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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 4:41-43 War in Israel

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, October 18, 2023

41 These men, whose names were recorded, came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah and attacked the Hamites in their tents. They also destroyed the Meunites who were there. Then they settled in their place and live there to this day because there was pasture there for their flocks. 42 And some of these Simeonites invaded the hill country of Seir—five hundred of them led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi.  43 They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

“These men” refers to the clans listed by leaders in verses 34-37. These verses tell the account “in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah,” who ruled from 715-686 BC and overlaps with the later ministries of the prophets Isaiah and Micah. Therefore, this incident can be linked to passages in Isaiah about Mount Seir and Edom, such as “Someone calls to me from Seir, ‘Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?’ The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again’” (Isaiah 31:11-12). The “night” of Assyrian oppression was nearly over in Hezekiah’s time (Isaiah 37:37-38), but the Babylonians were on their way. But in the meantime, the men of Simeon were also on their way to burn and destroy their tents. And again: “Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again” (Isaiah 34:9-10).

The short brigade that attacked the Amalekites at Mount Seir had four officers, the sons of Ishi listed here. The use of military forces of between three and six hundred correspond to the modern brigade, or half a brigade. There are many examples of armed forces of three hundred to six hundred men in the Bible: Abraham led a group of 318 trained men to rescue Lot (Genesis 14:14). Pharaoh sent out six hundred of his best chariots to pursue Moses (Exodus 14:7); Shamgar struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad to save Israel (Judges 3:31). King Saul faced the Philistines with a brigade of six hundred (1 Samuel 13:15), and David’s army numbered about a brigade of six hundred when he was being chased by Saul (1 Samuel 23:13). Other examples of the brigade-strength military group can be found in Judges 18:11-17; Judges 20:47-48; 1 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 15:18 and Nehemiah 11:6.

This brigade from Simeon pushed south into Moab, to the hill country of Seir. Mount Seir is about forty miles due south of the Dead Sea (about halfway to the Gulf of Aqaba) and about sixty miles from Beersheba, but there are many hills and heights between the one mountain and the southern end of the Dead Sea. The men of Simeon attacked Hamites there who they found living in tent-villages, and they destroyed the settlements of the Meunites there. King Jehoshaphat had faced a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites from Mount Seir in 840s BC. The Lord defeated that invasion by turning the Meunites against the Moabites and Ammonites (2 Chronicles 20:1-24). The Meunites appeared again in the early days of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:7). This is their last mention in Scripture. The remnant of Meunites mentioned in the apocryphal 1 Esdras 5:31 is not late but early, in the days of King Solomon.

The Simeonites also attacked and defeated an army of the Amalekites. They had settled in the mountain land of Idumea. This battle happened in Hezekiah’s later years, the 690s or 680s BC, and it is the last mention of the wicked Amalekites until the book of Esther. It is altogether possible that this was the final destruction of that people from the land of Canaan, so that only the remnant in Mesopotamia survived. God had commanded the complete annihilation of the Amalekites: “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19). Even Balaam’s fifth oracle concurs with God’s command: “Amalek was first among the nations, but he will come to ruin at the last” (Numbers 24:20).

God’s righteous judgments are just and holy, and when he turns his face away from an entire people, such as the Amalekites, it is to give glory to himself and to display the perfect way to heaven, even though the law itself does not save, for salvation is the work of the gospel alone (Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9). The law of God’s commandment against the Amalekites shows that the entire nation had rejected the Lord God, and that their presence in Canaan was a threat to the faith of God’s holy people. And although (since Christ has come) we are no longer commanded to obey such laws today, Israel, Judah, and Simeon were still under the law of obedience in Hezekiah’s time. They may have been driven by the need for more pasture for their flocks, but they encountered the nest of an old enemy to be brought down and trampled, and that is what they did.

Today, enemies of the gospel may resist, persecute and even kill Christians (2 Timothy 3:10-12), but what are we instructed to do? “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21). Proclaim the gospel, and let the gospel change your enemy’s heart. When they have a change of heart and reach out to God, then God will hear them from heaven; he will hear their prayer and their pleas, and he will forgive them all their sins, from the worst to the very least, and even for the sinful nature they inherited from their ancestors (2 Chronicles 6:39). And to those who repent and put their faith in Christ, God promises: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

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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