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1 Chronicles 12 Study Notes

12:1 This chapter covers a long time span, encompassing the years from David’s early days hiding from Saul in the desert to his coronation in Hebron. People were coming to him on their own, knowing that he would supersede the house of Saul. At the beginning of this chapter, Saul was still king. No one would have thought about Esh-baal’s attempt to succeed his father because Jonathan was the obvious heir to the throne.


Hebrew pronunciation [KHAH yeel]
CSB translation strength, wealth, army
Uses in 1 Chronicles 28
Uses in the OT 246
Focus passage 1 Chronicles 12:8,21,25,28,30

The basic meaning of chayil is strength (Ec 10:10), with army (2Ch 26:11) and wealth (Pr 13:22) being two kinds of strength. When distinguished from gibbor (“strong”), chayil stresses valor (1Sm 14:52). When chayil modifies gibbor, the phrase suggests best soldiers (2Kg 24:14), wealthy men (2Kg 15:20), or brave warriors (1Ch 12:21). Chayil also modifies ben (“son”) and ’iysh (“man”) with similar meanings. “To do chayil” denotes being capable, triumphant, or powerful (Nm 24:18; Ru 4:11; Pr 31:29), and fighting bravely (1Sm 14:48) or gaining wealth (Dt 8:18). Chayil indicates entourage (2Ch 9:1), energy (Pr 31:3), or profits (Jb 20:18). It means influential (1Sm 9:1), able-bodied (Jdg 3:29), or excellent (1Kg 1:42). It describes those of noble character (Ru 3:11). Chayil can connote fearless (Is 5:22) or best (2Sm 11:16). Adverbially it signifies valiantly (Ps 108:13). God gives chayil (Ps 18:32).

12:2-7 These ambidextrous archers and experts with the sling were some of Saul’s own relatives from Benjamin who were already distancing themselves from him. David not only accumulated a sizeable number of supporters, but many of them were excellent warriors.

12:8-15 A group of hardened desert warriors from the tribe of Gad crossed the Jordan River to join David. They had the physical attributes and equipment necessary for being effective soldiers, and they were willing to endure hardship to join the effort.

12:16-18 David was not ready to trust all of these people, particularly those from the tribe of Benjamin. When he warned them of the dangers of betrayal, Amasai, the leader, confirmed his commitment under the inspiration of God. The Chronicler wants us to recognize divine guidance in David’s cause.

12:19-22 Men from as far away as Manasseh signed up to support David. The Philistines balked at having David and his men fighting among them against Israel, fearing that David would suddenly turn on them and side with Saul.

12:23-37 Shifting now to the time of David’s coronation at Hebron, an army totaling more than 300,000 gathered to follow David’s command.

12:26-28 Not only did the Levites allow themselves to be conscripted, but even Zadok—soon to assume duty as high priest—let himself be counted.

12:29-30 The Benjaminites finally pledged their support to David. This was a great change of heart for them. Even though there had been some supporters from Benjamin early on (v. 16), at this point the entire tribe of Benjamin became loyal to David, though the number of their soldiers at 3,000 was still the smallest of the tribes.

12:32 The Chronicler specifically mentions the tribe of Issachar. He declares that they understood the times, showing their conviction that David should be made king over all Israel. A total of 200 chiefs would have been in charge of a large number of soldiers.

12:37 The enrollment of tribes from the eastern side of the Jordan River—Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh—underscores the unity of this army.

12:38-40 These warriors were official representatives of their tribes. The times were not yet prosperous, so David could not feed all of them. They brought their own food, provided by relatives; others sent caravans of provisions from as far away as the most northern tribes.

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