Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
1Ch 12:1-22. The Companies That Came to David at Ziklag.
1-7. Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag—There are three lists given in this chapter, arranged, apparently, according to the order of time when the parties joined the standard of David.
while he yet kept himself close because of Saul—that is, when the king's jealousy had driven him into exile from the court and the country.
Ziklag—(See on 1Sa 27:6). It was during his retirement in that Philistine town that he was joined in rapid succession by the heroes who afterwards contributed so much to the glory of his reign.
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. of Saul's brethren of Benjamin—that is, of the tribe of Benjamin (compare 1Ch 12:29), but some of them might be relatives of the king. This movement to which the parties were led, doubtless by the secret impulse of the Spirit, was of vast importance to the cause of David, as it must have been founded on their observation of the evident withdrawal of God's blessing from Saul, and His favoring presence with David, to whom it was universally known the Divine King of Israel had given the crown in reversion. The accession of the Benjamites who came first and their resolution to share his fortunes must have been particularly grateful to David. It was a public and emphatic testimony by those who had enjoyed the best means of information to the unblemished excellence of his character, as well as a decided protest against the grievous wrong inflicted by causelessly outlawing a man who had rendered such eminent services to his country.
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,
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—It appears that not only the Canaanites who were admitted into the congregation (Jos 9:1-27), but people of the tribe of Benjamin, were among the inhabitants of Gibeon. The mention of "the Gederathite," probably from Gederah (Jos 15:36), in the lowlands of Judah; of the Korhites (1Ch 12:6), from Korah (1Ch 2:43), and of Gedor (1Ch 12:7), a town in Judah, to the southwest of Beth-lehem (compare 1Ch 4:4), shows that this first list contains men of Judah as well as Benjamin [Bertheau].
Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,
Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korhites,
And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
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;
8-13. of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David—that is, from the service of Saul and from the rest of the Gadites who remained steadfast adherents of his cause.
into the hold—or fortress, that is, of Ziklag, which was in the wilderness of Judah.
whose faces were like the faces of lions, &c.—A fierce, lion-like countenance (2Sa 1:23), and great agility in pursuit (2Sa 2:18), were qualities of the highest estimation in ancient warfare.
Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,
Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh.
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. one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand—David, while at Ziklag, had not so large an amount of forces as to give to each of these the command of so many men. Another meaning, therefore, must obviously be sought, and excluding was, which is a supplement by our translators, the import of the passage is, that one of the least could discomfit a hundred, and the greatest was worth a thousand ordinary men; a strong hyperbole to express their uncommon valor.
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. These are they that went over Jordan in the first month—that is, in spring, when the swollen river generally fills up the banks of its channel (see on Jos 3:14; Jos 4:19; Jos 5:10).
they put to flight all them of the valleys—This was probably done at the time of their separating themselves and their purpose being discovered, they had to cut their passage through the opposing adherents of Saul, both on the eastern and western banks. The impossibility of taking the fords at such a time, and the violent rapidity of the current, make this crossing of the Jordan—in whatever way these Gadites accomplished it—a remarkable feat.
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
16. the children of Benjamin and Judah—It is probable that the Benjamites invited the Judahites to accompany them, in order to prevent David being suspicious of them. Their anticipations, as the result showed, were well founded. He did suspect them, but the doubts of David as to their object in repairing to him, were promptly dispelled by Amasai or Amasa, who, by the secret impulse of the Spirit, assured him of their strong attachment and their zealous service from a unanimous conviction that his cause was owned and blessed of God (1Sa 18:12-14).
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.
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.
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. there fell some of Manasseh—The period of their accession is fixed as the time when David came with the Philistines against Saul to battle.
but they helped them not—(See on 1Sa 29:4).
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—If those Manassites joined him on his return to Ziklag, after his dismissal from the Philistine army, then their arrival took place before the battle of Gilboa could have been fought (compare 1Sa 29:11). Convinced of the desperate state of Saul's affairs, they abandoned him, and resolved to transfer their allegiance to David. But some learned men think that they came as fugitives from that disastrous field [Calmet and Ewald].
captains of the thousands … of Manasseh—Those seven were commanders of the large military divisions of their tribe.
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, 22. they helped David against the band—that is, the Amalekites who had pillaged Ziklag in David's absence. This military expedition was made by all his men (1Sa 30:9), who, as David's early helpers, are specially distinguished from those who are mentioned in the latter portion of the chapter.
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. the host of God—that is, a great and powerful army.
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.
1Ch 12:23-40. The Armies That Came to Him at Hebron.
23. these are the numbers of the bands … that came to David to Hebron—after the death of Ish-bosheth (see on 2Sa 5:1).
to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord—(1Ch 10:14; 11:3, 10). The account commences with the southern tribes, Levi being associated with Judah and Simeon, as the great majority of the leading men in this tribe resided in Judah; and, after recounting the representatives of the northern tribes, it concludes with those on the east of Jordan.
The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.
Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.
And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;
27. Jehoiada, the leader of the Aaronites—not the high priest, for that was Abiathar (1Sa 23:9), but the leader of the Aaronite warriors, supposed to be the father of Benaiah (1Ch 11:22).
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.
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. Benjamin … three thousand—This small number shows the unpopularity of the movement in this tribe; and, indeed, it is expressly stated that the mass of the population had, even after Ish-bosheth's death, anxiously endeavored to secure the crown in the family of Saul.
And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.
And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.
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. 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.
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. Zebulun … could keep rank—that is, were more disciplined soldiers than the rest.
not of double heart—Though their numbers were large, all were in a high degree well affected to David.
And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.
And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.
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.
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. all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king—that is, entertained a unanimous desire for his elevation.
And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.
39, 40. there they were with David three days, eating and drinking—According to the statements made in the preceding verses, the number of armed warriors assembled in Hebron on this occasion amounted to three hundred thousand. Supplies of provisions were abundantly furnished, not only by the people of the neighborhood, but from distant parts of the country, for all wished the festivities to be on a scale of liberality and magnificence suitable to the auspicious occasion.
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.