1 Chronicles 27 – Tribal Leaders and Officials of State
A. Captains over the army of Israel.
1. (1) The military divisions of Israel.
And the children of Israel, according to their number, the heads of fathers’ houses, the captains of thousands and hundreds and their officers, served the king in every matter of the military divisions. These divisions came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division having twenty-four thousand.
a. And the children of Israel…served the king in every matter of the military divisions: Under David and most every other king of Israel or Judah, Israel never relied on mercenary soldiers. Israelites themselves served the king in every matter of the military.
b. These divisions came in and went out month by month: David’s army was also divided into units of twelve, with one group of the twelve on alert each month of the year. This was an effective way to keep troops always ready and the inactive troops regularly trained.
i. “All these men were prepared, disciplined, and ready at a call, without the smallest expense to the state or the king. These were, properly speaking, the militia of the Israelitish kingdom.” (Clarke)
2. (2-15) Captains over David’s army.
Over the first division for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel, and in his division were twenty-four thousand; he was of the children of Perez, and the chief of all the captains of the army for the first month. Over the division of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite, and of his division Mikloth also was the leader; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The third captain of the army for the third month was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, who was chief; in his division were twenty-four thousand. This was the Benaiah who was mighty among the thirty, and was over the thirty; in his division was Ammizabad his son. The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbechai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anathothite, of the Benjamites; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim; in his division were twenty-four thousand. The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel; in his division were twenty-four thousand.
a. Of the first division: This section explains the twelve divisions mentioned in the previous verses.
b. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada: 2 Samuel 23:20-21 describes this same Benaiah as a great hero in Israel, someone who killed two mighty Moabites, a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and a formidable Egyptian.
c. Asahel the brother of Joab: As recorded in 2 Samuel 2:18-23, Asahel was tragically killed in battle by Abner, who was the commander of Ishbosheth’s armies (this was the son of Saul who tried to follow him on the throne of Israel).
B. Tribal leaders over Israel and officials in King David’s government.
1. (16-22) Tribal leaders.
Furthermore, over the tribes of Israel: the officer over the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri; over the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maachah; over the Levites, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel; over the Aaronites, Zadok; over Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers; over Issachar, Omri the son of Michael; over Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah; over Naphtali, Jerimoth the son of Azriel; over the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah; over the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah; over the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah; over Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner; over Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham. These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel.
a. The officer over the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri: This list describes tribal leaders who were not priests or military leaders, but administrators in the civil service of the kingdom of Israel.
i. “We have the account of the order of the civil service, that which related simply to the political state of the king and the kingdom.” (Clarke)
b. These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel: For some reason, the tribes of Asher and Gad are excluded from this list. “In this enumeration there is no mention of the tribes of Asher and Gad. Probably the account of these has been lost from this register. These rulers appear to have been all honorary men, like the lords lieutenants of our counties.” (Clarke)
2. (23-34) Officials in King David’s government.
But David did not take the number of those twenty years old and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel like the stars of the heavens. Joab the son of Zeruiah began a census, but he did not finish, for wrath came upon Israel because of this census; nor was the number recorded in the account of the chronicles of King David. And Azmaveth the son of Adiel was over the king’s treasuries; and Jehonathan the son of Uzziah was over the storehouses in the field, in the cities, in the villages, and in the fortresses. Ezri the son of Chelub was over those who did the work of the field for tilling the ground. And Shimei the Ramathite was over the vineyards, and Zabdi the Shiphmite was over the produce of the vineyards for the supply of wine. Baal-Hanan the Gederite was over the olive trees and the sycamore trees that were in the lowlands, and Joash was over the store of oil. And Shitrai the Sharonite was over the herds that fed in Sharon, and Shaphat the son of Adlai was over the herds that were in the valleys. Obil the Ishmaelite was over the camels, Jehdeiah the Meronothite was over the donkeys, and Jaziz the Hagrite was over the flocks. All these were the officials over King David’s property. Also Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion. After Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, then Abiathar. And the general of the king’s army was Joab.
a. David did not take the number of those twenty years old and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel like the stars of the heavens: David wisely refrained from completing an unwise census, trusting that God would increase the kingdom and make them great.
b. Treasuries…storehouses…. work of the field for tilling the ground … vineyards.… olive trees…. herds…. camels…donkeys…flocks: David had trusted men to oversee these areas, and they were just as important to the kingdom as the more obvious spiritual leaders.
i. “The greatness of David as a king was manifested in the acts of peaceful administration, as surely as in his victories on the fields of battle. The tilling of the ground, and its careful cultivation; the rearing of cattle; and all the things pertaining to the welfare of his people were arranged for, under duly qualified and appointed oversight.” (Morgan)
ii. “Each of these different men had his distinct sphere for which he was doubtless specially qualified; and it was his duty – not to be jealous of others, nor eager to imitate them, but – to be faithful in his own province.” (Meyer)
iii. The key was that all these were the officials over King David’s property. “How great an error it would have been had any of these begun to account the produce of cattle or ground as his own! He had nothing that he had not received, and whatever he controlled had been entrusted to his care for the emolument and advantage of his sovereign.” (Meyer)
iv. “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.” (Clarke)
c. Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion: “Hushai’s post of ‘king’s friend’ (cf. 2 Samuel 15:37) may have begun on an informal and personal basis; but it became an official advisory position (cf. 1 Kings 4:5).” (Payne)
d. The general of the king’s army was Joab: Joab is one of the more complex characters of the Old Testament. He was fiercely loyal to David, yet not strongly obedient. He disobeyed David when he thought it was in David’s best interest, and he was cunning and ruthless in furthering his own position.