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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

1 Chronicles 23

 

 

Verses 1-32

β. Distribution of the Levites and Priests, and Order of their Service: Ch23–26

1 Chronicles 23:1 And David was old and full of days, and he made his son Solomon king over Israel.

1. Enumeration of the Levites, and Arrangement of their Work: 1 Chronicles 23:2-5

2And he gathered all the princes of Israel, and the priests and the Levites 3 And the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upwards; 4and their number by their polls in men was thirty and eight thousand. Of these, twenty and four thousand were to oversee the work of the house of the 5 Lord, and six thousand were to be officers and judges. And four thousand porters; and four thousand praising the Lord with instruments which I have made1 for praise.

2. The Twenty-four Houses of the Levites: 1 Chronicles 23:6-23

6And David divided them2 into courses for the sons of Levi, for Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

7Of the Gershonites were Ladan and Shimi 8 The sons of Ladan were the chief Jehiel, and Zetham, and Joel, three 9 The sons of Shimi were Shelomith,3 and Haziel, and Haran, three: these were the chiefs of the fathers for Ladan 10 And the sons of Shimi were Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah: these four were Shimi’s sons 11 And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second; and Jeush and Beriah had not many sons; and they formed one father-house and one class.

12The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four 13 The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was separated to sanctify him as most holy, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the Lord, to 14 minister to Him, and to bless in His name for ever. And Moses, the man of God, his sons were called after the tribe of Levi 15 The sons of Moses were 16 Gershom and Eliezer. Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief 17 And the sons of Eliezer were Rehabiah the chief: and Eliezer had no other sons; 18but the sons of Rehabiah were very many. The sons of Izhar, Shelomith the 19 chief. The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel 20 the third, Jekamam the fourth. The sons of Uzziel: Micah the first, and Jesiah the second.

21The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi; the sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish 22 And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but only daughters; and their brethren, 23the sons of Kish, took them. The sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.

3. Closing Remarks on the Levites: 1 Chronicles 23:24-32

24These are the sons of Levi after their father-houses; the chief of the fathers for those mustered by the number of the names for their polls, doing the work for the service of the house of the Lord from twenty years old and upwards 25 For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest to His 26 people, and He dwelleth in Jerusalem for ever. And also the Levites have 27 no more to carry the tabernacle, with all its vessels for its service. For, by the last words of David, these were the number of the Levites from twenty 28 years old and upward. For their post was at the hand of the sons of Aaron, for the service of the house of the Lord, for the courts, and for the chambers, and for the purifying of everything holy, and the work of the service of the 29 house of God. And for the shew-bread, and the fine flour for meat-offering, and the unleavened cakes, and pancakes, and that which is fried, and all measures of capacity and length 30 And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and so in the evening 31 And to offer all burnt-offerings to the Lord for the Sabbaths, for the new moons, and the set feasts by number, 32after the order of them, continually before the Lord. And they shall keep the charge of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the sanctuary, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, for the service of the house of the Lord.

4. The Twenty-four Classes of Priests: 1 Chronicles 24:1-19

1 Chronicles 24:1 And for the sons of Aaron, these are the divisions: the sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar 2 But Nadab and Abihu died before their fathers, and had no sons; and Eleazar and Ithamar became priests 3 And David distributed them, so that Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech 4 of the sons of Ithamar were for their office in their service. And the sons of Eleazar were found more numerous in chief men than the sons of Ithamar; and they were thus divided: for the sons of Eleazar sixteen chiefs of father-houses; 5and eight of father-houses for the sons of Ithamar. And they divided them by lot, one with the other; for the holy princes and the princes 6 of God were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar. And Shemaiah son of Nethaneel, the scribe of the Levites, wrote them before the king and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the chiefs of the fathers for the priests and for the Levites: one father-house being taken for Eleazar, and one4 taken for Ithamar.

7, 8And the first lot came out to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah. The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim 9 The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to 10 Mijamin. The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah 11 The ninth to Jeshuah, the tenth to Shecaniah 12 The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to13, 14Jakim. The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebab. The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer 15 The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Hapizez 16 The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezkel 17 The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul 18 The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah 19 These are their offices for their service, to go into the house of the Lord according to their order by Aaron their father, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.

5. The Classes of the Levite: 1 Chronicles 24:20-31

20And for the remaining sons of Levi: for the sons of Amram, Shubael; for 21 the sons of Shubael, Jehdeiah. For Rehabiah: for the sons of Rehabiah, the 22 chief was Isshiah. For the Izharites, Shelomoth; for the sons of Shelomoth, Jahath 23 And the sons [of Hebron] 1 Chronicles 5 : Jesiah [the first], Amariah the second, 24Jahaziel the third, Jekamam the fourth. The sons of Uzziel, Micah; for the sons of Micah, Shamir.6 25The brother of Micah was Isshiah; for the sons of Isshiah, Zechariah 26The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi: the sons of Jazziah, Beno.7 27The sons of Merari, by Jaaziah his son: Shoham,8 and28, 29Zaccur, and Ibri. To Mahli belonged Eleazar; 9 and he had no sons. Concerning 30 Kish, the sons of Kish, Jerahmeel. And the sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth: these were the sons of the Levites after their 31 father-houses. And these also cast lots like their brethren the sons of Aaron, before David the king, and Zadok, and Ahimelech, and the chiefs of the fathers for the priests and for the Levites: the fathers, the chief like his younger brother.

6. The Twenty-four Classes of Singer: 1 Chronicles 25

1 Chronicles 25:1 And David and the captains of the host separated for service the sons of Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun, who prophesied10 with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen for the service 2 was. For the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and 3 Asharelah; sons of Asaph, under Asaph, who prophesied under the king. For Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun were Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under their father Jeduthun, on the harp who 4 prophesied to thank and praise the Lord. For Heman: the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth 5 All these were the sons of Heman, the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn: and God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters 6 All these were under their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps for the service of the house of God 7 under the king, with Asaph, and Jeduthun, and Heman. And their number with their brethren that were instructed in singing to the Lord, all that were cunning were two hundred eighty and eight 8 And they cast lots for the charge, the small as the great, the teacher with the scholar.

9And the first lot came forth for Asaph to Joseph:11 the second to Gedaliah; he and his sons and his brethren were twelve 10 The third to Zaccur, his sons and his brethren, twelve 11 The fourth to Izri, his sons and his brethren, twelve 12 The fifth to Nethaniah, his sons and his brethren,13, 14twelve. The sixth to Bukkiah, his sons and his brethren, twelve. The seventh to Jesharelah, his sons and his brethren, twelve 15 The eighth toJeshaiah, his sons and his brethren, twelve 16 The ninth to Mattaniah, hissons and his brethren, twelve 17 The tenth to Shimei, his sons and hisbrethren, twelve 18 The eleventh to Azarel, his sons and his brethren, twelve19, 20The twelfth to Hashabiah, his sons and his brethren, twelve. The thirteenth to Shubael, his sons and his brethren, twelve 21 The fourteenth to Mattithiah, his sons and his brethren, twelve 22 The fifteenth to Jerimoth, his sons and his brethren, twelve 23 The sixteenth to Hananiah, his sons and his brethren, twelve 24 The seventeenth to Joshbekashah, his sons and his brethren, twelve25, 26The eighteenth to Hanani, his sons and his brethren, twelve. The nineteenth to Mallothi, his sons and his brethren, twelve 27 The twentieth to Eliathah,his sons and his brethren, twelve 28 The one and twentieth to Hothir, his sonsand his brethren, twelve 29 The two and twentieth to Giddalti, his sons andhis brethren, twelve 30 The three and twentieth to Mahazioth, his sons andhis brethren, twelve 31 The four and twentieth to Romamti-ezer, his sons and his brethren, twelve.

7. The Classes of Porters: 1 Chronicles 26:1-19

1 Chronicles 26:1 Concerning the divisions of the porters: to the Korhites was Meshelemiah 2 son of Korah, of the sons of Asaph.12 And Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the first-born, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the3, 4fourth. Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh. And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the first-born, Jehozabad the second, Joahthe third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nathaneel the fifth 5 Ammiel the sixth,6Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him. And to Shemaiah his son were born sons, that ruled in the house of their father; for they were valiant men 7 The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad,—his brethren, strong men,—Elihu, and Semachiah 8 All these of the sons of Obed-edom, they and their sons and their brethren, strong men 9 of ability for service, were sixty and two of Obed-edom. And Meshelemiah 10 had sons and brethren, strong men, eighteen. And Hosah, of the sons of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief; for he was not the first-born, but his father made him chief 11 Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brethren of Hosah were thirteen.

12To these divisions of the porters, to the chiefs of the men, were the wardslike their brethren, to minister in the house of the Lord 13 And they castlots, the small as the great, after their father-houses, for every gate 14 And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah: and for Zechariah his Song of Solomon, a wise counsellor, 15they cast lots, and his lot came out northward. To Obed-edom southward; 16and to his sons the house of Asuppim. To Shuppim[FN13] and to Hosah westward, at the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of ascent, one ward likeanother 17 Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and towards Asuppim two and two 18 At Parbar westward, four on 19 the causeway, and two at Parbar. These were the divisions of the porters for the sons of Kore, and for the sons of Merari.

8. The Administrators of the Treasures of the Sanctuary, with the Officers for the External Business: 1 Chronicles 23:20-32

20And the Levites their brethren[FN14] were over the treasures of the house of 21 God, and over the treasures of the holy things. The sons of Ladan, the sons of the Gershonite of Ladan, chiefs of the Father-houses of Ladan the Gershonite, Jehieli 22 The sons of Jehieli: Zetham, and Joel his brother, over thetreasures of the house of the Lord 23 Of the Amramites, the Izharites, the 24 Hebronites, and the Uzzielites. Shebuel son of Gershom, the son of Moses,was ruler of the treasures 25 And his brethren by Eliezer were Rehabiah his Song of Solomon, and Jeshaiah his Song of Solomon, and Joram his Song of Solomon, and Zichri his Song of Solomon, and Shelo-26moth[FN15] his son. This Shelomoth and his brethren were over the treasures of the holy things, which David the king had dedicated, and the chiefs of the fathers, and[FN16] the captains of thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host 27 Out of the wars and of the spoil they dedicated to maintain the house of the Lord 28 And all that Samuel the seer, and Saul the son of Kish, and Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah, had dedicated; everything dedicated was under Shelomoth and his brethren.

29Of the Izharites was Chenaniah with his sons, for the outer business over 30 Israel, for officers and judges. Of the Hebronites were Hashabiah and his brethren, valiant men, a thousand and seven hundred, for the oversight of Israel on this side Jordan westward, for all the business of the Lord, and for 31 the service of the king. Of the Hebronites was Jeriah the chief; for the Hebronites, in their generations for the fathers, in the fortieth year of the reign of David, they were sought, and there were found among them men of valour in Jazer of Gilead 32 And his brethren, valiant men, two thousand and seven hundred fathers of families; and David the king appointed them over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, for every matter of God, and of the king.

EXEGETICAL

Preliminary Remark, especially regarding the introductory notice, 1 Chronicles 23:1.—The connected survey of the condition, distribution, and ministerial functions of the tribe of Levi at the end of the reign of David, which fills the four 1 Chronicles23-26 (and falls into eight subdivisions, as is noted in the superscriptions of the above translation), is introduced by the statement, 1 Chronicles 23:1, that the aged and life-weary King David appointed his son Solomon to be king over Israel, formally appointed him his successor on the throne, and regularly delivered over the kingdom to him. The numbering and classification of the Levites, and the order of their service in the sanctuary, appears accordingly to be the principal measure by which David introduces the transference of the kingdom to his successor. A survey of the state of his army and of his military and civil officers ( 1 Chronicles 27) is appended as the second of these measures, after which the final arrangements committed in solemn assembly to Solomon and the heads of the people, referring chiefly to the building of the temple ( 1 Chronicles 28, 29), form the close of these measures, and the immediate transition to the death of the king ( 1 Chronicles 29:26 ff). As sources in communicating these accounts of the order of the Levites and their service, the Chronist had no doubt liturgical precepts and statistical notes proceeding (mediately or immediately) from David, that כְּתָב דָּוִד, which he mentions, 2 Chronicles 35:4, along with a מִכְתַּב שְׁלֹמֹה, and which we may regard either as part of the royal annals of this king or as an independent document. Comp. Introd. § 5.—And David was old and full of days. זָקֵן is here not an adjective, but 3 d p. perf. of the verb, as in Genesis 18:12; and so שָׂבַע with its accusative of restriction יָמִים, for which elsewhere usually the adj. שְׂבַע יָמִים ( Genesis 35:29; Job 12:17), or even שָׂבֵעַ alone ( Genesis 25:8).—He made his son Solomon king over Israel. This notice does not perhaps forestall the more precise and definite statement of the appointment of Solomon to be king in 1 Chronicles 29:22 (which reports also the mode of appointment, by the anointing of the successor), but forms a general introduction to all that follows to the end of our book (comp. the similar general but not forestalling statement in 1 Chronicles 22:7), and serves to place all that is here related of the Levites, the military and civil officers, under the head of the last will and concluding acts of the king. A statement in many respects similar occurs in John 13:1, which characterizes all that follows to the end of this Gospel as a “loving of his own unto the end.” Against the opinion of Bertheau, that the Chronist has in our verse given briefly the contents of the narrative 1 Kings1, the remarks of Keil suffice; comp. also our exegetical exposition of 1 Chronicles 29:22.

1. Enumeration of the Levites, and Arrangement of their Work: 1 Chronicles 23:2-5.—And he gathered all the princes of Israel. These, the representatives of the tribes, had to co-operate in this mustering and regulation of the Levites, because this was a general concern of the kingdom. The present account concerning the holding of a great census Levitarum in a solemn assembly of the spiritual and temporal chiefs of the people, shortly before the end of David, is confirmed by the passage 1 Chronicles 26:30 f, which speaks specially of the result of this muster “in the fortieth year of the reign of David” with regard to the family of Hebronites in Gilead.

1 Chronicles 23:3. And the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upwards. This accords with the proceeding of Moses, who, Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:23; Numbers 4:30; Numbers 4:39 ff, likewise numbers the Levites from thirty years of age (to fifty) for service in the sanctuary. But as he had already included younger men, namely, from twenty-five years of age ( Numbers 8:23-26), David’s muster may also have extended not merely to those of thirty years and upwards, but rather, according to the express statement of 1 Chronicles 23:24, reached the Levites of twenty years and upwards. That this later statement does not contradict the present one, and that it is not necessary to amend our passage by inserting עֶשְׂרִים for שְׁלשִׁים (Keil), see on 1 Chronicles 23:24.—By their polls in men, thus excluding women and children; the לִגְבָרִים defining more exactly the לגלגלתם.

1 Chronicles 23:4 f. contain the words of the king, as appears from the 1 perf. עָשִׂיתִי at the end of 1 Chronicles 23:5, for which the Sept. and Vulg. have unnecessarily, and only from ignorance of the true state of the matter, substituted the third person.—Of these, twenty and four thousand were to oversee the work of the house of the Lord, the duties of the Levitical temple service in general, to which belonged not—a. the proper priestly functions ( 1 Chronicles 24:1-19); b. those of the Levitical civil and judicial officers (the שׁטרים and שׁפטיב, 1 Chronicles 23:4 b; comp. 1 Chronicles 26:29-32); c. those of the porters ( 1 Chronicles 23:5 a; comp26); d. those of the singers and musicians ( 1 Chronicles 23:5; comp25).—With instruments, which I have made for praise, which I have introduced to accompany the sacred singing in the service of God; comp. 2 Chronicles 29:26; Nehemiah 12:36; also Amos 6:5, where David is mentioned as inventor of sacred musical instruments.

2. The Twenty-four Houses of the Levites: 1 Chronicles 23:6-23.—And David divided them into courses for the sons of Levi. In his new muster and order of the Levitical houses he thus founded upon the three old well-known branches of this tribe (comp 1 Chr5:27–6:15). וַיֵּחָֽלְקֵם, for which, here and 1 Chronicles 24:3, R. D. Kimchi would read rather וַיֶּחֽלְקֵם (see Crit. Note), stands for וַיַּחְלְקֵם (comp. 1 Chronicles 24:4-5), and is merely a by-form of the imperf. Kal, not Piel, as Ges. and Ew. think. Bertheau asserts that not all the Levites, but only the24,000 specially appointed for the service in the house of the Lord, are to be regarded as the object of ויחלקם; and, in fact, 1 Chronicles 23:24 appears to favour this, as well as the circumstance that a great part of the names here enumerated recur in 1 Chronicles 24:20-31 and 1 Chronicles 26:20-28; whereas in the enumeration of the twenty-four classes of singers (25), porters ( 1 Chronicles 26:1-19), and officers, and judges ( 1 Chronicles 26:29-32), quite other names occur. What Keil adduces against this (p188) is by no means sufficient to invalidate it.—a. The Houses of the Gershonites: 1 Chronicles 23:7-11.—Of the Gershonites were Ladan and Shimi. In 1 Chronicles 6:2, as already in Exodus 6:17, Numbers 3:18, these two sons and founders of the two chief branches of the Gershonites are called Libni and Shimi. Our Ladan appears not to be identical with Libni, but rather to have been a descendant of this son of Gershon, after whom, in David’s time, a greater branch of the family was named. 1 Chronicles 23:8-9 analyze this branch of the Ladanites as falling into the two chief stems of the sons of Ladan and the sons of Shimi, a descendant of Libni, by name Shimi, not the brother of Ladan or Libni named in 1 Chronicles 23:7, whose branch is more fully described in 1 Chronicles 23:10-11. Those belonging to the branch of Ladan fall altogether into six houses, namely, three of the sons of Ladan ( 1 Chronicles 23:8) and three of the sons of Shimi ( 1 Chronicles 23:9). On the contrary, the descendants of the other Shimi (brother of Ladan, 1 Chronicles 23:10) form only four, or rather only three, houses, as the two youngest of the families belonging to them, Jeush and Beriah, from their numerical weakness, are included in one house, and also in one class (פְּקֻדָה, 1 Chronicles 23:11). The Gershonites, therefore, in David’s time counted in all nine houses.—b. The Houses of the Kohathites: 1 Chronicles 23:12-20.—Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. So are the four sons of Kohath named also in 1 Chr5:28, 1 Chronicles 6:3, and previously in Exodus 6:18; Numbers 3:27.—Aaron was separated to sanctify him as most holy. So is לְהַקְדִּישׁוֹ קֹדֶשׁ קֳדָשִׁים to be understood of Aaron’s choice and anointment to be the most holy person of a high priest, not from his ministering in the most holy place (Vulg. ut ministraret in sancto sanctorum; likewise the Peschito), nor from his appointment to consecrate the most holy utensils (Clericus, against which see Hengsten. Christol. ii50, and Keil on the passage).—And to bless in His name for ever, in Jehovah’s name, to pronounce the blessing on the community (after the prescription of Moses, Numbers 6:23; Numbers 16:2; Deuteronomy 21:5); not to bless the name of Jehovah, or call upon Him, as Ges. and Berth, think.

1 Chronicles 23:14. And Moses the man of God, his sons were called after the tribe of Levi, were reckoned among the simple Levites, and not among the priests. On נִקְרִא עַל, comp. Genesis 48:6; Ezra 2:61; Nehemiah 7:63.

1 Chronicles 23:15. Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief, properly, “Gershom’s sons, Shebuel the chief;” comp. the numerous cases in which “sons” are announced, and yet only one follows, as 1 Chronicles 2:31, etc. That, moreover, Gershom had other sons, who were reckoned with the house of Shebuel (or Shubael, as he is called in 1 Chronicles 24:20), appears to follow from 1 Chronicles 23:17, where it is expressly said of Eliezer that he had no sons besides Rehabiah. Shebuel and Rehabiah therefore were the names of the houses of the family of Amram that sprang from Moses. To these two non-sacerdotal houses of the Kohathites are to be added, according to 1 Chronicles 23:18-20, of the family of Izhar, the house of Shelomith (or Shelomoth, 1 Chronicles 24:22); of the family of Hebron four houses, Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, and Jekamam; of the family of Uzziel two, Micah and Jesiah,—in all, nine Levitical houses of Kohathite origin.—c. The Houses of the Merarites: 1 Chronicles 23:21-23The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. So are called the two sons of Merari also, 1 Chronicles 6:4; Exodus 6:19; Numbers 3:33; whereas in 1 Chronicles 24:27 a third son of Merari is named, Jaaziah, the founder of the three houses of Shoham, Zaccur and Ibri. The conjecture is obvious, that the name of this Jaaziah with his three sons has fallen out of our passage by an old oversight, as Bertheau assumes when he supplements the text of our passage from 1 Chronicles 24:26-27. But, 1. The Sept, Vulg, and Syr. present our text, that gives only two sons of Merari; 2. The books of Moses, and indeed the whole of the Old Testament elsewhere, know nothing of a third son of Merari and his descendants; 3. The passage 1 Chronicles 24:26-27 bears manifest traces of an interpolation in itself, by which the name Jaaziah must have come into the text; 4. The names of the supposed sons of Jaaziah occur nowhere else, with the exception of Zaccur alone (see 1 Chronicles 25:2); 5. The only gain that the assumption of the names in question into our text could be,—that, namely, the number of the Merarite houses should be brought up to six, and so a total of twenty-four houses of Levites should be shown in our section (nine Gershonite, nine Kohathite, and six Merarite), analogous to the number of twenty-four houses and classes of priests ( 1 Chronicles 24), and of twenty-four classes of singers ( 1 Chronicles 25), and corresponding with the express assertion of Josephus (Antiq. vii147), that David divided the Levites into twenty-four classes,—this single gain is lost by this, that there should be not twenty-four but twenty-five houses resulting from the addition of the three sons of Jaaziah, as our passage ( 1 Chronicles 23:21-23) derives not three but four houses from Merari: one from Mahli (named after Eleazar the father of the heiress, or after his brother Kish, and then after Jerahmeel, chief son of this Kish; see 1 Chronicles 24:29), and three from Mushi, namely, Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth. Now of these three sons of Mushi, Bertheau will certainly exclude from the text the first, Mahli, on account of his identity of name with Mahli the brother of Mushi, to obtain the desired result of six Merarite houses; but the arbitrariness of this procedure is obviously greater and more unjustifiable than the boldness of our condemnation of the 1 Chronicles 23:26-27 in 1 Chronicles24as interpolated, that has sufficient ground in the clearly corrupt text of this verse. It necessarily follows that our section yields only four Merarite, and therefore in all only twenty-two Levitical houses.

3. Closing Remarks respecting the Levites: 1 Chronicles 23:24-32.—These are the sons of Levi. . .for those mustered, לִפְקוּדֵיהֶם (comp. Exodus 30:14, Numbers 1:21 ff, as on the following words: “by the number of the names,” Numbers 1:18; Numbers 3:43).—Doing the work for the service of the house of the Lord. עשֶֹׁה הַמְּלָאכָה, Isaiah, as also in 2 Chronicles 34:10; 2 Chronicles 34:13, Ezra 3:9, Nehemiah 2:16, not sing, but plur.=עשֵֹׁי הַמְּל׳, and differing only in writing from this regular form (that occurs, for example, 2 Chronicles 24:13); comp. Ew. § 16, b.—From twenty years old and upwards. This statement, that the twentieth year is fixed as the starting-point for the entrance of the Levites on their official duties, is more exactly explained in the following words, by reference to the lighter labour which fell upon the Levites when the wandering life of the wilderness ceased,—a conclusion that is not fully expressed, but indicated clearly enough by 1 Chronicles 23:25-26.

1 Chronicles 23:27. For by the last words of David these were, etc. Thus it is obvious we are to understand the orders of David issued shortly before his end by the words בְּדִבְרֵי דָוד הָאַֽחֲרוֹנִים (with the Vulg.: juxta prœcepta David novissima, and so Clericus, J. H. Mich, Keil, etc.), not “in the later histories of David” (Kimchi, Berth.),—a conception which imports into the text a thought quite foreign to the context, and by no means justified by referring to 1 Chronicles 29:29. Even because a last arrangement of David is now expressly named as the ground of the introduction of Levites of twenty years into the sacred service, it is to be assumed that that statement in 1 Chronicles 23:3 respecting the entrants at the age of thirty years refers to an earlier numeration, in which David had adhered to the legal determination in Numbers 3:23; Numbers 3:30 (so Kimchi, J. H. Mich, and others), though the words and the connection of that passage, especially the circumstance that there the number38,000 is given as the result of the muster, and that here no greater number takes its place, may not appear to favour such a distinction between an earlier and a later muster. It is conceivable, though not indicated by our author, that David may have established a distinction of classes, in such a way that he introduced the Levites of twenty years to the lower and easier duties, and those of thirty years to the higher and holier functions. At all events, any mode of harmonizing the two accounts appears more reasonable than the expedient of Bertheau, that the Chronist placed side by side two different accounts, the one giving twenty, the other thirty, years, without explanation as they were found in his sources, or than the emendation of Keil, who changes שְׁלשִׁים, 1 Chronicles 23:3, into עֶשְׂרִים.

1 Chronicles 23:28-31. Here follows an enumeration of the duties to be performed by the Levites, rising from the lower and more external (referring to the court and its chambers, to purification and the like) to the higher, and closing with the assistance given in the sacrifices of the great feasts.—And for the shew- bread, that Isaiah, the preparation, not the presentation of it, which belonged exclusively to the priests ( Leviticus 24:8 ff.).—And pancakes, properly, “the pan,” comp. Leviticus 2:5.—And that which is fried ( Leviticus 6:14), and all measures of capacity and length, for measuring flour, oil, and wine, which were added to the sacrifices, which the Levites had to clean and keep (comp. Exodus 29:40; Exodus 30:24; Leviticus 19:35).—And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. This naturally refers to the duties of the4000 Levitical singers and musicians ( 1 Chronicles 23:5; comp 1 Chronicles25); for here are enumerated the offices of all classes of the Levites, not merely of the24,000 (against Berth.).—And to offer all burnt-offerings to the Lord. “Hereby the Levites were obliged to prepare the requisite number of victims, to examine the fitness of them, to slay the animals, to flay them, etc.” (Keil.)—By number after the order of them continually before the Lord, that Isaiah, by number as they are to be presented continually before the Lord, according to the prescriptions of the law regarding them. The תָּמִיד continually refers to “the offering” (הַֽעֲלוֹת עֹלוֹת) as a business recurring regularly on the appointed day; comp. עֹלוֹת תָּמִיד, Numbers 27:6, etc.

1 Chronicles 23:32. And they shall keep the charge of the tent of meeting (“the temple,” comp. Numbers 18:4), and the charge of the sanctuary (of all holy things connected with worship, Numbers 18:5), and the charge of the sons of Aaron (the care of all that the priests enjoin upon them, all the help given to the priests). On this particular recapitulation of all the functions of the Levites, comp. the similar passage, Numbers 18:3 ff.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - For עָשִׂיתִי the Sept. (ἐποίησεν) and Vulg. (fecerat) have the 3 person. But see Exeg. Expl.

FN#2 - For וַיֵּחָֽלְקֵם read (here and 1 Chronicles 24:3) וַיֶּחָֽלְקֵם. See Exeg. Expl.

FN#3 - So the Keri: in the Kethib the name is Shelomoth. The same difference appears in another Shelomith, 1 Chronicles 26:25.

FN#4 - For וְאָחֻז is perhaps to be read וְאֶחָד (with L. Cappell, H. Grotius, Gesen, etc.), as some late and unimportant mss. in de Rossi exhibit in the var. lect.

FN#5 - The insertion of חֶבְרוֹן after בְּנֵי (Luther, Bert, and most moderns) is certainly confirmed neither by the Hebrew Cod. nor by the old translations (Sept, Vulg, etc.). but appears necessary from 1 Chronicles 23:19.

FN#6 - So the Keri the Kethib has Shamur: the old Vers. (Sept. Σαμήρ, Vulg. Samir) as the Keri.

FN#7 - Before בְּני a name seems to have fallen out. The text in 1 Chronicles 23:26-27 is corrupt. See the Exeg. Expl.

FN#8 - Properly, “and Shoham” (וְשֹׁהָם).

FN#9 - After the name of Eleazar the Sept. (cod. Vat.) adds καὶ ’Ιθάμαρ, καὶ ἀπέθανεν ’Ελεάζαρ, a gloss which is wanting in A E F X.

FN#10 - The Kethib הנביאים is an error of transcription for the certainly correct Keri הַנִּבָּאִים (Partic. Niph.); comp. the sing. הַנִּבָּא in 1 Chronicles 25:2-3, and see Exeg. Expl.

FN#11 - After לְיוֹסֵף, the notice constantly recurring in the following verses: “his sons and his brethren, twelve,” appears to have fallen out by an oversight. Yet it is to be observed that this notice in 1 Chronicles 25:9 b, after נְּדַלְיָהוּ הַשֵּׁנִי, is different from that in all subsequent cases, namely, “he and his brethren and his sons” (אֶחָיו before, not בָּנָיו, as afterwards), whence it is probable that the writer did not mention with the first singer the eleven companions, whom he preceded as the twelfth.

FN#12 - For אסף, according to 1 Chronicles 9:19, אֶבְיָסָף appears to have been read, though no external evidence confirms this conjecture.

FN#13 - לְשֻׁפִּים (Sept. τῷ Σεφιείν; but cod. Vat. εἰς δεύτερον) appears to have come into the text by the repetition of the last two syllables of the foregoing הָאֲסֻפִּים, which was perhaps aided by an obscure remembrance of the root שֻׁפִּים, 1 Chronicles 7:12.

FN#14 - So according to the Sept. (Καὶ οἱ Λευῖται ἀδελφοὶ αὐτῶν), which has here certainly the right text; comp. הַֽלְוִיִּם אֲחֵיהֶם, 2 Chronicles 29:34. If the אֲחִיִּה of the Masoretic text be original, מֵהַֽלְוִיִּם must have stood in place of וְהַֽלְוִיִּם (comp. the Vulg, which has wholly omitted that והלוים).

FN#15 - Kethib: שְׁלֹמוֹת; Keri: שְׁלֹמִית (comp. 1 Chronicles 23:9). The Kethib is proved by 1 Chronicles 23:26 to be more correct, though the name recurs, 1 Chronicles 23:28, as שְׁלֹמִית without variation.

FN#16 - For לְשָׂרֵי־הָֽאֲלָפִים should apparently be read וְשָׂרֵי־ה׳; comp. 1 Chronicles 29:6.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 23:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-chronicles-23.html. 1857-84.

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