1 Chronicles 7:6-19 NASB

Descendants of Benjamin

6 The sons of Benjamin were three: Bela and Becher and Jediael. 7 The sons of Bela were five: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth and Iri. They were heads of fathers’ households, mighty men of valor, and were 22,034 enrolled by genealogy. 8 The sons of Becher were Zemirah, Joash, Eliezer, Elioenai, Omri, Jeremoth, Abijah, Anathoth and Alemeth. All these were the sons of Becher. 9 They were enrolled by genealogy, according to their generations, heads of their fathers’ households, 20,200 mighty men of valor. 10 The son of Jediael was Bilhan. And the sons of Bilhan were Jeush, Benjamin, Ehud, Chenaanah, Zethan, Tarshish and Ahishahar. 11 All these were sons of Jediael, according to the heads of their fathers’ households, 17,200 mighty men of valor, who were ready to go out with the army to war. 12 Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir; Hushim was the son of Aher.

Sons of Naphtali

13 The sons of Naphtali were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah.

Descendants of Manasseh

14 The sons of Manasseh were Asriel, whom his Aramean concubine bore; she bore Machir the father of Gilead. 15 Machir took a wife for Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister’s name was Maacah. And the name of the second was Zelophehad, and Zelophehad had daughters. 16 Maacah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she named him Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. 17 The son of Ulam was Bedan. These were the sons of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh. 18 His sister Hammolecheth bore Ishhod and Abiezer and Mahlah. 19 The sons of Shemida were Ahian and Shechem and Likhi and Aniam.

While the Bible gives details about the descendants of Benjamin, 1 Chronicles 7:12 abruptly mentions that "Shuppim and Huppim were the sons of Ir" without mentioning who the fathers of the person named Ir are supposed to be.

Furthermore, as you continue to read further down the passage, the Bible gives details about the descendants of Manasseh. As the Bible gives details on the descendants of Manasseh, the Bible awkwardly states:

1 Chronicles 7:15-17

15 Machir took a wife for Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister’s name was Maacah. And the name of the second was Zelophehad, and Zelophehad had daughters. 16 Maacah the wife of Machir bore a son, and she named him Peresh; and the name of his brother was Sheresh, and his sons were Ulam and Rakem. 17 The son of Ulam was Bedan.

When the aforementioned verse states "Machir took a wife for Huppim and Shuppim" then does it mean that Machir was responsible for arranging a marriage for Huppim and Shuppim?

1 Answer 1


This passage in 1 Chronicles is interesting on a number of points. Having taken several courses in Hebrew, I recognize some peculiarities in its translation, but I won't claim to understand it fully.

It should be noted that even Hebrew scholars are not always certain about the Hebrew names' origins. The meaning of names tends to follow the roles that those characters played in the story. Were they named this way by the Bible writer just as part of the plot? or did those names later come to be associated with those meanings because of what happened during their lives? We do not know.

For example, "Nabal" means "fool"--which explains much about how and why he died. But his name must already have meant this during his life, and not just afterward, because his wife mentioned it specifically.

Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. (1 Samuel 25:25, KJV)

Why would parents name their son "fool"? It really is an odd thing. The Book of Ruth gives another interesting example. Remember the sons of Naomi, Mahlon and Chilion? Well, "Mahlon" in Hebrew means "sick", and "Chilion" means "pining." Why would the sons be named this way? Did the writer assign them these names because they died early on account of their frailty? Did their names contribute to their early demise, or portend the evil that was to come to them? Again, we do not know.

What we know is that peculiarities in nomenclature of this nature are common throughout the Bible. And as I look at the text in question, I see what appears to be more of the same.

And Machir took to wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister's name was Maachah;) and the name of the second was Zelophehad: and Zelophehad had daughters. (1 Chronicles 7:15, KJV)

The word "sister" does not exist in the Hebrew. It was supplied. I do not know the reason for supplying "sister" in place of, for example, "daughter." Understanding the culture of the times can often be quite important to translation, and I do note that the sons of Jacob seemed to have some role in the marriage of their sister. Perhaps brothers were often the guardians of their sisters. In any case, the word "sister" is not in the text, so it may represent an unwarranted assumption on the part of translators.

The words "Huppim" and "Shuppim" both have the masculine plural suffix "-im" in Hebrew. Because these are considered to be names, the interlinear notations assigned to them are "masculine singular." But their Hebrew morphology is plural. One might even wonder if these were actually persons with names, because "Huppim" means "protected" and "Shuppim" means "serpents"!

Shuppim also, and Huppim, the children of Ir, and Hushim, the sons of Aher. (1 Chronicles 7:12, KJV)

The word "Ir", again counted as a name here by some, is actually the word for "city" in Hebrew. "Hushim" is said to mean "haste"--but note that it also has the masculine-plural "-im" suffix which would be typical for an adjective in Hebrew modifying a masculine plural noun. The "and" before "Hushim" is also supplied, not being present in the Hebrew. This leads me to think it might actually be a Hebrew construct chain, requiring "of" in translation; e.g. "sons Aher" is a construct chain in Hebrew putting the two words into a belonging relationship without the necessity of the word "of" in Hebrew.

Given all of these definitions, one wonders if the translation is accurate. Looked at in another way, the translation might be:

"(12) And serpents, and protected children [lit. "sons"] of the city of haste, the sons of Aher . . . ."

"(15) And Machir took a wife of the protected serpents, and her name was Maachah; . . . ."

Because this translation is odd, and makes little sense, perhaps the translators assumed those Hebrew words must be names instead. It is worth remembering that Hebrew does not have capitalization to indicate when a noun should be proper. It typically would use a definite article to indicate this, and no definite article precedes these names in the text. It must have been a puzzler for the translators, who would be left scratching their heads as to why anyone would marry the offspring of "serpents." But is there some special symbolism here? a hidden prophecy, perhaps?

I do not have that answer...let the reader ponder this and decide.

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