1 Chronicles 14 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

1 Chronicles 14
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

This section is a duplicate of 2 Samuel 5:11-25. In the older work it follows immediately upon the account of the taking of Jebus (2 Samuel 5:6-10), and precedes that of the removal of the Ark. Neither Samuel nor the chronicler has observed the order of chronology. The chronicler may have transposed the two accounts, in order to represent the removal of the Ark to the new capital in immediate connection with the acquisition of the city.

The chapter treats (1) of David’s palace building and family; (2) of his two victories over the Philistines in the valley of Rephaim.

Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and timber of cedars, with masons and carpenters, to build him an house.
(1) Hiram.—So the Hebrew text of Chronicles spells the name, and the LXX. and all the other ancient versions both of Samuel and Chronicles have it so. But the Hebrew margin of Chronicles writes “Huram.”


Timber of cedars.—Felled from the Lebanon, and sea-borne to Joppa (2 Chronicles 16).

With masons and carpenters.—Literally, and craftsmen of walls, and craftsmen of timber. 2 Samuel 5:11 has “craftsmen of wood, and craftsmen of stone of wall.”

To build him an house.—Samuel, “and they built a house for David.” (2 Samuel 5:11.)

House.—Palace. So the Temple was called “the house” (hab-bayith) as well as “the palace” (hēkēl; comp, the Accadian e-gal, “great house”). We may think of the numerous records of palace building which the Assyrian and Babylonian sovereigns have left us. The cedar of Lebanon (Labnânu) was a favourite material with them.

And David perceived that the LORD had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.
(2) And David perceived . . .—And David knew that Jehovah had appointed him. The willing alliance of the powerful sovereign of Phoenician Tyre was so understood by David. The favour of man is sometimes a sign of the approval of God—always, when it results from well-doing (Genesis 39:21; Luke 2:52).

For his kingdom was lifted up on high.—Samuel, “and (he knew) that he had lifted up his kingdom.” Perhaps our text should be rendered, viz., that his kingdom was lifted up on high.”

Lifted up.—Aramaic form (nissêth).

Because of.—For the sake of.

On high.—A favourite intensive expression with the chronicler (1 Chronicles 20:5; 1 Chronicles 21:17, &c.).

Kingdom.—The Hebrew term (malkûth) is more modern than that in Samuel (mamlãkhăh).

This verse helps us to understand how David was “a man after God’s own heart.” His innate humility recognises at once the ground of his own exaltation as not personal, but national.

And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters.
(3) And David took more wives.—The verse is considerably abbreviated as compared with Samuel, which reads, “concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron.” The concubines are not omitted because of offence, for they are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:9.

Now these are the names of his children which he had in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon,
(4) His children.—Literally, the born. Samuel has a different word from the same root, and omits the relative pronoun and its verb. (For the names, comp. 1 Chronicles 3:5-9, Notes, and 2 Samuel 5:14-16.) The list is repeated here because it occurred at this point in the document which the historian was copying, and perhaps also as an instance of David’s prosperity, which is the topic of the section.

Nathan.—“And Nathan” (Samuel) must be right. The conjunction occurs throughout the list. Joseph, “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus,” traced his descent from this son of David (Luke 3:23-31).

And Ibhar, and Elishua, and Elpalet,
And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
And Elishama, and Beeliada, and Eliphalet.
And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them.

(1 Chronicles 14:8-16; 2 Samuel 5:17-25).

Although placed here after the account of the palace building, this invasion must have occurred earlier in the reign of David, and probably soon after the storming of Jerusalem, a proof of capacity, which would rouse the Philistines to combined action against the new sovereign of Israel. (Comp. 1 Samuel 13)

(8) David was anointed.—Samuel, “they had anointed David.” The verb in each case is mashah, from which is derived Mashȋah=Messiah.

Over all Israel.—The word “all,” omitted in Samuel, contrasts David’s second election with his first as king of Judah only.

To seek David.—With hostile intent. The verb is so used in 1 Samuel 26:2.

Went out against them.—Literally, before them (1 Chronicles 12:17). Samuel has, “went down to the stronghold.” The term “stronghold” (měçûdāh) designates the “castle of Zion” (1 Chronicles 11:5; 1 Chronicles 11:7), and also David’s old refuge, the rock and cave of Adullam, in the valley of Elah. The latter is probably intended here. As on former occasions, the Philistine forces were likely to choose the route through the valley of Elah (coınp. 1 Samuel 18:1-2), and David “went down” from Zion “to meet them” there.

And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
(9) And the Philistines came.Now the Philistines had come. The narrative goes back to 1 Chronicles 14:8 a. The invaders had approached by another road than usual, and encamped in the valley of Rephaim (1 Chronicles 11:15).

Spread themselves.—The chronicler has given an easier term than that used in Samuel.

And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.
(10) And David enquired of God.—How? Through the high priest Abiathar, who sought Divine direction by means of the Urim and Thummim, or sacred lots, which he carried in a pouch on his breast, which was fastened to the ephod, or priestly mantle. (See Exodus 28:30; Exodus 39:21; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 14:18-19; 1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 14:41; 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 28; 1 Samuel 30:7-8.)

Against.—Samuel, “unto.” There should be a comma, not a query, at “Philistines;” the whole sentence forms but one question in the Hebrew. Samuel gives two distinct questions, disconnected from each other. The rest of the verse is abridged here. (Comp. Samuel.)

So they came up to Baalperazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baalperazim.
(11) So they came up to Baal-perazım.—And they: that is, David and his troops. Samuel, “And David came into Baal-perazim.” The locality is unknown. The prophet Isaiah (1 Chronicles 28:21) refers to these two victories of David: “For Jehovah shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” Such a reference proves the great moment of the events so briefly chronicled here.

God hath broken in upon mine enemies.—Samuel has “Jehovah” here and in 1 Chronicles 14:10 a, and again in 1 Chronicles 14:14-15. (See Note, 1 Chronicles 13:12.) True to his character, David owns the mighty hand of God in the results of his own valour. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 17:16, sqq.) He is conscious of being God’s instrument. Contrast the haughty self-confidence of the Assyrian conqueror (Isaiah 10:5-15).

By mine hand.—Samuel, “before me;” and so the Syriac and Arabic here. The Hebrew phrases are probably synonymous. (Comp. 1 Samuel 21:14, “in their hand,” i.e., before them.) In Arabic, “between the hands” means before. Our text seems the more original here.

Like the breaking forth of waters.—David’s forces probably charged down the slopes of Mount Perazim (Isaiah 28:21), like a mountain torrent, sweeping all before it.

They called.—An explanation of Samuel, which has “he [i.e., one] called.” The remark indicates the antiquity of the narrative. (Comp. the frequent verbal plays of this kind in the stories of the Book of Genesis.)

Baal-perazim.Lord, or owner, of breaches, or breakings forth. “Baal” may refer to Jehovah ( comp. 1 Chronicles 9:33, Note); and perāzîm may have also meant the fissures or gullies on the mountain-side. It is the plural of the word perez (1 Chronicles 13:11).

And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
(12) And when they had left their gods there.—Samuel, “their images.” Our word is explanatory.

David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.—Samuel, “And David and his men carried them off” (Heb.). The two statements are not incompatible, and may both have existed in the same original text. The chronicler is careful to record David’s compliance with the law of Deuteronomy 7:25.

And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley.
(13-16) A second Philistine invasion and defeat (2 Samuel 5:22-25).

(13) In the valley—“of Rephaim” (Samuel). Slightly abridged.

Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
(14) Therefore David enquired.—The first half of this verse is fuller and clearer than in Samuel. The second half must be adjusted by comparison with the older text, which reads, “Thou must not go up [LXX., “to meet them “]; go round to their rear, and come upon them in front of the baca trees.” Probably the terms rendered “after them” and “from them” should be slightly modified and transposed in our text. This will give, “Go not up against them; go round to their rear,” &c., as in Samuel.

Mulberry trees.—The traditional Jewish rendering of beka’îm, a Hebrew word only occurring here and in the parallel passage of Samuel. Probably the kind of balsam tree called băkā by the Arabs is meant. It sheds a gum like tears, whence its name. (Heb., băkā, “to weep.”) (Comp. Psalm 84:6.)

And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.
(15) A sound of going.—Rather, the sound of marching. The sign may have been a natural one. David was to listen for the wind rustling in the tops of the bacas—a sound like that of walking on dead leaves—and then to make his attack. (But comp 2 Kings 7:6.) But we are reminded, in connection with this fragment of David’s history, that all ancient people attached a prophetic import to the motion and rustling of leaves. Omens from trees are mentioned in the table of contents of the great Assyrian work on terrestrial omens, compiled by order of Sargon of Agadê or Accad (about 2200 B.C.). Comp. also the speaking oaks of Dodona, the laurel of Delos (Virg. Æn. iii. 91), and that of Delphi (Hymn to Apollo, 393). The “oak of the diviners” (Judges 9:37), and perhaps Deborah’s palm-tree, and even the burning bush, must be referred to the same order of ideas. The Arabs believe the thorny bushes of the gharqad capable of uttering prophetic words; and with them the samûra, or Egyptian thorn, is sacred. These analogies, however, do not militate against the reality or the miraculous character of the Biblical occurrence. The Divine communications with man always assume the form best adapted for striking the mind amidst reigning ideas. Biblical visions, e.g., always have the colour of the seer’s environment: those of Joseph are Egyptian; those of Ezekiel in the Exile, Assyrian. (See, further, Lenormant, La Divination en Chaldée).

Then thou shalt go out to battle.—A paraphrase of the term used in Samuel.

For God is gone forth.—“Then” (Samuel), viz., “when thou hast heard the signal.”

David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.
(16) David therefore.And David did. Samuel adds “so.”

And they smote the host (camp).—Samuel, “and he smote the Philistines.” (Comp. 1 Chronicles 14:11.)

From Gibeon.—The present Hebrew text of Samuel has Geba. The LXX. agrees with Chronicles in reading Gibeon, but the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic read Geba. Gibeon lay about six miles north-west of Jerusalem, between the valley of Rephaim and Gezer. Isaiah 28:21 supports this reading.

Even to Gazer (or Gezer).—Gazer is the so-called pausal form. Comp. Pharez (Perez) and Japhet ( Yepheth). The text of Samuel has, “until thou come to Gezer;” the Chronicles, “even unto Gezer-ward.” (See Joshua 12:12; 1 Kings 9:15-17.)

And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all nations.
(17) This verse is not in Samuel. It looks like a concluding reflection of the chronicler’s, similar to 2 Chronicles 17:10; 2 Chronicles 20:29.

The fame of David went out.David’s name. The same phrase recurs in 2 Chronicles 26:15.

All lands.All the lands. (Comp. Psalm 19:4.)

And the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.—Yet this fear was, as we should say, the natural effect of his victories. In the view of the chronicler, David’s success in arms, with all its consequences, was the work of Jehovah. The Hebrew phrase is similar to that in Esther 8:17.

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