1 Chronicles 12 is a sort of supplement to 1 Chronicles 11, 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).
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.)
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).
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.
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.”
Jesiah.—Heb., Yishshiyāhû; “Jahu is ray possession.” (Comp. Psalm 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).
(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 (māgên) is the reading of some old editions, but against the MSS., which have rōmah (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).
(9-13) Eleven heroes of Gad.
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.
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.
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. Psalm 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 Psalm 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. Psalm 120:2.)
Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands.—Although (there be) no violence in my palms. (Comp. Job 16:17; Psalm 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. Psalm 9:12, Psa_10:14, Psa_18:20.)
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), 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 (qibbēl). 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 (‘azarām), 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.
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.
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 (mahanēh ‘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. Psalm 36:6 : “Thy righteousness is like the hills of God”; and so elsewhere we find the expression, “cedars of God” (Psalm 80:11). The verse appears to include the considerable accessions to David’s forces which followed upon the defeat and death of Saul.
(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” (gulgōleth) 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.
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.
Was . . . were.—Omit.
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.
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.
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.
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 (shērîth) 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).
Their brethren.—Fellow tribesmen of Judah; especially those living at and around Hebron.
Had prepared victuals.—2 Chronicles 35:14.
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 14. 1 Chronicles 13 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.