The genealogy of Issachar,1-5. Of Benjamin, 6-12. Of Naphtali, 13. Of Manasseh, 14-19. Of Ephraim, 20-29. And of Asher, 30-40.
NOTES ON CHAP. VII
Verse 2. "Whose number was in the days of David" - Whether this was the number returned by Joab and his assistants, when they made that census of the people with which God was so much displeased, we know not. It is worthy of remark that we read here the sum of three tribes, Benjamin, Issachar, and Asher, under the reign of David, which is mentioned nowhere else; and yet we have no account here of the other tribes, probably because the author found no public registers in which such enumeration was recorded.
Verse 3. "The sons of lzrahiah-five" - There are, however, only four names in the text. Instead of five, the Syriac and Arabic read four. If five be the true reading, then Izrahiah must be reckoned with his four sons.
Verse 6. "The sons of Benjamin; Bela, and Becher and Jediael" - In Gen. xlvi. 21, ten sons of Benjamin are reckoned; viz., Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Eri, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. In Num. xxvi. 38, &c., five sons only of Benjamin are mentioned, Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shupham, and Hupham: and Ard and Naaman are there said to be the sons of Bela; consequently grandsons of Benjamin. In the beginning of the following chapter, five sons of Benjamin are mentioned, viz., Bela, Ashbel, Aharah, Nohah, and Rapha; where also Addar, Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, a second Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram, are all represented as grandsons, not sons, of Benjamin: hence we see that in many cases grandsons are called sons, and both are often confounded in the genealogical tables. To attempt to reconcile such discrepancies would be a task as endless as it would be useless. The rabbins say that Ezra, who wrote this book, did not know whether some of these were sons or grandsons; and they intimate also that the tables from which he copied were often defective, and here we must leave all such matters.
Verse 21. "Whom the men of Gath-slew" - We know nothing of this circumstance but what is related here. The Targum paraphrases the whole thus: "These were the leaders of the house of Ephraim; and they computed their period [or boundary, axyk kitsa] from the time in which the Word of the Lord of the universe spake with Abraham between the divisions, [i.e., the separated parts of the covenant sacrifice; see Gen. xv. 9- 21,] but they erred, for they should have counted from the time in which Isaac was born; they went out of Egypt therefore thirty years before the period: for, thirty years before the birth of Isaac the Word of the Lord of the universe spake with Abraham between the divisions. And when they went out of Egypt, there were with them two hundred thousand warriors of the tribe of Ephraim, whom the men of Gath, the natives of the land of the Philistines, slew, because they came down that they might carry away their cattle. 22. - And Ephraim their father mourned for them many days, and all his brethren came to comfort him. 23. - And he went in to his wife, and she conceived and bare a son, and called his name Beriah, ( h[yrb in evil,) because he was born in the time in which this evil happened to his house."
Verse 24. "His daughter was Sherah" - That is, remnant; "called so," says the Targum, "because she was the remnant that escaped from the slaughter mentioned above."
Verse 32. "And Shua their sister." - It is very rarely that women are found in the Jewish genealogies, and they are never inserted but for especial reasons.
Verse 40. "The children of Asher" - The rabbins say that the daughters of Asher were very beautiful, and were all matched with kings or priests.
Several things relative to the subjects in this chapter may be found explained in the parallel places marked in the margin.