Today: [1 Chronicles Eight] The Tribe of Benjamin. This chapter is the second to last lengthy genealogy in 1st Chronicles which is an accounting of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin descends from Jacob as the last of his sons whose birth Jacob saw as a consolation for losing Joseph who in time is rediscovered and becomes the savior of his family from a seven years long famine. Benjamin is also famous for producing king Saul and also in later generations the apostle Paul himself.
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[1Ch 8:1-40 KJV] 1 Now Benjamin begat Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, and Aharah the third, 2 Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth. 3 And the sons of Bela were, Addar, and Gera, and Abihud, 4 And Abishua, and Naaman, and Ahoah, 5 And Gera, and Shephuphan, and Huram. 6 And these [are] the sons of Ehud: these are the heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Geba, and they removed them to Manahath: 7 And Naaman, and Ahiah, and Gera, he removed them, and begat Uzza, and Ahihud. 8 And Shaharaim begat [children] in the country of Moab, after he had sent them away; Hushim and Baara [were] his wives. 9 And he begat of Hodesh his wife, Jobab, and Zibia, and Mesha, and Malcham, 10 And Jeuz, and Shachia, and Mirma. These [were] his sons, heads of the fathers. 11 And of Hushim he begat Abitub, and Elpaal. 12 The sons of Elpaal; Eber, and Misham, and Shamed, who built Ono, and Lod, with the towns thereof: 13 Beriah also, and Shema, who [were] heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath: 14 And Ahio, Shashak, and Jeremoth, 15 And Zebadiah, and Arad, and Ader,
In previous chapters there was mention of Benjamin and now comes a more complete geneology of this tribe. You will remember that this is the tribe that king Saul arose from and interestingly enough this is one of the two tribes who came back from the northern captivity because of it’s special relationship to the tribe of Judah. Famously you will remember Paul citing his lineage from the tribe of Benjamin:
[Phl 3:5 KJV] 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Where did Ezra get his information on these geneologies? Much of the accounting came from records and census materials that are now lost to us. The books we now call the books of 1st and 2nd Kings were much relied upon. Some of the material Ezra quotes he reproduces as he finds them – therefore we have a very mixed methodology. Some of the geneologies listed are ascending geneology. Some are the reverse. Some of the listings are interspersed with references to military fitness, others are connected with geographical surveys and who was assigned to what land. Rueben and Dan are almost totally lost to us in this record. There are inconsistencies and some outright mistakes but we understand that Ezra is simply copying much of this by hand from military rolls and what we would call tax rolls today. The point of it all for Ezra is to make some connection between surviving family lines and the land apportioned to them by Moses before the people followed Joshua into the Canaan conquest. Ezra’s creation of this record was then a faith statement that he expected the nation to be reconstituted and allowed back into their ancestral lands.
In your own life what record might you create as a faith statement respecting your own family? An invitation list of estranged relatives who are at odds with one another and of dubious faith related background? Perhaps a baptismal record of a salvation not yet recorded? For all the tedium of these beginning chapters never forget this was the work of a passionate and faith filled Ezra expecting the impossible by the hand of God as a blessing over his people. We would do well to follow his example.
16 And Michael, and Ispah, and Joha, the sons of Beriah; 17 And Zebadiah, and Meshullam, and Hezeki, and Heber, 18 Ishmerai also, and Jezliah, and Jobab, the sons of Elpaal; 19 And Jakim, and Zichri, and Zabdi, 20 And Elienai, and Zilthai, and Eliel, 21 And Adaiah, and Beraiah, and Shimrath, the sons of Shimhi; 22 And Ishpan, and Heber, and Eliel, 23 And Abdon, and Zichri, and Hanan, 24 And Hananiah, and Elam, and Antothijah, 25 And Iphedeiah, and Penuel, the sons of Shashak; 26 And Shamsherai, and Shehariah, and Athaliah, 27 And Jaresiah, and Eliah, and Zichri, the sons of Jeroham. 28 These [were] heads of the fathers, by their generations, chief [men]. These dwelt in Jerusalem. 29 And at Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon; whose wife’s name [was] Maachah:
You will remember that the tribe of Benjamin was once almost totally eliminated when the entire nation of Israel rose up and massacred every Benjamite man, woman and child short of just 600 men. This was a result of a travelling Levite who allowed his sex slave to be raped to death in Benjamin and then called on the other tribes to wreak vengeance against Benjamin to cover his own crime. After wiping out all the women of Benjamin the remaining tribes refrained from their blood lust and in order to see Benjamin have children gave the 600 surviving Benjamites permission to kidnap certain of their own daughters to repopulate the tribe. King Saul’s father was one of these Benjamites who would have participated in this charade and as a result we can reflect that king Saul was a product of a force marriage and possibily even rape.
30 And his firstborn son Abdon, and Zur, and Kish, and Baal, and Nadab, 31 And Gedor, and Ahio, and Zacher. 32 And Mikloth begat Shimeah. And these also dwelt with their brethren in Jerusalem, over against them. 33 And Ner begat Kish, and Kish begat Saul, and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab, and Eshbaal. 34 And the son of Jonathan [was] Meribbaal; and Meribbaal begat Micah. 35 And the sons of Micah [were], Pithon, and Melech, and Tarea, and Ahaz. 36 And Ahaz begat Jehoadah; and Jehoadah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begat Moza, 37 And Moza begat Binea: Rapha [was] his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son: 38 And Azel had six sons, whose names [are] these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ishmael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan. All these [were] the sons of Azel. 39 And the sons of Eshek his brother [were], Ulam his firstborn, Jehush the second, and Eliphelet the third. 40 And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these [are] of the sons of Benjamin.
One note to make in these geneologies is that you will not find one reference to any of the northern kings or their families. Jeroboam the son of Nebat was the first king of Israel appointed by a prophet of God but he is not mentioned. Niether is Ahab nor Omri or any of the northern kings who famously Elijah and Elisha exclusively served and that we have a record of.
The line of Saul is mentioned including his sons that were slain in retribution for his slaughter of the Gibeonites. The only surviving members of Saul’s line came forth from Jonathan because of his special relationship with David that preserved his posterity. The chapter ends with the sons of Ulam a record from apparently a military census that had many sons totally 150 who were all valiant warriors and archers in the tribe of Benjamin.
You will remember that Benjamin was the last born of Jacob’s sons thirteen children (12 sons and 1 daughter). He was the second son and the last of Rachel who dies in child birth. She names Benjamin “Benoni” initially which means “son of my sorrow” but Jacob changes the name for the sake of the child’s future. The etymology of the name Benjamin means “son of my right hand” or “son of my right side”. In Genesis when the patriarchs travel to Egypt and stand before Joseph whom they presumed dead – Joseph holds Benjamin hostage because he had never met his younger brother and because he realized he was much set by from his father Jacob. Benjamin’s relationship to Joseph, his long lost brother is reflected in the names he chose to give to the ten sons born to him who make up his family line cited here in this chapter.
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