1 Chronicles 2:42–55 (ESV)

42 The sons of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel: Mareshah his firstborn, who fathered Ziph. The son of Mareshah: Hebron.

This section builds upon 1 Chronicles 2:18–24 and returns to the account of Hezron’s son, Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel (1 Chronicles 2:42). Just like the Jerahmeel section (1 Chronicles 2:25–41), the genealogy consists of two distinct sections, each one probably representing a separate literary source.1 The first section comprises the sons of Caleb (1 Chronicles 2:42–50) and second the “sons of Hur’ (1 Chronicles 2:50–55). The two are separated by the identical summarising conclusion in 1 Chronicles 2:50: These were the descendants of Caleb. 1 Chronicles 2:50 then forms the heading of the second section (see 1 Chronicles 2:33).

This list (1 Chronicles 2:42–55) differs from the earlier one (1 Chronicles 2:18–20) and so some scholars suggest that this is a different list that contradicts the earlier one. The attentive Bible student will recognise the names listed here as including those of towns and villages. There is a different intent with this list. In the first genealogy we read of the descendants of Caleb as individuals; now we encounter the towns and villages with inhabitants that can trace their ancestry back to either Caleb or one of his offspring.2 Remember that this is not the Caleb of the wilderness period who was a godly spy of the Promised Land (Numbers 13:30). This is Caleb, the son of Hezron, from whom most of the tribe of Judah is descended (see 1 Chronicles 2:18–24). The Chronicler here reveals just how much of Judah came from this Caleb line. Most of the towns mentioned were in Judah.

These two lists emphasise two very important issues:

  • First, the writer mentions Ziph, Mareshah and Hebron (1 Chronicles 2:42), which were geographical areas beyond the borders of Judah after the exile. In these geographical passages, as we have previously noted, the father of actually meant the ‘founder of” or the leader of. By mentioning these territories, the Chronicler returns to a theme that occurs on several occasions. He was encouraging the postexilic leaders to expand their geographical territories to include those territories the Judahites had once possessed and had now forfeited. The prophets had already made quite clear that Israel would repossess the Promised Land; for example, the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He has cast the lot for them; his hand has portioned it out to them with the line; they shall possess it forever (Isaiah 34:17; see also Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 60:21; Obadiah 1:17–20). In this way the Chronicler builds and reaffirms hope for the future for his readers.

  • Second, this list contains names of some whose legitimacy as true Judahites could be questioned. They include the children of Caleb’s concubines, two of whom are named: Ephah and Maacah (1 Chronicles 2:46, 1 Chronicles 2:48). Then the sons of an unnamed wife are listed in 1 Chronicles 2:42–45. Moreover, the text also mentions Kenites (1 Chronicles 2:55), foreigners who were adopted into Judah (see Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11). This genealogy too, like that of Caleb referred to earlier, would seem to reflect the ongoing incorporation of previously unrelated tribal elements into the mainstream of Judah.3 Nomadic tribes and perhaps others living in the settlement areas (particularly the southern regions) were adopted into particular clans and formed part of the people of Israel. This is another piece of the Chronicler’s emphasis on inclusion rather than exclusion.4

Interesting to note is the reference to the daughter of Caleb was Achsah in 1 Chronicles 1:49. This is Caleb the son of Jephunneh (Numbers 13:6), not the son of Hezron (Joshua 15:16–17; Judges 1:11). Connecting the two Calebs in one genealogy suggests that the two traditions have become interwoven in 1 Chronicles 2:42–50.5 Of further importance, too, is the line of Hur, son of Caleb and Ephrathah, which began in 1 Chronicles 2:19–20. There Hur’s line was traced to Bezalel, the tabernacle craftsman, foreshadowing the ongoing role Judah would play in the Chronicler’s account of the building of the holy place (see 2 Chronicles 1:1–17).6 In this list, however, the Chronicler focuses on Caleb and Ephrathah and the role they played in the rise of the Davidic royalty. The list of Hur is followed to Shobal (who founded Kiriath-jearim), to Salma (who founded Bethlehem), and to Hareth (who founded Beth-gader). The last town does not appear anywhere in the tradition of Israel and so Hareph’s line is not traced any further. The other two towns feature strongly in the emergence of David. Kiriath-jearim is the town where the ark had been kept and it was from there that David brought it to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13:6; 2 Samuel 6:2). Bethlehem was David's hometown (1 Chronicles 11:16–26; 1 Samuel 16:1–23). Short mention is made of the scribal families descended from Salma who lived in the city of Jabez, a name that will appear again after the list of David's descendants (1 Chronicles 4:9–10).7