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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 27

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

Verses 1-34

γ. Division of the Military Officers; Order of the Service and of the Royal Househould: 1 Chronicles 27:0

1. The Twelve Divisions of the Army: 1 Chronicles 27:1-15

1 Chronicles 27:1 And the sons of Israel after their number, the heads of the houses and the captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, that which came in and that which went out month by month for all the months of the year, the one course was twenty and four thousand. 2Over the first course, for the first month, was Jashobam son of Zabdiel; and in his course were twenty and four thousand. 3Of the sons of Perez, the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month. 4And over the course of the second month was Dodai1 the Ahohite, and his course, and Mikloth the commander; and in his course were twenty and four thousand. 5The third captain of the host, for the third month, was Benaiah son of Jehoiada the priest as chief; and in his course were twenty 6and four thousand. This is Benaiah the hero of the thirty, and above the 7thirty; and his course was for Ammizabad his son. The fourth, for the fourth month, was Asahel Joab’s brother, and Zebadiah his son after him; and in 8his course were twenty and four thousand. The fifth, for the fifth month, was the captain Shamhuth the Izharite; and in his course were twenty and four 9thousand. The sixth, for the sixth month, was Ira son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; 10and in his course were twenty and four thousand. The seventh, for the seventh month, was Helez the Pelonite, of the sons of Ephraim; and in his 11course were twenty and four thousand. And the eighth, for the eighth month, was Sibbechai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites; and in his course were twenty 12and four thousand. And the ninth, for the ninth month, was Abiezer the Anthothite, of the Benjamites; and in his course were twenty and four13thousand. The tenth, for the tenth month, was Maharai the Netophathite, of 14the Zarhites; and in his course were twenty and four thousand. The eleventh, for the eleventh month, was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the sons of Ephraim; 15and in his course were twenty and four thousand. The twelfth, for the twelfth month, Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel; and in his course were twenty and four thousand.

2. The Princes of the Twelve Tribes: 1 Chronicles 27:16-24

16And over the tribes of Israel: of the Reubenites, Eliezer son of Zichri was 17ruler: of the Simeonites, Shephatiah son of Maachah. Of Levi, Hashabiah son of Kemuel: of Aaron, Zadok. 18Of Judah, Elihu.2 of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri son of Michael. 19Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah son of 20Obadiah: of Naphtali, Jerimoth son of Azriel. Of the sons of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Azariah: of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel son of Pedaiah. 21Of the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo son of Zechariah: of Benjamin, 22Jaasiel son of Abner. Of Dan, Azarel son of Jeroham: these are the princes of the tribes of Israel. 23But David took not their number from twenty years old and under, because the Lord had promised to increase Israel as the stars of heaven. 24Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but did not finish, because for this there was wrath against Israel; and the number was not put in the account of the chronicles of King David.

3. The Lords of the Treasures and Possessions of David: 1 Chronicles 27:25-31

25And over the king’s treasures was Azmaveth son of Adiel: and over the stores in the country, in the cities, and the villages, and the towers, was26Jonathan son of Uzziah. And over the field-labourers for tillage of the ground was Ezri son of Chelub. 27And over the vineyards was Shimi the Ramathite; and over that which was in the vineyards of stores in wine was Zabdi the Shiphmite. 28And over the olive-trees and the sycamores which were in the Shephelah was Baal-hanan the Gederite: and over the cellars of oil was Joash. 29And over the herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai[3] the Sharonite: and over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat son of Adlai. And 30over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite.4 31And over the flocks Jaziz the Hagrite: all these were rulers of the substance which belonged to King David.

4. The State Counsellors of David: 1 Chronicles 27:32-34

32And Jonathan, David’s kinsman, was a counsellor, a wise man, and a cribe; and Jehiel son of Hachmoni was with the king’s sons. 33And Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor; and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. 34And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada son of Benaiah, and Abiathar; and the general of the king’s army was Joab.


Preliminary Remark.—In this list of the military and civil officers of David, the collocation of ministers and associates of the army, domains, and Kingdom of this king is connected with the survey contained in 1 Chronicles 23-26 of the Levites and priests in his reign, and also with the account of the census of the people in 1 Chronicles 21:0 to the latter 1 Chronicles 27:23-24 distinctly refer, which show the fore-mentioned captains of the military divisions and princes of the tribes as included in that census, and thereby indicate the political and military import of that measure (comp. on 1 Chronicles 21:1; 1 Chronicles 21:6). With the registers of Levites and priests in 1 Chronicles 23-26, however, our section is connected partly by its position and the similarity of its contents, partly by the circumstance that both, the spiritual (Levitical) and the temporal hierarchy of officers had obtained their more permanent regulation and organization in the last year of his government, and, indeed, in connection with the census of the people, as appears again from 1 Chronicles 27:23.

1. The Twelve Divisions of the Army: vers.1–15.—And the sons of Israel after their number. 1 Chronicles 27:1 forms the full superscription to the following list. As this contains only the twelve divisions of the army of 24,000 men each, with the names of their commanders, this circumstantial superscription seems to promise too much; the detailed description of the army divisions announced in it, and of their officers, appears in 1 Chronicles 27:2-15 to be no longer complete, but only preserved in the form of an abstract (Berth.). But the chief stress rests on “after their number” (לְמִסְפָּרָם), as the determination of the monthly changing military courses at the strength of 24,000 each, immediately after the close of this superscription, clearly shows. Hence all else that is here indicated, the mention of the captains of the thousands and hundreds, the officers, etc., is to be regarded as of mere secondary account.—That which came in and that which went out month by month, properly, “the coming in and outgoing,” namely, the course going in and out of service at the beinning of every month; comp. 2 Kings 11:5; 2 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 11:9, and 2 Chronicles 23:4; 2 Chronicles 23:8. Here naturally only the monthly attendance of each of the twelve divisions or corps is spoken of, not that they had changed places every month, and were stationed one after another in Jerusalem, which would have been quite impossible for so large a corps.—The one course;הָאַחַת taken distributively, as Num. 17:18;Judges 8:18.

1 Chronicles 27:2. Over the first course… Jashobam. Concerning this Jashobam (perhaps “Ishbosheth”) son of Zabdiel, see on 1 Chronicles 11:11.—And in his course were twenty and four thousand, literally, “on (עַל) his course went 24,000 men.”

1 Chronicles 27:3. Of the sons of perez: he was descended from that distiguished Jewish family from which David sprang; comp. 1 Chronicles 2:4 ff.—The chief of all the captains of the host for the first month, stood as first in the series of twelve commanders relieving each other monthly, but was still subordinate to the commander of the whole army (generalissimo), namely, to Joab (1 Chronicles 27:34).

1 Chronicles 27:4. Dodai the Ahohite. On the omission of “Eleazar son of” before Dodai, see the Crit. Note.—And his course, and Mikloth the commander.ו before מִקְלוֹת appears to introduce the consequent, and seems to be superfluous, as it is wanting before עַמִּיזָבָד, 1 Chronicles 27:6, in a similar connection. At all events, Mikloth is a proper name, as 1 Chronicles 8:32, 1 Chronicles 9:37 f. prove; whether the there named Benjamite be identical with the present Mikloth must remain doubtful.

1 Chronicles 27:5. The third captain … was Benaiah ... as chief.רֹאשׁ, predicate to Benaiah, not attribute to הַכֹּהֵן. Concerning this Benaiah and his distinguished position as “hero of the thirty, and above the thirty” (more honoured than all of them), see 1 Chronicles 11:22; 1 Chronicles 11:25; 2 Samuel 23:23. For the constuction in 1 Chronicles 27:6 b,comp. on 1 Chronicles 27:4 b

1 Chronicles 27:7. Asahel … and Zebadiah his son after him. This from of expression contains a plain reference to the early death of Asahel (1 Chronicles 11:26), his tragic end, which Abner prepared for him, 2 Samuel 2:18-23. The Fourth course would thus, at least for the late time now in question, have to be designated properly after Asahel’s son Zebadiah, its than living leader. But it is called (honoris causa) de patris defuncti nomine, as Clericus well remarks, just as the family of the Maccabees is distinguished by the name Asmonæans.

1 Chronicles 27:8 ff. The following names shamhuth (earlier, 1 Chronicles 11:27, Shammoth; 2 Samuel 23:11, Shammah), Ira, Helez, Sibbechai, Abiezer, Maharai, Benaiah, and Heldai occurred together already, though in a somewhat different order, in the list of heroes in 1 Chronicles 11:27-31.—Shamhuth the Izrahite, the descendant of Zerah son of Judah, 1Ch 2:4; 1 Chronicles 2:6; הַיִּזְרָח stands for הַיִּזְרָחִי, and this is equivalent to הַזַּרְחִי, 1Ch 27:11; 1 Chronicles 27:13.

1 Chronicles 27:15.Heldai theNetophathite, of Othniel, belonging to the family of Othniel, incorporated by his connection with Caleb into the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:17; Judges 1:12-15. The name Heldai is besides in 1 Chronicles 11:30 Heleh, and in 2 Samuel 23:29, by an error of the pen, Heleb.

2. The Princes of the Twelve Tribes: 1 Chronicles 27:16-24.—In this list the twelve tribes are enumerated in quite a different order from that in Genesis, and even that in 1 Chronicles 4:7. of our book. A fundamental ground for the order here exhibited—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan—can the less be ascertained, because the names of two tribes (Gad and Asher) have fallen out probably by an old corruption of the text; and there is no means even of conjecturing what was their original place in the list. There remains, therefore, only an uncertain surmise that Dan has been assigned the last place on account of his fall into idolatry; comp. evangelical and ethical reflections on 1 Chronicles 1-9, No. 3.

1 Chronicles 27:17. Of Aaron, Zadok. Whether this naming of a prince of the Aaronites, namely, the high, priest Zadok, of the line of Eleazar, along with that of the Levite was to make amends for the omitted princes of Gad and Asher is uncertain.

1 Chronicles 27:18. Of Judah, Elihu. That “Eliab” (1 Chronicles 2:13) is to be read, with the Sept., for “Elihu” is most probable, even for this reason, that Eliab was the first-born of Jesse, to whom the dignity of prince must have naturally fallen.

1 Chronicles 27:21. Of the half … in Gilead, literally, “toward Gilead” (גִּלְעָדָה), a suitable designation of the east half of Manasseh.

1 Chronicles 27:23-24. Closing Remark on the Two Lists referring to the Army of Israel, 1 Chronicles 27:2-15 and 1 Chronicles 27:16-22.—But David took not their number from twenty years old and under; he had only those above twenty years numbered. On נָשָׂא מִסְפָּר, to take, determine, a number, comp. Numbers 3:40, and Exodus 30:12; Numbers 1:49.—Because the Lord had promised to increase Israel as the stars of heaven. This ground for the remark that David included only those above twenty years in his census of the people obviously means that to number the whole mass of the people, which God’s promise to the patriarchs (Genesis 22:17, etc.) had designated as innumerable, was not intended by David; he had only wished to ascertain the number of those able to bear arms for the organization of his army. On 1 Chronicles 27:24 a, comp. 1 Chronicles 21:6.—And the number was not put in the account of the chronicles of King David,- literally, “and the number went not up,” etc.; comp. העלה על ספר, 2 Chronicles 20:34, on account of which parallel, moreover, בְּסֵפֶר is not to be read for בְּמִסְפָּר, especially as the phrase ספר דברי הימים does not occur in Chronicles. The second מִסְפָּר is rather to be understood in the sense of “reckoning, register of numbers,” and therefore we are to think of the statistical section of the annals of David’s reign (Berth., Kamph., etc.). In these the result of that great census of the people had no place according to our passage; and if, 1 Chronicles 21:5, a communication regarding this result is made, it must have been derived from some other source.

3. The Lords of the Treasures and Possessions of David: 1 Chronicles 27:25-31.—And over the king’s treasures was Azmaveth. These first-mentioned treasures in general (אֹצָרוֹת; comp. 1 Chronicles 26:20; Job 38:22) were perhaps, as the contrast with the “treasures in the country” teaches, the stores or spoils of war preserved in Jerusalem, so far as they were crown and not temple property (1 Chronicles 26:22); thus rightly Luther: “over the treasure of the king.”—And over the stores in the country, in the cities, and the villages, and the towers, that is, in the forts or keeps; comp. the notice of such towers in 2 Chronicles 26:10; Micah 4:8; Song of Solomon 4:4.

1 Chronicles 27:26. And over the field-labourers for tillage of the ground was Ezri. Here begins the specification of the stores in the field, with the royal domains or fields (שׂדה here in the strict or proper sense, not as in 1 Chronicles 27:25).

1 Chronicles 27:27. And over the vineyards was Shimi the Ramathite, of Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25. The next following officer, Zabdi, the manager of the wine-stores in the vineyards, is called הַשִּׁפְמִי, “the Shiphmite,” coming perhaps from שְׁפָם, a place mentioned in Numbers 34:10 f., on the north border of Canaan. But perhaps it is more natural to refer to שִׁפְמוֹת, in the south of Judah (1 Samuel 30:28), as the south produced the most wine, and of course the most vineyards and vine cultivators.

1 Chronicles 27:28. And over the olive-trees and the sycamores in the Shephelah, in the lowlands of the fruitful plain, between the hills of Judah and the Mediterranean, Joshua 15:53. זֵיתִים, olive plantations and gardens; comp. Deuteronomy 6:11,Deuteronomy 6:1 Kings 5:25; and so the following שִׁקְמִים How important the produce of the sycamores must have been in the times of David and Solomon appears from the proverbial expression, 1 Kings 10:27, 2 Chronicles 1:15 : “Cedar-wood as plentiful as the sycamores that grew in the Shephelah.” Comp. C. Hoffmann, Blicke in die frühere Geschichte des gelobten Landes, p. 171; “None of the plants adorning the country in that time is so fallen as those oft-mentioned sycamores, of which only a few still stand in the gardens of Jaffa as tokens of bygone beauty. On the coast, on the hot soil, moistened by under water, stood in broad plantations these mighty, shady, leafy crowns, the native land of which is Egypt. They are mentioned at Jericho in the time of Christ (Luke 19:4). Did they, as the herdsman Amos, who plucked their figs, intimates Amos 7:14, extend to the now so cool and dry valleys of Tekoa, about the Frank Mountains, that now bear among the Arabs the name of paradise, as a monument of vanished glories? At all events, they were proverbially common in Solomon’s time; and this leads to one of those numerous indications of a former abundance of water,” etc.—Baal-hanan the Gederite, of Geder or Gederah, situated in the lowlands south-east of Jabneh (comp. Joshua 12:13; Joshua 15:36, and our remark on Beth-geder, ii. 51); הַגְּדֵרִי is thus not really different from הַגְּדֵרָתִי, 1 Chronicles 12:4. Keil would derive הַגְּדֵרִי rather from Gedor (גְּדוֹר), on the hills of Judah, Joshua 15:58; but the form of the Gentilicium is against this.—And over the herds in the valleys, namely, those in the hill country of Judah towards the Dead Sea and the Jordan; comp. 1 Chronicles 12:15.

1 Chronicles 27:30. And over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite. As the riches of the king consisted in camels (comp. Job 1:3; Judges 7:12) in the south country, where the Ishmaelites formerly wandered, a descendant of this race was appointed overseer of them. So it might be with the Hagarite Jaziz, who was placed over the flocks (comp. 1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:19; Psalms 83:7). For Jehdeiah the Meronothite, see Crit. Note.

1 Chronicles 27:31. All these were rulers of the property which belonged to King David.רְכוּשׁ, “property,” a wider notion than that of the “treasures of the king,” 1 Chronicles 27:25, including these (the treasures in Jerusalem) and “the treasures in the country.” The total number of the officers appointed to take charge of all this property, as they are named above, is twelve, namely, the two head officers, 1 Chronicles 27:25 (for the city, Azmaveth; for the country, Jonathan), and the ten overseers of the tillage and pasturage, the latter of whom were to give a yearly account of the produce of the stock under their charge to the former. The number twelve can scarcely be accidental here, though it is not expressly noticed.

4. The State Counsellors of David: 1 Chronicles 27:32-34; comp. the similar lists of the chief officers of state in 1 Chronicles 18:15-17 (2 Samuel 8:15-18) and in 2 Samuel 20:23-26, with which, however, the present has only Joab the commander-in-chief in common, whereas, otherwise, here partly other persons, partly other functions, appear; and, indeed, its chief aim is to name the counsellors (יֹעֲצִים) of the king: it is a list of the chief counsellors of David (as it were his private council of state or cabinet).—And Jonathan David’s kinsman was a counsellor;דּוֹד (properly favourite, friend, Song of Solomon 1:13, etc.) may signify the father’s brother, Jeremiah 32:7, in which sense it appears to be taken by the Sept. (παράδελφος) and Vulg. (patruus). Yet it signifies also (Jeremiah 32:12) “kinsman, cousin” in general, and appears here also to convey this wider sense, where scarcely any other Jonathan than the son of Shima is meant, and therefore a nephew of David. On יוֹעֵץ, counsellor, comp. 1 Chronicles 26:14; on the following attribute, “wise,” 1 Chronicles 25:22; on a “scribe” (סוֹפֵר, here not a name of office, as in 1 Chronicles 18:16), 1 Chronicles 2:55; Ezra 7:6.—And Jehiel .… was with the king’s sons, as their instructor or tutor, an office mentioned only here. Whether Hachmoni the father of this Jehiel be the same with the Hachmoni father of Jashobam mentioned 1 Chronicles 11:11 must remain uncertain.

1 Chronicles 27:33. And Ahithophel was counsellor of the king, without doubt the same who became notorious from the history of the revolt of Absalom—comp. 2 Samuel 15:31; 2Sa 16:23; 2 Samuel 17:1 ff; Psalms 41:10—as Hushai the Archite is the well-known opponent of this Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 15:32; 2Sa 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16.

1 Chronicles 27:34. And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada son of Benaiah and Abiathar. That by the latter the well-known high priest of the family of Ithamar (1Chr 5:27) is meant cannot well be doubted; whether with regard to the previous name we are to think of the Benaiah named 1 Chronicles 27:5, captain of the third division, son of Jehoiada the priest, so that here a transposition of the names has taken place (Berth.), appears doubtful. It is perhaps simpler to take the Jehoiada named as successor to Ahithophel in the privy council of the king for a son of that Benaiah who, after the well-known Hebrew custom, bore the name of his grandfather. We may observe, moreover, how clearly the Chronist here again (as in 1 Chronicles 27:7) betrays his acquaintance with certain episodes in the history of David, the special course of which it does not lie within the scope of his plan to narrate.—And the general of the king’s army was Joab; as such generalissimo, at the same time in some sense minister of war, and therefore eo ipso belonging to the rank of king’s counsellors. Accordingly he appears, 1 Chronicles 21:2 ff., in the exercise of his office of counsellor in regard to the census of the people.

In an apologetic respect, it is worthy of remark, in regard to this list of the counsellors of David, that, with the exception of Jehiel, names of persons about David occurring also in the books of Samuel and elsewhere in our books are contained in it, but that it cannot be compiled by the Chronist from the other accounts of the history of this king, because it exhibits something peculiar, not elsewhere occurring, in its statements of the functions of these men. “We must therefore assume that this list comes from the same source from which our historian has drawn the previous lists (23–26 and 1 Chronicles 27:1-31)” (Berth.).


[1]For דּוֹדַי, according to 1 Chronicles 11:12, is to be read אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן־דּוֹדַי.

[2]For אֱלִיהוּ the Sept., in accordance with 1 Chronicles 2:13 and 1 Samuel 16:6; 1 Samuel 17:13, exhibits ’Ελιάβ.

[3]So the Kethib: the Keri has Shirtai (שִׁרְטַי).

[4]Sept. ὁ ἐχ Μεραθών but מְרֹנוֹת occurs also, Nehemiah 3:17, as the name of a place near Mizpah; a מֵרָתוֹן nowhere.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 27". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-chronicles-27.html. 1857-84.
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