Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Registers of the Valiant Men Who Helped David to the Kingdom - 1 Chronicles 12
This chapter contains two somewhat long registers, viz.: (1) a register of the valiant men who before Saul's death went over to David, vv. 1-22; and (2) a register of the fighting men who anointed him king in Hebron. The first is divided into three smaller registers: (a) that of the valiant Benjamites who came to David during his stay in Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:1-7); (b) that of the Gadites and the men of Judah and Benjamin who went over to him while he remained in the mountain fastnesses; and (c) that of the Manassites who, on his return to Ziklag before Saul's last battle with the Philistines, joined themselves to him (1 Chronicles 12:19-22).
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.The Benjamites who came to David to Ziklag. - 1 Chronicles 12:1. Ziklag was originally allotted to the Simeonites by Joshua (Joshua 19:5; 1 Chronicles 4:30), but at a later time came into possession of the Philistines, and was assigned and presented by king Achish to David, who had fled for refuge to him, as a dwelling-place for himself and his followers; see 1 Samuel 27:1-7. As to its situation, which has not yet been with certainty ascertained, see the discussion on Joshua 15:31. In it David dwelt for a year and four months, until he went to Hebron on the death of Saul. During this time it was that the warriors of the tribe of Benjamin mentioned in the succeeding register went over to him, as we learn from the words עצוּר עוד, "he was still held back before Saul," a concise expression for "while he was still held back before Saul." This last expression, however, does not signify, "hindered from coming before Saul" (Berth.), but inter Israelitas publice versari prohibitus (J. H. Mich.), or rather, "before Saul, imprisoned as it were, without being able to appear in a manner corresponding to his divine election to be ruler over Israel." בגב והמּה, and they were among the heroes, i.e., belonged to the heroes, the helpers of the war, i.e., to those who helped him in his former wars; cf. 1 Chronicles 12:17., 21f.
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.קשׁת נשׁקי, "those preparing bows," i.e., those armed with bows, synonymous with קשׁת דּרכי (1 Chronicles 8:40); cf. 2 Chronicles 17:17; Psalm 78:9. "With the right and left hand practised upon stones," i.e., to hurl stones, cf. Judges 20:16; "and in arrows on the bow," i.e., to shoot therewith. שׁאוּל מאחי, of Saul's brethren, i.e., of the men of the tribe, not "of his nearer relatives," and consequently of Benjamin, has been added as an explanation; cf. 1 Chronicles 12:29, where בנימן בּני and שׁאוּל אחי are synonyms. - In 1 Chronicles 12:3. we have the names. הראשׁ, the head, i.e., the leader of this host of warriors; compare 1 Chronicles 5:7, 1 Chronicles 5:12. הגּבעתי, cf. Gibeah of Saul or Benjamin, cf. 1 Chronicles 11:31; and for its situation, see on Joshua 18:28. הענתתי, from the priests' city Anathoth, now Anata; see on Joshua 18:24. In 1 Chronicles 12:4 the Gibeonite Ismaiah is called "hero among the thirty, and over the thirty," - words which can hardly have any other sense than that Ismaiah belonged also to David's corps of thirty heroes (1 Chronicles 11), and was (temporarily) their leader, although his name does not occur in 1 Chronicles 11. It is probable that the reason of the omission was, that at the time when the list was prepared he was no longer alive. הגּדרתי, of Gedera, a city of the tribe of Judah in the Shephelah, which, according to Van de Velde (Reise, ii. S. 166), was probably identical with the village Ghedera, which lies to the left of the road Tel-es-Safieh to Akir, about an hour to the south-west of Jabne. In any case, it corresponds well with the statements of the Onom. As to Gedrus, or Gaedur, see on Joshua 15:36. Immediately afterwards in 1 Chronicles 12:7 Gedor is mentioned, a city in the mountains of Judah, to the westward of the road which leads from Hebron to Jerusalem (see on Joshua 15:58); and from that fact Bertheau imagines we must conclude that the men of Judah are enumerated as well as the Benjamites. But this conclusion is not valid; for from the very beginning, when the domains and cities were assigned to the individual tribes under Joshua, they were not the exclusive possession of the individual tribes, and at a later period they were still less so. In course of time the respective tribal domains underwent (in consequence of wars and other events) many alterations, not only in extent, but also in regard to their inhabitants, so that in Saul's time single Benjamite families may quite well have had their home in the cities of Judah.
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,
Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,החרוּפי (Keri החריפי) is a patronymic, which denotes either one descended from Haruph, or belonging to the חריף בּני mentioned in Nehemiah 7:34 along with the Gibeonites. The קרחים, Korahites, in 1 Chronicles 12:6 are, without doubt (cf. Delitzsch, Ps. S. 300), descendants of the Levite Korah, one division of whom David made guardian of the thresholds of the tent erected for the ark of the covenant on Zion, because their fathers had been watchers of the entrance of the camp of Jahve, i.e., had in that earlier time held the office of watchers by the tabernacle; see on 1 Chronicles 9:18. The names Elkanah and Azareel are thoroughly Levitic names, and their service in the porter's office in the holy place may have roused in them the desire to fight for David, the chosen of the Lord. But there is no reason why we should, with Bertheau, interpret the words as denoting descendants of the almost unknown Korah of the tribe of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:43), or, with the older commentators, refer it to some other unmentioned Benjamite who bore this name. The explanation of the connection existing between these Levitic Korahites and the Benjamites, which is presupposed by the mention of them among the Benjamites, may be found in the fact that the Levites received no tribal domain of their own, and possessed only cities for dwelling in in the domains of the other tribes, with whom they were consequently civilly incorporated, so that those who dwelt in the cities of Benjamin were properly reckoned among the Benjamites. At the partition of the land under Joshua, it is true, only the priests received their cities in Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin; while, on the contrary, the Kohathites, who were not priests, among whom the Korahites were, received their cities in the tribal domain of Ephraim, Dan, and half-Manasseh (Joshua 21:9-26). But when the tabernacle was transferred from Shiloh to Nob, and afterwards to Gibeon, the Korahite doorkeepers must, without doubt, have migrated to one of the Levitic cities of Benjamin, probably for the most part to Gibeon, and who were reckoned among the Benjamites. As to הגּדור מן, vide 1 Chronicles 12:4. If this be so, there remains no cogent reason for supposing that in our register, besides the Benjamites, men out of other tribes are also introduced. With that there falls away at once Bertheau's further conclusion, that the author of the Chronicle has considerably abridged the register, and that from 1 Chronicles 12:4 onwards men of Judah also are named, the list of whom must certainly (?) have been originally introduced by special superscription similar to those in 1 Chronicles 12:8, 1 Chronicles 12:16, 1 Chronicles 12:19. His further reason for his conjecture - namely, that our register makes use of the qualificative epithets, "the Gibeathite," "the Anathothite," etc., only in a few special cases-is of no force whatever; for we are not justified in assuming that we may expect to find here, as in the register in 1 Chronicles 11:26-47, such qualificatives after every individual name. The character of our register cannot be arrived at by a comparison with the list of David's heroes in 1 Chronicles 11; it should rather be sought for by comparing it with the succeeding list, whose contents are of a similar kind with its own. David's chosen corps of thirty heroes was much more important for the history of his reign, than the lists of the men who joined themselves to him and fought on his behalf before he ascended the throne. For that reason the thirty heroes are not only mentioned by name, but their descent also is told us, while that more detailed information is not given with regard to the others just mentioned. Only the names of the Gadites and Manassites are mentioned; of the Benjamites and men of Judah, who came to him in the mountain fastness (1 Chronicles 12:16-18), the name of only one, Amasai, is given; while of the Benjamites who came to Ziklag, 1 Chronicles 12:3-7, such qualificative statements are made in reference to only a few individuals, and in these cases the object probably was to distinguish them from other well-known persons of the same name.
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;The Gadites, Benjamites, and men of Judah who joined themselves to David during his sojourn in the mountain fastness. - 1 Chronicles 12:8. David's sojourn in the mountain hold falls in the first years of his flight from Saul, 1 Samuel 22:1. מצד, pointed with Pathach instead of with Kamets (מצד, cf. 1 Chronicles 12:16), on account of its intimate connection with מדבּרה, is synonymous with מצוּדה (1 Samuel 24:22, etc.). The addition מדבּרה, "towards the wilderness," shows that מצד denotes a mountain-top or mountain-fortress in the wilderness of Judah. If we compare the account in 1 Samuel 22-24, we learn that David at that time did not hide himself in one single definite mountain-fortress, but sought and found resting-places, now here, now there, in the wilderness, on the summits of the hills (cf. בּמּצדות בּמּדבּר, 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 24:1); so that מצד here is to be understood, as המּצוּדה, 1 Samuel 24:3, also is, generally of the fastnesses in the mountains of Judah. At that time there gathered round David a great company of discontented and oppressed men, to the number of about 400, - men dissatisfied with Saul's rule, whose leader he became, and who soon amounted to 600 men (1 Samuel 22:2 and 1 Samuel 23:13). To these belong the Gadites, and the men out of Benjamin and Judah, whose adhesion to David is noticed in our verses. נבדּלוּ, they separated themselves from the other Gadites who were on Saul's side, "strong heroes," as in Joshua 8:3; cf. חיל גּבּורי, 1 Chronicles 5:24; 1 Chronicles 7:2, 1 Chronicles 7:9, etc. למּלחמה צבא אנשׁי, men for service in the host for the war, i.e., combatants practised in war. ורמח צנּה ערכי, preparing shield and spear, i.e., wielding shield and spear, practised in their use: the preparing of these weapons includes the handling of them. Instead of ורמח, Veneta and many of the older copies have וּמגן; but it is not supported by MS authority, and moreover is not congruous with the passage. Lions' faces their faces, i.e., lion-like in appearance, thoroughly warlike figures; cf. 2 Samuel 1:23. "As roes running swiftly on the mountains;" cf. 2 Samuel 2:18. This description of the strength and swiftness of these warriors recalls, as Bertheau remarks, the similar expressions used in the historical books concerning heroes of David's time. It has manifestly been drawn from the original documents, not added by the chronicler. In 1 Chronicles 12:9-13 the names are enumerated individually. עשׂר עשׁתּי, at the end of a series of ordinal numbers, denotes the eleventh; cf. 1 Chronicles 24:12.
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.הצּבא ראשׁי, heads of the war-host, i.e., chief warriors, not leaders of the host. וגו למאה אחד, "one for a hundred, (viz.) the small and the greater for a thousand," i.e., the smaller (weaker) could cope with a hundred, the stronger with a thousand men; cf. Leviticus 26:8. This, which is the only correct interpretation, is that received by Bertheau and the older Jewish commentators. The Vulgate, on the contrary, translates, novissimus centum militibus praeerat et maximus mille, which is inadmissible, for in that case על must have been used instead of ל. The אחד belongs to both the clauses which it precedes, to הקּטן and to הגּדול, and is placed immediately before למאה to emphasize the contrast between one and a hundred. In 1 Chronicles 12:15 we have a proof of their valour, in an account of a bold exploit performed by them. In the first month of the year, that is, in spring, when the Jordan overflows all its banks, they crossed the river and put to flight all the dwellers in the valleys towards the east and towards the west. This happened, probably, when they separated themselves from their brethren and went over to David, when they must have had to cut their way through the adherents of Saul (Berth.). The Piel מלּא with על denotes to make full, to make to run over, in the signification to overflow. The Kethibh גּדיתיו comes from גּדיה elsewhere only the plural גּדתיו, so also here in the Keri. In the dry summer season the Jordan may be crossed by wading at various points (fords); while in spring, on the contrary, when it is so swollen by the melting snows of Lebanon, that in some parts it overflows its banks, it is very dangerous to attempt to cross. See on Joshua 3:15. העמקים, "the valleys," for the inhabitants of the valleys.
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.
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.There came to David in the mountain-fastness also men of Benjamin and Judah (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:8). Their names are not in the lists, possibly because they were not handed down in the historical works made use of by the chronicler. At their head, as we learn from 1 Chronicles 12:18, stood Amasai, chief of the thirty, i.e., of the corps formed of the thirty heroes (see 1 Chronicles 11:11), although his name does not occur in the catalogue, 1 Chronicles 11. According to this, Amasai must have occupied a very important position under David; but since the name עמשׂי is not elsewhere mentioned in the history of David, the older commentators have conjectured that עמשׂי may have been the same person as עמשׂא, son of Abigail (1 Chronicles 2:17), whom Absalom made captain in Joab's place, and whom David, after the victory over the rebels, wished to make commander-in-chief in the room of Joab, and whom for that reason Joab afterwards murdered (2 Samuel 17:25; 2 Samuel 19:14; 2 Samuel 20:4, 2 Samuel 20:8.); or identical with אבשׁי the son of Zeruiah, 1 Chronicles 2:16 and 1 Chronicles 11:20. Of these conjectures the first is much more probable than the second. To meet these men, David went forth from his fastness, and asked them with what purpose they came to him. "If for peace," to stand by him, "then shall there be to me towards you a heart for union," i.e., I will be with you of one heart, be true to you. ליחד לבב is plainer than אחד לב, 1 Chronicles 12:38. "But if לרמּותני, to practise deceit against me (to be guilty of a מרמה) for mine enemies (to deliver me to them), although there be no wrong in my hands, the God of our fathers look thereon and punish;" cf. 2 Chronicles 24:22. The God of our fathers, i.e., of the patriarchs (cf. Ezra 7:27; 2 Chronicles 20:6, and Exodus 3:13.), who rules in and over Israel, who shields the innocent and punishes the guilty.
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.Then came the Spirit upon Amasai, so that he proclaimed himself enthusiastic for David and his cause. With לבשׁה רוּח cf. Judges 6:34. Usually יהוה or אלהים is found with this expression (2 Chronicles 24:20), and here also the Spirit of God is meant; and אלהים is omitted only because all that was of importance here was to show that the resolution announced by Amasai was an effect of higher spiritual influence. לך, to thee, David (do we belong), thine are we. עמּך, "with thee," sc. will we remain and fight. "Peace be to thee, and peace be to thy helpers; for thy God helpeth thee." עזרך, He has helped thee in the fortunate combats in which you have heretofore been engaged (1 Samuel 18:12.), and He will help still further. David thereupon received them and made them captains of his band. הגּדוּד, the warrior-band, which had gathered round David, and were still gathering round him, 1 Samuel 22:2; 1 Samuel 27:8, cf. also 1 Chronicles 12:21; 1 Samuel 30:8, 1 Samuel 30:15, 1 Samuel 30:23, etc.
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.The Manassites who went over to David before the last battle of the Philistines against Saul. - על גפל, to fall to one, is used specially of deserters in war who desert their lord and go over to the enemy: cf. 2 Kings 25:11; 1 Samuel 29:3. אל יפּול, in the last clause of the verse, is a synonymous expression. The Manassites went over "when David went with the Philistines against Israel to the war, and (yet) helped them not; for upon advisement (בּעצה, cf. Proverbs 20:18), the lords of the Philistines had sent him away, saying, 'For our heads, he will fall away to his master Saul.' " 1 Samuel 29:2-11 contains the historical commentary on this event. When the lords of the Philistines collected their forces to march against Saul, David, who had found refuge with King Achish, was compelled to join the host of that prince with his band. But when the other Philistine princes saw the Hebrews, they demanded that they should be sent out of the army, as they feared that David might turn upon them during the battle, and so win favour by his treachery with Saul his lord. See the commentary on 1 Samuel 29:1-11. בּראשׁנוּ, for our heads, i.e., for the price of them, giving them as a price to obtain a friendly reception from Saul (cf. 1 Samuel 29:4). In consequence of this remonstrance, Achish requested David to return with his warriors to Ziklag. On this return march ("as he went to Ziklag," cf. with בּלכתּו the ללכת of 1 Samuel 29:11), and consequently before the battle in which Saul lost his life (Berth.), and not after Saul's great misfortune, as Ewald thinks, the Manassites whose names follow went over to David. The seven named in 1 Chronicles 12:20 were "heads of the thousands of Manasseh," i.e., of the great families into which the tribe of Manasseh was divided, and as such were leaders of the Manassite forces in war: cf. Numbers 31:14 with Exodus 18:25, and the commentary on the latter passage.
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.
And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.These
(Note: We take והמּה to refer to the Manassites named in 1 Chronicles 12:20, like the והמּה of 1 Chronicles 12:1 and the הם אלּה הם eht of 1 Chronicles 12:15. Bertheau, on the contrary, thinks on various grounds that המּה refers to all the heroes who have been spoken of in vv. 1-20. In the first place, it was not the Manassites alone who took part in the conflict with Amalek, for David won the victory with his whole force of 600 men (1 Samuel 30:9), among whom, without doubt, those named in vv. 1-18 were included. Then, secondly, a clear distinction is made between those who gave in their adhesion to and helped David at an earlier period (1 Chronicles 12:1, 1 Chronicles 12:7, 1 Chronicles 12:22), and those who came to him in Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:23). And finally, the general remark in 1 Chronicles 12:22 is connected with 1 Chronicles 12:21 by the grounding כּי, so that we must regard 1 Chronicles 12:21 and 1 Chronicles 12:22 as a subscription closing the preceding catalogues. but none of these arguments are very effective. The grounding כי in 1 Chronicles 12:22 does not refer to the whole of 1 Chronicles 12:21, but only to the last clause, or, to be more accurate, only to בּצּבא, showing that David had an army. The second proves nothing, and in the first only so much is correct, that not merely the seven Manassites named in 1 Chronicles 12:20 took, part in the battle with Amalek, but also the warriors who had formerly gone over to David; but from that there is not the slightest reason to conclude that this is expressed by והמּה. It is manifest from the context and the plan of the register, that וגו עזרוּ והמּה can only refer to those of whom it is said in 1 Chronicles 12:20 that they went over to David as he was returning to Ziklag. If 1 Chronicles 12:21 and 1 Chronicles 12:22 were a subscription to all the preceding registers, instead of והמּה another expression which would separate the verse somewhat more from that immediately preceding would have been employed, perhaps כּל־אלה.)
helped David הגּדוּד על, against the detachment of Amalekites, who during David's absence had surprised and burnt Ziklag, and led captive the women and children (1 Samuel 30:1-10). This interpretation, which Rashi also has (contra turmam Amalekitarum), and which the Vulgate hints at in its adversus latrunculos, rests upon the fact that in 1 Samuel 30:8, 1 Samuel 30:15, the word הגּדוּד, which in general only denotes single detachments or predatory bands, is used of the Amalekite band; whence the word can only refer to the march of David against the Amalekites, of which we have an account in 1 Samuel 30:9., and not to the combats which he had with Saul. "For they were all valiant heroes, and were שׂרים, captains in the army," sc. which gathered round David.
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."For every day" (בּיום יום לעת, at the time of each day) "came (people) to David to help him, until to a great host, like a host of God," i.e., until his band grew to a camp like to a host of God. אלהים מחנה, a host which God has formed, and in which the power of God shows itself; cf. hills and cedars of God, Psalm 36:7; Psalm 80:11. In these concluding remarks to the enumeration by name of the valiant men who during Saul's lifetime went over to David, there is no exaggeration which would betray an idealizing historian (Movers, S. 270). The greatness of a host of God is to be estimated according to the power and the spirit, not according to the number, of the warriors, so that we need not take the words to mean a host of thousands and tens of thousands. David had at first 400, afterwards 600, valiant warriors, against whom Saul with his thousands could accomplish nothing. The increase in their number from 400 to 600 shows that the host increased from day to day, especially when we keep in mind the fact that after Saul's defeat considerable bands of fugitives must certainly have gone over to David before he was anointed in Hebron to be king over Judah. The expression is only rhetorical, not idealizing or exaggerating.
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.List of the warriors who made David king in Hebron. - The superscription (1 Chronicles 12:23) runs: "These are the numbers of the bands of the men equipped for war, who came," etc. החלוּץ is a collective noun, denoting the equipped manhood. ראשׁי signifies here, not principes exercitus, as the Vulgate renders it, heads, i.e., leaders of the army (Berth.), but literally denotes sums, i.e., companies, bands of soldiers, as in Judges 7:16, Judges 7:20; Judges 9:34, Judges 9:37, Judges 9:44; 1 Samuel 11:1; or it may perhaps also be heads for individuals, as ראשׁ in Judges 5:30. Both these meanings are linguistically certain; so that we cannot say, with Bertheau, that ראשׁי before החלוּץ denotes, according to the well-ascertained use of language, leaders of the army, and that גלגלת would have been used had it been wished to express the number by heads, e.g., 1 Chronicles 23:3-24. That use of the word is indeed also found, but it cannot be proved to be the only proper one. If we take ראשׁי here to denote leaders, we bring the superscription into irreconcilable contradiction with the contents of the following catalogue, which gives the names of the heads and the number of the warriors (1 Chronicles 12:27.) only in the case of the families of Aaron, and in that of Issachar the number of the princes; while in the case of the other tribes we have only the numbers of the bands or detachments. This contradiction cannot be got rid of, as Bertheau imagines, by the hypothesis that the superscription referred originally to a catalogue which was throughout similar in plan to that which we find in 1 Chronicles 12:26-28, and that the author of the Chronicle has very considerably abridged the more detailed statements of the original documents which he used. This hypothesis is a mere makeshift, in which we have the less need "to take refuge," as the catalogue has neither the appearance of having been abridged or revised by the author of our Chronicle. It is shown to be a faithful copy of a more ancient authority, both by the characteristic remarks which it contains on the individual tribes, and by the inequality in the numbers. Bertheau, indeed, derives support for his hypothesis "from the inequality of the statements of number, and their relation to each other," and upon that ground throws doubt upon the accuracy and correctness of the numbers, but in both cases without sufficient warrant. If we place the respective statements together synoptically, we see that there came to David to Hebron -
Of the tribe of: Judah 6,800 men Of the tribe of: Simeon 7,100 men Of the tribe of: Leviticus 4,600 men With Jehoiada the prince of Aaron 3,700 men With Zadok and his father's-house 22 שׂרים (captains) Of the tribe of: Benjamin 3,000 men Of the tribe of: Ephraim 20,800 men Of the half-tribe of: Manasseh 18,000 men Of the tribe of: Issachar 200 chiefs and all their brethren Of the tribe of: Zebulun 50,000 men Of the tribe of: Naphtali 37,000 men with 1000 שׂרים Of the tribe of: Daniel 28,000 men Of the tribe of: Asher 40,000 men Of two and a half trans-Jordanic tribes 120,000 men Total 336,600 men with 1222 heads and captains
The total is not objected to by Bertheau, and its correctness is placed beyond a doubt by the recollection that we have here to do not with the representation of the various estates of the kingdom, but with a declaration of the will of the whole nation, who wished to make David their king. We must, if we are to estimate these statements, endeavour to go back in imagination to the circumstances of that time when Israel, although settled in the land, had not quite laid aside the character of a nation of warriors, in which every man capable of bearing arms marched to battle with, and for, his king. Now if the total number of fighting men in Israel was 600,000 in the time of Moses, and if, when the people were numbered in the last year of David's reign, there were in Israel 800,000, and in Judah 500,000 (2 Samuel 24:9), - the Levites being excluded in both cases - the 340,000 men of all the tribes, except Issachar, in reference to which no number is given, or after subtracting Judah and Levi, the 324,500 men out of the remaining tribes, is not much more than a half of the men capable of bearing arms in Moses' time, and about a fourth part of the fighting population towards the end of David's reign. But the relation of the numbers in the respective tribes, on the contrary, is somewhat surprising, and calls forth from Bertheau the following remarks: "To Judah, David's tribe, which from the earliest time had been famous for its numbers and its powers, 6800 are assigned; to Zebulun, on the contrary, 50,000; to Naphtali, 1000 princes at the head of 37,000 warriors; to the two and a half East-Jordanic tribes, 120,000 men, etc. How does it happen that Zebulun and Naphtali, for example, two tribes that play no great part in Israel's history, are so strongly represented, while Judah sends only a relatively small number of warriors?" To this question we answer, that Judah's being represented by a number of warriors relatively so small, is accounted for simply by the fact that David had already been king over Judah for seven years, and consequently that tribe did not need to make him king by coming with the whole of its warriors, or the majority of them, when the other tribes were doing homage to David, but sent only a small number of its male population to this solemn act, who were witnesses in the name of the whole tribe to the homage proffered by the others. The same remark applies to the tribe of Simeon, whose domain was enclosed by that of Judah, and which had consequently recognised David as king at the same time as the larger tribe. In regard to the numbers of the other tribes, Levi had in the last year of David's reign 38,000 men from thirty years old and upwards (1 Chronicles 23:3); and when here only 4600 Levites, besides the priestly families, are spoken of, the question arises, whether this number is to be understood to refer to the Levites in all the tribes, or only to those dwelling outside of Judah and Simeon, in the cities assigned to them by Moses and Joshua. The smallness of the number (3000) from the tribe of Benjamin is explained by the remark that the majority of this tribe still held to the house of Saul (1 Chronicles 12:29). The only thing which is at all remarkable about the other numbers is, that the Ephraimites are so few (20,800 men) in contrast to the 180,000 men brought into the field by the half-tribe of Manasseh. But if we consider that Ephraim, which at the first census under Moses at Sinai had 40,500 men, had decreased to 32,500 at the second census in the wilderness of Moab, it is not improbable that at the time now treated of that tribe may not have been very strong in fighting men. For in Saul's last war with the Philistines, when they had pressed forward so far as Mount Gilboa, and also in Abner's struggle on behalf of King Ishbosheth for the re-conquest of the territory occupied by them, it probably suffered more, and was more weakened, than any of the other tribes. Perhaps also we may add that Ephraim, owing to its jealousy of Judah, which dates from the time of the judges, was not very much disposed to make David king over all Israel. That Zebulun and Naphtali are here so numerously represented, although they do not otherwise play an important part, is no reason for suspecting that the numbers given are incorrect. Since Zebulun under Moses numbered 57,400 men, and at a later time 60,500, and Naphtali 53,400 and 45,400 men capable of bearing arms respectively on the same occasions (see t. i. 2, S. 192); the first named tribe may easily have sent 50,000, the other 37,000 men to David, as the tribes dwelling in the north had been least affected by the wars which Israel carried on in the second half of the period of the judges and under Saul. Both of these tribes, too, are praised in the song of Deborah as a people ready to risk their lives for their fatherland (Judges 5:18), and may have very much increased in the succeeding time. And besides all this, the tribes Asher, Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh are indeed more feebly represented than Zebulun, but more strongly than Naphtali. There therefore remains no reason for doubting the historical accuracy of the numbers given; but it is of course to be understood that the numbers, which are stated only in hundreds, are not the result of an enumeration of the individual persons, but only of an estimate of the various detachments according to the military partition of the tribes.
The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.For ורמח צנּה נשׂאי, cf. 1 Chronicles 12:8, 1 Chronicles 5:18. לצבא חיל גּבּורי, valiant men for the war service.
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.Jehoiada is thought by Rashi, Kimchi, and others, to be the father of Benaiah, 1 Chronicles 11:22. He was נגיד for Aaron, i.e., prince of the house of Aaron, head of the family of the Aaronites, not princeps sacerdotum, which was a title appertaining to the high-priesthood, an office held at that time by Abiathar (1 Samuel 23:9).
And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.Zadok, a youth, i.e., then still a youth, may be the same who was made high priest in place of Abiathar (1 Kings 2:26, but see on 1 Kings 6:8). "And his father's-house, twenty-two princes." The father's-house of Zadok is the Aaronite family descended from Eleazar, which was at that time so numerous that it could muster twenty-two שׂרים, family chiefs, who went with Zadok to Hebron.
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.From the tribe of Benjamin, to which Saul belonged (שׁאוּל אחי, see on 1 Chronicles 12:2), only 3000 men came, for until that time (הנּה ועד, cf. 1 Chronicles 9:18) the greater number of them were keeping the guard of the house of Saul, i.e., were devoted to the interests of the fallen house. For משׁמרת שׁמר, see on Genesis 26:5 and Leviticus 8:35. From this we learn that the attachment of the Benjamites to Saul continued even after the death of his son Ishbosheth, and that it was with difficulty that they could bring themselves to recognise David as king.
And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.Of Ephraim 20,800 famous men (שׁמות אנשׁי, see on Genesis 6:4); לבית־אב, "in their fathers'-houses."
And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.Of half Manasseh, this side Jordan (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:37), 18,000, who were appointed by name, i.e., chosen as famous men to go thither and make David king. בשׁמות נקּבוּ, as in Numbers 1:17, vide on Leviticus 24:16. The tribe of Manasseh had consequently held a general consultation on the matter, and determined upon sending their representatives.
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.From Issachar came "men of understanding in reference to the times, to know (i.e., who knew) what Israel should do." בּינה יודע, knowing in insight (cf. 2 Chronicles 2:12), i.e., experienced in a thing, having understanding of it. From this remark some of the older commentators (Chald., various Rabbins, and Cleric.) concluded that the tribe of Issachar had distinguished itself beyond the other tribes by astronomical and physical knowledge, by which it was qualified to ascertain and make choice of proper times for political action. But the words do not suggest astronomical or astrological knowledge, but merely state, as Salomo ben-Melech in the Miclol Yophi long ago interpreted them, noverant tempora ad omnem rem et quodque negotium, sicut sapiens dixit: Suum cuique tempus est et opportunitas cuique rei, Koh. iii. 1. The words refer not to the whole tribe, but only to the two hundred heads, who, as Lavater expresses it, are designated prudentes viri, as being men qui quid, quando et quomodo agendum esset, varia lectione et usu rerum cognoscebant. The only thing to be objected to in his statement is the varia lectione, since a sound and correct judgment in political matters does not necessarily presuppose scientific training and a wide acquaintance with books. The statement in question, therefore, affirms nothing more than that the tribe of Issachar (in deciding to raise David to the throne) followed the judgment of its princes, who rightly estimated the circumstances of the time. For all their brethren, i.e., all the men of this tribe, went with the two hundred chiefs. על־פּיהם, according to their mouth, i.e., followed their judgment; cf. Numbers 4:27; Deuteronomy 21:5.
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.מלחמה ערכי, preparing war with all manner of warlike weapons, i.e., practice in the use of all kinds of weapons for war; cf. 1 Chronicles 12:8. The infinitive לעדר is substantially a continuation of the preceding participles, but grammatically is dependent on בּאוּ understood (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:23, 1 Chronicles 12:38). Cf. as to this free use of the infinitive with ל, Ew. 351, c. The signification of the verb עדר, which occurs only here (1 Chronicles 12:33, 1 Chronicles 12:38), is doubtful. According to the lxx and the Vulg. (βοηθῆσαι, venerunt in auxilium), and nine MSS, which read לעזר, we would be inclined to take עדר for the Aramaic form of the Hebrew עזר (cf. Arabic ‛dr), to help; but that meaning does not suit מערכה עדר, 1 Chronicles 12:38. Its connection there demands that עדר should signify "to close up together," to set in order the battle array; and so here, closing up together with not double heart, i.e., with whole or stedfast heart (שׁלם בּלבב שׁלם, 1 Chronicles 12:38), animo integro et firmo atque concordi; cf. Psalm 12:3 (Mich.). - In 1 Chronicles 12:38 we have a comprehensive statement; כּל־אלּה, which refers to all the bodies of men enumerated in 1 Chronicles 12:24-37. שׁרית is שׁארית defectively written; and as it occurs only here, it may be perhaps a mere orthographical error. The whole of the remainder of Israel who did not go to Hebron were אחד לב אחד er, of one, i.e., of united heart (2 Chronicles 30:12): they had a unanimous wish to make David king.
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.
And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.Those gathered together were there three days eating and drinking, holding festive meals (cf. 1 Samuel 30:16; 1 Kings 1:45, etc.), for their brethren had prepared them for them. The object of הכינוּ, sc. the eating and drinking, may easily be supplied from the context. אחיהם are the inhabitants of Hebron and the neighbourhood; the tribe of Judah in general, who had already recognised David as king.
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.But it was not only these who performed this service, but also those of the remaining tribes dwelling near them; and indeed the men of Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali, those on the northern frontier of Canaan as well as those who bordered upon Judah, had sent provisions upon beasts of burden, "for joy was in Israel." This joy moved those who remained at home to show their sympathy with the national festival solemnized at Hebron by sending the provisions. For דּבלים, masses of dried figs, and צמּוּקים, masses of raisins or cakes, see on 1 Samuel 25:18.