Verse 43. "They smote the rest of the Amalekites" - Those who had escaped in the war which Saul made against them, (see 1 Samuel xiv. 48,) and from David, who had attacked them afterwards, 2 Sam. viii. 12.
THE expedition of the Simeonites mentioned here, against Gedor and Seir, was in the days of Hezekiah; and, as Calmet conjectures, near about the time of the captivity of the ten tribes, when the remnant of Simeon would feel themselves obliged to retire more southward, into Arabia Petraea, for fear of the Jews. These may be probable conjectures. - See Calmet.
There are several things in the account of Jabez that are very instructive:-
1. He appears to have been a child brought into the world with great difficulty, at the risk of his own life and that of his mother. So much seems to be implied in, she bare him with sorrow, i.e., with peculiar sorrow and danger.
2. To perpetuate the merciful interposition of God in her own and her son's behalf, she gave him a name that must have recalled to her and his remembrance the danger to which both their lives were exposed, and from which they could not have been extricated but by the especial help of God. She called his name Jabez, &c.
3. He was brought up in the fear of God; he was no idolater; he worshipped the God of Israel, and he showed the sincerity of his faith by frequent and earnest prayer.
4. His prayer was at once both enlightened and pious. He had piety towards God, and therefore he trusted in him: he knew that he was the fountain of all good, and therefore he sought all necessaries both for body and soul from him. He prayed to the God of Israel.
5. Both the matter and manner of his prayer were excellent. His heart was deeply impressed with its wants, and therefore he was earnest and fervent; O that thou wouldest bless me indeed; ynkrbt ūrb µa im barech tebarecheni; "O that in blessing thou wouldest bless me!" Let me live under thy benediction! Do thou diligently and frequently bless me!
6. He prays for the things necessary for the body as well as for the soul: And enlarge my coasts-grant me as much territory as may support my family. Let the means of living be adequate to the demands of life; let me have the necessaries, conveniences, and, as far as they may be safely intrusted with me, the comforts of life! O that thou wouldest enlarge my coasts!
7.He is conscious that without the continual support of God he must fail; and therefore he prays to be upheld by his power: That thy hand might be with me! May I ever walk with thee, and ever feel the hand of thy power to support and cover me in all the trials, dangers, and difficulties of life; and the hand of thy providence to supply all my wants in reference to both worlds!
8.He dreads both sin and suffering, and therefore prays against both: O that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! Sin and misery are in every step of the journey of life; keep me from sin, that I grieve thee not; and keep me from sin, that I render not myself miserable! We can never offend God without injuring ourselves; he that sins must suffer. Thorns and scorpions are everywhere in the way to perdition; and he that walks in it must be torn and stung. He alone is happy who walks in the ways of God. Keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.
9. Prayers that have a right aim will have a right answer; Jabez did not pray in vain, for God granted him that which he requested. He was continually blessed; his family was increased; the hand of God was upon him for good. He was saved from sin, and saved from the pangs and sufferings of a guilty conscience.
10. If we take up the character and conduct of Jabez in the view given by the Chaldee, we shall not only see him as a pious and careful man, deeply interested in behalf of himself and his family, but we shall see him as a benevolent man, labouring for the welfare of others, and especially for the religious instruction of youth. He founded schools, in which the young and rising generation were taught useful knowledge, and especially the knowledge of God. He had disciples, which were divided into three classes, who distinguished themselves by their fervour in the worship of God, by their docility in obediently hearing and treasuring up the advices and instructions of their teachers, and by their deep piety to God in bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. The spirit of prophecy, that is, of prayer and supplication, rested upon them.
11. He did not do these things merely as a duty he owed to God and his fellows, but from the abundance of a generous and loving heart: In his counsel he erected a school of disciples. God had blessed him with temporal things, and he secures their continuance by devoting them to his service; he honours God with his substance, and God honours him with his especial blessing and approbation.
12. On these accounts he was more honourable than his brethren. He was of the same stock and the same lineage; he had neither nobility of birth, nor was distinguished by earthly titles; in all these respects he was on a level with his brethren: but God tells us that he was more honourable than them all; and why? because he prayed, because he served his Maker, and because he lived to do good among men; therefore he received the honour that cometh from God. Reader, imitate the conduct of this worthy Israelite, that thou mayest be a partaker of his blessings.
The things added by the Targumist might have been derived from authentic tradition.