Read 1 Chronicles 5
5 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, 2 and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph)— 3 the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel:
Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.
4 The descendants of Joel:
Shemaiah his son, Gog his son,
Shimei his son, 5 Micah his son,
Reaiah his son, Baal his son,
6 and Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria took into exile. Beerah was a leader of the Reubenites.
7 Their relatives by clans, listed according to their genealogical records:
Jeiel the chief, Zechariah, 8 and Bela son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel. They settled in the area from Aroer to Nebo and Baal Meon. 9 To the east they occupied the land up to the edge of the desert that extends to the Euphrates River, because their livestock had increased in Gilead.
10 During Saul’s reign they waged war against the Hagrites, who were defeated at their hands; they occupied the dwellings of the Hagrites throughout the entire region east of Gilead.
11 The Gadites lived next to them in Bashan, as far as Salekah:
12 Joel was the chief, Shapham the second, then Janai and Shaphat, in Bashan.
13 Their relatives, by families, were:
Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jakan, Zia and Eber—seven in all.
14 These were the sons of Abihail son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz.
15 Ahi son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, was head of their family.
16 The Gadites lived in Gilead, in Bashan and its outlying villages, and on all the pasturelands of Sharon as far as they extended.
17 All these were entered in the genealogical records during the reigns of Jotham king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel.
18 The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men ready for military service—able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20 They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trustedin him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God’s. And they occupied the land until the exile.
The Half-Tribe of Manasseh
23 The people of the half-tribe of Manasseh were numerous; they settled in the land from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir (Mount Hermon).
24 These were the heads of their families: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel. They were brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families. 25 But they were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria (that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria), who took the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh into exile. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara and the river of Gozan, where they are to this day.
In 1 Chronicle 5, Ezra continues capturing intricate details relating to the tribes of Israel, and in this chapter more specifically the three Transjordan tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. Many times, we’re tempted to just skip over large portions of scripture that contain names we either can’t pronounce or which appear to have no significant story to tell. In today’s passage, we might just want to do that, but sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and see the bigger story in what seems to be meaningless details.
We should remember that these people and their lives are each important to the whole story of God’s deliverance of mankind from the grip and power of sin in humanity. Maybe when we personalize it and remember that each one was born and experienced hunger, losing their first tooth, learning to speak, scraping their knees, puppy love, fear, rejection, wonder, excitement, loss, sickness and death. Each person played their part in God’s story, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Each one shares the honor of having had their name mentioned by God in his word (good or bad).
One thing about the word of God is that it doesn’t hide the faults and failures of these men and women in history. God used, and still uses flawed people to accomplish his redemptive purpose and we get to see just how loving, kind, and gracious God is in the process.
This chapter begins with mentioning Reuben (Jacob’s first born through Leah), a man who defiled his father’s bed (Genesis 35:22), and we see in the story Jacob’s favoritism expressed by choosing Joseph (Rachel’s firstborn son) to receive Reuben’s birthright. We might be tempted to leave that part out; maybe just keep things G-rated and protect peoples’ reputation, etc., but it’s in the rawness and honesty where our loving God and his redemptive purposes are magnified. We see God’s grace demonstrated in the blessings Ruben’s offspring experience in spite of his failure. Scripture tells us that God multiplied their livestock and gave them victory in battle.
Each name mentioned is important in the big story of which God is the author (and you’re part of that story, too). Each person, like a cog in a gear, plays its specific role. One day, God will reveal this tapestry in which we have been woven and we’ll discover how God deserves all the glory in what may seem to be an insignificant story of our lives.
- Why do you think it is important to God to mention the names of all these people as well as highlighting their faithfulness or unfaithfulness?
- You may not be a preacher, evangelist, or teacher, but you’re a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, friend or mentor, etc. who has touched someone else’s life. How do you see God using you in His story?
- What’s an audacious prayer you can pray asking God to use you in His story?
Take a moment and look at the verses again. As you look at those names and small details given, consider why their names were mentioned. Find a trusted commentary and dive deeper into one of those names today!
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4 thoughts on “1 Chronicles 5”
In a day when some notoriously try to blot out or change history, gender and details of past events, Psalm 139:25-16 reminds us “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God carefully and thoughtfully created every human being, the names of past generations, yours and mine, your family, friend and foe. We get to write our story one choice at a time. What will you be remembered for?
BUT GOD and His grace. He so desires for us to lean on Him. He wants us to come to Him for all things. No matter our background of whose we were physically born to, who you belong to NOW is of vital importance. Learning who these people were, where all this took place on a map, and how God showed up interwoven in this tapestry of history is intriguing. All along the way He just waited on whom so ever would to call out to Him to help them. The battles belong to Him. Everyday big ones or little ones, for all, He is waiting for is us to ask for help. His timing is not always what we want but He will take care of those battles. I tend to take it to the throne, ask for help, pick it back up and proceed to TRY to accomplish myself. I say I trust God but is that the truth, really? I do know in my knower that God is faithful and (vs20) because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. God answered their prayers and He answers mine constantly. But there are some that are taking more TIME. Here we go with BE STILL. I know that I know God has got this, BE STILL let Him fight my battles, and the key word is TRUST. My answer is to seek God, for direction and help and HE will provide and strengthen me for victory.
God thank You for helping me to not take back my battles. Thank You for helping me to leave them at Your throne, knowing without a doubt You can take care of my request WAY better than anything I could ever do. Thank You for me being still, breathing and allowing Your timing to be. Thank You for showing me if I can help but helping me to back off when it is not required. My battles belong to You because I cry out to You during the battle. You answer my prayers, because I trust in You in Jesus name I believe it and lay it at Your feet amen
Yes. This has been a challenge. But it is true that it matters. God purposefully included this history for me to read and be reminded. Faithfulness matters. Life is messy. God redeems. And our choices do have impact. Both for us and those around us. I am
Encouraged afresh to pursue God’s best for myself and those around me.
If it ever seems modern families are irredeemably messy, one look at the patriarchs reminds us “there is nothing new under the sun.“
The chapter plunges us straight into the soap opera right off the bat. “Normally, we’d start with Reuben, but….”
Eldest son has done the unthinkable, and therefore loses not only his inheritance, but his place on the family tree. (Anyone besides me picture that scene in Harry Potter-Order of the Phoenix where Sirius Black reveals the burned spot on the family tree tapestry where his name used to be?)
Ouch! How would you like to have that as your legacy?
But we know, as is always the case, there is so much more to the story. Reuben may have done the unforgivable, but he grew up with it, too: “Dad never really loved Mom.”
That’s an agonizing inheritance for any kid, let alone the oldest son.
As if that weren’t enough, Reuben comes from a long line of imperfect people who lie, trick and cheat, all the way back to great granddaddy Abraham. He may have lost his birthright – but he inherited a fair amount of generational sin.
Just this week I shared with Regen a book favorite that provides insight and encouragement for messy moments such as these:
“Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works Through Imperfect Relationships” (authored by Baylor’s own David & Diana Garland).
God is ALWAYS working – then as now – to reveal hope and grace in the messiest of imperfect families. As someone with a complicated lineage and a messy family story, I’m so thankful for these examples. I’ll take all the hope and grace I can get!
(And here I’ve been wondering, “what possible relevance could 1 Chronicles have for me today?!)