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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 12

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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.

Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag. There are three lists given in this chapter, arranged apparently according to the order of time when the parties joined the standard of David.

While he yet kept himself close because of Saul, [ `aatsuwr (H6113) mipªneey (H6440) Shaa'uwl (H7586), shut out from the presence of Saul] - i:e., when the king's jealousy had driven him into exile from the court and the country. "Ziklag" - (see the note at 1 Samuel 27:6.) It was during his retirement in that Philistine town that he was joined in rapid succession by the heroes who afterward contributed so much to the glory of his reign.

Verse 2

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.

Of Saul's brethren of Benjamin - i:e., of the tribe of Benjamin (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:29); but some of them might be relatives of the king. This movement, to which the parties were led, doubtless, by the secret impulse of the Spirit, was of vast importance to the cause of David, as it must have been founded on their observation of the evident withdrawal of God's blessing from Saul, and His favouring presence with David, to whom it was universally known the Divine King of Israel had given the crown in reversion. The accession of the Benjamites who came first, and their resolution to share his fortunes, must have been particularly grateful to David, as it was a public and emphatic testimony, by those who had enjoyed the beat means of information, to the unblemished excellence of his character, as well as a decided protest against the grievous wrong inflicted by causelessly outlawing a man who had rendered such eminent services to his country.

Verse 3

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,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 4

And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Josabad the Gederathite,

Ismaiah the Gibeonite. It appears that not only the Cannanites who were admitted into the congregation (Joshua 9:1-27), but people of the tribe of Benjamin, were among the inhabitants of Gibeon. The mention of "the Gederathite," probably from Gaderah (Joshua 15:36), in the lowlands of Judah; of the Korhites (1 Chronicles 12:6), from Korah (1 Chronicles 2:43), and of Gedor (1 Chronicles 12:7), a town in Judah, to the southwest of Bethlehem (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:4), shows that this first list contains men of Judah as well as Benjamin (Bertheau).

Verses 5-7

Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

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;

Of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David - i:e., from the service of Saul, and from the rest of the Gadites who remained stedfast adherents of his cause.

Into the hold, [ lamªtsad (H4679), the fastness on a hill] - or fortress; i:e., of Ziklag, which was in the wilderness of Judah.

Whose faces were like the faces of lions ... A fierce lion-like countenance (2 Samuel 1:23), and great agility in pursuit [2 Samuel 2:18, tsªbaayim (H6643), gazelles-Antelope Arabica], were qualities of the highest estimation in ancient warfare.

Verses 9-13

Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

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.

One of the least was over an hundred ... David, while at Ziklag, had not so large an amount of forces as to give to each of these the command of so many men. Another meaning, therefore, must obviously be sought, and excluding was, which is a supplement by our translators, the import of the passage is, that one of the least could defeat one hundred, and the greatest was worth one thousand ordinary men-a strong hyperbole to express their uncommon valour.

Verse 15

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.

These are they that went over Jordan in the first month - i:e., they swam the Jordan in spring, when the swollen river generally fills up the banks of its channel (see the notes at Joshua 3:15; Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:10). They deserved to be honourably mentioned, and accordingly the names of each are recorded. They put to flight all them of the valleys. This was probably done at the time of their separating themselves; and their purpose being discovered, they had to cut their passage through the opposing adherents of Saul, both on the eastern and western banks. The impossibility of taking the fords at such a time, and the violent rapidity of the current at floodtime, make this crossing of the Jordan-in whatever way these Gadites accomplished it-a remarkable feat.

Verse 16

And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.

The children of Benjamin and Judah. It is probable that the Benjamites invited the Judahites to accompany them, in order to prevent David being suspicious of them. Their anticipations, as the result showed, were well-founded. He did suspect them of being secret emissaries of Cush (see Psalms 7:1-17 's inscription), but the doubts of David as to their object in repairing to him were promptly dispelled by Amasai or Amasa, who, by the secret impulse of the Spirit, assured him of their strong attachment and their zealous services, from a unanimous conviction that his cause was owned and blessed of God (1 Samuel 18:12-14).

Verses 17-18

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

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.

There fell some of Manasseh. The period of their accession is fixed as the time when David came with the Philistines against Saul to battle. But they helped them not - (see the note at 1 Samuel 29:4.)

Verse 20

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.

As he went to Ziklag. If those Manassites joined him on his return to Ziklag, after his dismissal from the Philistine army, then their arrival took place before the battle of Gilboa could have been fought (cf. 1 Samuel 29:11). Convinced of the desperate state of Saul's affairs, they abandoned him, and resolved to transfer their allegiance to David. But some learned men think that they came as fugitives from that disastrous field (Calmet and Ewald).

Captains of the thousands ... of Manasseh. Those seven were commanders of the large military divisions of their tribe.

Verse 21

And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.

They helped David against the band - i:e., the Amalekites who had pillaged Ziklag in David's absence. This military expedition was made by all his men (1 Samuel 30:9), who, as David's early helpers, are specially distinguished from those who are mentioned in the latter portion of the chapter.

Verse 22

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.

The host of God - i:e., great and powerful army. 'Of all the Hebrew tribes, there were no men better fitted than these by their native training to form the nucleus of David's army. They covered the whole ground described as the land of the patriarchs. Hebron and Ziklag, lying in the north and south, and Adullam among the mountains of Judah on the west, are chiefly marked as three of the boundaries of the territory covered by them, and we recognize the fourth in Sebbeh, the ancient Masada, on the west of the Dead Sea. That this was "the hold" mentioned, 1 Chronicles 12:8: cf. 1 Samuel 20:4-5, may be inferred from the identity of name; and to the same effect is the testimony of Josephus ('Jewish Wars,' b. 4:, ch. 7:) when he speaks of Masada as a fortress erected by our ancient kings as a place of safe deposit for their wealth during war, and as a place of safety for their persons' (Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' p. 133).

Verse 23

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.

These are the numbers of the bands that ... came to David to Hebron - after the death of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 5:1).

To turn the kingdom ... according to the word of the Lord (1 Chronicles 10:14; 1 Chronicles 11:3; 1 Chronicles 11:10). The account commence with the southern tribes, Levi being associated with Judah and Simeon, as the great majority of the leading men in this tribe resided in Judah, and, after recounting the representatives of the northern tribes, concludes with those on the east of Jordan.

Verses 24-26

The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 27

And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;

Jehoiada ... the leader of the Aaronites - not the high priest, because that was Abiathar (1 Samuel 23:9), but the leader of the Aaronite warriors supposed to be the father of Benaiah (1 Chronicles 11:22).

Verse 28

And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 29

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.

Benjamin ... three thousand. This small number shows the unpopularity of the movement in this tribe; and, indeed, it is expressly stated that the mass of the population had, even after Ishbosheth's death, anxiously endeavonred to secure the crown in the family of Saul.

Verses 30-31

And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 32

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.

Children of Issachar ... that had understanding of the times ... Jewish writers say that the people of this tribe were eminent for their acquirements in astronomical and physical science; and the object of the remark was probably to show that the intelligent and learned classes were united with the military, and had declared for David;

Verse 33

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.

Zepulun ... could keep rank - i:e., were more disciplined soldiers than the rest.

Not of double heart. Though their numbers were large, all were in a high degree well affected to David.

Verse 34

And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.

Of Naphtali a thousand captains, [ saariym (H8269), princes] - (cf. Ps. 67:27 .)

Verses 35-36

And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 37

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.

And on the other side of Jordan ... an hundred and twenty thousand. From a comparison of the whole list, it appears that the tribes beyond Jordan, over whom Ishbosheth reigned, sent the largest numbers of deputies. The relative numbers stand thus: -

Verse 38

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.

All the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king - i:e., entertained a unanimous desire for his elevation.

Verse 39

And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.

There they were with David three days, eating and drinking. According to the statements made in the preceding verses, the number of armed warriors assembled in Hebron on this occasion amounted to 300,000. Supplies of provisions were abundantly furnished, not only by the people of the neighbourhood, but from distant parts of the country; for all wished the festivities to be on a scale of liberality and magnificence suitable to the auspicious occasion.

Verse 40

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.

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Moreover they that were nigh them ... brought bread [ lechem (H3899). The original reading most probably was laaheem, to them; so the Septuagint, eferon autois]. Dropping "and," which our translators have put in italics, the verse will stand thus: 'They brought on donkeys, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, meat, meal, etc.'

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-chronicles-12.html. 1871-8.
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