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1 Chronicles 12:0 is a sort of supplement to 1 Chronicles 11:0, and is throughout peculiar to the Chronicle. It contains two registers: (1) of the warriors who successively went over to David during his outlaw career (1 Samuel 22 ff.), 1 Chronicles 12:1-22; and (2) of the tribal representatives who crowned David at Hebron (forming an appendix to 1 Chronicles 11:1-3), 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.
The first of these registers sub-divides into three smaller lists, viz., 1 Chronicles 12:1-22.
(1) To Ziklag.—A place within the territory of Judah allotted to Simeon (Joshua 19:5; 1 Chronicles 4:30). The Philistines seized it, and Achish of Gath gave it to David, whose headquarters it remained sixteen months, until the death of Saul.
While he yet kept himself close.—The Hebrew is concise and obscure, but the Authorised Version fairly renders it. David was still shut up in his stronghold, or restrained within bounds, because of, i.e., from dread of King Saul. Or perhaps the meaning is “banished from the presence of Saul.”
Helpers of the war.—The helpers in war, allies, or companions in arms of David. They made forays against Geshur, Gezer, and Amalek (1 Samuel 27:8; comp. also 1 Chronicles 12:17; 1 Chronicles 12:21 below).
(1-7) Men of Benjamin and Judah who joined David at Ziklag. (Comp. 1 Samuel 27:0)
(2) Armed with bows.—Literally, drawers of the bow (2 Chronicles 17:17).
And could use.—They were ambidextrous “with stones, and with arrows on the bow.” The left-handed slingers of Benjamin were famous from of old. (Comp. Judges 20:16, and also 1 Chronicles 3:15.)
Of Saul’s brethren—i.e., his fellow-tribesmen.
Of Benjamin is added to make it clear that Saul’s immediate kinsmen are not intended. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:29.)
(3) The chief was Ahiezer.—Captain of the band. Heb., head.
The Gibeathite.—Of “Gibeah of Saul,” between Ramah and Anathoth (Isaiah 10:29); also called “Gibeah of Benjamin” (1 Chronicles 11:31; Judges 20:4).
Jeziel.—So Hebrew margin; Hebrew text, Jezûel. (Comp. Peniel and Penuel.)
Azmaveth.—Perhaps the warrior of Bahurim (1 Chronicles 11:33).
Jehu the Antothite—of Anathoth, now Anâta (1 Chronicles 11:28).
(4) Ismaiah the Gibeonite.—Gibeon belonged to Benjamin (1 Chronicles 9:35), and 1 Chronicles 12:2 proves that Ismaiah was a Benjamite, not a Gibeonite in the strict sense of the term.
A mighty man among the thirty.—The “thirty” must be the famous corps (1 Chronicles 11:25). Ismaiah’s name does not occur in the catalogue, perhaps because he died before it was drawn up.
Over the thirty may mean that at one time he was captain of the band, or it may simply denote comparison—“a hero above the thirty.”
Josabad the Gederathite; of Gederah in the lowland of Judah (Joshua 15:36). Josabad is perhaps the same as Zabad ben Ahlai (1 Chronicles 11:41), one of the thirty.
(5) Jerimoth.—A Benjamite name (1 Chronicles 7:7-8).
Bealiah.—Baal is Jah. (Comp. Note on 1 Chronicles 8:33.) Such names indicate that “Baal” was once a title of the God of Israel.
The Haruphite.—Nehemiah 7:24 mentions the “sons of Hariph” just before the “sons of Gibeon.” The Hebrew margin here is “Hariphite.”
(6) Five members of the Levitical clan Korah. The name “Elkanah” occurs thrice in the lineage of Heman, the Korhite musician (1 Chronicles 6:33 ff.), and in that of Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:22 ff.).
Jesiah.—Heb., Yishshiyâhû; “Jahu is ray possession.” (Comp. Psalms 16:5.)
Azareel is a priestly name. (See Nehemiah 11:13.) There must have been Levites about the Tabernacle at Gibeon. But these Korhites may have been members of the Judean clan Korah, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:43, but otherwise unknown.
Jashobeam occurred as chief of the Three Heroes (1 Chronicles 11:11).
(7) Sons of Jeroham of Gedor.—Jeroham is the name of a Benjamite clan (1 Chronicles 8:27); and two Benjamite chiefs are called “Zebadiah” (1 Chronicles 8:15; 1 Chronicles 8:17). On the other hand, “Gedor” was a town of Judah, south-west of Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 4:4). Some account for the appearance of Judæan names in a list purporting to relate to Benjaminites, by the assumption that the chronicler has welded two; lists into one; but towns did not always continue in the hands of the tribes to whom they were originally intended, and some Judæan towns may have contained a partially Benjaminite population.
(8) Separated themselves from the royalists of Gad, who clung to Saul.
Into the hold to (towards) the wilderness.—Perhaps the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1; 1 Samuel 22:4), or one of David’s other haunts, the wooded Mount of Hachilah (1 Samuel 23:19), or the crag of Maon, or the rocks of En-gedi (1 Samuel 23:25; 1 Samuel 23:29). “Caves and holds” are mentioned together as refuges (Judges 6:2). In the earlier period of his outlawry, David found refuge in the natural fastnesses of Judæa.
Men of might.—“Mighty men of valour” (1 Chronicles 5:24), and “valiant men of might” (1 Chronicles 7:2). Heb., “the valiant warriors,” whose names follow.
Men of war fit for the battle.—Literally, men of service or training, i.e., veterans, for the war.
That could handle shield and buckler.—Heb., wielding (or presenting) shield and spear, (Comp. Jeremiah 46:3.)
Buckler (mâgên) is the reading of some old editions, but against the MSS., which have rômah (lance).
Whose faces were like the faces of lions.—Literally,
“And face of the lion, their face;
And like gazelles on the mountains they speed.”
The poetic style of this betrays its ancient source. The chronicler is clearly borrowing from some contemporary record. (Comp. David’s own description of Saul and Jonathan, 2 Samuel 1:23; and the term Ariel, lion of God, i.e., hero or champion, 1 Chronicles 11:22; and Isaiah 29:1.)
Swift as the roes.—Comp. what is said of Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18).
(8-18) A. list of Gadites, and an account of a band of Judæans and Benjammites who joined David in the stronghold (1 Chronicles 11:14) towards the desert of Judah.
(9) The first.—The chief 1 Chronicles 12:3 (har’osh).
(9-13) Eleven heroes of Gad.
(14) These were.—Subscription.
Captains of the host.—Literally, heads of the host, i.e., chief warriors.
One of the least was over an hundred.—The margin is correct. David’s band at this time was about 600 strong. The rendering of the text is that of the Syr. and Vulg. The LXX. closely intimates the Heb. εἷς τοῖς ἑκατὸν μικρὸς κτλ. For the true meaning, comp. Deuteronomy 32:30; and Leviticus 26:8. The Heb. says: “One to a hundred, the little one; and the great one to a thousand.” This. too, is poetic, or, at least, rhetorical in character, and quite unlike the chronicler’s usual style.
(15) When it had overflown.—A proof of their valour. They did not wait till summer had made the Jordan shallow, but crossed it in spring, when perilously swollen with the rains and the melted snows of Lebanon. (Comp. Joshua 3:15.)
In the first month,—March—April; in Heb, A bib or Nisan.
Had overflown.—Was fillıng or brimming over.
And they put to flight all . . . the valleys.—Literally, and they made all the valleys flee: that is, their inhabitants, who were hostile to their enterprise, both to the sunrise and the sunset, or on both sides of the river.
(16) To the hold.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 12:8.
(16-18) Some Benjamite and Judæan accessions. The names are not given, why we cannot tell.
(17) And David went out to meet them.—From his fastness or hiding-place in the hill or wood. Literally, before them, i.e., confronted them. (Comp, same phrase, 1 Chronicles 14:8.)
And answered and said unto them.—The familiar New Testament phrase, καὶ ὰποκριθϵὶς ϵἰπϵν αύτοῖς. David’s speech and the answer of Amasai have all the marks of a genuine survival of antiquity. “If for peace ye have come unto me to help me.” For peace, i.e., with friendly intent. (Comp. Psalms 120:7.)
To help me.—Comp, 1 Chronicles 12:1, where David’s comrades are called “helpers of the war,” ξύμμαχοι.
Mine heart shall be knit unto you.—Lite- rally, I shall have (fiet mihi) towards you a heart for union, or at unity: that is, a heart at one with and true to you. (Comp, “one heart,” 1 Chronicles 12:38, and Psalms 133:1, and terms like unanimis, δμόφρων.)
If ye be come to betray me.—Literally, and if to beguile me for my foes, that is, to betray me to them, as Authorised Version. The false part of Sextus Tarquinius at Gabii, or of Zopyrus at Babylon. (Comp. Psalms 120:2.)
Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands.—Although (there be) no violence in my palms. (Comp. Job 16:17; Psalms 7:4; Isaiah 53:9.)
The God of our fathers . . . behold and punish.—The verbs are jussive or optative. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:22.). The psalms of David breathe a confidence that Jehovah is a righteous judge, who never fails to vindicate innocence, and punish highhanded violence and treacherous cunning. (Comp. Psalms 9:12; Psalms 10:14; Psalms 18:20.)
(18) Then the spirit came upon Amasai.—Literally, and spirit clothed Amasai. The term for “God” (Elohim) has probably fallen out of the Heb. ext. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:20, and Judges 6:34.) We, in these days, may word it differently, and say, Under a sudden impulse of enthusiasm, Amasai exclaimed, &c. But if we look deeper, and seek a definite interpretation of our terms, we shall allow that the impulses of spirit are spiritual, and that enthusiasm for truth and right is indeed a sort of divine possession. The Syriac renders: “The spirit of valour clothed Amasai.” Comp. Isaiah 11:2.) The spirit of Jehovah is the source of true courage, as of all other spiritual gifts.
Amasai.—Perhaps the same as Amasa (1 Chronicles 2:17), son of Abigail, David’s sister, whom Joab murdered out of jealousy (2 Samuel 17:25; 2 Samuel 20:4-10).
Chief of the captains.—The Heb. text reads, “head of the Thirty,” with which the LXX., Svr., and Vulg. agree. The Heb. margin (Qri) has “knights,” or “chariot-soldiers” (Authorised Version, “captains”), which is less probable. Amasai’s name is not given in the catalogue of the Thirty (1 Chronicles 11:0), and he is here called “chief of the Thirty” by anticipation.
Thine are we, David.—The structure of Amasaľs inspired utterance is poetical—
“To thee, David!
And with thee, son of Ishai!
Peace, peace to thee.
And peace to thine helper;
For thy God hath holpen thee!
On thy side.—Heb., with thee. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 11:10; and our Saviour’s “He that is not with me is against me.”)
Peace, peace be unto thee.—David had said, “If ye be come for peace”—that is, with friendly intent. Amasai answers, We will be fast friends with thee, and with all who befriend thee, because God is on thy side. (Comp, the usual Oriental greeting, Salãm ‘alaikum—Peace to you!) David’s past history gave ample evidence of Divine support.
Then David received them.—A late Heb. word (qibbçl). The chronicler resumes his narrative.
Made them captains of the band.—Literally, and bestowed them among the heads of the band—made them officers of his little army, which was continually growing by such adhesions, (Comp. 1 Samuel 22:2, and 1 Samuel 23:13.)
(19) There fell.—The regular term for desertion of one cause for another (2 Kings 25:11).
When he came with the Philistines.—(Comp. 1 Samuel 29:2-11.) This verse is a summary of the narrative of 1 Samuel 29:2 to 1 Samuel 30:1.
They helped them not.—David and his men helped not the Philistines. Perhaps the right reading is he helped them (‘azarâm), not they helped them (‘azarûm).
Upon advisement.—After deliberation (Proverbs 20:18).
To the jeopardy of our heads.—At the price of our heads (1 Chronicles 11:19). By betraying us he will make his peace with his old master.
(19-22) The seven Manassite chieftains who went over to David on the eve of Saul’s last battle.
(20) As he went to Ziklag.—On his dismissal by the Philistine princes, David returned with his men to Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:1). On the way he was joined by the Manassite chieftains, probably before the battle which decided the fate of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 29:11).
Jozabad.—The repetition may be a scribe’s error. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:10; 1 Chronicles 12:13, where we find the name Jeremiah given twice over.)
Captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.—(Comp. Numbers 31:14; and 1 Chronicles 13:1; 1 Chronicles 15:25; 1 Chronicles 26:26.) The term “thousand” interchanges with “father-house” (clan); and perhaps each clan originally furnished 1,000 warriors to the tribal host.
(21) And they helped David against the band of the rovers.—So the Vulg. and Syr. The Heb. text has been called “brief and unintelligible,” and its explanation has been sought in 1 Samuel 30:8; 1 Samuel 30:15, where “the band” (haggedûd, as here) of Amalek, which had captured and burnt Ziklag in David’s absence, is spoken of. But why may we not render, “And these helped David over the band,” i.e., in the joint command of his forces. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:18, “made them captains of the band.”) It is pretty clear that the names enumerated (1 Chronicles 12:1-20) are those of captains and chiefs, not of ordinary warriors. (Comp, 1 Chronicles 12:14; 1 Chronicles 12:18.) Consequently 1 Chronicles 12:21-22 form a subscription or concluding remark to the entire list.
(22) For at that time day by day . . .—Literally, For at the time of each day (i.e., every day) men used to come to David to help him; amounting to a mighty camp, like a camp of God. The verse explains why David required so many captains as have been enumerated, and why the term “army” was used of his troop in the last verse.
A great host, like the host of God.—Literally, camp. The phrase has an antique colouring Comp. Genesis 32:1-2 : “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s camp (mahançh ‘Elôhîm): and the name of that place was called Mahanaim (i.e., two camps). Mahanaim was a place iıı Manasseh (Joshua 13:30). Ancient Hebrew denotes excellence by reference to the Divine standard, which is the true ideal of all excellence. Comp. Psalms 36:6 : “Thy righteousness is like the hills of God”; and so elsewhere we find the expression, “cedars of God” (Psalms 80:11). The verse appears to include the considerable accessions to David’s forces which followed upon the defeat and death of Saul.
II. THE NUMBER OF THE WARRIORS WHO MADE DAVID KING IN HEBRON AFTER SAUL’S DEATH (1 Chronicles 12:23-40).
(23) And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war.—Literally, And these are the numbers of the heads of the equipped for warfare. “Heads” may mean (1) polls, or individuals, as in Judges 5:30, though “skull” (gulgôleth) is more usual in this sense; or (2) it may mean “totals,” “bands,” as in Judges 7:16. The latter seems preferable here. The Vulg. and LXX. render “chiefs of the army”; but no chiefs are named in the list, except those of the Aaronites (1 Chronicles 12:27-28); and we cannot suppose, on the strength of a single ambiguous term in the heading, that the character of the entire list has been altered by the chronicler. The Syriac version omits the whole verse.
And came to David.—“And” is wanting in the Heb. “They came to David at Hebron,” &c., is a parenthesis, unless the relative has fallen out.
To turn the kingdom.—Literally, to bring it round out of the direct line of natural heredity (1 Chronicles 10:14).
According to the word.—Literally, mouth (1 Chronicles 11:3; 1 Chronicles 11:10). What Jehovah had spoken by Samuel was virtually the word of his own mouth.
(24) The sons of Judah.—The following list proceeds from south to north, and then passes over to the trans-Jordanic tribes.
That bare shield and spear.—Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:8.
Ready armed to the war.—Equipped for war fare. The tribe of Judah, which had acknowledged the sovereignty of David for the last seven years, had no need to appear in full force on the occasion of his recognition by the other tribes.
(25) Mighty men of valour for the war.—Rather, for warfare, or military service.
(26) Of the children of Levi -Literally, Of the sons of the Levite; the article shows that the name is gentilic or tribal here, not personal. These martial Levites remind us of the priestly warriors of the crusades. That Levites might be soldiers, and in fact must have been such for the defence of the sanctuaries, is noted at 1 Chronicles 9:13; 1 Chronicles 9:19, and 2 Chronicles 23:0.
(27) And Jehoiada . . .—Literally, And Jehoiada the prince (hannagîd, 1 Chronicles 9:11; 1 Chronicles 9:20) belonging to Aaron. Aaronis used as the name of the leading clan of Levi. Jehoiada is perhaps father of the Benaiah of 1 Chronicles 11:22. He was not high priest (Abiathar, 1 Samuel 23:9), but head of the warriors of his clan. It is not clear whether the 3,700 are included in the 4,600 of 1 Chronicles 12:26 or not. Probably not.
Was . . . were.—Omit.
(28) And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour.—And Zadok, a youth, a valiant warrior. Perhaps the successor of Abiathar (1 Kings 2:26-27; 1 Kings 4:4), and his father-house (family), princes twenty and two. The sub-clan or family of Eleazar must have been strong at this time to be able to furnish all these captains, and their implied companies of warriors. But the sum total of the Levites is not given.
Hitherto.—Up to that time. (Comp., same phrase, 1 Chronicles 9:18.)
Had kept.—Were still keeping guard over the house of Saul. For the phrase comp. Numbers 3:38. The Benjamites, as a whole, were still jealously guarding the interests of their own royal house. This remark, as well as the preceding expression, “Saul’s fellow-tribesmen,” is intended to explain the comparative smallness of the contingent from Benjamin. The tribe’s reluctance to recognise David survived the murder of Ish-bosheth.
(30) Famous throughout the house of their fathers.—Rather, men of name (renown, as in Genesis 6:4), arranged according to their clans. The phrase “men of renown” is a natural addition to “valiant heroes,” and need occasion no surprise. Doubtless their renown was collective. The comparative smallness of Ephraim’s contingent is noticeable. If this tribe was not already declining within the Mosaic period (comp. Numbers 1:33; Numbers 26:37), it may have been greatly reduced by the last wars of Saul with the Philistines (comp. 2 Samuel 2:9).
(31) Which were expressed by name.—See the same phrase, 1 Chronicles 16:41; Numbers 1:17. Literally it is pricked down, or entered in a list, by names. The men had been levied by the tribal chiefs, and enrolled in lists for this particular service.
(32) And of the children of Issachar . . .—Rather, And of the sons of Issachar (came) men sage in discernment for the times (tempora, critical junctures), so as to know what Israel ought to do; viz., their chiefs two hundred (in number), and all their fellow clansmen under their orders. The old Jewish expositors concluded, from the former part of this verse that the tribe of Issachar had skill iıı astrology, so that they could read in the heavens what seasons were auspicious for action, as the ancient Babylonians professed to do. But all that the text really asserts is that those men of Issachar who went over to David thereby showed political sagacity. No similar phrase occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament.
At their commandment.—Upon their mouth. (Comp. Numbers 4:27.) The clansmen marched with their chieftains. The total number of Issachar’s contingent is not assigned.
(33) Expert in war . . . Marshalling (or ordering) battle with all kinds of weapons of war, and falling into rank (la’adôr, forming in line) without a double heart. The expression “falling into rank” occurs only here and in 1 Chronicles 12:38. Nine MSS. read instead “ helping “ (la’zôr), and the LXX. and Vulg. so translate. The Syriac has “to make war with those who disputed the sovranty of David.” The phrase “falling into rank without a heart and a heart,” asserts the unwavering fidelity and resolute courage of these warriors of Zebulun (comp. Psalms 12:3, “a speech of smooth things with heart and heart they speak”; they think one thing and say another; are double-minded). The number of warriors assigned to Zebulun and Naphtali has been thought surprising, because these tribes “never played an important part in the history of Israel” (comp., however, Judges 5:18). The numbers here given are, at all events, not discordant with those of Numbers 1:31; Numbers 1:43; Numbers 26:27; Numbers 26:50.
(34) Spear (hănîth).—A different word from that in 1 Chronicles 12:24 (rômah). Perhaps the former was thrown, the latter thrust.
(35) The Danites.—Literally, the Danite, as in 1 Chronicles 12:26, the Levite. Comp. Note on 1 Chronicles 7:12. Dan is not omitted in the present list.
(36) Expert in war.—Literally, to order or marshal battle (ad aciem struendam). The same phrase occurred in 1 Chronicles 12:33; 1 Chronicles 12:35. The margin (1 Chronicles 12:33), “rangers of battle,” is good.
(37) On the other side.—Better, from the other side; that is, from Peræa.
With all manner of instruments of war for the battle.—With all kinds of weapons of war- like service. The large total of 120,000 for the two and a half Eastern tribes is certainly remarkable. But, admitting the possibility of corruption in the ciphers here and elsewhere, the want of other documents, with which the text might be compared, renders further criticism superfluous.
(38) Conclusion of the list of 1 Chronicles 12:23-37.
All these men of war.—Rather, All the above, being men of war, forming line of battle with whole heart, came to Hebron to make David king. The phrase “forming line of battle,” repeats the verb of 1 Chronicles 12:3, and supplies its proper object (‘ôdĕrê ma’drãkhah, aciem struentes). The Hebrew indicates a stop at “line of battle;” it is better to put it after “with whole heart” (comp. 1 Chronicles 12:33). “They formed in line with fearless intrepidity;” literally, corde integro.
And all the rest also of Israel, who did not appear personally at Hebron.—” The rest (shçrîth) is a term used here only. The Hebrew says, “the remainder of Israel (was) one heart,” i.e., was unanimous. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:12.)
Allowing the average for Issachar, the total of the warriors assembled at Hebron was upwards of 300,000. This will not surprise us if we bear in mind that in those days every able-bodied man was, as a matter of course, trained in the use of arms, and liable to be called out for the king,s wars. Thus “man” and “warrior” were almost convertible terms. The present gathering was not a parade of the entire strength of the nation; coınp. the 600,000 warriors of the Exodus, and the 1,300,000 of David’s census. The main difficulty—that of the relative proportions of the various tribal contingents—has been considered in the preceding Notes. The suggestions there made are, of course, uncertain, the fact being that we really do not know enough of the condition of the tribes at that epoch to justify us in pronouncing upon the relative probability of the numbers here assigned to them. That being so, it is a hasty and uncritical exaggeration to say that “it is absolutely inconceivable that the tribes near the place of meeting, notably that of Judah, should have furnised so small a contingent, while the figures are raised in direct proportion to the distance to be traversed” (Reuss).
(39-40) The coronation feast. Comp. 1 Kings 1:9; 1 Kings 1:19; 1 Kings 1:25; the usurpation of Adonijah.
Their brethren.—Fellow tribesmen of Judah; especially those living at and around Hebron.
Had prepared victuals.—2 Chronicles 35:14.
(40) They that were nigh them.—The tribes bordering on Judah (LXX. οἱ ὁμοροῦντες), and even the northern tribes, contributed provisions.
Brought, were bringing.
Asses . . . camels . . . mules . . . oxen, but not horses, were the usual beasts of burden in rocky Canaan.
Meat, meal.—Rather, food of flour.
Bunches.—Rather, cakes of raisins; masses of dried figs and raisins were, and are, a staple article of’ food iıı the East (comp. 1 Samuel 25:18; Amos 8:11). The simple diction of the narrative, reminding us of Homer’s feasts, is a mark of its ancient origin.
1 Chronicles 13-16 form a complete section relating to the transfer of the Ark from Kirjath-jearim to its new sanctuary at Jerusalem. The continuity of the narrative is only suspended by the short parenthetic 1 Chronicles 13:0; 1 Chronicles 13:0 is closely parallel to 2 Samuel 6:1-11. The introduction, however (1 Chronicles 12:1-5), is much fuller than that of Samuel, which is condensed into one brief sentence.
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/
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