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1 Chronicles 1:9

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 7, 2023

9 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raamah, and Sabteca.
  The sons of Raama were Sheba and Dedan.

The people of Seba are also called Sabeans, “a nation far away” (Joel 3:9). In Job, Sabean raiders carry off the patriarch’s oxen and donkeys (Job 1:15). Seba was perhaps on the northeast side of Egypt. Isaiah pairs it with Cush (Isaiah 43:3) and David or Solomon pairs it with Sheba (Psalm 72:10). It was a land of riches.

Havilah was a name Cush remembered from his grandfather’s account of the world before the Flood. In those days, Havilah was a land where there was good gold. The ancient river Pishon flowed through it (Genesis 2:11). Cush gave his second son the same name. His people settled in the Arabian peninsula, possibly as far north as the land of Uz.

Sabta’s name is spelled just a little differently here than it is in Genesis, but it is the same person. This man or his people are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Perhaps they settled in southern Arabia or the Hanish Islands. Their disappearance reminds us of God’s judgment on unbelief: He will not sustain nations that despise him.

The people of Raamah became a merchant tribe, dealing with Tyre “for all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold” (Ezekiel 27:22). Raamah’s descendants (see below) were influential tribes in their own right.

Sabteca is not known outside this verse and its source in Genesis 10:7. The name cannot be translated with any certainty from either Hebrew or cognate (Arabic, etc.) languages. Perhaps here, too, was a people who left God’s path and were finally destroyed.

Returning to Raamah, his two sons are given in the second part of this verse. First there is Sheba, known for its traders in precious stones, incense and slaves (Jeremiah 6:20; Joel 3:8; Job 6:19). The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:1-12; 1 Kings 10:1-13). Her country seems to have been either in the extreme south of the Arabian peninsula or across the straight, north of the Horn of Africa. The people of Dedan are mentioned in Genesis 25:3. When we ponder these two sons, we are bound to come up against verses that tell us that they are the names of the two sons of Jokshan (1 Chronicles 1:32), who was one of sons of Abraham through his later wife Keturah. To me it seems likely that the line of Ham simply intertwined once again with the line of Shem in the marriage of Abraham and Keturah, or else through their second son Jokshan (Genesis 25:1-4).

These children of Ham and the nations that were descended from him were at first little bands and family tribes, living, to my thinking, very much in the way that the nomads of Arabia, or the Mongols of Asia, or the ancient nations of Indians lived in the Americas. Where there once were just three tents, there were forty tents twenty years down the road. Then a hundred, and then five hundred. Where there had once been tents there were huts, and then walls and houses, and then a castle. This happened after the Flood to feed people, and to defend one’s family not only from marauding wicked men, but from hungry predators that were no longer governed by the strong hand and voice of Adam. The line of Ham fell mostly into unbelief. But they stand as a testimony to God’s providence. And we must especially pay attention to our Lord’s prophecy of the Last Judgment: “And the Queen of the South (Sheba) will rise up at the judgment of this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. But now one even greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).

When we visit a passage like that one about the Queen of Sheba pronouncing judgment, we must remind ourselves that the judgment will not be her unique conclusion. The Scripture is speaking of her as a believer (since no unbeliever will be able to judge anyone). All of the saints in general (along with the apostles in particular) will judge on judgment day, but not with the sovereign power of God since that power belongs to Christ alone.

But the saints (1) will judge as aides of the supreme Judge, Jesus Christ. For as they face the ungodly (Joel 3:12), their own glory and joy will increase even as the terror and grief of the damned will increase. “When they see him, they will be shaken with dreadful fear.” (2) The saints will also agree with the justice of the Judge and add their public cry: “I heard what seemed to be the mighty voice of a great multitude in heaven crying: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God because his judgments are true and just’” (Revelation 19:1-2). (3) They will add their testimony bearing witness to the good works of the godly, especially about the kindness, generosity, etc., displayed in the lives of the believers. Jesus said: “I tell you, use your worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone they will welcome you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). And also (4) the godly will judge by their own faith and repentance, rising up to speak against those who did not repent when they were given the opportunity (Luke 11:32). The Queen of Sheba’s judgment falls here, for she repented (according to the judgment of Christ himself) but so many reject Christ, looking for another messiah to appear. That is what Paul proclaims when he says that he has a clear conscience about his Christian faith, which Christ shows is in complete agreement with the ancient faith of Paul’s forefathers and in no way an innovation or new invention (2 Timothy 1:3). In fact, all who reject Christ are guilty of inventing a new religion every bit as offensive and vile as the new religion of Jeroboam, condemned over and over again in the Book of Kings (1 Kings 13:34, 15:34, 16:19, etc.).

Once again we see the value of these genealogies, which demonstrate God’s wrath against the wicked, and his loving compassion on the faithful. His mercy endures forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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