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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 11

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch


The Anointing of David to be King in Hebron, and the Conquest of Jerusalem. A List of David's Heroes - 1 Chronicles 11

In the second book of Samuel there are passages parallel to both sections of this chapter; 1 Chronicles 11:1-9 corresponding to the narrative in 2 Samuel 5:1-10, and vv. 10-47 to the register in 2 Sam 23:8-39.

Verses 1-3

The anointing of David to be king over the whole of Israel in Hebron; cf. 2 Samuel 5:1-3. - After Saul's death, in obedience to a divine intimation, David left Ziklag, whither he had withdrawn himself before the decisive battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, and betook himself with his wives and his warriors to Hebron, and was there anointed by the men of Judah to be king over their tribe (2 Samuel 2:1-4). But Abner, the captain of Saul's host, led Ishbosheth, Saul's son, with the remainder of the defeated army of the Israelites, to Mahanaim in Gilead, and there made him king over Gilead, and gradually also, as he reconquered it from the Philistines, over the land of Israel, over Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all (the remainder of) Israel, with the exception of the tribal domain of Judah. Ishbosheth's kingship did not last longer than two years, while David reigned over Judah in Hebron for seven years and a half (2 Samuel 2:10 and 2 Samuel 2:11). When Abner advanced with Ishbosheth's army from Mahanaim against Gibeon, he was defeated by Joab, David's captain, so that he was obliged again to withdraw beyond Jordan (2 Sam 2:12-32); and although the struggle between the house of Saul and the house of David still continued, yet the house of Saul waxed ever weaker, while David's power increased. At length, when Ishbosheth reproached the powerful Abner because of a concubine of his father's, he threatened that he would transfer the crown of Israel to David, and carried his threat into execution without delay. He imparted his design to the elders of Israel and Benjamin; and when they had given their consent, he made his way to Hebron, and announced to David the submission of all Israel to his sway (2 Sam 3:1-21). Abner, indeed, did not fully carry out the undertaking; for on his return journey he was assassinated by Joab, without David's knowledge, and against his will. Immediately afterwards, Ishbosheth, who had become powerless and spiritless through terror at Abner's death, was murdered in his own house by two of the leaders of his army. There now remained of Saul's family only Jonathan's son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 4:1-12), then not more than twelve years old, and lame in both his feet, and all the tribes of Israel determined to anoint David to be their king. The carrying out of this resolution is narrated in 1 Chronicles 11:1-3, in complete agreement as to the facts with 2 Samuel 5:1-3, where the matter has been already commented upon. In ch. 12 23-40 there follows a more detailed account of the assembly of the tribes of Israel in Hebron. The last words in 1 Chronicles 11:3, וגו יהוה כּדבר , are a didactic addition of the author of the Chronicle, which has been derived from 1 Samuel 16:13 and 1 Samuel 15:28. In 2 Samuel 5:4-5, in accordance with the custom of the author of the books of Samuel and Kings to state the age and duration of the reign of each of the kings immediately after the announcement of their entry upon their office, there follows after the preceding a statement of the duration of David's reign; cf. 1 Samuel 13:1; 2 Samuel 2:10., 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 15:2, etc. This remark is to be found in the Chronicle only at the close of David's reign; see 1 Chronicles 29:29, which shows that Thenius' opinion that this verse has been omitted from the Chronicle by a mistake is not tenable.

Verses 4-9

The capture of the citadel of Zion, and Jerusalem chosen to be the royal residence under the name of the city of David; cf. 2 Samuel 5:6-10, and the commentary on this section at that place. - יחיּה , 1 Chronicles 11:8, to make alive, is used here, as in Nehemiah 4:2, of the rebuilding of ruins. The general remark, 1 Chronicles 11:9, “and David increased continually in might,” etc., opens the way for the transition to the history of David's reign which follows. As a proof of his increasing greatness, there follows in

Verses 10-14

A register of the heroes who stood by him in the establishment of his kingdom. The greater part of this register is found in 2 Sam 23:8-39 also, though there are many divergences in the names, which for the most part have found their way into one or other of the texts by errors of transcription. The conclusion (1 Chronicles 11:41-47 of the Chronicle) is not found in 2 Sam 23, either because the author of the Chronicle followed another and older register than that used by the author of the book of Samuel, or because the latter has not communicated all the names contained in his authority. The former of these is the more probable supposition. In the Chronicle the superscription of the register is enlarged by the insertion in 1 Chronicles 11:10, before the simple superscription in 1 Chronicles 11:11, cf. 2 Samuel 23:8, of a further superscription informing us of the design which the chronicler had in introducing the register at this place. “These are the chiefs of David's heroes who stood by him strongly ( עם התחזּק , as Daniel 10:21) in his kingdom, with the whole of Israel to make him king, according to the word of Jahve, over Israel.” The collocation הגּבּרים ראשׁי is accounted for by the fact that הגּבּור is a designation of a valiant or heroic man in general, without reference to his position, whether co-ordinate with or subordinate to others. Among David's גּבּרים who helped to establish his kingdom, are not merely those who are mentioned by name in the following register, but also, as we learn from 1 Chron 12, the great number of valiant men of all the tribes, who, even during his persecution by Saul, crowded round him, and immediately after Saul's death came to him in Hebron to hail him king. The enumeration in our passage contains only the chiefs, ראשׁים , of those valiant men, i.e., those who held the first rank among them, and who were in great part leaders in the army of David, or became so. להמליכו is not to be confined to the mere appointment to the kingship, but includes also his establishment in it; for there follows an account of the heroic deeds which the men enumerated by name performed in the wars which David waged against his enemies in order to maintain and increase his kingly power. יהוה דּבר יהוה .rewop concerning Israel is the word of the Lord, the import of which is recorded in 1 Chronicles 11:3, that David should feed His people Israel, and be ruler over them. The ipsissima verba are not found in the earlier history of David, but the substance of them has been deduced from 1 Samuel 16:13 and 1 Samuel 15:28; cf. herewith the remarks on 2 Samuel 3:18. The enumeration of these heroes is introduced in 1 Chronicles 11:11 by a short supplementary superscription, “these the number of the heroes.” That מספּר should be used instead of the שׁמות of Samuel is surprising, but is explained by the fact that these heroes at first constituted a corps whose designation was derived from their number. They originally amounted to thirty, whence they are still called the thirty, השּׁלשׁים ; cf. 1 Chronicles 11:12, and the discussion on 2 Samuel 23:8. In both narratives three classes are distinguished.

Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah hold the first place, and specially bold and heroic deeds performed by them are recorded, 1 Chronicles 11:11-14, and 2 Samuel 23:8-12. For details as to themselves and their deeds, see on the last cited passage. There we have already remarked, that in 1 Chronicles 11:13 of the text of the Chronicle, the three lines which in Samuel come between שׁם נאספוּ בּפּלשׁתּים (2 Samuel 23:9) and פלשׁתּים ויּעספוּ , 1 Chronicles 11:11, have been, through wandering of the copyist's eye, omitted; and with them the name of the third hero, שׁמּה , has also been dropped, so that the heroic deed done by him, 1 Chronicles 11:13, 1 Chronicles 11:14, appears, according to our present text, to have been performed by Eleazar. In place of the words, “And the Philistines had gathered themselves together there to battle, and there was a parcel of ground full of barley,” 1 Chronicles 11:13, the text, according to the narrative in 2 Samuel 23:11, must have stood originally thus: “The Philistines had gathered themselves together there to battle, and the men of Israel went up (sc., retreating from the Philistines up the mountain); he, however, stood firm, and smote the Philistines till his hand was wearied, and cleaved unto the sword (i.e., clung crampedly to his sword through fatigue): there wrought Jahve a great deliverance on that day, and the people returned (from their flight) behind him only to spoil. And after him was Shammah the son of Aga the Hararite, and the Philistines had gathered themselves together to battle,” etc. In 1 Chronicles 11:14 the plural forms יתיצּבוּ , ויּצּילוּה , ויּכּוּ , are incorrect, and should be changed into singulars, as in 2 Samuel 23:12, since only the deed of the hero Shammah is here spoken of. The plurals were probably introduced into the text after the missing lines had been dropped out by a reader or copyist, who, on account of the דּייד עם היה הוּא (1 Chronicles 11:13), understood the three clauses of 1 Chronicles 11:14 to refer to Eleazar and David. ויּושׁע , on the contrary, is here perfectly appropriate, and is not to be altered to suit the ויּעשׂ of Samuel, 1 Chronicles 11:14, for the καὶ ἐποίησε of the lxx is not of itself a sufficient reason for doing so.

Verses 15-19

In 1 Chronicles 11:15-19 (cf. 2 Samuel 23:13-17) there follows an exploit of three others of the thirty, whose names have not been handed down. ראשׁ השּׁלושׁים , the thirty chiefs (not, as Thenius wrongly interprets the words, these three knights the chief parts, i.e., these three chief knights), are David's heroes hereafter mentioned, the thirty-two heroes of the third class named in 1 Chronicles 11:26-40 (or vv. 24-39 of Samuel). That three others, different from the before-mentioned Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah are intended, is plain from the omission of the article with שׁלושׁה ; for if these three were spoken of, we would have השׁלושׁה , as in 1 Chronicles 11:18. For further remarks on this exploit, which was probably performed in the war treated of in 1 Chronicles 14:8., and in 2 Samuel 5:17., see on 2 Samuel 23:13-17. The words וגו האנשׁים הדם , 1 Chronicles 11:19, are to be translated, “The blood of these men shall I drink in their souls? for for their souls (i.e., for the price of their souls, at the risk of their life) have they brought it.” The expression “blood in their souls” is to be understood according to Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:14 ( הוּא בנפשׁו דּמו , “his blood is in the soul,” is that which constitutes his soul). As there blood and soul are used synonymously (the blood as seat of and container of the soul, and the soul as floating in the blood), so here David, according to our account of his words, compares the water, which those heroes had brought for the price of their souls, to the souls of the men, and the drinking of the water to the drinking of their souls, and finally the souls to the blood, in order to express his abhorrence of such a draught. The meaning therefore may be thus expressed: “Shall I drink in this water the souls, and so the blood, of these men; for they have brought the water even for the price of their souls?”

Verses 20-25

In 1 Chronicles 11:20-25 the second class of heroes, to which Abshai (Abishai) and Benaiah belonged, cf. 2 Samuel 23:18-23, is spoken of. They were not equal to the preceding three in heroic deeds, but yet stood higher than the list of heroes which follows in 1 Chronicles 11:26 and onwards. אבשׁי , as 1 Chronicles 2:16 and 2 Samuel 10:10, while in 2 Samuel 23:18 and elsewhere he is called אבישׁי , was one of the three sons of Zeruiah (1 Chronicles 2:16). It is difficult to explain השׁלושׁה ראשׁ , “he was the chief of the three,” instead of which we find in 2 Samuel 23:23 השׁלשׁי , i.e., השּׁלשׁי , “chief of the body-guard” (knights). But owing to the succeeding שׁם ( ולו ) בּשּׁלושׁה ולא , where Samuel also has בּשּׁלשׁה , and to the recurrence of השׁלושׁה on two occasions in 1 Chronicles 11:21 (cf. 2 2 Samuel 23:19), it does not seem possible to alter the text with Thenius. Bertheau proposes to get rid of the difficulty by taking the word שׁלושׁה in two different significations-on the one hand as denoting the numeral three, and on the other as being an abstract substantive, “the totality of the thirty.” He justifies the latter signification by comparison of 1 Chronicles 11:21 with 1 Chronicles 11:25, and of 2 Samuel 23:19 with 1 Chronicles 11:23, from which he deduces that שׁלושׁה and שׁלושׁים denote a larger company, in which both Abishai and Benaiah held a prominent place. But this signification cannot be made good from these passages. In both clauses of 1 Chronicles 11:25 (and 2 Samuel 23:23) השּׁלשׁים and השּׁלשׁה are contrasted, which would rather go to prove the contrary of Bertheau's proposition, viz., that השּׁלשׁה , the three, cannot at the same time denote the whole of the thirty, השּׁלשׁים . The truth of the matter may be gathered from a comparison of 1 Chronicles 11:18 with 1 Chronicles 11:15. In 1 Chronicles 11:18 השּׁלשׁה is synonymous with השּׁלושׁים מן השׁלושׁה , 1 Chronicles 11:15; i.e., the three in 1 Chronicles 11:18 are the same men who in 1 Chronicles 11:15, where they are first met with, are called three of the thirty; and consequently השּׁלשׁה , the three (triad), 1 Chronicles 11:21 and 1 Chronicles 11:25, can only denote the triad of heroes previously named. This is placed beyond doubt by a comparison of 1 Chronicles 11:24 with 1 Chronicles 11:25, since the הגּבּרים שׁלושׁה , the triad of heroes, 1 Chronicles 11:24, corresponds to the simple השּׁלשׁה of 1 Chronicles 11:25. The only remaining question is, whether by this triad of heroes we are to understand those spoken of in 1 Chronicles 11:11-14, - Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah, - or the three whose names are not given, but whose exploit is narrated in 1 Chronicles 11:15-19. But the circumstance that the names of the three latter are not mentioned goes decidedly to show that השּׁלשׁה in 1 Chronicles 11:20-25 does not denote that nameless triad, whose exploit is manifestly adduced incidentally only as a similar case, but the three most valiant, who held the first rank among David's heroes. Bertheau's opinion, that in 1 Chronicles 11:20-25 one triad of heroes is distinguished from another, cannot be regarded as well-founded, for the three of whom Abishai was chief are not distinguished, and are not different from the three to whom, according to 1 Chronicles 11:21, he did not attain. Nor is there greater reason to believe that the triad of 1 Chronicles 11:20 and 1 Chronicles 11:21 is different from that in 1 Chronicles 11:24 and 1 Chronicles 11:25, among whom Benaiah made himself a name, and to whom he did not attain. The fact of being chief or prince over the three is not irreconcilably contradictory to the statement that he did not attain to them, i.e., did not come up to them in heroic strength, as is shown by the two classes being connected in 1 Chronicles 11:21. As to the rank which the triad held in the regular forces of David, we know nothing further than that Jashobeam was, according to 1 Chronicles 27:2, leader of that part of the army which was on duty during the first month. Eleazar the son of Dodo, and the Hararite Shammah the son of Aga, are not mentioned anywhere but in our list. Abishai, on the contrary, who had already distinguished himself by his audacious courage in David's struggle with Saul (1 Samuel 26:6.), conducted together with Joab the war against Abner (2 Sam 2:24-3:30). Afterwards, in David's war with the Ammonites, he was under Joab in command of the second half of the host (2 Samuel 10:10.); in the war against Absalom he commanded a third part of the host (1 Chronicles 18:2.); and in the struggle with the rebel Sheba he commanded the vanguard of the royal troops sent against the rebel (1 Chronicles 20:6.); and in general held, along with Joab the commander-in-chief, the first place among David's captains. In this position he was chief of the three heroes before mentioned, and their leader ( שׂר ), and among them had made himself a name. ולא , 1 Chronicles 11:20, is an orthographical error for ולו , as in fifteen other passages, according to the Masora. See on Exodus 21:10 and Isaiah 63:9.

Verses 21-42

1 Chronicles 11:21 should be translated: honoured before the three as two; i.e., doubly honoured-he became to them prince, leader. With regard to בשּׁנים , which, as meaningless, Bertheau would alter so as to make it correspond with הכי (Sam.), cf. Ew. Lehrb. §269, b. For Benaiah and his exploits, 1 Chronicles 11:22-25, see the commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20-23.

No special deeds of the heroes enumerated in vv. 26-47 are related, so that we may regard them as a third class, who are not equal to the first triad, and to the second pair, Abishai and Benaiah, and consequently occupied a subordinate place in the collective body of the royal body-guards. In 2 Sam 23 thirty-two names are mentioned, which, with the above-mentioned three and two of the first and second classes, amount in all to thirty-seven men, as is expressly remarked in 2 Samuel 23:39 at the conclusion. In the text of the Chronicle no number is mentioned, and the register is increased by sixteen names (1 Chronicles 11:41-47), which have been added in the course of time to the earlier number. The words החילים וגבּורי , 1 Chronicles 11:26, are to be regarded as a superscription: And valiant heroes were, etc.; equivalent to, But besides there, there remain still the following valiant heroes. The words החילים גּבּורי are not synonymous with החילים שׂרי , leaders of the host, 1 Kings 15:20; Jeremiah 40:7, (Berth.), but signify heroes in warlike strength, i.e., heroic warriors, like חילים גּבּורי (1 Chronicles 7:5, 1 Chronicles 7:7, 1 Chronicles 7:11, 1 Chronicles 7:40). That חילים has here the article, while it is not found in the passages quoted from the seventh chapter, does not make any difference in the meaning of the words. The article is used, here, as with הגּבּורים , 1 Chronicles 11:10, 1 Chronicles 11:11, because the heroes of David are spoken of, and לדויד אשׁר is to be mentally supplied from 1 Chronicles 11:10. As to the names in vv. 26-41, which are also found in the register in the book of Samuel, see the commentary to 2 Sam 23:24-39. This list, which is common to both books, begins with Asahel, a brother of Joab, who was slain by Abner in the war which he waged against David (2 Samuel 2:19-23), and concludes in the book of Samuel with Uriah the Hittite, so well known from 2 Samuel 11:3. ( 1 Chronicles 11:41), with whose wife David committed adultery. But to the continuation of the register which is found in 1 Chronicles 11:41-47 of our text, there is no parallel in the other writings of the Old Testament by which we might form an idea as to the correctness of the names. The individual names are indeed to be met with, for the most part, in other parts of the Old Testament, but denote other men of an earlier or later time. The names ידיעאל , 1 Chronicles 11:45, and אליאל , 1 Chronicles 11:46., are found also in 1 Chronicles 12:20, 1 Chronicles 12:11, among those of the valiant men who before Saul's death went over to David, but we cannot with any certainty ascertain whether the persons meant were the same. The expression שׁלשׁים ועליו (1 Chronicles 11:42) is also obscure, - “and to him in addition,” i.e., together with him, thirty, - since the thought that with Adina the chief of the Reubenites, or besides him, there were thirty (men), has no meaning in this register. The lxx and the Vulgate read עליו , while the Syriac, on the contrary, makes use of the periphrasis, “And even he was a ruler over thirty heroes;” and Bertheau accordingly recommends the emendation השּׁלשׁים על , and thence concludes that the tribe of Reuben had thirty leaders in its army-a conjecture as bold as it is improbable. Were השּׁלשׁים על to be read, we could not but refer the words to the thirty heroes of 1 Chronicles 11:11, and hold Adina to be their leader, which could not be easily reconciled with 1 Chronicles 11:11. See on 1 Chronicles 12:4.

Verse 43

בּן־מעכה is perhaps the same as המּעכתי , 2 Samuel 23:34.

Verses 44-45

העשׁתּרתי , he of the city Ashtaroth (1 Chronicles 6:56), in the trans-Jordanic domain of Manasseh. הערערי , he of Aroer, or Reuben or Gad (Joshua 13:16, Joshua 13:25).

Verse 46

Bertheau conjectures that the somewhat strange המּחוים (lxx ὁ Μαωί , Vulg. Mahumites) denotes המּחנימי , he of Mahanaim, in the East-Jordan land; see Joshua 13:26.

Verse 47

המּצביה , which, so far as the form is concerned, is not a nomen gentil., Reland ( Palaest. ill. p. 899) holds for a contraction of צבעויא מגדל , Migdal Zebujah-a place which, according to the rabbins, is said to have been somewhere in the neighbourhood of Hebron. Bertheau's opinion is, that the article has come into the text by mistake; and when it has been struck out, the remaining consonants, מצביה , recall the מצּבה of 2 Samuel 23:36 (?).

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 11". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/1-chronicles-11.html. 1854-1889.
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