1 Chronicles 12
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

1 Chronicles 12 is a sort of supplement to 1 Chronicles 11, and is throughout peculiar to the Chronicle. It contains two registers: (1) of the warriors who successively went over to David during his outlaw career (1 Samuel 22 ff.), 1Chronicles 12:1-22; and (2) of the tribal representatives who crowned David at Hebron (forming an appendix to 1Chronicles 11:1-3), 1Chronicles 12:23-40.

The first of these registers sub-divides into three smaller lists, viz., 1Chronicles 12:1-22.

Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.
(1-7) Men of Benjamin and Judah who joined David at Ziklag. (Comp. 1 Samuel 27)

(1) To Ziklag.—A place within the territory of Judah allotted to Simeon (Joshua 19:5; 1Chronicles 4:30). The Philistines seized it, and Achish of Gath gave it to David, whose headquarters it remained sixteen months, until the death of Saul.

While he yet kept himself close.—The Hebrew is concise and obscure, but the Authorised Version fairly renders it. David was still shut up in his stronghold, or restrained within bounds, because of, i.e., from dread of King Saul. Or perhaps the meaning is “banished from the presence of Saul.”

Helpers of the war.The helpers in war, allies, or companions in arms of David. They made forays against Geshur, Gezer, and Amalek (1Samuel 27:8; comp. also 1Chronicles 12:17; 1Chronicles 12:21 below).

They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.
(2) Armed with bows.—Literally, drawers of the bow (2Chronicles 17:17).

And could use.—They were ambidextrous “with stones, and with arrows on the bow.” The left-handed slingers of Benjamin were famous from of old. (Comp. Judges 20:16, and also 1Chronicles 3:15.)

Of Saul’s brethreni.e., his fellow-tribesmen.

Of Benjamin is added to make it clear that Saul’s immediate kinsmen are not intended. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:29.)

The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; and Jeziel, and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; and Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite,
(3) The chief was Ahiezer.—Captain of the band. Heb., head.

Shemaah.—Heb., Hashshemaah.

The Gibeathite.—Of “Gibeah of Saul,” between Ramah and Anathoth (Isaiah 10:29); also called “Gibeah of Benjamin” (1Chronicles 11:31; Judges 20:4).

Jeziel.—So Hebrew margin; Hebrew text, Jezûel. (Comp. Peniel and Penuel.)

Azmaveth.—Perhaps the warrior of Bahurim (1Chronicles 11:33).

Jehu the Antothite—of Anathoth, now Anâta (1Chronicles 11:28).

And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Josabad the Gederathite,
(4) Ismaiah the Gibeonite.—Gibeon belonged to Benjamin (1Chronicles 9:35), and 1Chronicles 12:2 proves that Ismaiah was a Benjamite, not a Gibeonite in the strict sense of the term.

A mighty man among the thirty.—The “thirty” must be the famous corps (1Chronicles 11:25). Ismaiah’s name does not occur in the catalogue, perhaps because he died before it was drawn up.

Over the thirty may mean that at one time he was captain of the band, or it may simply denote comparison—“a hero above the thirty.”

Josabad the Gederathite; of Gederah in the lowland of Judah (Joshua 15:36). Josabad is perhaps the same as Zabad ben Ahlai (1Chronicles 11:41), one of the thirty.

Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,
(5) Jerimoth.—A Benjamite name (1Chronicles 7:7-8).

Bealiah.Baal is Jah. (Comp. Note on 1Chronicles 8:33.) Such names indicate that “Baal” was once a title of the God of Israel.

The Haruphite.Nehemiah 7:24 mentions the “sons of Hariph” just before the “sons of Gibeon.” The Hebrew margin here is “Hariphite.”

Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korhites,
(6) Five members of the Levitical clan Korah. The name “Elkanah” occurs thrice in the lineage of Heman, the Korhite musician (1Chronicles 6:33 ff.), and in that of Samuel (1Chronicles 6:22 ff.).

Jesiah.—Heb., Yishshiyāhû; “Jahu is ray possession.” (Comp. Psalm 16:5.)

Azareel is a priestly name. (See Nehemiah 11:13.) There must have been Levites about the Tabernacle at Gibeon. But these Korhites may have been members of the Judean clan Korah, mentioned in 1Chronicles 2:43, but otherwise unknown.

Jashobeam occurred as chief of the Three Heroes (1Chronicles 11:11).

And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
(7) Sons of Jeroham of Gedor.—Jeroham is the name of a Benjamite clan (1Chronicles 8:27); and two Benjamite chiefs are called “Zebadiah” (1Chronicles 8:15; 1Chronicles 8:17). On the other hand, “Gedor” was a town of Judah, south-west of Bethlehem (1Chronicles 4:4). Some account for the appearance of Judæan names in a list purporting to relate to Benjaminites, by the assumption that the chronicler has welded two; lists into one; but towns did not always continue in the hands of the tribes to whom they were originally intended, and some Judæan towns may have contained a partially Benjaminite population.

And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;
(8-18) A. list of Gadites, and an account of a band of Judæans and Benjammites who joined David in the stronghold (1Chronicles 11:14) towards the desert of Judah.

(8) Separated themselves from the royalists of Gad, who clung to Saul.

Into the hold to (towards) the wilderness.—Perhaps the cave of Adullam (1Samuel 22:1; 1Samuel 22:4), or one of David’s other haunts, the wooded Mount of Hachilah (1Samuel 23:19), or the crag of Maon, or the rocks of En-gedi (1Samuel 23:25; 1Samuel 23:29). “Caves and holds” are mentioned together as refuges (Judges 6:2). In the earlier period of his outlawry, David found refuge in the natural fastnesses of Judæa.

Men of might.—“Mighty men of valour” (1Chronicles 5:24), and “valiant men of might” (1Chronicles 7:2). Heb., “the valiant warriors,” whose names follow.

Men of war fit for the battle.—Literally, men of service or training, i.e., veterans, for the war.

That could handle shield and buckler.—Heb., wielding (or presenting) shield and spear, (Comp. Jeremiah 46:3.)

Buckler (māgên) is the reading of some old editions, but against the MSS., which have rōmah (lance).

Whose faces were like the faces of lions.—Literally,

“And face of the lion, their face;

And like gazelles on the mountains they speed.”

The poetic style of this betrays its ancient source. The chronicler is clearly borrowing from some contemporary record. (Comp. David’s own description of Saul and Jonathan, 2Samuel 1:23; and the term Ariel, lion of God, i.e., hero or champion, 1Chronicles 11:22; and Isaiah 29:1.)

Swift as the roes.—Comp. what is said of Asahel (2Samuel 2:18).

Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,
(9) The first.The chief 1Chronicles 12:3 (har’osh).

(9-13) Eleven heroes of Gad.

These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.
(14) These were.—Subscription.

Captains of the host.—Literally, heads of the host, i.e., chief warriors.

One of the least was over an hundred.—The margin is correct. David’s band at this time was about 600 strong. The rendering of the text is that of the Syr. and Vulg. The LXX. closely intimates the Heb. εἷς τοῖς ἑκατὸν μικρὸς κτλ. For the true meaning, comp. Deuteronomy 32:30; and Leviticus 26:8. The Heb. says: “One to a hundred, the little one; and the great one to a thousand.” This. too, is poetic, or, at least, rhetorical in character, and quite unlike the chronicler’s usual style.

These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.
(15) When it had overflown.—A proof of their valour. They did not wait till summer had made the Jordan shallow, but crossed it in spring, when perilously swollen with the rains and the melted snows of Lebanon. (Comp. Joshua 3:15.)

In the first month,—March—April; in Heb, A bib or Nisan.

Had overflown.—Was fillıng or brimming over.

And they put to flight all . . . the valleys.Literally, and they made all the valleys flee: that is, their inhabitants, who were hostile to their enterprise, both to the sunrise and the sunset, or on both sides of the river.

And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
(16-18) Some Benjamite and Judæan accessions. The names are not given, why we cannot tell.

(16) To the hold.—See Note on 1Chronicles 12:8.

And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.
(17) And David went out to meet them.—From his fastness or hiding-place in the hill or wood. Literally, before them, i.e., confronted them. (Comp, same phrase, 1Chronicles 14:8.)

And answered and said unto them.—The familiar New Testament phrase, καὶ ὰποκριθϵὶς ϵἰπϵν αύτοῖς. David’s speech and the answer of Amasai have all the marks of a genuine survival of antiquity. “If for peace ye have come unto me to help me.” For peace, i.e., with friendly intent. (Comp. Psalm 120:7.)

To help me.—Comp, 1Chronicles 12:1, where David’s comrades are called “helpers of the war,” ξύμμαχοι.

Mine heart shall be knit unto you.—Lite- rally, I shall have (fiet mihi) towards you a heart for union, or at unity: that is, a heart at one with and true to you. (Comp, “one heart,” 1Chronicles 12:38, and Psalm 133:1, and terms like unanimis, δμόφρων.)

If ye be come to betray me.—Literally, and if to beguile me for my foes, that is, to betray me to them, as Authorised Version. The false part of Sextus Tarquinius at Gabii, or of Zopyrus at Babylon. (Comp. Psalm 120:2.)

Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands.—Although (there be) no violence in my palms. (Comp. Job 16:17; Psalm 7:4; Isaiah 53:9.)

The God of our fathers . . . behold and punish.—The verbs are jussive or optative. (Comp. 2Chronicles 24:22.). The psalms of David breathe a confidence that Jehovah is a righteous judge, who never fails to vindicate innocence, and punish highhanded violence and treacherous cunning. (Comp. Psalm 9:12, Psa_10:14, Psa_18:20.)

Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.
(18) Then the spirit came upon Amasai.—Literally, and spirit clothed Amasai. The term for “God” (Elohim) has probably fallen out of the Heb. ext. (Comp. 2Chronicles 24:20, and Judges 6:34.) We, in these days, may word it differently, and say, Under a sudden impulse of enthusiasm, Amasai exclaimed, &c. But if we look deeper, and seek a definite interpretation of our terms, we shall allow that the impulses of spirit are spiritual, and that enthusiasm for truth and right is indeed a sort of divine possession. The Syriac renders: “The spirit of valour clothed Amasai.” Comp. Isaiah 11:2.) The spirit of Jehovah is the source of true courage, as of all other spiritual gifts.

Amasai.—Perhaps the same as Amasa (1Chronicles 2:17), son of Abigail, David’s sister, whom Joab murdered out of jealousy (2Samuel 17:25; 2Samuel 20:4-10).

Chief of the captains.—The Heb. text reads, “head of the Thirty,” with which the LXX., Svr., and Vulg. agree. The Heb. margin (Qri) has “knights,” or “chariot-soldiers” (Authorised Version, “captains”), which is less probable. Amasai’s name is not given in the catalogue of the Thirty (1 Chronicles 11), and he is here called “chief of the Thirty” by anticipation.

Thine are we, David.—The structure of Amasaľs inspired utterance is poetical—

“To thee, David!

And with thee, son of Ishai!

Peace, peace to thee.

And peace to thine helper;

For thy God hath holpen thee!

On thy side.—Heb., with thee. (Comp. 1Chronicles 11:10; and our Saviour’s “He that is not with me is against me.”)

Peace, peace be unto thee.—David had said, “If ye be come for peace”—that is, with friendly intent. Amasai answers, We will be fast friends with thee, and with all who befriend thee, because God is on thy side. (Comp, the usual Oriental greeting, Salãm ‘alaikum—Peace to you!) David’s past history gave ample evidence of Divine support.

Then David received them.—A late Heb. word (qibbēl). The chronicler resumes his narrative.

Made them captains of the band.—Literally, and bestowed them among the heads of the band—made them officers of his little army, which was continually growing by such adhesions, (Comp. 1Samuel 22:2, and 1Samuel 23:13.)

And there fell some of Manasseh to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle: but they helped them not: for the lords of the Philistines upon advisement sent him away, saying, He will fall to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads.
(19-22) The seven Manassite chieftains who went over to David on the eve of Saul’s last battle.

(19) There fell.—The regular term for desertion of one cause for another (2Kings 25:11).

When he came with the Philistines.—(Comp. 1Samuel 29:2-11.) This verse is a summary of the narrative of 1Samuel 29:2 to 1Samuel 30:1.

They helped them not.—David and his men helped not the Philistines. Perhaps the right reading is he helped them (‘azarām), not they helped them (‘azarûm).

Upon advisement.—After deliberation (Proverbs 20:18).

To the jeopardy of our heads.—At the price of our heads (1Chronicles 11:19). By betraying us he will make his peace with his old master.

As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.
(20) As he went to Ziklag.—On his dismissal by the Philistine princes, David returned with his men to Ziklag (1Samuel 30:1). On the way he was joined by the Manassite chieftains, probably before the battle which decided the fate of Saul and his sons (1Samuel 29:11).

Jozabad.—The repetition may be a scribe’s error. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:10; 1Chronicles 12:13, where we find the name Jeremiah given twice over.)

Captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.—(Comp. Numbers 31:14; and 1Chronicles 13:1; 1Chronicles 15:25; 1Chronicles 26:26.) The term “thousand” interchanges with “father-house” (clan); and perhaps each clan originally furnished 1,000 warriors to the tribal host.

And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.
(21) And they helped David against the band of the rovers.—So the Vulg. and Syr. The Heb. text has been called “brief and unintelligible,” and its explanation has been sought in 1Samuel 30:8; 1Samuel 30:15, where “the band” (haggedûd, as here) of Amalek, which had captured and burnt Ziklag in David’s absence, is spoken of. But why may we not render, “And these helped David over the band,” i.e., in the joint command of his forces. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:18, “made them captains of the band.”) It is pretty clear that the names enumerated (1Chronicles 12:1-20) are those of captains and chiefs, not of ordinary warriors. (Comp, 1Chronicles 12:14; 1Chronicles 12:18.) Consequently 1Chronicles 12:21-22 form a subscription or concluding remark to the entire list.

For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.
(22) For at that time day by day . . .—Literally, For at the time of each day (i.e., every day) men used to come to David to help him; amounting to a mighty camp, like a camp of God. The verse explains why David required so many captains as have been enumerated, and why the term “army” was used of his troop in the last verse.

A great host, like the host of God.—Literally, camp. The phrase has an antique colouring Comp. Genesis 32:1-2 : “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s camp (mahanēh ‘Elôhîm): and the name of that place was called Mahanaim (i.e., two camps). Mahanaim was a place iıı Manasseh (Joshua 13:30). Ancient Hebrew denotes excellence by reference to the Divine standard, which is the true ideal of all excellence. Comp. Psalm 36:6 : “Thy righteousness is like the hills of God”; and so elsewhere we find the expression, “cedars of God” (Psalm 80:11). The verse appears to include the considerable accessions to David’s forces which followed upon the defeat and death of Saul.

And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD.

(23) And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war.—Literally, And these are the numbers of the heads of the equipped for warfare. “Heads” may mean (1) polls, or individuals, as in Judges 5:30, though “skull” (gulgōleth) is more usual in this sense; or (2) it may mean “totals,” “bands,” as in Judges 7:16. The latter seems preferable here. The Vulg. and LXX. render “chiefs of the army”; but no chiefs are named in the list, except those of the Aaronites (1Chronicles 12:27-28); and we cannot suppose, on the strength of a single ambiguous term in the heading, that the character of the entire list has been altered by the chronicler. The Syriac version omits the whole verse.

And came to David.—“And” is wanting in the Heb. “They came to David at Hebron,” &c., is a parenthesis, unless the relative has fallen out.

To turn the kingdom.—Literally, to bring it round out of the direct line of natural heredity (1Chronicles 10:14).

According to the word.—Literally, mouth (1Chronicles 11:3; 1Chronicles 11:10). What Jehovah had spoken by Samuel was virtually the word of his own mouth.

The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.
(24) The sons of Judah.—The following list proceeds from south to north, and then passes over to the trans-Jordanic tribes.

That bare shield and spear.—Comp. 1Chronicles 12:8.

Ready armed to the war.Equipped for war fare. The tribe of Judah, which had acknowledged the sovereignty of David for the last seven years, had no need to appear in full force on the occasion of his recognition by the other tribes.

Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
(25) Mighty men of valour for the war.—Rather, for warfare, or military service.

Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.
(26) Of the children of Levi -Literally, Of the sons of the Levite; the article shows that the name is gentilic or tribal here, not personal. These martial Levites remind us of the priestly warriors of the crusades. That Levites might be soldiers, and in fact must have been such for the defence of the sanctuaries, is noted at 1Chronicles 9:13; 1Chronicles 9:19, and 2 Chronicles 23.

And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;
(27) And Jehoiada . . .—Literally, And Jehoiada the prince (hannagîd, 1Chronicles 9:11; 1Chronicles 9:20) belonging to Aaron. Aaronis used as the name of the leading clan of Levi. Jehoiada is perhaps father of the Benaiah of 1Chronicles 11:22. He was not high priest (Abiathar, 1Samuel 23:9), but head of the warriors of his clan. It is not clear whether the 3,700 are included in the 4,600 of 1Chronicles 12:26 or not. Probably not.

Was . . . were.—Omit.

And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.
(28) And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour.And Zadok, a youth, a valiant warrior. Perhaps the successor of Abiathar (1Kings 2:26-27; 1Kings 4:4), and his father-house (family), princes twenty and two. The sub-clan or family of Eleazar must have been strong at this time to be able to furnish all these captains, and their implied companies of warriors. But the sum total of the Levites is not given.

And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul.
(29) Kindred.—Fellow-tribesmen.

Hitherto.Up to that time. (Comp., same phrase, 1Chronicles 9:18.)

Had kept.Were still keeping guard over the house of Saul. For the phrase comp. Numbers 3:38. The Benjamites, as a whole, were still jealously guarding the interests of their own royal house. This remark, as well as the preceding expression, “Saul’s fellow-tribesmen,” is intended to explain the comparative smallness of the contingent from Benjamin. The tribe’s reluctance to recognise David survived the murder of Ish-bosheth.

And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.
(30) Famous throughout the house of their fathers.—Rather, men of name (renown, as in Genesis 6:4), arranged according to their clans. The phrase “men of renown” is a natural addition to “valiant heroes,” and need occasion no surprise. Doubtless their renown was collective. The comparative smallness of Ephraim’s contingent is noticeable. If this tribe was not already declining within the Mosaic period (comp. Numbers 1:33; Numbers 26:37), it may have been greatly reduced by the last wars of Saul with the Philistines (comp. 2Samuel 2:9).

And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.
(31) Which were expressed by name.—See the same phrase, 1Chronicles 16:41; Numbers 1:17. Literally it is pricked down, or entered in a list, by names. The men had been levied by the tribal chiefs, and enrolled in lists for this particular service.

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 brethren were at their commandment.
(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.

Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.
(33) Expert in war . . . Marshalling (or ordering) battle with all kinds of weapons of war, and falling into rank (la’adōr, forming in line) without a double heart. The expression “falling into rank” occurs only here and in 1Chronicles 12:38. Nine MSS. read instead “ helping “ (la’zōr), and the LXX. and Vulg. so translate. The Syriac has “to make war with those who disputed the sovranty of David.” The phrase “falling into rank without a heart and a heart,” asserts the unwavering fidelity and resolute courage of these warriors of Zebulun (comp. Psalm 12:3, “a speech of smooth things with heart and heart they speak”; they think one thing and say another; are double-minded). The number of warriors assigned to Zebulun and Naphtali has been thought surprising, because these tribes “never played an important part in the history of Israel” (comp., however, Judges 5:18). The numbers here given are, at all events, not discordant with those of Numbers 1:31; Numbers 1:43; Numbers 26:27; Numbers 26:50.

And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
(34) Spear (hănîth).—A different word from that in 1Chronicles 12:24 (rômah). Perhaps the former was thrown, the latter thrust.

And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.
(35) The Danites.—Literally, the Danite, as in 1Chronicles 12:26, the Levite. Comp. Note on 1Chronicles 7:12. Dan is not omitted in the present list.

And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.
(36) Expert in war.—Literally, to order or marshal battle (ad aciem struendam). The same phrase occurred in 1Chronicles 12:33; 1Chronicles 12:35. The margin (1Chronicles 12:33), “rangers of battle,” is good.

And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand.
(37) On the other side.—Better, from the other side; that is, from Peræa.

With all manner of instruments of war for the battle.With all kinds of weapons of war- like service. The large total of 120,000 for the two and a half Eastern tribes is certainly remarkable. But, admitting the possibility of corruption in the ciphers here and elsewhere, the want of other documents, with which the text might be compared, renders further criticism superfluous.

All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.
(38) Conclusion of the list of 1Chronicles 12:23-37.

All these men of war.Rather, All the above, being men of war, forming line of battle with whole heart, came to Hebron to make David king. The phrase “forming line of battle,” repeats the verb of 1Chronicles 12:3, and supplies its proper object (‘ôdĕrê ma’drãkhah, aciem struentes). The Hebrew indicates a stop at “line of battle;” it is better to put it after “with whole heart” (comp. 1Chronicles 12:33). “They formed in line with fearless intrepidity;” literally, corde integro.

And all the rest also of Israel, who did not appear personally at Hebron.—” The rest (shērîth) is a term used here only. The Hebrew says, “the remainder of Israel (was) one heart,” i.e., was unanimous. (Comp. 2Chronicles 30:12.)

Allowing the average for Issachar, the total of the warriors assembled at Hebron was upwards of 300,000. This will not surprise us if we bear in mind that in those days every able-bodied man was, as a matter of course, trained in the use of arms, and liable to be called out for the king,s wars. Thus “man” and “warrior” were almost convertible terms. The present gathering was not a parade of the entire strength of the nation; coınp. the 600,000 warriors of the Exodus, and the 1,300,000 of David’s census. The main difficulty—that of the relative proportions of the various tribal contingents—has been considered in the preceding Notes. The suggestions there made are, of course, uncertain, the fact being that we really do not know enough of the condition of the tribes at that epoch to justify us in pronouncing upon the relative probability of the numbers here assigned to them. That being so, it is a hasty and uncritical exaggeration to say that “it is absolutely inconceivable that the tribes near the place of meeting, notably that of Judah, should have furnised so small a contingent, while the figures are raised in direct proportion to the distance to be traversed” (Reuss).

And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.
(39-40) The coronation feast. Comp. 1Kings 1:9; 1Kings 1:19; 1Kings 1:25; the usurpation of Adonijah.

Their brethren.—Fellow tribesmen of Judah; especially those living at and around Hebron.

Had prepared victuals.—2Chronicles 35:14.

Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.
(40) They that were nigh them.—The tribes bordering on Judah (LXX. οἱ ὁμοροῦντες), and even the northern tribes, contributed provisions.

Brought, were bringing.

Asses . . . camels . . . mules . . . oxen, but not horses, were the usual beasts of burden in rocky Canaan.

Meat, meal.—Rather, food of flour.

Bunches.—Rather, cakes of raisins; masses of dried figs and raisins were, and are, a staple article of’ food iıı the East (comp. 1Samuel 25:18; Amos 8:11). The simple diction of the narrative, reminding us of Homer’s feasts, is a mark of its ancient origin.

1 Chronicles 13-16 form a complete section relating to the transfer of the Ark from Kirjath-jearim to its new sanctuary at Jerusalem. The continuity of the narrative is only suspended by the short parenthetic 1 Chronicles 14. 1 Chronicles 13 is closely parallel to 2Samuel 6:1-11. The introduction, however (1Chronicles 12:1-5), is much fuller than that of Samuel, which is condensed into one brief sentence.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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