1 Chronicles 1
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

I. Chronicles.






§ 1. Title.—In the Hebrew MSS. the Books of Chronicles form a continuous work, bearing the general name of Dibrê hayyâmîm (“Events of the Days,” or “History of the Times”), which is no doubt an abridgment of Sêpher dibrê hayyâmîm—i.e., “The Book of the Events (or History) of the Times.” (Comp. 2Kings 14:19; 1Chronicles 27:24; Esther 6:1; Esther 10:2.) This designation is not given in the text of the work itself, but was prefixed by some unknown editor. Accordingly we find a different title in the LXX., which divides the work into two books, called Παραλειπομένων πρω̑τον and δευτερὸν (“First and Second [Book] of Things omitted”); or, Παραλειπομένων βασιλέων or, in some MSS., τῶν βασιλείοον ΙονδαÌ, α and β (“First and Second Book of omitted Notices of the Kings or the Kingdoms of Judah”). This title indicates that, in the opinion of the Greek translators, the work was intended as a kind of supplement to the older historical books. In that case, however, great part of Chronicles could only be considered redundant and superfluous, consisting, as it does, in the mere repetition of narratives already incorporated in Samuel and Kings. (See § 5, infra.) The name by which we know the work, and which fairly represents the Hebrew designation, is derived from St. Jerome, who says:—“Dibre hayamim, id est, Verba dierum, quod significantius Chronicon totius divinae historiae possumus appellare, qui liber apud nos Paralipomenon primus et secundus inscribitur” (Prolog, galeat.). The work, however, is not a mere chronicle or book of annals, although somewhat resembling one in its external form, and deriving its facts from annalistic sources (§ 7, infra). In the Vulgate we find the heading, “The First Book of Paralipomena, in Hebrew Dibre Haiamim.” In the Peshito-Syriac, “Next the Book of the Rule of Days [Dûbor yaumâthâ) of the Kings of Judah, which is cailed Sephar debar yamîn.” In the Arabic, “In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate. The First Book of the Kitâb ’akhbâri ’l’ayyâmi—the Book of the Histories of the Days; which is called in the Hebrew, Dibrâ hayyâmîn.”

That Chronicles was originally a single, undivided work, is evident from the Masoretic note at the end of the Hebrew text, which states that 1Chronicles 27:25 is the middle verse of the whole book. Moreover, Josephus, Origen (ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. vi. 25), Jerome, and the Talmud reckon but one book of Chronicles. The Peshito-Syriac ends with the remark”: “Finished is the book of Debar yamin, in which are 5,603 verses”implying the unity of the work. The present division into two books, which certainly occurs in the most suitable place, was first made by the LXX. translators, from whom it was adopted by St. Jerome in the Vulgate, and so passed into the other versions and the modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.

§ 2. Relation to the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.—An attentive examination of the Hebrew text of the Books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, soon reveals the important fact that the three apparently separate works resemble each other very closely, not only in style and language, which is that of the latest age of Hebrew writing, but also in the general point of view, in the manner in which the original authorities are handled and the sacred Law expressly cited, and, above all, in the marked preference for certain topics, such as genealogical and statistical registers, descriptions of religious rites and festivals, detailed accounts of the sacerdotal classes and their various functions, notices of the music of the Temple, and similar matters connected with the organisation of public worship. These resemblances in manner, method, and matter, raise a strong presumption of unity of authorship, which is accordingly asserted by most modern scholars. As regards Chronicles and Ezra, this result is further indicated by the strange termination of the Chronicles in the middle of an unfinished sentence, which finds its due completion in the opening verses of Ezra. (Comp. 2Chronicles 36:22-23 with Ezra 1:1-4.) Had Chronicles been an independent work, it might have ended less abruptly at 2Chronicles 36:21. But there is no real break in the narrative between 2 Chronicles 36 and Ezra 1; and the awkwardness of the existing division simply points to the perplexity of some editor or transcriber, who did not know where to leave off. It is absurd to lay any stress on the two trivial variants between the two passages. They are not marks of an editorial hand, but merely errors of transcription. (See Notes on 2Chronicles 36:22-23.)

There are other facts which combine with the above considerations to prove that Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah originally constituted a single great history, composed upon a uniform plan by one author. Thus there is actually extant part of a Greek version of the three books which ignores their division. The Third Book of Esdras is, with certain important omissions and additions, an independent translation of the history from 2 Chronicles 35 to Nehemiah 8:12. In this work the edict of Cyrus occurs but once; and it is evident that the author’s Hebrew text did not divide the history into three distinct books.

Further, the ancients did not separate Ezra and Nehemiah in the modern fashion. The Talmudic treatise Baba bathra (fol. 15. A), the Masorah, and the Christian fathers Origen and Jerome, regard Ezra-Nehemiah as a single work; and it appears in the Vulgate as 1st and 2nd of Esdras, a non-fundamental division like that of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, into two books each. Indeed, the Book of Ezra as it stands is an unfinished fragment, which finds its natural continuation in Nehemiah 8 sea., where the history of Ezra’s part in the restoration is further pursued. Lastly, the notes of time in Chronicles and Nehemiah coincide (see § 3 infra); and the genealogies of the high priests from Eleazar to Jehozadak in 1Chronicles 6:4-16, and from Jeshua to Jaddua in Nehemiah 12:10-11, are given in the same form, and are obviously complementary, covering, as they do, when taken together, the whole period from Moses to Alexander the Great.

The LXX. translators found Chronicles already severed from Ezra-Nehemiah. This division is explicable in connection with the formation of the Hebrew Canon. In the Hebrew text the Book of Ezra-Nehemiah precedes Chronicles, apparently because the value of this, the newer and more interesting portion of the whole work, was recognised first. Chronicles may well have been regarded as of less importance, because to a great extent it merely repeats the familiar narratives of Samuel and Kings. In no long time, however, it was perceived that the new relation of the ancient history was animated by the spirit of the age, and its catalogues of family descent, and its detailed treatment of religious matters, won for it first, perhaps, general use as a manual of instruction, and then the last place in the sacred Canon.

§ 3. Date.—The orthography and language of the Chronicle, its Levitical tendency, and its position at the end of the Hagiographa, conspire to suggest a comparatively late origin. Other internal evidence of a more definite character enables us to settle the question of date with approximate precision. The partially confused passage, 1Chronicles 3:19-24, carries the line of David’s posterity down to at least the sixth generation from Zerubbabel, who along with the High Priest Jeshua conducted the first return, B.C. 536. According to R. Benjamin in the Me’or ‘enayim (fol. 153. A, quoted by Zunz), as many as nine generations must be reckoned from Jesaiah to Johanan in this genealogy. In like manner, the LXX. makes eleven generations from Zerubbabel to the last name in the list. This brings the date of the author down to about B.C. 200, if we count thirty years to the generation. This was the opinion of Zunz, whom Nöldeke follows. Kuenen also favours a late epoch, asserting that “the author must have lived about B.C. 250.” These views, however, are not accepted by the majority of modern scholars; and they rest upon a highly questionable interpretation of the passage under consideration. (See Notes on 1Chronicles 3:19, seq.)

What is certain is, that both in this genealogy of the house of David, and in that of the high priests, the writer descends several generations below the age of Ezra and Nehemiah, who flourished about B.C. 445. Thus in Nehemiah 12:10-11 the line of the high priests is traced as far as Jaddua, who was the fifth successor of Jeshua the contemporary of Zerubbabei. Josephus informs us that Jaddua came into personal contact with Alexander the Great (Antiq. xi. 7, 8). This points to a date about B.C. 330. Again, Nehemiah 12:22 appears to speak of Jaddua and “Darius the Persian” (i.e., Codomannus) as belonging to an earlier age than the writer; and Nehemiah 12:47 refers to “the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah” as to a past already distant

It is an acute suggestion of Ewald’s that the chronicler’s designation of Cyrus and Darius as “kings of Persia,” indicates that he lived and wrote after the fall of the Persian monarchy. The reckoning by “darics” in 1Chronicles 29:7 does not prove authorship during the Persian dominion. The Persian coinage would not disappear from use immediately upon the establishment of the Greek supremacy. A few other terms survived in the language as vestiges of the Persian age; and the Temple fortress was still called the Baris (comp. the Persian baru) in the days of Josephus. On the other hand, Prof. Dillmann is probably right in asserting that “there are no reasons of any sort for fixing the authorship of the Chronicle as late as the third century, or even later.” The limits of the two genealogies above considered are evidence against such a conclusion. Upon the whole, it appears likely that the great historical work, of which Chronicles forms the largest section, was compiled between the years B.C. 330 and B.C. 300, and perhaps somewhat nearer the latter than the former date.

§ 4. Author.—“Ezra wrote his own book, and the genealogy of the Chronicles down to himself.” Such is the assertion of the Talmud (Baba bathra, fol. 15. A). But we are no more bound to accept this as fact than the preceding statements which connect Moses with the Book of Job, and—more wonderful still—Adam with the Psalms. The grain of truth embodied in the tradition is simply this, that the compiler of the last great book of history has drawn largely upon the authentic memoirs of Ezra and Nehemiah, incorporating whole sections of their journals in his work. But, as every Hebrew scholar knows, a single hand can be traced throughout the three books now called Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah; and the original documents stand out in sharp contrast to their modern setting, wherever the compiler has been contented to transcribe verbally. From the entire tone and spirit of the work, it is reasonably inferred by most critics that it was the production of a Levite attached to the Temple at Jerusalem in the latter half of the fourth century B.C. Ewald further supposes the author to have belonged to one of the guilds of Levitical musicians: a conjecture which is highly probable, considering how much the work has to tell us about the Temple choirs and their music. Keil objects that the porters are mentioned as often as the musicians, and that therefore we might just as well assume the chronicler to have been a porter or Temple-warder. But an acquaintance with musical technicalities such as the writer displays almost certainly proves him to have been a member of one of the musical guilds. Similarly, it is no reply to allege that priests are made quite as prominent in the work as Levitical warders and musicians. The priests are naturally mentioned on all religious occasions as being the principal functionaries. The fact that the inferior ministers are so persistently brought forward in their company—which is not the case in the older history—proves the peculiar interest of the author in these latter.

§ 5. Contents.Character and Scope of the Work. The Chronicle opens with an outline of primeval history from Adam to David. The Pentateuchal narratives, however, are not repeated, because the five books were already recognised as canonical, and the writer had nothing to add to them. In like manner, the times of the Judges and the reign of Saul are passed over. The chronicler had no special sources for that period, and it did not appear to lend itself easily to the illustration of the particular lesson which he wished to enforce upon his readers. Accordingly the first section of his work takes the driest and most succinct form imaginable, that of a series of genealogies interspersed with brief historical notices (1 Chronicles 1-9). The writer’s extraordinary fondness for genealogical and statistical tables is apparent also in other parts of his history, and is to be explained by reference to the special requirements of the post-exilic age. (Comp. Ezra 2:59, seq.) Here, after tracing the generations from Adam to Jacob, the writer gives a flying survey of the twelve tribes, lingering longest over Judah, the tribe of David, and Levi, the tribe of the priests; after which (in 1 Chronicles 8, 9) his horizon narrows at once from all Israel to the southern kingdom only (Benjamin, Judah, Jerusalem). 1 Chronicles 10—the death of Saul—is transitional to the reign of David, which follows at length (1 Chronicles 11-29).

The second and main portion of the work (1 Chronicles 11 -2 Chronicles 36) relates the history of the kings who reigned in Jerusalem from David to Zedekian, thus covering a period of between four and five centuries (B.C. 1055-588). The third part contains the history of the restored community under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah (B.C. 536-432), and is now known as the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. (See the Introduction to those books.)

When we consider the second part of this great compilation, we are immediately struck by the large space occupied by the reign of David. To the chronicler, as to the prophetic historians before him, that reign, it would seem, was the golden age of his people’s history. The greater distance at which he stood from the old heroic times of the monarchy only intensified the spell which they wrought upon his imagination. He does not, however, repeat the familiar tale of David’s romantic adventures, of his reign at Hebron, of his sin against Uriah, of the revolt of Absalom, and similar matters. His point of view and the needs of his contemporaries are different from those of the older historians; and it is as the true founder of Jerusalem and the Temple, with its beautiful service of music and song, and as the prime author of the priestly organisation, that the heroic figure of David engages his highest interest. Accordingly, all that refers to the activity of the king in these directions is described with intentional fulness and emphasis. (See 1 Chronicles 13-18, 12-29)

The reign of Solomon is treated much more briefly, though at considerably greater length than any subsequent one (2 Chronicles 1-9). Here again we observe a fuller description of whatever relates to religion and its ministers. In fact, the account of the building and dedication of the Temple occupies by far the largest part of the narrative (1 Chronicles 2-7).

The rest of the history is told from the same standpoint. After the division of the kingdom, the writer follows the fortunes of the Davidic monarchy, which was the more important from a religious, if not from a political, point of view. The northern kingdom he almost entirely ignores, as founded upon apostasy from the orthodox worship, as well as from the legitimate rule of the house of David. Even in this limited field, political, military, and personal facts and incidents are subordinated to the religious interest, and it is obvious that the real subject of the history is everywhere that holy religion which made Israel what it was, and upon which its historical significance wholly depends. Thus the reigns of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah are especially prominent, because they witnessed the initiation of important religious reforms, and the restoration of Jerusalem and its sanctuary to their hereditary rank as the religious centre of the nation. And thus “traditions about the Temple and its worship, the sacerdotal orders and their functions, the merits of the kings and others in the matter of the cultus, are presented with great fulness, and the author expatiates with evident delight on the sacred festivals of the olden time. Reigns of which little of the sort could be told are briefly treated” (Dillmann).

From all this we may gather the aim of the work. The writer has produced not so much a supplement of the older histories, as an independent work, in which the history of the chosen people is related afresh in a new manner, and from a new point of view. That point of view has been characterised as the priestly-Levitical, in contradistinction to the prophetical spirit of the ancient writers. To understand this, we must remember that in the chronicler’s day the political independence of Israel was a thing of the past; and that the religion of the Law was the most precious survival from the great catastrophe which had finally shattered the nation, and the principle of cohesion and the basis of all order, public and private, in the new community. The writer’s main object, therefore, is to urge upon his contemporaries a faithful observance of the Mosaic Law; and he seeks to impress his lesson by presenting a picture of times and occasions when, with the Temple as its centre, and the priests and Levites as its organs, the legitimate worship flourished and brought blessing upon the land.

§ 6. Documental Authorities. Relation to the Books of Samuel and Kings.—Besides a number of narratives running parallel to those of Samuel and Kings, the Books of Chronicles contain other important accounts which are without parallel in the older histories. Such are many of the genealogical and statistical tables, as well as certain supplementary details and stories inserted in different reigns. The former, which possessed a very special interest for the chronicler’s contemporaries, were ultimately derived from those ancient taxation rolls or assessment lists, which were so highly valued by the Jews in the times, immediately preceding and subsequent to the captivity (Ezra 2:59; Ezra 2:62). These catalogues may in some cases have been preserved independently, but it is probable that the chronicler found most of them already incorporated in the historical compilations which constituted his principal authorities. (Comp. 1Chronicles 5:17; 1Chronicles 7:2; 1Chronicles 9:1; 1Chronicles 23:3; 1Chronicles 23:27; 1Chronicles 26:31; 1Chronicles 27:24; Nehemiah 12:23; Nehemiah 7:5.) The censuses, for instance, to which reference is made in 1Chronicles 5:17; 1Chronicles 7:2, were doubtless entered in the state annals.

The second, and to us more important, historical element peculiar to Chronicles is equally based upon trustworthy records of an earlier period. The writer refers from time to time to documents which he presumes to be well known to his readers, for further details upon subjects which he does not himself care to pursue. At first sight the number of these documents appears to be so considerable as to excite surprise, especially when we remember that the compiler of Kings mentions only two or three such primary documents. For almost every reign a different source appears to be cited; which is the more remarkable, inasmuch as the titles indicate that more than one of the histories referred to must have contained the entire history of the kings of Jerusalem. The references in question are:

1.The History of Samuel the seer,

2.The history of Nathan the prophet,

3.The history of Gad the seer,


in 1Chronicles 29:29, for David.

4.The prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite,

5.The vision of Je-edi or Je-edo the seer against Jeroboam ben Nebat,


in 2Chronicles 9:29, for Solomon.

6.The history of Shemaiah the prophet,

7.The history of Iddo the seer,


in 2Chronicles 12:15, for Rehoboam.

8.The Midrash of the prophet Iddo, in 2Chronicles 13:22, for Abijah.

9.The book of the kings of Judah and Israel, in 2Chronicles 16:11; 2Chronicles 25:26; 2Chronicles 28:26, for Asa, Amaziah, and Ahaz.

10.The history of Jehu the son of Hanani, inserted in the book of the kings of Israel, in 2Chronicles 20:34, for Jehoshaphat

11.The Midrash of the book of the Kings, in 2Chronicles 24:27, for Joash.

12.The history of Uzziah, by Isaiah the prophet, 2Chronicles 26:22.

13.The book of the kings of Israel and Judah, in 2Chronicles 27:7; 2Chronicles 35:27; 2Chronicles 36:8, for Jotham, Josiah, and Jehoiakim. Perhaps also in 1Chronicles 9:1.

14.The vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, in the books of the kings of Judah and Israel, 2Chronicles 32:32, for Hezekiah.

15.The history of the kings of Israel, 2Chronicles 33:18,

16.The history of Hozai (or, The words of the Seers), 2Chronicles 33:19,


for Manasseh.

Six reigns, viz., those of Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, are without any such references.

The similarity of some of these sixteen titles favours the supposition of their being merely variations of each other. “The book of the kings of Judah and Israel” (9) may at once be equated with “the book of the kings of Israel and Judah” (13). “The history (words) of the kings of Israel” (15) is an expression tantamount to “the book of the kings of Israel” (10). Five at least, then, of the above citations refer to a single work, a “history of the kings of Judah and Israel.” This work appears to have been a compilation based upon the same annalistic sources as the canonical books of Kings—viz., “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel,” and “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” It was probably younger than the canonical Kings, and was perhaps in some degree influenced by the form and contents of that work. That it was not identical therewith, as used to be assumed, is certain, because it contained much which is not found there—e.g., genealogical and other lists, and the account of Manasseh’s captivity and restoration (2Chronicles 33:18); and the chronicler often refers to this work for fuller information in cases where the narrative in the existing Book of Kings is even briefer than his own. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 27 with 2Kings 15:32-38.)

The references to prophetic “words” (dibrê), or rather histories, are by some supposed to imply the existence of a number of historical monographs written by the prophets with whose names they are connected. But “the history of Jehu the son of Hanani” (10) is expressly cited, not as an independent work, but as a section of the great Book of the Kings; and “the vision of Isaiah the prophet (14) is another section of the same work. Moreover, when the chronicler does not refer to the history he generally mentions a prophetic account, but never both for the same reign (unless 2Chronicles 33:18-19 be an exception). It is likely, therefore, that the other prophetic histories (Numbers 1-7) were integral parts of the same great compilation, and are merely cited in briefer form, perhaps as the chronicler found them already cited in that his principal source. We do not know what were the grounds which determined the selection of a work by the unknown collectors of the Canon, but it seems certain that had a number of separate writings of such prophets as Samuel, Nathan, Gad, and Isaiah been extant in the chronicler’s age, they would have been included in the Canon.

The “history of Uzziah, which Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz wrote” (12; see 2Chronicles 26:22), does not appear to be an exception to the above general inference. Whether, as Prof. Dillmann thinks, the chronicler himself supposed Isaiah to have been the author of the history of Uzziah as embodied in the great Book of the Kings (comp. Isaiah 6 l), or whether, as is more likely, he merely copies the reference from that source, makes no difference. On the other hand, it is, of course, quite possible that an independent monograph of Isaiah’s did exist and was known to the chronicler, although no trace of it is to be recognised in the canonical Books of Kings or Isaiah. Similar considerations would apply to “the history of Hozai” (16; see 2Chronicles 33:19), which is apparently contrasted in 2Chronicles 33:19 with “the history of the kings of Israel,” were it not likely that the text of that passage is unsound.

Lastly, the chronicler refers besides to a “Midrash of the prophet Iddo” (8), and a “Midrash of the book of the Kings” (11). The former may have been a section of the latter work. In this, as in the preceding cases, it was natural to cite a particular passage of a large book of history, by mentioning the name of the prophet with whose activity it was chiefly concerned; because the division of the canonical books into sections and chapters was unknown to antiquity (comp. our Lord’s reference in Mark 12:26, “in the bush,” i.e., in the section relating to the burning bush; and St. Paul’s “in Elias,” Romans 11:2.)

The term “Midrash” occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament. It means “search,” “investigation,” “study,” and is the neo-Hebraic term for the Rabbinical exegesis of the sacred books. A Beth-midrash is a school in which the Law and other scriptures are studied under the lead of a Rabbi, whose disciples are called talmîdîm, a word first occurring in 1Chronicles 25:8. “The Midrash of the book of the Kings” was probably a kind of commentary or expository amplification of the great “history of the Kings of Judah and Israel;” and the chronicler may have derived other narratives from this source, besides the two for which he cites it. But it is pure dogmatism to say, with Reuss, that “his work from one end to the other is drawn from a Midrash; and it is this Midrash that is responsible for all that provokes our doubts, including the history of Uzziah written by Isaiah.” The Midrash which the chronicler consulted may really have been an early predecessor of that series of works so well known to students of Rabbinical Hebrew as the Midrashim (Bereshith rabba, Shemoth rabba, &c. &c.); but its intrinsic superiority to all these later works is evident from the extracts preserved in the Chronicles.

We have now characterised the two principal sources of the accounts peculiar to the Books of Chronicles. The compiler may, of course, have had at his command other documents besides those to which he refers by name; but probably they were few in number, and certainly of subordinate importance.

It remains to ask what is the precise relation between the forty or more passages of Chronicles which are more or less exact duplicates of parallel passages in Samuel and Kings?

This question can hardly be answered with certainty. The negative criticism which flourished in Germany at the beginning of the present century found an easy offhand reply in the theory that the chronicler transcribed his parallel accounts directly from the canonical Books of Samuel and Kings. All deviations and peculiarities were results of misunderstanding, fictitious embellishment, and wilful perversion of the older history. It would hardly be worth while to revive the memory of this unhistorical and obsolete criticism, were it not still salutary to signalise the former errors of scholars whose theories for a time enjoyed unbounded influence, by way of suggesting caution to such persons as are inclined to accord a too hasty acceptance to similarly destructive hypotheses advocated by men of acknowledged ability at the present day. What is certain is, (1) that the chronicler must have known the great history now divided into the Books of Samuel and Kings; (2) that many of his narratives at different points verbally coincide with these books, and so far might have been transcribed from them; but (3) these coincidences may be accounted for by the supposition advanced above, viz., that the same ancient state annals were the principal source from which both the compiler of the older canonical history, and the compiler of that “book of the kings of Judah and Israel” which supplied the chronicler with so much of his narrative, derived the staple of their history; and further, that the “book of the kings of Judah and Israel” may have been in part constructed on the model of the already existing Books of Samuel and Kings. At the same time we may freely admit that the form into which the history was already cast in the older work would naturally exert some, and perhaps a considerable, influence upon the mind and work of the latest historian of Israel.

§ 7. The Historical Value of Chronicles.—This question has in part been already decided by the results at which we arrived in discussing the prior question of the sources. All that remains to be determined is, whether and how far the chronicler was faithful to his authorities. Whatever charges of distortion, misinterpretation, falsification, fictitious embellishment, &c. &c, of the ancient history have been levelled against him by earlier critics, have been amply disproven by their successors. Such charges depended for the most part upon the assumption that he had no other documents than the canonical books of the Old Testament—an assumption sufficiently rebutted by impartial examination of internal evidence. Comparing the parallel sections with their duplicates in Samuel and Kings, we find in general an assiduous and faithful reproduction of the sources, which warrants us in supposing that the important passages of the narrative which are peculiar to Chronicles were likewise extracted with substantial accuracy from other historical records no longer extant. Often, indeed, in such passages the style is so much purer than that which we identify as the chronicler’s own, as to suggest at once that he is simply transcribing from an ancient document; though more usually he has recast what he found in his authority. It is admitted that the chronicler wrote with a distinct purpose, and that his aim was not so much history for its own sake, as edification. He writes neither as a modern scientific historian, nor as a mere annalist, but with a distinctly didactic and hortatory object. Accordingly, in the exercise of his lawful discretion, he omits some well-known passages of the ancient history, and adds others more to his purpose. He habitually inserts remarks of his own, which put the facts narrated into relation to the working of Divine Providence, and so bring into prominence the religious aspect of events, while religious conceptions prevalent in his own age naturally find expression through his pages. (Comp. 1Chronicles 21:1 with 2Samuel 24:1.) Moreover, he does not hesitate, nor would any writer of his time have hesitated, to put appropriate speeches into the mouths of leading personages, some of which betray their ideal character by a close similarity in form and matter; and although in some cases he undoubtedly had genuine tradition at his command, and simply followed his documents, in others he has freely expanded the meagre records of the past, and developed the fundamental thoughts of the speakers according to his own taste. In the description of ancient religious solemnities he has reasonably enough been influenced by his minute professional knowledge of the ritual of his own day, and has thus succeeded in his purpose of lending animation to the dry memoranda of the past. Yet it must not be forgotten that he probably had substantial precedents for this mode of treatment, and, further, that in antiquity religious custom is the least likely sphere of innovation. Besides all this, the chronicler has considered the needs and tastes of his own time by substituting current for obsolete Hebrew words, phrases, and constructions, and by interpretation, paraphrase, and correction of what seemed obscure or faulty in the ancient texts. The mode of spelling (scriptio plena), and the Aramaisms which characterise his work, are what were to be expected from a writer of his age. In these latter respects the Chronicle already foreshadows the Targum or “Chaldee” Paraphrase.

Many deviations from the older canonical history, especially in the matter of names and numbers, are due to errors of transcription in one or the other text; and many may be ascribed to the licence of editors and copyists, which in those early times far exceeded what would now be considered allowable. To appreciate this argument, it is only necessary to examine the LXX. translation of the Books of Samuel, which obviously represents a Hebrew original differing in many important particulars from the present Masoretic Recension. Discrepancies due to such causes obviously do not affect the credibility of the chronicler. And with regard to excessive numbers, in particular, we have to bear in mind “the tendency of numbers to grow in successive transcriptions,” and the fact already demonstrated (§ 6) that Chronicles was only indirectly derived from the same primary sources as Samuel and Kings. The existing text of the older books is itself not free from exaggerated numbers (see 1Samuel 6:19; 1Samuel 13:5); and in some instances the figures of Chronicles are lower and intrinsically more probable than those of the older history. (Comp. 2Chronicles 9:25 with 1Kings 5:6.) After making every allowance upon these and similar grounds, the impartial critic will still acquiesce in the conclusion of Ewald, that “we should deprive ourselves of one of the richest and oldest sources of the Davidical history, if we failed to do justice to the very remarkable remains of the state annals fortunately preserved to us in the Book of Chronicles;” and that “this work, when rightly understood and applied, not only yields very valuable supplements to the history of the (Davidic) monarchy, the foundation of which undoubtedly rested on the original state annals, but also tells us of many prophets, of whose very names we should have otherwise been wholly ignorant” (Hist. of Israel, Martineau’s Translation, p. 195).

§ 8. Literature of the Subject.—A list of the older commentators may be read in Carpzov and in Lange’s Bibelwerk. The principal modern works known to the present writer are Bertheau’s (English Trans, in Clarke’s Foreign Library, 2nd ed. 1860); Keil’s, also translated in Clarke’s series (ed. 1872); Zockler’s, in Lange (English trans., 1876); and that of Reuss (ed. Paris, 1878). He has also had before him L’Abbé Martin’s Commentary (ed. Paris, 1880), a recent work by a Roman Catholic priest, which closely follows Keil and Zöckler. The criticisms of Thenius in his Die Bücher der Könige (Leipzig, 1873) have always been considered, and specially noticed whenever it seemed advisable.

The following have been consulted upon introductory questions:—Gramberg (Die Chronik nach ihrem geschichtlicheii Charakter, &c. Halle, 1823). His reasonings are interesting from a historical point of view, but his conclusions are thoroughly unfair, and no longer require refutation. Graf (Die gesch. Bücher des alt. Test. Leipzig, 1866), Also a hostile criticism. De Wette’s Einleitung, as re-edited by Schrader, who modifies the more extreme dicta of the original author. Movers (Kritische Untersuchungen iiber die bibl. Chronik. Bonn, 1834); a reply to Gramberg and De Wette. Keil’s Einleitung (Frankfurt, 1853). Zöckler’s Handbuch der theolog. Wissenschaften (Nõrdlingen, 1882). Ewald’s History of Israel (Martineau’s English Transi., Longmans, 1876). Kuenen’s History of Israel (English Transl., 1875) follows Graf in exagge-rating the subjective and unhistorical tendency of the i chronicler. Wellhausen’s tract, De gentibus et familiis Judaeis quae 1 Chronicles 2-4 enumerantur (Göttingen, 1870), is very important for the right understanding of the genealogies. The article Chronik, by Prof. Dillmann, in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie is a specially fair estimate of the work; and the same may be said of Prof. Robertson Smith’s Chronicles in the Encyclopœdia Britannica. The writer has also to acknowledge considerable obligations to the same author’s Old Testament in the Jewish Church, and The Prophets of Israel, and to Schrader’s Keilin-schriften und das Aite Testament (Giessen, 1883). For several important suggestions he is indebted to his friend Prof. Sayce, who kindly looked through the Notes on the greater part of the first book.

§ 9. Ancient Versions. State of the Hebrew Text.—The translation of Chronicles in the LXX. is carefully and skilfully done, is strictly literal, and one of the best works of those translators, far surpassing the Books of Samuel and Kings, which proceed from another hand. In many passages it still preserves an unquestionably better reading than that of the Masoretic Recension. In too many instances, however, it has had its readings altered into conformity with later Greek versions of the textus receptus, and thus its originality has in part been obliterated by the hands of injudicious editors. (See Movers’ Untersuch., p. 93.) In the Greek of 2 Chronicles 35, 36 there are a few interpolations corresponding to passages in 2 Kings 23, 24.

The old Latin versions, upon which the Vulgate is based, followed the LXX.

The Peshittā (Peshito) Syriac version presents many surprising peculiarities of omission, interpolation, transposition, and paraphrase, insomuch that it resembles a Jewish Targum rather than a literal version. This phenomenon suggests that Chronicles was perhaps not received with the original collection of sacred books in the Peshito (Dillmann).

The Arabic version is a daughter of the Syriac, and possesses little independent value for the criticism of the text.

The Targum is late (seventh century?) and is not printed in the Rabbinical Bibles. Lagarde has recently edited another, which I have not been able to procure. The four versions have been consulted in Walton’s Polyglot; and for the LXX. Tischendorf’s edition has also been used. The unsatisfactory condition of the Hebrew text, due perhaps to the fact that Chronicles was never so highly valued as other portions of the Canon, may in part be remedied by careful comparison of the data of the versions, as well as of the other books of the Old Testament.


The abrupt opening of the narrative with a series of proper names presupposes that the reader is already acquainted with their historic import. The chronicler intends to give a synopsis of the archæology of man, as recorded in the book of Genesis, by way of fixing the place of Israel in the great human family. Arabian and monkish annalists of the middle ages have followed his precedent, at least so far as regards the external form of their histories. William of Malmesbury, for instance, does not hesitate to trace the line of the Saxon kings to Adam; and the chroniclers of Spain have derived their monarchs from Tubal, a grandson of Noah. Such inventions, of course, bear only an artificial resemblance to the Biblical records, which are undoubtedly survivals of a remote antiquity, a fact which should suggest caution in theorising upon their interpretation.

Chapter 1. falls naturally into three sections. (1) The ten generations of the first age of humanity, with a table of races and countries, given in genealogical form according to ancient conceptions (1Chronicles 1:1-23). (2) The ten generations after the Flood, from Shem to Abraham, the second age of man, with a list of the races claiming descent from Abraham (1Chronicles 1:24-42). (3) A catalogue of the kings of Edom anterior to the Israelite monarchy and of the tribal chieftains of that country (1Chronicles 1:43-54).

1Chronicles 1:1-4 are an abstract of the fifth chapter of Genesis. (See the Notes there.) The arrangement of the names, in three triads and a quartette, is perhaps mnemonic. In our translation the Hebrew spelling is followed more closely here than in Genesis 5 Sheth, Enosh, Kenan, Jered, Henoch are nearer the original than Seth, Enos, Cainan, Jared, Enoch (the spelling of the LXX).

Adam, Sheth, Enosh,
(1) Adam (man) is here treated as a proper name; in Genesis 5:1-5 it is an appellative.

The Chaldeans also had a tradition of ten antediluvian patriarchs or kings, beginning with Alorus and ending with Xisuthrus (Hasis-Adra), the hero of the Flood. They made the duration of this first period of human history 432,000 years. Remembering that Abraham, the Hebrew, was from “Ur (Uru, the city) of the Chaldees,” we can hardly suppose the two accounts to be independent of each other. The comparative simplicity and, above all, the decided monotheism of the Hebrew relation, give a high probability to the assumption that it represents a more original form of the tradition.

Sheth, Enosh.—Those who have imagined the present list to be a mere duplicate of that given in Genesis 4:17 sqq., and who explain the whole by the fatally easy process of resolving all these different names into a capricious repetition of one original solar figure, are obliged to admit a difficulty in connection with the names of Sheth and Enosh, which are acknowledged “not to belong to mythology at all” (Prof. Goldziher). Considering that most Hebrew names have a distinct and intentional significance, it is obviously a mere exercise of ingenuity to invest them with a mythological character. Meanwhile, such speculations cannot possibly be verified.

Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
(4) Shem, Ham, and Japheth.—There is no doubt that Ham means black, or sunburnt, and Japheth (Heb., Yepheth) is probably the fair-skinned. Shem has been compared with an Assyrian word meaning brownish (sa’mu). Thus the three names appear to allude to differences of racial complexion.

1Chronicles 1:5-23 are an abridgment of Genesis 10. The proper names represent, not persons, but peoples and countries. By adding them all together, the old Jewish interpreters made a total of seventy nations for the world. The list is a classified summary of the ethnical and geographical knowledge of Hebrew antiquity.

The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
THE SONS OF JAPHETH THE FAIR—(1Chronicles 1:5-7).

The Oriental theory of political and even social communities refers each to a common ancestor. The Israelites are known as “sons of Israel,” the Ammonites as “sons of Ammon” (Authorised version, “children”). In the same way, an Arab tribe is called. the “Bêni Hassan” (sons of Hassan), and Assurbanipal styles his subjects “sons of Asshur.” Sometimes a people is called “sons” of the land or city they inhabit; e.g., the Babylonians are styled “sons of Babel.” The “sons of Japheth” are probably the fair Caucasian race.

(5) Gomer.—The Cimmerians of the Greek writers; called Gi-mir-ra-a-a in Assyrian inscriptions. Their country was Cappadocia, called Gamir by the ancient Armenians. The Arabic version has “Turkey.”

Magog.Ezekiel 38:2-3; Ezekiel 38:6 speaks of Gog, king of Magog, and suzerain of Tubal, Meshech, Gomer and the house of Togarmah. With the name Gog compare Gâgu, king of Salii, mentioned in connection with Assurbanipal’s campaign against the Mannâ-a. Magog appears to be a general name for the peoples north of Assyria, i.e., in Armenia.

Madai.—The Medes. 2Kings 17:6; Isaiah 13:17. Assyr., Ma-da-a-a.

Javan.—The Assyrian Yavnan, i.e., Cyprus, mentioned in the Behistun Inscription, as here, along with Media, Armenia, and Cappadocia. (Comp. Joel 3:6; Isaiah 66:19.)

Tubal and Meshech, the Tibareni and Moschi of classical writers; and the Muski and Tabali of Assyrian records.

Tiras has been compared with the Tyras or Dniester. Perhaps we may compare Tros and the Trojans.

(6) Ashchenaz.Jeremiah 51:27, near or in Armenia. Apparently the Asguzâa mentioned by Esarhaddon in the account of his campaign against the Cimmerians and Cilicians. The Arabic has Slavonia.

Riphath.—The reading of Genesis 10:3, some Heb. MSS., the LXX., and Vulg. The common Hebrew text (Van der Hooght’s) wrongly reads Diphath (Syriac, Diphar). Togarmah seems to be the Tulgarimmē on the border of Tabali, which Sennacherib reduced in his expedition against Cilicia (Smith, Sennach., p. 86).

(7) Elishah.—Usually identified with Hellas, or the Hellenes. Perhaps, however, Carthage is meant: comp. the name Elissa, as a by-name of Dido, Virg. Æn. iv. 335.

Tarshish.—Usually identified with the Phœnician colony of Tartessus, in Spain. (Comp. Psalm 72:10.)

Dodanim.—So many Heb. MSS., the Syriac, Vulg., and Genesis 10:3. The LXX. has “Rhodians,” which implies a reading, Rodanim, which we find in the common Hebrew text. Dodanim might be the Dardauians of the Troad, or the Dodoneans (Dodona, the seat of an ancient oracle, the fame of which might have reached Phœnician ears).

Thus far the list appears to deal with Asia Minor and adjacent lands; and Japheth, whose name is curiously like the Greek Iäpetus, seems to include the western races so far as known to the Hebrews.

The sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.

(8) Cush.—The Greek Meroë, Assyrian Miluhha, or Kûsu, south of Egypt, in our Bibles often called Ethiopia (Isaiah 19:1). The Arabic gives Habesh, i.e., Ethiopia.

Mizraim.—The common Hebrew name of Egypt: strictly, “the two Miçrs”—i.e., Upper and Lower Egypt. But the name should rather be spelt Mizrim—the Egyptians; the form Mizraim being probably a mere fancy of the Jewish punctuators. The Assyrians wrote Muçum, Muçru, Muçur. The Inscription of Darius has Miçir. Maçôr was the name of the wall which protected Egypt on the north-east. Hence it gave its name to the whole of Lower Egypt.—Cush and Muçur are coupled together in the inscriptions of Esarhaddon and his son Assurbanipal.

Put.—Perhaps the Egyptian Punt, on the east coast of Africa. King Darius mentioned Pûta and Kûsu as subject to him (Behist, Inscr.). Comp. Nahum 3:9; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 30:5. The Arabic has Kibtu, i.e., Coptland.

Canaan.—There are many proofs of an early connection between Egypt and Canaan. The Philistines were colonists from the Delta (1Chronicles 1:12), and Ramses II. (cir. 1350 or 1450 B.C. ) had wars and made alliance with the Hittites.

(9) Seba.—Capital of Meroë. The other names represent Arabian tribes and their districts.

Sheba.—The famous Sabaeans, whose language, the Himyaritic, has quite recently been deciphered from inscriptions.

(10) Cush begat Nimrod.—Micah (Micah 5:6) speaks of the “land of Nimrod” in connection with the “land of Asshur.” The land of Nimrod is plainly Babylonia; and some have supposed the primitive inhabitants of Babylonia—“the black-headed race” (zalmat qayqadi) as they styled themselves—to have been akin to the peoples of Muçur and Cush. At all events, Cush in this table of races appears as father of a series of mixed populations, ramifying from the north-west of the Persian Gulf in a southernly direction to the coast of Arabia. The Asiatic Cush represents that primitive Elamitic Sumerian race which occupied the north-west and north coast of the Persian Gulf; or rather that portion of it which attained to empire in Babylonia.

The name Nimrod appears to be identical with Merodach, the Accadian Amar-utu, or Amar-utuki, Assyrian Maruduk. Merodach was the tutelar deity of Babylon, as Asshur was of Assyria; and many Babylonian sovereigns bore his name. (Comp. Merodach-baladan, Isaiah 39:1.)

He began to be.He was the first to become. Tradition made Nimrod the first founder of a great Oriental empire. The statement about his four cities (Genesis 10:10), the first of which was Babel (Babylon), is omitted here.

Mighty.—Literally, a hero, warrior (gibbôr); a title of Merodach.

(11, 12) The names in these verses are all in the masculine plural, and obviously designate nations. Mizraim, the two Egypts, is said to have begotten the chief races inhabiting those regions—a common Oriental metaphor. The Ludim are the Ludu, or Rudu, of the hieroglyphs (Prof. Sayce thinks, the Lydian mercenaries of the Egyptian sovereigns); the Anamim are perhaps the men of An (On, Genesis 41:50), Lehabim, the Lybians. The Naphtuhim seem to get their name from Noph, i.e., Memphis, and the god Ptah. Perhaps, however, the name is to be recognised in the town Napata.

(12) Pathrusim.—The men of the south (Egyptian, pe-ta-res, “the southland”), or Upper Egypt.

Casluhim . . . Caphthorim.—The men of Kaftûra, or the Delta. (See Amos 9:7 : “Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Mizraim? and the Philistines from Caphtor?” and comp. Deuteronomy 2:23.) The Caluhim may have been a leading division of the Caphthorim.

And Canaan begat Zidon his firstborn, and Heth,

(13) Canaan begat Zidon his firstborn.—Or, in modern phrase, Zidon is the oldest city of Canaan. It is usually mentioned along with Tyre, the ruling city in later times. Sennacherib speaks of the flight of Lulî, “king of Zidon,” from Tyre. Esarhaddon mentions Baal of Tyre as a tributary. Of the eleven “sons of Canaan all but three or four have been identified in the cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria.

And Heth—that is, the Hittite race, called Heta by the Egyptians, and Hatti by the Assyrians. (See 1Chronicles 1:8, Note.) The Hittites were once the dominant race of Syria and Palestine. Carchemish, on the Euphrates, and Kadesh, as well as Hamath, appear to have been Hittite cities. Their kings had commercial relations with Solomon (1Kings 10:29). Inscriptions, in a kind of mixed hieroglyph, have been found at Hamath and Carchemish, but they still await decipherment.

(14) The Jebusite.—The men of Jebus, or Jerusalem (1Chronicles 11:4).

Amorite.—The hill-men of the trans-Jordan.

Girgashite.—Perhaps of Gergesa (Matthew 8:28).

(15) Hivite.—On the slopes of Lebanon (Joshua 11:3), “under Hermon,” but also in Gibeon and Shechem (Joshua 9:7; Genesis 34:2). Delitzsch suggests that the name is connected with Hamath (Assyrian, Hammath as Hawath).

Arkite, and the Sinite.—Tribes living to the west of northern Lebanon. A fragment of the annals of Tiglath-pileser mentions along with Simyra the towns of Arqâ and Sianu “on the sea-coast” (B C, 739). Jose-phus mentions a town Arka, which is otherwise known as the birthplace of the emperor Alexander Severus (Ruins: Tell’Araci).

(16) Arvadite.—Arvad, or Aradus, now Ruâd, an island off Phoenicia. Assurnâçirpal (B.C. 885) calls it “Arvada in the mid-sea.” Its king submitted to Sennacherib.

Zemarite.—The people of Simyra, on the coast of Phoenicia, south-east of Arvad. Simyra (Assyrian, Cimirra) was a fortified town commanding the road from the coast to the upper valley of the Orontes (Ruins: Sumra).

Hamathite.—The people of Hamath (Hamah) on the Orontes, a Hittite state which made alliance with David (circ. 1040 B.C. ).

On a review of 1Chronicles 1:8-16 we see that the “sons of Ham” include Ethiopia, Egypt, and the neighbouring shores of Arabia, and perhaps the founders of Babylon (1Chronicles 1:8-10). The tribes of Egypt and Canaan are enumerated in 1Chronicles 1:11-16.

The sons of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram, and Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech.
THE SONS OF SHEM, OR THE SEMITES (1Chronicles 1:17-23).

(17) Blam.—The Elamtum of the Assyrian inscription, the classic Susiana, a mountainous land eastward of Babylonia, to which it was subject in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14). The names Assurû, Elamû, Kassû, and Accadû occur together in an old Assyrian list of nations. Êlama, from which the Assyrian and Hebrew names are derived, is Accadian. The native designation was Ansan. The Sargonide kings of Assyria had frequent wars with Elam.

Asshur.—Assyria proper, i.e., a district on the Tigris, about twenty-five miles long, between the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh parallels of latitude. Asshur was the name of its older capital and tutelar god. The Semitic Assyrians appear to have been settled at Asshur as early as the nineteenth century B.C. They were emigrants from Babylonia (Genesis 10:11). The original name was A-usar, “water-meadow.”

Arphaxad apparently means Babylonia, or, at least, includes it. Babylonian monarchs styled themselves “King of the Four Quarters” (of heaven); and Arphaxaa may perhaps mean land of the four quarters or sides, and be derived from the Assyrian arba-kisâdi “four sides” (Friedrich Delitzsch). More probably it is Arph-chesed, “boundary of Chaldea.”

Lud, usually identified with the Lydians (Assyrian Luddi), perhaps their original home in Armenia. The name has also been compared with Rutennu, the Egyptian name of the Syrians (I and r being confused in Egyptian). But comp. Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5.

Aram.—The high land—that is, eastern and western Syria, extending from the Tigris to the Great Sea. The name is constantly used for the Arameans, or Syrians.

Uz.—An Arab tribe, called Hâsu by Esarhaddon, who reduced them. Perhaps, however, Uz (Heb., Ûç), is the Assyrian Uçça, a district on the Orontes, mentioned by Shalmaneser II. (B.C. 860-825). Job lived in the “land of Uz.” The remaining names appear to be also those of Arab tribes, who must have lived northward in the direction of Aram; these are called sons of Aram in Genesis 10

Hul is the Assyrian Hûlî’a, which formed a part of the mountain land of Kasiar or Mash (Inscription of Assurnâçirpal, B.C. 885-860). For Meshech Genesis 10 has Mash, which is compared with Mount Masius, near Nisibin. (So the Syriac and some Heb. MSS.)

(18) Eber.—The land on the other side (Gr., ἡ πέραν) Peræa. Here the land beyond the Euphrates is meant, from which “Abraham, the Hebrew” (i.e., Eberite), migrated.

(19) Two sons.—This indicates the ancient consciousness that the Hebrew and Arabian peoples were akin.

The earth was divided.—Or, divided itself. (Comp. Deuteronomy 32:7-9.) The words probably refer to a split in the population of Mesopotamia.

(20) Joktan begat Almodad.—The Joktanite tribes lived along the coast of Hadhramaut (Hazarmaveth) and Yemen, in southern Arabia. The tribes of Yemen call their ancestor Qahtân (= Joktan). The names in 1Chronicles 1:20-21, are all explicable from Arabic sources.

(22) Ebal.Genesis 10:28. Obal, where, however, the LXX. read Εὐάλ (Ebal). The different spelling is due to the common confusion in MSS. of the Hebrew letters w and y. Both Ebal and Abimael are unknown.

(23) Ophir.—Abhîra, at the mouth of the Indus.

Jobab.—Probably a tribe of Arabia Deserta. (Comp. the Arabic yabâb, a desert.)

All these were the sons of Joktan.Genesis 10:30 adds a definition of their territory: “Their dwelling was from Mesha” (Maisânu, at the head of the Persian Gulf), “until thou comest to Sephar” (probably Zafâru or Isfor, in South Arabia) “and the mountains of the east” (i.e., Nejd, a range parallel to the Red Sea).

From the whole section we learn that the Elamites, Assyrians, Chaldees, Arameans, Hebrews, and Arabs, were regarded as belonging to the great Semitic family. In regard to Elam, modern philologers have questioned the correctness of this view. It is, however, quite possible that at the time when the original of this table of nations was composed, some Semitic tribes were known to have effected a settlement in Elam, just as kindred tribes occupied Babylonia and Assyria.

The fourteen sons of Japheth and the thirty sons of Ham, and the twenty-six sons of Shem, make a total of seventy eponyms of nations. The number seventy is probably not accidental. Comp. the seventy elders (Numbers 11:16); the seventy members of the Sanhedrin; and even the seventy disciples of Christ (Luke 10:1). The seventy nations of the world are often mentioned in the Talmud. Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning Tyre, and the peoples that had commerce with her (Ezekiel 27), is a valuable illustration of the table.

Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah,

Between Arphaxad aud Shelah the LXX., at Genesis 11:12, insert Καίναν = Heb. Kênan (1Chronicles 1:2, above). The name is not contained in our present Hebrew text of Genesis. Kenan may have been dropped originally, in order to make Abraham the tenth from Shem, as Noah is tenth from Adam. The artificial symmetry of these ancient lists is evidently designed. Comp. the thrice fourteen generations in the genealogy of our Lord (Matthew 1).

1Chronicles 1:28-42 enumerate a second series of seventy tribes or peoples, derived from Abraham through the three representative names of Ishmael, Keturah, and Isaac; just as the seventy peoples of the former series are derived from Noah through Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And as, in the former list, the sons of Japheth and Ham were treated of before the Semitic stocks, so, in the present instance, the sons of Ishmael and Keturah precede Isaac, and of Isaac’s sons Esau precedes Israel (35, seq.); because the writer wishes to lead up to Israel as the climax of his presentation.

These are their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; then Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,
(29) These are their generations.—Or, their genealogy or register of births. Before a personal name the term Tôldôth denotes the “births,” i.e., the posterity of the man, and the history of him and his descendants. Before the name of a thing Tôldôth signifies origin, beginnings (Genesis 2:4). The Hebrew expression sēfer tôldôth answers to the βίβλος γενέσως of Matthew 1:1. The twelve sons or tribes of Ishmael (1Chronicles 1:29-31) are given first, in an extract from Genesis 25:13-16.

Nebaioth.—The Nabateans of Arabia Petræa, and Kedar, the Cedrei of classical writers, are named together, Isaiah 60:7. (Assyrian Naba’âta and Kidrâ’a reduced by Assurbanipal.)

Adbeel.—Both here and in Genesis the LXX. read Nabdeel. But Adbéêl is the Assyrian Idiba’îl or Idibi’îl a tribe south-west of the Dead Sea, towards Egypt; mentioned along with Massa and Tema, as paying tribute to Tiglath-pileser II.

Mishma, and Dumah, Massa, Hadad, and Tema,
(30) Dumah.Isaiah 21:11, as a name of Edom. There is still a locality bearing this name, “Duma the Rocky,” on the borders of the Syrian desert and Arabia.

Hadad.—The right reading here and in Genesis.

Tema.Taimâ’u, in the north of the Arabian desert. The LXX. confuses it with Teman. (Assyr. Têmâl’a).

Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael.
(31) Jetur.—The Itureans beyond Jordan (Luke 3:1). The other names are obscure.

Now the sons of Keturah, Abraham's concubine: she bare Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan; Sheba, and Dedan.
(32) The sons of Keturah.—An extract from Genesis 25:1-4.

Medan is very likely a mere repetition of Midian, due to a mistake of some ancient copyist. Genesis 25:3 adds, “And the sons of Dedan were Asshuriin, and Letushim, and Leummim;” which is, perhaps, an interpolation, as the three names are of a different form from the others in the section; and the chronicler would hardly have omitted them had he found them in his text.

Midian.—The most important of these tribes. The Midianites dwelt, or rather wandered, in the peninsula of Sinai.

Sheba, and Dedan.—See 1Chronicles 1:9, where these names appear as sons of Cush. The names may have been common to different tribes settled in different regions. Sheba (Assyr. Saba’â’a) Massa, Tema, and Adbeel, are described by Tiglath-pileser as lying “on the border of the sunset lands”

And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Henoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these are the sons of Keturah.
(33) The five clans or tribes of Midian. These, with the seven names of 1Chronicles 1:31, make a total of twelve tribes for Keturah.

Ephah.—Called Hâ’âpâ, or Hayâpa by Tiglath-pileser.

And Abraham begat Isaac. The sons of Isaac; Esau and Israel.
(34) Abraham begat Isaac.—From Genesis 25:19.

Esau and Israel.—Esau is named first, not as the elder, but because the tribes of Esau are to be first enumerated. (Comp. Note above on 1Chronicles 1:28-42.)

Israel.—The more honourable appellation (Genesis 32:28) almost wholly supplanted Jacob as the name of the chosen people, except in poetry and prophecy. Some moderns have seen in such double names as Jacob-Israel, Esau-Edom, a trace of an ancient fusion or amalgamation of distinct races.

The sons of Esau; Eliphaz, Reuel, and Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah.
(35-42) The tribes of Esau and Seir, extracted from Genesis 36

(35-37) The sons of Esau.—Comp. Genesis 36:9-13. In 1Chronicles 1:36 the name of Timna occurs under the general heading, “Sons of Eliphaz.” According to Genesis 36:12, Timna was a secondary wife of Eliphaz, and mother of Amalek. Strange as this difference may at first sight appear, it is in fact absolutely unimportant. The writer’s intention being simply to enumerate the principal branches of the sons of Eliphaz, the statement of the special relations between the different clans might be omitted here, as fairly and naturally as the relations between Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are left unnoticed in 1Chronicles 1:4. Comp. also 1Chronicles 1:17, where Uz, Hul, &c, are apparently co-ordinated with Aram, although Genesis 10:23 expressly calls them “sons of Aram.” The Vatican MS. of the LXX. has our text; the Alexandrine MS. follows that of Genesis 36:12. It is at least curious that if Timna-Amalek be excluded from account, the sons of Esau are twelve in number. The fact is obscured in the compressed statement of the chronicler; but it becomes evident by reference to Genesis 36:11-14, where five sons are reckoned to Eliphaz (1Chronicles 1:11), four to Reuel (1Chronicles 1:13), and three to Esau’s wife Aholibamah (1Chronicles 1:14), viz.: Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. Although 1Chronicles 1:12 of that passage reckons Amalek with the sons of Adah, mother of Eliphaz, it distinctly separates Timna-Amalek from the sons of Eliphaz. It would seem that Amalek was known to be but remotely connected with the pure Edomite stocks. For the or-fanisation of a people in twelve tribes, &c., comp. Ewald, Hist, of Israel, 1:362, and his Antiq. of Israel, § 280. However, Genesis 36:15-19 enumerates Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, Gatam, and Amalek, sons of Eliphaz; Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, Mizzah, sons of Reuel; and Jeush, Jaalam, Korah, sons of Aholibamah; as chiliarchs (allûfîm—LXX., φύλαρχοι) or chieftains of Esau-Edom.

And the sons of Seir; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, and Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan.
(38-42) The sons of Seir (from Genesis 36:20-30).—There is no apparent link between this series and the preceding. Comparison of Genesis 36:20 shows that Seir represents the indigenous inhabitants of Edom (“the inhabitants of the land,” comp. Joshua 7:9) before its conquest by the sons of Esau. In time a fusion of the two races would result, the tribes of each being governed by their own chieftains, as is indicated by Genesis 36:20-21, where the seven sons of Seir (1Chronicles 1:38) are called “chiliarchs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom.” Deuteronomy 2:22 implies not the actual extermination of the Horites (Troglodytes or Cave-dwellers) by their Semitic invaders, the sons of Esau, but only their entire subjugation. The differences of spelling noticed in the margin are unimportant as regards the names Zephi (1Chronicles 1:36), Homam (1Chronicles 1:39), and Alian and Shephi (1Chronicles 1:40); the note on Ebal-Obal (1Chronicles 1:22) explains them. The written w and y in Hebrew are so similar as to be perpetually confounded with each other by careless copyists. The same fact accounts for the missing conjunction and in 1Chronicles 1:42, which is expressed in Hebrew by simply prefixing the letter w to a word. The w in this case having been misread, and transcribed as y, the name Jakan (Yaqan) resulted. The Aqan (not Achan) of Genesis 36:2 is correct. (So some MSS., the LXX., and Arabic.) Amram, in 1Chronicles 1:41, is a mistake of the Authorised version. The Hebrew has Hamran, which differs only by one consonant from the Hemdan of Genesis 36:26; a difference due to the common confusion of the Hebrew letters d and r, already exemplified in 1Chronicles 1:6-7 (Riphath—Diphath, Dodanim—Rodanim). Many MSS. and the Arabic read Hemdan here.

And the sons of Lotan; Hori, and Homam: and Timna was Lotan's sister.
(39) And Timna was Lotan’s sister.—This appears to mean that the tribe settled in the town of Timna was akin to the sons of Lotan, but not a subdivision of that tribe. Towns are feminine in Hebrew, and are sometimes called mothers (2Samuel 20:19), sometimes daughters.

The sons of Anah; Dishon. And the sons of Dishon; Amram, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran.
(41) The sons of Anah; Dishon.Genesis 36:25 adds, “and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah.” (Comp. 1Chronicles 1:52, “the chiliarch of Aholibamah.”) Dishon, like Ammon or Israel, being the collective name of a number of tribes or clans, there is nothing strange in the expression, “The sons of Anah; Dishon.”

Now these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel; Bela the son of Beor: and the name of his city was Dinhabah.
(43-54) The ancient kings and chiliarchs of Edom, a transcript of Genesis 36:31-43, with only such differences as are incidental to transcribing.

(43) Before any king reigned over the children of Israel.—Comp. Numbers 20:14-21, the message of Moses to the king of Edom, asking for a free passage for Israel through his domains. As the older people, and as having been earlier established in its permanent home, Edom was naturally a stage beyond Israel in political development. Unhappily brief as it is, this notice is very appropriately inserted here in an introduction to the history of the kings of the house of David.

Bela the son of Beor.—Curiously like “Balaam the son of Beor,” Numbers 22:5. In Hebrew, Bela and Balaam are essentially similar words, the terminal m of the latter being possibly a mere formative. (Perhaps, however, Balaam—Heb. Bil’am = “Bel is a kinsman”) comp. Eliam. The prophet whose strange story is read in Numbers 22-24 may, like Isaiah, have been of royal extraction.

Dinhabah.Doom-giving, that is, the place where the king gave judgment (1Samuel 8:5).

And when Bela was dead, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead.
(44, 45) Bozrah.—“Portress” (the Byrsa of Carthage); was one of the capitals of Edom, perhaps identical with Mibzar (fortress, 1Chronicles 1:53). Eusebius mentions Mabsara as a large town in Gebalene. It is now represented by the ruins of Al-Bussireh in Jebal. See Amos 1:12, “I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah;” and Isaiah 34:6.

And when Husham was dead, Hadad the son of Bedad, which smote Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith.
(46) Hadad.—The name of a Syrian deity, a form of the sun-god. (Comp. the royal titles, Ben-hadad and Hadadezer, 1Chronicles 18:3, and the Note on 2Kings 5:18.) Hadad is the same as Dadi, a Syrian title of Rimmon. Perhaps the classical Attis is equivalent to Dadis. The cry of the vintagers (hēdād) seems to show that Hadad, like Bacchus, was regarded as the giver of the grapes (Isaiah 16:9-10).

Which smote Midian.—A glimpse of the restless feuds which prevailed from time immemorial between these tribes and peoples of kindred origin. Like the judges of Israel, the kings of Edom seem to have been raised to their position owing to special emergencies.

The field of Moab.—That is, the open country.

Avith.—Like Dinhabah, and Pai, and Masretah, unknown beyond this passage. In the Hebrew of Chron. it is spelt, Ayuth; in Genesis 36 Awith. The letters w and y have been transposed in our text.

And when Hadad was dead, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead.
(47) Masrekah means place of Sorek vines.

And when Samlah was dead, Shaul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead.
(48) Shaul.Saul, the name of the first king of Israel.

Rehoboth by the river.—Probably the same as Rehoboth Ir in Genesis 10:11, i.e., the suburbs of Nineveh. The river is Euphrates.

And when Shaul was dead, Baalhanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead.
(49) Baal-hanan.Baal bestowed. (Comp. “Johanan,” Iahweh bestowed; and “Hananiah,” and “Hannibal.”) This name and that of Hadad indicate the polytheism of ancient Edom.

And when Baalhanan was dead, Hadad reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Pai; and his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.
(50) Baal-hanan.—Some MSS. have “ben Achbor,” as in Genesis 36:39; so in 1Chronicles 1:51. “Alvah,” of Genesis, is more correct than our “Aliah.” The Hebrew margin reads “Alvah” (Alwah).

Pai.—Many MSS. have “Pau,” the reading of Gen., which is right. Hadar (Genesis 36:39), on the other hand, is probably a mistake for Hadad.

Mehetabel.El benefiteth. Perhaps Mehetabel was an Israelite, as no other queen of Edom is mentioned. But her name is Aramean.

Hadad died also. And the dukes of Edom were; duke Timnah, duke Aliah, duke Jetheth,
(51) Hadad died also.—Rather, And Hadad died, and there were (or arose) chiliarchs of Edom, the chiliarch of Timnah, the chiliarch of Aliah, &c. This appears to state that Hadad was the last king of Edom, and that after his death the country was governed by the heads of the various clans or tribes, without any central authority. In Genesis 36:40, the sentence, “And Hadad died,” is wanting, and the transition from the kings to the chiliarchs is thus effected: “And these are the names of the chiliarchs of Esau, after their clans, after their places, by their names: the chiliarch of Timnah,” &c. The chiliarchs (‘allûphîm, from ‘eleph, a thousand) were the heads of the thousands or clans (mishpehôth) of Edom (Genesis 36:40). (See Note on 1Chronicles 14:1.) The names in these verses are not personal, but tribal and local, as the conclusion of the account in Genesis 36:43 indicates: “These are the chiliarchs of Edom, after their seats, in the land of their domain.” Comp. the names of the sons of Esau and Seir (1Chronicles 1:35-42). This makes it clear that Timnah and Aholibamah were towns. The king of Edom is often mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament. (See Numbers 20:14; Amos 2:1-8 th cent. B.C. ; 2Kings 3:9 - 9th cent.) According to Ewald (Hist. p. 46), the chieftains of Edom follow the list of kings, “as if David had already vanquished the last king of Edom, and put it under” merely tribal government, in subordination to himself. “The Hadad who fled very young to Egypt at David’s conquest (1Kings 11:14-22) may have been grandson of Hadad, the last king.”

Duke Magdiel, duke Iram. These are the dukes of Edom.
(54) These are the dukes (chiliarchs) of Edom.—Eleven names only are given, whereas there were twelve (or thirteen) chiliarchs of Edom (Genesis 36:15-19; see Note on 1Chronicles 1:35-37). A name may have fallen out of the ancient text from which the chronicler derived the list.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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