Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
1 Chronicles 12:1
This chapter is composed wholly of matter that is new to us, no corresponding accounts occurring in Samuel. It comprises four lists:
(1) One of men, chiefly Benjamites, who joined David at Ziklag Ch1 12:1-7;
(2) A second of Gadites who united themselves to him when he was in a stronghold near the desert Ch1 12:8-15;
(3) A third of Manassites who came to him when he was dismissed by the Philistines upon suspicion Ch1 12:19-22; and
(4) A fourth of the numbers from the different tribes who attended and made him king at Hebron 1 Chr. 12:23-40.
1 Chronicles 12:2
The skill of the Benjamites as archers is noted in Ch1 8:40, and Ch2 14:8. Their proficiency in using the left hand appears in the narrative of Judges (Jdg 3:15, and marginal reference) where their special excellency as slingers is also noticed.
Even of Saul's brethren - Compare Ch1 12:29. Even of Saul's own tribe there were some who separated themselves from his cause, and threw in their lot with David.
1 Chronicles 12:8
Into the hold to the wilderness - Rather, "into the hold toward the wilderness." Some understand by this Ziklag, some En-gedi Sa1 24:1-2; but it seems most probable that here and in Ch1 12:16 the stronghold of Adullam is intended Ch1 11:15-16.
1 Chronicles 12:14
The marginal rendering is preferable. (Compare Lev 26:8).
1 Chronicles 12:15
On the danger of the exploit, see the marginal reference note.
This passage Ch1 12:8-15 seems to be taken verbatim from an ancient source, the poetical expressions in Ch1 12:8, Ch1 12:14, being especially unlike the usual style of our author.
1 Chronicles 12:18
Amasai - The marginal reference identifies him with Amasa, David's nephew, but it seems unlikely that David would have misdoubted a band led by his own nephew.
The passionate earnestness of Amasai's speech is strongly marked in the original, and will be better seen by omitting the words which our Version adds in italics. Here, as in Ch1 12:8-15, we have manifestly the actual words of a very ancient record.
1 Chronicles 12:21
The band of the rovers - See the marginal reference.
1 Chronicles 12:23
Rather, "These are the numbers of the men, ready equipped for the host, that came to David, etc."
In the list which follows such points as
(1) The large mumber sent by the trans-Jordanic tribes;
(2) The large numbers from Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan, all tribes somewhat remote, and generally speaking undistinguished;
(3) The small size of the contingent from Judah, which is generally represented as numerically superior to every other tribe, and which might have been expected to be especially zealous on behalf of its own prince and tribesman; throw some doubt upon the numbers, which may be suspected of having in some instances undergone corruption.
1 Chronicles 12:29
For hitherto ... - Rather, "For still the greatest part of them maintained their allegiance to the house of Saul." This is given as the reason for so few coming to Hebron. It shows us that, even after the death of Ishbosheth, the Benjamites had hopes of furnishing a third king to the nation.
1 Chronicles 12:32
Men that had understanding of the times - This is best interpreted politically. Compare the marginal reference
1 Chronicles 12:33
Expert in war ... - Rather "arrayed for battle with all harness of battle, who set the battle in array with no double heart," excelling, that is, in the matter of their arms and accoutrements. The writer notes in each tribe the point in which it was most admirable.