Those who came with Ezra (Ezra 8:1-8:14)

“These are the family heads. This is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of King Artaxerxes. There was the descendent of Phinehas, Gershom. There was the descendent of Ithamar, Daniel. There was the descendent of David, Hattush. There were the descendents of Shecaniah. There were the descendents of Parosh, Zechariah with one hundred fifty registered men. There were the descendents of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah with two hundred men. There were the descendents of Zattu, Shecaniah son of Jahaziel with three hundred men. There were the descendents of Adin, Ebed son of Jonathan with fifty men. There were the descendents of Elam, Jeshaiah son of Athaliah with seventy men. There were the descendents of Shephatiah, Zebadiah son of Michael with eighty men. There were the descendents of Joab, Obadiah son of Jehiel with two hundred eighteen men. There were the descendents of Bani, Shelomith son of Josiphiah with one hundred sixty men. There were the descendents of Bebai, Zechariah son of Bebai with twenty-eight men. There were the descendents of Azgad, Johanan son of Hakkatan with one hundred ten men. There were the descendents of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah with sixty men. There were the descendents of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur with seventy men.”

Once again, we have the use of the singular personal pronoun “with me.” This no longer is a story about someone else but a personal eye witness account. It is the story of Ezra himself, or someone pretending to be him. These are the people who were with him, about 1,500 men. If you count women and children then this would be about 5,000, about a 10% the size of the group that set out under King Cyrus in 537 BCE, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. A number of these families seem to have only 1 person since there is no number given unlike the others with specific numbers. Thus the descendents of Phinehas, Ithamar, David, and Shecaniah have either one or no one listed. Phinehas and Ithamar were the son and grandson of Aaron. This Shecaniah is virtually unknown since a lot of biblical people had that name. Most of these people were the descendents of those who had come to Jerusalem in chapter 2 of this book 80 years earlier. Thus the descendents of Parosh only had 150 men instead of 2,172 men 80 years earlier. The descendents of Pahath-moab are only 200 instead of 2,800. The descendents of Zattu were 300 instead of 945. The descendents of Adin were 50 instead of 445. The descendents of Elam were 70 instead of 1,294. The descendents of Shephatiah were 80 instead of 372. The descendents of Bani were 160 instead of 642. The descendents of Bebai were 28 instead of 623. The descendents of Azgad were 110 instead of 1,222. The descendents of Adonikam were 60 instead of 666. The descendents of Bigvai were 70 instead of 2,256. There was no mention of the descendents of Arah, Zaccai, Ater, Bezai, Hashum, or Jorah that were in chapter 2. The only new group here was Joab with 218 men.

The counselors of King David (1 Chr 27:32-27:34)

“Jonathan, King David’s uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hachmoni attended the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the king’s counselor. Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. After Ahithophel came Jehoiada son of Benaiah, and Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.”

Now we see the real confidants of King David, although his uncle, Jonathan is only mentioned here. This may actually be his nephew. Notice that he was a scribe, which meant that he could write, which would have been rare. King David had a special relationship with Jonathan, the son of King Saul, but this is a different Jonathan. There were other people named Jehiel, but this is the only mention of this Jehiel son of Hachmoni. Notice that the change in counselors was mostly based on 2 Samuel, chapters 15 and 16, when Ahithophel turned on King David and favored his son, Absalom. King David relied more heavily on Hushai, his friend, and Jehoiada and Abiathar, the high priests. Joab, the nephew of King David, played a major role as the commander of the king’s army.

The problem of the census (1 Chr 27:23-27:24)

“David did not count those below the age of twenty years old. Yahweh had promised to make Israel as numerous as the stars of heaven. Joab son of Zeruiah began to count them, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this. The number was not entered into the account of King David.”

Now we are back to the problems of the census of David, as in chapter 21 of this book. Apparently the census of David in 2 Samuel, chapter 24 was more successful. David did not try to count the people under 20 years old, because Israel would be like the uncounted stars of the heaven. Joab, King David’s nephew, was in charge of this census but never finished it. We know that he did not count some people because he did not like the idea of a census. Thus we do not know the number of people because it was not entered into the account about King David. However, in chapter 21 of this book, there were some real numbers. The results were different from 2 Samuel, where Joab reported to King David that there were 1,300,000 men, not counting the women and children. In this book in chapter 21, the number was 1,100,000 men in Israel and 470,000 in Judah, totaling 1,770,000, nearly a half million more. Besides, in 1 Chronicles, chapter 21, Joab did not count Benjaminites or Levites. Both these numbers of people are extremely large, meaning that over 2 and a half million people might have been in Israel and Judah at this time. Archeologists are very skeptical of these numbers. Notice that this assumes the division of the kingdom into north and south, Israel and Judah, which did not take place until after the death of Solomon.

The census (1 Chr 21:1-21:6)

“Satan stood up against Israel. He incited King David to count the people of Israel. So King David said to Joab and the commanders of the army. ‘Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan. Bring me a report, so that I may know their number.’ But Joab said. ‘May Yahweh increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt upon Israel?’ But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel. He came back to Jerusalem. Joab gave the total count of the people to King David. In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword. In Judah there were four hundred seventy thousand who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.”

This time, the biblical chronicler loosely follows 2 Samuel, chapter 24. However, as opposed to 2 Samuel, Satan, instead of an angry Yahweh, incited King David to take this census. Satan has become a personification of evil. King David then wanted a head count of all the people in Israel and Judah so that he told Joab and his army commanders to do this. Joab did not want to do it. He complained about it. In the end King David prevailed. Instead of explaining in detail about how it took 9 months and 20 days and where Joab had to go, as in 2 Samuel, here the biblical writer just explained that Joab went throughout all Israel and then reported back to Jerusalem. However, the results are different. In 2 Samuel, Joab reported to King David that there 800,000 men in Israel, while there were 500,000 in Judah, totaling 1,300,000 men, not counting the women and children. Here the number is 1,100,000 men in Israel and 470,000 in Judah, totaling 1,770,000, nearly a half million more. Besides, here Joab does not count the people of Benjamin or the Levites for reasons that are not clear. Both these numbers of people are extremely large, meaning that over 2 and a half million people might have been in Israel and Judah at this time. Archeologists are very skeptical of these numbers. Notice that this assumes the division of the kingdom into north and south, Israel and Judah, which did not take place until after the death of Solomon.

King David returns to Jerusalem (1 Chr 20:1-20:3)

“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, Joab led out the army. He ravaged the country of the Ammonites. He came and besieged Rabbah. But King David remained at Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and overthrew it. King David took the crown of Milcom from the head of the king. He found that it weighed a talent of gold. In it was a precious stone. It was placed on King David’s head. He brought out the booty of the city, a very great amount. He brought out the people who were in it. He set them to work with saws, iron picks, and axes. This is what King David did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then King David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.”

Here this biblical chronicler put together 2 chapters from 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.   King David stayed in Jerusalem in the spring time when most kings went out to do battle. Instead Joab went to conquer the Ammonites, which he achieved. Remember that in the last chapter they had all fled before the battle. This time Joab took Rabbah, the major city. However, he was always careful to be subservient to his uncle King David. That whole exchange of messages between Joab and King David in 2 Samuel, chapter 12, is not here. Here King David just shows up at Rabbah. Milcom was the Ammonite god so that this king of the Ammonites had worn the Milcom crown. King David took the crown with its precious stone and put it on his head. Generally speaking, taking the stuff of other gods was forbidden. Nevertheless, David made all the Ammonites work in the various cities, but it is not clear what they were building. Here there was no mention of brickworks as in 2 Samuel. Then they all returned to Jerusalem as the saga of the Ammonites came to an end.

The battle against the Ammonites (1 Chr 19:10-19:15)

“When Joab saw that the line of battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the picked men of Israel, and arrayed them against the Arameans. The rest of his troops he put in the charge of his brother Abishai. They were arrayed against the Ammonites. He said. ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me. But if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be strong. Let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God. May Yahweh do what seems good to him.’ So Joab and the troops who were with him advanced forward toward the Arameans for battle. The Arameans fled before him. When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans had fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, Joab’s brother. Abishai and Joab entered the city. Then Joab came back to Jerusalem.”

Once again, this biblical chronicler followed almost word for word 2 Samuel, chapter 10. When Joab saw the setup he broke his troops into 2 sections with his brother Abishai in charge of one section and he the other. One would fight the Ammonites and the other would fight the Arameans. Yahweh would do what was good for him. As it turned out, both groups fled, so that Joab returned to Jerusalem.

King David’s officers (1 Chr 18:14-18:17)

“King David reigned over all Israel. He administered justice and equity to all his people. Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the recorder. Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests. Seraiah was the secretary. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites. King David’s sons were the chief officials in the service of the king.”

Once again, this biblical chronicler is following 2 Samuel, chapter 8. King David was the king who was just and fair to all the people of Israel. Joab, King David’s nephew and son of his sister Zeruiah, was in charge of the army. This is the same guy who killed Abner that King David was so upset about. King David’s sons were not the priests as in 2 Samuel, but the chief officials in the service of the king, which makes more sense. This Jehoshaphat, the recorder or annalist of court events, is not the same as the later king (870-848 BCE), but they share the same name. There are a few biblical people with the same name of Zadok, but this one was the high priest during the time of King David.   Abiathar was the friendly Levite that accompanied King David in his travels after the disaster at Nob from 1 Samuel, chapter 22. He too was a high priest. However, this text says that Ahimelech his son was the high priest. Either this is a mistake by this biblical author or he may have been the son of Abiathar and the grandson of Ahimelech. There were at least 11 biblical figures with the name Seraiah. This Seraiah was the recording secretary for King David. Benaiah, whose father had been a high priest, was in charge of the Cherethites and the Pelethites, who were like body guards, executioners or messengers. These Cherethites and Pelethites may have been captured Philistines.