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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 12

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-40

γ. Supplementary List of Brave Men who held to David during the Reign of Saul:

1 Chronicles 12:1-22

1 Chronicles 12:1.And these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while banished from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the heroes, helpers of the war. 2Armed with bows, using both right hand and left with stones and with 3arrows on the bow:—Of the brethren of Saul of Benjamin. The chief Ahiezer and Joash, sons of Hashmaah the Gibeathite; and Jezuel1 and Pelet the 4sons of Azmaveth; and Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite. And Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a hero among the thirty, and over the thirty;2 and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Jozabad the Gederathite. 5Eluzai, and Jerimoth, 6and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite.3 Elkanah, 7and Ishiah, and Azarel, and Joezer, and Jashobam, the Korhites. And Joelah and Zebadiah the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.4

8And of the Gadites, separated themselves unto David at the hold in the wilderness, valiant heroes, men of the host for battle, handling shield and spear,5 with faces like lions, and like roes on the mountains for swiftness. 9, 10Ezer the chief, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third. Mishmannah the 11, 12fourth, Jeremiah the fifth. Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh. Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth. 13Jeremiah the tenth, Machbannai the eleventh. 14These were of the sons of Gad, heads of the host: one for a hundred, the least, and the greatest for a thousand. 15These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all its banks;6 and they put to flight all the valleys to the east and to the west.

16And there came of the sons of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David. 17And David went out before them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, my heart shall be at one with you; but if to betray me to my enemies, with no wrong in my hands, the God of 18our fathers look on and rebuke it. And the spirit came upon Amasai the chief of the thirty,7 Thine are we, David, and with thee, son of Jesse; peace, peace be to thee, and peace to thy helpers; for thy God helpeth thee; and David received them, and made them captains of the troop.

19And of Manasseh some fell to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle; but they helped him not: for on advisement, the lords of the Philistines sent him away, saying, At the peril of our heads Hebrews 2:0; Hebrews 2:00will fall to his master Saul. When he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zillethai, captains of the thousands of Manasseh. 21And they helped David against the troop; for they were all valiant heroes, and they 22became captains in the host. For day by day they came to David to help him, until the camp was great, like a camp of God.

δ. Supplementary Data concerning the Number of the Warriors who made David King in Hebron: 1 Chronicles 12:23-40

23And these are the numbers of the heads of those armed for the host who came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to 24the word of the Lord. The sons of Judah, bearing shield and spear, were 25six thousand and eight hundred, armed for the host. Of the sons of Simeon, 26valiant heroes for the host, seven thousand and one hundred. Of the sons of Levi, four thousand and six hundred. 27And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him three thousand and seven hundred. 28And Zadok, a valiant young man, and his father’s house twenty and two captains. 29And of the sons of Benjamin, brethren of Saul, three thousand; for hitherto the most part of them kept the ward of the house of Saul. 30And of the sons of Ephraim, twenty thousand and eight hundred valiant heroes, famous men of their father-houses. 31And of the half-tribe of Manasseh, eighteen thousand, who were expressed by name, to come to make David king. 32And of the sons of Issachar, men having understanding of the times, to know what Israel had to do, their heads were two hundred, and all their brethren were at their 33command. Of Zebulun, those going to the host, ordering the battle with all weapons of war, fifty thousand, arraying themselves8 with a single heart. 34And of Naphtali, a thousand captains, and with them, with shield and spear, thirty and seven thousand. 35And of the Danites, ordering the battle, twenty and eight thousand and six hundred. 36And of Asher, those going to the host 37to order the battle, forty thousand. And beyond the Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, with all weapons of war for the battle, a hundred and twenty thousand.

38All these men of war, keeping rank,9 came with true heart to Hebron to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest10 of Israel also were of one 39heart to make David king. And they were there with David three days eating 40and drinking; for their brethren had prepared for them. Moreover, they that were nigh them, even to Issachar, and Zebulun, and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, bread of meal, fig and raisin cakes, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly; for there was joy in Israel.


Preliminary Remark.—The whole of the twelfth chapter is peculiar to the Chronist. Standing after that which is related in 1 Chronicles 11:4 ff., it has the nature of an appendix, in the form of several military lists referring to the force of David before and at his accession to the sole sovereignty. The first of these lists consists properly of three smaller ones—a. That of the Benjamites and Jews that came to David during his residence at Ziklag: 1 Chronicles 12:1-7; b. That of the Gadites and some other men from Judah and Benjamin who passed over to him during his residence in the hold: 1 Chronicles 12:8-18; c. That of the Manassites who joined themselves to David shortly before the battle with the Philistines, and the death of Saul at Gilboa: 1 Chronicles 12:19-22. To these lists referring to the Sauline period is then subjoined that of the contingents from all the tribes present at the anointing in Hebron: 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.

1. The Benjamites and Jews who came to Ziklag: 1 Chronicles 12:1-7.—And these are they that came to David to Ziklag. Ziklag, belonging to the tribe of Simeon (1 Chronicles 6:30; Joshua 19:5), assigned by Achish to David as a residence, was in a site not certainly determined. The sojourn of David there until his anointing at Hebron lasted (1 Samuel 27:7) a year and four months.—While banished from Saul (עוֹד עָצוּר) that is, while his return to Israel as king was still hindered by Saul: inter Israelitas publice versari prohibitus (J. H. Michaelis).—And they were among the heroes, helpers of the wars. They belonged to the heroes who served and stood by him in his earlier wars; comp. 1 Chronicles 12:17-18; 1 Chronicles 12:21-22.

1 Chronicles 12:2. Armed with bows, or “aiming with the bow;” not really different from bending the bow (דֹּרְכֵי קֶשֶׁט), 1 Chronicles 8:40; comp. 2 Chronicles 17:17 and Psalms 78:9.—Using both right and left with stones (in slinging, Judges 20:16) and with arrows on the bow, namely, to shoot and surely hit with them.—Of the brethren of Saul of Benjamin. The second restriction serves to explain the first: אֲחֵי־שָׁאוּל do not mean near or blood relations. Comp. Gibeath-Saul, 1 Samuel 11:4, Isaiah 10:29, and as denoting the same place, Gibeath-Benjamin, 1 Samuel 10:16; 1 Samuel 15:34, or Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin, 1 Chronicles 11:31.

1 Chronicles 12:3. Sons of Hashmaah the Gibeathite, from the Gibeah of Benjamin just mentioned.

1 Chronicles 12:4. And Ishmaiah the Gibeonite. That this Gibeonite (this Benjamite of Gibeon; comp. 1Ch 8:29, 1 Chronicles 9:35, with 2 Samuel 21:2 ff.) Ishmaiah is described first as a hero among the thirty, and then as a leader over the thirty, may be explained by assuming a temporary command over this company. The absence of his name in 1 Chronicles 11:0, must be explained by this, that he was no longer alive at the time when this list was composed, and was therefore among the earliest members of the corps of the thirty.—And Jozabad the Gederathite; perhaps from Gederah (now Ghedera, one hour south-west of Jabneh), a Jewish locality in the Shephelah, Joshua 15:36. That Jozabad, though coming from Gederah, belonged to some family of Benjamites dwelling there, is an unnecessary assumption of Keil. The following verses, especially the Geder, 1 Chronicles 12:7, rather show that those here enumerated were by no means exclusively Benjamite.

1 Chronicles 12:6. Elkanah . . . the Korhites. To think of another Korah as the ancestor of the Korhites than the known descendant of Levi is unnecessary; these may be Korhitic Levites settled in Benjamin who are here in question; and the names Elkanah and Azarel having a genuine Levitical ring, make it very probable that they are such; comp. Keil on the p. and Del. Psalter, p. 300. Yet it is possible that they may be descendants of the Jewish Korah mentioned ii. 43 (so Berth., Kamph., etc.).

1 Chronicles 12:7. And Joelah . . . of Gedor, without doubt the Jewish city mentioned 1 Chronicles 4:4, south-west of Bethlehem; so that here also non-Benjamites are included in the series, notwithstanding the announcement, 1 Chronicles 12:2, which leads us to expect only Benjamites. Whether this contradiction between the announcement and the contents of the list arises from the whole series of names being greatly abridged and composed out of two originally distinct lists, one of pure Benjamites, and another containing Jews, as Berth, thinks, appears doubtful; comp. Keil, p. 134.

2. The Gadites and some other Jews and Benjamites who joined themselves to David while in the Hold: 1 Chronicles 12:8-18.—a. The Gadites: 1 Chronicles 12:8-15.—And of the Gadites (that is, of those belonging to the tribe of Gad, while the others adhered to Saul) separated themselves unto David at the hold in the wilderness. This was during the first year of his flight before Saul, 1 Samuel 22:1 ff.—לַמְצַד מִדְבָּרָה (so pointed for לָמְצָד מ׳, on account of the close connection of the two following words) denotes properly: “to the hold towards the wilderness.” A definite single hold (= מְצָד מְצוּדָה; comp. 1 Chronicles 11:16) is here as little intended as in 1 Chronicles 12:16, but rather the greater number of those holds of the wilderness of Judah (comp. בַּמִּדְבָּר בַּמְּצָדוֹת, 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 24:1) in which David dwelt at that time; thus מצד is here general, as מְצוּדָה, 1 Sam. 24:23.—Men of the host for battle, practised in war; comp. 1 Chronicles 7:11. On the following “handling (עֹרְכֵי) shield and spear,” comp. 1 Chronicles 12:24 (“bearing shield and spear”) and Jeremiah 46:3; for the comparison of the warriors with lions and roes, 2 Samuel 1:23; 2 Samuel 2:18. “The expressions in the description of their power and fleetness, 1 Chronicles 12:8, remind us of such as are used in the historical books of heroes in the time of David, and are without doubt drawn from the source which our author here used” (Berth.).

1 Chronicles 12:13. Machbannai the eleventh, literally, the eleven; comp. 1 Chronicles 24:12.

1 Chronicles 12:14. Heads of the host (so 1 Chronicles 12:21 b), that is, chief warriors, not leaders.—One for a hundred the least, and the greatest for a thousand. The smallest of them was equal to one hundred other warriors, and the strongest to a thousand,—an expression of manifestly poetical colouring, reminding us of Leviticus 26:8 and of 1 Samuel 18:7; 1 Samuel 21:11, which our author certainly found in his source. The Sept, and the most of the older Rabbis rightly understood the passage, but the Vulg. wrongly: novissimus centum militibus prœerat et maximus mille, for which עַל instead of לְ, and another order of words, should be expected.

1 Chronicles 12:15. These are they that went over Jordan, at the time when they separated themselves from the other Gadites of the host of Saul, and were forced to break through this to reach David. Their flight fell “in the first month,” that is, in the spring, when the Jordan was greatly swollen, and had overflown its bank. So much greater was the heroic deed.—And put to flight all the valleys to the east and to the west, on both sides of the river, just as if its overflowing waters were not present. עמקים, properly “valleys,” here inhabitants of the valleys, Hitzig (Gesch. Isr. p. 29) conceives to be the name of a people, that occurs also Jeremiah 49:4 (comp. Jeremiah 47:5), and is identical with the Anakim, Joshua 15:14, and with the Amorites—with the latter really, with the former even in name (?). See, on the contrary, Keil on Jer. p. 480.—b. The men of Benjamin and Judah: 1 Chronicles 12:16-18.—And there came of the sons of Benjamin and Judah. The names of these other followers of David when persecuted by Saul the Chronist does not give, either because his source did not contain them, or because they may have been included for the most part in the lists already communicated in 1 Chronicles 11:0. Amasai only, the leader of this troop, is named.

1 Chronicles 12:17. And David went out before them, or to meet them; comp. 1 Chronicles 14:8.—My heart shall be at one with you. לֵב לְיָחַד, a phrase occurring only here, not essentially different from לֵב אֶחָד, 1 Chronicles 12:38 (comp. 1 Chronicles 12:33).—But if to betray me to my enemies. רִמָּה, with accus, of the object, means, “to practise fraud on any one.” For the following, compare, on the one hand, Job 16:17, Isaiah 53:9; on the other hand, 2 Chronicles 24:22. For the phrase: “the God of our fathers,” namely, of the patriarchs Abraham, etc., comp. Exodus 3:13; Ezra 7:27; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Matthew 22:32.

1 Chronicles 12:18. And (the) Spirit came upon Amasai the chief of thirty. Here, as in the parallel Judges 6:34, the Spirit of God is meant (comp. 2 Chronicles 24:20), as the principle of higher inspiration to great and bold deeds. The Amasai of our passage is perhaps not different from Amasa (with א instead of י at the end) the son of Abigail, sister of David, 1 Chronicles 2:17, who, at a later period, in the time of Absalom, performed a not unimportant part as commander (first under Absalom, and then under David), till Joab murdered him (2 Samuel 17:25; 2 Samuel 19:14; 2 Samuel 20:4 ff.). Much less probable is the identity assumed by others of this Amasai with Abshai the brother of Joab (1 Chronicles 2:16, 1 Chronicles 11:20).—Thine are we, David, to thee we belong, and with thee, we hold, Notwithstanding this simple and obvious completion, the Sept, has wholly misunderstood the words לך דויד ועמך, and made of them πορεύου καὶ ὁ λαός σου.—For thy God helpeth thee. This עֲזָֽרְךָ refers to the past aid which David had received from God (1 Samuel 18:12 ff.), but also to the further aid in prospect, which was to be imparted to him in future.—And made them captains of the troop, appointed them leaders of the several divisions of his army,—that army (נְּדוּד) of all kinds of people that had gathered about him; comp. 1 Samuel 22:2; 1 Samuel 27:8, etc.

3. The Seven Manassites who joined themselves to David before the Last Battle of Saul with the Philistines: 1 Chronicles 12:19-22.—And of Manasseh some fell to David. נָפַל עַל, as in 2 Kings 25:11;1 Samuel 29:3; comp. נָפַל אֶל at the close of the verse. For the historical situation, comp. 1 Samuel 29:2-11.—For on advisement, בעצה, on consultation, as Proverbs 20:18.—At the peril of our heads, literally, “for our heads, for the price of them;” comp. 1 Samuel 29:4.

1 Chronicles 12:20. When he went to Ziklag, and thus before the great battle of Gilboa in which Saul fell; comp. 1 Samuel 29:11.—Captains of the thousands of Manasseh, of the great military divisions (regiments) into which the tribe of Manasseh was divided; comp. Numbers 31:14; Numbers 31:26; Numbers 27:1, and 1 Chronicles 15:25.

1 Chronicles 12:21. And they helped David against the troop, namely, his present foes, the Amalekites; comp. 1 Samuel 30:8; 1 Samuel 30:15, where the גְּדוּד here used (for which the Sept. perversely read a n. pr. Γεδδούρ) appears more definitely as the army of the Amalekites. Moreover, the seven here named Manassites only are the immediate and direct subject of the sentence, not all the heroes named from 1 Chronicles 12:1 to 1 Chronicles 12:20 (as Berth, thinks), though certainly the whole force of David (600 strong, 1 Samuel 30:9) was drawn out to fight with Amalek. But that by וְהֵמָּה only the seven Manassites can here be meant is shown by the following words: “and they became captains in the host,” which cannot apply to the whole troop.

1 Chronicles 12:22. Until the camp was great, like a camp of God; comp. Genesis 32:2 and phrases like mountains, cedars of God, Psalms 36:7; Psalms 80:11. The phrase is “only rhetorical, not idealizing or exaggerating” (Keil); it extends also clearly beyond the time when David had only 600 followers to the time when thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, followed him. The following description seizes the moment when out of the thousands of the first seven years of his reign at Hebron came the hundred thousands and more.

4. The Number of the Warriors who made David King over all Israel: 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.—And these are the members of the heads of those armed for the host, or for military service (comp. Numbers 31:5; Joshua 4:13). The “heads of those armed” are here not the captains or leaders (Vulg. principes exercitus, Berth., etc.), but the sums or masses of the warriors, as Judges 7:16; Judges 7:20; Judges 9:34; Judges 9:37; Judges 9:44, 1 Samuel 11:11, or perhaps also the polls (Judges 5:30); so that מִסְפַּר רָאשֵׁי would be the number of polls. For it cannot he proved (against Berth.) that only גֻּלְגֹלֶת, and not also ראש, can have this sense; and the following is not a list of leaders, but a poll list, that also originally bore this form, though the abbreviating changes of our author make it difficult to prove.—To turn the kingdom of Saul to him; comp. 1 Chronicles 10:14, and for the following, 1 Chronicles 11:3; 1 Chronicles 11:10.

1 Chronicles 12:24. The sons of Judah, bearing shield and spear; comp. on 1 Chronicles 12:8. The enumeration begins with the two southern tribes, Judah and Simeon; next gives the priestly tribe of Levi, whose chief force lay at that time in and about Judah; and then, proceeding from south to north, names first the other western tribes, and then the three eastern ones.

1 Chronicles 12:26. And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, literally, “the leader of Aaron,” that is, not the high priest (who was at that time Abiathar, 1 Samuel 23:9), but the head of the family of Aaron. Perhaps this was Jehoiada the father of Benaiah, 1 Chronicles 6:22.

1 Chronicles 12:28. And Zadok, a valiant young man, perhaps that descendant of Eleazar (5:34) whom Solomon, 1 Kings 2:26, made high priest. That the house of this Zadok, at the time of David’s elevation, counted twenty-two chiefs or heads of families, proves how flourishing this branch of the Aaronites was at that time.

1 Chronicles 12:29. And of the sons of Benjamin, brethren of Saul, three thousand. This number is indeed surprisingly small, but certainly original. The writer accounts for it also, first briefly, by the characteristic addition אֲחֵי שָׁאוּל, then more fully by the remark, “for hitherto (וְעַד הֵנָּה, as 1 Chronicles 9:18) the most part of them kept the ward of Saul’s house;” that is, the most of them were still devoted to the interest of the kindred house of Saul (שָׁמַר מִשְׁמֶרֶת, as Numbers 3:38; comp. 1 Chronicles 23:32; 2 Chronicles 23:6), so that they turned to David only slowly, and when Ishbosheth was dead.

1 Chronicles 12:30. Famous men of their father-houses, arranged according to their father-houses. The Ephraimites, on the whole, though their number was above 20,000, are called celebrated, famous men (comp. Genesis 6:4), perhaps because they were distinguished by their warlike bravery, and had not merely a few able heroes or leaders.

1 Chronicles 12:31. And of the half-tribe of Manasseh, the western half. The “being expressed by name” (נִקְּבוּ בְּשֵׁמוֹת, as Numbers 1:17; 1 Chronicles 16:41) points to the formation of a list by the tribe authorities, in which all those warriors of the tribe were entered who were chosen to take part in the elevation of the new king at Hebron. All the other tribes may have formed similar lists for this purpose.

1 Chronicles 12:32. And of the sons of Issachar, men having understanding of the times, to know what Israel had to do. This applies, not to the whole tribe, but only to the 200 heads of their forces; and it denotes, not every kind of activity in astronomical or physical science (Chald., several Rabbis, Cleric), but only that those leaders “saw what was most advisable to be done in the condition of the times” (Starke), that they were prudentes viri, qui quid, quando et quomodo agendum esset, varia lectione (?) et usu rerum cognoscebant (L. Lavater). “Men understanding,” literally, knowing judgment, יוֹדְעֵי בִינָה; comp. 2 Chronicles 2:12 and the similar יוֹדְעֵי דַעַת, Daniel 1:4. “ To know what Israel had to do,” in the present case, means to whom it had to apply as its king and supreme ruler. These men of Issachar were not dull and narrow “bony asses” (Genesis 49:14), but prudent “judges of the signs of their time” (Matthew 16:3).—And all their brethren were at their command. עַל פִּיהֶם, literally, “by their month,” namely, guided; comp. Genesis 41:40; Numbers 4:27; Deuteronomy 21:5.

1 Chronicles 12:33. Ordering the battle with all weapons of war, practised in the conflict with all kinds of weapons; comp. 1 Chronicles 12:6.—Arraying themselves with a single heart, literally, “and to band together with not heart and heart.” For וְלַֽעֲדֹר, with some critical evidence (see Crit. Note), to read וְלַֽעֲוֹר is unnecessary and untenable, from the recurrence of עדר in 1 Chronicles 12:38. From this parallel passage, this verb must mean, “to take rank for war, to stand in order of battle.” For לֵב וָלֵב, to denote double-mindedness or a divided heart, comp. Psalms 12:3 and 1 Chronicles 12:38; לִבָב שָׁלֵם and לֵב אֶהֽד.

1 Chronicles 12:38. All these men of war, keeping rank; Sept. παρατασσόμενοι παράταξιν. The change of עֹדְרֵי into עֹרְכֵי (see Crit. Note) is unnecessary, and as little demanded by ערךְ in 1 Chronicles 12:33; 1 Chronicles 12:35-36 as by מַֽעֲרָכָה; comp. on 1 Chronicles 12:33. “All these” points naturally to the whole troops enumerated from 1 Chronicles 12:24 on.—And all the rest of Israel, etc. On לב אחד, “one, united heart,” comp 2 Chronicles 30:12.

1 Chronicles 12:39. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking. Comp, the festivals described 1 Samuel 30:16, 1 Kings 1:25; 1 Kings 1:40, etc., and also from the most recent oriental history; for example, the enormous feast (100,000 sheep and wethers, 20,000 oxen, 40,000 gallons honey-wine, etc.) that was given in connection with the elevation of Kassai to be emperor (negus) of Abyssinia (Feb. 1872).—For their brethren had prepared for them (victuals), namely, the Jews about Hebron. Comp. on this הֵכִין, Genesis 43:16; 2 Chronicles 35:14, etc.

1 Chronicles 12:40. Moreover, they that were nigh them (comp. Deuteronomy 13:8), all the neighbouring tribes of Judah on this side the Jordan; and not merely those immediately adjacent, but also the tribes in the middle, and some of those in the north of Palestine.—Brought bread (victuals) on asses, and camels, and mules, etc. Observe the purely epical character of the representation, that points to a very ancient historical source used by the Chronist.—Fig and raisin cakes. For the masses of dried figs (דְּבֵלִים) and raisins (צִמֻּקִים), as indispensable dainty additions to feasts, comp. 1 Samuel 25:18; 1 Samuel 30:12; Jeremiah 40:10; Jeremiah 40:12; Amos 8:1 f.; also Celsius, Hierobot. i. 377 ff.; Winer, Realw., Art. “Feigenbaum.’

Apologetic on 1 Chronicles 12:23 ff.

With respect to the credibility of the numbers of our section, it is to be remarked in general, that the sum total of about 340,000 men,11 resulting from the data relative to the military contingents of the several tribes, agrees, on the whole, with other known data concerning the sum of the people of Israel equipped for war (for example, the 600,000 men in the time of Moses, the 800,000 Israelites and 500,000 Jews in the census of David), as, indeed, a full call of all those fit to bear arms could not be expected on the present occasion. On the contrary‚ the relation of the numbers in the several tribes presents much that is surprising. The strength of the three eastern tribes (120,000), exceeding a third of the sum total, and the likewise considerable strength of Zebulun (50,000), Naphtali (37,000), and Asher (40,000), seem to contrast in a manner scarcely conceivable with the small contingents of Judah, Simeon, Levi, and Benjamin. But—1. With regard to Benjamin, the ground of his only small share in the festivities at Hebron is expressly stated, and in a way entirely satisfactory, and admitting of no further objection. 2. The number of the Levites is, in 1 Chronicles 12:27-28, not fully given, inasmuch as of the third division of them, the house of Zadok, only the number of the chiefs (22) and not that of the common order is stated (as in Issachar only the number of the chiefs or heads is expressed, 1 Chronicles 12:32). 3. Of Judah and Simeon are certainly only comparatively very small numbers given, for this reason, that the warriors of this tribe had long since, seven years before, ranged themselves on the side of David, and therefore, in the review on the occasion of the solemnities of his anointing, did not need to be represented in their full military strength (which would have reached in itself to between 100,000 and 200,000 men). These warriors of Judah and Simeon had rather to act as commissaries, to make provision for the greater bodies of troops; and most of them were to be sought, not among the רָאשֵׁי הֶחָלוּץ לַצָּבָה (1 Chronicles 12:24-25 ff.), but among the אֲחֵיהֶם הַמֵּכִינִים 4. Yet highly surprising is the numerical relation of the middle and northern tribes west of the Jordan, namely, the smallness of Ephraim (20,800) beside Zebulun and Naphtali. “But if we consider that Ephraim, which had 40,500 men at the first census under Moses at Mount Sinai, had diminished to 32,500 at the second on the steppes of Moab, this tribe may not at this time have been very strong in men-at-arms, as it may have suffered and been weakened most of all the tribes in the last wars of Saul with the Philistines, and in the battles of Abner for the recovery of the region occupied by the Philistines for Ishbosheth. Moreover, perhaps Ephraim, in his jealousy of Judah, dating from the time of the Judges, might not be altogether inclined to make David king over all Israel. That, however, Zebulun and Naphtali are here so numerously represented, though they played no important part in the history of Israel, is not enough to cast suspicion on the numbers given. As Zebulun under Moses numbered 57,400, and afterwards 60,500, and Naphtali then 53,400, afterwards 45,400 men-at-arms (comp. Numbers 1-3. with Numbers 26:0), the former might send 50,000, the latter 37,000, men to David at, Hebron” (Keil). The subsequent smallness and insignificance of these tribes (comp Evangelical-Ethical Reflections on 1 Chronicles 1-9, No. 2, p. 92) is simply explained by their only imperfect restoration after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser.—The credibility of the data of our list cannot in general be doubted according to all this, that is, irrespective of particular corruptions of the text that are always to be admitted as possible. It would much more present matter for well-founded doubts if the numerical strength of the several tribes attested in it were exactly proportional to the data of Numbers regarding the early relations of the military divisions. The appearance of something surprising in the present numerical data speaks directly for their true historical origin, and imposes the greatest caution on the modern critic of the contents of our chapter, that exhibit so many traces of fresh originality and high antiquity. This also may perhaps be urged as a proof of the essentially unchanged transmission of the present documents from the author, that the tribe of Dan, which is elsewhere often omitted, as it seems intentionally, by the Chronist, is here expressly mentioned, and in no disparaging way; comp. 1 Chronicles 12:35 with Introd. § 6, No. 1, p. 24, and with the remarks on 1 Chronicles 6:46 and 1 Chronicles 7:12.


[1] Keri: Jeziel (יְזִיאֵל).

[2]With וְעַל הַשְּׁלשִׁים the fourth verse closes in the mss. and older editions, even that of R. Norzi, so that the whole chapter contains forty-one verses.

[3] Keri: “the Hariphite” (הַֽחֲרִיפִי); comp. בְּנֵי חָרִיף, Nehemiah 7:24.

[4]For הַגְּדוּד is certainly to be read הַגְּדוֹר; comp. 1 Chronicles 4:4.

[5]For וָרֹמַח the Bibl. Venet. Rabb. has וּמָגֵן: so some old prints, but not the mss.

[6]The Kethib גִּדְיֹתָיו, if correct, would be the plur. of גִּדְיָה, and occur only here. With the Keri גְּדֹתָיו comp. Joshua 3:15; Joshua 4:18; Isaiah 8:8.

[7] Kethib: הַשְּׁלוֹשִׁים; Keri, as usual: הַשָּׂלִישִׁים. The Sept. and Vulg. agree with the Kethib.

[8]For וְלַֽעֲדֹר nine mss., the Sept. (βοηθῆσαι), and the Vulg. read וְלַֽעֲזֹר.

[9]These mss. change עֹדְרֵי into עֹרְכֵי unnecessarily. See Exeg. Expl.

[10] שֵׁרִית, defective for שְׁאֵרִית, occurring only here; hence some mss. have the scr. plena.


Namely, from










Also with



men (with 22 chiefs of the house of Zadok)













men (200 chiefs “and all their brethren”).

From Zebulun,





men. (with 1000 chiefs).








the three eastern Tribes,






men (with 1222 cheifs and heads).

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-chronicles-12.html. 1857-84.
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