In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 — right in the middle of the genealogy section of the tribe of Judah — there is a set of verses that are completely out of context with the surrounding passages:
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” 10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.
The verses above these verses do not mention Jabez, his father, or his brothers, and the verses that follow do not mention his children. Why, then, are these verses here? Why is Jabez only mentioned here and nowhere else in the Bible? Why is there no record of his family?
Explaining why there is no record of Jabez’s family is relatively easy, given that the Law that was handed down from God to Moses lists several conditions and sins that would cause a family to be removed from the assembly of the people. Clearly, someone in Jabez’s lineage had met one of these conditions, or had sinned mightily, and at the time the genealogy lists were written, his name and the record of his family was removed from the listing of the tribes of Israel.
But it is just as clear that these two verses about Jabez were introduced by a later editor. Whoever this Jabez was, he was an honorable man, whose name deserved to be given his rightful place in the tribe of Judah. And clearly, someone with the power to change the recorded history authorized the brief mention of his name, indicating that new evidence had come to light regarding the family’s omission in the first place.
I think the questions that 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 raise are extremely interesting: Why was Jabez more honorable? What did his brothers do that was so dishonorable? Why would someone insert Jabez back into the genealogy of Judah? And what historical significance did Jabez play in Biblical history?
I wrote the book, “Jabez: Conceived in Pain, Delivered in Victory” to answer these questions. It is a work of fiction, though based on the historical record available in the Bible. It was a delight to write, and I believe I lay out compelling answers to the questions, above.
The book is available on Amazon, in both printed and eBook forms. It is also available as a free podcast, produced in the manner of an old-time radio drama, complete with sound effects.
I invite you to read the book, or listen to the podcast on scribl.com.