1 Chronicles 27
In this chapter we have the civil list, including the military,
I. The twelve captains for every separate month of the year,
1 Chronicles 27:1-15.
II. The princes of the several tribes,
1 Chronicles 27:16-24.
III. The officers of the court,
1 Chronicles 27:25-34.
|The Officers of the Army.
||B. C. 1015.|
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
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
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
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
We have here an account of the regulation of the militia of the
kingdom. David was himself a man of war, and had done great things with
the sword; he had brought into the field great armies. Now here we are
told how he marshalled them when God had given him rest from all his
enemies. He did not keep them all together, for that would have been a
hardship on them and the country; yet he did not disband and disperse
them all, for then he would have left his kingdom naked, and his people
would have forgotten the arts of war, wherein they had been instructed.
He therefore contrived to keep up a constant force, and yet not a
standing army. The model is very prudent.
1. He kept up 24,000 constantly in arms, I suppose in a body, and
disciplined, in one part or other of the kingdom, the freeholders
carrying their own arms and bearing their own charges while they were
up. This was a sufficient strength for the securing of the public peace
and safety. Those that are Israelites indeed must learn war; for we
have enemies to grapple with, whom we are concerned constantly to stand
upon our guard against.
2. He changed them every month; so that the whole number of the militia
amounted to 288,000, perhaps about a fifth part of the able men of the
kingdom. By being thus distributed into twelve courses, they were all
instructed in, and accustomed to, military exercises; and yet none were
compelled to be in service, and at expenses, above one month in the
year (which they might very well afford), unless upon extraordinary
occasions, and then they might all be got together quickly. It is the
wisdom of governors, and much their praise, while they provide for the
public safety, to contrive how to make it effectual and yet easy, and
as little as possible burdensome to the people.
3. Every course had a commander in chief over it. Besides the subaltern
officers that were rulers over thousands, and hundreds, and fifties,
there was one general officer to each course or legion. All these
twelve great commanders are mentioned among David's worthies and
2 Samuel 23:8-39,1Ch+11:10-47
They had first signalized themselves by their great actions and then
they were advanced to those great preferments. It is well with a
kingdom when honour thus attends merit. Benaiah is here called a
1 Chronicles 27:5.
But, cohen signifying both a priest and a prince,
it might better be translated here a chief ruler, or (as in the
margin) a principal officer. Dodai had Mikloth
(1 Chronicles 27:4)
either for his substitute when he was absent or infirm, or for his
successor when he was dead. Benaiah had his son under him,
1 Chronicles 27:6.
Asahel had his son after him
(1 Chronicles 27:7),
and by this it seems that this plan of the militia was laid in the
beginning of David's reign; for Asahel was killed by Abner while David
reigned in Hebron. When his wars were over he revived this method, and
left the military affairs in this posture, for the peaceable reign of
his son Solomon. When we think ourselves most safe, yet, while we are
here in the body, we must keep in a readiness for spiritual conflicts.
Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast as he that puts it
|The Military Force.
||B. C. 1015.|
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
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
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
28 And over the olive trees and the sycamore trees that were
in the low plains was Baal-hanan 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
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.
We have here an account,
I. Of the princes of the tribes. Something of the ancient order
instituted by Moses in the wilderness was still kept up, that every
tribe should have its prince or chief. It is probable that it was kept
up all along, either by election or by succession, in the same family;
and those are here named who were found in that office when this
account was taken. Elihu, or Eliab, who was prince of Judah, was the
eldest son of Jesse, and descended in a right line from Nahshon and
Salmon, the princes of this tribe in Moses's time. Whether these
princes were of the nature of lord-lieutenants that guided them in
their military affairs, or chief-justices that presided in their courts
of judgment, does not appear. Their power, we may suppose, was much
less now that all the tribes were united under one king than it had
been when, for the most part, they acted separately. Our religion
obliges us to be subject, not only to the king as supreme, but unto
governors under him
(1 Peter 2:13,14),
the princes that decree justice. Of Benjamin was Jaaziel the son of
1 Chronicles 27:21.
Though Abner was David's enemy, and opposed his coming to the throne,
yet David would not oppose the preferment of his son, but perhaps
nominated him to this post of honour, which teaches us to render good
II. Of the numbering of the people,
1 Chronicles 27:23,24.
It is here said,
1. That when David ordered the people to be numbered he forbade the
numbering of those under twenty years old, thinking thereby to save the
reflection which what he did might otherwise cast upon the promise that
they should be innumerable; yet it was but a poor salvo, for it had
never been customary to number those under twenty, and the promise of
their numbers chiefly respected the effective men.
2. That the account which David took of the people, in the pride of his
heart, turned to no good account; for it was never perfected, nor done
with exactness, nor was it ever recorded as an authentic account. Joab
was disgusted with it, and did it by halves; David was ashamed of it,
and willing it should be forgotten, because there fell wrath for it
against Israel. A good man cannot, in the reflection, please himself
with that which he knows God is displeased with, cannot make use of
that, nor take comfort in that, which is obtained by sin.
III. Of the officers of the court.
1. The rulers of the king's substance (as they are
1 Chronicles 27:31),
such as had the oversight and charge of the king's tillage, his
vineyards, his olive-yards, his herds, his camels, his asses, his
flocks. Here are no officers for state, none for sport, no master of
the wardrobe, no master of the ceremonies, no master of the horse, no
master of the hounds, but all for service, 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,
kept a great deal of ground in his own hand, and stocked it, not for
pleasure, but for profit; for the king himself is served of the
Those magistrates that would have their subjects industrious must
themselves be examples of industry and application to business. We
find, however, that afterwards the poor of the land were thought good
enough to be vine-dressers and husbandmen,
2 Kings 25:12.
Now David put his great men to preside in these employments.
2. The attendants on the king's person. They were such as were eminent
for wisdom, being designed for conversation. His uncle, who was a wise
man and a scribe, not only well skilled in politics, but well read in
the scriptures, was his counsellor,
1 Chronicles 27:32.
Another, who no doubt excelled in learning and prudence, was tutor to
his children. Ahithophel, a very cunning man, was his counsellor: but
Hushai, an honest man, was his companion and confidant. It does not
appear that he had many counsellors; but those he had were men of great
abilities. Much of the wisdom of princes is seen in the choice of
their ministry. But David, though he had all these trusty and
well-beloved cousins and counsellors about him, preferred his Bible
before them all.
Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors.