May 2 Reading: I Chronicles 7-10 Commentary
King Saul “…died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.“ (I Chronicles 10:13-14)
I Chronicles 7 – The Rest of the Tribes
The final six tribes of Israel have their genealogy discussed in I Chronicles 7. The are Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh (West), Ephraim and Asher. There are a few notes worth mentioning in this group as they didn’t have a great role in the Biblical narrative.
1. The family of Issachar. One of his sons was Tola. His sons are noted as being “mighty men of valor in their generations” (v. 2).
2. The family of Benjamin. Here and in the next two chapters, the tribe of Benjamin gets a deeper look. That is because King Saul, the first king of Israel (I Sam. 9), was from this tribe. Even though Saul’s reign was complicated and his life ended tragically, he remained a vital figure in Israel’s history. It was important for the chronicler to give that some mention for the Jews returning from exile.
3. The family of Naphtali. This tribe gets one verse in the narrative with the listing of four sons. The brevity given to this tribe may reflect it’s reduced size and lack of importance within the nation. This tribe’s land was a target of the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III as noted in II Kings 15:29.
4. The family of Manasseh (West). This was the half-tribe of Manasseh that settled on the west side of the Jordan River (Josh. 17). A reference is given here about Zelophehad, the grandson of Gilead. Zelophehad did not have any sons, only daughters. Because of this, God instructed Moses to pass an ordinance that would provide for the daughters by granting them inheritance rights in the Promised Land. That was typically done only for sons (Num. 36).
5. The family of Asher. This is the last genealogy in the book. Only the listing of sons is given with no additional narratives.
Ephraim’s Family Tragedy
6. The Family of Ephraim. While in Egypt, Joseph had two sons that are discussed in the Biblical narrative. They were Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 41:51-52). They were blessed by Jacob before he died (Gen. 48).
In this section of verses (20-29), we learn about a family tragedy that happened to Ephraim. His sons were killed. It seems that “men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle. Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him” (v. 21-22).
There is evidence to support that this happened before the Exodus of all the Hebrews from Egypt. However, God was with Ephraim and blessed him. Ephraim “…went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house” (v. 23).
Additionally, an important Biblical character would be born in Ephraim’s family line seven generations later. That person was Joshua, son of Nun (v. 27). He was the famous successor to Moses that would lead the people into and through conquering the Promised Land (Josh. 1).
I Chronicles 8 – King Saul’s Family Tree
The chronicler gives a second, extended look at the line of King Saul. It begins with Benjamin who was Jacob’s youngest son (Gen. 35:16-20).
Some names and items that stand out in the narrative include:
1. Ehud, son of Gera (v. 6). This is the same Ehud of Judges 3:12-30 who led Israel. He was a left-handed man who secretly killed King Eglon and delivered Israel from the Moabites during the time of the judges.
2. A man named Shaharaim had a son named Mesha from a Moabite wife, Hodesh (v. 9). While not conclusive, it’s possible this is the same Mesha who became a famous Moabite king (see II Kings 3:4). If so, Mesha’s father was a Benjamite.
3. Kish was the father of Saul (v. 33).
4. Saul’s sons include Jonathan (David’s best friend – I Sam. 20), Abinadab (who was killed with his father on the battlefield – I Sam. 31:12), and Esh-Baal (aka Ishbosheth – murdered by overzealous men after Saul’s death in the transition to power of King David – II Sam. 4).
5. Jonathan’s son Merib-baal (aka Mephibosheth). He was lame in both feet as a result of an accident in childhood (II Sam. 4:4). David showed him kindness for the sake of his friendship with Jonathan (II Sam. 9)
I Chronicles 9 – More About the Levites
A brief mention of the captivity in Babylon is mentioned at the beginning of I Chron. 9. Judah “was carried away captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness” (v. 1). Upon return, the first to occupy the cities included Israelites, priests, Levites and “Nethinim” or temple slaves (v. 2).
The chronicler mentions those who dwelt in Jerusalem from various tribes, including Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh (vv. 3-9). Priests and Levites also served the people dwelling in the city (vv. 10-14). They did “the work of the service of the house of God” (v. 13).
The listing of the gatekeepers to the house of the Lord is given in verses 17-27. They “had charge over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. And they lodged all around the house of God because they had the responsibility, and they were in charge of opening it every morning” (vv. 26-27).
Other Levite responsibilities included being in charge of the serving vessels (v. 28), taking care of the furnishings of the sanctuary and managing the oil and incense and spices (v. 29). Only the priests though, could make the ointment of the spices (v. 30).
The singers lived in the chambers of the sanctuary and were free from other duties (v. 33).
Saul’s line is again mentioned in I Chron. 9:35-44. This leads into the short narrative of Chap. 10 concerning Saul’s death.
I Chronicles 10 – A Review of Saul’s Death
I Chronicles 10 leaves out so many details of the life and reign of King Saul. All we get is a mention of his family line and then information about his death. No details are given about him being anointed as king (I Sam. 9), his epic failures in disobeying the Lord (I Sam. 13; I Sam. 15; I Sam. 22) or of his confrontations with and pursuit of David for all those years (I Sam. 19; I Sam. 24). Why is that? The reason can be found in the intent and purpose of the authors.
The writers of I and II Samuel wanted to go into detail about Saul’s history, his sin and his rocky relationship with David. Here though, the writer of I Chronicles wants to give us a big picture view of how David came to the throne and that all of Israel was unified in regards to his ascension to the throne.
So the only event of Saul’s life recorded in I Chronicles 10 is his death on the battlefield, where his three sons were also killed (v. 2). Technically, Saul killed himself after being wounded by an arrow in the battle (v. 4). His death resulted in a Philistine incursion into the land (v. 7) that David would have to deal with during his reign.
Saul could have been the king Israel was looking for. However, he did not follow the Lord with all his heart. Therefore, he “died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (vv. 13-14).
Questions and Thoughts to Consider from I Chronicles 7-10:
Much like Job, Ephraim faced unthinkable family tragedy. Yet, God did not abandon him. There was blessing for him on the other side of his heartache.
What do you think? Is it OK for the writer here to leave out the messy details of Saul’s life and only focus on what’s important for this new generation of people to know?
There can be no argument that the Bible teaches God forgives us of our sins when we confess them to Him. There also can be no argument that sin leads to natural consequences in our life. Those consequences aren’t “God’s fault”, but our own.
King Saul’s life was marked by disobedience. Saul’s reign could have ended well, with his family line sitting on the throne forever, if he’d only listened to God. But that privilege was passed to David, a man after God’s heart. What sin is hindering your walk with God today?
What other points would you want to know about in our I Chronicles 7-10 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.