1 Chronicles 12


Gill, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.

‘This chapter gives an account of those that came to David at different times, and joined and assisted him both before the death of Saul, and when persecuted by him, and after he was made king of Judah in Hebron, and before he was king of all Israel, in order to it, of the Benjamites that came to him when at Ziklag, 1 Chronicles 12:1 of the Gadites that came to him when in the hold, 1 Chronicles 12:8 of some of Judah and Benjamin, who came to him in the same place, 1 Chronicles 12:16, and of the Manassites at the time he came with the Philistines against Saul, 1 Chronicles 12:19 and the number of the several tribes are given, that came to him at Hebron to make him king over all Israel, 1 Chronicles 12:23.’

Warriors Join David

‘These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin): Ahiezer their chief and Joash the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; Jeziel and Pelet the sons of Azmaveth; Berakah, Jehu the Anathothite, and Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty warrior among the Thirty, who was a leader of the Thirty; Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Jozabad the Gederathite, Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah and Shephatiah the Haruphite; Elkanah, Ishiah, Azarel, Joezer and Jashobeam the Korahites; and Joelah and Zebadiah the sons of Jeroham from Gedor.’ 1 Chronicles 12:1-7

The information we read about David here, is recorded nowhere else in the Scriptures, 1 Samuel 22:2 / 1 Samuel 27:8 / 1 Samuel 29:11 / 2 Samuel 2:3.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This chapter is composed wholly of matter that is new to us, no corresponding accounts occurring in Samuel. It comprises four lists.

1. One of men, chiefly Benjamites, who joined David at Ziklag, 1 Chronicles 12:1-7.

2. A second of Gadites who united themselves to him when he was in a stronghold near the desert, 1 Chronicles 12:8-15.

3. A third of Manassites who came to him when he was dismissed by the Philistines upon suspicion, 1 Chronicles 12:19-22.

4. A fourth of the numbers from the different tribes who attended and made him king at Hebron, 1 Chronicles 12:23-40.

We’re given a list of men who came to David at Ziklag, 1 Samuel 27 / 1 Samuel 30. It appears that even before the death of Saul, David’s army grew in size.

The reason for this was the people became discouraged with Saul, especially when he turned away from God and His ways. There’s no doubt that these men thought that David should be Israel’s next king.

The skill of the Benjamites is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:40, and 2 Chronicles 14:8. Their expertise in using the left hand appears in the narrative of Judges, Judges 3:15 / Judges 20:16, where their special excellency as slingers is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:40, and 2 Chronicles 14:8.

‘Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains. Ezer was the chief, Obadiah the second in command, Eliab the third, Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, Jeremiah the tenth and Makbannai the eleventh. These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west.’ 1 Chronicles 12:8-15

The Gadites also came to David and demonstrated their loyalty to him before the death of Saul. Others came to David after Saul was killed in the battle with the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 10:1-7.

Some commentators suggest that the historical setting for these verses may have been that of the conquest under Joshua, Joshua 3:15 / Joshua 4:18, but the event here given is not elsewhere reported in the Bible.

‘Other Benjamites and some men from Judah also came to David in his stronghold. David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in peace to help me, I am ready for you to join me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our ancestors see it and judge you.” Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: “We are yours, David! We are with you, son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.” So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands.’ 1 Chronicles 12:16-18

The Benjamites also came to David at his stronghold which was probably Engedi or the cave of Adullam, 1 Samuel 22:1-2. After asking if they came in peace, David accepted them, he especially received those who came from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘David had every right to fear betrayal by those who approached him in this episode. He had suffered betrayal by Doeg the Edomite, 1 Samuel 21-22, by citizens of Keilah, 1 Samuel 23, and by the Ziphites, 1 Samuel 26.’

Some of Judah and Benjamin came to David and Amasai was their leader. Notice that God’s Spirit reassured David through the words of Amasai, Judges 6:34 / 2 Chronicles 34:20. Amasai, is probably a reference to Amasa, 2 Samuel 17:25 / 2 Samuel 19:13.

‘Some of the tribe of Manasseh defected to David when he went with the Philistines to fight against Saul. (He and his men did not help the Philistines because, after consultation, their rulers sent him away. They said, “It will cost us our heads if he deserts to his master Saul.”) When David went to Ziklag, these were the men of Manasseh who defected to him: Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu and Zillethai, leaders of units of a thousand in Manasseh. They helped David against raiding bands, for all of them were brave warriors, and they were commanders in his army. Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.’ 1 Chronicles 12:19-22

The tribe of Manasseh now join David, they know that David had been anointed to be king, and so, the men of Manasseh were now more assured that David would live to become king. It was at this time that David went to Ziklag to take the city from the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 30.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Providence gave them a fair opportunity to do so when he and his men marched through their country upon this occasion. Achish took David with him when he went out to fight with Saul; but the lords of the Philistines obliged him to withdraw. We have the story, 1 Samuel 29:4, etc. In his return some great men of Manasseh, who had no heart to join with Saul against the Philistines struck in with David, and very seasonably, to help him against the band of Amalekites who plundered Ziklag, they were not many, but they were all mighty men and did David good service upon that occasion, 1 Samuel 30. See how Providence provides. David’s interest grew strangely just when he had occasion to make use of it. Auxiliary forces flocked in daily, till he had a great host. When the promise comes to the birth, leave it to God to find strength to bring forth.’

Others Join David At Hebron

‘These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the LORD had said: from Judah, carrying shield and spear—6,800 armed for battle; from Simeon, warriors ready for battle—7,100; from Levi—4,600, including Jehoiada, leader of the family of Aaron, with 3,700 men, and Zadok, a brave young warrior, with 22 officers from his family; from Benjamin, Saul’s tribe—3,000, most of whom had remained loyal to Saul’s house until then; from Ephraim, brave warriors, famous in their own clans—20,800; from half the tribe of Manasseh, designated by name to come and make David king—18,000; from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; from Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty—50,000; from Naphtali—1,000 officers, together with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears; from Dan, ready for battle—28,600; from Asher, experienced soldiers prepared for battle—40,000; and from east of the Jordan, from Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, armed with every type of weapon—120,000. All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king. The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them. Also, their neighbours from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, olive oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.’ 1 Chronicles 12:23-40

These verses leap forward seven and a half years to the crowning of David as king over all Israel.

We read here how strong David had become when he was at Hebron. They knew that David feared God, and so, when they came to David they knew that they were coming to one who had given himself to follow God.

Notice that the men of Issachar, ‘understood the times’, in other words, they had some special knowledge of foreign affairs, which would be of great benefit to David, when it comes to advise and wisdom in how to deal with foreigners.

Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali, all came to David. During the time of Moses, the army of Israel numbered 603,550 men. The army numbered 1,300,000 by the end of David’s reign, 2 Samuel 24:9.

The total figure given by the writer here, 350,000, appears to be a conservative number. It’s probably only those who came to David at the very beginning of his reign are listed here.

When David became king, and was accepted as the rightful king, all of Israel rejoiced.

Go To 1 Chronicles 13


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