KING DAVID SET THE STAGE FOR SOLOMON’S TEMPLE BUILDING PROJECT BY ORGANIZING THE MILITARY AND RELYING ON WISE CIVIL AND ROYAL OFFICIALS
Iain Duguid: One further block completes the listing of personnel: heads of the military divisions (1 Chron. 27:1–15), leaders of the tribes (vv. 16–24), stewards of royal property throughout the land (vv. 25–31), and royal counselors (vv. 32–34). They represent the “leaders of Israel” David called together along with the “priests and the Levites” (23:2). These personnel are then represented in the large assembly David calls in 28:1. . .
The Chronicler’s portrayal is of David making these arrangements and having wise counselors, so setting the scene to enable Solomon to focus his energies on temple building in accord with David’s provision and instructions (e.g., 1 Chron. 28:10–21; 2 Chron. 1:4; 2:7, 14; 3:1; 5:1; 7:6; 8:14).
Mark Boda: With chapter 27 the Chronicler leaves behind the enumeration of the Levitical families, moving to the “secular” leadership of his kingdom. He begins with the military (27:1-15), then moves to the tribes (27:16-22), and finally, after a short note on the census, concludes with the property managers (27:25-31) and royal advisers (27:32-34).
Martin Selman: What then is the Chronicler’s purpose in including [these lists]? It seems that the various aspects of Israel’s political structures, including the military divisions (vv. 1-15), the twelve-tribe structure (vv. 16-22), and a single monarchial authority across the geographical regions (vv. 25-31), confirm the whole nation’s readiness to build the temple. The participation of the royal officials is especially interesting, since it is notable that chapters 23-27 begin (23:1) and end (27:25-34) with an emphasis on royal commitment.
I. (:1-24) ORGANIZING THE MILITARY LEADERS
August Konkel: The rotation of military units each month ensured continuous protection for the major institutions of Jerusalem. This arrangement anticipates the expanded administrative system of Solomon, in which there were twelve districts, each headed by an officer, to provide regular revenues from all parts of the country (1Kings 4–5). . .
Distinctions of jurisdiction between temple and state are not mutually exclusive. The military could include a priest. Duties of gatekeepers providing security for the temple were by necessity carried out by warriors.
J.A. Thompson: David set up arrangements to call fighting men together (1 Chr 21) into a citizen’s army. The compiler of this record presents a carefully ordered statement about David’s army—twelve divisions each consisting of twenty-four thousand men, each obligated to serve the king’s army for a month a year, each commanded by an officer bearing the name of one of David’s heroes. The army was arranged in perfect order in a strictly systematic scheme.
Andrew Hill: Rather than a standing army, the military divisions described in 27:2–15 represent a militia or citizen army, perhaps akin to our National Guard.
A. (:1-15) Commanders of the 12 Monthly Rotations
“Now this is the enumeration of the sons of Israel, the heads of fathers’ households, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all the affairs of the divisions which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division numbering 24,000.”
1. (:2-3) First Month – Jashobeam the Son of Zabdiel
“Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel had charge of the first division for the first month; and in his division were 24,000. 3 He was from the sons of Perez, and was chief of all the commanders of the army for the first month.”
2. (:4) Second Month – Dodai the Ahohite
“Dodai the Ahohite and his division had charge of the division for the second month, Mikloth being the chief officer; and in his division were 24,000.”
3. (:5-6) Third Month – Benaiah the Son of Jehoiada
“The third commander of the army for the third month was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, as chief; and in his division were 24,000. 6 This Benaiah was the mighty man of the thirty, and had charge of thirty; and over his division was Ammizabad his son.”
4. (:7) Fourth Month – Asahel the Brother of Joab and Zebadiah His Son
“The fourth for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him; and in his division were 24,000.”
5. (:8) Fifth Month – Shamhuth the Izrahite
“The fifth for the fifth month was the commander Shamhuth the Izrahite; and in his division were 24,000.”
6. (:9) Sixth Month – Ira the Tekoite
“The sixth for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; and in his division were 24,000.”
7. (:10) Seventh Month – Helez the Pelonite
“The seventh for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite of the sons of Ephraim; and in his division were 24,000.”
8. (:11) Eighth Month – Sibbecai the Hushathite
“The eighth for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite of the Zerahites; and in his division were 24,000.”
9. (:12) Ninth Month – Abiezer the Anathothite
“The ninth for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anathothite of the Benjamites; and in his division were 24,000.”
10. (:13) Tenth Month – Maharai the Netophathite
“The tenth for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite of the Zerahites; and in his division were 24,000.”
11. (:14) Eleventh Month – Benaiah the Pirathonite
“The eleventh for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite of the sons of Ephraim; and in his division were 24,000.”
12. (:15) Twelfth Month – Heldai the Netophathite
“The twelfth for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite of Othniel; and in his division were 24,000.”
Frederick Mabie: Another aspect of David’s organization of personnel in anticipation of the handover of power to Solomon is the matter of the strength and security of the nation. The structure of this section implies that these military conscripts “served the king” (v.1) one month per year and thus are not fulltime soldiers (except in times of war).
Iain Duguid: Whereas previously mustering for battles had been ad hoc on a basis of tribes, now the nation had a standing citizen militia, organized independently of tribal structure. Apart from battles, the troops likely guarded borders and provided security, as well as manning various strongholds. As each division “came and went,” changing guard each month, there was no interruption.
B. (:16-22) Register of Tribal Chiefs According to the Census of David
1. (:16a) Heading
“Now in charge of the tribes of Israel:”
2. (:16b-22a) Listing
“chief officer for the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri;
for the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah;
17 for Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel; for Aaron, Zadok;
18 for Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers;
for Issachar, Omri the son of Michael;
19 for Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah;
for Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel;
20 for the sons of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azaziah;
for the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah;
21 for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah;
for Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner;
22 for Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham.”
3. (:22b) Summary
These were the princes of the tribes of Israel.”
August Konkel: The list of officers is closely related to the registry of tribal names, an indication that these leaders had responsibility in gathering the census data. The census of David was not entirely misguided; the fault lay with David’s personal motives. Reference to that census in verses 23‐24 indicates that it was the basis for establishing tribal officers, unless the enumeration of 27:1 is regarded as a separate census. Tribal information has evident parallels with the divinely mandated census in Numbers 1:1‐19. As in that census, those under age twenty are not counted. The Chronicler indicates that to do so would cast doubt on the promise to Abraham (1Chron 27:23). The tribal order is substantially followed. Naphtali is out of place in comparison with any other list, as it usually comes near the end (cf. Gen 35:23‐26). . . This administrative registry is to maintain order in the respective territories as well as make provision for the temple.
Frederick Mabie: In addition to the rotating division commanders noted above (vv.1–15), the Chronicler also delineates military leaders at the tribal level. Although the Chronicler does not specifically state that David made these appointments, the broader context of chs. 24–27 suggests that David selected these tribal leaders as part of his organizational efforts.
Iain Duguid: The list of tribal leaders illustrates some of the fluidity of the division into twelve. The two halves of Manasseh are treated separately, while Gad and Asher are missing (Gad’s territory was east of the Jordan, so perhaps it was subsumed under Reuben or the eastern half of Manasseh, while Asher’s is on the coast; they are the last two names in 2:2). The separation of “Aaron” (27:17) recognizes the distinction between priests and other Levites.
Thomas Constable: Notice that there are two layers of administration: the tribal leaders of v16-22 are important for their connections to their tribes, but David does not rely entirely on them (the period of the judges showed that the tribes could be selfish and independent). Rather, he appoints his mighty men to run the central administration of the kingdom.
C. (:23-24) Clarification Regarding the Census
“But David did not count those twenty years of age and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel as the stars of heaven. 24 Joab the son of Zeruiah had begun to count them, but did not finish; and because of this, wrath came upon Israel, and the number was not included in the account of the chronicles of King David.”
Frederick Mabie: David’s nonregistration of those twenty and younger (v.23) is connected with God’s promise to Abraham concerning his descendants (cf. Ge 15:5) as well as David’s ill-fated census (v.24). The Chronicler’s mention of the census commissioned by David reminds the reader of the fundamental issue that covenantal faithfulness necessitates complete trust in God to fulfill his promises (e.g., v.23). Recall that David’s census (cf. 21:1–22:1) implied a level of trust in his troops rather than complete trust in God.
Andrew Hill: The brief but important paragraph explaining why no census statistics are recorded for the tribes of Israel in the book of the annals of King David (27:23–24) is significant for two reasons.
(1) The report of Joab’s failure to complete the census is not an effort by the Chronicler to transfer blame from David to Joab. Rather, the writer assumes the audience’s knowledge of the parallel account in Samuel. The record notes Joab’s aversion to the task and God’s judgment against David and Israel for the king’s presumption in equating political strength with the size of his military forces (2 Sam. 24:3, 10; cf. 1 Chron. 21:3, 7–8). Apparently Joab recognized more clearly than David that “no king is saved by the size of his army” (Ps. 33:16; cf. 147:10).
(2) Implicit in the reference to the Abrahamic covenant to make Israel as numerous as the stars in the sky is the sovereignty of God in “growing” Israel as a nation (cf. Gen. 12:2). David has compromised God’s rule over Israel because, as Selman has observed, “any unauthorized census could limit Israel’s faith and God’s freedom.”
II. (:25-34) RELYING ON WISE CIVIL AND ROYAL OFFICIALS
A. (:25-31) Register of Stewards of Royal Properties — Civil Administrators
“Now Azmaveth the son of Adiel had charge of the king’s storehouses.
And Jonathan the son of Uzziah had charge of the storehouses in the country, in the cities, in the villages, and in the towers.
26 And Ezri the son of Chelub had charge of the agricultural workers who tilled the soil.
27 And Shimei the Ramathite had charge of the vineyards;
and Zabdi the Shiphmite had charge of the produce of the vineyards stored in the wine cellars.
28 And Baal-hanan the Gederite had charge of the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah;
and Joash had charge of the stores of oil.
29 And Shitrai the Sharonite had charge of the cattle which were grazing in Sharon;
and Shaphat the son of Adlai had charge of the cattle in the valleys.
30 And Obil the Ishmaelite had charge of the camels;
and Jehdeiah the Meronothite had charge of the donkeys.
31 And Jaziz the Hagrite had charge of the flocks.
All these were overseers of the property which belonged to King David.”
August Konkel: Royalty typically owns vast property holdings, generating significant industry. Twelve administrative officials are listed, following the pattern of the two previous enumerations of officials. The administration of royal affairs includes storehouses in Jerusalem and the outlying provinces, as well as property for various types of agriculture and livestock. Included in the list of names are an Ishmaelite (v. 30) and a Hagrite (v. 31), which is quite natural in the time of David.
Wine and oil were two staples of a Palestinian economy. . .
Camels and donkeys were not related to agriculture but to trade routes (Aharoni 1979: 15–16). The main arteries of commerce passed through Palestine, making trade an important branch of the economy. Control over this commerce was a virtual monopoly of kings and rulers.
Andrew Hill: The diversified range of agricultural and pastoral activities sponsored by the king are striking and suggest a far more extensive administrative system in place under David than is sometimes recognized. The overseers may be distinguished in four categories:
– the treasurers (27:25),
– the overseer of agriculture (27:26),
– the overseers of wine and oil (27:27–28), and
– the overseers of livestock (27:29–31).
J.A. Thompson: There is no indication of formal taxation in the modern sense. Crown expenditure was met by income from crown property. Kings in the ancient Near East acquired large areas of land, often as a result of military conquest, and drew on these resources for state expenses. These verses provide an interesting insight into the range of income-producing activities that provided the economic strength of the kingdom. . .
The management of crown property also was important—the text mentions the farmers (v. 26), the vineyards and the wineries (v. 27), the olive and sycamore-fig trees and the production of olive oil (v. 28), the cattle herds (v. 29), the camels and she-asses (v. 30), and the flocks (v. 31). The far-reaching agricultural and pastoral activities of the king are striking, but the king needed considerable support for the maintenance of his court and his administration. All this wealth enhanced the prestige of the king and bore testimony to the way God had blessed his loyal and faithful servant.
B. (:32-34) Royal Council of 7 Key Figures
“Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe;
and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons.
33 And Ahithophel was counselor to the king;
and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend.
34 And Jehoiada the son of Benaiah,
and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel;
and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.”
Iain Duguid: The concluding list names the inner circle of counselors, showing that “wisdom” in the court was a part of David’s reign as well, not only Solomon’s. . . It is possible that the Chronicler’s naming of seven people who held positions as counselors is a literary move to match the seven counselors of the Persian emperor at the time of his hearers. David’s court not only prepared for Solomon’s but was comparable to that of the later Persians.
Andrew Hill: This list of David’s personal advisers is usually contrasted with the registers delineating the king’s public counselors and the official members of his royal cabinet (cf. 18:14–17; also 2 Sam. 8:15–18; 20:23–26). Although there is some overlap in the membership of the two groups of advisers, David’s personal counselors are those “influential persons in the immediate entourage of the king.”
Frederick Mabie: David’s relationship with several of these advisors changed for the worse in the context of the attempted coups of Absalom and Adonijah (Ahithophel: 2Sa 16:20–23; Joab: 2Sa 18:9–15; 1Ki 1:7; Abiathar: 1Ki 1:7). Ahithophel’s replacement was necessitated both by his disloyalty to David and his subsequent suicide (cf. 2Sa 15:31; 16:20–23; 17:23). Conversely, David’s relationship with Hushai was no doubt deepened during the Absalom crisis (cf. 2Sa 15:32–37; 16:16–19), perhaps earning him the title “king’s friend” (v.33).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: In summing up Joab’s character, we must remember the stirring times in which he lived. That he was a most able general, there is no doubt. He was, however, very jealous of his position, and this accounts for Amasa’s murder, if not partially for that of Abner too: if he was afraid that Abner would supplant him, that fear may be held to be justified, for Amasa, who had not been too loyal to David did take Joab’s place for a time. But blood revenge for Asahel’s death was perhaps the chief cause. Yet even when judged in the light of those rough times, and in the light of eastern life, the murder of Abner was a foul, treacherous deed.
J.A. Thompson: With this list of the king’s inner circle of advisors and counselors the description of David’s administration comes to a close. The whole picture that emerges gives expression to the belief that Israel’s total religious and governmental structure was inaugurated by David and provided a pattern for the future. The subsequent centuries showed that the pattern was not as static as may appear at first sight but was open to the possibility of change and development.