Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Now. This list is entirely of a political nature. It seems to have been made before David had obtained the throne of Israel, (ver. 7.) though perhaps the monthly division did not comprise 24,000, before that time. This regulation was very excellent, and enabled the king to have an army of 300,000 men, at a short notice. It was not attended with any material inconvenience to the people, as none were on service above a month. --- Hands. Commanders in chief. --- Captains. Twenty-four in number, with 240 centurions under them. --- Officers. Hebrew shoterim. Septuagint, "scribes," whose employment is not well ascertained. They perhaps acted as commissaries, or kept an account of the king's troops, and reviewed them. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "and scribes serving the people, and the king's orders respecting the divisions, both coming in and going out, monthly, throughout the year. One division comprised 24,000 men.
Jesboam. Hebrew, "Jashobham," as [in] chap. xi. 11. He was the first after Joab, (Haydock) and a descendant of Pharez, like David, and waiting upon the king in the month of Nisan, which almost agrees with our March (Menochius) and April. (Haydock) --- Zabdiel, the Hachmonite, may therefore denote his country; (Kennicott) or Zabdiel might be his ancestor, though the same man has frequently different names. We find several companions of this general in the sequel.
Dudia, of Dodi, the father of Eleazar, chap. xi. 12. (Calmet) --- After him, his substitute. (Tirinus) --- Hebrew, "and Macelloth, chief also of his course, consisting likewise of 24,000." (Haydock)
Priest. This we read no where else, so that some understand, "a chief officer at court," 2 Kings viii. 18. (Calmet) --- But he might be (Haydock) of the tribe of Levi. (Menochius) --- His exploits are mentioned, chap. xi. 21.
Company, in his absence, (Haydock) as lieutenant. (Salien)
After him. He acted under his father, and succeeded (Menochius) to Asahel's post, after Abner had slain him, 2 Kings ii. 23., and xxiii. 24. (Calmet)
Samaoth. Perhaps Samma, or Sammoth of Arodi, or Arari; places with which we are not acquainted, unless they denote some of his progenitors. Jazer is well known. (Calmet) --- Chap. xxvi. 34.
Hari. Mentioned as one of David's brave men, chap. xi. 28.
Phallonite, or of Phalti, 2 Kings xxiii. 26.
Zarahi, or of Zara, the son of Thamar, chap. xi. 29. Sobochai slew the giant Saph, 2 Kings xxi. 17.
Jemini, or Benjamin. (Calmet) --- The first syllable is neglected. (Menochius)
Marai, or Marahai, sprung from Zara. (Calmet)
Ephraim. Pharathon was in this tribe. (Menochius)
Holdai, called Heled, the son of Baana, chap. xi. 30., and 2 Kings xxiii. 29. --- Gothoniel. So the Septuagint write Othoniel, (Haydock) so famous in the book of Judges, i. 13., and iii. 9.
Chiefs, by their birth-right. The former were chosen for merit. (Tirinus) --- The tribes of Aser and of Gad are omitted, either because the list was not in the hands of the author, or it was overlooked by transcribers. (Calmet) --- Rubenites, with whom Em Sa joins the Gadites. (Menochius)
Eliu. Probably the same with Eliab, the eldest son of Isai, (1 Kings xvi. 7.; Calmet) or the youngest but David, (chap. ii. 15.) whose name is preserved by the Syriac, &c.
Heaven. It would have seemed, therefore, as if David distrusted the divine promise, (Haydock) and attempted what was impossible (Grotius) or useless. (Calmet) --- He had before offended, and hence would now only number those who were wanted. (Worthington)
Number, those above 20; but he acted with reluctance, (Tirinus) and the wrath of heaven prevented the entire completion of the king's order, chap. xxi. 6., and 2 Kings xxiv. 9. --- David. It would hence appear that the list was perfected, but not delivered to the king. The commissioners retained some of the lists; and, perhaps from these, Esdras has inserted what relates to Benjamin, (chap. vii. 6.) as the account was not given in chap. xxi. 6. (Calmet) --- This list may, however, have been made at another time; as we are informed that Benjamin and Levi were not numbered. (Haydock) --- The Book of Kings, where we find it, is therefore a different work. (Du Hamel)
Treasures of gold, &c., as those of provisions had other officers. (Calmet) --- Were in. Hebrew and Septuagint add, "the fields, in the cities," &c. (Haydock) --- This must be understood of corn; wine is mentioned afterwards. Nothing could give us a higher opinion of David's wisdom than these details.
Ground, for the king. This was done at the expense of the nation, and by the people, no less than the vintage, 2 Kings viii. 12. The companions of Daniel were thus appointed to superintend the workmen of Nabuchodonosor, Daniel ii. 49. Xenophon (Cyrop. viii.) styles such, Greek: ergon epistatas, "men set over the works." (Haydock)
Cellars. Hebrew, "over the increase of the vineyards, for the wine cellars." (Protestants) Wine was formerly kept in cisterns, in the vineyards, till it was taken into large earthen vessels,and placed in cellars.
Saron, a fertile region at the food of the mountains of Galaad; also a vale near the Mediterranean, (Calmet) in Ephraim, extending as far as Joppe. (Adrichomius) (Menochius)
Ismahelite. People of that nation deal much in camels. (Calmet) --- Ubil had embraced the Jewish religion, or perhaps he was originally an Israelite, but had acquired the title of Ismahelite by some exploit, or by residing long in the country. (Menochius)
Man. Hebrew, "a writer." He was a good politician and lawyer. (Grotius) --- Sons, as tutors. (Du Hamel) (Calmet) --- Jahiel was perhaps the brother of Jesbaam, chap. xi. 11. (Menochius)
Friend. Chusai rendered the most signal service to the king, 2 Kings xvi. 23., and xvii. 1. (Calmet)
After, inferior, (Salien) as Achitophel's advice was esteemed like an oracle, (Calmet) or Joiada, a chief priest, and Abiathar, the pontiff, succeeded to his place, after he had hung himself. (Tirinus) (Du Hamel)