1 Chronicles 12:32
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brothers were at their commandment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) And of the children of Issachar . . .—Rather, And of the sons of Issachar (came) men sage in discernment for the times (tempora, critical junctures), so as to know what Israel ought to do; viz., their chiefs two hundred (in number), and all their fellow clansmen under their orders. The old Jewish expositors concluded, from the former part of this verse that the tribe of Issachar had skill iıı astrology, so that they could read in the heavens what seasons were auspicious for action, as the ancient Babylonians professed to do. But all that the text really asserts is that those men of Issachar who went over to David thereby showed political sagacity. No similar phrase occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament.

At their commandment.Upon their mouth. (Comp. Numbers 4:27.) The clansmen marched with their chieftains. The total number of Issachar’s contingent is not assigned.

1 Chronicles 12:32. That had understanding of the times — They understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. And they showed their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul, while he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join David, while Abner lived, and had the command of the other tribes wherewith they were encompassed, so, as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.12:23-40 When the throne of Christ is set up in a soul, there is, or ought to be, great joy in that soul; and provision is made, not as here, for a few days, but for the whole life, and for eternity. Happy are those who wisely perceive it to be their duty and interest, to submit to the Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of David; who renounce for his sake all that is not consistent; whose earnest endeavours to do good are directed by the wisdom that God giveth, through acquaintance with his word, experience, and observation. If any man lack this wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.Men that had understanding of the times - This is best interpreted politically. Compare the marginal reference 32. children of Issachar, … that had understanding of the times, &c.—Jewish writers say that the people of this tribe were eminent for their acquirements in astronomical and physical science; and the object of the remark was probably to show that the intelligent and learned classes were united with the military, and had declared for David. Understanding of the times; either,

1. Skill in the stars, and several seasons and changes of the air; which might be of good use in husbandry, to which this tribe was addicted Genesis 49:14 Deu 33:18. Or rather,

2. Political prudence to discern and embrace the fit seasons for all actions; as appears,

1. From the following words,

to know what, not only their own tribe, but

all Israel ought to do.

2. By the great authority and command which they had over all their brethren upon this account, as it here follows.

3. Because this is so considerable a circumstance in all human, and especially in public, affairs, that the success or disappointment of them depends very much upon the right or wrong timing of them, and therefore this is a very fit expression to signify their great prudence. And particularly they showed this point of their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul whilst he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join themselves to David whilst Abner lived, and was potent, and had the command of the other tribes, wherewith they were encompassed; so as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.

4. By the like use of this phrase, Esther 1:13. And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war,.... That were trained up to it, and accounted for it:

and came to David to Hebron; after the death of Ishbosheth and Abner, and when David had reigned seven years in Hebron:

to turn the kingdom of Saul to him; to transfer it to him and his family:

according to the word of the Lord; by Samuel, which they were acquainted with; and the number of those of the children of Judah, who made him their king already, and so there was the less need of a numerous appearance of them, were 6800 armed men, 1 Chronicles 12:24, of the tribe of Simeon, valiant men, 7100, 1 Chronicles 12:25, of the children of Levi 4600, 1 Chronicles 12:26, of the Aaronites or priests, with Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, according to Jarchi and Kimchi, at the head of them, 3700, 1 Chronicles 12:27, besides Zadok, a young man of the line of Eleazar, who was made high priest in the time of Solomon, who brought with him twenty two captains, 1 Chronicles 12:28 the heads of the courses of the priests, which were afterwards twenty four, 1 Chronicles 24:4 of the tribe of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, the greatest part of whom had been sticklers for the continuance of the kingdom in the family of Saul, 3000, 1 Chronicles 12:29, of the tribe of Ephraim, valiant men, 20,800, 1 Chronicles 12:30, of the half tribe of Manasseh on this side Jordan, whose names were pricked down, being given, to make David king, 18,000, 1 Chronicles 12:31, and of the tribe of Issachar, two hundred of the heads of them; men of knowledge and understanding, either in chronology or astrology, or in the proper seasons for husbandry, or for the fixing the beginning of years and months, and the intercalation of them, for keeping the several festivals; or rather were men of prudence and wisdom, and knew that this was the proper time for making David king, Ishbosheth and Abner his general being dead; and as they were men in high esteem for their parts and abilities, their brethren were at their beck and command, 1 Chronicles 12:30, and of the tribe of Zebulun, warlike men, skilful in war, and well armed, 50,000 men; and their numerous appearance showed that they were hearty and sincere, being the greatest number of all the tribes, 1 Chronicles 12:33, and of the tribe of Naphtali, 1000 captains, and with them armed men, 37,000, 1 Chronicles 12:34 and of the tribe of Dan, men skilled in war, 28,600, 1 Chronicles 12:35 and of the tribe of Asher, warlike men, 40,000, 1 Chronicles 12:36 and of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, on the other side Jordan, military men, well armed, 120,000, 1 Chronicles 12:37, which in all made 348,800 men, and upwards.

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the {l} times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

(l) Men of good experience, who knew at all times what was to be done.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. which were men] R.V. men (simply).

that had understanding of the times] Cp. Esther 1:13, “which knew the times.” “Times” are “opportunities,” “vicissitudes” (cp. 1 Chronicles 29:30), “experiences,” good or bad (cp. Psalm 31:15). The phrase means, therefore, “men of experience, having knowledge of the world.”Verse 32. - Had understanding of the times (2 Chronicles 2:12; Esther 1:13; Job 24:1). Compare Tacitus, "gnarus temporum" ('Agricola,' §6). This verse does not tell the number of the "children," but only of the "heads" of Issachar. It is possible that the number has slipped out. The description of the characteristics of Issachar here seems an advance upon that of Genesis 49:14, 15. Jehoiada is thought by Rashi, Kimchi, and others, to be the father of Benaiah, 1 Chronicles 11:22. He was נגיד for Aaron, i.e., prince of the house of Aaron, head of the family of the Aaronites, not princeps sacerdotum, which was a title appertaining to the high-priesthood, an office held at that time by Abiathar (1 Samuel 23:9).
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