In 2 Samuel 8:15–18, the creation of an empire, though still small in comparison with the great powers of today, required the creation of a bureaucracy to administer its affairs. The principal officers were:
- Joab, military commander;
- Jehoshaphat, record keeper;
- Zadok and Ahimelech chief priests;
- Seraiah … secretary;
- Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:2–23), leader of the elite Kerethite and Pelethite troops (also mentioned in 1 Sam. 30:14; 2 Sam. 15:18; 20:7, 23; 1 Kings 1:38, 44; 1 Chron. 18:17; Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5, and possibly related to the Philistines in some way).
David’s own sons were royal advisers (kōhănîm). This Hebrew word, usually rendered “priests,” is explained in 1 Chronicles 18:17 as “chief officials” (cf. 2 Sam. 20:26). This no doubt is the better meaning since David’s sons, as Judeans, were ineligible to serve as priests. The mention of Zadok and Ahimelech together (8:17) indicates the transition that was occurring in the office of priest.
Ahimelech, son of Abiathar, was a descendant of Eli, whose priestly line Samuel had said would come to an end (1 Sam. 3:10–14). Zadok was a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar (1 Chron. 6:4–8). Through Zadok the line of priests eventually continued through the remainder of Old Testament times.