1 Chronicles 4:10
(10) Jabez called on the God of Israel.--Comp. Jacob's vow at Bethel, Genesis 28:20-22, and his altar, El-'elohe Israel, "El is the God of Israel," Genesis 33:20. Some have supposed that the peculiar phrase, "God of Israel," indicates that the original Canaanite population of Jabez proselytised.

Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.--Literally, "if indeed thou wilt bless me."

My coast.--My border or domain (fines).

And that thine hand.--Rather, and if thine hand will be with me, and thou wilt deal without (Heb. away from) evil, that I suffer not !--The prayer is expressed in the form of a condition, with the consequence ("then will I serve thee," comp. Genesis 28:22) suppressed.

The name Jabez is twice explained; in 1Chronicles 4:9 it is made to mean "he paineth," in 1Chronicles 4:10 Jabez prays to be saved from pain. Comp. the frequent allusions in the book of Gen. to the meaning of the name Isaac (Yichaq, "he laugheth"); Genesis 17:17, Abraham's daughter; 1Chronicles 18:12, Sarah's incredulous laughter; 1Chronicles 21:6, Sarah's joy at the birth; 1Chronicles 26:8, Isaac's own mirth. These features of likeness to the language and thought of Genesis, prove the originality and antiquity of the section.

And God granted.--Literally, and God brought (caused to come). Hence Jabez was "honoured above his brethren," 1Chronicles 4:9. If the Sopherim of Jabez (1Chronicles 2:55) were, as their name implies, writers or men of letters, we can understand that Jabez, like Kirjath-sepher, was a place of books, and was honoured accordingly. The art of writing among the peoples of Babylonia ascends to an unknown antiquity. The oldest inscription we possess in the Phoenician character is of the ninth century B.C., and the development of that character from its Egyptian prototype must have occupied some centuries. Perhaps this very tradition concerning their founder originally emanated from the "families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez."

Verse 10. - When Jabez grew to manhood he has learnt to estimate rightly the value of God's blessing. He invokes it, and depends upon it. His language implies the confidence that he had in the reality of providential blessing. For the expression, enlarge my coast, see Deuteronomy 12:20; Deuteronomy 19:8; and though we know nothing as matter of fact about the occasion of this prayer, we may assume that it was one when not selfishness and greed of larger territory, but just opportunity, had awakened a strong desire for enlargement of borders. It may have been a legitimate occasion of recovering his own, lost or wrongfully taken from him or his predecessors before him, or of expelling successfully from their hold upon it a portion of the original inhabitants of the promised land of God's people. That thine hand might be with me. Many are the beautiful parallels to be culled from the Word of God for this expression, as e.g. Ezra 7:9; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 139:5, 10; Isaiah 42:6. And that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! This, the last entreaty of the prayer, is the largest and most far-seeing. Warned by his own name, forewarned by his mother's emphasizing of her own pains in him, he thus concludes. Having begun in the evil of pain and excessive sorrow, he prays that he and his career may not so determine and end. He does not necessarily pray to be preserved from all suffering, but from such baneful touch of evil itself, its principle, its tyrannous, merciless hold, as might bring him to real and irreparable grief. Thus closes the whole prayer, each succeeding clause of which has been under the rule of the initial "if," translated with us, Oh that. This well-known Hebrew form of prayer supposes a solemn engagement, and that the answered prayer shall meet with the fulfilment of a vowed promise on the part of the suppliant, according to the pattern of Genesis 28:20. In the absence of that engagement here, we may notice, with Keil, the greater grace of the passage, in that it closes with the statement of the readiness to hear, and the abounding readiness to answer, on the part of Divine beneficence: And God granted him that which he requested. Evidently the thing that he asked pleased the Lord (1 Kings 3:10, 12); although it was in this case some form of riches, and long life for self, and the life of his enemies, that he asked, and was not altogether and in so many words "a wise and understanding heart." Perhaps, also there was in the way of asking, and in the exact occasion, unknown to us, something which quite justified the matter of the prayer, and which thus pleased the Lord. The remarkable and arresting episode could not have closed in more welcome or impressive way than when it is thus briefly but conclusively said, "And God granted him that which he requested."

4:1-43 Genealogies. - In this chapter we have a further account of Judah, the most numerous and most famous of all the tribes; also an account of Simeon. The most remarkable person in this chapter is Jabez. We are not told upon what account Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; but we find that he was a praying man. The way to be truly great, is to seek to do God's will, and to pray earnestly. Here is the prayer he made. Jabez prayed to the living and true God, who alone can hear and answer prayer; and, in prayer he regarded him as a God in covenant with his people. He does not express his promise, but leaves it to be understood; he was afraid to promise in his own strength, and resolved to devote himself entirely to God. Lord, if thou wilt bless me and keep me, do what thou wilt with me; I will be at thy command and disposal for ever. As the text reads it, this was the language of a most ardent and affectionate desire, Oh that thou wouldest bless me! Four things Jabez prayed for. 1. That God would bless him indeed. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings: God's blessings are real things, and produce real effects. 2. That He would enlarge his coast. That God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in himself, and in the heavenly Canaan, ought to be our desire and prayer. 3. That God's hand might be with him. God's hand with us, to lead us, protect us, strengthen us, and to work all our works in us and for us, is a hand all-sufficient for us. 4. That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of trouble, all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrow. God granted that which he requested. God is ever ready to hear prayer: his ear is not now heavy.And Jabez called on the God of Israel,.... Or prayed to him, as the Targum; though some understand it as a vow, promising what he would do if God would do thus and thus for him; the Syriac and Arabic versions read in the third person, taking it to be what others, his parents and friends, wished for him:

let him bless thee,.... but they are doubtless his own words, and a supplication of his to the Lord:

saying, oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed; the Targum adds, with children; but he no doubt prayed for greater blessings than any outward or temporal ones are, even spiritual blessings, covenant blessings, the sure mercies of David, which are solid, substantial, durable, and irreversible:

and enlarge my coast; the Targum is,"multiply my borders with disciples.''It may be understood of an enlargement of the borders of his country, by expelling the Canaanites that might dwell in it, and of an increase of his worldly substance for good ends and purposes; or rather of a spiritual enlargement by deliverance from spiritual enemies, and of grace as to exercise; and particularly of spiritual light and knowledge, and of the affections and desires of the soul after divine things, see Psalm 4:1.

and that thine hand might be with me; the Targum adds, in business, prospering and succeeding him; the sense may be, that his hand of providence might be with him to protect him, of grace and love to comfort and help him in every time of need, of wisdom to direct him, and of power to keep him:

and that thou wouldest keep me from evil; from the evil of affliction, and especially from the evil of sin, and from the evil one, Satan, and from all evil men and evil company; the Targum is,"and make me companions such as I:am:''that it may not grieve me; alluding to his name Jabez, which he had from the sorrow and grief of his mother; and nothing is more grieving to a good man than the evil of sin, so contrary to the nature and will of God, being committed against a God of infinite love, grace, and mercy, whereby the name, ways, and truths of Christ are dishonoured, and the Spirit of God grieved, and saints are bereaved of much comfort; and therefore desire to be kept from it, knowing they cannot keep themselves, but the Lord can and will, at least from the tyranny of it, and destruction by it: the Targum is,"lest the evil figment (or corruption of nature) should move or provoke me:"

and God granted him that which he requested; as he does whatever is asked in faith, according to his will, and will make for his glory, and the good of his people; see 1 John 5:14.

1 Chronicles 4:9
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