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.
Verse 1. - It is impossible to feel fully satisfied with any translation which the words of this verse offer. Yet there can scarcely he any doubt of the meaning of the verse, viz. that the writer would speak of the children of Israel, including the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, as regards their courses and their number in their courses, as they succeeded one another, month by month, including also all those officers who served the king in any relation to these courses - the courses were twelve, and each course was numbered twenty-four thousand. Meantime, when we turn to the list, we do not find any full complement of chiefs, captains, and officers specified, but apparently only the chief of each course, with somewhat ambiguous additions in vers. 4 (Mikloth), 6 (Ammizabad), 7 (Zebadiah); while what seems an unnecessary stress repeats the number each time. This, however, in fact, tallies with the clause "respecting their number" in the first verse, and may constitute the explanation of the apparent inconsistency in question. Milman ('Hist. of the Jews,' 1:251, edit. 1830) says on this military portion of David's preparations, that he "organized an immense disposable force; every month twenty-four thousand men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of his army were officers of consummate experience and, what was more highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity, strength, and valour. His heroes remind us of those of Arthuror Charlemagne, excepting that the armour of the feudal chieftains constituted their superiority; here, main strength of body and dauntless fortitude of mind." Which came in and went out month by month; i.e. exchanged places in rotation (2 Kings 11:5-7, 9; 2 Chronicles 23:8).
Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Verse 2. - Jashobeam is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:11 as son of Hachmoni, and as one of those "three mighties" of David, of whom the other two were Eleazar and Shammah (see also 1 Chronicles 12:6); he is again referred to (2 Samuel 23:8) in a verse of which the text is corrupt, as "the Tachmonite," or more correctly "the Tahh-cemonite." The tau in this word is probably an error for the article. Kennicott ('Dies.,' 72, 82) confirms this supposition by noting that the Book of Samuel constantly replaces by the definite article what appears in Chronicles as "son of." He has also shown reason for believing that the words in this passage, "that sat in the seat, are a corruption of the Hebrew text for characters that would spell our name "Jashobeam." We know nothing of this name "Hachmon," which may be the name of an earlier forefather, while Zabdiel, thence named "the Hach-monite," appears to Be the name of the actual father of Jashobeam. Jashobeam was of Judah.
Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.
Verse 3. - This verse tells us that Jasho-beam belonged to the tribe of Judah, through Perez, the fourth son of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:4).
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.
Verse 4. - Before the name Dodai we must supply "Eleazar the son of," on the authority of 1 Chronicles 11:12; 2 Samuel 23:9. The allusion to Mikloth (of the tribe of Benjamin, according to 1 Chronicles 8:32; 1 Chronicles 9:37) in this verse is not plain. The translation may possibly be the same which our Authorized Version gives, And over the course of the second month was (Eleazar, the son of) Dodai the Ahohite, and (over) his (or, its) course also Mikloth was ruler. The appearances of the Hebrew text, however, favour the supposition of an inaccurate text. A somewhat similar con. struction and position of words in ver. 6 is less difficult by the absence of a conjunction before Ammizabad.
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.
Verse 5. - Benaiah (1 Chronicles 11:22-25; 2 Samuel 23:20-23). To this name Keil thinks the word chief (רלֺאשׁ), in the succeeding expression, chief priest, belongs. Thus Jehoiada would be named here only priest. Yet see 1 Chronicles 12:27, where Jehoiada is called לְאַהֲרֹן חַגָּגִיד; and 2 Kings 25:18; where כֹּהֵן הָרלֺאשׁ stands for our הכֹּהֵן רלֺאשׁ, as applied to Seraiah. Benaiah was manifestly a Aaronite.
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.
Verse 7. - With this verse, as Keil observes, the description of the successive courses is given with the greatest brevity. Zebadiah was of Judah. Inasmuch as Asahel (1 Chronicles 11:26; 2 Samuel 23:24) was killed by Abner (2 Samuel 2:23) before this division of military courses was made, it is evident that his name in this place marks, not the individual, but the family. Possibly he and his name were held in all the greater regard, and his son Zebadiah best known for the sake of his father.
The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Verse 8. - Shamhuth. For variations in the form of this name, see ch. 11:27; 2 Samuel 23:25. In the former of these passages also we have Harorite in place of our Izrahite, and in the latter Harodite. The Izrahite probably means of the family of Zerah (1 Chronicles 2:4, 6), and of course marks one of the tribe of Judah. The Hebrew הַיִּזְרָחevidently does not justify the form as translated "Izrahite."
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.
Verse 11. - For Sibbecai, see 1 Chronicles 11:29; 1 Chronicles 20:4; 2 Samuel 21:18; 2 Samuel 23:27, where by a corruption the name Mebunnai is found for Sibbechai, a corruption all the easier to account for in the similarity of the characters that form the names. He was a Zarhite, and belonged to the tribe of Judah.
The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Verse 12. - For Abiezer, of the tribe of Benjamin, see 1 Chronicles 11:28; 2 Samuel 23:27. For Anetothite (Anathoth) see 1 Chronicles 6:60 (45); Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 32:7-9.
The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Verse 13. - For Maharai, of the tribe of Judah, see 1 Chronicles 11:30; 2 Samuel 23:28. The Netophathite. Though the name of the town Netophah happens to occur only after the Captivity (e.g. Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26), yet the name of the people, as in this passage, was evidently a name existing before the Captivity (see also ch. 2:54; 9:16).
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.
Verse 14. - For this Benaiah, who was of Ephraim, see 1 Chronicles 11:31; 2 Samuel 23:30. For Pirathon, see Judges 12:15, where alone the place is mentioned.
The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
Verse 15. - For Heldai, who belonged to Judah, see 1 Chronicles 11:30, where the name appears as Heled, and 2 Samuel 23:29, where it appears as Heleb. For Othniel (who was nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, and first deliverer of the people after Joshua), see Joshua 15:17; Judges 3:9. These twelve captains then come - from Judah seven, from Benjamin and Ephraim two each, and from Levi one.
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:
Verses 16-22. - These verses give the names of the rulers (ver. 16), or princes (ver. 22), of ten out of the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribes not mentioned are Gad and Asher, an omission which reminds of that of the two tribes Dan and Zebulon from the genealogies contained in ch. 4-7, and equally unexplained. These designations ruler (נָגִיד) and prince (שַׂר) are the same as are found in the list of vers. 1-15 - the former in ver. 4, and translated also as here "ruler;" and the latter in vers. 1, 3, 5, 8, under the Authorized Version word of" captains." This rehearsal of the rulers or captains of the tribes stands evidently in no special relation to the preceding military enumeration, but it forms naturally enough one of four lists in this chapter that purport to set forth David's complete arrangement of the affairs of the kingdom. So far as the enumeration goes, it appears to aim at fulness and no omission, for the "Aaronites" (ver. 17) are given, and Ephraim and the two halves of Manasseh separately (vers. 20, 21).
Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the Aaronites, Zadok:
Verse 17. - It is, perhaps, remarkable that Hashabiah - presumably a Gershonite - is not distinguished from the Hebronite (i.e. Kohathite) of the same name (1 Chronicles 26:30); some, however, think that our Hasha-biah is the Kohathite (see Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:759 b). For Zadok, see ch. 6:4, 12. He was of the line of Eleazar.
Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael:
Verse 18. - David's eldest brother Eliab is no doubt intended here by the name Elihu. The Septuagint gives Eliab. For Michael, see ch. 7:3.
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:
Verse 21. - There is no reason to doubt that Jaasiel is the son of the Abner who was Saul's own cousin (1 Chronicles 9:36; 1 Samuel 14:50).
Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.
Verse 22. - These thirteen princes of the tribes of Israel were presumably in each case those who represented the tribe according to lineal descent in David's time. Though Gad and Asher are left out, the thirteen are filled up by the allowance of two for Levi, viz. one for the Levites and one for the priests; and three for Joseph, viz. one for Ephraim and two for the divided tribe of Manasseh.
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.
Verse 23. - The contents of this and the following verse may be supposed to be suggested by the distinct reference to the matter of number in the first verse of the chapter, and in the latter halves of the following fourteen verses, contrasting with the utter absence of any allusion to the same matter, when the whole body of the tribes and their princes are the subject, in vers. 16-22. The deeper significance of the latter part of this verse probably comes to this; that God had already given his people the proudest name for their numbers, in saying that they should be numberless, like to the stars of the heavens, and perpetually on the increase.
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.
Verse 24. - It seems a little surprising to read of Joab, fixed on the page of history as the person who began to number, but... finished not, when we have been already particularly told that it was he to whom King David's command to number was "abominable" (1 Chronicles 21:6). However differently enough from the method of either nature or mankind, the antidote has here preceded the evil. For because there fell wrath for it, read the Hebrew, and there was for this wrath upon Israel. The last sentence of the verse purports to say that such numbering as had been done before the point at which Joab stopped was not honoured by a place, where other numbers were found, in the register of the chronicles of King David.
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:
Verses 25-31. - These verses have for their primary object, not to give an exhaustive summary of the wealth of David and the sources thereof, but to give the names of those persons who were charged with the care, or the management and care, of' it. The classification, however, is interesting, and may be naturally expected to be tolerably complete. We do not find any distinction made between such property as might have belonged to David as private property, and such as belonged to him as king - probably because there was none worth making. Verse 25. - For storehouses, read, as in former clause, treasures. The suggestion of the second half of this verse in comparison with the first is that Azmaveth's charge was over treasures in Jerusalem. For the castles, see 2 Chronicles 17:12; 2 Chronicles 27:4. The word אוצָר, though the same in both clauses, may probably enough cover precious treasure, as of gold, silver, costly raiment, etc. (1 Kings 14:26; 1 Kings 15:18), more particularly in the first clause, and grain, fruit, etc. (2 Chronicles 11:11), in the latter, for the word has distinctly this double application. (See for some illustration of this verse also, Sallust., 'De Belle Jugurth.,' 12.)
And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:
Verse 26. - This verse appears to give the name, not (as in the former verse) of the person who had charge of the stored grain, fruits, etc, but of the chief superintendent and manager of the labour and labourers of the field.
And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:
Verse 27. - This verse specifies the officer who had the management of the vineyards, and also the officer who had charge over the wine-cellars. The description of Ramathite does not assist us to identify Shimei, though the choice of place is ample (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 18:25; Joshua 19:29, 36; Judges 15:17). For Shiphmite, see Numbers 34:10, 11; to the place Shepham, mentioned in which passage, the reference here may be. For over the increase, read over that which in the vineyards, etc., where the initial שׁ stands for אֲשֶׁר.
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:
Verse 28. - A similar couple of officers to those of the last verse are described here. By the low plains here in the Authorized Version is translated what had been better left untranslated, i.e. the Shephelah, one of the five divisions of Judaea (Conder's' Bible Handbook,' 2nd edit., 1880, p. 257). It comprised the low-lying tract of land on the coast and, roughly speaking, stretching from Joppa to Gaza. The sycamore tree (הַשִּׁקְמִום, a plural masculine, and once שִׁקְמות, a plural feminine, Psalm 78:87) is to be distinguished from the sycamine, being that kind of mulberry tree called fig mulberry. The Septuagint, however, does not observe the distinction, and always translates συκάμινος. It was a common tree, and useful to the poor. It is the same with the black mulberry of Egypt, and abounded in Palestine (1 Kings 10:27). Its fruit was eatable, and its wood, though soft, yet valuable for enduringness (see Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3. p. 1394; Conder's 'Bible Handbook,' 2nd edit., pp. 223, 399; Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' edit. 1866, pp. 146, 393). The name Baal-hanan comes first before us as that of a King of Edom (Genesis 36:38, 39; 1 Chronicles 1:49). The place Gederah (Joshua 15:36), or Beth-gader (1 Chronicles 2:51), attached to the name of the present Baal-hanan, renders it not less probable that he was of similar extraction.
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:
Verse 29. - Sharon (see 1 Chronicles 5:16, 21). It means with the article, which, with one exception, always accompanies it, "the level laud," and on the west of the Jordan exactly corresponds with the Mishor on the east, a word of identical signification with Sharon. The tract of pasture-land which it designated stretched from Carmel to Joppa (Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' edit. 1866, pp. 485, 260, 264). The valleys here intended are not specified.
Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:
Verse 30. - Whether the word Obil (אובִיל), is a proper name or not, it signifies "a tender of camels" by derivation. The task suited the Ishmaelite, no doubt! Nothing is known of the Meronothite, nor of the situation of the place called Meronoth, unless anything may be conjectured from Nehemiah 3:7.
And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David's.
Verse 31. - For the Hagerite tribe, see 1 Chronicles 5:10, 18-22. For the rulers of the substance, the Hebrew words are שָׂרֵי הָרְכּוּשׁ. The number of them adds up again to twelve; Keil justly supposes that the two named in ver. 25 were those principal officers to whom the other ten delivered the proceeds of their respective charges.
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:
Verses 32-34. - These verses contain the names of seven men of high position, and who were, at all events, important enough, in one respect or another, for this closing special mention.
1. Jonathan and Ahithophel are singled out as counsellors (יועֵצ) of the king.
2. Hushai the Archite is mentioned as the companion (רֵעַ) of the king.
3. Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar are mentioned as standing in a similar relation of counsellors to the king with Ahithophel, but after him.
4. The great general of the whole army of the king (שַׂר־צָבָא), Joab, has a place found for his name.
5. And the name of Jehiel is mentioned as of one with the king's sons. The first thing which may be observed as to this enumeration is that it is not one whole belonging to the later portion of David's time. Ahithophel had brag before put an end to his own life (2 Samuel 17:21-23; also see 2 Samuel 15:12, 31, 34; 16:20-23). Secondly, that out of the seven names, four or five are already well known to us in some other capacity; for see the lists of 1 Chronicles 18:14-17; 2 Samuel 8:16-18; 2 Samuel 20:23-26. And thirdly, that in one or two instances, a different or additional part is assigned to the names mentioned. The impression left with us is rather of honourable or special mention made of seven who had been distinguished helpers of the king or the kingdom at one time or another. Verse 32. - Nothing is known of any uncle to David, named Jonathan, but special mention is made, in 1 Chronicles 20:7 and 2 Samuel 21:21, of a nephew, son of Shimea, who rendered valuable service, and u-hose name was Jonathan. It is possible that the Hebrew דּור may mean "nephew," as simply meaning "relative." It must be admitted, however, as very remarkable, that in Leviticus, Numbers, the historical books, Jeremiah, and Amos, to the number of sixteen times in all, the word confessedly means "uncle;" while this seventeenth time, it would appear to mean "nephew." On the other hand, in Proverbs, Canticles, Isaiah, Ezekiel, to the number of thirty-six times in all, the word follows its other branch of signification of "love," and in particular "one beloved." Nothing certain can be said of the Jehiel of this verse, but, if a son of Hachmoni, we may presume him to have been related to Jashobeam of ver. 2 and 1 Chronicles 11:11.
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.
Verse 34. - The after of this verse may possibly be the after of time, i.e. after the death of Ahithophel, instead of the after of place, i.e. subordinate. Jehoiada the son of Benaiah. Either the individual of ver. 5; 1 Chronicles 18:17; 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23, is not the person here intended, or we have here the names accidently reversed. There seems no sufficient reason to doubt that the high priest of the Ithamar branch is here meant.