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1 Chronicles 5


(LXX versing)
Genealogy from Reuben The Family of Reuben The Descendants of Reuben The Descendants of Reuben Reuben
5:1-10 5:1-10 5:1-10 5:1-3 5:1
5:4-6 5:4-6
5:7-9 5:7-8a
Territory of Reuben
5:10 5:10
The Family of Gad The Descendants of Gad The Descendants of Gad Gad
5:11-17 5:11-17 5:11-17 5:11-17 5:11-12
The Armies of the Eastern Tribes 5:13-17
5:18-22 5:18-22 5:18-22 5:18-22 5:18-22
The Family of Manasseh (East) The Descendants of the Half-tribe of Manasseh The People of East Manasseh The Half-tribe of Manasseh
5:23-24 5:23-24 5:23-26 5:23-24 5:23
The Eastern Tribes are Deported 5:24
5:25-26 5:25-26 5:25-26 5:25-26
LXX continues chapter 5 through 6:15

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. As the author has emphasized the tribe of Judah and the line of David, he now focuses on the tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6), who became the priests and Levites (cf. Gen. 46:11; Exod. 6:16-25; Num. 26:57-60).

    It is quite possible the author was a priest or Levite who returned after the Babylonian exile by means of Cyrus II's decree, which is described in 1 Chronicles 6 (MT 5:27ff.; 5:16-6:62).

  2. This chapter deals with the three tribes who settled on the eastern side of the Jordan during the days of Joshua's conquest of Canaan.
    1. Reuben
    2. Gad
    3. half-tribe of Manasseh

  3. This chapter has several historical allusions.
    1. 1 Chr. 5:1 ‒ Gen. 35:27
    2. 1 Chr. 5:6 ‒ Assyrian exile
    3. 1 Chr. 5:10 ‒ days of Saul (Hagrites)
    4. 1 Chr. 5:17 ‒ days of Jotham, King of Judah
    5. 1 Chr. 5:17 ‒ days of Jeroboam II, King of Israel
    6. 1 Chr. 5:18 ‒ conquest
    7. 1 Chr. 5:19-20 ‒ Hagrites (conquest of Joshua)
    8. 1 Chr. 5:22 ‒ the war of Gad (i.e., conquest)
    9. 1 Chr. 5:26 ‒ until the exile
    10. 1 Chr. 5:26 ‒ Pul or Tiglath-pileser II
    11. 1 Chr. 5:26 ‒ "to this day" (the author's post-exilic day)



1Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), 3the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. 4The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, 5Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, 6Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried away into exile; he was leader of the Reubenites. 7His kinsmen by their families, in the genealogy of their generations, were Jeiel the chief, then Zechariah 8and Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who lived in Aroer, even to Nebo and Baal-meon. 9To the east he settled as far as the entrance of the wilderness from the river Euphrates, because their cattle had increased in the land of Gilead. 10In the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand, so that they occupied their tents throughout all the land east of Gilead.

5:1 Although Reuben was the firstborn of Judah and should have been the leader of the family with the double inheritance of the birthright, he sinned against his father by having sexual relations with one of his father's concubines (cf. Gen. 35:22; 49:4). Because of this he abrogated his position.

The double inheritance fell to Joseph (cf. Gen. 49:26). He saved the family! His two sons by an Egyptian mother became part of tribes (making 13 tribes).

Simeon and Levi are also rejected as tribal leaders because of their slaughter of the recently circumcised men of Shechem, thereby violating their father's promise (cf. Gen. 49:5-7).

On a theological note, two items in the OT point toward God's sovereignty.

  1. the barren wives of the Patriarchs
  2. the eldest son is never the line of Promise


5:2 Judah became "the leader." Judah was the next in line as far as birth time, so he became the leader of the family (cf. Gen. 49:8-12), through which the line of David (cf. 1 Sam. 13:14; 25:30; 2 Sam. 6:21) and the Messiah (cf. 2 Sam. 7:13-16; Isa. 55:4) would come.

The term "leader" is the Hebrew word "prince" (BDB 617).

▣ "yet the birthright belonged to Joseph" The NEB and REB emend the MT to read "not Joseph's." I think that the promise of a "prince" is separate from the double inheritance (Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh). This is probably mentioned because Ephraim and Manasseh were two of the largest tribes of northern Israel who sinned with the golden calf of Jeroboam and were exiled by Assyria.

There are three ways that the head of the family was designated.

  1. by first birth ‒ Reuben (cf. Gen. 29:31-35)
  2. by choice ‒ Joseph (cf. Gen. 48:22)
  3. by strength of numbers and power ‒ Judah (cf. 1 Chr. 5:2)

5:3 The list of Reuben's four sons is the same as Gen. 46:9; Exod. 6:14; and Num. 26:6.

5:4 "Joel" Of all the descendants of Reuben (from which son is not specified), only this branch returns from Assyrian exile (i.e., Tiglath-pileser II, also called Pul, cf. 1 Chr. 5:26; 2 Kgs. 15:19).

This was one of the first tribes exiled in 734 B.C.

5:6 "Tilgath-pilneser" This is a variant spelling of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.


5:10 "Hagrites" This is a tribe from the line of Ishmael, Abraham's first son, possibly getting its name from "Hagar," the Egyptian mother of Ishmael (cf. Gen. 16:15). They lived in the trans-Jordan area east of Gilead.

Saul fought with the Ammonites in this area but this tribe of Hagrites is not mentioned specifically (cf. 1 Sam. 11:1-11).

Archeology has found an Aramean tribe called "Hagaranu" in inscriptions from Tiglath-pileser III (see IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 414).

▣ "who fell by their hand" This is an idiom of military victory.


11Now the sons of Gad lived opposite them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah. 12Joel was the chief and Shapham the second, then Janai and Shaphat in Bashan. 13Their kinsmen of their fathers' households were Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber, seven. 14These were the sons of Abihail, the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz; 15Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, was head of their fathers' households. 16They lived in Gilead, in Bashan and in its towns, and in all the pasture lands of Sharon, as far as their borders. 17All of these were enrolled in the genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.

5:11-22 There is no biblical parallel for this genealogy.

5:12 "the chief" See SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAD.

▣ "the second" This (BDB 1041) is an idiom for "second in rank" (i.e., 2 Kgs. 23:4; 25:18; 1 Chr. 15:18; 2 Chr. 31:12; Neh. 11:17; Jer. 52:24).

5:16 "Sharon" This is pasture land in the trans-Jordan, not close to Mt. Carmel.

18The sons of Reuben and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, consisting of valiant men, men who bore shield and sword and shot with bow and were skillful in battle, were 44,760, who went to war. 19They made war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him. 21They took away their cattle: their 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys; and 100,000 men. 22For many fell slain, because the war was of God. And they settled in their place until the exile.

5:20 This is another testimony of faith (like Jabez, 1 Chr. 4:9-10). YHWH honored their prayers and gave them victory.

These trans-Jordan tribes started in faith and victory but they became unfaithful and idolatrous (cf. 1 Chr. 5:25). This is the current tragedy of all of Abraham's descendants, even Judah. But YHWH has an eternal plan.


5:21 "100,000 men" This is literally "souls" (nephesh), which refers to men and women captives. See note online at Ezekiel 18:4.

As for the large number, the Hebrew word "thousand" can refer to a group, not a literal number.

A good book on the problem of the large numbers in Chronicles is Edwin R Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.


5:22 This refers to the conquest of Joshua, which was really the conquest of YHWH who fought for them (i.e., Holy War).

23Now the sons of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land; from Bashan to Baal-hermon and Senir and Mount Hermon they were numerous. 24These were the heads of their fathers' households, even Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel, mighty men of valor, famous men, heads of their fathers' households.

5:23 "Baal-hermon" This location is uncertain but it is north of Bashan. Some scholars identify it with one of the three peaks of Mt. Hermon. The precise location is uncertain.

Notice that the location may be from "Bashan" to Mt. Hermon, since "Senir" is the Amorite name for Mt. Hermon.

In 1 Chr. 5:16 "Sharon" could refer to "Sirion," the Phoenician name for Mt. Hermon (cf. Deut. 3:9).

Sharon ‒ שׁרון

Sirion ‒ שׂרין

▣ "they were numerous" The LXX adds "in Lebanon." This is followed by NEB and NJB.

Most translations move the phrase to the front of 1 Chr. 5:23b.

5:24 This verse gives three things that would cause someone to be included in selective genealogies.

  1. mighty men of valor
  2. famous men
  3. head of the household

25But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara and to the river of Gozan, to this day.

5:25 This verse describes why these trans-Jordan tribes were judged by YHWH (as well as all of the northern tribes). They became involved in Canaanite fertility worship. The false idols of the defeated population caused God's people to sin and, thereby, be exiled (cf. 1 Chr. 5:26). What irony!

▣ "played the harlot" This phrase first appears in Exod. 34:15-16. It could be

  1. literally describing fertility imitation magic (cf. Jdgs. 8:27,33.
  2. metaphorical of YHWH as husband and Israel as wife. When she went after other gods it was described as adultery (cf. Lev. 20:5-6; Deut. 31:16; Hosea 1-3).


5:26 Notice how the Assyrian exile is attributed to YHWH!

This verse lists the places in Assyria where the trans-Jordan tribes were taken (cf. 2 Kgs. 17:6; 18:11).

Possibly "Hara" is Haran, where Abraham stayed before going to Canaan (i.e., Gen. 11:31,32; 12:4,5).

In 2 Kgs. 19:12 and Isa. 37:12, both "Haran" and "Gozan" appear together.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 414, locates these areas as the middle Euphrates area.

  1. Gozan ‒ about 100 miles east of Carchemish
  2. Halah ‒ about eight miles northeast of Nineveh

▣ "stirred up" This VERB (BDB 734, KB 802, Hiphil IMPERFECT with waw) is used:

  1. negatively of YHWH bringing foreign forces against His covenant people (i.e., here; 2 Chr. 21:16; Isa. 9:11)
  2. positively of YHWH bringing a foreign leader to deliver His covenant people (i.e., 2 Chr. 36:22; also note Isa. 44:28)

Humans have a choice but are often affected by God's bigger plan (i.e., the Pharaoh of the exodus; Judas Iscariot).



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