We have now come to what was principally intended, the register of the children of Israel, that distinguished people, that were to "dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations." Here we have, I. The names of the twelve sons of Israel, ver. 1, 2. II. An account of the tribe of Judah, which has the precedency, not so much for the sake of David as for the sake of the Son of David, our Lord, who sprang out of Judah, Heb. vii. 14. 1. The first descendants from Judah, down to Jesse, ver. 3-12. 2. The children of Jesse, ver. 13-17. 3. The posterity of Hezron, not only through Ram, from whom David came, but through Caleb (ver. 18-20), Segub (ver. 21-24), Jerahmeel (v. 25-33, and so to v. 41), and more by Caleb (ver. 42-49), with the family of Caleb the son of Hur, ver. 50-55. The best exposition we can have of this and the following chapters, and which will give the clearest view of them, is found in those genealogical tables which were published with some of the first impressions of the last English Bible about 100 years ago, and continued for some time; and it is a pity but they were revived in some of our later editions, for they are of great use to those who diligently search the scriptures. They are said to be drawn up by that great master in scripture-learning, Mr. Hugh Broughton. We meet with them sometimes in old Bibles.
B. C. 1751.
1 These are the sons of Israel; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, 2 Dan, Joseph, and Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 3 The sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah: which three were born unto him of the daughter of Shua the Canaanitess. And Er, the firstborn of Judah, was evil in the sight of the Lord; and he slew him. 4 And Tamar his daughter in law bare him Pharez and Zerah. All the sons of Judah were five. 5 The sons of Pharez; Hezron, and Hamul. 6 And the sons of Zerah; Zimri, and Ethan, and Heman, and Calcol, and Dara: five of them in all. 7 And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the thing accursed. 8 And the sons of Ethan; Azariah. 9 The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai. 10 And Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon, prince of the children of Judah; 11 And Nahshon begat Salma, and Salma begat Boaz, 12 And Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, 13 And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh: 16 Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three. 17 And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.
Here is, I. The family of Jacob. His twelve sons are here named, that illustrious number so often celebrated almost throughout the whole Bible, from the first to the last book of it. At every turn we meet with the twelve tribes that descended from these twelve patriarchs. The personal character of several of them was none of the best (the first four were much blemished), and yet the covenant was entailed on their seed; for it was of grace, free grace, that it was said, Jacob have I loved--not of works, lest any man should boast.
II. The family of Judah. That tribe was most praised, most increased, and most dignified, of any of the tribes, and therefore the genealogy of it is the first and largest of them all. In the account here given of the first branches of that illustrious tree, of which Christ was to be the top branch, we meet, 1. With some that were very bad. Here is Er, Judah's eldest son, that was evil in the sight of the Lord, and was cut off, in the beginning of his days, by a stroke of divine vengeance: The Lord slew him, v. 3. His next brother, Onan, was no better, and fared no better. Here is Tamar, with whom Judah, her father-in-law, committed incest, v. 4. And here is Achan, called Achar--a troubler, that troubled Israel by taking of the accursed thing, v. 7. Note, The best and most honourable families may have those belonging to them that are blemishes. 2. With some that were very wise and good, as Heman and Ethan, Calcol and Dara, who were not perhaps the immediate sons of Zerah, but descendants from him, and are named because they were the glory of their father's house; for, when the Holy Ghost would magnify the wisdom of Solomon, he declares him wiser than these four men, who, though the sons of Mahol, are called Ezrahites, from Zerah, 1 Kings iv. 31. That four brothers should be eminent for wisdom and grace was a rare thing. 3. With some that were very great, as Nahshon, who was prince of the tribe of Judah when the camp of Israel was formed in the wilderness, and so led the van in that glorious march, and Salman, or Salmon, who was in that post of honour when they entered into Canaan, v. 10, 11.
III. The family of Jesse, of which a particularly account is kept for the sake of David, and the Son of David, who is a rod out of the stem of Jesse, Isa. xi. 1. Hence it appears that David was a seventh son, and that his three great commanders, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, were the sons of one of his sisters, and Amasa of another. Three of the four went down slain to the pit, though they were the terror of the mighty.
B. C. 1450.
18 And Caleb the son of Hezron begat children of Azubah his wife, and of Jerioth: her sons are these; Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon. 19 And when Azubah was dead, Caleb took unto him Ephrath, which bare him Hur. 20 And Hur begat Uri, and Uri begat Bezaleel. 21 And afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead, whom he married when he was threescore years old; and she bare him Segub. 22 And Segub begat Jair, who had three and twenty cities in the land of Gilead. 23 And he took Geshur, and Aram, with the towns of Jair, from them, with Kenath, and the towns thereof, even threescore cities. All these belonged to the sons of Machir the father of Gilead. 24 And after that Hezron was dead in Calebephratah, then Abiah Hezron's wife bare him Ashur the father of Tekoa. 25 And the sons of Jerahmeel the firstborn of Hezron were, Ram the firstborn, and Bunah, and Oren, and Ozem, and Ahijah. 26 Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. 27 And the sons of Ram the firstborn of Jerahmeel were, Maaz, and Jamin, and Eker. 28 And the sons of Onam were, Shammai, and Jada. And the sons of Shammai; Nadab, and Abishur. 29 And the name of the wife of Abishur was Abihail, and she bare him Ahban, and Molid. 30 And the sons of Nadab; Seled, and Appaim: but Seled died without children. 31 And the sons of Appaim; Ishi. And the sons of Ishi; Sheshan. And the children of Sheshan; Ahlai. 32 And the sons of Jada the brother of Shammai; Jether, and Jonathan: and Jether died without children. 33 And the sons of Jonathan; Peleth, and Zaza. These were the sons of Jerahmeel. 34 Now Sheshan had no sons, but daughters. And Sheshan had a servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Jarha. 35 And Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant to wife; and she bare him Attai. 36 And Attai begat Nathan, and Nathan begat Zabad, 37 And Zabad begat Ephlal, and Ephlal begat Obed, 38 And Obed begat Jehu, and Jehu begat Azariah, 39 And Azariah begat Helez, and Helez begat Eleasah, 40 And Eleasah begat Sisamai, and Sisamai begat Shallum, 41 And Shallum begat Jekamiah, and Jekamiah begat Elishama. 42 Now the sons of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel were, Mesha his firstborn, which was the father of Ziph; and the sons of Mareshah the father of Hebron. 43 And the sons of Hebron; Korah, and Tappuah, and Rekem, and Shema. 44 And Shema begat Raham, the father of Jorkoam: and Rekem begat Shammai. 45 And the son of Shammai was Maon: and Maon was the father of Bethzur. 46 And Ephah, Caleb's concubine, bare Haran, and Moza, and Gazez: and Haran begat Gazez. 47 And the sons of Jahdai; Regem, and Jotham, and Geshan, and Pelet, and Ephah, and Shaaph. 48 Maachah, Caleb's concubine, bare Sheber, and Tirhanah. 49 She bare also Shaaph the father of Madmannah, Sheva the father of Machbenah, and the father of Gibea: and the daughter of Caleb was Achsah. 50 These were the sons of Caleb the son of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah; Shobal the father of Kirjath-jearim, 51 Salma the father of Bethlehem, Hareph the father of Bethgader. 52 And Shobal the father of Kirjath-jearim had sons; Haroeh, and half of the Manahethites. 53 And the families of Kirjath-jearim; the Ithrites, and the Puhites, and the Shumathites, and the Mishraites; of them came the Zareathites, and the Eshtaulites. 54 The sons of Salma; Bethlehem, and the Netophathites, Ataroth, the house of Joab, and half of the Manahethites, the Zorites. 55 And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.
The persons mentioned in the former paragraph are most of them such as we read of, and most of them such as we read much of, in other scriptures; but very few of those to whom this paragraph relates are mentioned any where else. It should seem, the tribe of Judah were more full and exact in their genealogies than any other of the tribes, in which we must acknowledge a special providence, for the clearing of the genealogy of Christ. 1. Here we find Bezaleel, who was head-workman in building the tabernacle, Exod. xxxi. 2. 2. Hezron, who was the son of Pharez (v. 5), was the father of all this progeny, his sons, Caleb and Jerahmeel, being very fruitful, and he himself likewise, even in his old age, for he left his wife pregnant when he died, v. 24. This Hezron was one of the seventy that went down with Jacob into Egypt, Gen. xlvi. 12. There his family thus increased, as other oppressed families there did. We cannot but suppose that he died during the Israelites' bondage in Egypt; and yet it is here said he died in Caleb-Ephratah (that is, Bethlehem), in the land of Canaan, v. 24. Perhaps, though the body of the people continued in Egypt, yet some that were more active than the rest, at least before their bondage came to be extreme, visited Canaan sometimes and got footing there, though afterwards they lost it. The achievements of Jair, here mentioned (v. 22, 23), we had an account of in Num. xxxii. 41; and, it is supposed, they were long after the conquest of Canaan. The Jews say, Hezron married his third wife when he was sixty years old (v. 21), and another afterwards (v. 24), because he had a great desire of posterity in the family of Pharez, from whom the Messiah was to descend. 3. Here is mention of one that died without children (v. 30), and another (v. 32), and of one that had no sons, but daughters, v. 34. Let those that are in any of these ways afflicted not think their case new or singular. Providence orders these affairs of families by an incontestable sovereignty, as pleaseth him, giving children, or withholding them, or giving all of one sex. He is not bound to please us, but we are bound to acquiesce in his good pleasure. To those that love him he will himself be better than ten sons, and give them in his house a place and a name better than of sons and daughters. Let not those therefore that are written childless envy the families that are built up and replenished. Shall our eye be evil because God's is good? 4. Here is mention of one who had an only daughter, and married her to his servant an Egyptian, v. 34, 35. If it be mentioned to his praise, we must suppose that this Egyptian was proselyted to the Jewish religion and that he was very eminent for wisdom and virtue, otherwise it would not have become a true-born Israelite to match a daughter to him, especially an only daughter. If Egyptians become converts, and servants do worthily, neither their parentage nor their servitude should be a bar to their preferment. Such a one this Egyptian servant might be that she who married him might live as happily with him as if she had married one of the rulers of her tribe. 5. The pedigree of several of these terminates, not in a person, but in a place or country, as one is said to be the father of Kirjath-jearim (v. 50), another of Bethlehem (v. 51), which was afterwards David's city, because these places fell to their lot in the division of the land. 6. Here are some that are said to be families of scribes (v. 55), such as kept up learning in their family, especially scripture-learning, and taught the people the good knowledge of God. Among all these great families we are glad to find some that were families of scribes. Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets--all the families of Israel families of scribes, well instructed to the kingdom of heaven, and able to bring out of their treasury things new and old!