1 Chronicles 5:23–26 (ESV)

23 The members of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land. They were very numerous from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon.

Like the genealogy of Gad, this section is also divided into two parts. The first concerns the tribe of eastern Manasseh itself (1 Chronicles 5:23–24; see further 1 Chronicles 5:11–17) while the second part refers to the one-and-a-half tribes of the Transjordan (1 Chronicles 5:25–26; see further 1 Chronicles 5:18–22). This material was probably extracted from an earlier military census and deliberately separated from the material dealing with western Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:4–19). As with Gad, Manasseh’s sons are not named (Numbers 26:29; Joshua 17:2). The Chronicler rather emphasises the settlement of large tracts of land and the fact that they were very numerous (1 Chronicles 5:23). The name Baal-Hermon suggests a pagan worship site, perhaps at or near the later Banias (known in Scripture as Caesarea-Philippi), on the slopes of Mount Hermon where shrines devoted to various deities were situated over the years. Senir and Hermon are one and the same, the former name having been given it by the indigenous Amorites (Deuteronomy 3:8–9).1

This very brief account of Manasseh can hardly be called a genealogy because none of the sons of Manasseh is named; only the names of seven heads of families, all of whom are praised for their bravery, are named. This valour contributed to the tribe’s conquest and occupation of the whole territory north of Bashan up to Mount Hermon. This roughly corresponds to the modern-day Golan Heights up to the eastern border of Lake Galilee. Unlike the pericope dealing with Gad, the passage relating the information about Manasseh contains no genealogical data. The attention, rather, is given to the size and military prowess of the tribe of Manasseh, recalling the patriarchal blessing by Jacob that Joseph would be a fruitful vine (Genesis 49:22; Genesis 48:15–16).

The eastern Manasseh record comprises seven clans. The leaders of each of these clans are unknown in the rest of the Old Testament, except perhaps for two: Epher (1 Chronicles 5:24) may be the Hepher and Azriel (1 Chronicles 5:24) may be the Asriel cited in the Pentateuchal version of Manasseh’s genealogy (Numbers 26:31–32).2 These men are described as mighty warriors and famous men, which implies that they were heads of clans and military commanders. The Chronicler now sets human strength and greatness alongside the fact that these very men were unfaithful to God or they broke faith with God (1 Chronicles 5:25), which led to devastating consequences. These mighty men of valour trusted in their own power, strength, and prowess, their horses, swords, and chariots, instead of the God in whom they had professed to believe.