Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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.
Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
2, 3. Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel—(See on 1Ch 11:11; 2Sa 23:8). Hachmoni was his father, Zabdiel probably one of his ancestors; or there might be different names of the same individual. In the rotation of the military courses, the dignity of precedence, not of authority, was given to the hero.
Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.
And over the course of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite, and of his course was Mikloth also the ruler: in his course likewise were twenty and four thousand.
4. second month was Dodai—or, "Dodo." Here the text seems to require the supplement of "Eleazar the son of Dodo" (2Sa 23:9).
The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.
The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
7. Asahel—This officer having been slain at the very beginning of David's reign [2Sa 2:23], his name was probably given to this division in honor of his memory, and his son was invested with the command.
The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Furthermore over the tribes of Israel: the ruler of the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri: of the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maachah:
1Ch 27:16-24. Princes of the Twelve Tribes.
16. over the tribes of Israel: the ruler—This is a list of the hereditary chiefs or rulers of tribes at the time of David's numbering the people. Gad and Asher are not included; for what reason is unknown. The tribe of Levi had a prince (1Ch 27:17), as well as the other tribes; and although it was ecclesiastically subject to the high priest, yet in all civil matters it had a chief or head, possessed of the same authority and power as in the other tribes, only his jurisdiction did not extend to the priests.
Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the Aaronites, Zadok:
Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael:
18. Elihu—probably the same as Eliab (1Sa 16:6).
Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah: of Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel:
Of the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah: of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah:
Of the half tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah: of Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner:
Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.
But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.
23. But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under—The census which David ordered did not extend to all the Israelites; for to contemplate such an enumeration would have been to attempt an impossibility (Ge 28:14), and besides would have been a daring offense to God. The limitation to a certain age was what had probably quieted David's conscience as to the lawfulness of the measure, while its expediency was strongly pressed upon his mind by the army arrangements he had in view.
Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he finished not, because there fell wrath for it against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David.
24. neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of King David—either because the undertaking was not completed, Levi and Benjamin not having been numbered (1Ch 21:6), or the full details in the hands of the enumerating officers were not reported to David, and, consequently, not registered in the public archives.
the chronicles—were the daily records or annals of the king's reign. No notice was taken of this census in the historical register, as from the public calamity with which it was associated it would have stood as a painful record of the divine judgment against the king and the nation.
And over the king's treasures was Azmaveth the son of Adiel: and over the storehouses in the fields, in the cities, and in the villages, and in the castles, was Jehonathan the son of Uzziah:
25. over the king's treasures—Those treasures consisted of gold, silver, precious stones, cedar-wood, &c.; those which he had in Jerusalem as distinguished from others without the city.
the storehouses in the fields—Grain covered over with layers of straw is frequently preserved in the fields under little earthen mounds, like our potato pits.
And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:
And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:
27. the vineyards—These seem to have been in the vine growing districts of Judah, and were committed to two men of that quarter.
wine-cellars—The wine is deposited in jars sunk in the court of the house.
And over the olive trees and the sycomore trees that were in the low plains was Baalhanan the Gederite: and over the cellars of oil was Joash:
28. olive trees and the sycamore trees … in the low plains—that is, the Shephela, the rich, low-lying ground between the Mediterranean and the mountains of Judah.
And over the herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite: and over the herds that were in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai:
29. herds that fed in Sharon—a fertile plain between Cæsarea and Joppa.
Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:
30. camels—These were probably in the countries east of the Jordan, and hence an Ishmaelite and Nazarite were appointed to take charge of them.
And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David's.
31. rulers of the substance that was king David's—How and when the king acquired these demesnes and this variety of property—whether it was partly by conquests, or partly by confiscation, or by his own active cultivation of waste lands—is not said. It was probably in all these ways. The management of the king's private possessions was divided into twelve parts, like his public affairs and the revenue derived from all these sources mentioned must have been very large.
Also Jonathan David's uncle was a counseller, a wise man, and a scribe: and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king's sons:
And Ahithophel was the king's counseller: and Hushai the Archite was the king's companion:
And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar: and the general of the king's army was Joab.