All nations but the seed of Abraham are already shaken off from this genealogy: they have no part nor lot in this matter. The Lord’s portion is his people. Of them he keeps an account, knows them by name; but those who are strangers to him he beholds afar off. Not that we are to conclude that therefore no particular persons of any other nation but the seed of Abraham found favour with God. It was a truth, before Peter perceived it, that in every nation he that feared God and wrought righteousness was accepted of him. Multitudes will be brought to heaven out of all nations (Rev. 7:9), and we are willing to hope there were many, very many, good people in the world, that lay out of the pale of God’s covenant of peculiarity with Abraham, whose names were in the book of life, though not descended from any of the following families written in this book. The Lord knows those that are his. But Israel was a chosen nation, elect in type; and no other nation, in its national capacity, was so dignified and privileged as the Jewish nation was. That is the holy nation which is the subject of the sacred story; and therefore we are next to shake off all the seed of Abraham but the posterity of Jacob only, which were all incorporated into one nation and joined to the Lord, while the other descendants from Abraham, for aught that appears, were estranged both from God and from one another.
I. We shall have little to say of the Ishmaelites. They were the sons of the bondwoman, that were to be cast out and not to be heirs with the child of the promise; and their case was to represent that of the unbelieving Jews, who were rejected (Gal. 4:22, 23), and therefore there is little notice taken of that nation. Ishmael’s twelve sons are just named here (1 Chron. 1:29-31), to show the performance of the promise God made to Abraham, in answer to his prayer for him, that, for Abraham’s sake, he should become a great nation, and particularly that he should beget twelve princes, Gen. 17:20.
II. We shall have little to say of the Midianites, who descended from Abraham’s children by Keturah. They were children of the east (probably Job was one of them), and were separated from Isaac, the heir of the promise (Gen. 25:6), and therefore they are only named here, 1 Chron. 1:32. The sons of Jokshan, the son of Keturah, are named also, and the sons of Midian (1 Chron. 1:32, 33), who became most eminent, and perhaps gave denomination to all these families, as Judah to the Jews.
III. We shall not have much to say of the Edomites. They had an inveterate enmity to God’s Israel; yet because they descended from Esau, the son of Isaac, we have here an account of their families, and the names of some of their famous men, 1 Chron. 1:35 to the end. Some slight differences there are between some of the names here, and as we had them in Gen. 36:1-43, whence this whole account is taken. Three of four names that were written with a Vau there are written with a Jod here, probably the pronunciation being altered, as is usual in other languages. We now write many words very differently from what they were written but 200 years ago. Let us take occasion, from the reading of these genealogies, to think, 1. Of the multitudes that have gone through this world, have acted their part in it, and then quitted it. Job, even in his early day, saw not only every man drawing after him, but innumerable before him, Job 21:33. All these, and all theirs, had their day; many of them made a mighty noise and figure in the world; but their day came to fall, and their place knew them no more. The paths of death are trodden paths, but vestigia nulla retrorsum—none can retrace their steps. 2. Of the providence of God, which keeps up the generations of men, and so preserves that degenerate race, though guilty and obnoxious, in being upon earth. How easily could he cut it off without either a deluge or a conflagration! Write but all the children of men childless, as some are, and in a few years the earth will be eased of the burden under which it groans; but the divine patience lets the trees that cumber the ground not only grow, but propagate. As one generation, even of sinful men, passes away, another comes (Eccl. 1:4; Num. 32:14), and will do so while the earth remains. Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it.