Matthew Poole's 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.The companies that came to David at Ziklag, when pursued by Saul: some of Saul’s own family; some of the tribe of Gad; of Benjamin; and Judah; and Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 12:1-22. The armies that came to him at Hebron; their feast, 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.
While he yet kept himself close, or, was shut up, or shut out, from his own land and people; for he speaks not of that time when he was shut up and hid himself in caves in the land of Judah, but when he was at Ziklag.
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.Could use both the right hand and the left, with like nimbleness and certainty. Compare Judges 3:15 20:16.
Of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin, i.e. of Saul’s own tribe; who were moved hereunto by God’s Spirit, and by the conscience of their duty to David, to whom God had given the crown in reversion; and by their observation of God’s departure from Saul, and of his special presence with David, and his gracious providence for him.
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,No text from Poole on this verse.
And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Josabad the Gederathite,Over the thirty, i.e. who came attended with thirty valiant Benjamites, and was their leader and commander.
Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,No text from Poole on this verse.
Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korhites,No text from Poole on this verse.
And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;Separated themselves from Saul, to whom they had hitherto adhered; and from their brethren of their own tribe, who yet maintained Saul’s cause; and from their families, and the places where they lived, from whom they went to David.
Into the hold to the wilderness, or, into the hold of the wilderness, i.e. either to the cave of Adullam or Engedi; or rather to Ziklag, as appears from 1 Chronicles 12:1, which was in the wilderness of Judah, which is here called the hold, or the fortress, which name is also given to the city of David, 1 Chronicles 11:7, the Hebrew word being the same both here and there.
Whose faces were like the faces of lions; who were full of courage, and by the majesty and fierceness of their countenances terrified their adversaries.
As swift as the roes upon the mountains: as their very looks daunted their enemies, and put them to flight, so they could easily pursue and overtake and destroy them in their flight.
Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,No text from Poole on this verse.
Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,No text from Poole on this verse.
Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,No text from Poole on this verse.
Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,No text from Poole on this verse.
Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Not that they brought now so many men with them; but either,
1. They had hitherto been captains or colonels under Saul, or in the established militia or bands of their tribe. Or,
2. They were so afterwards under David, who for their valour and fidelity thus advanced them.
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.They that went over Jordan, to wit, in Saul’s time, when, it seems, the enemies of the Israelites had made an inroad, and done some mischiefs to the Israelites beyond Jordan, to whose help these then came.
When it had overflown all his banks; as it commonly did about that time. See Joshua 3:15 4:18 Jeremiah 49:19. This is noted either as a description of the time when this was done, it being usual with historians to note the circumstances of great actions; or as an aggravation of the fact. And possibly these, being men of great nimbleness and dexterity, did swim over Jordan, through their ardent desire to help their brethren, and to fight with their enemies.
All them of the valleys, i.e. the people that lived in the valleys or deserts beyond Jordan, who, as it seems, when Saul was engaged against the Philistines, took that advantage to fall upon the Israelites beyond Jordan.
Toward the east, and toward the west; either,
1. The people that lived more eastward, and remote from Jordan, and those who lived more westward, or nearer to it. Or,
2. Them made they fly several ways, some eastward, some westward, as they saw the way open for them. See Deu 28:7,25.
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.To the same hold mentioned 1 Chronicles 12:8, See Poole "1 Chronicles 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.And answered, i. e. spake, as that word is oft used in Scripture, even of him that speaketh first.
Mine heart shall be knit unto you; I shall ever esteem and love you, and show this by my actions to you hereafter.
If ye be come to betray me to mine enemies; which your number, and quality, and near relation to Saul gives me some cause to suspect.
There is no wrong in mine hands; I have done no injury to Saul, nor to you; but have spared him and you when it was in my power to have destroyed you.
The God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it, to wit, by his hand and power manifested for me and against you for your perfidiousness.
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.The Spirit came upon Amasai; not only saving graces, but other heroical and generous motions, are ascribed to God’s Spirit, which here stirred up in him a more than ordinary greatness and presentness of mind and resolution.
Thy God helpeth thee; we have observed God’s singular and gracious care of thee, and kindness to thee, and if we should oppose thee, we should be fighters against God and his word and providence.
Captains of the band, i. e. of those forces which they brought with them. Or, he put them among the heads or officers of his band, i.e. he gave them commands, either now in his small army, each according to his quality; or afterwards, when he was advanced to the kingdom; for it is not here expressed when he did this.
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.They helped them not, i.e. the Manassites here named, and the rest of David’s forces, to whom they had now joined themselves, did not help the Philistines in battle, as David had pretended to do.
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.As he went to Ziklag; as he returned from the camp of the Philistines to Ziklag, 1 Samuel 29:11.
And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.Against the band of the rovers, i.e. against the Amalekites who had taken and burned Ziklag, whom David and his six hundred men were now pursuing, whom these accompanied in that expedition. Or, with a band or troop of soldiers, which they brought along with them to David’s assistance.
They were all mighty men of valour; therefore they readily came to David’s help.
Were captains in the host; therefore they brought others along with them.
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.At that time, i.e. while he was at Ziklag, and in his march to Hebron, and principally at Hebron, as the next verse explains it.
Like the host of God, i.e. innumerable, like the stars or angels, both which are called God’s hosts. Otherwise, the host of God, i.e. a very great host, great things being so called, as cedars, mountains, &c. of God. But the particle of likeness here added excludes this sense, for it had been very improper to say, a great host like a great host, i.e. like itself.
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.Whereby he had settled the crown upon David after Saul’s death.
The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.Who came hither in the name of all their brethren; for that whole tribe stuck to David at his very first coming to Hebron.
Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;The leader of the Aaronites; not the high priest, for that was Abiathar, 1 Samuel 23:6; but one of eminent place under him, and who had a great power and interest among his brethren.
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.Zadok; thought to be the same who was made high priest in Solomon’s time, 1 Kings 2:35; which if true, he was very young at this time.
Twenty and two captains, whom he brought along with him.
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.i.e. Endeavoured to keep the crown in their own tribe, and in Saul’s family.
And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.Of the half tribe of Manasseh, which was within Jordan; for of the other half beyond Jordan he speaks 1 Chronicles 12:37.
Which were expressed by name; which were not ashamed nor afraid publicly to own David, first by putting their names to some paper presented to them for that purpose, and then by marching to him to Hebron.
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.Understanding of the times; either,
1. Skill in the stars, and several seasons and changes of the air; which might be of good use in husbandry, to which this tribe was addicted Genesis 49:14 Deu 33:18. Or rather,
2. Political prudence to discern and embrace the fit seasons for all actions; as appears,
1. From the following words,
to know what, not only their own tribe, but
all Israel ought to do.
2. By the great authority and command which they had over all their brethren upon this account, as it here follows.
3. Because this is so considerable a circumstance in all human, and especially in public, affairs, that the success or disappointment of them depends very much upon the right or wrong timing of them, and therefore this is a very fit expression to signify their great prudence. And particularly they showed this point of their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul whilst he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join themselves to David whilst Abner lived, and was potent, and had the command of the other tribes, wherewith they were encompassed; so as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.
4. By the like use of this phrase, Esther 1:13.
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.Of Zebulun fifty thousand; for this tribe being next to that of Issachar, which was generally well affected to David, were probably very much swayed by their opinion and advice.
Which could keep rank, or, which were disposed, or prepared, or ordered for battle, or to fight for David, if occasion so required.
Not of double heart, Heb. without a heart and a heart; which may relate either,
1. To the whole body of them; they were all of one heart and one mind towards David, not some for him, and others secretly against him, but all with one soul and one consent adhered to him. Or,
2. To the same particular persons; they were each of them sincerely loyal to David, and did not dissemble with David, pretending to be for him, whilst in their hearts they favoured Saul’s family; which possibly some of those who came to Hebron did. Or this is particularly noted of this tribe, because they lay under some suspicion in this matter, as also some of the other tribes did; and therefore the like testimony is given to all of them, 1 Chronicles 12:38.
And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.No text from Poole on this verse.
And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.To wit, after the death of Abner and Ish-bosheth.
And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.They that were nigh them; that lived not far from Hebron, the place where they now were.
Unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali: this is added by way of amplification and explication, to show that he did not understand this of those Israelites only who lived in the neighbourhood of Hebron, but of those that lived at some distance, yet were nearer to Hebron than some of the other tribes here named.
On oxen; which though not commonly used in this manner, nor fit for such purposes, now they so used, because the quantity of provisions which they brought was very great, as the numbers of the people at Hebron were, and horses they had few in Israel, and most of their asses, and camels, and mules here mentioned probably were used to carry divers men, or women and children, to this great, and public, and happy solemnity.
There was joy in Israel; partly because their civil wars were wholly ended, and they were all united under one king; and partly because they had now a king of eminent valour, and piety, and felicity, and therefore expected to be saved from all their enemies and calamities, as they were.