Avraham ben Yaakov
I CHRONICLES CHAPTER 3
Having traced some of the principle family lines of the tribe of Judah in the previous chapter, including the line leading to King David (I Chron. 2:10-15), the chronicler now gives us the names of David's wives and children and his royal descendants, looking ahead to Melech HaMashiach, as we shall see on v 24.
As a royal archive, DIVREY HAYAMIM contains many secrets, hints and allusions, some of which are explained by our commentators but many of which remain hidden except to the most assiduous students. Every family has its own codes and may call certain members by different names (or nicknames) at different times and for different reasons. Thus David's son by Avigail, called in our present chapter (v 1) Daniel ("God judges me"), because people suspected he was really the child of Avigail's first husband, Naval, is in II Samuel 3:3 called KIL-AV ("all like his father") because he looked completely like David so there should be no doubts about his paternity (Rashi). David's wife EGLA (v 6) is Michal daughter of Saul, who was dear to David like a calf (EGLA, Rashi on v 6).
Vv 1-4 give the names of the wives of David and the sons they bore him in Hebron .
Vv 5-9 give the names of the sons of David born in Jerusalem . Bath-shoo'a daughter of Ami-el mentioned in verse 5 is Bath-sheva, mother of King Solomon.
Vv 10-14 trace all the kings of the House of David from Solomon to Josiah, who was the last saintly king of Judah one generation prior to the destruction of the First Temple .
Vv 15-16 give the names of the last three kings of Judah - Yeho-yakim, Yechoniah (=Yeho-yachin) and Tzidkiahu - all sons of Josiah. [It was Tzidkiyahu son of Josiah - mentioned in verse 15 - who was the last king of Judah, not Tzidkiyahu son of Yechoniah mentioned in verse 16, for after Nebuchadnezzar exiled Yechoniah, he installed his UNCLE as king.]
Vv 17ff: The miraculous story of how the royal line of King David was saved from extirpation when Yechoniah's wife was allowed to visit him in his narrow prison cell when in exile in Babylon has been told in our commentary on Ezra ch 2 ( http://www.azamra.org/Bible/Ezra%202-3.htm ). Zerubavel, mentioned here in verse 19, was the leader of the "First Aliyah" of returnees from Babylon to Jerusalem . Our text traces Zerubavel's descendants in vv 19-24. According to tradition, ANANI (="He has answered me") mentioned in verse 24 is Melech HaMashiach who is destined to be revealed in time to come (see Targum Rav Yosef ad loc. and Rashi on our chapter v 11; see also Daniel 7:13 "and behold. with the CLOUDS - ANANEI - of heaven"). Thus DIVREY HAYAMIM encompasses the whole of the history of man from Adam (I Chron. 1:1) all the way to Mashiach (I Chron. 3:24).
In chapter 2 we were given some of the main family lines of the tribe of Judah in order to trace the genealogy of King David, and chapter 3 then went on to trace his royal line until the end of days.
Our present chapter (vv -23) returns to the tribe of Judah in order to complete the genealogy of this tribe and to trace in fuller detail certain lines that were mentioned only in passing in chapter 2. After this our text then goes on to trace the family lines of the tribe of Shimon (vv 24-43), who had no territory of their own but occupied territories from the portion of Judah as specified in our chapter.
Vv 1-8: Names of the sons of Judah and his descendants.
Vv 9-10: The greatness of Ya'abetz and his exploits. This Ya'abetz is identified by the rabbis with Othniel ben Knaz (see Targum) who is mentioned explicitly in our present chapter v 13, and whose exploits are narrated in Joshua 15:17, Judges 1:13, 3:9ff. "And Ya'abetz was more HONORED than his brothers" - "From the beginning of DIVREY HAYAMIM you find no HONOR until you reach Ya'abetz. This is because he engaged in Torah, and 'the sages will inherit honor' (Proverbs 3:35)" (Yalkut Shimoni). "Ya'abetz was a good, pure man of truth and kindness. He sat and darshened the Torah, as it says, 'And Ya'abetz called to the God of Israel saying, Surely bless me." (Avot d'Rabbi Nathan). Darshening the Hebrew letters of his names, the Talmud says: "He was called OTHNI-EL because God ANSWERED him. He was called YA'ABETZ because he gave COUNSEL and SPREAD Torah in Israel . In his prayer, he was asking God to bless him with Torah, to expand his boundaries to encompass many students, and that God's hand should be with him so that he should not forget his studies. He prayed for companions like him and that his evil inclination should not swell his heart to the point that he would stop reviewing his studies" (Temurah 16a).
Vv 11-12: Names of the men of Reichah.
Vv 13-14: Sons of Knaz.
Vv 15-20: Sons of Kaleb and of Yehalel-el and his descendants.
While these lists of names may have little meaning for beginning students, particularly when reading them in translation and without commentary, diligent study of the Hebrew text reveals many overtones and allusions, some of which are discussed in the classical commentaries. At times what may at first seem like a dry text can be fleetingly perceived to have a unique poetry of its own and to signify something quite other than what appears on the surface.
This is true in the case of verse 18, which at first appears to contain a string of seemingly unconnected family names. But according to rabbinic drash, "his wife Yehudiyah" alludes to Batyah daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:5ff) whose name is mentioned explicitly at the end of the verse, and whom Kaleb ben Yephuneh married. She is called YEHUDIYAH because she rejected idolatry. The names of the "children" whom she "bore" - YERED, AVI-GDOR, HEVER, AVI-SOCHO, YEKOUTHI-EL and AVI ZANO'AH - are not the names of her children from Kaleb but all allude to Moses. She was considered to have given birth to Moses because, having drawn him from the river, she raised him as an orphan. He was called YERED because he brought down the Manna for Israel ; AVI-GDOR because he healed the breaches in Israel ; HEVER because he joined Israel with their Father in heaven; SOCHO because he was like a protective Succah to them, YEKOUTHI-EL because Israel hoped in God in his time; ZANO'AH because he cleansed the sins of Israel . (see Megillah 13a).
Vv 21-23: Sons of Shelah, third son of Judah (Gen. 38:5). Although Shelah was born to Judah by his first wife long before his daughter-in-law, Tamar, bore him Peretz and Zerach, the genealogies of the latter were given earlier in Chapter 2 in order to give honor to King David, who came from the line of Peretz.
The rabbis interpreted the Hebrew codes in verse 22 as alluding to the prophets and scribes who issued from the line of Joshua, to the Gibeonites, who lied (CHOZEIBA) to the princes of Israel, to Machlon (=Yo'ash) and Chilyon (=Saraf), the sons of Elimelech and Naomi, who took Moabite wives, and to Boaz, who dwelled in Bethlehem engaging in the Torah of the Ancient of Days (see Targum).
V 23: "These were the potters (YOTZRIM) and those who dwelt among the plantations and hedges; there they dwelt occupied with the king's work" - "These are the students of the Torah for whose sake the world was created, who sit in judgment and bring stability to the world and who rebuild the ruins of the House of Israel with the Indwelling Presence of the King through their labor in the Torah and the intercalation of the months and the fixing of the dates of the New Year and the festivals." (Targum).
Vv 24-33: Sons of Shimon and the names of their habitations. The tribe of Shimon had no real share of their own in the land of Israel , because in his blessings to his sons, Jacob had said of Shimon, "I will DIVIDE them in Jacob and I will SCATTER them in Israel (Genesis 49:7). Thus we find in Joshua 19:9 that members of the tribe of Shimon, which was relatively small in numbers, occupied some of the territories of Judah , which were extensive (see Rashi on v 27).
V 31: ".these were their cities until the reign of David." Complaints by members of David's own tribe of Judah about the encroachments on their territories by members of the tribe of Shimon led him to drive the latter out from the cities in which they had been living (see Rashi ad loc.)
Vv 34-38: Names of the princes of the tribe of Shimon.
Vv 39-43: Under pressure to find new territories, members of the tribe of Shimon went to conquer land from the remaining Canaanites and from the Edomites and Amalekites. They dwelled there "until this day" (v 43) "because they returned to dwell there when they returned from the exile in Babylon " (Metzudas David).
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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