 50,000 of their camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 men alive. For many fell, because the war was of God. And they lived in their place until the exile.
The members of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land. They were very numerous from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. These were the heads of their fathers' houses: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty warriors, famous men, heads of their fathers' houses. But they broke faith with the God of their fathers, and whored after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.
6:1 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Eleazar fathered Phinehas, Phinehas fathered Abishua, Abishua fathered Bukki, Bukki fathered Uzzi, Uzzi fathered Zerahiah, Zerahiah fathered Meraioth, Meraioth fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Ahimaaz, Ahimaaz fathered Azariah, Azariah fathered Johanan, and Johanan fathered Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem). Azariah fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Shallum, Shallum fathered Hilkiah, Hilkiah fathered Azariah, Azariah fathered Seraiah, Seraiah fathered Jehozadak; and Jehozadak went into exile when the LORD sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. And these are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their fathers. Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. The sons of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth, Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. The sons of Samuel: Joel his firstborn, the second Abijah. The sons of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.
These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order. These are the men who served and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer the son of Joel, son of Samuel, son of Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Eliel, son of Toah, son of Zuph, son of Elkanah, son of Mahath, son of Amasai, son of Elkanah, son of Joel, son of Azariah, son of Zephaniah, son of Tahath, son of Assir, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Israel; and his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, namely, Asaph the son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi. On the left hand were their brothers, the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi. And their brothers the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
But Aaron and his sons made offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.
These are their dwelling places according to their settlements within their borders: to the sons of Aaron of the clans of Kohathites, for theirs was the first lot, to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasturelands, but the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. To the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah with its pasturelands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, Hilen with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, Ashan with its pasturelands, and Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands; and from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon, Geba with its pasturelands, Alemeth with its pasturelands, and Anathoth with its pasturelands. All their cities throughout their clans were thirteen.
To the rest of the Kohathites were given by lot out of the clan of the tribe, out of the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities. To the Gershomites according to their clans were allotted thirteen cities out of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh in Bashan. To the Merarites according to their clans were allotted twelve cities out of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. So the people of Israel gave the Levites the cities with their pasturelands. They gave by lot out of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin these cities that are mentioned by name.
And some of the clans of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory out of the tribe of Ephraim. They were given the cities of refuge: Shechem with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, Jokmeam with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands, Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands, and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Aner with its pasturelands, and Bileam with its pasturelands, for the rest of the clans of the Kohathites.
To the Gershomites were given out of the clan of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands and Ashtaroth with its pasturelands; and out of the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands, Ramoth with its pasturelands, and Anem with its pasturelands; out of the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands, Hukok with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands; and out of the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, Hammon with its pasturelands, and Kiriathaim with its pasturelands. To the rest of the Merarites were allotted out of the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasturelands, Tabor with its pasturelands, and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, out of the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasturelands, Jahzah with its pasturelands, Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands; and out of the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, Mahanaim with its pasturelands, Heshbon with its pasturelands, and Jazer with its pasturelands.