New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

1Ch 11:1 Then all Israel gathered themselves to David to Hebron saying-
This was to enter the covenant which Abner had persuade them to make (see on 2 Sam. 3:21).

Behold, we are your bone and your flesh-
Eph. 5:30 alludes here and makes the amazing statement that even now, "We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones". In a very detailed study of this language, Henricus Renckens concluded: "In Israel, in order to say that someone was a blood relation, one said: "He is my flesh and my bones" (Gen. 29:14; Jud. 9:2; cp. Gen. 37:27; 2 Sam. 5:1; 19:13 ff.; Is. 58:7)". This is how close we are to the Lord Jesus- blood relatives. This language could in no way be justified if Jesus were God Himself in person.

1Ch 11:2 In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. Yahweh your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of My people Israel, and you shall be prince over My people Israel’-
The mutuality between God and David is often brought out. Yahweh was his shepherd (Ps. 23:1), and he was to shepherd Israel). All Israel recognized that David had always been Israel's saviour, and Saul generally had failed to experience the Divine potential for him to be this.

1Ch 11:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Yahweh; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of Yahweh by Samuel-
This is the covenant which Abner had engineered in 2 Sam. 3:21, aimed at providing total amnesty and assurance to all those who had once supported Saul. David had already been anointed by Samuel, but this was stating that all Israel approved of that and wanted to work with God's plan rather than against it.

1Ch 11:4 David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (the same is Jebus). The Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, were there-
Defining the Jebusites as "the inhabitants of the land" may be another mark left by the inspired editing of these records for the exiles. Such explanatory notes would have been unnecessary for the primary readership. The encouragement to them was that restoration of Israel's fortunes was indeed possible, under a new David.

1Ch 11:5 The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, You shall not come in here-
2 Sam. 5:6 gives more detail: "The king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David saying, Unless you take away the blind and the lame, you shall not come in here; thinking, David can’t come in here". A person who feels they are somehow a nice guy and worthy of invitation will be the one who tends to consider others as unworthy of invitation to the Kingdom. He or she who perceives their own desperation will eagerly invite even those they consider to be in the very pits of human society. The lame, blind etc. were not allowed to serve God under the law (Lev. 21:18), nor be offered as sacrifices (Dt. 15:21), nor come within the holy city (after 2 Sam. 5:6-8). The Lord purposefully healed multitudes of lame and blind (Mt. 15:30), and allowed them to come to Him in the temple (Mt. 21:14). His acted out message was clearly that those who were despised as unfit for God’s service were now being welcomed by Him into that service. The lame and blind were despised because they couldn’t work. They had to rely on the grace of others. Here again is a crucial teaching: those called are those who can’t do the works, but depend upon grace.

Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion. The same is the city of David-
The contrast is with how Saul's tribe of Benjamin had failed to drive out the Jebusites (Jud. 1:21). Jerusalem was originally in Benjamin, but David's capture of the city made it "the city of David" and therefore in Judah. We see here how different potential futures could have worked out. If Benjamin had taken and inherited their possession and Saul had 'worked out' as he could have done, then Jerusalem would have been in Benjamin. We see here how God's plans are flexible, reflective of His great respect of human freewill and initiative.  

1Ch 11:6 David said, Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and was made chief-
If David was indeed Jonathan's armourbearer in 1 Sam. 14, he would have seen how God had punished the pride of the Philistines when they thought likewise. For Jonathan had shinned by an almost vertical cliff, with the Philistines mocking him- and slew them. This inspired David with the possibility that someone of similar faith and bravery could climb up the sewer line into Zion and do the same. Jonathan's example, from some decades earlier, inspired faith in this later situation. And so will all Godly examples. The fact it was Joab who rose up to this example means that he must surely have had some faith as well as bravery, despite his rather unspiritual ways.

But the Hebrew of David's words in the parallel in 2 Sam. 5 reads like a kind of song, which could be translated:

Whosoever smites the Jebusite,
let him hurl down the precipice
both the lame and the blind,
hated of David’s soul.

We sense here a bitterness and lack of respect of the human person, which maybe resulted in his not being allowed to build the temple later. To murder the handicapped was unethical, but David's bitterness and desire for power led him to command it. Hence LXX "Whosoever smiteth the Jebusite, let him slay with the sword both the lame and the blind who hate David’s soul".

There are echoes of Saul's offer at the time of the fight with Goliath. Chronicles records: "Whosoever smites the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain". And thus Joab was restored to being chief of the army.

1Ch 11:7 David lived in the stronghold; therefore they called it the city of David-
Jerusalem was particularly loved by David. He thereby moved the city into Judah's possession from Benjamin's; see on :5.

1Ch 11:8 He built the city all around, from Millo and all around; and Joab repaired the rest of the city-
Literally “the Millo” or "filling up”, referring to the defences of the citadel. Perhaps it refers to a place where armour was kept or a tower. "Repaired the rest" can be translated "spared / kept alive" (cp. Ex. 1:17). Maybe the reference is to the Benjamites who lived there, as well as the remaining Jebusites (cp. Jud. 1:21).

1Ch 11:9 David grew greater and greater; for Yahweh of Armies was with him-
Yahweh's hosts of Angelic armies were with David's armies on earth. This is the same phrase as used in David's protestation of humility in Ps. 131:1: "Nor do I concern myself with great matters, or things too wonderful for me". 'To go' ["concern myself"] with 'great things' is the phrase used of David in the parallel 2 Sam. 5:10; he "went on [s.w. "concern myself"] and grew great" [s.w. "with great matters"]. So the idea of Ps. 131:1 may be that David didn't pay attention to these things so as not to become proud. And yet this humility was mixed with the bitterness noted on :6. We are all strange mixtures of spiritual strength and weakness.

1Ch 11:10 Now these are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who showed themselves strong with him in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of Yahweh concerning Israel-
Here we have an equivalent list to the "thirty" mighty men or "captains" of David in 2 Sam. 23. But there are more than 30 listed here. "Captains" is a form of the word translated "thirty" used in 2 Sam. 23:23, and is evidence that the "thirty" are not to be read as a literal number; in any case, 37 names are given for the "mighty men" in 2 Sam. 23, not 30. And there are more here in the parallel record in Chronicles.

1Ch 11:11 This is the number of the mighty men whom David had: Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, the chief of the thirty; he lifted up his spear against three hundred and killed them at one time-
As noted on :10, "the thirty" is not a literal number. Likewise "hundred" need not be taken literally as 100, rather like the term "legion", and can refer to a military group. 

1Ch 11:12 After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men-
He "defied" the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:9). "Defied" is the word used of how Goliath had defied Israel (1 Sam. 17:10,25,26,36,45). Later Philistine defiance is described with the same word (2 Sam. 21:21). David's victory over Goliath was inspirational to other Israelites, just as the Lord's triumph on the cross should be to us.

1Ch 11:13 He was with David at Pasdammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where there was a plot of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines-
It seems from 1 Chron. 11:13,14 that soon after the fight with Goliath, there was another skirmish with the Philistines at Pas-Dammim [RVmg. ‘Ephes-Dammim’- the same place where David fought Goliath]. Again, the men of Israel fled, but those who held fast were given a “great deliverance” [“salvation”, RVmg.], just as David is described as achieving. Those men who stayed and fought were doubtless inspired by David; just as we should be, time and again, by the matchless victory of our Lord on Golgotha.  See on 1 Sam. 17:1. "Plot of ground" is the same phrase used in Ruth 2:3, and again, it was full of Barley. And Ruth and Boaz were the ancestors of David.

1Ch 11:14 They stood in the midst of the plot, and defended it, and killed the Philistines; and Yahweh saved them by a great victory-
David’s men ‘delivered’ God’s land, and He delivered them (s.w.). There is a mutuality between God and man. Defended" or "delivered" is the word used for David's victories (1 Sam. 17:37; 30:8,18,22) which were clearly so inspirational to his men, as the Lord's victory should be to us. The record continually gives the glory to Yahweh for working through His willing workers. They did not achieve these victories in their own strength alone. The very phrase is used in 1 Sam. 19:5 describing how Yahweh gave David the great victory over Goliath. This was clearly inspirational to David's men in their own battles, just as the Lord's victory on the cross should not be seen simply as a historical achievement for us, but an abiding inspiration to us to in essence do likewise.

Joab apparently murdered because his field of barley was burnt down, showing the value of the field. To lose it would mean starvation. 

1Ch 11:15 Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines were encamped in the valley of Rephaim-
Not literally thirty; see on :10. The giants of the Philistines were in the valley of the giants. And they even had a garrison in David's home town (:16). They appeared insuperable. This refers to an incident during the campaign of 2 Sam. 5:17.

1Ch 11:16 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem-
The hideout of 2 Sam. 5:17. The rock or hill of Adullam was surrounded by valleys fully viewable from the top of the hill, making it a strong position. Yet despite the obvious tactical advantages of the place, David's Psalms repeatedly describe Yahweh as his rock, stronghold and fortress.

1Ch 11:17 David was thirsty and said, Oh that one would give me water to drink of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!-
This has absolute psychological credibility. A leader of partisans sitting with his men in a cave, bitterly reflecting that the enemy have placed a garrison in his home village... would indeed make such a passing, under his breath comment like this.

1Ch 11:18 The three broke through the army of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David. David would not drink of it, but poured it out to Yahweh-
We see here the intense personal loyalty to David which is a theme throughout the record. It looks forward to that which there is to be between the Lord Jesus and we who follow Him in these outlaw days of our generation.

1Ch 11:19 and said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For they risked their lives to bring it. Therefore he would not drink it. The three mighty men did these things-
Despite the intense personal loyalty which David inspired, he is to be commended for not allowing this to turn into a mere personality cult. He poured out that water to Yahweh, feeling unworthy to drink it. We note that water represented blood. This is a warning against being too literalistic in requirements concerning the elements of the breaking of bread service. David perceived the spirit of the law about drink offerings, and "poured [water] out to Yahweh" (:18) in a cave, not being a Levitical priest, and far from the sanctuary.

1Ch 11:20 Abishai, the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three; for he lifted up his spear against three hundred and killed them, and had a name among the three-
"Hundred", like "legion", need not be read literally; it could refer to a group or military subdivision. Again the idea of singularly attaining victory against a multitude is a replication in spirit of David's victory over Goliath.

1Ch 11:21 Of the three, he was more honourable than the two, and was made their captain: however he didn’t attain to the three-
This apparently means that he was demoted. This happened several times, as David considered that military valour was not the prime qualification for the post of army general, but rather perceiving grace and not shedding the blood of war in peace. Because Joab clearly failed to understand grace, David replaced him with Amasa- whom Joab later murdered out of jealousy.

1Ch 11:22 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, had done mighty deeds-
Benaiah was one of David's senior military commanders (2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Chron. 27:5), and the Hebrew of 2 Sam. 23:20 can be translated "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest, as head", i.e. of a group of David's mighty men. The Jehoiada in view as his father would therefore be Jehoiada the priest. The idea is that priests were also military leaders within David's army, indeed it seems there were a large group of them as ordinary soldiers in 1 Chron. 12:27. This shows how priesthood was not understood as abstract spirituality, but that spirituality was articulated in practice. And this, along with the hints in the names of the mighty men that some were Levites, is significant in that the Levites were not numbered as they were exempt from military service (Num. 1:47). But these chose to do it. See on 2 Sam. 24:5.

He killed two lion-like men of Moab. He went down also and killed a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow-
Benaiah killed a lion in order to prepare him for killing two lionlike men. For other examples of repetition in Biblical narratives see 2 Kings 7:9,11,16; 1 Chron. 7:22 [cp. Jacob being comforted by his sons over the loss of Joseph]; Benaiah killed a lion in order to prepare him for killing two lionlike men (1 Chron. 11:22); Peter, James and John were asleep at the transfiguration, but became “fully awake” and therefore beheld the Lord’s glory (Lk. 9:32)- they feel asleep in Gethsemane, and didn’t learn from the transfiguration experience.

2 Sam. 23:20 has: "He killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab: he went down also and killed a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow". Perhaps this incident occurred at this time of the campaign in 2 Sam. 8:2. Although that campaign was not David and his men at their spiritual best; see note there. We see him following the path of David, whose victory over a literal lion gave him courage to fight Goliath. So Benaiah was inspired by David personally to kill a lion, and then kill two lion like men (AV) of Moab. The lion would have been driven by the cold from the forests, and was preyed upon people. Benaiah therefore risked his life for the sake of his people, and slew the lion. See on :46. 

1Ch 11:23 He killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear-
Again this is a repeat of the spirit of David's victory over Goliath, coming to Goliath with a staff and sling, and slaying him with his own weaponry. The point is repeatedly made that like the Lord's victory on the cross, David's over Goliath was programmatic for the inspiration of his followers to be like him.

1Ch 11:24 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did these things, and had a name among the three mighty men-
As noted on :21, there seems to be the idea that some of these men were demoted. Thus Benaiah was both amongst the three, but didn't attain / remain amongst them (:25). "The three" is likely not to be read too literally, but may be a technical term for a group office, like "the thirty"; see on :10,11.

1Ch 11:25 Behold, he was more honourable than the thirty, but he didn’t attain to the three; and David set him over his guard-
The numbers "three" and "thirty" are not necessarily to be taken literally. A form of the word for "thirty" is used of the "captains", see on :10,11, and of Pharaoh's captains (Ex. 14:7; 15:4); in any case, in 2 Sam. 23, 37 names are given for the "mighty men", not 30.

Heb. 'David appointed him to his audience', he was a member of David's inner circle of advisers on the basis of his faith shown in personal life, and not because of any possession of only theoretical wisdom.

1Ch 11:26 Also the mighty men of the armies: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem-
Elhanan had also replicated David's victory over Goliath; see on 2 Sam. 21:19.

1Ch 11:27 Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite-
This Shammoth was "Shammuth the Izrahite" of 1 Chron. 27:8. "Izrahite" there could be "the Zarhite" a man descended from Zerah the son of Judah. But he was from Harod, near mount Gilboa in the north. Perhaps he was given this name because he had done something valiant for Saul in the last fateful battle he fought in that area against the Philistines.

1Ch 11:28 Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite-
We get the impression that many of these men were living outside the territory of their native tribes. That could have been for various reasons, but perhaps we are to conclude that the men who supported David were [as with us and our loyalty to Jesus] those who had had non standard personal lives which left them isolated from their home areas. Anathoth was a priestly town in Benjamin. Perhaps he too was a priest; see on 2 Sam. 23:20.

1Ch 11:29 Sibbecai the Hushathite-
Mebunnai of 2 Sam. 23:27. He was a descendant of Zerah of Judah (see also on :27) (1 Chron. 4:4; 27:11).

Ilai the Ahohite-
Zalmon the Ahohite of 2 Sam. 23:28. There is only one Hebrew letter different. This would be an example of slight errors in copying which are found in the Hebrew text, although overall it is Divinely inspired.

1Ch 11:30 Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite-
This was near Jerusalem and the Levitical singers lived there after the exile (Ezra 2:22; Neh. 11:28); so he too may have been a Levite living in Judah. See on :22.

1Ch 11:31 Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin-
He was from Saul's birthplace, and so would have rejected Saul for David, although David was not from his tribe. He did what was counter instinctive and countercultural, as all David's followers did. And as do the followers of his greater Son. 

Benaiah the Pirathonite-
Pirathon was in Ephraim (Jud. 12:15), and there was always antipathy between Judah and Ephraim. So here again was a man who stepped out from his surrounding cultural expectations in loyalty to David.

1Ch 11:32 Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite-
Beth Arabah was a small settlement right out in the desert (Josh. 15:61; 18:22), therefore also called Arabah (Josh. 18:18). From such a poor and obscure place there arose a man who was attracted to David's cause (2 Sam. 23:31), just as the Lord calls all manner of unusual people to Himself today.

1Ch 11:33 Azmaveth the Baharumite-
Coming from Bahurim, he would have been aware of David's shameful behaviour there (see on 2 Sam. 3:16) and yet he still followed David. He would have seen David's actions to Michael and Paltiel as out of character with David generally, and didn't allow his loyalty to be fazed by them.

Eliahba the Shaalbonite-
Eliahba was from Shaalabbin in Dan in the far north, very far from David's origins (2 Sam. 23:32; Josh. 19:42). But somehow he encountered David, and loyally followed him. We marvel at the extent of those who followed David; they were from all over Israel. In those days of limited communication, we wonder how he came to know David well enough to give his life to his cause. But it is the same marvel as we reflect how people are called to the Lord Jesus today.

1Ch 11:34 the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shagee the Hararite-
As explained on :35, "Jonathan the son of Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite".

1Ch 11:35 Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur-
Compare with 2 Sam. 23:33 "Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Ararite". To reconcile this with the record in Chronicles, we may need to read Shammah as one of the sons of Jonathan of the preceding verse. We could then read this verse along with the last part of 2 Sam. 23:32 as "Jonathan the son of Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite".

1Ch 11:36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite-
"The Maacathite" (2 Sam. 23:34). Beth-Maachah was a town in Naphtali (2 Sam. 20:14), confirming the impression that David's closest supporters were not just local family friends, but men providentially drawn to him from all over Israel.

1Ch 11:37 Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai-
2 Sam. 23:35: "Hezro the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite".
Arab is in Judah whereas Carmel is in northern Israel. The juxtaposition of the two confirms the impression that David's supporters were from all over Israel. The way they were all united together around this man from Bethlehem is amazing, and points forward to the gathering of the disparate followers of the Lord Jesus around Him today."

1Ch 11:38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri-
2 Sam. 23:36 has "Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah". Chronicles has "Joel the brother of Nathan" but Igal and Joel in Hebrew are very similar. Igal would have been a Syrian from Zobah, perhaps one of the soldiers who fought against David (2 Sam. 10:6) and then converted to him. The Gittites who followed David were likewise Philistines from Gath who were once his enemies but converted to his God, and devoted themselves zealously to Him. This is an incredible witness to the power of Yahweh to convert, because such willing defections of individuals to the people and God of their enemies, and being zealously committed to Him, was unheard of in their society.

1Ch 11:39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armour-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah-
As noted on :38, the one time enemies of David such as Zelek the Ammonite became his most committed followers. Or perhaps his conversion was a result of the one time friendship between David and Ammon, and the support for David by Shobi (2 Sam. 17:27). Likewise Naharai was from Beeroth, which although counted to Benjamin (2 Sam. 4:2) was inhabited by Gentile Gibeonites, whom Saul had persecuted.

1Ch 11:40 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite-
The faithful Ithrites (2 Sam. 23:38) were from Kirjath Jearim (1 Chron. 2:53), perhaps converted to a more spiritual outlook by the long presence of the ark amongst them (1 Sam. 7:2).

1Ch 11:41 Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai-
2 Sam. 23:34 adds "Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite".
Eliam was the father of Bathsheba, making Ahithophel her grandfather. We can more readily understand why he turned against David after his shameful behaviour with his granddaughter.

1Ch 11:42 Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a chief of the Reubenites, and thirty with him-
This confirms the suggestion on :10,11 that "thirty" is not to be read as a literal number, but as a group of captains or some other military division.

1Ch 11:43 Hanan the son of Maacah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite-
The names in :43-47 don't occur in the list of mighty men of 2 Sam. 23. I suggest that many of them were Gentiles who converted to the cause of David and remained faithful to him; see on :38,39.

1Ch 11:44 Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite-
This is not the Aroer on the river Arnon, but some smaller settlement in southern Israel, the one listed in 1 Sam. 30:28 as having supported David during his wilderness years. “Shama and Jehiel the sons of Hothan the Aroerite” were amongst David’s mighty men; we conclude that David hid in the area whilst on the run from Saul, and these two men went off with him. It has been observed that Ashterathite and Aroerite are Gentile nouns, Aroer being far east of Jordan (Josh. 13:16,25), as if here we have more examples of Gentiles converting to David's cause and remaining faithful, as suggested on :38,39.

1Ch 11:45 Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother, the Tizite-
The location of Tiza or Tits is unknown, but I suggested on :43 that these were Gentiles who converted to the cause of David and remained faithful to him; see on :38,39.

1Ch 11:46 Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai, and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite-
This Moabite would have been another case of former enemies converting to David's cause (see on :38,39), impressed by the power of Yahweh. We note that one of David's mighty men had killed Moabites (:22), so we have here in Ithmah a man who totally reoriented himself from his natural background towards that of God's people. As all must do who are true converts to the Israel of God and the hope of Israel.

1Ch 11:47 Eliel, and Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite
"Metsobajah", 'found of Yah', might confirm the above suggestions that this final group of names are of Gentiles who converted to the cause of David and remained faithful to him; see on :38,39.