1 Chronicles 12 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

1 Chronicles 12
Pulpit Commentary
Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.
Verse 1. - To Ziklag. The occasion referred to is evidently that recorded in 1 Samuel 27:1, 2, 6, 7; 1 Samuel 30:1, 26; and generally in those and the intermediate chapters. David stayed at Ziklag a year and four months, a period which closed for him with the death of Saul. Ziklag, in Joshus's original allotment, was the possession of Simeon (Joshua 19:5). It was situated south of Judah, and came into the hands of Judah when Achish made it a gift to David for a rest-deuce (1 Samuel 27:5-7). The site of it has not been identified in later times. It witnessed one of the narrowest and most remarkable of the escapes of David, on an occasion which brought danger, not so much from acknowledged foes, as from the maddened grief and despair of his own friends and people (1 Samuel 30:3-6). The whole scene of the broken-hearted grief of David and his people, when, on discovering the successful raid of the Amalekites upon Ziklag, "they lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep," is one of the most dramatic on record. The rapid reverse to good fortune, when David turns away their heedless anger against himself and proposal to stone him, by pursuing and overcoming the enemy, and recovering their captives and their goods near the brook Besor, completes the effectiveness of the scene. The middle voice form of expression in this verse, kept himself close, means to say that David was, by fear of Saul and by force of his enemies, more or less hemmed up in Ziklag.
They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.
Verse 2. - Of Saul's brethren of Benjamin. It would be better to read these words as the commencement of the next verse. Prominence is given to the fact that this set of helpers of David, counting in all twenty-three, comprised Benjamites - men of the same tribe with Saul (ver. 29). They had seen and been impressed by the wrongness and cruelty of Saul, and found themselves unable to keep in sympathy with him. Of such were Eleazar, Ilai, and Ithai, mentioned in the preceding chapter (1 Chronicles 11:12, 29, 31, respectively). The Benjamites were noted both for their use of the bow, and of their own left hand (Judges 3:15, 21; Judges 20:15, 16; 1 Chronicles 8:39, 40; 2 Chronicles 14:8).
The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; and Jeziel, and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; and Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite,
Verse 3. - The sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite. The Peshito-Syriac has בְּנו instead of בֵּנֵי. This has the effect of making Joash the son of Ahiezer, and it makes Shemaah a third name in the list. This name has in the Hebrew the form for the article before it, and should appear in our version either as "Has-Shemaah," or "the Shemaah." The name, together with that of Azmaveth, is found in 1 Chronicles 8:13, 36, as belonging to the Benjamite tribe. The name Jeziel is omitted in the Syriac Version, and the two names Pelet and Berachah appear as sons of Azmaveth (1 Chronicles 11:33; 2 Samuel 23:31, where the Baharmite means the Baharumite, i.e. the man of Bahurim, in Benjamin). The Antothite; that is, native of Anathoth. The place is not given in Joshua 18; but it was a "priests' city" with "suburbs," belonging to Benjamin (1 Chronicles 11:28; Joshua 21:18; 1 Kings 2:26; Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 29:27).
And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Josabad the Gederathite,
Verse 4. - Among the thirty, and over the thirty. Yet the name of Ismaiah does not appear in the list of the preceding chapter, nor in its parallel; nor is it possible to identify it with any that does appear there. The suggested explanation is that he was in the first edition of that list, and died early. The expression, "among the thirty, and over the thirty," may possibly mean that, from distinction as one of them, he was promoted above them to be leader of them. Josabad the Gederathite. The name should be spelt Jozabad. The Gederah here suggested cannot to all appearance be that of Joshua 15:36, in the Shephelah of Judah, as Jozabad was a Benjamite. If otherwise, it must be supposed to have come in some way into the possession of Benjamin.
Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,
Verse 5. - Jerimoth. This name is found also among Benjamites (1 Chronicles 7:8). Bealiah. This name comprises both the word Baal, and Jah! Haruphite. The Masoretic word is חחֲרִיפי (Nehemiah 7:34). The sons of Hariph (Nehemiah 7:24) may have belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.
Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korhites,
Verse 6. - Jashobeam. Possibly the same with him of 1 Chronicles 11:11; 1 Chronicles 27:2. Korhites. Some authorities are as positive that this name designates Levitic Korahites, as others are sceptical about it. Bertheau explains the name as meaning descendants of Korah of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:43). Others surmise that a Benjamite Korah, otherwise unknown to us, is pointed to. There does not seem any intrinsic difficulty in supposing that these were some of the Levite Korahites, whose proper and allotted abode was in Benjamin, or perhaps in Judah.
And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
Verse 7. - Of Gedor. The place apparently here spoken of (yet see 1 Chronicles 8:31; 1 Chronicles 9:37) is unknown, and it is to be observed that in the Hebrew the article precedes the word (הַגְּדור). If it be the Gedor in Judah (1 Chronicles 4:4), it is to be noted still that Jeroham is a name of a Benjamite (1 Chronicles 8:27).
And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;
Verse 8. - As ver. 1 is introduced by the description of those who came together "to David to Ziklag" at a certain time, so it seems evident that this verse introduces the mention of certain others who befriended David at another time, by coming to him into the hold to the wilderness. These others were Gadites in part, and the hold none more likely than that of Adullam (ver. 16 of last chapter), although the word here employed (לַמְצַד) for "hold" is a different form of the word (מְצוּדָה) found both there and in the parallel (2 Samuel 23:14). There is, however, nothing to negative the choice of other spots and occasions (1 Samuel 22:5; 1 Samuel 23:14, 19, 24, 29, Authorized Version; 1 Samuel 24:1, Authorized Version). This graphic description of the military and indeed native qualities of these Gadites, is in harmony with many other glimpses we get of them and their character (1 Chronicles 5:19-22; 2 Samuel 1:23; 2 Samuel 2:18).
Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,
Verses 9-13. - The eleven names of these verses are all known elsewhere, but none of them as designating the same persons.
Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh.
These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.
Verse 14. - One of the least was over an hundred. This, evidently an incorrect translation, is easily superseded by the correct literal version, One to a hundred the little one, and the great one one to a thousand. The preposition lamed prefixed to the two numerals," hundred" and" thousand," will signify either that the "little one was as good as a hundred, and the great one as good as a thousand;" or that the "little one was rare as one of a hundred, and the great one rare as one of a thousand."
These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.
Verse 15. - In the first month. This corresponds with our end of March. The interesting incident of this verse is unrecorded in detail elsewhere (Joshua 3:15; Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44).
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
Verse 16. - In addition to the Gadites, some others of Benjamin and Judah join David.
And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.
Verse 17. - The solemn tone of David's language recorded here, and the beautiful pathos and religious appeal of the last two sentences of the verse, bespeak sufferings and disappointments experienced by David heretofore through deception. It is, however, noticeable that there is no direct testimony of anything of this kind, least of all of any flagrant instance of it, on the part of such detachments of friends as had come to him; and that, though they had occasionally been contributed from sources not the most desirable (1 Samuel 22:2).
Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.
Verse 18. - The response of the band, by the mouth of Amasai was worthy of the character of the appeal that David made, both in its heartiness and its high tone. Amasai. Possibly the same with Amasa (1 Chronicles 2:17), the son of Abigail (David's sister), wife of Jether (2 Samuel 17:25; 2 Samuel 18:6; 2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 20:10). Ewald discusses this point ('Genesis Int.,' 2:544). He was made captain of the host by Absalom, afterwards by David, and Joab put an end to his life. The Spirit (see Numbers 11:26; Nehemiah 9:30). The more literal translation of the verb came upon is clothed. Most interesting and instructive is the subject of the gradually developing manifestation of the agency of the eternal Spirit from the beginning of the world. Through the ascending illustrations of his natural work in creation (Genesis 1:2), his relation to human bodily life (Genesis 2:7; Job 27:3), his intellectual work of various kinds (Genesis 41:38; Exodus 28:3; Numbers 24:2; Judges 9:29), we are led on to his highest spiritual functions.
And there fell some of Manasseh to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle: but they helped them not: for the lords of the Philistines upon advisement sent him away, saying, He will fall to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads.
Verse 19. - And there fell... of Manasseh to David. Of this use of נָפַל עלאּ there are many other examples (2 Chronicles 15:9; Jeremiah 37:14; Jeremiah 39:9). The phrase does not correspond with our own idiom of "falling to" one's lot, but with that of" falling away" from the service or love of one to another, i.e. deserting. The occasion here spoken of is described in full in 1 Samuel 29:2-11.
As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.
Verse 20. - Although those of Manasseh who wished to ally themselves with David did not - most providentially for David and his Ziklag people - have the opportunity of aiding him when, on the eve of Gilboa, he was about to aid Achish the prince of the Philistines against the Israelites and Saul, yet their help must have come in useful when, on his return "to Ziklag on the third day," he found what the Amalekites had done, and pursued them (1 Samuel 30:1-6, 11-25). Seven is the number also of Eastern Manasseh mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:24. Nothing is now said of the men belonging to them joining with them. Jozabad. One manuscript quoted by Kennicott has for this name on its first occurrence Jechabar. It is scarcely likely that the same name should appear twice in this short list, without some qualifying mark being put to one of the two. Nothing else is known of these seven cap-talus of the thousands of Manasseh.
And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.
Verse 21. - The band. The band referred to is evidently that of Amalek in 1 Samuel 30:8, 9. Were captains; better, became captains.
For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.
Verse 22. - The host of God. A forcible comment on the metaphorical use of this phrase is found in 1 Samuel 14:15; Authorized Version, "a very great trembling" is the translation of Hebrew "trembling of God." The for with which this verse commences probably explains the call there was for many and able "captains" for a host becoming daily larger.
And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD.
Verse 23. The bands; rather, the chief men, or captains, by one or the other of which words this same term has been several times hitherto rendered in the immediate context (yet see Judges 9:37, 44, and Judges 5:30 for yet a third signification). There follow (vers. 24-37) the numbers of each tribe (the full thirteen being enumerated) who "came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel." The large numbers of some of the joyful pilgrims to Hebron, as for instance of the trans-Jordanic tribes, the very small number that came of the tribe of Judah (in fact, lowest but one, i.e. Benjamin, and yet nearest home), and of some others, help to invest with doubt the numerals of this passage, although it is not at all difficult to suggest some very passable explanations of these phenomena. This doubt is not lessened by the total, which, according to this list, must make a figure between three hundred and forty thousand and three hundred and fifty thousand men. To the host have to be added, as we are expressly told, the "asses, camels, mules, and oxen," which carried the "bread, meat, meal, cakes of figs and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep in abundance," for the consumption of the host during their "three days' "stay "with David," and their journeys to and fro. In the presence of such numbers, and the celebration of such an occasion, Hebron must indeed have beheld the reflection of its own probable meaning, of the "fellowship" or "community" of society. To turn the kingdom of Saul to him (so 1 Chronicles 10:14). The phrase is not a common one. According to the word of the Lord (so 1 Chronicles 11:3; 1 Samuel 16:1, 12, 13).
The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.
Verses 24, 25. - David had already found friends and adherents in these two southern tribes of Judah and Simeon.
Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.
And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;
Verse 27. - Jahoiada. He was probably the father of Benaiah (see 1 Chronicles 11:22; 1 Chronicles 18:17; 1 Chronicles 27:5; 2 Samuel 8:18). The Aaronites. This is, of course, equivalent to saying "the priests," i.e. the priestly troops, of whom Jehoiada was leader.
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.
Verse 28. - Zadok. This is the first men. tion of Zadok. He was, no doubt, the chief priest, son of Ahitub, of 2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Kings 1:8; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 29:22. He is leader of the Levites.
And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul.
Verse 29. - Had kept the ward; rather, had kept on the side of; the Hebrew, שֹׁמְרִים מִשְׁמֶרֶת; Vulgate, adhuc sequebatur. The proposed translation of זְעַדיחֵנָח by "still" ('Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.) is very doubtful. The for hitherto of this verse explains the reason of the comparatively small number Of the Benjamites.
And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.
And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.
Verse 31. - West Manasseh is here treated of.
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
Verse 32. - Had understanding of the times (2 Chronicles 2:12; Esther 1:13; Job 24:1). Compare Tacitus, "gnarus temporum" ('Agricola,' §6). This verse does not tell the number of the "children," but only of the "heads" of Issachar. It is possible that the number has slipped out. The description of the characteristics of Issachar here seems an advance upon that of Genesis 49:14, 15.
Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.
Verse 33. - Not of double heart. This phrase should be connected closely with the preceding clause, of which it is the termination, the sense being that they were the men to face battle with no doubtful heart.
And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
Verses 34-36. - Naphtali, Dan, and Asher all show to advantage, in number at all events.
And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.
And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.
And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand.
Verse 37. - The east of Jordan group muster a high number, and of well-equipped men.
All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.
And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.
Verse 39. - The supplies for eating and drinking were no doubt found chiefly in kind. To sum the number of the men here described, we should require to allow for those of Issachar and of the Aaronites and Zadokites added to the Levites (vers. 26-28). That grand total will not amount to the six hundred thousand of Exodus 12:37.
Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.
Verse 40. - Moreover, they that were nigh them. The meaning is that not only the "brethren" of Judah and of the nearer neighbourhood of Hebron joined to entertain and to show hospitality to the immense throngs of visitors, but that others did so in ever-widening circles, even as far as the remoter Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali. For there was joy in Israel. The joy must have been largely enhanced by the national consciousness of divided rule coming to an end, and of the cloud and frown of the Divine countenance having cleared mercifully away. All now could join to show loyalty and to feel it towards one king, of whom they had reason to believe that he was the chosen of God as of themselves.

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