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1 Chronicles 4:1-8 The land of Judah

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, October 12, 2023

4:1 The descendants of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. 2 Reaiah son of Shobal was the father of Jahath, and Jahath was the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites. 3 These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash. The name of their sister was Hazzelelponi. 4 Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem. 5 Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah. 6 Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. 7 The sons of Helah: Zereth, Izhar, and Ethnan. 8 Koz was the father of Anub, Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel son of Harum.

The line of Judah is now retraced from Judah through the founders of villages and towns in the land of Judah after the conquest under Joshua. The only Carmi in Judah’s line was the father of the troublemaker Achan (Joshua 7:1), and this could well be a reminder of his place in the family. Hur was the man of Judah who (we have already seen) lifted up Moses’ hands in the battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exodus 17:10-12).

The line of Shobal produced the families or clans of a group known as the Zorathites, which were also descended through another line within the family of Judah: Caleb (1 Chronicles 2:53).

Etam may be the source of the name of “the rock of Etam,” a large hill or mountain of Judah with a cave where Samson stayed during one of his many conflicts with the nearby Philistines (Judges 15:7-11).

Etam’s son Jezreel has the same name as the Valley of Jezreel in the north, but being from Judah, we should be aware that there was a village with the name Jezreel in the south, not far from Hebron. I think that David’s wife Ahinoam “of Jezreel” was from this southern place (1 Samuel 25:43, 27:3), just as his wife Abigail was from the Carmel in Judah and not mount Carmel on the coast, since her first husband was “a Calebite” (that is, descended from Caleb of the tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 25:3) and they lived in the Judean Desert of Maon (1 Samuel 25:1-2).

Ephrathah and Bethlehem are better known because of their significance as the region and village in which the Savior was born. Bethlehem is about five miles south of Jerusalem. The village is nestled against a crescent-shaped hill facing the sunset. Obviously the ancient stable or cave where the Lord was born can’t be determined with certainty. The subterranean cave that has been shown to visitors since ancient times is hardly the sort of place where animals would be brought for shelter or feeding. The building, whatever it was, was probably much more similar to the little wooden shack depicted in most of the little nativity scenes we keep in our homes.

In verse 8, the sudden appearance of Koz is hard to explain. The NIV places a comma after verse 7 so that Kos is taken as the end of that list of brothers. This is in line with manuscripts of the Hebrew Targum, which also set “and Koz” at the end of verse 7 before repeating his name in verse 8. Koz means “thornbush.”

The last place name in the list is Tekoa, a little further south from Jerusalem than Bethlehem. It was the home of the prophet Amos (Amos 1:1). The arid countryside is not so harsh that sheep cannot find good pasture (Amos 7:14), but it was called the Wilderness (or Desert) of Tekoa (2 Chronicles 20:20).

These names are certainly a genealogy of David’s line through Hezron in particular, and to distinguish them from a similar list of names that appear in the genealogy of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:3-10). They enable us to step onto a hilltop, as it were, and assess the whole land of Judah. From Jerusalem in the north of Judah, where Jesus was crucified for our sins, looking south, the mountains jut their way into the distant horizon. Hebron is twenty miles away down there, and the Maon and the little Jezreel we have mentioned are another twenty miles beyond Hebron. To the right, which is west toward the coast, the hills recede into the stepped shephelah, and the uncertain border between Judah and Philistia catches the eye, with places called Ekron and Gath; the Valley of Sorek where Samson met Delilah (Judges 16:4), and the Valley of Elah were David killed Goliath with a stone and cut off the giant’s head with his own sword (1 Samuel 17:19, 50-51). To the left is the Dead Sea and the dry, sandy-brown caves that line the northern shoreline, famous today for having once housed the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This was the land where our Savior was born. The portion around the Dead Sea, where nothing grows and almost nothing lives aside from serpents and scorpions, is also where the Lord was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-2). He was tempted, but he did not sin. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18); for “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Christ our leader “not only gave an example by crossing over [from life to death to life again], but he also holds out his hand to those who follow. Therefore the Apostle says that we ‘have confidence to enter’ for he himself opened the way for us (Heb. 10:20) and at the same time is for us the Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15) and is able to help those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18)... For while others can teach and exhort to cross over, this Christ alone is not only the Companion, but also the One who leads the way, not only the Leader but also the Helper, yes, the Ferryman, as we read in Deuteronomy 32:11, ‘As an eagle incites its nestlings forth by hovering over its brood, so he (the Lord) spread his wings to receive them and move them upon his pinions’” (LW 29:226). For everyone who has faith in Christ is carried on his shoulders, and he will cross over with his bride, the Holy Christian Church, who “comes up through the desert leaning on her husband” (Song of Solomon 8:5).

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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