1 Chronicles 27


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

‘In this chapter, we have an account of twelve military courses, or twelve legions of soldiers, with the captains of them, that served David monthly in their turns, 1 Chronicles 27:1 and of the princes of the several tribes, 1 Chronicles 27:16 and of his economical rulers, 1 Chronicles 27:25, and of his counsellors and general, 1 Chronicles 27:32.’

Army Divisions

‘This is the list of the Israelites—heads of families, commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and their officers, who served the king in all that concerned the army divisions that were on duty month by month throughout the year. Each division consisted of 24,000 men. In charge of the first division, for the first month, was Jashobeam son of Zabdiel. There were 24,000 men in his division. He was a descendant of Perez and chief of all the army officers for the first month. In charge of the division for the second month was Dodai the Ahohite; Mikloth was the leader of his division. There were 24,000 men in his division. The third army commander, for the third month, was Benaiah son of Jehoiada the priest. He was chief and there were 24,000 men in his division. This was the Benaiah who was a mighty warrior among the Thirty and was over the Thirty. His son Ammizabad was in charge of his division. The fourth, for the fourth month, was Asahel the brother of Joab; his son Zebadiah was his successor. There were 24,000 men in his division. The fifth, for the fifth month, was the commander Shamhuth the Izrahite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The sixth, for the sixth month, was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The seventh, for the seventh month, was Helez the Pelonite, an Ephraimite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The eighth, for the eighth month, was Sibbekai the Hushathite, a Zerahite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The ninth, for the ninth month, was Abiezer the Anathothite, a Benjamite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The tenth, for the tenth month, was Maharai the Netophathite, a Zerahite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The eleventh, for the eleventh month, was Benaiah the Pirathonite, an Ephraimite. There were 24,000 men in his division. The twelfth, for the twelfth month, was Heldai the Netophathite, from the family of Othniel. There were 24,000 men in his division.’ 1 Chronicles 27:1-15

Here we have a list of the captains of David’s army. There were to be 24,000 men in each of the twelve divisions of the army. Each division was to serve one month during the year. This means that each man had one month of service, and eleven months of private life. The professional military leaders would be the three and thirty of 1 Chronicles 11:20, with the Kerethites, Pelethites and Gittites.

Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, is described as a great hero in Israel, he was a man who killed two mighty Moabites, a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and a fearsome Egyptian, 2 Samuel 23:20-21. Asahel the brother of Joab Asahel was killed in battle by Abner, who was the commander of Ish-Bosheth’s armies, 2 Samuel 2:18-23.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Apparently, this arrangement continually surrounded David with 24,000 armed men, month by month, and made available for any emergency the entire 288,000. It also left the soldiery practically free eleven months in the year to pursue their own interests. The monotonous repetition is characteristic of ancient records and denies the notion that ‘The Chronicler’ invented these records.’

Leaders Of The Tribes

‘The leaders of the tribes of Israel: over the Reubenites: Eliezer son of Zikri; over the Simeonites: Shephatiah son of Maakah; over Levi: Hashabiah son of Kemuel; over Aaron: Zadok; over Judah: Elihu, a brother of David; over Issachar: Omri son of Michael; over Zebulun: Ishmaiah son of Obadiah; over Naphtali: Jerimoth son of Azriel; over the Ephraimites: Hoshea son of Azaziah; over half the tribe of Manasseh: Joel son of Pedaiah; over the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead: Iddo son of Zechariah; over Benjamin: Jaasiel son of Abner; over Dan: Azarel son of Jeroham. These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel. David did not take the number of the men twenty years old or less, because the LORD had promised to make Israel as numerous as the stars in the sky. Joab son of Zeruiah began to count the men but did not finish. God’s wrath came on Israel on account of this numbering, and the number was not entered in the book of the annals of King David.’ 1 Chronicles 27:16-24

Those who were chosen to be leaders of the tribes were to be respected by the people. These were to be the respected elders from whom leadership would come for each tribe.

The falling of God’s wrath was not the cause of Joab’s ceasing as his motive is clearly stated in 1 Chronicles 21:6. This wrath came from God because he attempted to number Israel, not because he stopped the numbering after he saw that it was wrong.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Gad and Asher are omitted from this list of the tribes. Similarly, Dan and Zebulon are omitted from the genealogical survey of the tribes, 1 Chronicles 4-8. We can only suppose that the lists, as they came down to the writer of Chronicles, were incomplete. The ‘rulers’ or ‘princes’ of the tribes appear to have been the oldest lineal descendants of the patriarchs according to the law of primogeniture.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following concerning David not counting those twenty years old or under.

‘There is a hint here as to the reason why God was displeased with David’s numbering Israel.’

Madsen, in his commentary, says the following.

‘David refrained from counting them because such an act would have implied a doubt on David’s part of God’s promise in Genesis 22:17. Evidently, his efforts to find out exactly how many able-bodied soldiers Israel had likewise exhibited a sinful doubt on David’s part. He was apparently tempted to trust in the number of his troops, instead of relying upon the promise of God.’

The King’s Overseers

‘Azmaveth son of Adiel was in charge of the royal storehouses. Jonathan son of Uzziah was in charge of the storehouses in the outlying districts, in the towns, the villages and the watchtowers. Ezri son of Kelub was in charge of the workers who farmed the land. Shimei the Ramathite was in charge of the vineyards. Zabdi the Shiphmite was in charge of the produce of the vineyards for the wine vats. Baal-Hanan the Gederite was in charge of the olive and sycamore-fig trees in the western foothills. Joash was in charge of the supplies of olive oil. Shitrai the Sharonite was in charge of the herds grazing in Sharon. Shaphat son of Adlai was in charge of the herds in the valleys. Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of the camels. Jehdeiah the Meronothite was in charge of the donkeys. Jaziz the Hagrite was in charge of the flocks. All these were the officials in charge of King David’s property.’ 1 Chronicles 27:25-31

Here we have a list of the administrators of David’s personal property. David acquired his wealth, not by taxation as did Solomon and the kings that followed him, but by the spoils of war and tribute from those he conquered.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This section is important as showing that David, the younger son of a not very opulent family 1 Samuel 16:11 / 1 Samuel 16:20, had now become a large, landed proprietor, as well as a capitalist, possessed of much moveable wealth. We may perhaps see the sources of both these kinds of property, in the successful wars which he had waged 1 Samuel 27:8-9 / 1 Samuel 30:20 / 2 Samuel 8:4 / 2 Samuel 8:7-8 / 2 Samuel 8:12, in the revenue derived from subject kings, 1 Samuel 8:2 / 1 Samuel 8:14 / 1 Samuel 10:19, and in the purchase and occupation of lands in different places. Further, he enjoyed, of course, the usual rights of a Jewish king over the landed property of his subjects, and was thus entitled to receive a tithe of the produce in tithes, 1 Samuel 8:15 / 1 Samuel 8:17, and in ‘benevolences’, 1 Samuel 10:27 / 1 Samuel 16:20, etc.’

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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 favour, 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.’

‘Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counsellor, a man of insight and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hakmoni took care of the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s confidant. Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar. Joab was the commander of the royal army.’ 1 Chronicles 27:32-34

The list of names mentioned here is probably a supplement to those who are listed in 1 Chronicles 18:14-17 and 2 Samuel 23-26. The list can’t belong to a very late part of David’s reign, since it contains the name of Ahithophel, who killed himself during Absalom’s rebellion, 2 Samuel 17:23.

Hushai the Arkite was the king’s confidant, 2 Samuel 15:37, but later became the king’s advisor, 1 Kings 4:5. Joab was the general of David’s army and although he was loyal to David, he did disobey him at times.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It is of interest that the Chronicler passed over the treachery of Ahithophel during the rebellion of Absalom. He did, however, give the names of David’s counsellors following the suicide of Ahithophel.’

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