Matthew Poole's 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.The twelve captains for every several month, 1 Chronicles 27:1-15. The princes of the twelve tribes, 1 Chronicles 27:16-22. The numbering of the people is hindered, 1 Chronicles 27:23,24. The chief keepers of David’s treasures, 1 Chronicles 27:25-31. His counsellors and friends, 1 Chronicles 27:32-34.
Their officers; the standing force or militia of Israel as it was settled under their several officers, as it here follows. In any matter of the courses, i.e. in all the business wherein the king had occasion for these persons, who were to attend upon him or his commands by courses or by turns. Or, according to all the order or state of the divisions, or, about the companies or courses into which they were distributed. Came in and went out, i.e. executed their office; which is commonly signified by this phrase, as Numbers 27:17, and elsewhere. Month by month; who were to be armed and mustered, and to wait upon the king, either at Jerusalem, or in other places, as the king should see fit. By this order near three hundred thousand of his people were instructed and exercised in the use of their arms, and fitted for the defence of their king and kingdom when it should be needful, and in the mean time sufficient provision was made against any sudden tumults or of it irruptions of enemies. And this monthly course was contrived, that the burden might be easy and equally distributed among the people.
Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.Jashobeam; of whom see 2 Samuel 23:8 1 Chronicles 11:11.
Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.Of Perez; or, of Pharez, of the posterity of Judah, Genesis 46:12. This seems to be understood of Jashobeam, and to be mentioned as a reason why he was the chief, &c.; and the verse may be rendered thus, He was (which is easily understood out of the foregoing words) of the children of Perez, (and consequently of the tribe of Judah, to which the pre-eminence belonged, and of which Perez was,) and he was (or, therefore he was)
the chief (to wit, in dignity and precedency, though not in power and authority, for these captains were equal in power, and Joab was their general)
of all the captains of the host, ( whose several names here follow,) and was
for the first month; therefore he was first in order, and was captain 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.Of his course was Mikloth the ruler; who was either,
1. The captain of this course after the death of this Dodai, as Zebadiah was after Asahel, 1 Chronicles 27:7. But the differing phrase there and here sufficiently intimates that the same thing is not meant in both places. Or,
2. His lieutenant or deputy, in case of his necessary absence. But why should such a one be named here, and not in the rest of the courses? Or rather,
3. One of the officers of his course, who seems here particularly to be named as a person then of great note and eminency.
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.A chief priest; or, the chief priest; or rather, a chief prince, as this Hebrew word is oft used, as Genesis 41:45 Genesis 47:22 2 Samuel 8:18 20:26 1 Kings 4:5 2 Kings 10:11, and elsewhere. Probably he was not only a captain of this course, but a great officer in the court and state. For although the priests might take up arms in some special cases; yet it is not likely that such were constant officers in the king’s army, especially seeing the rest of the captains here named were of other tribes. Besides, neither Benaiah nor Jehoiada was high priest at that time, but Zadok or Abiathar, and before them Abimelech, in whom the priesthood had been for a long time together, even in the days of Samuel, and Saul, and David, and Solomon.
This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.Who seems to have been his father’s lieutenant, because his father was captain of the king’s guard, 2 Samuel 8:18, and therefore needed a deputy in the one or in the other place.
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.The fourth captain was Asahel the brother of Joab; by which, it seems, the foundation of this project was laid whilst David was in Hebron, during which time Asahel was slain, and David’s forces were then divided into twenty-four courses, under twenty-four chief commanders, whereof Asahel was one; only it is probable that the number of their forces was much less than that which is here mentioned: but when David was fully settled in his whole kingdom, the design was perfected, and the numbers of their soldiers increased to this number.
His son after him, i.e. after his death; of which see 2 Samuel 2:23.
In his course; not Asahel’s, for in his time they were not so numerous, but Zebadiah his son.
The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.Shamhuth; supposed to be the same called Shammah, 2 Samuel 23:11, and Shammoth, 1 Chronicles 11:27.
The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
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 Pelonite; so called also 1 Chronicles 11:27, and the Paltite, 2 Samuel 23:26.
The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.Of the Zarhites; of the family of the Zarhites.
The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Over the children of Israel, i.e. these were the princes of the tribes as they are called below, 1 Chronicles 27:22, who were the most ancient and constant rulers of the tribes at all times, whether of war or peace; who seem to have had a superior power to these twenty-four captains, and therefore are named before them, 1 Chronicles 28:1, being probably the king’s chief counsellors and assistants in the great affairs of his kingdom.
Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the Aaronites, Zadok:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael:Elihu, called also Eliab, 1 Samuel 16:6.
Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah: of Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah: of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of the half tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah: of Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner:No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.Of the most of the tribes, not of all; for Gad is omitted, probably because that tribe was joined with the Reubenites under one prince; and Asher, for some such reason, or for some other causes now unknown, and not worth our inquiry.
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.The meaning is, David, when he desired to number the people, he designed to number only those who were from twenty years old and upward, or (which is the same thing) those that drew sword, 1 Chronicles 21:5, and not those who were from twenty years old and under.
He would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens; and therefore to number them all both above and under twenty years old, had been both an infinite trouble, and a tempting of God, or a questioning of the truth of his promises. And possibly this circumstance might in part deceive or quiet David’s conscience, that his desire of knowing the number of his people did not proceed from distrust of God’s promise or providence, but from a prudent care to know the true state and strength of his kingdom.
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.Began to number, to wit, all from twenty years old and upward, as David commanded him.
He finished not; for Levi and Benjamin he counted not, 1 Chronicles 21:6. Because there fell wrath for it against Israel, whilst he was doing the work; which was one reason which made him to cease. Heb. And there fell, &c. Though David numbered them with caution and limitation, as was noted before, yet this did not hinder God’s wrath from falling upon Israel for this sin.
Neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David: the sense is either,
1. That the full number was not registered, because Levi and Benjamin were not counted by Joab. Or rather,
2. That David being sensible of and smarting for his sin, would not have the number brought in by Joab to him put into the public register, though God would have it recorded in Scripture for the instruction of succeeding ages. For he speaks not here of the account given in to the king, which was done, and was Joab’s act; but of the putting of the account into the public records, which was not done, and which could not be done but by David’s command or permission.
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:Over the king’s treasures; of gold or silver, or other things of great price, which for greater security were kept in Jerusalem, and in the king’s palace; and thither the tribute money also was sent and committed to his care.
Over the storehouses of the fruits of the earth, or that share of them which belonged to the king, which were laid up in the fields, or cities, or villages, or castles, as there was conveniency and occasion.
And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:Over the king’s husbandry.
And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:Over the vineyards, i.e. over the workmen and labourers in the vineyards; as the next officer is over the fruit of the vineyards. In like manner, one man was over the labourers in the fields, 1 Chronicles 27:26, and another over the fruits of the fields put into stores after the manner, 1 Chronicles 27:25.
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Sharon; a place famous for its fruitfulness. See Isaiah 33:9 35:2.
Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:The Ishmaelite; so called, either because he was born of that people, or had lived among them; or from some notable exploit which he did against them.
And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David's.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:A counsellor, a wise man, and a scribe; either one learned in the laws of God, which were also the laws of the land, by which all their counsels were to be ruled; or, the king’s secretary.
With the king’s sons, as their tutor or governor.
And Ahithophel was the king's counseller: and Hushai the Archite was the king's companion:The king’s counsellor; the person whose counsel in matters of state the king most prized and followed.
The king’s companion, or his friend, as he is called, 2 Samuel 15:37; the person whom he most trusted with all his secrets, and whose conversation was most pleasant and acceptable to him.
And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar: and the general of the king's army was Joab.After Ahithophel, i.e. after his death, these were his chief counsellors.