I Chronicles 12

The Word Made Fresh

1When David was in Ziklag and could not move freely about because of Saul, son of Kish, there were a number of men who were outstanding soldiers who joined him in making forays against his enemies. 2They included expert archers – men who could shoot arrows and sling stones right-handed and left-handed. And they were Benjaminites, kinsmen of Saul. 3They were led by Ahiezer and Joash, who were sons of Shemaah of Gibeah. There were also Jeziel and Pelet, the sons of Azmaveth; Baracah and Jehu of Anathoth; 4Ishmaiah of Gibeon, one of the leaders of the Thirty; Jeremiah; Jahaziel; Johanan; Jozabad of Gederah; 5Eluzai; Jerimoth; Bealiah; Shemariah; Shephatiah the Haruphite; 6Elkanah; Isshiah; Azarel; Joezer and Jashobeam of Korah; 7and Joelah and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham of Gedor.

8There were also men from the tribe of Gad who joined David at his hideout in the wilderness. They were strong and experienced soldiers, experts with shield and spear, with faces like lions, and as quick as mountain gazelles. 9They were: Ezer, their leader; next was Obadiah; then Eliab, 10Mishmannah, Jeremiah, 11Attai, Eliel, 12Johanan, Elzabad, 13Jeremiah, and Machbannai – eleven in all. 14They became officers in the army. The least of them was as valuable as a hundred men, and the best of them as valuable as a thousand. 15They were the ones who crossed the Jordan in the season when it was overflowing its banks and chased out all their enemies in the valleys east and west of the river.

16Other men from the tribes of Benjamin and Judah came to join David at his hideout. 17David came out to meet them and said, “If you have come as friends and want to help me, then my heart is joined to yours. But if you have come to give me away to my enemies, even though I have done nothing wrong, then may the God of our ancestors take note and judge you.”

18Amasai, who became one of the leaders of the Thirty, said, “We belong to you, David. We are with you, son of Jesse. Peace to you and all who join you. We know that your God is the one who helps you.” David received them then and made them officers in charge of some of his men.

19There were also some from the tribe of Manasseh who deserted to David when he came against Saul with the Philistines. David did not assist the Philistines, though, because the Philistine leaders in counsel sent him away, afraid he would desert to Saul at the cost of their lives. 20So, he was on his way back to Ziklag when the Manassites came to him. They were Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai. They were among the leaders of the tribe of Manasseh. 21They helped David against raiding bands of enemies. They were good soldiers and became leaders in David’s army.

22Day by day men kept showing up to join David until he had assembled a large army.

23After Saul’s death these are the numbers of the armed troops who came to David in Hebron to make him king, as the word of the LORD had declared: 24there were six thousand eight hundred armed soldiers from Judah; 25from Simeon, seven thousand eight hundred; 26four thousand six hundred Levites came; 27Jehoiada, descendant of Aaron, brought three thousand seven hundred priests; 28a young soldier named Zadok brought twenty-two officers from his own family; 29from the tribe of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, there were three thousand (most of them had remained faithful to Saul and his family); 30from Ephraim, twenty thousand eight hundred, all good soldiers and leaders in their families; 31from the half-tribe of Manasseh there were eighteen thousand, sent specifically to make David king; 32from Issachar, people who knew the signs of the times and what Israel needed to do, there were two hundred family heads and their families under their command; 33from Zebulun, fifty thousand experienced soldiers with their weapons, determined to help David; 34from Naphtali, a thousand officers leading thirty-seven thousand soldiers armed with shields and spears; 35from Dan, twenty-eight thousand six hundred armed for battle; 36from Asher, forty thousand experienced soldiers armed for battle; 37from the tribes beyond the Jordan – Reuben, Gad and the other half-tribe of Manasseh – one hundred twenty thousand fully armed men.

38All of them, organized for battle, came to Hebron with the purpose of making David king over all Israel, and all the Israelites who weren’t there supported their intention of making David their king. 39Their kindred had provided food and drink for them and they were with David for three days. 40Their neighbors from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali came with donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen loaded with food, more than enough meal, fig cakes, raisin clusters, wine, oil, beef, and mutton, and there was a great celebration in Israel.


1-7: We go back to the days when David was hiding from King Saul, and here is a list of the Benjaminites (Saul’s tribes) who defected to David while he was at Ziklag. This list is peculiar to I Chronicles.

8-15: A list is also given of the warriors who joined him from the tribe of Gad.

16-18: A group of Benjaminites and Judahites arrived at Ziklag together. David challenged them, and Amasai swears their allegiance to him. This group apparently later becomes renowned as the Thirty, although there appears to have been more than one group with that title.

19-22: Back when David pretended to be an ally of the Philistines some warriors from the tribe of Manasseh deserted to him. The story is told in I Samuel 27 that David allied himself with the Philistine King Achish of Gath. Achish gave David the town of Ziklag as a gift. David joined with Achish to attack Judah, but the Philistine generals would hear nothing of it, so David went back to Ziklag. When he arrived, he found that the Amalekites had raided the town. This is the reference to a “raiding band of enemies” in verse 21. The buildup of David’s following as described here is much more substantial than what we might have gathered from the previous accounts, but king Saul’s power was slipping long before he was killed in battle.

23-37: Here is an accounting of all those who came to Hebron to make David king (presumably after Saul’s son Ishbaal dies). All thirteen tribes are represented (the twelve tribes plus the Levites), numbering 340,822 warriors altogether, the vast majority of them from the northern tribes.

38-40: They have a big party in Hebron, supplied by caravans from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali – fig cakes, raisin clusters, wine, oil, oxen, and sheep. This is a much better reception for David than the one described in 2 Samuel 5:1-5.


I Chronicles elevates David to a height not found in other books in the Bible. Saul is almost ignored completely, and Saul’s son Ishbaal, who ruled from Jerusalem for seven years, is not mentioned at all! History is always in the hands of historians, of course. Remember that these accounts were written centuries later by those returning from exile in Babylon, and they needed to be connected to their former history, particularly to the more successful eras under the most God-fearing kings.