1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

Advertisements
1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

One thought on “1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

  1. Instead of investing precious personal resources, Bootstrappers can launch
    Google Adwords campaigns for pennies to find valuable insight into which words, phrases and concepts customers will
    key into. Purchasing medical equipment’scan be a daunting task.
    Opportunities vary by area and other factors, so visit their website to
    determine which grants, tax credits, or loans you are eligible for.

    Using additional collateral can be an important element
    in the financing process of a semi-truck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s