Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.1 Chronicles 12:1. Now these are they that came to David, &c. — This author thought fit to do those the honour of having their names recorded, (which was omitted in the book of Samuel,) who came and joined themselves to him when he was in exile; and were afterward great assistants to him in his wars. While he kept himself close — Or was shut out from his own land and people: for the writer speaks not of that time when he was shut up, and hid himself in caves in the land of Judah, but when he was at Ziklag.
They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.1 Chronicles 12:2. Could use both the right hand and the left — With like nimbleness and certainty: compare Jdg 3:15; and Jdg 20:16. Saul’s brethren of Benjamin — Of Saul’s own tribe: who were moved hereto by God’s Spirit, by the conscience of their duty to David, and by their observation of God’s departure from Saul, and of his special presence with David.
The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, the sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite; and Jeziel, and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; and Berachah, and Jehu the Antothite,
And Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the thirty, and over the thirty; and Jeremiah, and Jahaziel, and Johanan, and Josabad the Gederathite,1 Chronicles 12:4. A mighty man among the thirty — Who came attended with thirty valiant Benjamites and was their commander.
Eluzai, and Jerimoth, and Bealiah, and Shemariah, and Shephatiah the Haruphite,
Elkanah, and Jesiah, and Azareel, and Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korhites,
And Joelah, and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.
And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;1 Chronicles 12:8. There separated themselves — From Saul, to whom they had hitherto adhered, and from their brethren of their own tribe, who yet maintained Saul’s cause; and from their families, and the places where they lived, from whom they went to David. Into the hold to the wilderness —
Or rather, into the hold of the wilderness; that is, either to the cave of Adullam or Engedi, or rather to Ziklag, which was in the wilderness of Judah, and may be here called the hold or fortress, for the same reason for which that name is given to the city of David, 1 Chronicles 11:7, (see the Hebrew,) namely, because it was a strong, well-fortified place. Whose faces were like the faces of lions — Who were full of courage, and by the majesty and fierceness of their countenances terrified their adversaries. As swift as the roes upon the mountains — As their very looks daunted their enemies, and put them to flight, so they could easily pursue, and overtake, and destroy them in their flight.
Ezer the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third,
Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
Jeremiah the tenth, Machbanai the eleventh.
These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand.
These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.1 Chronicles 12:15. These are they that went over Jordan, &c. — Namely, in Saul’s time, when, it seems, the enemies of the Israelites had made an inroad, and done some mischiefs to the Israelites beyond Jordan, to whose help these persons then came. When it had overflowed all its banks — As it commonly did about that time. Probably these, being men of great courage and dexterity, swam over Jordan, at the time here specified, through their ardent desire to help their brethren, and to fight with their enemies. And they put to flight all them of the valleys — The people that lived in the valleys or deserts beyond Jordan, who, it seems, when Saul was engaged against the Philistines, took that advantage to fall upon the Israelites beyond Jordan. Both toward the east and toward the west — Both the people that lived more eastward and remote from Jordan, and those that lived more westward and nearer to it.
And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.1 Chronicles 12:17. David went out to meet them, and answered — That is, spake, for that word is often used in the Scriptures, even of him that speaks first. My heart shall be knit unto you — I shall ever esteem and love you, and show this by my actions to you hereafter. But if ye be come to betray me, &c. — Which your number, and quality, and near relation to Saul, give me some cause to suspect. Seeing there is no wrong in my hands — I have done no injury to Saul nor to you; but have spared him and you when it was in my power to have destroyed you. The God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it — Namely, by his power, manifested for me, and against you, for your perfidiousness. In saying, the God of our fathers, meaning both his fathers and theirs, he suggests a reason why they should not deal ill with him: namely, because they were both descendants from the same patriarchs, and servants of the same God. And thus he encourages himself to believe, that God would right him if he were injured. For he was the God of his fathers, therefore a blessing was entailed upon him: and a God to all Israel in particular, as well as a Judge to all the earth.
Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.1 Chronicles 12:18. The Spirit came upon Amasai — Not only saving graces, but other heroical and generous motions are ascribed to God’s Spirit, which here stirred up in him a more than ordinary greatness of mind and resolution. Thy God helpeth thee — We have seen evidences of God’s singular and gracious care of thee, and kindness to thee; and if we should oppose thee we should fight against God, and his word and providence. Then David made them captains of the band — Of those forces which they brought with them: or, he put them among the heads, or officers of his band; that is, he gave them commands, either now in his small army, each according to his quality; or afterward, when he was advanced to the kingdom: for it is not here said when he did this.
And there fell some of Manasseh to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle: but they helped them not: for the lords of the Philistines upon advisement sent him away, saying, He will fall to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads.1 Chronicles 12:19-20. They helped them not — That is, the Manassites here named, and the rest of David’s forces, to whom they had now joined themselves, did not help the Philistines in battle, as David had pretended to do. As he went to Ziklag — As he returned thither from the camp of the Philistines.
As he went to Ziklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah, and Jozabad, and Jediael, and Michael, and Jozabad, and Elihu, and Zilthai, captains of the thousands that were of Manasseh.
And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host.1 Chronicles 12:21-22. They helped David against the band, &c. — Against the Amalekites, who had taken and burned Ziklag, and whom David and his six hundred men were now pursuing. Or, as in the margin, with a band, or troop of soldiers, which they brought along with them to David’s assistance. They were all mighty men of valour — Therefore they readily came to David’s help. At that time, day by day — While David was at Ziklag, and in his march to Hebron, and principally at Hebron. There came to David — like the host of God — An innumerable multitude, like the stars or angels of God, both which are called God’s host.
For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.
And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD.1 Chronicles 12:23-24. According to the word of the Lord — Whereby he had settled the crown on David after Saul’s death. Six thousand, &c. — Who came hither in the name of their brethren: for that whole tribe adhered to David.
The children of Judah that bare shield and spear were six thousand and eight hundred, ready armed to the war.
Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
Of the children of Levi four thousand and six hundred.
And Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites, and with him were three thousand and seven hundred;1 Chronicles 12:27-29. Jehoiada was the leader of the Aaronites — Not the high- priest, for that was Abiathar, (1 Samuel 23:6,) but one of some eminent place under him. And Zadok — Thought to be the same who was made high-priest in Solomon’s time, (1 Kings 2:35,) which, if true, he must have been very young at that time. Twenty and two captains — Whom he brought along with him. Had kept the ward of the house of Saul — Had endeavoured to keep the crown in their own tribe, and in Saul’s family.
And Zadok, a young man mighty of valour, and of his father's house twenty and two captains.
And of the children of Benjamin, the kindred of Saul, three thousand: for hitherto the greatest part of them had kept the ward of the house of Saul.
And of the children of Ephraim twenty thousand and eight hundred, mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers.
And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king.1 Chronicles 12:31. Of the half-tribe of Manasseh — Which was within Jordan: for of the other half beyond Jordan he speaks 1 Chronicles 12:37. Which were expressed by name — Who were not ashamed publicly to own David by putting their names to some paper presented to them for that purpose.
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.1 Chronicles 12:32. That had understanding of the times — They understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. And they showed their wisdom at this time; for as they had adhered to Saul, while he lived, as knowing the time was not yet come for David to take possession of the kingdom; and as they could not join David, while Abner lived, and had the command of the other tribes wherewith they were encompassed, so, as soon as he was dead, and they had opportunity to declare themselves, they owned David for their king.
Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.1 Chronicles 12:33. Fifty thousand — For this tribe, being next to that of Issachar, which was generally well affected to David, were probably very much swayed by their opinion and advice. Which could keep rank — Or, which were prepared, or ordered for battle, or to fight for David if occasion required. Not of double heart — They were sincerely loyal, and did not dissemble with David, pretending to be for him, while in their hearts they favoured Saul’s family. And none had any separate interests, but all were for the public good.
And of Naphtali a thousand captains, and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand.
And of the Danites expert in war twenty and eight thousand and six hundred.
And of Asher, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, forty thousand.
And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand.
All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king.
And there they were with David three days, eating and drinking: for their brethren had prepared for them.
Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.1 Chronicles 12:40. They that were nigh them — That lived not far from Hebron, the place where they now were. Unto Issachar, &c. — This is added by way of amplification and explication, to show that this was not to be understood of those Israelites only who lived in the neighbourhood of Hebron, but of those also who lived at some distance, yet were nearer to Hebron than some of the other tribes here named. And on oxen — Which, though not commonly used in this manner, nor very fit for such purposes, yet were now employed, because the quantity of provisions which they brought was very great, as the number of the people at Hebron were, and of horses they had few in Israel, and most of their asses, camels, and mules, here mentioned, were probably used to carry men, women, and children, to this great, and public, and happy solemnity. For there was joy in Israel — Partly because their civil wars were wholly ended, and they were all united under one king; and partly because they had now a king of eminent valour and piety, and therefore expected to be saved from all their enemies and calamities, as indeed they were. Such was the joy and feasting when David was made king. And when the throne of the Son of David is set up in any soul, there is great joy in that soul; and provision is made for the feasting of it, not as here, merely for two or three days, but for the whole life, nay, for eternity.