Introduction: After concluding the genealogies of the tribes of Judah and Northern Israel, Chronicles returns to the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chr. 7:6-12). Chronicles does this to lay the foundation for Israel’s first king, Saul (1 Ch. 9-10). Also, after the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Benjamin was second largest group of refugees to return from exile to the Promised Land (circa 538 B.C). Many members of this tribe escaped the Assyrian exile by fleeing into Judah when the nation of Northern Israel ceased to exist. This group, however, was later taken into Babylonian captivity with members of the tribes of Judah, Levi, and Simeon. Many of returning refugees from the tribe of Benjamin returned to settle in or around Jerusalem. Most could not return to the lands originally given to Benjamin because much of that former territory belonged to Samaria (2 Kgs. 17:24). God wanted every person to know that He had not forgotten His people. He had a home prepared for every person, even if it was not in the same location as before. From the descendants recorded here, God reveals seven things that He offers to every believer. These includes His: (1) faithfulness, (2) mercy and grace, (3) refuge, (4) new beginnings, (5) second chances, (6) restoration, and (7) your opportunity to serve Him out of gratitude.
First, Benjamin’s name reflected the promise of his calling. To give him an opportunity to fulfill his calling, God built Benjamin into a mighty tribe with five important clans. Like Benjamin, God is faithful to keep His promises to you, and He has built you up through the Spirit. Second, during the time period of the judges, the tribe of Benjamin almost went extinct because of its sins. The tribe again almost went extinct during the exile. Yet, God showed mercy and grace to preserve a remnant of this tribe. Even when you sin, God will also show mercy and grace to you if you repent. Third, the returning tribe of Benjamin could not return to most of their lands because they became part of Samaria. Yet, every member was welcome in God’s holy city of Jerusalem where the vast majority of these returning exiles settled. Like the displaced members of the tribe of Benjamin, God also offers you refuge when you put your trust in Him. Fourth, Gibeon was a place where the tribe of Benjamin raped and killed a Levite concubine, leading to a civil war in Israel. God did not allow the Benjamite descendants to return to this stronghold of sin. Instead, He had these descendants start over with new lives in Jerusalem. God also offers new beginnings from your past sins. Fifth, as part of its privileged status, Benjamin had the honor of having a descendant become the first king of Israel. Saul, however, repeatedly turned against God. As a result of his sins, Saul nearly brought destruction upon all of his descendants. Yet, through God’s mercy and grace, Saul’s line had a chance to start over through a crippled and humble son of Jonathan. God also offers you second chances when you humble yourself before Him. Sixth, through one crippled man, God restored Saul’s line into a mighty line. When you submit to Him, God also offers to restore that which you have lost to sin. Finally, the final listed descendants of Saul were known as mighty men of valor. They fulfilled the special calling that Jacob first gave Benjamin. God also offers you opportunities to serve Him out of gratitude.
Benjamin’s descendants until the time of the judges. The returning members of the tribe of Benjamin mostly belonged to five prominent clans: “1 And Benjamin became the father of Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, Aharah the third, 2 Nohah the fourth and Rapha the fifth. 3 Bela had sons: Addar, Gera, Abihud, 4 Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, 5 Gera, Shephuphan and Huram.” (1 Chr. 8:1-5). Benjamin was the second son of Rachel. He was also the last of Jacob/Israel’s 12 sons (Gen. 35:24). Rachel died during his birth. With her last breath, she named him Ben-Oni, “son of my pain”. Yet, Jacob/Israel renamed him Benjamin, which means “son of the right hand.” (Gen. 35:18). His second name reflected his calling as a child of the Spirit, who was meant to be a leader amongst God’s peoples. His dual names reflected the dual nature of the descendants. They caused pain to God’s people while also being called to greatness. The descendants had to decide if they would live according to the painful ways of their flesh. Or, they could leave their old ways behind and accept their higher calling for God’s use. Each believer in Christ must make a similar choice. You can live according to the ways of your flesh and cause God grief. Or, you can live according to His calling for you.
Benjamin’s five clans. Here, Chronicles expands upon the prior list of Benjamin’s descendants (1 Chr. 7:6-12). With slight variations, the listing of his descendants also appears in the Torah: “The sons of Benjamin: Bela and Becher and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim and Huppim and Ard.” (Gen. 46:21). Because these verses were meant to cover many hundreds of years, spanning from the time of the patriarchs through the time of the judges, the word “son” can also be interpreted as a “descendant.” Thus, differences can exist with the names without errors. Benjamin’s descendants went on to form five important clans within the tribe of Benjamin: “The sons of Benjamin according to their families: of Bela, the family of the Belaites; of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites; of Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites; of Shephupham, the family of the Shuphamites; of Hupham, the family of the Huphamites. The sons of Bela were Ard and Naaman: of Ard, the family of the Ardites; of Naaman, the family of the Naamites.” (Nu. 26:38-40). Benjamin’s many descendants showed God’s blessings upon both him and his tribe. They were all called to serve as leaders.
Jesus also called you and gave you every opportunity to succeed. Just like Benjamin, Jesus also called you while you were still a sinner: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:6, 8). Like Benjamin, you are called upon to accept and confirm God’s calling in your life: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” (2 Pet. 1:10). “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” (1 Thess. 1:4). Like Benjamin, Jesus also gives you every opportunity to succeed and has built you up through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1-12). Have you responded to His calling?
You also can trust in His promises to you. God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises to the Jews demonstrates you can also trust His promises for you as well: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). He is faithful even when you are not: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that you can trust in His faithfulness in your life?
The descendants of Ehud, Israel’s first judge or deliverer, through the exile. Chronicles next traces the line of Benjamin from the high point of Israel’s first judge Ehud through the low point when they were sent into exile: “6 These are the sons of Ehud: these are the heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Geba, and they carried them into exile to Manahath, 7 namely, Naaman, Ahijah and Gera—he carried them into exile; and he became the father of Uzza and Ahihud. 8 Shaharaim became the father of children in the country of Moab after he had sent away Hushim and Baara his wives. 9 By Hodesh his wife he became the father of Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcam, 10 Jeuz, Sachia, Mirmah. These were his sons, heads of fathers’ households. 11 By Hushim he became the father of Abitub and Elpaal. 12 The sons of Elpaal were Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod, with its towns; 13 and Beriah and Shema, who were heads of fathers’ households of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who put to flight the inhabitants of Gath;” (1 Chr. 8:6-13). Ehud was the second judge or deliverer of Israel (Jdgs. 3:15). He assassinated the Moabite King Eglon and then inspired the Jews to rise up in rebellion against the Moabites (Jdgs. 3:15-26). Yet, his tribe failed to follow in his example of faith and obedience. Indeed, their sins reduced the tribe to a mere 600 men.
The tribe of Benjamin’s recovery from its near decimation during the time of the Judges. The tribe of Benjamin participated in a brutal gang rape and death of a Levite’s concubine in the Benjamite town of Gibeah (Jdgs. 19). This triggered a civil war that pitted Benjamin against the other 11 tribes. As a result of this civil war, 65,700 people died. The tribe of Benjamin was almost exterminated with only 600 men left (Jdgs. 20:36-48). Other tribes were forced to send women from their tribes to marry the 600 surviving men to keep the line of Benjamin from going extinct (Jdgs. 21). It was only out of God’s mercy and grace that He kept this tribe alive. God allowed the tribe to be disciplined because its members failed to change their ways. Yet, He showed mercy and grace in preserving a remnant following both the civil war and following the exile.
The lands occupied by Ehud’s descendants. Ehud’s descendants founded and led the city of Geba, which was part of the territories given to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:24). Yet, because of their ongoing sins, their descendants were carried off into exile to “Manahath” (1 Chr. 8:6). This Canaanite tribal group is referenced in the second chapter of Chronicles: “Shobal the father of Kiriath-jearim had sons: Haroeh, half of the Manahathites,” (1 Chr. 2:52). Exile was God’s final form of discipline after the Jews ignored all other less severe forms of discipline: “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young. (Dt. 28:49-50). Yet, God used these Jews from the tribe of Benjamin who went into exile to preserve the tribe. Even though they had repeatedly turned against God, His mercy and grace was greater than their sins.
The lands occupied by Ehud’s descendants through Shaharaim. Another descendant of Ehud named “Shaharaim” went into exile in Moab and had descendants there (1 Chr. 8:8). In Moab, Shaharaim had seven sons who founded important clans. These included Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcham, Jeuz, Shachia, and Mirma (1 Chr. 8:9-10). Yet, another offshoot of Sharaim did not go to Moab and instead founded “Ono and Lod” (1 Chron. 8:12). The eleven tribes of Israel destroyed these cities during the time period of the judges (Jdgs. 19-21). Upon their return from exile, some members of the tribe of Benjamin resettled these towns: “The sons of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash and Aija, at Bethel and its towns, . . .Lod and Ono, the valley of craftsmen. From the Levites, some divisions in Judah belonged to Benjamin.” (Neh. 11:31, 35-36). God showed His mercy and grace in preserving a remnant to repopulate Israel.
The descendants who settled in lands that the tribe of Dan failed to claim. Other descendants resettled in Aijalon after driving out “the inhabitants of Gath” (1 Chr. 8:13; 7:21). This town was on boundary of the territories of Judah and Benjamin and was originally promised to the tribe of Dan (Josh. 19:42). Yet, the tribe of Dan did not return with great numbers with the other returning tribes. They also rejected the inheritance promised to them when they lived in the Promised Land and instead settled in the far north. Members of the tribe of Benjamin claimed the spiritual inheritance of the tribe of Dan when that tribe failed to claim it. This was consistent with Jacob/Israel’s prophetic calling for Benjamin to be a future protector of Israel: “27 ‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.” (Gen. 49:27). While the tribe of Dan rejected God’s mercy and grace, Benjamin’s tribe did not.
God’s mercy and grace in preserving a remnant. Whenever God allowed calamity to fall upon His people to correct or discipline them, He always promised to preserve a “remnant” that He would use to restore His people “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”’ (Is. 37:32; Micah 2:12-13; Zeph. 3:8-20). Through Paul, God repeated this promise: “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” (Ro. 11:5). Thus, even when evil abounds, you should never give up hope in Jesus. His mercy and grace is greater than your sins.
God’s mercy and grace is also available to you. God promises to forgive any sin when you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and repent: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Prov. 28:13). Is there any sin that you need to repent of to avail yourself of His mercy and grace?
The descendants of Benjamin who returned and settled around Jerusalem. The largest concentration of returning exiles from the tribe of Benjamin settled in and around Jerusalem: “14 and Ahio, Shashak and Jeremoth. 15 Zebadiah, Arad, Eder, 16 Michael, Ishpah and Joha were the sons of Beriah. 17 Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hizki, Heber, 18 Ishmerai, Izliah and Jobab were the sons of Elpaal. 19 Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, 20 Elienai, Zillethai, Eliel, 21 Adaiah, Beraiah and Shimrath were the sons of Shimei. 22 Ishpan, Eber, Eliel, 23 Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, 24 Hananiah, Elam, Anthothijah, 25 Iphdeiah and Penuel were the sons of Shashak. 26 Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, 27 Jaareshiah, Elijah and Zichri were the sons of Jeroham. 28 These were heads of the fathers’ households according to their generations, chief men who lived in Jerusalem.” (1 Chr. 8:14-28). These returning exiles fulfilled a prophesy by inhabiting Jerusalem.
Benjamin’s prophetic calling to settle in Jerusalem. Moses blessed Benjamin as the protector of God’s Temple, represented as the “place between the shoulders.”: “12 Of Benjamin he said, “May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him, who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders.” (Dt. 33:12). Jerusalem was also originally promised to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:16, 28). Yet, because they lacked faith and trust in God, Benjamin could not drive out the Jebusite inhabitants. The task for taking Jerusalem then fell to its southern neighbor Judah (Josh. 15:8). Judah was, however, only temporarily successful in taking Jerusalem (Jdgs. 1:8). Jerusalem remained a territory that was unsafe during that time of the judges (Jdgs. 19:10-12). The Jebusites further remained in the area and continued to threaten the Jews until David had the faith and courage to fight them and defeat them (2 Sam. 5:6-10). Although they were late in settling Jerusalem, the Benjamin tribe’s returning exiles fulfilled God’s calling.
Jesus offers refuge to all who put their trust in Him. When you feel like you have lost everything like the tribe of Benjamin, Jesus is waiting to be your refuge if you put your trust in Him. It is in Jesus that we “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:18). “The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble;” (Ps. 9:9). “Each will be like a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land.” (Is. 32:2). Is Jesus the source of your refuge in times of need?
When you take refuge in Jesus, He will also protect you. When you take refuge in God, He also promises to protect you: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2; 91:2). If you feel attacked, alone, or without a place to turn to, take refuge in Jesus, and He will protect you.
The descendants of Benjamin who lived in Gibeon. The returning exiles also settled in and around the city of Gibeon: “29 Now in Gibeon, Jeiel, the father of Gibeon lived, and his wife’s name was Maacah; 30 and his firstborn son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, 31 Gedor, Ahio and Zecher. 32 Mikloth became the father of Shimeah. And they also lived with their relatives in Jerusalem opposite their other relatives.” (1 Chr. 8:29-32). Gibeon was amongst the lands originally promised to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:25). The founder of this city was Jehiel (1 Chron. 9:35). Maaach was Jehiel’s wife (1 Chr. 8:29). Their descendants, two of whom are mentioned in the next chapter, included Abdon, Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zacher (aka Zechariah), and Mikloth (1 Chr. 8:30-31; 9:36-7). The third of these descendants, Kish, was Saul’s father. Mikloth’s descendants included Shimeah (aka Shimeam) (1 Chr. 8:32; 9:38). Upon their return from exile, these descendants did not return to Gibeon. This was most likely because the city became part of Samaria (2 Kgs. 17:24). Instead, they settled in and around Jerusalem with other returning members of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chr. 8:32).
God’s second chance for Benjamin’s descendants to start over. Gibeon was the place where the tribe of Benjamin raped and killed a Levite concubine, which lead to a civil war in Israel (Jdgs. 19-21). God did not allow the Benjamite descendants to return to this stronghold of sin. Instead, He had the descendants start over with new lives in Jerusalem. God also does not want you to return to the strongholds of sin in your life.
Use Jesus’ blessings in your life to live as a “new creation”. Like the tribe of Benjamin, you are no longer a prisoner to your past or the desires of your flesh. If you have accepted Jesus, He will make you a new creation: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17). “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 24:7). As a new creation, you are called upon to walk in ongoing fellowship and holiness with Jesus (Eph. 1:4-5; 5:2). Walking in Jesus’ fellowship, means that your flesh was crucified with Him and you live according to the will of the Spirit (Gal. 2:20). Are living as a new creation? Or, are you returning to your old ways of the flesh?
Saul’s family. As part of its privileged status, Benjamin had the honor of having one of its descendants becoming the first king of Israel: “33 Ner became the father of Kish, and Kish became the father of Saul, and Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab and Eshbaal.” (1 Chr. 8:33). Saul’s grandfather Ner was also named Abiel (1 Sam 9:1). He is referred to here as “Ner”, which means lamp or torch. He was meant to be a light to his family and the future leader of Israel. Yet, Saul failed to live according to God’s light. As a result, both he and his entire family experienced God’s judgment.
God’s judgement upon Saul’s family. Saul’s children included Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab (aka Ishui), and Esh-baal (aka Ish-bosheth) (1 Chr. 8:33; 1 Sam. 14:49; 31:2; 2 Sam. 2:8). As part of God’s judgment against Saul, Saul lived to see the Philistines kill his sons Jonathan, Malchi-shua and Abinadab (aka Ishui) at the battle of Gilboa: “The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul.” (1 Sam. 31:2). After being wounded, Saul them took his own life (1 Sam. 31:4). The name Esh-baal contained the root of the pagan god Baal, which reflected his evil nature in fighting David for the throne of Israel (Hos. 9:10). Ish-bosheth reigned for two years until two of his captains, Baanah and Rechab from the tribe of Benjamin, murdered him in his sleep (2 Sam. 4:2,7). Thus, Saul’s line nearly went extinct. Yet, his line received a second chance through one last living heir.
Jesus also offers you second chances. Like Saul, you may have experienced judgment for your sins. Like Saul, your sins may have also hurt your family. Yet, just as God gave Saul’s line a second chance through Jonathan’s son, Jesus also offers you second chances when you repent. Moreover, He will not hold your old sins over you when you repent. Instead, He promises to forget them altogether: “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Is. 43:25; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12). What are you doing with your second chances?
The restoration of Saul’s line through Jonathan’s only son Merib-baal. Saul’s line continued only because of David’s mercy and grace in taking care of Jonathan’s crippled son Merib-baal: “34 The son of Jonathan was Merib-baal, and Merib-baal became the father of Micah. 35 The sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tarea and Ahaz. 36 Ahaz became the father of Jehoaddah, and Jehoaddah became the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth and Zimri; and Zimri became the father of Moza. 37 Moza became the father of Binea; Raphah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. 38 Azel had six sons, and these were their names: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. 39 The sons of Eshek his brother were Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second and Eliphelet the third.” (1 Chr. 8:34-39). Jonathan’s only surviving son Merib-baal is also known as Mephibosheth. At the time of Saul’s death, his nurse fled in such a hurry believing that David would kill him that she dropped him and turned him into a cripple (2 Sam. 4:4). Yet, David had no desire to follow the tradition of the time in killing a dead king’s heirs. David instead showed mercy and grace by restoring all of Saul’s land inheritance to Mephibosheth. David further allowed Mephibosheth to eat as a guest of honor regularly at his table (2 Sam. 9:1-13). Mephibosheth then had a son named Micah (aka Mica) who continued Saul’s line (1 Chr. 8:34; 2 Sam. 9:12) Micah then had four sons Pithon, Melech, Tarea (aka Tahrea) and Ahaz (1 Chr. 8:35; 9:41). God then restored Saul’s line with a multitude of descendants after that (1 Chr. 8:36-39). This showed that God had restored the blessings lost because of sin.
God will heal the lands when His people repent and turn from sin. God promises to restore His people if they repent and turn back from sin: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14). This also involves humbling yourself before God like Mephibosheth. When you humbly repent and pray to Jesus, He can also restore what you have lost to sin.
The mighty men of valor who descended from Ulam. The line of Saul concludes with the descendants of Ulam, who were mighty men of valor: “40 The sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor, archers, and had many sons and grandsons, 150 of them. All these were of the sons of Benjamin.” (1 Chr. 7:40). With the exception of Jonathan, no other men within Saul’s line are described as “mighty men of valor.” This symbolized their faith-led obedience in serving God. The fact that Ulam had 150 descendants showed God’s blessing in their lives. Benjamin finally fulfilled its high calling given at his birth.
Use God’s blessings to serve Him. God has blessed every person with gifts so that each person can use their gifts to serve others in need: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ep. 2:10; Titus 2:14; Mic. 6:8). Like the descendants of Ulam, you can use God’s gifts to be a mighty man or woman of valor before God. God wants you to live up to your higher calling as a Spirit-filled believer. How are you using His gifts to serve?