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.1 Chronicles 27:1. Now the children of Israel, &c. — After the settlement of sacred affairs, we have here an account of the manner in which the army, or militia, as we may call it, was disposed. It was distributed into twelve legions, each consisting of twenty-four thousand men, who were commanded by one of the chief of the fathers; under whom there were captains of thousands, such as we now call colonels; and then under them captains of hundreds. Each of these legions attended one month, for the security of the king and kingdom; at the end of which they were dismissed, and another legion, with their general, succeeded: so that their course came but once in a year, and that only for one month, which was no considerable burden to them. That served the king in any matter of the courses — In all the business in which the king had occasion for these persons. Which came in and went out, &c. — Who, being armed and mustered, were to wait upon the king, at Jerusalem, or other places, as the king should see fit. By this order near three hundred thousand of his people were instructed and exercised in the use of their arms, and fitted for the defence of their king and kingdom when it should be needful, and in the mean time sufficient provision was made against any sudden tumults or irruptions of enemies. And this monthly course was contrived that the burden of it might be easy, and equally distributed among the people.
Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.1 Chronicles 27:2-3. Over the first course was Jashobeam — Of whom see 2 Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:11. Of the children of Perez — Or, of Pharez, of the posterity of Judah, Genesis 46:12. This seems to be intended of Jashobeam, and to be mentioned as a reason why he was the chief. Chief of all the captains of the host — Whose several names here follow. The meaning is, he was chief in dignity and precedency, but not in power and authority; for these captains were equal in power, and Joab was their general.
Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.
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.1 Chronicles 27:4. And Mikloth also was the ruler — Either, 1st, The captain of this course after the death of this Dodai, as Zebadiah was after Asahel, 1 Chronicles 27:7. Or, 2d, His lieutenant, or deputy, in case of his necessary absence. Or, rather, 3d, One of the officers of his course; who seems here to be particularly named, as a person then of great note and eminence.
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.1 Chronicles 27:5-6. Jehoiada, a chief priest — Or rather, a chief prince, as the Hebrew word כהן, cohen, often signifies. For it is certain neither Benaiah nor his father was high-priest or second priest. In his course was Ammizabad his son — Who seems to have been his father’s lieutenant, because his father was captain of the king’s guard, (2 Samuel 18:18,) and therefore needed a deputy in the one or other place.
This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.
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.1 Chronicles 27:7. Asahel the brother of Joab — As Asahel was killed before all Israel had acknowledged David as king, it is likely that this course was called the course of Asahel, in honour to his memory, it being commanded by his son. Poole, however, thinks that the foundation of this project was laid while David was in Hebron, and that then his forces were divided into twenty-four courses, under twenty-four chief commanders, whereof Asahel was one, only that the number of his forces was then much less than that which is here mentioned: but, he adds, when David was fully settled in his whole kingdom, the design was perfected, and his soldiers were increased to this number. Zebadiah his son after him — That is, after his death, of which see 2 Samuel 2:23. And in his course were twenty-four thousand — Not Asahel’s, for in his time they were not so numerous, but Zebadiah’s his son.
The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
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.
The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
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.
The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
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:1 Chronicles 27:16. Over the tribes of Israel: the ruler, &c. — These were the princes of the tribes, the constant rulers of the tribes; who seem to have had a superior power to these twenty-four captains, and therefore are named before them, being probably the king’s chief counsellors and assistants in the great affairs of his kingdom.
Of the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel: of the Aaronites, Zadok:
Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brethren of David: of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael:
Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah: of Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel:
Of the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah: of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah:
Of the half tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah: of Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner:
Of Dan, Azareel the son of Jeroham. These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.1 Chronicles 27:22. Of the tribes of Israel — Of the most of the tribes, not of all: for Gad is omitted, probably because that tribe was joined with the Reubenites under one prince.
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.1 Chronicles 27:23. David took not the number from twenty years old and under — But only of those who were above the age of twenty years, or (which is the same thing) those that drew the sword, 1 Chronicles 21:5. Because the Lord had said, &c. — And therefore to number them all, both above and under twenty years old, had been both an infinite trouble and a tempting of God, or a questioning the truth of his promises.
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.1 Chronicles 27:24. Joab began to number — Namely, all from twenty years old and upward, as David commanded him. But he finished not — For Levi and Benjamin he counted not, 1 Chronicles 21:6. Because there fell wrath for it against Israel — While he was doing the work, which was one reason that made him desist. The Hebrew however is, And there fell, &c. Though David numbered them with caution and limitation, as was observed before, yet this did not hinder God’s wrath from falling upon Israel for this sin. Neither was the number put in the chronicles of King David — An account of the number, as far as he went, was given by Joab to the king; but the king, being sensible of his error, would not have it recorded in the public registers of the kingdom, as other things of daily occurrence were. Yet the memory of it is preserved in these books, to teach all posterity not to put their trust in the arm of flesh.
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:1 Chronicles 27:25. Over the king’s treasures — Of gold, or silver, or other things of great price, which, for greater security, were kept in Jerusalem, and in the king’s palace; and thither the tribute-money also was sent, and committed to Azmaveth’s care. Over the store-houses in the fields — Of the fruits of the earth, or that share of them which belonged to the king, which were laid up in the fields, or cities, or villages, or castles, as there was convenience and occasion.
And over them that did the work of the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub:
And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite: over the increase of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite:1 Chronicles 27:27. Over the vineyards — Over the workmen and labourers in the vineyards; as the next officer is over the fruit of the vineyards. In like manner, one man was over the labourers in the fields, (1 Chronicles 27:26,) and another over the fruits of the fields put into stores.
And over the olive trees and the sycomore trees that were in the low plains was Baalhanan the Gederite: and over the cellars of oil was Joash:
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:1 Chronicles 27:29-30. Over the herds that fed in Sharon — A place famous for its fruitfulness, (see Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2,) which lay about Lidda and Joppa. David seems to have kept great store of cattle in his pastures, particularly in this place. Over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite — An Ishmaelite was the fittest person to look after the breed of camels, because that country abounded with them, and they best understood their nature. And over the asses, &c. — This was a great part of men’s riches in old times.
Over the camels also was Obil the Ishmaelite: and over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite:
And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagerite. All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David's.1 Chronicles 27:31. All these were the rulers of the substance which was David’s — It is observable, here are no officers for state, none for sport, no master of the ceremonies, or of the hounds, but all for substance, agreeable to the simplicity and plainness of those times. David was a great soldier, a great scholar, and a great prince; and yet a great husband of his estate. Those magistrates who would have their subjects industrious, must themselves be examples of application to business.
Also Jonathan David's uncle was a counseller, a wise man, and a scribe: and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king's sons:1 Chronicles 27:32. A wise man and a scribe — Either one learned in the laws of God, which were also the laws of the land, or the king’s secretary. Jehiel was with the king’s sons — As their tutor or governor.
And Ahithophel was the king's counseller: and Hushai the Archite was the king's companion:1 Chronicles 27:33-34. Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor — The person whose counsel, in matters of state, the king most prized and followed. Hushai was the king’s companion — Or his friend, (2 Samuel 15:37,) the person whom he trusted with his secrets, and whose conversation was most pleasant and acceptable to him. Observe, a cunning man was his counsellor: but an honest man was his friend. After Ahithophel — After his death, these were his chief counsellors. Much of the wisdom of princes is seen in the choice of their ministry. It appears that those whom David made choice of to attend upon and advise him, were such as were peculiarly eminent for wisdom and integrity. But though he had these trusty counsellors about him, he preferred his Bible before them all, making the Lord’s testimonies his delight and his counsellors, Psalm 119:24.
And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar: and the general of the king's army was Joab.