The chapter contains (1) the election of David in Hebron, and his conquest of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 11:1-9); (2) a list of David’s chief warriors, with short notices of their famous deeds (1 Chronicles 11:10-17).
(1) Then all Israel gathered themselves.—Literally, and. “Then” is too definite a mark of time. The chronicler passes over the subsequent history of the house of Saul, and its decline under the feeble Ishbosheth, who reigned at Mahanaim as a puppet-king in the hands of Abner his powerful kinsman and general (2 Samuel 2-4).
All Israel.—This proves that the allusion is not to David’s election by Judah (2 Samuel 2:4).
Hebron, the burial-place of the patriarchs, was the capital of Judah, the tribe of David.
Thy bone and thy flesh.—A proverb first of physical, then of moral unity (Genesis 2:23; Judges 9:2). It was not as if David were some valiant foreigner, like certain of his own heroes. Moreover, the affection and sympathy of the tribes were with him, whose life of struggle and success had marked him out as their divinely chosen leader.
Leddest out.—To battle.
Broughtest in.—Of the homeward march. David had thus already discharged kingly functions. (Comp. 1 Samuel 8:20; 1 Samuel 18:6; 1 Samuel 18:13; 1 Samuel 18:27; 2 Samuel 3:18.)
The Lord thy God said unto thee.—1 Samuel 16:13.
Thou shalt feed my people.—Literally, shepherd or tend them. The same term is used of the Lord Himself (Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 80:1). The king then is God’s representative, and as such his right is really Divine (Romans 13:1). The cuneiform documents reveal the interesting fact that the term “shepherd,” as applied to sovereigns, is as old as the pre-Semitic stage of Babylonian civilisation (the second millennium B.C. ).
Before the Lord.—In the presence of the high priest, and perhaps before the ark; comp. Exodus 21:6; 1 Samuel 2:25, where the priestly nudge is called God, as representing the authority of the Divine judge (Exodus 22:28).
According to the word of the Lord by Samuel.—A reflection added by the chronicler, and based upon the facts related in 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
The accession of the new king is followed by a warlike enterprise, according to the precedent of Saul (1 Samuel 11). This agrees with the reason assigned for the election of a king (1 Samuel 8:20), as well as with what we know of Assyrian custom, and is a mark of historic truth.
(4) And David . . . land.—Samuel is briefer: “And the king and his men went to Jerusalem, to the Jebusite, the inhabitant of the land.” The chronicler adds the explanatory “that is Jebus,” because of the after-mention of the Jebusite. He then further modifies the form of the original statement, continuing “and there (lived) the Jebusite (collect.), the inhabitants,” &c.
Jerusalem means city of Salem; Assyrian, Ursalimmê. But in Hebrew the name has been so modified as to suggest “vision of peace.” In Greek the name became Hierosolyma, “Sacred Solyma.”
Inhabitants of the land.—A standing name of the native Canaanites, and equivalent to indigenæ, or Ἀυτόχθονες.
Chief and captain.—Literally, shall become a head and a captain.
Joab the son of Zeruiah is not mentioned at all in the parallel passage. Joab already appears as David’s general, while Ishbosheth is yet reigning at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 2:13; 2 Samuel 3:23). Perhaps the phrase here used means head and governor of Jerusalem. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 11:8.)
Went up.—Scaled the rampart, “and became a head.”
They called it.—Samuel (Hebrew), “one called it;” both in a general sense.
City.—Comp. Greek, polis = acropolis.
Lord of hosts was with him.—The Lord of Hosts is doubtless a contracted form of the fuller expression, Lord God of Hosts, as it appears in Samuel. The Lord (or God) of Hosts is a title derived from God’s supremacy over the host of heaven, i.e., the stars, worshipped as deities by the races environing Israel, insomuch that the very word for God in the old Babylonian is represented by a star (*); and in the later Assyrian character star was represented by the symbol for God thrice repeated. Assur, the supreme deity of the Assyrian Pantheon, is called in the inscriptions “king of the legions of heaven and earth,” or “of the great gods.” Similar titles were given to the Babylonian Nebo and Merodach. The Hebrew phrase is therefore, in one sense, equivalent to a concise assertion of the statement, “Jehovah your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17 : comp. also Psalm 95:3; Psalm 97:7). That the hosts in question are the stars appears from Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 40:26; Judges 5:20.
Very anciently the stars were conceived of as the army of heaven, marshalled in orderly array. (Comp. Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 24:21; Isaiah 14:12-13.) The Lord of the hosts of heaven is à fortiori Lord of all earthly hosts; hence the fitness of the phrase in passages like the present. Lastly, we may observe that it is a grand idea of revealed religion that He who guides the stars in their courses guides also the destinies of individual men, elevating one and abasing another, according to the eternal principles of goodness and truth (Isaiah 57:15).
(10) These also are the chief of the mighty men.—Rather, And these were the heads of the warriors (i.e., the chief warriors, other warriors of lower rank being enumerated in 1 Chronicles 12) who showed themselves strong in his support (with him, Daniel 10:21; Psalm 12:4), in the matter of his kingdom, in common with all Israel, in order to make him king (and maintain him as such: comp. their exploits, noticed below). This description of the heroes is not given in Samuel, the connection there being different.
According to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.—Comp. Note on 1 Chronicles 11:3. David was made king (1) for his own sake. It was work for which he was best fitted, and a reward of his faithfulness. (2) For Israel’s sake: “So he led them with a faithful and true heart” (Psalm 78:70-72).
Jashobeam, an Hachmonite.—Literally, Jasho-beam, son of a Hakmonite; but ben may be spurious, as in 1 Chronicles 9:7, and Nehemiah 11:10. The Hebrew of 2 Samuel 23:8 has yoshebbashshebeth Tahkemoni, which has been supposed to be a corruption of Ishbosheth ha-hahmoni (“Ishbosheth the Hachmonite”). If this guess be right, the Jashobeam of our text may be a disguise of Eshbaal. This seems to be borne out by the readings of the Vatican LXX. here and at 1 Chronicles 27:2 : Ἰεσεβαὅά and Ἰσβοάς. The Alex. MS., however, reads Ἰσβαάμ and Ἰσβοάμ, that is, Jashobeam.
The chief of the captains.—The Hebrew text has “head of the Thirty,” and so the LXX. and Syriac. “Captains” (“knights,” or “members of the royal staff.”) is the reading of Samuel and the Hebrew margin here. The corps of the Thirty may also have been called the Knights; but the two Hebrew words might easily be confused (shelâshîm, shalîshîm). It is possible that the original reading was “head of the Three” (shelôshah), as 1 Chronicles 11:11-14 describe an exploit of three champions.
He lifted up his spear.—Literally, he it was who brandished his lance over three hundred slain in a single encounter. Samuel says eight hundred, but. the text there is otherwise very faulty. Yet as 1 Chronicles 11:20 records that the lesser hero, Abishai, slew three hundred, the greater number may be correct here. (Comp. the like exploit of Shamgar (Judges 3:31), and the feats ascribed to Rameses II. and to the heroes of the Iliad.) A well-armed champion might cut down whole companies of ordinary fighting-men.
The Ahohite—i.e., of the clan Ahoah; perhaps the Benjamite house of this name (1 Chronicles 8:4).
Who was one of the three mighties.—“He was among the three heroes,” i.e., one of the first or leading trio of warriors, whose names were Jashobeam (Eshbaal), Eleazar, and Shammah (2 Samuel 23:11).
And there the Philistines were gathered together to battle.—After these words several lines have been lost, as may be seen by comparison of 2 Samuel 23:9-10. The text may be restored thus: “He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines had gathered to the battle; and the men of Israel went up (perhaps, up the mountain side, in retreat). And he stood his ground, and smote the Philistines until his hand was benumbed, and clave to the sword. And Iahweh wrought a great victory on that day. And the people began returning (from flight) behind him only to spoil (the slain). And after him (was) Shammah ben Agê, an Hararite. And the Philistines gathered together unto Lehi (Judges 15:9). And there there was a parcel, etc.,” 1 Chronicles 11:13. The cause of this serious omission was perhaps the double occurrence of the phrase “the Philistines gathered together.” The eye of some copyist wandered from one to the other. What was originally told of Eleazar the second hero, was that his prowess turned the flight at Pas-dammim into a victory.
Where was a parcel of ground full of barley.—The scene of the exploit of the third hero, Shammah, son of Agê. Perhaps the Philistines were intent on carrying off the crop (1 Samuel 23:1). Samuel reads lentils. The Hebrew words for barley and lentils are very similar. We cannot tell which text is right.
Saved them.—Samuel, “made a great deliverance”: transpose one letter, and the Hebrew words are identical. LXX. and Syriac agree with Samuel.
(15) Now three of the thirty captains.—Literally, and a three out of the thirty chiefs went down; a mode of description which appears to distinguish this trio from the former (1 Chronicles 11:11-14). The form of the verb, however, connects this exploit with the same war. (Comp. 2 Samuel 23:13-17.)
To the rock.—’Al haç-çûr (later use of ‘al, “on”). Samuel has “at (or towards) harvest,” ‘el qaçir. In Hebrew writing the phrases are very similar. Our phrase looks like a correction of that in Samuel. At any rate, the Syriac, Targum, Arabic, and probably the LXX., read qaçir in the MSS. of Samuel. Here the LXX. has “to the rock;” Syriac omits the phrase.
Cave of Adullam.—See 1 Samuel 22:1.
Valley of Rephaim.—See Joshua 15:8, Note. It lay south-west of Jerusalem, in the direction of Bethlehem. It may have got its name from the aboriginal Rephaim, Deuteronomy 3:11 (Authorised Version, giants), Joshua 17:15. It was a rich corn land (Isaiah 13:5). (Comp. 1 Chronicles 11:13.)
The Philistines’ garrison.—An outpost; for their army was camping near Jerusalem.
By the gate.—Heb., in.
Poured it out.—As a libation or drink-offering. The technical term is used, as in Genesis 35:14. An act of free sacrifice, done under a sudden impulse of thankfulness, and not according to any formal prescription of the Law.
Their lives appears to be spurious here, as it occurs again immediately, and is read only once in Samuel. David regards the water as blood: it had been obtained at the hazard of life, and “the life is the blood” (Genesis 9:4). The question in Samuel runs: “The blood of the men who went in (= at the risk of) their lives?” The verb seems to have fallen out by accident.
For with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it.—Literally, in their lives. This remark is not found in Samuel, and looks like an explanation of the words, “shall I drink the blood of these men?”
These things did these three mightiest.—Rather, these things did the three mighty men (or, warriors). The Hebrew text of this narrative presents only a few verbal differences from 2 Samuel 23:13-17.
(20) Abishai the brother of Joab.—Heb., Abshai, but in Samuel, Abishai. (Comp. Abram and Abiram.) Samuel adds “son of Zeruiah” after Joab. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 2:16 and 1 Chronicles 18:12; 1 Chronicles 19:11 ff. for other deeds of Abishai.)
He was chief of the three.—Apparently the second triad, one of whose famous exploits has just been related (1 Chronicles 11:15-19). The Hebrew text of Samuel seems to read “knights,” but some MSS., the Hebrew margin, and all the versions, agree with Chronicles.
For lifting up . . .—Literally, and he had bran. dished his spear over three hundred slain. The exploit of Jashobeam (1 Chronicles 11:11).
And had a name among the three.—That is, among the second triad, of which he was captain.
Howbeit he attained not . . .—Literally, but to the three he came not, i.e., the first triad of warriors (1 Chronicles 11:11-14).
Son of a valiant man.—“Son” is probably a spurious addition here, as elsewhere. The Syriac has “Benaiah son of Joiada, a strong warrior.” The LXX., however, reads, “son of a mighty man.”
Kabzeel.—A town of southern Judah, site unknown (Joshua 15:21); Nehemiah 11:25 (Jekabzeel).
Who had done many acts.—The margin is correct. This poetic phrase only occurs in this and the parallel passage.
He slew two lionlike men of Moab.—See 1 Chronicles 18:2. So the Syriac: “He slew two giants of Moab.” The Hebrew has, “He smote the two Ariel of Moab.” Ariel, “lion of God”—a title of heroes with the Arabs and Persians—appears to be used as an appellative (Isaiah 33:7): “Lo, the heroes (‘arîêlîm) cry without!” (Heb.) The LXX. of 2 Samuel 23:20 reads, “The two sons of Ariel of Moab;” whence some think that Ariel denotes here the king of Moab; but the former sense is better.
Also he went down and slew a lion.—Literally, And he (it was who) went down and smote the lion in the middle of the cistern in the day of snow. The article pointedly refers to some well-known feat of Benaiah’s.
Like a weaver’s beam.—Not in Samuel. Perhaps due to a recollection of the combat of David and Goliath. (Comp. also 2 Samuel 21:19.) Yet the LXX. of 2 Samuel 23:21 has “like the beam of a ship’s ladder” (ξύλον διαβάθρας); and this may be original.
Went down.—To the combat. (Comp. Latin: descendere in aciem, &c.) The staff (shēbet) of Benaiah differs from David’s (maqqēl, 1 Samuel 17:40; 1 Samuel 17:43); and the similarity of the two accounts, so far as it extends, is a similarity not of fiction, but of fact.
With a staff.—Rather, the staff, which he happened to carry.
But attained not to the first three.—For he was a member of the second triad of heroes. The third member is omitted here, as in the case of the first triad.
Over his guard.—Literally, over his obedience; an abstract for concrete, as in Isaiah 11:14 (= vassals). The Cherethites and Pelethites, a small corps probably of foreigners, who constituted David’s body-guard, and were under his direct orders, appear to be meant here. (See 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23.) The word has this precise sense only in this place and its parallel.
(26) Also the valiant men of the armies.—The Heb. phrase has this meaning (1 Chronicles 12:8); but elsewhere it denotes “valiant heroes” (1 Chronicles 7:5; 1 Chronicles 7:7, &c). and so here. 2 Samuel 23:24 has “Asahel brother of Joab was among the thirty.” It thus appears that the warriors of this list are none other than the famous baud of thirty warriors already spoken of (1 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Chronicles 11:25). From having been the original number, thirty may have become the conventional name of the corps even when its limits had been enlarged. It is notice. able that so far as to 1 Chronicles 11:41 the heroes are arranged in pairs, and that the gentilic or cantonal name is usually added to that of the hero. They mostly belong to Judah and Benjamin; whereas the sixteen additional names, so far as known, belong to the transjordanic tribes, and the northern tribes are not represented at all.
Elhanan.—Dodo is very much like David. Is this a third alias of the slayer of Goliath? See Note on 1 Chronicles 20:5.
Helez the Pelonite.—Samuel, “the Paltite,” perhaps more correctly. The Syriac and Arabic read “of Palton” and “Faltûna.” Bethpelet was a town of Judah (Nehemiah 11:26), but 1 Chronicles 27:10 calls Helez “the Pelonite of the sons of Ephraim.” The Heb. peloni (Authorised Version, Pelonite), means so-and-so, and may be a scribe’s substitute for an illegible name.
Ilai.—Samuel has Zalmon, which may be correct, letters having faded.
Ahohite.—See 1 Chronicles 11:12.
Heled.—More correct than (Heleb) Samuel. Called Heldai (1 Chronicles 27:15). He was of the clan Othniel.
Gibeah . . . of Benjamin was near Ramah.
Benaiah the Pirathonite.—1 Chronicles 27:14. Of course different from Benaiah son of Jehoiada. “Pirathon in the land of Ephraim” (Judges 12:15) may be the modern Ferâta, south-west of Shechem.
Brooks.—Heb., Nahalê (gullies or wadys). Nahalê-Gaash was no doubt a place on or near Mount Gaash (Joshua 24:30) in the highland of Ephraim, but the site is not identified.
Abiel the Arbathite.—Samuel, “Abi-’albon.” Perhaps Abi-baal was the original reading, which was corrupted in the text of Samuel, and altered by the chronicler’s authority after the manner of Beeliada—Eliada.
Arbathite—of “Beth-arabah” (Joshua 15:62), in the desert of Judah.
Shaalbonite—of Shaalbim (Judges i 35; Joshua 19:42), a Danite town near Ajalon.
Jonathan the son of Shage the Hararite.—This appears more correct than the text of Samuel, “Shammah the Hararite.” “Shammah son of Age the Hararite” was the third hero of the first triad (2 Samuel 23:11). Perhaps, therefore, the original reading here was “Jonathan son of Age (or Shammah) the Hararite.” The Syriac and Arabic, however, support Shage.
Instead of Hararite, Samuel has “Ararite,” or “Adrite” (Syr.).
Eliphal, the son of Ur.—Instead of this, Samuel reads, “Eliphelet son of Ahasbai son of the Maachathite.” Eliphelet (the name of a son of David) seems right.
Ahijah the Pelonite.—Instead of this Samuel has “Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.” For Ahithophel, see 2 Samuel 15:31.
The Pelonite—i.e., so-and-so, may indicate either that Ahithophel’s name had become obscure in the chronicler’s MS., or that he was unwilling to mention the traitor. Ahijah (Jah is a brother) and Eliam (God is a kinsman) might be names of one person.
Carmelite.—Of Carmel (Karmul), a town south of Hebron (Joshua 15:55).
Naarai the son of Ezbai.—Samuel, “Paarah the Arbite.” Arab also was a town south of Hebron, in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:52).
Mibhar the son of Haggeri.—“Mibhar” (choice) is unlikely as a proper name, and is probably a corruption of Miçcobah, “of Zobah,” as in Samuel. After this word Samuel adds “Bani the Gadite.” The name “Bani” has fallen out of our text. “Haggeri” is an easy corruption of Haggadi “the Gadite.”
Berothite.—Of Beeroth in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25).
The sixteen names which follow may indicate a later revision of the catalogue. They are not given elsewhere.
Jehiel.—Heb., Jeuel. Margin, “Jeiel.”
Hothan.—A misprint of the Authorised Version for Aotham. There was an Aroer in Reuben, and another in Gad (Joshua 13:16; Joshua 13:25).
The Mahavite.—Probably a corruption of “the Mahanaimite.” Mahanaim was in Gad.
The Mesobaite.—The word is corrupt. Perhaps it should be “of Zobah.” Syriac has and Ashkir.