1 Chronicles 27:1
Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.
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(1) Now the children of Israel.—This first verse is the heading or superscription of the list which follows.

After their number.—The stress lies on this phrase. It refers to the twelve courses of twenty-four thousand warriors each.

Chief fathers.Heads of the clans.

Captains of thousands and hundreds.—See 1Chronicles 13:1.

Their officers.—Scribes, who kept the muster-rolls, and did the work of recruiting sergeants.

The courses.—Here, military divisions, corps d’armée. The same Hebrew term (mahlĕqôth) was used of the Levitical classes in the preceding chapters.

Which came in and went out.—Scil. The class or corps which came in and went out. Render: That which came in and went out every month, for all the months of the year, i.e., the single corps, was twenty and four thousand. As regards construction, the whole verse, from “the chief fathers” to “of every course,” is a long apposition to “the children of Israel.”

Came in and went out month by month.—Every month, the division whose turn it was stood under arms, as a sort of national guard, ready for immediate service.

1 Chronicles 27:1. Now the children of Israel, &c. — After the settlement of sacred affairs, we have here an account of the manner in which the army, or militia, as we may call it, was disposed. It was distributed into twelve legions, each consisting of twenty-four thousand men, who were commanded by one of the chief of the fathers; under whom there were captains of thousands, such as we now call colonels; and then under them captains of hundreds. Each of these legions attended one month, for the security of the king and kingdom; at the end of which they were dismissed, and another legion, with their general, succeeded: so that their course came but once in a year, and that only for one month, which was no considerable burden to them. That served the king in any matter of the courses — In all the business in which the king had occasion for these persons. Which came in and went out, &c. — Who, being armed and mustered, were to wait upon the king, at Jerusalem, or other places, as the king should see fit. By this order near three hundred thousand of his people were instructed and exercised in the use of their arms, and fitted for the defence of their king and kingdom when it should be needful, and in the mean time sufficient provision was made against any sudden tumults or irruptions of enemies. And this monthly course was contrived that the burden of it might be easy, and equally distributed among the people.27:1-15 In the kingdoms of this world readiness for war forms a security for peace; in like manner, nothing so much encourages Satan's assaults as to be unwatchful. So long as we stand armed with the whole armour of God, in the exercise of faith, and preparation of heart for the conflict, we shall certainly be safe, and probably enjoy inward peace.This verse is a general heading to the list 1 Chronicles 27:2-15. The heading has been taken from some fuller and more elaborate description of David's army, whereof the writer of Chronicles gives us only an abridgement. Omitting the captains of thousands, the captains of hundreds, and the officers (probably "scribes") who served the king, he contents himself with recording the "chief fathers" or heads of the divisions 1 Chronicles 28:1, and the number of Iraelites in each course. CHAPTER 27

1Ch 27:1-15. Twelve Captains for Every Month.

1. came in and went out month by month—Here is an account of the standing military force of Israel. A militia formed, it would seem, at the beginning of David's reign (see 1Ch 27:7) was raised in the following order: Twelve legions, corresponding to the number of tribes, were enlisted in the king's service. Each legion comprised a body of twenty-four thousand men, whose term of service was a month in rotation, and who were stationed either at Jerusalem or in any other place where they might be required. There was thus always a force sufficient for the ordinary purposes of state, as well as for resisting sudden attacks or popular tumults; and when extraordinary emergencies demanded a larger force, the whole standing army could easily be called to arms, amounting to two hundred eighty-eight thousand, or to three hundred thousand, including the twelve thousand officers that naturally attended on the twelve princes (1Ch 27:16-24). Such a military establishment would be burdensome neither to the country nor to the royal treasury; for attendance on this duty being a mark of honor and distinction, the expense of maintenance would be borne probably by the militiaman himself, or furnished out of the common fund of his tribe. Nor would the brief period of actual service produce any derangement of the usual course of affairs; for, on the expiry of the term, every soldier returned to the pursuits and duties of private life during the other eleven months of the year. Whether the same individuals were always enrolled, cannot be determined. The probability is, that provided the requisite number was furnished, no stricter scrutiny would be made. A change of men might, to a certain degree, be encouraged, as it was a part of David's policy to train all his subjects to skill in arms; and to have made the enlistment fall always on the same individuals would have defeated that purpose. To have confined each month's levy rigidly within the limits of one tribe might have fallen hard upon those tribes which were weak and small. The rotation system being established, each division knew its own month, as well as the name of the commander under whom it was to serve. These commanders are styled, "the chief fathers," that is, the hereditary heads of tribes who, like chieftains of clans, possessed great power and influence.

captains of thousands and hundreds—The legions of twenty-four thousand were divided into regiments of one thousand, and these again into companies of a hundred men, under the direction of their respective subalterns, there being, of course, twenty-four captains of thousands, and two hundred forty centurions.

and their officers—the Shoterim, who in the army performed the duty of the commissariat, keeping the muster-roll, &c.The twelve captains for every several month, 1 Chronicles 27:1-15. The princes of the twelve tribes, 1 Chronicles 27:16-22. The numbering of the people is hindered, 1 Chronicles 27:23,24. The chief keepers of David’s treasures, 1 Chronicles 27:25-31. His counsellors and friends, 1 Chronicles 27:32-34.

Their officers; the standing force or militia of Israel as it was settled under their several officers, as it here follows. In any matter of the courses, i.e. in all the business wherein the king had occasion for these persons, who were to attend upon him or his commands by courses or by turns. Or, according to all the order or state of the divisions, or, about the companies or courses into which they were distributed. Came in and went out, i.e. executed their office; which is commonly signified by this phrase, as Numbers 27:17, and elsewhere. Month by month; who were to be armed and mustered, and to wait upon the king, either at Jerusalem, or in other places, as the king should see fit. By this order near three hundred thousand of his people were instructed and exercised in the use of their arms, and fitted for the defence of their king and kingdom when it should be needful, and in the mean time sufficient provision was made against any sudden tumults or of it irruptions of enemies. And this monthly course was contrived, that the burden might be easy and equally distributed among the people.

Now the children of Israel after their number,.... Not the whole body of the people, but the militia of the nation; for after the account of the division of the priests and Levites into courses, follows an account of the militia of the nation, being divided also into monthly courses; which, though done in the beginning of David's reign, as Kimchi and Jarchi observe, yet is here related; and that it was so soon is clear from the instance of Asahel, who was killed while David was king in Hebron, 1 Chronicles 27:7 to wit:

the chief fathers; the chief men in the tribes, the princes of them, not the natural fathers of the soldiers in each course, as a learned man suggests (i): since it can never be thought that such a number sprung from those as made a course of 24,000; for they are distinct from the captains and officers after mentioned, under which the soldiers were; besides, why should they be called "chief fathers?" these, no doubt, were the general officers or princes, under which the captains and inferior officers were:

and captains of thousands and hundreds; in the several tribes:

and their officers; that were under them:

that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month, throughout all the months of the year; by which it appears that the militia of the kingdom was divided into twelve courses, which served each month by turns; when one went out another came in; by which means the king was well supported and guarded, and had an army at once at command upon any insurrection or war that might arise; and each course serving but one month in a year, it was no great burden upon them, even if they maintained themselves, since they were at leisure, the other eleven months, to attend to their business; and especially if it was, as Jarchi observes, that not the poor but the rich were selected for this service:

of every course were twenty and four thousand; so that the twelve courses amounted to 288,000 men.

(i) Delaney's Life of King David, vol. 1. p. 319.

Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, {a} which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.

(a) Who executed their charge and office, which is meant by coming in and going out.

Ch. 1 Chronicles 27:1-15. The Service of the Courses

These “courses” are not mentioned elsewhere in the O.T.; but in 1 Kings 5:14 (5:28 Heb.), where however the Heb. word is different, courses of Israelites engaged on Solomon’s building works are mentioned.

1. the chief fathers and captains] R.V. the heads of fathers’ houses and the captains.

came in and went out] Came on duty and went off duty; cp. 2 Chronicles 23:8.Verse 1. - It is impossible to feel fully satisfied with any translation which the words of this verse offer. Yet there can scarcely he any doubt of the meaning of the verse, viz. that the writer would speak of the children of Israel, including the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, as regards their courses and their number in their courses, as they succeeded one another, month by month, including also all those officers who served the king in any relation to these courses - the courses were twelve, and each course was numbered twenty-four thousand. Meantime, when we turn to the list, we do not find any full complement of chiefs, captains, and officers specified, but apparently only the chief of each course, with somewhat ambiguous additions in vers. 4 (Mikloth), 6 (Ammizabad), 7 (Zebadiah); while what seems an unnecessary stress repeats the number each time. This, however, in fact, tallies with the clause "respecting their number" in the first verse, and may constitute the explanation of the apparent inconsistency in question. Milman ('Hist. of the Jews,' 1:251, edit. 1830) says on this military portion of David's preparations, that he "organized an immense disposable force; every month twenty-four thousand men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of his army were officers of consummate experience and, what was more highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity, strength, and valour. His heroes remind us of those of Arthuror Charlemagne, excepting that the armour of the feudal chieftains constituted their superiority; here, main strength of body and dauntless fortitude of mind." Which came in and went out month by month; i.e. exchanged places in rotation (2 Kings 11:5-7, 9; 2 Chronicles 23:8). This Shelomoth (a descendant of Eliezer, and so to be distinguished both from the Jisharite Shelomith 1 Chronicles 23:18 and 1 Chronicles 24:22, and the Gershonite of the same name 1 Chronicles 23:9), and his brethren were over the treasures of the consecrated things which David the king had consecrated, and the heads of the fathers'-houses, etc. Instead of לשׂרי we must read ושׁרי, according to 1 Chronicles 29:6. The princes over the thousands and hundreds are the war captains, and the הצּבא שׂרי are the commanders-in-chief, e.g., Abner, Joab, 1 Chronicles 27:34, 2 Samuel 8:16; 1 Chronicles 18:15. - The 27th verse is an explanatory parenthesis: "from the wars and from the booty," i.e., from the booty taken in war had they consecrated. לחזּק, to make strong, i.e., to preserve in strength and good condition the house of Jahve. חזּק elsewhere of the renovation of old buildings, 2 Kings 12:8., Nehemiah 3:2., here in a somewhat general signification. - In 1 Chronicles 26:28 the enumeration of those who had consecrated, thus interrupted, is resumed, but in the form of a new sentence, which concludes with a predicate of its own. In ההקדּישׁ the article represents אשׁר, as in 1 Chronicles 29:17; 2 Chronicles 29:36, and elsewhere; cf. Ew. 331, b. With המּקדּישׁ כּל, all who had consecrated, the enumeration is concluded, and the predicate, "was at the hand of Shelomith and his brethren," is then brought in. על־יד, laid upon the hand, i.e., entrusted to them for preservation; Germ. unter der Hand (under the hand).

If we glance back at the statements as to the stewards of the treasures (1 Chronicles 26:20-28), we find that the treasures of the house of Jahve were under the oversight of the Jehielites Zetham and Joel, with their brethren, a branch of the Gershonites (v. 22); and the treasures of the consecrated things under the oversight of the Kohathite Shelomith, who was of the family of Moses' second son Eliezer, with his brethren (v. 28). But in what relation does the statement in v. 24, that Shebuel, the descendant of Moses through Gershon, was על־האצרות נגיד, stand to this? Bertheau thinks "that three kinds of treasures are distinguished, the guarding of which was committed to different officials: (1) The sons of Jehieli, Zetham and Joel, had the oversight of the treasures of the house of God, which, as we may conclude from 1 Chronicles 29:8, had been collected by voluntary gifts: (2) Shebuel was prince over the treasures, perhaps over the sums which resulted from regular assessment for the temple (Exodus 30:11-16), from redemption-money, e.g., for the first-born (Numbers 18:16.), or for vows (Lev); consequently over a part of the sums which are designated in 2 Kings 12:5 by the name הקדשים כסף: (3) Shelomith and his brothers had the oversight of all the הקדשים אוצרות, i.e., of the consecrated gifts which are called in 2 Kings 12:19 קדשים, and distinguished from the קדשים כסף in 2 Kings 12:5." But this view has no support in the text. Both in the superscription (1 Chronicles 26:20) and in the enumeration (1 Chronicles 26:22, 1 Chronicles 26:26) only two kinds of treasures-treasures of the house of God (of Jahve), and treasures of the קדשׁים - are mentioned. Neither by the facts nor by the language used are we justified in supposing that there was a third kind of treasures, viz., the sums resulting from the regular assessment for the holy place. For it is thoroughly arbitrary to confine the treasures of the house of God to the voluntary contributions and the consecrated gifts given from the war-booty; and it is still more arbitrary to limit the treasures over which Shebuel was prince to the sums flowing into the temple treasures from the regular assessment; for the reference to 2 Kings 12:19 and 2 Kings 12:5 is no proof of this, because, though two kinds of קדשׁים are there distinguished, yet both are further defined. The quite general expression האצרות, the treasures, can naturally be referred only to the two different kinds of treasures distinguished in 1 Chronicles 26:22. This reference is also demanded by the words נגיד...שׁבוּאל (1 Chronicles 26:24). Heads of fathers'-houses, with their brethren (אהיהם), are mentioned as guardians of the two kinds of treasures spoken of in 1 Chronicles 26:20; while here, on the contrary, we have Shebuel alone, without assistants. Further, the other guardians are not called נגיד, as Shebuel is. The word נגיד denotes not an overseer or steward, but only princes of kingdoms (kings), princes of tribes (1 Chronicles 12:27; 1 Chronicles 13:1; 1 Chronicles 27:16; 2 Chronicles 32:21), ministers of the palace and the temple, and commanders-in-chief (2 Chronicles 11:11; 2 Chronicles 28:7), and is consequently used in our section neither of Zetham and Joel, nor of Shelomoth. The calling of Shebuel נגיד consequently shows that he was the chief guardian of the sacred treasures, under whose oversight the guardians of the two different kinds of treasures were placed. This is stated in 1 Chronicles 26:23, 1 Chronicles 26:24; and the statement would not have been misunderstood if it had been placed at the beginning or the end of the enumeration; and its position in the middle between the Gershonites and the Kohathites is explained by the fact that this prince was, according to 1 Chronicles 23:16, the head of the four Levite families descended from Kohath.

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