The Word Made Fresh
1Here is a list of the Israelites who were family heads and served as commanders of army battalions and platoons, along with their officers who served the king in all the military matters that arose month by month; each division numbering twenty-four thousand men.
2Jashobeam son of Zabdiel led the first division of twenty-four thousand in the first month. 3He was a descendant of Perez and was in charge of all the commanders of the army for the first month.
4Dodai the Ahohite led the second division, with Mikloth as his chief officer.
5The third commander, who was in charge of the twenty-four thousand troops on duty in the third month, was Benaiah, son of the priest Jehoida. 6He was a renowned warrior who commanded the Thirty. He put his son Ammizabad in charge of his division.
7Asahel, Joab’s brother, was the commander in charge of twenty-four thousand troops in the fourth month. His son Zebadiah was second in command.
8Shamruth the Izrahite was in charge of the twenty-four thousand troops who served in the fifth month.
9Ira, son of Ikkesh the Taroite, was placed in charge of the twenty-four thousand who served in the sixth month.
10Helez the Pelonite of the tribe of Ephraim was placed in charge of the troops in the seventh month.
11Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the family of the Zerahites, was in charge of the division that served in the eighth month.
12The commander of the twenty-four thousand who served in the ninth month was Abiezer of Anathoth, a Benjaminite.
13Maharai of Netophah, a Zerahite, was commander in the tenth month.
14Benaiah son of Pirathon, an Ephraimite, was commander of the twenty-four thousand who served in the eleventh month.
15The twelfth commander, in the twelfth month, was Heldai the Netophathite, from Othniel.
16Other officers were assigned to each of the tribes of Israel. Eliezer son of Zichri was over Reuben. Shephatiah son of Maacah was over Simeon. 17Hashabiah son of Kemuel was over Levi. Zadok was over the priests, the descendants of Aaron. 18David’s brother Elihu was assigned to Judah. Omri son of Michael was assigned to Issachar. 19Ishmaiah son of Obadiah was over Zebulun. Jerimoth son of Azriel was assigned to Naphtali. 20The Ephraimites were led by Hoshea son of Azaziah. 21Iddo son of Zechariah was over the half-tribe of Manasseh that settled in Gilead. Benjamin’s leader was Jaasiel son of Abner. 22Azarel son of Jeroham was put in charge of Dan. These were the tribal commanders.
23For military duty David did not include those under twenty years of age because the LORD had declared that Israel would become as numerous as the stars in the sky. 24Joab son of Zeruiah was charged with counting them but did not count them all. Even so, God’s anger fell upon Israel because of this, and the number was never entered in the logs in the Annals of King David.
25Azmaveth son of Adiel was placed over the king’s treasuries. The other treasuries around the country and in the cities and villages and towers was put under the administration of Jonathan, son of Uzziah. 26Ezri son of Chelub was put in charge of the field hands, 27and Shimei the Ramathite was over the vineyards. When the vineyards were harvested, Zabdi the Shiphmite was in charge of the wine cellars. 28Baal-hanan the Gederite was placed in charge of the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephalah. Joash was responsible for the stores of oil. 29Shitrai the Sharonite was put in charge of the herds in Sharon, and Shaphat son of Adlai was over the herds in the valleys. 30Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of the camels. Jehdeiah the Meronothite was over the donkeys. Jaziz the Hagrite was over the flocks. 31All these were the keepers in charge of king David’s assets.
32David’s uncle Jonathan was a royal counselor, for he was an educated man and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons. 23Ahithophel was the king’s personal counselor and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. 34Ahithophel’s assistants were Jehoiada son of Benaiah and Abiathar. Joab was the overall commander of the king’s army.
1: The chronicler now turns to the organization of David’s military establishment. It is noteworthy that the religious establishment is treated first, then the military, whereas in the record of David’s 40 year reign the military undoubtedly came first. There are 12 divisions, each with 24,000 troops – a total of 288,000 – but this is more in the form of a militia than a standing army, for each division is to be on duty but for one month at a time.
2-15: The twelve divisions are listed, each with its commander. Benaiah and Asahel, the third and fourth respectively, are the most prominent names.
16-24: Leaders are named for 10 of the twelve tribes: Asher and Gad are not mentioned, nor is any reason given for their omission. Manasseh is divided between the ones east of the Jordan and those who are west of the Jordan. The tribe of Levi is divided between Levi and Aaron – the Aaronites are the priests, and the Levites are those who have other duties surrounding the religious establishment. Verse 23 exonerates David for his part in taking the census. Since God promised Abraham that his descendants would be innumerable, taking a census was considered a sin. David leaves those under 20 years old uncounted as an acknowledgment of this restriction. That caveat was not mentioned in Chapter 21. There, Joab refuses to count Benjamin and Levi. Here he is said to have begun to count even those under 20 when the plague began, so that number was not entered in the final count.
25-31: Other officials are named, civil officers in charge of royal properties of various kinds – fields, vineyards, wine presses, flocks and herds, treasuries, etc.
32-34: A few more officials are added – counselors, scribe, attendant, “king’s friend,” and Joab, commander of the standing army. Hushai, the “king’s friend,” had helped David thwart Absalom’s attempted coup (see 2 Samuel 17). Why Hushai is not simply referred to as a counselor is a puzzle; perhaps it is because he is a foreigner.
The information in this chapter lets us know that late in his reign David had conquered the enemies of Israel, and the armed forces are now peacekeepers, made up of soldiers who serve only a month each year.
David was obviously a very gifted leader. Organization and administration were definitely his strengths. He was willing to give others various levels of authority depending on the needs of the kingdom. Every leader must assess the talents and skills of those serving under them, and once appointed the leader must attend their performance and make corrections as needed. David knew his people and their abilities. His example is a good primer for anyone in a leadership role.