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Adam Clarke Commentary

1 Chronicles 27

Introduction

An account of the twelve captains who were over the monthly course of twenty-four thousand men; each captain serving one month in turn, 1 Chronicles 27:1 . The names of the twelve, and the months in which they served, 1 Chronicles 27:2 -15. The names of the rulers of the twelve tribes, 1 Chronicles 27:16 -22. The reasons why the whole number of Israel and Judah had not been taken, 1 Chronicles 27:23 , 1 Chronicles 27:24 . The persons who were over the king's property, treasures, fields, flocks, etc., 1 Chronicles 27:25 -31. His officers of state, 1 Chronicles 27:32 -34.

Verse 1

The chief fathers and captains of thousands - The patriarchs, chief generals, or generals of brigade. This enumeration is widely different from the preceding. In that, we have the orders and courses of the priests and the Levites in their ecclesiastical ministrations; in this, we have the account of the order of the civil service, that which related simply to the political state of the king and the kingdom. Twenty-four persons, chosen out of David's worthies, each of whom had a second, were placed over twenty-four thousand men, who all served a month in turn at a time; and this was the whole of their service during the year, after which they attended to their own affairs. Thus the king had always on foot a regular force of twenty-four thousand, who served without expense to him or the state, and were not oppressed by the service, which took up only a twelfth part of their time, and by this plan he could at any time, when the exigency of the state required it, bring into the field twelve times twenty-four thousand, or two hundred and eighty-eight thousand fighting men, independently of the twelve thousand officers, which made in the whole an effective force of three hundred thousand soldiers; and all these men were prepared, disciplined, and ready at a call, without the smallest expense to the state or the king. These were, properly speaking, the militia of the Israelitish kingdom. See Calmet.

Verse 2

First course for the first month - Instead of mentioning first, second, third, etc., month, the Targum names them thus: First month, Nisan; second, Aiyar; third, Sivan; fourth, Tammuz; fifth, Ab; sixth, Elul; seventh, Tishri; eighth, Marchesvan; ninth, Cisleu; tenth, Tebeth; eleventh, Shebat; twelfth, Adar. No mention is made of a veadar or intercalary month.

Verse 5

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest - Why should not this clause be read as it is in the Hebrew? "Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, a captain; and in his course," etc. Or, as the Targum has it, "The third captain of the host for the month Sivan was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, who was constituted a chief." He is distinguished from Benaiah, the Pirathonite, who was over the eleventh month. Some think that the original word הכהן haccohen, which generally signifies priest, should be translated here a principal officer; so the margin has it. But, in the Old Testament, כהן cohen signifies both prince and priest; and translating it by the former removes the difficulty from this place, for we well know that Benaiah never was a priest.

Verse 7

Asahel the brother of Joab - This verse proves that the division and arrangement mentioned above were made before David was acknowledged king in Hebron; for Asahel, the brother of Joab, who was fourth captain, was slain by Abner, while Ishbosheth reigned over Israel at Mahanaim, 2 Samuel 2:19 -23.

Verse 16

Over the tribes of Israel - In this enumeration there is no mention of the tribes of Asher and Gad. Probably the account of these has been lost from this register. These rulers appear to have been all honorary men, without pay, like the lords lieutenants of our counties.

Verse 24

Neither was the number put in the account - Joab did not return the whole number; probably the plague began before he had finished: or, he did not choose to give it in, as he had entered on this work with extreme reluctance; and he did not choose to tell the king how numerous they were.

Verse 25

Over the king's treasures - We see from these verses in what the personal property of David consisted: - 1. Treasures, gold, silver, etc.2. Goods and grain in castles, cities villages, and in the fields.3. Vineyards and their produce.4. Olive-trees and their produce.5. Neat cattle, in different districts.6. Camels and asses: they had no horses.7. Flocks, sheep, goats, etc.

Verse 34

And after Ahithophel - The Targum is curious: "When they went to war, they asked counsel of Ahithophel; and, after the counsel of Ahithophel, they inquired by Urim and Thummim of Jehoiada, the son of Benaiah, prince of the Sanhedrin, and chief of the priesthood; and from Abiathar, the high priest. And after they had inquired by Urim and Thummim, they went out to battle, well armed with bows and slings; and Joab, the general of the king's troops, led them on." It is worthy of remark, that Obil, an Ishmaelite or Arab, was put over the camels, which is a creature of Arabia; and that Jaziz, a Hagarene, (the Hagarenes were shepherds by profession), was put over the flocks: nothing went by favor; each was appointed to the office for which he was best qualified; and thus men of worth were encouraged, and the public service effectually promoted.

1 Chronicles 27


  1 Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.
  2 Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  3 Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.
  4 And over the course of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite, and of his course was Mikloth also the ruler: in his course likewise were twenty and four thousand.
  5 The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  6 This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.
  7 The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  8 The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  9 The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  10 The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  11 The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  12 The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  13 The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  14 The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  15 The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
  16 Furthermore over the tribes of Israel: the ruler of the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri: of the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maachah:
  17 Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the Aaronites, Zadok:
  18 Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael:
  19 Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah: of Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel:
  20 Of the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah: of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah:
  21 Of the half tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah: of Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner:
  22 Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.
  23 But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.
  24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he finished not, because there fell wrath for it against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David.
  25 And over the king's treasures was Azmaveth the son of Adiel: and over the storehouses in the fields, in the cities, and in the villages, and in the castles, was Jehonathan the son of Uzziah:
  26 And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:
  27 And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:
  28 And over the olive trees and the sycamore trees that were in the low plains was Baalhanan the Gederite: and over the cellars of oil was Joash:
  29 And over the herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite: and over the herds that were in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai:
  30 Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:
  31 And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David's.
  32 Also Jonathan David's uncle was a counsellor, a wise man, and a scribe: and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king's sons:
  33 And Ahithophel was the king's counsellor: and Hushai the Archite was the king's companion:
  34 And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar: and the general of the king's army was Joab.

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