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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

1 Chronicles 12

Verse 1

This chapter is composed wholly of matter that is new to us, no corresponding accounts occurring in Samuel. It comprises four lists:

(1) One of men, chiefly Benjamites, who joined David at Ziklag 1 Chronicles 12:1-7;

(2) A second of Gadites who united themselves to him when he was in a stronghold near the desert 1 Chronicles 12:8-15;

(3) A third of Manassites who came to him when he was dismissed by the Philistines upon suspicion 1 Chronicles 12:19-22; and

(4) A fourth of the numbers from the different tribes who attended and made him king at Hebron 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.

Verse 2

The skill of the Benjamites as archers is noted in 1 Chronicles 8:40, and 2 Chronicles 14:8. Their proficiency in using the left hand appears in the narrative of Judges (Judges 3:15, and marginal reference) where their special excellency as slingers is also noticed.

Even of Saul’s brethren - Compare 1 Chronicles 12:29. Even of Saul’s own tribe there were some who separated themselves from his cause, and threw in their lot with David.

Verse 8

Into the hold to the wilderness - Rather, “into the hold toward the wilderness.” Some understand by this Ziklag, some En-gedi 1 Samuel 24:1-2; but it seems most probable that here and in 1 Chronicles 12:16 the stronghold of Adullam is intended 1 Chronicles 11:15-16.

Verse 14

The marginal rendering is preferable. (Compare Leviticus 26:8).

Verse 15

On the danger of the exploit, see the marginal reference note.

This passage 1 Chronicles 12:8-15 seems to be taken verbatim from an ancient source, the poetical expressions in 1 Chronicles 12:8, 1 Chronicles 12:14, being especially unlike the usual style of our author.

Verse 18

Amasai - The marginal reference identifies him with Amasa, David’s nephew, but it seems unlikely that David would have misdoubted a band led by his own nephew.

The passionate earnestness of Amasai’s speech is strongly marked in the original, and will be better seen by omitting the words which our Version adds in italics. Here, as in 1 Chronicles 12:8-15, we have manifestly the actual words of a very ancient record.

Verse 21

The band of the rovers - See the marginal reference.

Verse 23

Rather, “These are the numbers of the men, ready equipped for the host, that came to David, etc.”

In the list which follows such points as

(1) The large mumber sent by the trans-Jordanic tribes;

(2) The large numbers from Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan, all tribes somewhat remote, and generally speaking undistinguished;

(3) The small size of the contingent from Judah, which is generally represented as numerically superior to every other tribe, and which might have been expected to be especially zealous on behalf of its own prince and tribesman; throw some doubt upon the numbers, which may be suspected of having in some instances undergone corruption.

Verse 29

For hitherto ... - Rather, “For still the greatest part of them maintained their allegiance to the house of Saul.” This is given as the reason for so few coming to Hebron. It shows us that, even after the death of Ishbosheth, the Benjamites had hopes of furnishing a third king to the nation.

Verse 32

Men that had understanding of the times - This is best interpreted politically. Compare the marginal reference

Verse 33

Expert in war ... - Rather “arrayed for battle with all harness of battle, who set the battle in array with no double heart,” excelling, that is, in the matter of their arms and accoutrements. The writer notes in each tribe the point in which it was most admirable.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/1-chronicles-12.html. 1870.