Help from Yahweh

Help from Yahweh August 17, 2016

The list of Benjamites who come to David at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:3-7) is punctuated by names of men identified by their hometown or clan (Sara Japhet, 1 & 2 Chronicles, 261):

1. Ahiezer, Joash, sons of Shemaah the Gibeathite (3 names).

2. Jeziel, Pelet, sons of Azmaveth, Beracah, Jehu the Anathothite (5 names).

3. Ishmaiah the Gibeonite (1 name).

4. Jeremiah, Jahazkiel, Johanan, Jozabad the Gederathite (4 names).

5. Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shamariah, Shephatiah the Haruphite (5 names).

6. Elkanah, Isshiah, Azarel, Joezer, Jashobeam the Korahites (5 names).

7. Joelah, Zebediah, sons of Jeroham of Gedor (3 names).

It doesn’t seem to be the case that every man in each sublist comes from the same town. That is, in the first sublist, we know that Shemaah comes from Gibeah (Saul’s hometown) but we don’t know where the others come from. Overall, though, the list is patterned by these geographic references, and that patterning has numerological significance: Six Benjamite towns are mentioned, and one clan (Korahites, a Levitical clan?), for a total of seven sublists. David inherits a sevenfold of defectors from Saul’s house.

The total number of personal names is also significant. 3 + 5 + 1 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 3 = 26. And 26 is the gematria of YHWH. “Your God helps you,” Amasai says (v. 18), and He surely does, sending a YHWH-number of men from Benjamin over to David.

The Chronicler enumerates the list of Gadite defectors for us: “Ezer the first, Obadiah the second” and so on (vv. 9–13). There are eleven of them, one short of the perfect 12. We might wonder where the missing twelfth is, and I suspect we’re supposed to supply the obvious name: David. With David, Gad becomes an Israel. Israel is a fractal people, twelve tribes each of which is a twelve. But Gad is a twelve only when allied with David, as Israel can be a twelve-fold kingdom only under the Lord’s anointed.

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