I received the following question:

Who is Chief of the 30?! Or how does this Chief position work? 1 Chronicles 11:11 along with 2 Samuel 23:8 say Jashobeam is. But then 1 Chronicles 11:20 says Abshai is. But then 1 Chronicles 12:18 says Amasai is. Now if you go to 2 Samuel 23:9 Eleazar is mentioned as “after” Josheb-basshebeth (Jashobeam I presume), and then Shammah is mentioned “after” him. 1 Chronicles 27:6 says that Benaiah was in “charge” of the thirty; if being in charge is being “chief” we have yet another one. So were there multiple chiefs? Did they lead for a time? Is that what 1 Chronicles 27 is speaking about? Then in that case there must have been 1. Jashobeam 2. Dodai 3. Benaiah 4. Asahel 5. Shamhuth (Shammah?) 6. Ira 7. Helez 8. Sibbecai 9. Abiezer 10. Maharai 11. Benaiah 12. Heldai 13(?). Eliezer mentioned after as chief of the Reubenites. So how does it work? I’m sure I’m missing something.

I think you are making too much revolve around the 30. The thirty mighty men seems to be the name of an almost legendary group of warriors devoted to David. Whether or not they ever really numbered 30, the number quickly grew beyond 30, kind of like the eleven “Big Ten” teams.

But there were also other groups. One was the “three mighty men.” These were joined by a second three. Your problem seems to be that you are including both these threes as belonging to the thirty. In fact, they do not.

Here are the “mighty men” as I read it.

The First Three

1. Josheb-Basshebeth (II Samuel 23,) also known as Jashobeam (I Chronicles 11,) also known as Adino the Eznite. He was a Tachmonite, and the son of a Hachmonite. He was the chief of all the captains.

2. Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite.

3. Shammah the son of Agee (II Samuel 23 only. Though he is not listed in I Chronicles 11, it is clear he belongs there, because otherwise the First Three are missing their third member.)

Second to these in reknown, but still having greater honor than the Thirty, were:

The Second Three

1. Abishai the brother of Joab and son of Zeruiah. He was the captain of the second three.

2. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a man from Kabzeel. David appointed him over his guard. He also acts as David’s executioner on more than one occasion.

3. Joab the son of Zeruiah. He is not listed in either listing of the second three. Significantly, his name appears when his brothers are listed, but he is not listed himself. This is because he was later cut out for his final unfaithfulness to David (I Kings 1.)

Then, after the First Three and the Second Three, comes:

The “Thirty”

1. Asahel the brother of Joab. He may (?) have been chief over the thirty at one time, although he died before David took the rule over all Israel.
…..
31. Uriah the Hittite. He is the thirty-first name listed in both accounts, and the last listed in II Samuel.
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47. Jaasiel the Mezabaite. He is the last name listed in I Chronicles.

So, we do not really know who is the chief over the thirty. We do know who the chief of the First and Second Three were, and one of the men in one of these “Three” may have been in charge of leading the thirty. Or it could have been Asahel, who is always listed first when the thirty are listed. He could have been replaced after his death, however. But perhaps the thirty never did appoint another leader after his death, but were led by Josheb-Basshebeth, Abishai, or one of the others.

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