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Commentary On 1 Chronicles (6).

By Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons) DD

David Makes Preparations For The Building Of A House Of YHWH, And Gives Instruction Concerning It To His Son Solomon (22.1-19).

If we read the Scriptures carefully without any presuppositions it is hard to escape the conclusion that the building of the Temple as a house of cedar was more David’s idea than God’s. God had made quite clear that He did not want a house of cedar, but was completely satisfied with a Tent. He could not have made it clearer (17.4-6). And at that stage He commanded David not to build Him a house (17.4), and His stated reason for him not to do so was NOT because he was a man of blood (that came later) but was because He did not want a house of cedar as He was satisfied with the Tabernacle which better presented what He was. The house that He wanted David to build was rather a living house of true and righteous kings which would result in the final righteous king and the everlasting kingdom (17.14).

It is a reminder to us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and God’s ways are not our ways. We delight in magnificent buildings, and would be honoured to have one dedicated to us. We feel that by building a magnificent Temple we would be honouring God. But to God it meant nothing apart from appreciation of the thought that was in David’s heart. The Temple in itself was to Him an irrelevance, and its dedication to Him meant nothing. What mattered to Him was what was in men’s hearts, and how true was their continual obedience. We are reminded how later Jesus would point out that those who truly served God were not those who sought to have authority and to exercise rule over people, but those who truly behaved as servants and had the attitude of true service. As He said Himself, ‘I am among you as One Who serves’ (Luke 22.27). God turns men’s ways upside down

It was David who had become consumed with the idea of God having a house of cedar, and who eventually (but not at the beginning) read into God’s promises the idea that his descendants should build such a house. God, as He did when His people had previously cried out for a king (see 1 Samuel 8.7), yielded to his entreaties, and went along with him in it. And just as, in spite of His own view of things, He had initially chosen Saul and blessed him in his kingship, so He initially blessed the Temple. Indeed, once it was destroyed He Himself would call for it to be rebuilt, because men’s reasons for not rebuilding it were the wrong ones (dilatoriness and lack of purpose). They had been commanded by King Cyrus to build it and had not done so. Thus their failure to act besmirched His Name. Furthermore at that stage they had no settled central place of worship, and they had no anointed king to unite them or remind them of the coming king who would bring in everlasting righteousness (Ezra 5.1; Haggai 1.9). Thus the Temple could act as such a reminder. That is why God had so firmly linked with the coming age of peace. But at no stage had YHWH originally asked for such a Temple, or commanded it. Nor, had He done so, would He have wanted it so closely connected with the king, so that it was almost the king’s chapel. And just as the Saul experiment ended in disaster, so would the Temple experiment end in disaster time and again.

The advantage of a Tent covered in goatskins was that men’s concentration was not on the Tent, but on the One Who was to be worshipped. It was not a distraction. And they did not think of God as bound to a Tent. More practically another advantage of a Tent was that it could be moved fairly quickly, and could ‘disappear’ overnight. It was not there to be desecrated. But a Temple was permanent and immovable. It could thus only wait to be destroyed. Furthermore it trapped men into the conception that God too was bound to Jerusalem, and to the Temple (consider Jeremiah 7.4, 14), and would not allow it to be destroyed. Note how Ezekiel, having revealed that YHWH had deserted the Temple (Ezekiel 10.18-19; 11.23), placed his ‘heavenly’ Temple on a mountain outside Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40.2). Indeed, when it was rebuilt a third time God had to finally reject and determine the destruction of their Temple in order that the living Temple of Jesus Christ (John 2.19-21) and His body, the living ‘house’ that He had promised (2 Corinthians 6.16-18), might take its place.

Thus in what follows as a closure to David’s reign, there is no suggestion that God had come to David and countermanded His previous rejection of a house of cedar. Rather there is an indication that such a house of cedar was what David had determined on. It was an idea that came from his own heart. And God acceded to it out of love for David, with a certain proviso. If such a Temple was to be built it must be as a symbol of the coming kingdom of peace.

Preparations For Building The House Of YHWH (22.1-6).

Convinced, in spite of Nathan’s prophecies, that he should build a house of cedar for YHWH, and spurred on by what had happened when he had offered burnt offerings and sacrifices on the altar on the threshing-floor, David determined to build such a house. And when God subsequently forbade him to do so on the grounds that he was a ‘man of blood’, he made all preparations for his son to build it. He would not let go of the idea. He failed to recognise that God was not glorified by physically magnificent buildings, but by spiritually magnificent lives.

  • A Then David said, “This is the house of YHWH God, and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel” (22.1).
  • B And David commanded to gather together the sojourners who were in the land of Israel, and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God (22.2).
  • C And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the couplings, and bronze in abundance without weight, and cedar trees without number, for the Sidonians and they of Tyre brought cedar-trees in abundance to David (22.3-4).
  • C And David said, “Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be built for YHWH must be exceeding magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries. I will therefore make preparation for it.” (22.5a).
  • B So David prepared abundantly before his death (22.5b).
  • A Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for YHWH, the God of Israel (22.6).

Note that in A David called the threshing-floor and its surrounds ‘the house of YHWH’ with a view to building it, and in the parallel he charges Solomon to build ‘the house of YHWH’. In B he gathers together workers for the project, and sets masons to work, in order to build ‘the house of God’ and in the parallel he is said to ‘prepare abundantly’. In C he prepares materials for the building of the house, an in the parallel he emphasises that he must make preparation for it.

22.1 ‘Then David said, “This is the house of YHWH God, and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel.”

Impressed by the way that his offerings on the altar on the threshing-floor of Ornan had been burned up by fire from God, and by how these had been efficacious in the deliverance of Jerusalem, David was impressed with the feeling that here was the true house of God. determined in his heart to build a Temple there. He saw it as a place where YHWH had manifested Himself, and it thus seemed, from his point of view as a man, that it was the right place for the worship of God to take place and therefore for the Temple that he had fixed his heart on building. (We note that God said nothing on the matter). Thus he looked around at the altar, and the empty space which he had purchased, and he saw there in his mind’s eye a magnificent Temple, and declared, “this (threshing-floor) is the house of YHWH God, and this altar is the altar of burnt offering for Israel’. He now had no doubt about where he was going to site his Temple.. Again we note that he did not ‘enquire of YHWH’. In view of the fact that this immediately follows chapter 21 where he had unknowingly been led astray by Satan, it may be that we are to see here also something of Satan’s handywork (just as he would late tempt the Messiah to prove Himself as such by how He behaved (Matthew 4.1-11).

22.2 ‘And David commanded to gather together the sojourners who were in the land of Israel, and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God.’

So in preparation for the commencement of building David gathered together the manpower to do the work. And being reluctant to force true-born Israelites to participate in his building scheme, he gathered all those who were sojourning (dwelling without citizenship) in the land of Israel, that is, who were not Israelites. It was they who were reluctantly to provide the manpower for the hard work that was involved. Meanwhile the technical work was to be done by trained men, such as masons who would hew rock into stones for the building.

Here is an additional hint that the idea was not of God. Would God seriously have required something which would prove so costly in unwilling human sacrifice? The building of such massive buildings took a heavy human toll. This was the work of a king, not of God. And as we will learn it would contribute to the dissatisfaction of the people and finally result in the division of Israel into two parts (2 Chronicles 10.4). It is difficult to imagine that a prophet of God (as the Chronicler was) could have fully approved of it. David was not acting as a shepherd to his people, (for the Canaanites were also his people), but as their overlord. But because God loved David He went along with him in it.

22.3-4a ‘And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the couplings, and bronze in abundance without weight, and cedar-trees without number.’

David also got ready an abundance of iron, for making nails and couplings; bronze for decoration and furniture, and cedar trees out of which to build the house. He was determined that everything would be available when it was needed..

22.4b ‘For the Sidonians and they of Tyre brought cedar-trees in abundance to David.’

The source of the cedar trees is now explained. They were provided in abundance by Tyre and Sidon, no doubt through the auspices of king Hiram. These would be floated down from where they were launched after being cut down and shaped, to a spot where they could be collected and brought to Jerusalem. The heavy work would be done by the unwilling sojourners.

22.5 ‘And David said, “Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be built for YHWH must be exceeding magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries. I will therefore make preparation for it.” So David prepared abundantly before his death.’

In total contrast to YHWH’s Tent of curtains David aimed to make the Temple so magnificent that its fame and glory would be spoken of everywhere. Feeling that his young son Solomon was not sufficient for the task he was making assiduous preparations. By the time he died full preparation would have been made. It will be noted that this was David’s idea, not YHWH’s. YHWH would have seen it as degrading Him simply because it could not be magnificent enough to express What He was, or movable enough to demonstrate His widespread dominion, or transitory enough to indicate that He was not of this world (unlike the other gods of the nations). But He recognised David’s desire to honour and please Him, so seemingly said nothing. As we know from our own experience, when our hearts are set on something ‘for God’ that God does not really want, He often allows us to carry on, and even assists us in it because He recognises our genuineness of heart. It is part of the way in which He finally brings about His purposes, teaching us lessons while He does so. But this lesson would take a long time in learning.

22.6 ‘Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for YHWH, the God of Israel.’

Then David called for his son, Solomon and charged him with the building of the Temple for ‘YHWH the God of Israel’, which would make Solomon’s name known far and wide, and become the envy, and eventually the target, of the nations. But on the whole it would be the magnificence of the building that they envied, not the magnificence of YHWH. It failed in its purpose. So whilst the house may have aroused praise and worship to YHWH in the Israelite who immediately associated it with YHWH (at least while Israel were still true to YHWH), it gave the wrong idea of YHWH to others. And that it failed even with Israel comes out in the aftermath, for it continued to be used even when apostasy reigned, and YHWH was sidelined.

David’s Charge To Solomon (22.7-16).

David now gives his solemn charge to Solomon informing him that it was he who was to build a Temple for YHWH, because he was a man of peace, and that all that was necessary for it had already been put in hand. His words echo the words of Nathan the prophet in chapter 17, but now they are given a new meaning. Instead of the emphasis being on the future house of David, it has turned towards the building of a literal Temple. It would seem that David’s persistence in wanting to build a Temple was finally accepted by YHWH as inevitable, and resulted in what is described here. But it was a downgrading of the real promises. As YHWH had pointed out, He continued to be satisfied with the Tabernacle. It was the house of David that He was concerned to build. It was thus David who required the building of the Temple, as he now admits.

22.7 ‘And David said to Solomon his son, “As for me, it was in my heart to build a house to the name of YHWH my God.”

Thinking back over previous chapters we note that once again David did not enquire of YHWH. Instead he followed what was in his heart. He should have taken note of how YHWH had countermanded what Nathan had said in 17.2. But he had become so filled with the idea of building a Temple for YHWH that all else was ignored. And it seems that YHWH, recognising the genuine desire of David to please Him, fell in line with his wishes. But even then He put in a caveat.

22.8 “But the word of YHWH came to me, saying, ‘You have shed blood abundantly, and have made great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.”

And that caveat was that David was not a suitable man to build the Temple because of all the blood that he had shed. Outwardly this was a strange caveat. It had been made abundantly clear that YHWH was with him in all his wars, and was primarily responsible for his victories. His victories have already been depicted as indicating his glory, and that God was pleased with him. How then could it make him not suitable to build the Temple? Had he not continually been obeying YHWH?

The answer must lie in the fact that YHWH wanted the Temple to be a symbol of peace, so that it pointed to the future coming of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.5), and that it could not be so if David built it. It would rather magnify war. Thus it must be built by a prince of peace. And Solomon would be so because of David’s victories. Thus in that sense it was Solomon who was the archetype of the coming king. And yet he was rarely elsewhere so envisaged. Throughout Chronicles the obedience, or otherwise, of kings is mainly associated with David, not Solomon. But the point is that the Temple could not have the significance of arising out of peace, and thus as pointing to the Messiah, if built by David.

22.9 “Behold, a son will be born to you, who will be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days,”

So David was informed by YHWH that he would have a son who would be a man of rest. Like Joshua (Joshua 11.23; 23.1) David had brought rest to his people (22.18; 23.25; 2 Samuel 7.1). But it was Solomon who oversaw that rest. And in Judges when the land had rest it had the significance that Israel were at peace. Indeed, the whole book portrays the idea that rest was the God’s aim for Israel, only spoiled by invaders who came because Israel had become excessively sinful. The idea of a final kingdom of peace was an important part of Israel’s expectations (Psalm 37.11; 72.7; Isaiah 9.6-7; 11.5-9), when invaders would come no more because God’s people were righteous.

So Solomon is seen here as the archetype of the Prince of Peace. Indeed, his name Solomon (shelomo) contains within it the Hebrew word for peace and wellbeing (shalom). There is thus in this promise a foretaste of the Messiah to come. Similarly in the Chronicler’s day the people had the new Temple, but they did not have the peace. This was then intended to be an encouragement to them, pointing to the days of peace that were coming with the coming king, of which the Temple had been made a symbol. So if there was to be a Temple YHWH wanted it to be a symbol of the reign of the Prince of Peace.

In future days, because they had not absorbed this message, Israel would look for a warlike Messiah. It was inconceivable to them that the Messiah could come as any other than a warlike figure. So it is even more remarkable that God made clear here that when the Messiah did come He would come in peace, bringing peace not war, just as YHWH has indicated.

22.10 “He will build a house for my name, and he will be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.”

This idea of Solomon as an archetype of the Prince of Peace comes out here in the cosy relationship between him and YHWH. They will be as father and son, and the throne of his kingship will be established over God’s people for ever.

These words echo 2 Samuel 7.13-14a. But there the house to be built by his seed was the Davidic house, which was YHWH’s house. It was to result in the throne of his kingship being over Israel for ever. David has, however, misinterpreted the words and has taken it over so that it speaks of the Temple.

22.11 “Now, my son, YHWH be with you, and prosper you, and build the house of YHWH your God, as he has spoken concerning you.”

David now encourages his son for what lies ahead. These words echo YHWH’s words to Joshua on the eve of the invasion of the promised land. There Joshua was promised prosperity and success on the basis of heart obedience to the Law of Moses as a consequence of meditating on it (Joshua 1.9). Joshua too had seemed to be on the verge of establishing the kingdom of God. But here David replaces obedience to God’s commands as given in the Law of Moses with obedience in building the Temple. We sense here the insidious working of Satan who has caused David to read his own ideas into what God required (although in verse 13 David will add the proviso of obedience to the Law of Moses).

So David takes the promise of the future house (David’s dynastic house) as referring to a literal Temple, and YHWH now goes along with him in it out of compassion. He will allow him to build a Temple in spite of what He has previously said. David probably saw in Solomon’s coming reign the fulfilment of the expectations of Israel (Psalm 2.7-10), and that and the building of the Temple seemed to go together (all powerful nations had Temples). But the Chronicler is aware of what the building of the Temple will lead to in the division of the kingdom. And we know now that Messiah has come, and that His house, and ours, is His people, and not a physical Temple. The original promise was the right one.

“Build the house of YHWH your God, as he has spoken concerning you.” As we have seen David has misinterpreted the promise. But YHWH allows it out of deference for the desires of His servant David, in the same way as He does not interfere when we misinterpret promises. So now David urges Solomon to fulfil the words. We might feel that had Solomon been left to concentrate on ruling his people wisely things would have turned out better. As it was he was committed by David to a massive building project which gave him big ideas. As a consequence he became a typical oriental monarch.

22.12-13 “Only YHWH give you discretion and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that so you may observe the law of YHWH your God. Then you will prosper, if you observe to do the statutes and the ordinances which YHWH charged Moses with concerning Israel. Be strong, and of good courage; fear not, nor be dismayed.”

Nevertheless David does recognise the necessity for obedience to the Law of Moss. This was the difference between him and Saul. And so he calls on God to give Solomon discretion and understanding (both of which Solomon will in the end lack) and give him the charge to keep His Law in relation to Israel. Here the reference to Joshua 1 by David cannot be doubted. “Observe the Law of YHWH your God -- then you will prosper -- to do the statutes and the ordinance which YHWH charged Moses with -- be strong and of good courage, fear not nor be dismayed”. Compare Joshua 1.7-9. Like Joshua as he faces the task of establishing the kingdom of God in Canaan, Solomon is to observe the Law of YHWH given to Moses, doing its statutes and ordinances, then he will subsequently prosper, and can be strong and of good courage, fearing nothing. These words would be a great encouragement to the young Solomon in the face of the tasks ahead. The words come to us too as we seek to establish God’s rule over men. We too must observe His word, and seek our strength and encouragement in Him.

22.14 “Now, behold, in my affliction I have prepared for the house of YHWH a hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver, and of bronze and iron without weight, for it is in abundance. Timber also and stone have I prepared, and you may add to it.”

David now explains to Solomon what he has done in preparation for the building of the Temple. ‘In my affliction.’ This may refer to the wars that he has had to endure, or to the strenuous activities which had enabled him to build up wealth in spite of his old age. He now wants Solomon to recognise that he has amassed for the purpose a huge stock of gold, silver, bronze and iron, together with timber (cedar wood) and prepared stone.

The huge quantities of gold and silver are not to be taken literally. When round figures like these are used they are intended to convey vastness. He is saying ‘I have gathered together a vast unquantifiable amount of gold, and an even vaster unquantifiable amount of silver.’ See verse 16 where this is confirmed. (Whilst it might have been possible to weigh such quantities after years of effort by a vast army of assessors, it is not likely that the attempt was made. It may certainly have been recorded through the years as it was gathered, but it is very questionable whether anyone would be able to assess the full total, even if they had tried. It would have required an army of numerate assessors, and quite outstanding management of the results. Compare how we might say ‘I have millions of them’. We don’t mean it literally).

22.15 “Moreover there are workmen with you in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all men who are skilful in every manner of work.”

And as well as the materials David had gathered and trained skilled workmen of all kinds who could fulfil the tasks required for such a huge building. Some would be hewers of wood, others workers in stone and timber. Both stones and timber would have to be cut to size and shaped. Great stones would have to be broken up and shaped. And there would be innumerable other skilful tasks required such as metal-workers and potters. But the rough and demanding work would be done by the pressed men.

22.16a “Of the gold, the silver, and the bronze, and the iron, there is no number.”

Here it is made clear that the gold, silver, bronze and iron were beyond assessing. They simply could not be calculated.

22.16b Arise and be doing, and YHWH be with you.”

This is again reminiscent of Joshua 1.2, 9, 17. It is a call to action in the light of what has been said. Solomon is to ‘arise and be doing’. David was filled with a sense of urgency concerning the work, and he does not want Solomon to delay in carrying it out. It is a call that comes to all of us. There should come a time for us all when we ‘arise and do’ knowing that the Lord will be with us. There comes a time for action.

David Commands The Princes Of Israel To Give Solomon All The Assistance That They Can (22.17-19).

This was not necessarily said at the same time as the previous words. But it was inevitable that at some stage the ageing and wise king would exhort his servants to assist the youthful Solomon.

22.17 ‘David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying,’

David commands all the princes of Israel to aid his son in the work. He wants them to be behind him in what he does.

22.18 “Is not YHWH your God with you? And has he not given you rest on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before YHWH, and before his people.”

He pointed out to princes that YHWH their God was with them, and that He had demonstrated this by giving them rest on every side, by delivering them out of the hands of ‘the inhabitants of the land’. This last phrase regularly indicated the Canaanite in Numbers, Joshua and Judges, thus uniting the thought here with those days, but David was no doubt also looking further afield, seeing ‘the land’ as stretching far farther than Joshua had ever dreamed of. The kingdom of God was being established.

These words could have been spoken by Joshua towards the end of his life, even though there was much land to be possessed. In view of what we saw previously David clearly saw himself as another Joshua, warring in order to obtain rest and establish the kingdom of God And now rest had been achieved, and in his view it was time to build the Temple as a symbol of that peace. No longer would God’s house need to rove about. It could be settled in Jerusalem. David no doubt had a rose-coloured view of the future. But YHWH was more wary.

22.19 “Now set your heart and your whole life to seek after YHWH your God. Arise therefore, and build you the sanctuary of YHWH God, to bring the ark of the covenant of YHWH, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of YHWH.”

As a consequence of what YHWH has done they are to set their heart and their whole life (their nephesh) to see after YHWH their God. And that involved arising and building the sanctuary of YHWH God in order to unite the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH, which was in the Tent in Jerusalem, with the holy vessels of God which had come from long ago and were in the Tabernacle. It was a desire to unite the worship of YHWH under one roof. This would then indicate that YHWH and His people were one, and that their hearts were right with Him.

Some have argued that because these words of David concerning the Temple are not found elsewhere, e.g. in the account given by the author of Samuel, their genuineness must be doubted. But it may well be argued that they were in fact outside the purpose of the author of Samuel, who deliberately ended his treatment of David with the account of the numbering of Israel, and the purchase of the threshing-floor. David’s subsequent preparation for the building of the Temple was clearly not seen by him as relevant to his purpose. Alternately it may be that the writer was writing just after the numbering of Israel occurred, so that what is described here could not have been referred to by him as it had not yet occurred. With the Chronicler it was different. They were very much in line with his purpose to validate the Temple, even if with reservations.

As Death Approaches David Seeks to Organise The Ministry of the Tabernacle And The Jerusalem Tent In Readiness For When The Personnel will Be Needed In The Temple (23.1-26.32).

David now seeks to organise the ministry of the Tabernacle in Gibeon, and the Tent in Jerusalem. This would put them in readiness for when all served in the Temple. He not only wanted things to be as easy as possible for the young Solomon, but he was also remembering how fatal had been his attempt to bring the Ark into Jerusalem without consulting YHWH and without ensuring that the correct procedures were followed. Now he wanted to ensure the validity of those who would serve in the house of God and its courts, and to ensure that only genuine Levites were involved, and then to urge them to serve faithfully. What follows is therefore a determination by David to ensure that he does what is right by God in covenant obedience.

We may well feel, what has this to do with us today? The answer is ‘much every way’. It is a reminder of the care that we should take to ensure that only those chosen by God should have responsibilities in our services and our activity, whilst maintaining the freedom of the Holy Spirit. It is not something we should take lightly. It is a reminder that we should take great care to ensure that all that has to be done in the church is done properly, and that the church is properly maintained and its worship carried out in accordance with God’s requirements. It is a reminder that we are responsible to put our whole heart into the furthering of God’s work, and that we should play our full part in praying, singing and using musical instruments to the glory of God. It is stressing that we should be right hand men and women to our ministers/elders.

It would appear from the narrative that the Chronicler obtained his information from one or more sources, as we would expect. This coming section is divided up as follows:

  • 1). The Divisions Of The Levites Into Groups For Consecutive Service, Their Genealogies and Duties (chapter 23).
  • 2). The Delineation And Division Of The Priests (chapter 24).
  • 3). The Delineation And Division Of The Singers (chapter 25).
  • 4). The Delineation And Division Of The Gatekeepers, and their Functions (26.1-28).
  • 5). The Delineation And Division Of The Officers and Judges (26.29-32).

In each case, apart from the last, they are divided up so that there will always be a group in readiness to take over from the previous group.

Note in relation to these subsections that the fivefold duties of the Levites were:

  • 1). To minister in the Courts of The Tabernacle/Temple.
  • 2). To carry out the priestly duties in the Holy Place through the sons of Aaron.
  • 3). To lead the worship of the people with instruments and singing.
  • 4). To ensure security within the Tabernacle/Temple and prevent unauthorised access (especially important in the Chronicler’s day).
  • 5). To administer justice among the people in guiding them rightly and ensuring the fulfilment of The Law of Moses.

We note from this that God was not only concerned about the correctness of the religious ritual, and with who should be able to approach Him, but was equally concerned for justice and understanding among the people.

The first subsection deals with the authorised divisions of the Levites in general, ensuring that all are aware of the details of the Levitical clans, and that only genuine descendants of the Levites fulfilled the Levitical duties.

1). The Divisions Of The Levites Into Groups For Consecutive Service, Their Genealogiess and Duties (chapter 23).

The purpose of this chapter is to ensure the genuineness of the Levites involved in the work of God by tracing their genealogies, and to show how they were divided into twenty four groups so that each group would follow the previous one consecutively in order to ensure the continuation of their important ministry. In the Tabernacle/Temple this consisted of assisting the priests in their daily activities, leading the worship in song, ensuring the security of the Tabernacle/Temple and teaching the people the Law.

Introduction: The Gathering Of The Princes, Levites and Priests For Consultation (23.1-2)

23.1 ‘Now David was old and full of days, and he made Solomon his son king over Israel.’

The description of David as ‘old and full of days’ connects him with the patriarchs, Abraham (Genesis 25.8) and Isaac (Genesis 35.29), the record of whose lives may have been the source for its use here. The phrase is also used of Job (Job 42.17). Its significance was that the person in question had had a long and satisfactory life, and was thus favoured by YHWH. As a consequence of his age David now handed over the throne to Solomon who was made king over Israel (see 1 Kings 1). There is no reason why a man who could not keep warm in bed (1 Kings 1.2-4) should not also have been active in the heat of the day. David was the kind of man who found it difficult to fully relinquish the reins. What follows may, however have occurred before that date, for verses 1 and 2 are not necessarily chronological. Old Testament writers regularly gave out a piece of information and then reverted to a time before it occurred in order to lead up to it. Here the Chronicler is explaining the steps David had taken to prepare for the coronation day.

‘He made Solomon his son king over Israel.’ In a way typical of Scripture the writer indicates the substance of what is to follow by a quick introductory phrase. He wants to be sure that all realise that what follows is done in the light of the coming accession of Solomon.

23.2 ‘And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites.’

In view of his age David gathered together all the princes of Israel together with the priests and the Levites, in order to deal with the matters which follow. This would be essential. He wanted to brief his loyal servants concerning their responsibilities towards the young Solomon so as to adequately fulfil the obligations that he was laying on him. A further gathering, mentioned in 28.1, took place at a different time. Like all committees they would take time to finalise their decisions, and would have a number of meetings for the purpose.

The Numbering Of The Levites Over Thirty Years Old And A Summary Of Their Duties (23.3-5).

23.3 ‘And the Levites were numbered from thirty years old and upward, and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty eight sub-clans (thousands).’

The first stage at this time was to number the Levites who were over thirty years old. That was the original age at which Levites commenced their full duties (Numbers 4.3, 23). In other words it was the age when they were seen as fully responsible. Their numbers came to thirty eight sub-clans.

Levites over twenty five years of age had always been able to take up subsidiary duties in service in the Tent of Meeting, presumably as a kind of apprentice (Numbers 8.23-26), but they were subservient to their elders. They could not fulfil the full duties until they had served a five year apprenticeship. However, this was all to change. In view of the changed duties of the Levites David now intended to reduce their age for commencing service to twenty years of age for the reasons stated in verses 24-27. This would increase the number of serving Levites in view of the requirements of the Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Tent (and late the coming Temple), and would also keep the younger ones busy and ‘out of mischief’ when their compatriots went off to fight at that age. The younger ones may well, however, still have been in a junior role.

23.4-5 ‘Of these, twenty four sub-clans (thousands) were to oversee the work of the house of YHWH, and six sub-clans (thousands) were officers and judges, and four sub-clans (thousands) were doorkeepers; and four sub-clans (thousands) praised YHWH “with the instruments which I made,” said David, “with which to praise.”

The duties of the thirty eight sub-clans was as follows:

  • Twenty four sub-clans were to oversee the work of the house of YHWH.
  • Six sub-clans had responsibility for interpreting the Law as officers and judges.
  • Four sub-clans were doorkeepers.
  • Four sub-clans were musicians and singers.

The twenty four courses of Levites tie in with the twenty four courses of priests which David would establish (24.7-19). Each course of priests would be supported by a course of Levites.

We also learn in what follows that David had introduced various instruments into the worship of the house of God for the purpose of praising YHWH. He was a concerned musician.

The Division Of The Levites Into Courses (23.6-23).

It will be noted that there are no long genealogies given here. Rather the concern is with the spread of the families of Levites and with their connections. The names of leaders of the family tribes are provided, and their sons, but no more. It may well be that the later genealogies were on the whole not known in detail except as individual memories. In the event not many Israelites could actually trace their line back for more than a few generations. But all knew to which clan they belonged.

23.6 ‘And David divided them into courses according to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.’

The division into courses was on the basis of their descent from the three sons of Levi, Gershon, Kohath and Merari for which see 6.1, 16. Gershon is sometimes spelled Gershom, possibly indicating twin sources.

The Sons Of Gershon (23.7-11).

We are now given details of the descendants of Gershon, commencing with his sons and going down to his grandsons.

23.7 ‘Of the Gershonites: Ladan and Shimei.’

In 6.17 the sons of Gershon were named as Libni and Shimei (compare Exodus 6.17; Numbers 26.58). This is the first mention of Ladan. However, this may well indicate a change of name as was common in Israel, with LBN’ becoming LDN. In 6.20 Libni’s firstborn son is named Jahath. Here he is named Jehiel, possibly a similar change of name. A change of name to a similar name might well have been fashionable on a Levite achieving the age of maturity. Alternately these may be the names of two descendants of Gershon, with Libni having produced Ladan.

The Descendants of Ladan (Libni) (23.8-9).

We now have described the most important members of the house of Ladan (Libni). These became heads of father’s houses.

23.8 ‘The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the chief, and Zetham, and Joel, three.’

Here we learn that Ladan (Libni) had three sons. Previously only the firstborn has been mentioned, and that as Jahath. Now these three are mentioned, Jahath (Jehiel), Zetham and Joel. Three indicated completeness. It indicated that God was pleased with Ladan.

23.9a ‘The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, and Haziel, and Haran, three.’

One of Libni’s descendants was named Shimei (verse 9b makes clear that he was a Libnite). This is not unlikely as Shimei was a common name among the Levites (notice how the sons of Merari had two Shimeis in their line of descent - 6.29-30). And this Shimei begat three sons, Shelomoth, Haziel and Haran. (For the sudden jump to a descendant in a genealogical passage compare, for example, 2.6-7). The repetition of three sons indicates the completeness of the clan, which is divided into sub-clans (father’s houses). Ladan, Jehiel, Zetham, Joel, Shimei, Shelomoth, Haziel and Haran apparently formed eight sub-clans.

23.9b ‘These were the heads of the fathers’ houses of Ladan.’

All those mentioned above, including Shimei, were heads of the father’s houses of Libni (Ladan). They thus number eight sub-clans.

The Descendants of Shimei, Gershon’s Son (23.11).

Gershon’s son Shimei is clearly a different person from Shimei the descendant of Ladan (verse 9a). He begets four sons, but two of them form only one sub-clan.

23.10 ‘And the sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah.’

This Shimei begat four sons, Jahath, Zina, Jeush and Beriah. These seemingly formed sub-clans, with Jeush and Beria forming one between them. They formed three sub-clans.

23.10b ‘These four were the sons of Shimei.’

These four, the Chronicler emphasises, were the sons of Shimei, the son of Gershon.

23.11 ‘And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons; therefore they became a fathers’ house in one reckoning.’

The order of importance of the four sons is now given. Jahath as firstborn was the chief. Note how Zina’s name has been changed to Zizah. the same phenomenon as we have already seen. Note also the indication that not all sons became the heads of father’s houses. Jeush and Beriah together made up one father’s house because they had few children, and grandchildren. Nature played its course in the formation of clans and sub-clans. Eight sub-clans plus three sub-clans equals eleven in all, But if we exclude Shimei out of the eight, seeing his sub-clan as gathered up into his sons, we have ten sub-clans for Gershom.

The Kohathites (23.12-20).

The sons of Kohath are as mentioned previously, but it is the line of Moses that is now followed, not the line of Aaron. This was because the Chronicler was dealing specifically with the non-priestly Levites as verses 13-14 make clear.

23.12 ‘The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four.’

For these sons of Kohath see 6.1-2; Exodus 6.18.

The Descendants Of Amram (23.13-17).

Here we are given the descendants of Amram through the line of Moses, because Aaron, as ‘Priest’, is dealt with elsewhere. It is from Moses, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel that the Levite sub-clans will develop.

23.13 ‘The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses.’

For this see 6.3. Note how this confirms what was said in Exodus 6.20. It is clear that if Amram was the direct son of Kohath then he could not be the direct father of Aaron and Moses (they were 400 years in Egypt - Acts 7.6). Amram was probably the clan leader from whom they were descended.

23.13b ‘And Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons, for ever, to burn incense before YHWH, to minister to him, and to bless in his name, for ever.’

The Chronicler points out that he will not provide the genealogy of Aaron here because he was not just an ordinary Levite, but one who was sanctified to the most holy things, and thus his sons alone had access into the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. He and his descendants alone could burn incense before YHWH on the altar of incense in the Holy Place, and minister to Him there, and lead the worship of His Name on behalf of the people. Thus they will be dealt with separately.

23.14 ‘But as for Moses the man of God, his sons were named among the tribe of Levi.’

While Moses was a prophet (man of God) and ‘the servant of YHWH’, that status did not pass on to his sons. His place was taken by Joshua the servant of YHWH and Eliezer the High Priest acting together. What his sons did receive, however, was the right to be Levites, with Levite privileges (which at least one misused - Judges 18.30).

23.15 ‘The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer.’

The sons of Moses were Gershom (Exodus 2.22; 18.3) and Eliezer (Exodus 18.4), born to him through Zipporah his Midianite wife (Exodus 2.21). Note the change from Gershon (Gershonite) to Gershom, possibly an indication of a different source, or it may simply have been in order to distinguish the two Gershons.

23.16 ‘The sons of Gershom: Shebuel the chief.’

Gershom presumably had a number of sons (unlike with Eliezer it does not say he had no other sons), but Shebuel was seemingly his firstborn and head of the family tribe. Or it may be that ‘Shebuel’ refers, not to Gershom’s son, but to the famous descendant of Gershom who was ruler over the treasuries of David (26.24), his near sons being ignored. But the reference to him being the ‘chief’, paralleled with Rehabiah in verse 17, suggests that this Shebuel was a direct son of Gershom, who was head of his father’s house. Shebuel had a descendant named Jehdeiah (24.20).

23.17 ‘And the sons of Eliezer were, Rehabiah the chief; and Eliezer had no other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many.’

Eliezer had only one son, Rehabiah, who became chief of the family tribe. But we are assured that Rehabiah was particularly fruitful and had many sons. At a time when family fruitfulness was considered to be a sign of being worthy, this was important. He is mentioned again in 26.25. His firstborn was named Isshaiah the chief (24.21). Descended from him was the Shelomoth who was in charge of the treasury of dedicated gifts in the time of David (26.26).

The Sons Of Izhar (23.18).

Izhar was Amram’s brother, and was the son of Kohath, son of Levi.

23.18 ‘The sons of Izhar: Shelomith the chief.’

Izhar had one son of whom we know. He was named Shelomith (a variant of Shelomoth) and became chief of his father’s household. Selomoth had a descendant named Jahath (24.22).

The Sons Of Hebron (23.19-20).

Hebron was Amram’s brother and the third son of Kohath, son of Levi.

23.19 ‘The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the chief, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth.’

The sons of Hebron were Jeriah the chief, Amariah, Jahaziel and Jekameam. Thus Hebron had four sons of whom Jeriah was chief of his family tribe. He is also called chief of the Hebronites in 24.23.

The Sons Of Uzziel (23.20).

Uzziel was Amram’s brother and the fourth son of Kohath.

23.20 ‘The sons of Uzziel: Micah the chief, and Isshiah the second.’

Uzziel had a son named Micah who became chief of the family tribe. Micah had brother name Isshiah, who seemingly also formed a family tribe. Micah in turn had a descendant named Shamir (24.24), whilst Isshaiah had a descendant named Zechariah (24.25).

Thus there were nine sub-clans of the sub-tribe of Kohath. These were Shebuel, Rehabiah, Shelomith, Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, Jekameam, Micah, Isshaiah.

The importance of these names to Israel was that people would ‘trace’ their descent to one or another. But it is probable that, apart from Priests and Levites, and Davidides, where it was very important, few could really trace their descent back by more than five generations (it was certainly true in the time of Jesus). The tracing would to a certain extent be by family ‘memory’, which would be accepted as reasonable evidence, and some descent would be by adoption. But their genealogies would not go right back to Levi. On the other hand some method of checking was clearly available for both Israelites and the priests, as some were doubtfully accepted as Israelites, or were excluded from the priesthood, by the returnees because they could not prove their descent (Ezra 2.59-63).

The Merariites (23.21-23).

The third son of Levi was named Merari. He had two sons, Mahli and Mushi.

23.21a ‘The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.’

For these names compare 6.19; Exodus 6.19.

23.21b ‘The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish.’

Mahli in turn had two sons, Eleazar and Kish. Both would be heads of sub-clans.

23.22 And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters only, and their brothers the sons of Kish took them to wife.

But Eleazar died leaving no sons, only daughters, and these intermarried with the sons of Kish in accordance with Numbers 36.6-7. YHWH was their inheritance. Thus Eleazar’s sub-clan would continue on through a daughter and her husband (compare 2.21-23).

23.23 ‘The sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.’

Mushi had three sons who formed sub-clans, thus with the two sons of Mahli making five in all. Ten sub-clans of Gershon, nine of Kohath and five of Merari make twenty four in all. Compare 23.4a.

From all this the returnees would note how YHWH had raised up those who would be ready to fulfil the service of the house of YHWH. And they could be sure that He would continue to do so.

The Responsibilities Of The Levites, And The Decrease Of The Age Limit To Twenty (23.24-32).

The Chronicler now carefully explains the responsibilities of the Levites, whilst also making clear that David in his dying days altered the age of Levite service so that it began at twenty. This was important for him as the ‘all Israel’ who had returned from Exile had a duty to conform to the Law of Moses, and to order the service of the new Temple aright. It is a reminder that we too must ensure that the Lord’s house and its services are properly maintained and run, simply because it is the Lord’s and not ours.

23.24 ‘These were the sons of Levi after their fathers’ houses, even the heads of the fathers’ houses of those of them who were counted, in the number of names by their polls, who did the work for the service of the house of YHWH, from twenty years old and upward.’

We are now informed that the names we have been considering were the names of heads of fathers’ houses who were over the thirty eight sub divisions of the Levites (verses 3-4). They were responsible for the twenty four sub-clans, plus the extra Levites who had been drawn from the twenty four sub-clans and formed the specialist groups, but were nevertheless a part of the whole. They were said to be ‘counted’ for service, although whether ‘in the number of names by their polls’ means that they were head counted, or whether it means that they were counted by sub-clans with a view to service is not clear (each sub-clan would not be an exact number). The ‘numbers’ had been taken of those who were twenty years old and upwards. That is, they had each been set apart for YHWH’s service.

23.25 ‘For David said, “YHWH, the God of Israel, has given rest to his people, and he dwells in Jerusalem for ever.”

David now gives his reason for doing what he had. It was because YHWH, Israel’s God, had at last given them rest under his rule, so that He might dwell among them in Jerusalem for ever. Notice how David has already begun to ‘limit’ YHWH to Jerusalem. This was indeed the danger of the later Temple as Ezekiel would make clear. In all reverence he felt that, in providing Him with a house of cedar (contrary to His wishes) he could be sure of YHWH’s presence for ever. But he had not reckoned with the sins of kings and peoples. He would have been horrified to know that one day YHWH would desert the Temple to be with His true people in exile (Ezekiel 9.3; 10.4, 15-22; 11.22-23). There is only one Jerusalem in which YHWH can dwell for ever, and that is in the Temple of His people (2 Corinthians 6.15-18).

23.26 “And also the Levites will no more have need to carry the tabernacle and all the vessels of it for its service.”

The reason why he had reduced the lower age limit for Levite service was because the Levites were no longer responsible for the dismantling of the Tabernacle and for carrying the Tabernacle and its furniture from place to place. It was clearly felt that this required mature heads, but that the wider service in the Tabernacle and Jerusalem Tent, (and eventually in the Temple), could be performed by younger men as well.

23.27 ‘For by the last words of David the sons of Levi were numbered, from twenty years old and upward.’

These were David’s last words with regard to the ordering of worship, but probably not his last words spoken on his deathbed. By them he decreed the reduction in the lower age limit for Levite service to twenty years old

23.28 ‘For their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of YHWH, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of the house of God.’

Their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron, assisting them in different ways in the service of the house of YHWH. Notice that the service of the Levites does not include entry into the Holy Place, the Sanctuary itself. They have entry into the courts, and the chambers attached to the outside of the coming Temple, and have a responsibility for purifying holy things, preparing them for the use of the priests. But they could not enter the Sanctuary.

23.29 ‘For the showbread also, and for the fine flour for a meal-offering, whether of unleavened wafers, or of that which is baked in the pan, or of that which is soaked, and for all manner of measure and size.’

Part of that responsibility included cooking the showbread, preparing the fine flour for the meal offering, and activity with regard to it, which could include cooking and soaking. And this was in accordance with whatever size was required. Thus they performed the lowlier tasks for the priests. (They could not, however, prepare the holy anointing oil or the incense).

23.30 ‘And to stand every morning to thank and praise YHWH, and in the same way in the evening.’

Another responsibility would be to stand morning and evening in the courts of the Tent in order to thank and praise God before the entrance to the Sanctuary, so that praise continually rose to YHWH, in the same way as the sacrificial smoke of the altar arose continually.

23.31 ‘And to offer all burnt-offerings to YHWH, on the sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts, in number according to the ordinance concerning them, continually before YHWH,’

This does not mean that they had the responsibility for offering and sacrificing the offerings and sacrifices. That was the duty of the priests. It refers to their initial part played in the preparation of the offerings and sacrifices which were to be offered. They could help to bring the beasts to the priest, after checking them for imperfection, and lift them into place, and then take away the hides and the priests’ portions for storage in the Temple chambers. They were responsible to ensure that all the required sacrifices, whether on the sabbaths, or the new moons, or on set feasts, were duly available and fit to be offered.

23.32 ‘And that they should keep the charge of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brothers, for the service of the house of YHWH.’

And finally, without entering the Holy Place, they were under charge from the priests, and from the Holy Place, and from the Tent of Meeting (and later the Temple) to do all that was necessary for its smooth running, including the cleaning of the holy vessels once they were brought out of the Holy Place, and the maintenance of furniture which periodically had to be replaced. This was part of their service for the house of YHWH. They were the ‘handmaids’ of the priests. But, of course, the dirty work of general cleaning and polishing in the courts and the outer chambers was left to the Nethinim, and later the ‘servants of Solomon’ (Temple slaves).

Note the reference to ‘the Tent of Meeting’. All this was done for the purpose of servicing worship in the Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Tent. David did not directly have the Temple in mind.

2). The Delineation And Divisions Of The Priests (chapter 24).

Note in providing this information how the passage commences with a stern, but indirect, warning of what could happen if God’s requirements are not considered and fulfilled. No more stark example of failure to do this could be found than Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10.1-2; Numbers 3.4). Whilst the Chronicler does not bring this out, possibly in deference to the priesthood, even the mention of their names would cause every Israelite to shudder. Their story was known to all. As a consequence of their folly they were excluded from the privilege of them and their potential families serving God for ever. For they ‘died before their father and had no children.’ They were blotted out from before God. It was consideration of such things (and what had happened to Uzza) that was now making David so careful. It should make us careful too about whom we appoint to the service of God.

So in order to ensure the smooth running of the house of God David now divided up the multitude of priests into twenty four courses (as he had the Levites - 23.3-4). Each course was to serve consecutively.

Aaron And His Sons (14.1-2).

In order to relate the current priests in the time of David to Aaron the Chronicler supplies us with details of the sons of Aaron.

24.1 ‘And the courses of the sons of Aaron were these. The sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.’

Aaron had four sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar (6.3; Exodus 6.23; etc).

24.2 ‘But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children. Therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office.’

However, Nadab and Abihu had no children because they were struck down for blasphemy before they could have them (Leviticus 10.1-2; Numbers 3.4). This left Eleazar and Ithamar to exercise the priests’ office. It is the descendants of Eleazar and Ithamar who will now be described.

The Descendants of Eleazar And Ithamar Are Assigned To Twenty Four Courses By Sacred Lot (24.3-19).

24.3 ‘And David with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their ordering in their service.’

David assigned the priestly houses with the assistance of the two High Priests, Zadok, the son of Ahitub, who was a descendant of Eleazar, and Ahimelech, the son of Abiathar, who was a descendant of Ithamar (this last is clear from the fact that neither Eli, nor Ahitub (a different one from the father of Zadok, 1 Samuel 14.3), nor Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, nor Abiathar the son of Ahimelech, nor Ahimelech the son of Abiather are mentioned in the genealogy of Eleazar in 6.4-15, 49-53 which they would have been if they had been descendants of Eleazar, for they were legitimate High Priests). They were divided up by their families into twenty four courses, during which they would perform the service of YHWH.

24.4 ‘And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar, and thus were they divided: of the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen heads of fathers’ houses, and of the sons of Ithamar, according to their fathers’ houses, eight.’

It would appear that the selection of the number twenty four was because there were twenty four sub-clans of the house of Aaron, with a chief over each of them. Sixteen of these sub-clans were descended from Eleazar, and eight from Ithamar.

24.5 ‘Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for there were princes of the sanctuary, and princes of God, both of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar.’

These priests were divided up by lot under God’s guidance. This was something that could not be left to man, even David. Note that their chiefs are here described as princes of the Sanctuary, and princes of God, and come from both sub-tribes. It seems probable that ‘prince of the sanctuary’ equates to ‘prince of God’, the two being the same. It was because they were princes of the Sanctuary that they were princes of God.

24.6 ‘And Shemaiah the son of Nethanel the scribe, who was of the Levites, wrote them in the presence of the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and of the Levites; one fathers’ house being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar.’

The names of the descendants of Eleazar were probably put in one vessel and the names of the descendants of Ithamar in another. They would then have been drawn out in some agreed order. The details of how the lots came out were recorded by Semaiah the son of Nethanel in the presence of the king. Also present on this solemn occasion were the princes; Zadok and Ahimelech; the priestly chiefs, and the Levite chiefs.

The reason why Ahimelech was High Priest while Abiathar was still alive may have been because Abiathar at some stage had become seriously ill, which would be explain why Ahimelech, having been appointed as High Priest to serve on the Day of Atonement in his father’s place, could be seen as the High Priest. There was no such thing as an interim High Priest)

The dividing up of the courses of the priests was as follows. No indication is given, probably deliberately, of which came from the house of Eleazar and which from the house of Ithamar. All were to be seen as of equal value. Many of the names appear repeatedly throughout Israel’s history (Jedaiah, Jeshua, Immer and Harim are mentioned in Ezra 2.36-39 in connection with the returnees from Exile).

The Twenty Four Priestly Courses (24.7-18).

24.7a ‘Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib.’
24.7b ‘The second to Jedaiah.’
24.8a ‘The third to Harim.’
24.8b ‘The fourth to Seorim.’
24.9a ‘The fifth to Malchijah.’
24.9b ‘The sixth to Mijamin.’
24.10a ‘The seventh to Hakkoz.
24.10b ‘The eighth to Abijah.’
24.11a ‘The ninth to Jeshua.’
24.11b ‘The tenth to Shecaniah.’
24.12a ‘The eleventh to Eliashib.’
24.12b ‘The twelfth to Jakim.’
24.13a ‘The thirteenth to Huppah.’
24.13b ‘The fourteenth to Jeshebeab.’
24.14a ‘The fifteenth to Bilgah.’
24.14b ‘The sixteenth to Immer.’
24.15a ‘The seventeenth to Hezir.’
24.15b ‘The eighteenth to Happizzez.’
24.16a ‘The nineteenth to Pethahiah.’
24.16b ‘The twentieth to Jehezkel.’
24.17a ‘The twenty first to Jachin.’
24.17b ‘The twenty second to Gamul.’
24.18a ‘The twenty third to Delaiah.’
24.18b ‘The twenty fourth to Maaziah.’

24.19 ‘This was the ordering of them in their service, to come into the house of YHWH according to the ordinance given to them by Aaron their father, as YHWH, the God of Israel, had commanded him.’

Each of the courses would enter into the house of YHWH when their turn came, and would act in accordance with the ordinance given by Aaron which in its turn was commanded by YHWH the God of Israel.

The Rest Of The Sons Of Levi (24.20-31).

For these compare 23.12-23. They were descended from Amram, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and from the other grandsons of Levi. The importance of those named comes out in that as chieftains of family clans they were called on to cast lots before David in the selection of the priestly courses (verse 31).

1). The Sons Of Kohath (24.20-25).

The sons of Kohath are divided up in terms of Kohath’s sons, Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel (23.12).

a). The Sons Of Amram (24.20-21).

24.20 ‘And of the rest of the sons of Levi: of the sons of Amram, Shubael; of the sons of Shubael, Jehdeiah.’

‘And of the rest of the sons of Levi’, that is, other than the Aaronides whose detail have just been given. In other words we are to be given information with respect to all the Levite families other than the Aaronides. The aim is to demonstrate who it is who has the credentials to be a ‘chief Levite’ and thus qualify to draw lots before YHWH in determining the priestly courses. It was being treated as a very serious matter. This time there must be no doubt. These names will duplicate somewhat what we saw in chapter 23. It commences with the other sons of Kohath, (son of Levi), other than Aaron.

Amram was a son of Kohath, and as well as begetting Aaron he ‘begat’ Shubael (Shebuel), through Moses. Shubael was a grandson of Moses through Gershom and descended from Amram son of Kohath (23.16). He had a descendant named Jehdeiah. It was probably Jehdeiah who qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

24.21 ‘Of Rehabiah: of the sons of Rehabiah, Isshiah the chief.’

Rehebiah was a grandson of Moses through Eliezer, and also descended from Amram son of Kohath (23.17). He had a descendant named Isshiah who became a chief. It was probably Isshiah who qualified to draw the lot.

b). The Sons Of Izhar (24.22).

Izhar was the brother of Amram, and father of the ‘Izharites’,

24.22 ‘Of the Izharites, Shelomoth; of the sons of Shelomoth, Jahath.’

For Shelomoth (Shelomith) see 23.18. It was seemingly his descendant Johath who qualified to draw the lot.

c). The Sons of Hebron (24.23).

Hebron was another son of Kohath, and brother of Amram. He was father of the Hebronites.

24.23 ‘And the sons of Hebron: Jeriah the chief, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth.’

Compare here 23.19. We should probably translate ‘descendants of Hebron’. It was seemingly Jeriah who qualified to draw the lot, or it might have been all four as heads of fathers’ houses.

d). The Sons of Uzziel (24.24-25).

Uzziel also was a son of Kohath and brother of Amram. The descendants of Uzziel were named Micah and Isshiah (23.20).

24.24 ‘The sons of Uzziel, Micah; of the sons of Micah, Shamir.’

Micah, the direct descendant of Uzziel, ‘begat’ a descendant called Shamir. He seemingly qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

24.25 ‘The brother of Micah, Isshiah; of the sons of Isshiah, Zechariah.’

Isshiah, Micah’s brother ‘begat’ a descendant named Zechariah. He seemingly qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

2). The Sons Of Merari

Merari was a direct son of Levi.

24.26a ‘The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.’

The sons of Merari (son of Levi) were Mahli and Mushi (23.21).

a). The Sons Of Mahli (24.26b-29).

24,26b ‘The sons of Jaaziah: Beno.’

Once again we have a descendant suddenly introduced. This is typical of the Chronicler. Jaaziah was clearly a descendant of Merari, and probably of Mahli. He had a descendant named Beno. But unless either Merari or Mahli was Jaaziah’s father, we do not know who his father was. It was seemingly Beno who qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

24.27 ‘The sons of Merari: of Jaaziah, Beno, and Shoham, and Zaccur, and Ibri.’

Indeed Jaazieh appears to have had a number of descendants, including, as well as Beno, Shoham, Zaccur and Ibri. Here Jaaziah is clearly stated to be a ‘descendant of Merari’.

24.28 ‘Of Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons.’

Eleazar was a son of Mahli (23.21), but sadly had no sons. His daughters married the sons of Kish (23.22).

24.29 ‘Of Kish; the sons of Kish: Jerahmeel.’

Kish was another son of Mahli (23.21), and he ‘begat’ a descendant named Jerahmeel who presumably qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

The Sons Of Mushi (24.30a).

24.30a ‘And the sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth.’

Mushi had three prominent descendants, Mahli, named after Mushi’s brother, Eder and Jerimoth (see 23.23). Possibly all three qualified to draw the lot in the time of David.

24.30b ‘These were the sons of the Levites after their fathers’ houses.’

So in summary we are informed that all these were descendants of the Levites in terms of their fathers’ houses, thus qualifying their descendant to ‘draw the lot’.

It will be noted that there is no mention of the sons of Gershon. It may be that the chief of their fathers’ house was not old enough to qualify to draw a lot, not having reached the qualifying age.

24.31 ‘In the same way these cast lots even as their brothers the sons of Aaron in the presence of David the king, and Zadok, and Ahimelech, and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and of the Levites, the fathers’ houses of the chief even as those of his younger brother.’

All those finally named cast lots to determine the priestly courses, along with their brothers, the descendants of Aaron. They did it solemnly in the presence of the king, and of Zadok and Ahimelech the High Priests, and of the heads of priestly houses, and of each other, with their younger brothers acting as witnesses. Only the princes, mentioned in verse 6, are not mentioned here. The determination of priestly courses had to be solemnly made and verified by all priestly houses and Levite houses.

Alternately it may be saying that the courses of the Levites in chapter 23 were also determined by lot.

The Solemn Setting Apart By Lot Of The Singers (25.1-31).

The setting apart and allocation of the singers and musicians by David and ‘the commanders of the host’, is now described. It is probable that we should paraphrase ‘commanders of the host’ as referring to ‘the leaders of the whole body of Levites’, seeing commanders as indicating religious commanders, and ‘host’ as indicating the body of their underlings, the Levites being seen as a fighting force for God. For we note that the army are nowhere else seen as involved in the selections. Indeed, in view of the singers’ apparent prophetic function it would be strange if their leadership was not involved in decisions. All this brings out how important David saw this aspect of worship to be. The heads of fathers’ houses of the priests were seemingly not involved in the decisions. Whilst determined by lot, this was not the Sacred Lot.

The Enumeration Of The Song-leaders (25.1-6).

25.1a ‘Moreover David and the commanders of the host set apart for the service certain of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals.’

David and the Levitical leaders over the whole of Levi, set apart, for the service of God in music, certain gifted members of the houses of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun. The aim was that they should ‘prophesy’ with lyres, harps and cymbals. As Heman is later called ‘the seer’ this idea of prophesying is to be taken seriously. The thought may well, however, be that because they sang the creations of prophetic men (the Psalms), and indeed wrote some of them themselves (e.g. Psalms 73-79), they were to some extent seen as prophesying themselves as they portrayed them musically.

We have come across Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun before in 16.37, 41; compare also 15.17 where Jeduthun was known by his other name Ethan. They were the leaders of the families of singers and musicians. They are regularly depicted in this order. The order in verses 2-5 is different, but this was probably because there they are mentioned from low to high in terms of the number of their ‘sons’.

25.1b ‘And the number of those who did the work according to their service was:’

The three leading singers and musician clearly had to be supported musically, and the names of their prominent supporters are now given.

25.2 ‘Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asharelah, the sons of Asaph, under the hand of Asaph, who prophesied after the order of the king.’

Asaph had four ‘sons’, Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah (Jesharelah), each of whom had bands of singer/musicians. The word ‘sons’ may indicate sons by birth (suggested by verse 5), or it may mean rather proteges, students trained by him, and taken under his wing. They were under Asaph’s leadershp, and ‘prophesied’ on the king’s orders. They authored (e.g. Psalms 73-79) and sang forth prophetic Psalms. In verse 6 all three groups are ‘under order from the king.’

These sons of Asaph and their followers were initially the only singers at the Tent in Jerusalem set up by David. They therefore probably played on harps, lyres and cymbals (verse 1).

25.3 ‘Of Jeduthun; the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun with the lyre, who prophesied in giving thanks and praising YHWH.’

Jeduthun is here unusually placed second because of the numerical quantity of his ‘sons’. These were seemingly specialists on the lyre (unless it was Jeduthun who was famous on the lyre). The ‘six’ probably means that there were six including Jeduthun. Or it may be in this case that the name of Shimei (required to make up the twenty four courses in verses 9-31, see verse 20) has accidentally been omitted. It is not, however, easy to see how, and such an idea is only too easy a way of explaining difficulties. Shimei may rather have been a gifted songleader and instrumentalist who was co-opted to make up the twenty four and was not one of their sons.

25.4 ‘Of Heman; the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth.’

The ‘sons’ of Heman are fourteen as listed. It may be that they were specialists on the horn (verse 5) although this would not be in accordance with verses 1 and 6.

25.5 ‘All these were the sons of Heman, the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.’

This verse appears to be exalting Heman as ‘the king’s seer’. Compare Gad in 21.9 But elsewhere both Asaph (2 Chronicles 29.30) and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 35.15) are called ‘seers’ as we would expect if they were seen as ‘prophesying’. Thus Heman’s being described as such here was probably intended to indicate that this was true of all three. All three of them were ‘king’s seers in the word of God’, indicating the reverence with which their singing and playing was received. Just as all three were under the order of the king as stated in verse 2.

To ‘lift up the horn’ may signify that Heman’s sons were specialists with the ram’s horn, but it more probably signifies that they ‘lifted up their father’s horn’ (forehead) in the sense that they brought out his outstanding status before the people (as did the sons of Asaph and Jeduthun). God lifted up Heman’s horn even further by giving him fourteen sons and three daughters. This statement may be seen as confirming that the sons of Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were sons by birth. This did not make Heman superior to the other two (Asaph is always mentioned first) but it did give him a certain prominence in that his sons were dominant among the twenty four.

Note the use of verb forms among the names of Heman’s sons, which is unusual for names, e.g. Giddalti (I have made great), Romamti (I have exalted), Mallothi (I have made full). This may have been the consequence of a father’s pride in the way he had taught his sons, or may be an acknowledgement of what YHWH has done for his sons. Some see the last nine names as having specifically been drawn from Psalms,

25.6 ‘All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of YHWH, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God; Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman being under the order of the king.’

This verse reiterates and amplifies on what was said in verse 1. Together the verses form an inclusio indicating a paragraph break (note also the reversal of the order of musical instruments). But here in verse 6 the names of the leading singers are listed in the order determined by the numeracy of their sons in verses 2-5, not in their regular order as in verse 1. It is emphasised that they all played on cymbals, harps and lyres for the service of ‘the house of God’ (the house of God being initially the two Tents in Jerusalem and Gibeon, and in the end the Temple), and that all three songleaders were under orders from the king.

The Establishing By Lot Of The Courses Of The Singers And Musicians (25.7-31).

As with the priests and Levites the singers and musicians were divided into twenty four courses, in this case made up of twelve musicians in each course, thus making up two hundred and eighty eight in all.

25.7 ‘And the number of them, with their brothers who were instructed in singing to YHWH, even all who were skilful, was two hundred and eighty eight.’

The number of those chosen out to sing to YHWH, having been taught and having revealed their skill, were two hundred and eighty eight, which includes those mentioned above.

25.8 ‘And they cast lots for their offices, all alike, as well the small as the great, the teacher as the pupil.’

It may be that the singers were allocated to their course one by one by lot, without regard as to whether they were important or unimportant, or teachers or pupils, with it being left to YHWH to decide by lot who should be in which group. But this would appear to be denied by the fact that twenty three of the group leaders were sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun whose listing had been leading up to this (although no doubt YHWH could have arranged that). On the other hand it may have been only the positioning of the group leaders which was discovered by lot so that one was at the head of each course, with the singers under them being specifically and individually selected by lot.

Alternately it may be indicating that, whilst the groups were prearranged, all were involved in the casting of lots whether important or unimportant, teacher or pupil, in order to determine which courses each prearranged group should belong to. (We do not know what method of casting lots was used). The aim is to bring out their oneness in the project. None were excluded. This interestingly brings out that some of the singers were ‘teachers’ (experienced musicians able to help others) and that many of them were ‘pupils’.

The Order Of The Courses.

Apart from in the case of the first course we are not told which leading singer (Asaph, Heman or Jeduthun) was the source of the song-leader in each course, although it is emphasised that the first course was led by a son of Asaph. We are left to work out for ourselves from the previous lists of names who each name was connected with (although it is shown here by an initial in brackets). Shimei is not connected with any name in the text we have.

In the case of the first course we are left to assume that Joseph along with ‘his brothers and sons’ were twelve. But the writer may well have expected us to realise that that fact is required in order to make up the two hundred and eighty eight singers. Where the names given in the list differ from verses 2-5 the name in verses 2-5 is also given in brackets. The differences probably arise because the list below was earlier than the source of verses 2-5 (we would expect it to be recorded in the time of David). ‘Sons’ may include the wider meaning of pupils, and ‘brothers’ may signify his qualified fellow musicians.

25.9a ‘Now the first lot came forth for Asaph to Joseph (A).’
25.9b ‘The second to Gedaliah (J); he and his brothers and sons were twelve.’
25.10 ‘The third to Zaccur (A), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.11 ‘The fourth to Izri (Zeri) (J), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.12 ‘The fifth to Nethaniah (A), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.13 ‘The sixth to Bukkiah (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’ 25.15 ‘The eighth to Jeshaiah (J), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.16 ‘The ninth to Mattaniah (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.17 ‘The tenth to Shimei (no equivalent), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.18 ‘The eleventh to Azarel (Uzziel) (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.19 ‘The twelfth to Hashabiah (J), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.20 ‘For the thirteenth, Shubael (Shebuel) (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.21 ‘For the fourteenth, Mattithiah (J), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.22 ‘For the fifteenth to Jeremoth (Jerimoth) (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.23 ‘For the sixteenth to Hananiah (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.24 ‘For the seventeenth to Joshbekashah (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.25 ‘For the eighteenth to Hanani (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.26 ‘For the nineteenth to Mallothi (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.27 ‘For the twentieth to Eliathah (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.28 ‘For the twenty first to Hothir (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.29 ‘For the twenty second to Giddalti (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.30 ‘For the twenty third to Mahazioth (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’
25.31 ‘For the twenty fourth to Romamti-ezer (H), his sons and his brothers, twelve.’

We do not know how the courses were used whilst there were two sanctuaries, the Tabernacle in Gibeon and the Tent in Jerusalem. It is quite probable that every seven days, perhaps from Sabbath to Sabbath, one course of priests, Levites and singers would be replaced by another in both sanctuaries.

But what has this to say to us today? One thing it stresses is the importance that God lays on the right ordering of our worship, and on the spiritual care needed to ensure that all our musicians and singers are chosen by God. We need to beware of opening such things to anyone. A second thing it stresses is that we should not be nervous of ‘making a joyful noise’ to the Lord.

The Courses Of The Gatekeepers (26.1-19).

The gatekeepers appear to have been sons of Kohath, son of Levi, and of Merari, son of Levi (compare verse 19). It will be noted that some of the gatekeepers in the time of David have the same names as some of the gatekeepers of the returnees from Exile. This was not accidental. There is good reason to think that at least some of the returning Exiles deliberately took the names of their ancient forebears as a sign that they were forming the new Israel. The idea was that Israel was being renewed as of old. So, for example, Meshelemiah (verse 1) and his son Zechariah (verse 2) parallel with 9.21. Note the reference to David in 9.22. There was a conscious re-establishment of things as they were in the time of David even to the extent of names.

26.1 ‘For the courses of the gatekeepers:’

The courses of the doorkeepers (gatekeepers) are now given.

Meshelemiah (Descendant Of Kohath) And His Descendants (26.1b-3).

It is immediately made clear that Meshelemiah was a descendant of Kohath, and that his father was descended from Asaph, the chief singer. It has been quite apparent in the text that gatekeepers also sang and played instruments, and that is confirmed here.

26.1b-3 ‘Of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. And Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the first-born, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh.’

Obed-edom (Descendant of Merari) And His Descendants (36.4-8).

Obed-edom the doorkeeper was a son of Jeduthun, who was clearly a Levite, being a leading singer (16.38). If Ethan (15.17) and Jeduthun (16.42) were the same, as is probable, then Jeduthun was stated to be a descendant of Merari (15.17).

This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that Obed-edom was paired as a doorkeeper with Hosah (verse 11a), who was also a son of Merari (16.38).

26.4-5 ‘And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the first-born, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peullethai the eighth; for God blessed him.’

A list of Obed-edom’s trueborn sons is now given, numbering eight in all. The number of his sons is said to be a sign that God had blessed him. Having numerous offspring was often seen as a sign of God’s blessing.

26.6-7 ‘Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born, who ruled over the house of their father; for they were mighty men of substance. The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brothers were men of substance, Elihu, and Semachiah.

Shemaiah, Obed-edom’s firstborn also had sons, six in all, who ruled over the house of their father. They were all men of substance, both capable and wealthy. The ‘brothers’ (relations in the sub-clan) of Elzabad were also men of substance.

26.8 ‘All these were of the sons of Obed-edom: they and their sons and their brothers, able men in strength for the service; sixty two of Obed-edom.’

The wider family of Obed-edom, excluding his sons, provided sixty two gatekeepers who were capable men and quite sufficient for their service. The number sixty eight in 16.38 is inclusive of Obed-edom and his sons, of whom not all had apparently reached the age of service.

Addendum Re Meshelemiah (36.9).

26.9 ‘And Meshelemiah had sons and brothers, men of substance, eighteen.’

Having brought out that Obed-edom’s wider household numbered sixty two, The writer recalls that he has not told us the number of Meshelemiah’s household and remedies the situation. He now lets us know that Meshelemiah’s household numbered eighteen.

This comment about Meshelemiah was placed here after the giving of the details of Obed-edom, either so as to present a literary envelope in respect of Meshelemiah which surrounds the comments re Obed-edom (a common ancient literature technique), or because having made the comment about the number in Obed-edom’s house, the Chronicler recognised that he had failed to mention the number in Meshelemiah’s house, and so added it here at the first opportunity as an addendum, or in order to bring out vividly the contrast between the number in Obed-edom’s house and the number in Meshelemiah’s house. A ‘man of valour’ was a man of worth in his particular field. Thus the word translated here as ‘substance’ can mean ‘courage’, or ‘wealth’ or ‘status’.

Hosah (Descendant Of Merari) And His Descendants (36.10).

A third group of gatekeepers, also of the house of Merari, were Hosah and his descendants. Hosah is linked with Obed-edom as a gatekeeper in 16.38.

26.10-11a ‘Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief, (for though he was not the first-born, yet his father made him chief), Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth.’

Hosah had four sons, and although Shimri was not the eldest he made him chief of the sub-clan. It is clear that his potential had been duly noted. The others were Hilkiah, Tebaliah and Zechariah.

26.11b ‘All the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen.’

Together with the other members of the sub-clan the household of Hosah numbered thirteen in all. So the number of the ‘households’ of the gatekeepers in total was sixty two plus eighteen plus thirteen which equals ninety three, to which need to be added, at least in the case of Obed-edom, his sons. In 23.5 the number of the gatekeepers was ‘four large units’ (‘thousands’). This suggests therefore that those who are mentioned here were the chief gatekeepers (see verse 12), and not the whole number of gatekeepers. We can compare this with the singers (288 in 25.7, four large units in 23.5).

The Casting Of Lots To Determine What Gate Each Should Guard (26.12-19).

All must be done in accordance with the wishes of YHWH, and so lots are now cast in order to determine which gatekeepers should oversee which gates. There were gates to the north, the east, the south and the west. These would be the gates into the court which was around the Sanctuary, into which only acknowledged Israelites (which would include proselytes who truly worshipped YHWH) would be allowed.

26.12 ‘Of these were the courses of the gatekeepers, even of the chief men, having offices like their brothers, to minister in the house of YHWH.’

This verse connects what follows with what has gone before. Just described in the previous verses have been the courses of the gatekeepers, and their chief men, who like their fellow-Levites each had an office to fulfil in the house of YHWH.

26.13 ‘And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to their fathers’ houses, for every gate.’

All of these, both those who were important, and those who were unimportant, cast lots for which of the fathers’ houses should be at which gate. It applied to both small and great. None were to be excluded from such an important task. We are given no explanation as to how this was achieved. This is a reminder that in God’s house every member of God’s people is important in God’s eyes even if they may not seem to be so to us.

26.14a ‘And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah.’

The eastward gate fell to Shelemiah (Meshelemiah). He and his household, apart from his son Zechariah and his household (verse 14b), were responsible for the oversight of the important east gate.

26.14b ‘Then for Zechariah his son, a discreet counsellor, they cast lots, and his lot came out northward.’

Because there were four gates, and only three Levitical families involved, one family had to be responsible for two gates. Thus Zechariah, the son of Shelemiah, who was seen as especially able, together with his household, formed a fourth group. Lots were cast and he and his family were made responsible for the oversight of the north gate.

26.15 ‘To Obed-edom southward, and to his sons the store-house (house of collection - beth ha asuppim).’

Obed-edom and his family received by lot the responsibility for the south gate. And because they were so numerous they were also given responsibility for ‘the store house’ or ‘house of collection’. ‘The store house’ may be a composite term for all storage places in the courts of the house of God, which would include storage for hides and meat from the sacrifices, storage for sacred vessels and equipment, and possibly security for the treasures later mentioned in verses 20-28.

26.16 ‘To Shuppim and Hosah westward, by the gate of Shallecheth, at the causeway that goes up, watch against watch.’

The westward gate which was named Shallecheth (only mentioned here), together with the ascending Causeway, was the responsibility of Shuppim and Hosah.

The introduction of Shuppim who has previously not been mentioned, is unexpected to us (although not necessarily to the first readers and hearers). Some would see it as arising from dittography, The word translated ‘store’ which ends the previous verse is ‘asuppim’. But if it was dittography why was there a change of consonant (two different forms of s) and why the introduction of the preposition before Shuppim? A different Shuppim who was a Benjamite is mentioned in 7.9, 12 demonstrating that it was a regular name. A good reason for introducing Shuppim might be that he and his family were responsible for Parbar (verse 17), something which his readers/hearers might have known.

‘Watch against watch’ signifies that the watches would be consecutive, one watch replacing the other..

26.17-18 ‘Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and for the store-house two and two. For Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.’

The number on watch at each watch each day is now given. Six Levites at the important east Gate; four at the north gate; four at the south gate; four over the storehouses; and six at the west gate, four watching the causeway and two at Parbar. These thus number twenty four in all, coinciding with the number of courses of the other Levites (Levites, priests and singers). But here it was twenty four on duty at a time. Parbar would appear to have been a road, area or room adjacent to the Temple, an interpretation now supported by the Temple scroll at Qumran. This may have been Shuppim’s special responsibility.

26.19 ‘These were the courses of the doorkeepers; of the sons of the Korahites, and of the sons of Merari.’

What has been said summarises the courses of the doorkeepers/gatekeepers at the Sanctuary (and to begin with no doubt at both Sanctuaries), and confirms that all involved were either Korahites or Merariites.

Responsibility For The Treasures Of The House Of YHWH (26.20-28).

Other Levites had responsibility for the Sanctuary treasures as now described.

26.20 ‘And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things.’

The one who had total overall responsibility over all the treasures was named Ahijah. He was both over the treasures of the house of God and over the treasures of the dedicated things. In what follows those responsibilities are then divided. It is a surprise that his descent is not described, but its non-mention, apart from the fact that he was a Levite, may have been deliberate so as not to limit this post to one particular clan, leaving it open to any qualified Levite. Compare in what follows the overstress on who is responsible for what. Unless this Ahijah was the son of Ahitub the High Priest mentioned in 1 Samuel 14.3, (and therefore Abiathar’s uncle and very old), we do not know who he was.

LXX translates ‘Levites and their brothers’ (ahiyhem rather than ahiyah) but this was probably an attempt by them to remove what they saw as a difficulty.

26.21 ‘The sons of Ladan, the sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan, the heads of the fathers’ houses belonging to Ladan the Gershonite: Jehieli.’

This repetition may have occurred because the Chronicler or his source was in two minds quite how to describe Jehieli. He commences by calling him a son of Ladan (see 23.7-8), then, dissatisfied, goes on to stress that he was a ‘son of the Gershonites connected with Ladan’, and then underlines the fact that he was the head of the fathers’ house which had been Ladan the Gershonite’s. The build up may be in order to stress his importance. It is in direct contrast with the failure to give any detail about Ahijah. Perhaps this was subconsciously why he did it. But it may also have been in order to underline the fact that whilst the Gershonites have not been mentioned among the gatekeepers previously, they are now introduced as also having been given security duties in that they were responsible for the security of the treasures of the house of YHWH.

26.22 ‘The sons of Jehieli: Zetham, and Joel his brother, over the treasures of the house of YHWH.’

For we now learn that Jehieli and his two sons Zetham and Joel, were made responsible for the security and preservation from profanity of ‘the treasures of the house of YHWH’, which would include its most sacred vessels and other sacred movable items.

26.23 ‘Of the Amramites, of the Izharites, of the Hebronites, of the Uzzielites,’

Once again the Chronicler makes quite clear who has responsibility for what follows. Control of the treasures of dedicated things is in the hands of the sons of Kohath in equal measure, in the hands of the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites and the Uzzielites. At this time, after David’s wars, this treasure would have been fabulous.

26.24 ‘And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler over the treasures.’

And the member of the house of Kohath who had overall responsibility at this time over the treasury of dedicated things (under Ahijah) was Shebuel of the house of Gershom, the son of Moses (see 23.15-16).

26.25 ‘And his brothers: of Eliezer came Rehabiah his son, and Jeshaiah his son, and Joram his son, and Zichri his son, and Shelomoth his son.’

Working alongside Shebuel was Rehabiah the only son of Eliezer. Eliezer was Gershom’s brother and also a son of Moses (see 23.15-17). The position of ‘chief’ over the treasures of dedicated things eventually passes to his line, so that after four (or more) generations his descendant Shelomoth holds the position along with ‘his brothers’, possibly as first among equals (verse 26).

26.26-27 ‘This Shelomoth and his brothers were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the heads of the fathers’ houses, the commanders over large units (thousands) and smaller units (hundreds), and the commanders of the host, had dedicated. Out of the spoil won in battles did they dedicate to repair the house of YHWH.’

So Shelomoth and his brothers were over all the treasures of dedicated things. The huge amounts involved are made clear here. The treasures of dedicated things included all the spoils which over time David and his commanders had dedicated for the repair of the house of YHWH. And this included the commanders over large units, the commanders over smaller units, and the commanders over the host. Every successful sortie, whether large or small, had added to that treasure. The amount was probably incalculable.

This Shelomoth is a different one from the Shelomoths we have met elsewhere (23.9, 18; 24.22). The name was a fairly common one.

26.28 ‘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, whoever had dedicated anything, it was under the hand of Shelomoth, and of his brothers.’

And added to that treasure were the spoils accumulated by Samuel, Saul, and Abner (Ishbosheth’s general), as well as by Joab the king’s commander-in-chief.. Whatever spoils had been dedicated to YHWH over two centuries were under the hand of Shelomoth and his brothers (brothers in a wider sense) which would include the descendants of Shebuel. So the descendants of Moses had prime responsibility for the treasures dedicated over the centuries to YHWH.

Note the continual stress on the idea of ‘all Israel’. Even when Judah and Israel had been divided, all had contributed to the Sanctuary treasures. It seems clear that after the sacking of the Tabernacle in the time of Eli, when the Philistines would presumably have taken the Tabernacle treasures as booty, Israel had somehow managed to prevent similar occurrences happening again. The mention of Saul brings out that whilst his dynasty had been replaced and was no more, he was still seen as a part of Israel.

The Officers And Judges Of Israel (26.29-32).

Other Levites had responsibilities outside the immediate concerns of the Sanctuary. Those experienced in such thing acted as ‘officers and judges over Israel’ (compare Deuteronomy 17.9), and helped to run the king’s affairs and matters related to God. The descriptions are wide, and the significance of them uncertain. It is like saying that they were ‘civil servants’ with the wide ramifications that that can have. Their duties were too numerous to mention.

Whilst Israel under Saul had been mainly tribal, with Saul as warleader with a small standing army, the much more complicated kingdom of David would require much more central administration, with its officers needing to be widespread in order to carry out the wishes of the central administration. These came mainly from certain families of the Izharites and Hebronites, whose knowledge and administrative experience would be useful.

It is noticeable that the Uzzielites are not mentioned in this regard (the Amramites were watching over the treasures and had gatekeeper responsibilities). But to the Uzzielites, and to other Levites, (only specific families are mentioned with regard to the king’s affairs), were left, among other things, the collection and administration of the tithes, a huge task in itself. The duties of the Levites were so wide that it was not possible to outline all that they did, and all knew their responsibility for the tithes which did not need to be mentioned, for this was the aspect which impinged on the personal lives of common folk. They also had a teaching ministry (Deuteronomy 33.10).

26.29 ‘Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were for the outward business over Israel, for officers and judges.’

The officers and judges came mainly from the family of Chenaniah (otherwise unknown) who had no doubt honed these skills in their work as Levites (Deuteronomy 17.9). They were concerned with the outward business over Israel, and would be trusted by the Israelites because of their status. It was no small thing to be a Levite. They were already scattered around the country in the Levitical cities, and had wide experience of judging.

26.30 ‘Of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brothers, men of worth (valour), one thousand and seven hundred, had the oversight of Israel beyond the Jordan westward, for all the business of YHWH, and for the service of the king.’

Assisting the above, and having oversight over Israel west of Jordan, fulfilling the business of YHWH and also serving the king, were Hashabiah and his brothers, descendants of Hebron son of Kohath. In all, one large unit and seven smaller units, composed of men of solid worth were involved in the task. (We can compare how east of Jordan (verse 32) there were two larger units, but still seven smaller units. This suggests similarity of administrative methods for which seven smaller units were required for different aspect of the work, whilst the major work in their case required two larger units rather than one).

26.31 ‘Of the Hebronites was Jerijah the chief, even of the Hebronites, according to their generations by fathers’ houses. In the fortieth year of the reign of David they were sought for, and there were found among them mighty men of worth (valour) at Jazer of Gilead.’

One of these Hebronites was Jerijah, who was chief over the Hebronites (see 23.19; 24.23). Why exactly they were sought out in the final years of his reign we are not told, perhaps because David required them to bring some organisation to disparate elements beyond the Jordan. Looking for Levites who would be suitable for the task he found them, under the leadership of Jerijah, in Jazer, a Levitical city in the territory of Gad (6.81; Joshua 21.39).

26.32 ‘And his brothers, men of worth (valour), were two thousand and seven hundred, heads of fathers’ houses, whom king David made overseers over the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites, for every matter pertaining to God, and for the affairs of the king.’

Having found Jerijah, David set him and his ‘two thousand seven hundred’ heads of houses (families), who were men of solid worth, over the king’s affairs, and over things pertaining to God, in Reuben, Gad and half-Manasseh. More would be needed for this task east of Jordan, as compared with west of Jordan, because of the nature of the manner of living of the people as herdsmen and shepherds. They would be less centralised, and less controlled by the king’s own administrators. But David wanted to make them into one nation included within his system of justice.

David Establishes His Kingdom By Appointing Officials (27.1-34).

The course and security of a nation is determined by its leaders, and Israel was no exception. Whilst YHWH was over all, David knew how important it was to establish it under suitable leaders, who are now described. The appointment of suitable leaders is equally important for the church to cover every aspect of its life. if all is to run smoothly.

The chapter divides into four parts:

  • 1). The appointment of military commanders over the standing army by rotation (27.1-15).
  • 2). A listing of the tribal leaders over the whole nation (27.16-24).
  • 3). The appointment of ministers over different aspects of the widespread royal possessions (27.25-31).
  • 4). The appointment of David’s closest advisers, including Joab his commander-in-chief ( 27.32-34).

It is possibly noteworthy that the chapter commences with a list of David’s able commanders, and ends with reference to Joab the commander-in chief, these acting as an envelope for the whole. It was these who humanly speaking were the foundation and guarantee of his kingdom.

The Courses And Commanders Of The Standing Army (27.1-15).

As well as the Priests, Levites, Sanctuary Musicians and Gatekeepers, David also organised the standing army. But whereas Saul had only required three thousand, calling on the militia when necessary, David required a large standing army to be ready at a moment’s notice. However, the men would also require time to sow and reap their crops, and to watch over the wellbeing of their flocks and herds. Thus he divided the army into twelve parts, each part containing twenty four large military units. The aim was that one part should be on the alert each month, while the remainder could rapidly be called on in an emergency. These parts he set under experienced commanders. As a consequence he always had twenty four large military units (companies) at the ready as a primary strike force to call on at any moment, with solid backing available from the remaining units if it was felt necessary to call on them.

27.1 ‘Now the children of Israel after their number, that is to say, the heads of fathers’ houses and the captains of large units (thousands) and of smaller units (hundreds), and their officers who served the king, in any matter of the courses which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year — of every course were twenty four thousand.’

Putting it briefly this is saying that those who were called up for one month per year for the defence of the realm (family heads) together with their officers, amounted to twenty four large units per month. These were mobilised ready for any action. The remainder of the 264 large military units (24 x 11) were free to attend their farms and businesses unless an emergency arose which required a massive call up. Each of the monthly contingents was under the command of one of David’s chosen mighty men, one of the ‘three’ or the ‘thirty’ (11.10-31).

Of those mighty men Abishai is omitted, as we would expect because he was deputy commander to his brother Joab. More surprising is the omission of Elhanan, one of the thirty. This could either have arisen as a consequence of his death, or because he had some superior office to fulfil of which we are not told

27.2 ‘Over the first course for the first moon period was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

Over the first course was the first of the ‘three’ mighty men Jashobeam the Hachmonite (11.11). He had at his command for the first moon period, which would commence with the new moon and end with the new moon, twenty four large military units. These were probably dispersed to different parts of the land under individual commanders. David had learned always to be at the ready.

27.3 ‘He was of the children of Perez, the chief of all the commanders of the host for the first moon period.’

Jashobeam was the son of Zabdiel (verse 2), and was of the children of Perez, Judah’s son. He was chief of all the commanders of the Israelite army.

27.4 ‘And over the course of the second moon period was Dodai the Ahohite, and his course; and Mikloth the ruler: and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The commander for the second moon period was the Dodai (Dodo) the father of Eleazar, one of ‘the three’ (compare 11.12). Dodai had as his second in command Mikloth the Benjamite chief (see 8.32; 9.37 where he was a Benjamite chief living in Jerusalem). These positions as commander appear to have been partly hereditary, which would explain why he had not yet been replaced by the next candidate Eleazar. Eleazar would in deference to his father not take over the command until his father was ready to withdraw. Dodai too was responsible for twenty four large military units.

27.5 ‘The third commander of the host for the third moon period was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, chief: and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

Note the change of expression. The commander for the third moon period was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, (see 11.22), who was also commander of David’s bodyguard, the Cherethites and the Pelethites.. Here we learn that he was of a priestly family, being the son of Jehoiada the priest. He too had at his command twenty four ‘thousands’ or large military units. .

27.6 ‘This is that Benaiah, who was the mighty man of the thirty, and over the thirty, and of his course was Ammizabad his son.’

We are reminded that this Benaiah was a powerful warrior connected with the thirty mentioned previously, and being over them. Along with Benaiah served his son Ammizadab. Benaiah was ‘of the thirty and over the thirty’ reminding us that ‘the thirty’ were a flexible number.

27.7 ‘The fourth commander for the fourth moon period was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The commander for the fourth moon period was Asahel the brother of Joab. He was slain by Abner during the civil war with Israel, something for which Abner forfeited his own life to Joab as blood revenge ( 2 Samuel 2.18-23). He was replaced by his son Zebadiah. He too was commander over twenty four large military units.

This statement reflects the fact that the initial list originated before Absalom’s rebellion, (although not necessarily in full detail), being updated later to include Zebadiah.

27.8 ‘The fifth commander for this fifth moon period was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The commander for the fifth moon period was Shamhuth the Ezrahite, also known as Shammoth the Harorite (11.27). He too was commander over twenty four large military units. ‘Harorite’ has reference to his place of birth. Izrahite probably links him to the family of Zerah, the son of Judah (2.4, 6).

27.9 ‘The sixth commander for the sixth moon period was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, and in his course were twenty four large military units.’

The sixth commander for the sixth moon period was Ira the son of Ikkesh (11.28). He too had command over twenty four large military units.

27.10 ‘The seventh commander for the seventh moon period was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The seventh commander for the seventh moon period was Helez the Pelonite (see 11.27). He was an Ephraimite, and had command over twenty four large military units.

27.11 ‘The eighth commander for the eighth moon period was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zerahites, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The eighth commander for the eighth moon period was Sibbecai the Hushathite (11.29). It was he who put an end to the war with the Philistines at Gezer when he slew Sippai of the sons of the ‘giant’ (20.4). He was a Zerahite. He also had command over twenty four large military units.

27.12 ‘The ninth commander for the ninth moon period was Abiezer the Anathothite, of the Benjamites, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The ninth commander for the ninth moon period was Abiezer the Anathothite, who came from Anathoth and was a Benjamite (see 11.28). He also was in command of twenty four large military units. .

27.13 ‘The tenth commander for the tenth moon period was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zerahites, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The tenth commander for the tenth moon period was Maharai from the villages of Netophath (compare 11.30). He was a Zerahite. He also commanded twenty four large military units.

27.14 ‘The eleventh commander for the eleventh moon period was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The eleventh commander for the eleventh moon period was Benaiah the Pirathonite (compare 11.31). He was an Ephraimite and commanded twenty four large military units.

27.15 ‘The twelfth commander for the twelfth moon period was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel, and in his course were twenty four large military units (thousand).’

The twelfth commander of the twelfth month was Heldai from Netophath. He was the son of Baanah (11.30). He was of the family of Othniel (Joshua 15.17).

These twelve commanders, each in turn, were in command of twenty four different large military units, which waited in readiness for one moon period in case the kingdom was attacked. For one moon period they were the standing army. Then they were released for eleven moon periods in order to carry on with their daily lives, in the main sowing, ploughing, reaping, and attending to flocks and herds, although no doubt always ready for call-up.

The Commanders Over The Militia (27.16-22).

We are now given the names of the commanders of the militia, who were not part of the standing army, but were nevertheless expected to be ready for call up in times of emergency. They would not be as fully armed as the standing army. The names of thirteen ‘tribes’ are listed, with one of the names being Aaron, possibly because they would be looked for to protect the Sanctuary. Because Joseph is replaced by Ephraim and East Manasseh and West Manasseh, Gad and Asher are missing so as to maintain ‘the twelve tribes’. So concerned were they to maintain the semblance of twelve tribes that names would usually be omitted when they were listed, along with the detail attached to those names. The ones who are omitted change from list to list demonstrating their independence from each other.

The lists of the leaders of the militia were as follows:

27.16 ‘Furthermore over the tribes of Israel:’

27.16b ‘Of the Reubenites was Eliezer the son of Zichri the ruler
27.16b ‘Of the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah.’
27.17a ‘Of Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel.’
27.17b ‘Of Aaron, Zadok.’
27.18a ‘Of Judah, Elihu, one of the brothers of David.’
27.18b ‘Of Issachar, Omri the son of Michael.’
27.19a ‘Of Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah.’
27.19b ‘Of Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel.’
27.20a ‘Of the children of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Azazia.’
27.20b ‘Of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah.’
27.21a ‘Of the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah.’
27.21b ‘Of Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner.’
27.22a ‘Of Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham.’

Many of these names are found elsewhere, but not as associated with these particular leaders, although Elihu was one of David’s brothers; Zadok was High Priest at the Tabernacle in Gibeon; Jaasiel’s father Abner was Saul’s cousin and Ishbosheth’s general; and Hashabiah was probably the one mentioned in 26.30.

27.22b ‘These were the commanders of the tribes of Israel.’

Here they are described as the ‘commanders of the tribes of Israel’, who would, when required, lead them into war.

The Militia Not Numbered (27.23-24).

27.23 ‘But David did not take the number of them from twenty years old and under, because YHWH had said that he would increase Israel like to the stars of heaven.’

We have here an explanation of YHWH’s anger at the numbering of Israel (chapter 21). It was because the numbers who made up Israel were to be left to God. They were God’s servants, not man’s. It was He Who therefore decided on their number, and it was not man’s concern. Compare 1 Kings 4.20.

But the reference here is to those twenty years old and UNDER. This rather enigmatic statement would seem to indicate that a head count was taken of those who were over twenty years of age, the age at which men became available for the militia. And we know of such a head count, taken at the command of a disobedient David, even though the numbers were never recorded. It may indicate that even in David’s disobedience to God in the numbering of Israel he had excluded those who were twenty years old and under, no doubt in that way easing his conscience. If that was so it did neither him nor Israel any good. (Women and young children would almost certainly have been excluded).

27.24 ‘Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but did not finish, and there came wrath for this on Israel, nor was the number put into the account in the chronicles of king David.’

This numbering is described here. As we saw earlier it was carried out by Joab at David’s command. It was never finished because of the intervention of the Angel of YHWH Who brought God’s wrath on Israel, and we learn here that the numbers were never officially recorded, which is why they are not given here.

Officers Of The King (27.25-31).

What is now described relates to the extensive lands which belonged to the king. It was because he had these extensive lands, together with spoils taken in war, that there was probably no need in his day for taxation. We have here a unique overview of those who served ‘the king’s household’. Indeed, the kingdom could hardly have survived without them. Someone had to have such responsibility, even if it was not highly organised.

27.25a ‘And over the king’s treasures was Azmaveth the son of Adiel.’

We have already seen that the treasures dedicated to YHWH were watched over by the Levites. We now have reference to David’s own treasures, which would have been considerable. They would have been stored in the king’s palaces, and in safe places. They would have included items kept in storehouses for consumption by the king and his ministers. In considering this we should recognise how remarkable it is that even good men can allow treasures to interfere with their dedication to God, and David was no exception. The strictures of Deuteronomy, where kings were not to build up gold for themselves, were ignored (17.16-17). The one who had responsibility for these treasures in Jerusalem was Azmaveth, the son of Adiel (otherwise unknown).

27.25b ‘And over the treasures in the fields, in the cities, and in the villages, and in the castles, was Jonathan the son of Uzziah.’

These were the king’s wealth outside Jerusalem. Some gold and expensive vessels and furniture were no doubt involved, but these would include grain, hides, olive oil, figs, pomegranates, etc. Jonathan the son of Uzziah had overall responsibility for all these.

27.26 ‘And over those who did the work in the field for tillage of the ground was Ezri the son of Chelub.’

Responsible for the king’s labourers was Ezri, the son of Chelub. These were the men who ploughed, sowed, reaped and gathered into barns on his behalf.

27.27a ‘And over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite,’

The king’s vineyards were the responsibility of Shimei the Ramathite. He was in overall charge of their planting, dressing, pruning and harvesting.

27.27b ‘And over the increase of the vineyards for the wine-cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite.’

The turning of the produce of the vineyards into wine, and the storing of the wine in the wine cellars, was the responsibility of Zabdi the Shiphmite.

27.28a ‘And over the olive-trees and the sycomore-trees which were in the lowland was Baal-hanan the Gederite.’

Olive oil was one of Israel’s important exports. Responsibility for the olive trees and the sycomore trees which were in the lowlands lay in the hands of Baal-hanan the Gederite.

27.28b ‘And over the cellars of oil was Joash.’

Once the olive oil was gathered it was stored in cellars which were the responsibility of Joash.

27.29a ‘And over the herds which fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite.’

Sharon was a particularly fruitful area near the coastline. The abundant herds of oxen, bullocks and cows and larger cattle which fed there were under the hand of Shitrai the Sharonite.

27.29b ‘And over the herds which were in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai.’

The herds in the valleys, which were more inland, were the responsibility of Shaphat the son of Adlai.

27.30a ‘And over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite.’

The numerous camels which belonged to David were in the hands of an expert in camels, an Ishmaelite (desert tribesman) named Obil. The name means ‘camel driver’. David was not averse to bringing in foreign experts. It is a reminder that David’s rule extended outside Israel.

27.30b ‘And over the asses was Jehdeiah the Meronothite.’

David’s large numbers of asses were the responsibility of Jehdeiah the Meronothite.

27.31a ‘And over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagrite.’

The vast flocks of sheep and goats belonging to David were in the hands of another foreigner, an experienced sheepman named Jaziz the Hagrite. The Hagrites were desert tribesmen who had many sheep and goats, and knew how to care for them. As David’s sheep and goats were probably mainly in territory adjacent to the desert this would be a wise move. Jaziz would know how to combat the Hagrite tendency to treat all sheep and goats as theirs.

27.31b ‘All these were the rulers of the substance which was king David’s.’

We are now informed that all these had responsibility for different aspects of David’s wealth. We should copy his efficiency in ensuring good organisation, whilst ensuring that we are not so taken up with it that we lose sight of God and His greater requirements. Nor must we allow such organisation to deaden the work of the Spirit through us.

The King’s Ministers (27.32-34).

We are now given the names of David’s inner counsellors, who were personally known to him, and would have had continual permanent access go him. It is probably not accidental that they number seven, the number of divine perfection.

27.32a ‘Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counsellor, a man of understanding, and a scribe.’

Thus Jonathan was of royal blood, being closely related to David, and acknowledged by all as a man of understanding. He was a trained scribe, and acted as a counsellor, someone reliable who could always be called on to advise,.

27.32b ‘And Jehiel the son of Hachmoni was with the king’s sons.’

Given responsibility for the oversight of the king’s sons was Jehiel, son of Hachmoni. As the one responsible for the king’s sons he would be trusted, have continual permanent access to the king, and have been appointed because he was a man of wisdom.

27.33a ‘And Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor.’

Ahithophel was the king’s counsellor, a man of whom it could be said that his counsel was such that it was like enquiring from an oracle of God (2 Samuel 16.23). Outwardly he was David’s faithful counsellor. But when he treacherously followed Absalom it was his advice that David feared the most (2 Samuel 15.31). Had Absalom taken his advice he would probably have seized the throne. Ahithophel was a man of great wisdom and understanding, and it is possible that he was related to Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11.3, where Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam, and 2 Samuel 23.34 where Eliam was the son of Ahithophel). This could explain why he proved unfaithful during the rebellion even though he was not confident of Absalom’s chances. For if he was Bathsheba’s uncle he of all men had cause to remember David’s treacherous behaviour. It may be that he harboured a resentment of which David knew nothing, unlike God being unforgiving. On the other hand his son Eli-am remained faithful to David and was one of his commanders (2 Samuel 23.34).

27.33b ‘And Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend.’

In Egypt the title of ‘the king’s friend’ was that of an official closest to the king to whom he looked for help and guidance. Hushai may have held a similar position. But it may simply be that Hushai was the counsellor closes to David’s heart.

27.34a ‘And after Ahithophel was Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar.’

Once Ahithophel had betrayed him, and had committed suicide, David turned to Jehoiada, the son of Benaiah (possibly the Benaiah who was over his bodyguard), who was clearly outstanding for his wisdom, and to Abiathar who was High Priest, and had fled to him when Saul slaughtered all his family for innocently assisting David, although both had probably previously been on his inner counsel. We know that he ‘enquired of God’ through Abiathar (1 Samuel 23.6, 9; 30.7).

27.34b ‘And the captain of the king’s host was Joab.’

And his commander-in-chief was Joab, a fierce man whom he knew intimately if not always with admiration.

David Prepares For The Building Of The Temple (28.1-29.19).

It appears from what follows that the building of a physical Temple had become David’s consuming passion. Like so many he had misunderstood God’s word and had thus failed to recognise that his concentration should have been on building up a human house which would be fully satisfactory to God, not on building a house of cedar which God had not required (17.4-14). He allowed his mind to be diverted by the thought of a glorious and magnificent physical Temple. Once again he believed Satan’s lie. And it no doubt contributed towards Solomon’s failure, and to Israel’s failure in the future. For instead of glorying in God’s wisdom Solomon also began to glory in his building works, and in his own splendour. And as a consequence he failed to be the righteous king. He gloried in what he had done, and what was his, and not in the spiritual building up of God’s people. Indeed, he physically exhausted God’s people and filled them with resentment (1 Kings 5.13-14; 12.4; 2 Chronicles 10.4). His God-given wisdom was drowned beneath his ambition.

David’s susceptibility to Satan’s lies had already been prepared for by the Chronicler in the episode of the numbering of Israel. It now manifested itself in his attitude towards God’s promises concerning the building up of His house. It will be noted that at no time did David ‘enquire of YHWH’ concerning it, a lesson he should have learned by past failures. But he had failed to do so.

The building of a physical Temple was, of course a huge project, and it would in the end take seven years in the building, and would turn Solomon’s mind to greater projects (his own palace later took thirteen years in building, to the ruination of many in Israel). But although once he had decided on the project David was forbidden to build it, and was frustrated because he could not start on it, he was nevertheless determined to take as large a part in its building as possible. He thus made all the preparations that were necessary, building up huge stocks of materials, and preparing a work force for the purpose.

However, it is important to note that the building of a Temple was not God’s requirement. It was David’s. God had declared His desire to build a house which was made of human kings who would be faithful to His covenant, and He had clearly stated that He did not want a house of cedar to dwell in (17.4). For He knew the dangers that would arise from it, both in it minimising their conception of God, and in it suggesting that He was permanently tied to one place. Had the Temple been God’s idea we would have had more than one command with regard to its building and it would not have been ambiguous. So it is clear that God did not want a Temple at all. Indeed it will be noted that in his speech David makes quite clear that it was he who had determined that a Temple should be built. It was ‘in his heart’, not God’s (verse 2). It was only because of David’s fixed determination that God finally adopted the idea (as He had Saul’s kingship) and allowed the Temple to be built. And it was built at great human cost.

However, because He loved David, and saw the righteous desire in his heart, God went along with him in his plans, as He had with the plans of the people with regard to the appointment of Saul as king. And as He had with Saul He incorporated it into His purpose. For we should notice that once appointed YHWH had made Saul successful, and that his subsequent failure was due to his own disobedience. Furthermore Saul’s final failure had nothing to do with his being appointed king contrary to God’s purpose. Had he been faithful he would have continued to be successful. His failure resulted from his being unfaithful to the covenant. And the same was true of the Temple. Having yielded to David’s enthusiasm for the project God was prepared for it to be a blessing in the long term. Its failure resulted from man’s unfaithfulness to the covenant.

Nevertheless if it was to be built God determined that it would, at least to some extent, reveal the truth about Him. It would announce the coming of the Prince of peace (and for quite some time, some of the people probably thought that Solomon might be the coming prince of peace). He wanted the thought of the coming of the prince of peace to be connected with the Temple. That also explains why, in the final chapter of Chronicles as a whole, emphasis is laid on the coming building of the new Temple. That also was to be seen as preparing the way for the coming of the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9.5). It thrilled Israel to the heart because of what it appeared to indicate. That once their worship was established, the everlasting king and the everlasting kingdom, were on their way.

So through the building of this Temple that He did not really want God desired to teach Israel important lessons. Firstly that He was not the God of war, but the God of peace, and that His ideal king would not be a warleader, but a prince of peace. And secondly that a new Temple being built went along with the idea of the coming of the righteous King Who would rule the world (Psalm 2.7-11). God clearly could not blame David for being ‘a man of blood’. He knew that it had been necessary, had provided him with the resources for carrying it out, and indeed had prospered David in his wars, and had been with him when he made war. But He did not want His people to think that He was a God Who delighted in war (in the way that the gods of other nations were seen, patterned on their kings). Whilst David’s wars had been necessary He wanted them to recognise that His aim was to establish peace on earth, and goodwill towards men. And that was what He intended should be the focal point of the Davidic Temple.

That we have the genuine words of David here we can accept. These words would have been seen as a solemn charge and would have been recorded in the annals of the kings of Israel. What would have been surprising would have been their not being recorded. But they were not the words of an orator. David was more of a soldier. And the Hebrew is sometimes difficult for us translate for in parts he uses a homely style.


  • A David’s Words To The Grandees Of Israel And To His Son Solomon About The Building Of The Temple (28.1-10).
  • B David Hands Over To His Son The Wherewithal For The Building Of The Temple (28.11-19).
  • C David Encourages His Son Solomon In The Face Of The Task Ahead (28.20-21).
  • B David Calls On His Officials And His People To Make Their Own Contribution Towards The Building Of The Temple (29.1-9).
  • A David s Words To YHWH In Which He Expresses His Gratitude And Calls On Him To Guard And Protect His Son Solomon So As To Keep Him Faithful To YHWH (29.10-19).

Note that in A David charges his officials to strengthen and assist Solomon, and in the parallel he charges YHWH with the protection of his son Solomon. In B David hands over the wherewithal for the building of the Temple, and in the parallel he calls on contributions from his officials and his people. Centrally in C David encourages his son in the face of the task ahead,

David’s Words To The Grandees of Israel And To His Son Solomon About The Building Of The Temple (28.1-10).

David now gathered together the most important men in Israel, in order to explain his aims for the building of the Temple more clearly, and urged Solomon his son to be a godly king. We have a somewhat similar speech in 22.6-19, but that was in private with Solomon, whilst this was before the assembly of the leaders. It was normal procedure for major determinations to be brought before the assembly of Israel.

As we would expect in view of the fact that they were spoken by the same person about the same subject, there is a good deal of corresponding material between this passage and what we find in 22.6-19, and a similar pattern. For old men tend to be repetitive and to say the same thing again and again. It is a trait of the old. So there is nothing unusual in it being found in the ageing David, especially as his thoughts were so taken up with the Temple. Nevertheless this speech is clearly more formal, and suited to the occasion on which it was presented.

28.1 ‘And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the commanders of the companies who served the king by course, and the captains of large military units (thousands), and the captains of smaller military units (hundreds), and the rulers over all the substance and possessions of the king and of his sons, with the officers, and the mighty men, even all the mighty men of valour, to Jerusalem.’

Towards the end of his reign David called together all the important men of the realm at Jerusalem. ‘The princes of Israel’ would either be David’s sons, or an overall name covering all the important men who follow. As we would expect at least David’s senior sons to be present it is probably the former. The ‘princes of the tribes’ are as described in 27.16-24. The ‘commanders of the companies who served the king by course’ are as described in 27.2-15. The captains of larger and smaller units consisted of all the officers in his army. ‘The rulers over all the substance and possessions of the king and his sons’ are as described in 27.23-31. ‘The officers’ would be all his non-military ‘civil servants’ (his military captains having already been mentioned). The ‘mighty men’ would be his personal army and bodyguard. Thus they were all those on whom the security and efficiency of the state depended, and on whose loyalty in his view Solomon would later have to rely.

His aim was to prepare them for the massive task of the coming building of the Temple, something of which they must have been well aware, (they would all know what preparation he had already made), and for the taking over of the kingdom’s reins by his son. He clearly felt that his authoritative voice would ensure their cooperation with Solomon.

28.2 ‘Then David the king stood up on his feet, and said, “Hear me, my brothers and my people. As for me, it was in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of YHWH, and for the footstool of our God, and I had made ready for the building.”

The fact that David stood up underlines the importance of what he had to say. Kings regularly spoke out sitting on a throne. Furthermore his description of his hearers as ‘his brothers and his people’ underlined the way in which he had guarded against getting above his people. In spite of his supreme authority he still saw them as those who worked with him, and not as his minions (unlike Solomon). And he reminded them of what they knew about his intentions which were to build a house in which the Ark of the covenant of YHWH could rest. The Scriptural idea of ‘rest’ was of being in a state of happiness and wellbeing. In Deuteronomy 12.9 it depicted the state of happiness and wellbeing that Israel were looking forward to in the promised inheritance. In the Book of Judges a similar word regularly depicted the state of happiness and wellbeing under successful Judges. And YHWH was to join in that rest. His travelling days wee over.

But this statement of intent is in the exact opposite vein to YHWH’s own in 17.4-6 where YHWH’s point was that He did not need ‘rest’. He was wholly contented. He was far more than just the God of Israel. The idea of the Ark resting is found in Numbers 10.35-36, but there it indicated rest after activity. The Ark would go out ahead of the people to prepare the way before them, and then it would rest among them, until the next time. The idea was that God both went before His people and dwelt among them. God was with them in their daily activity, and shared with them their rest. It was a very different concept from the one in mind here.

It is noteworthy that David at no point suggests that YHWH had called on him to build the Temple, nor does he mention ‘enquiring of YHWH’ concerning it. (As we have seen David’s reign was a continual fluctuation on these points, sometimes seeking to discover God’s way, and sometimes choosing his own way. And the latter always led to disaster). It is the king speaking, not the man of God. The idea came from David’s heart, not YHWH’s. The same was true in 22.7. Something of his obsession comes out in Psalm 132.2-5.

The Temple was also to be God’s footstool. In this at least he recognised that God was greater than and superior to the Temple. Elsewhere he could say that Heaven was His throne, and earth was His footstool. (Compare the Davidic Psalm 11.4, exemplified in Isaiah 66.1-2). Such an idea was later echoed by Solomon in I Kings 8.27. It is not likely that he meant that YHWH sat on the mercy seat with His feet resting on the Ark. Such a materialistic picture of the Ark is not found in the Old Testament, even though God is depicted as communing with Israel from the mercy seat (Exodus 25.22). Indeed, David saw the mercy seat as a material depiction of a heavenly reality, the earthly copy of a heavenly throne (2 Samuel 22.11). It was the coming Temple which he saw as God’s footstool, that is as ‘under His feet’.

28.3 “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for my name, because you are a man of war, and have shed blood.’ ”

Reference to 17.4 gives a very different reason as to why he should not build a cedar ‘house’ for YHWH. It was because YHWH did not require one. It is not likely that on this YHWH had changed His mind. Thus this must be seen as a concession to David. It was a later revelation from YHWH which arose because of David’s own determination to build a Temple. It was an entirely different concept to that in chapter 17. But if such a house was to be built, YHWH did not want a House to be built in the eyes of the nations which represented Him as a God of War. That was not what the establishment of His Kingly Rule was to be all about. He wanted the world to see His intentions as being of establishing the Prince of Peace.

The point in YHWH’s words here could not have been that David was too sinful a man to build the Temple. He had after all carried on his warfare under God’s guidance, and often under His direct command. What mattered to YHWH was the idea that was being conveyed to the nations. If such a material building was to be built, contrary to His own wishes, it must at least portray His reign on earth correctly. For YHWH’s dwelling on earth, and His ‘resting’, was to be the consequence of the establishment of His worldwide Kingly Rule (of which Solomon’s was reign was, in the end, but a shadow, even when it had been expurgated. And as we know, Solomon’s life and reign left the idea of kingly rule in tatters, as Saul’s had before him).

David, of course, at this stage probably believed that the Kingly Rule on earth was about to be established, initially under his son’s rule. He was a visionary. But he had no real conception of what lay ahead in the future. Thus it seemed right to him that God’s presence should be fixed among them as a prelude to it.

28.4 “However, YHWH, the God of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever, for he has chosen Judah to be prince, and in the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.”

Note the continual emphasis on YHWH’s sovereign choosing. The choosing out of David to be king is described in 1 Samuel 16.1-13. The choosing out of Judah to be prince is described in Genesis 49.8-12, which, in concept at least, was clearly known to David. Nothing would prevent the coming rule of a prince from Judah, whom the peoples would obey, and who would be established in peace, well being and prosperity (wine would be his washing water, and his teeth, rather than decaying and falling out, something which must have been well known in Israel, would be pure white). And he saw himself and Solomon as fulfilling those promises (something that the Chronicler brings out by leaving out their worst failures). He probably believed that, in his son, Shiloh was come, and that the everlasting kingdom was in process of foundation. Surely it was for that purpose that YHWH had so carefully chosen him out of the house of his father to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16.1-13) and had made him such wonderful promises (17.7-14). The rapid growth of, and expansion of, his sovereignty, had convinced him that this was happening. Great Pharaoh was his friend, and consideration was being given to the marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh to his son Solomon. Mighty Tyre and Sidon were in a favourable treaty relationship with him. The nations around had been subdued. He had no apparent enemies. Nothing seemed impossible. That was the thought behind Psalm 2.7-9. He did not realise that in Spirit God was speaking through him of the coming of a Prince of Peace a long way ahead.

28.5 “And of all my sons (for YHWH has given me many sons), he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of YHWH over Israel.”

Once again we have an emphasis on God choosing a king in line with Deuteronomy 17.15. From among David’s many sons (as David himself had been chosen from among many sons), God had chosen Solomon. The idea of Solomon being ‘chosen’ is emphasised in context three times (verses 5, 6, 10. See also 29.1). God was personally involved in his choice. It was only after Solomon that the kings of Judah would be seen as taking their throne by divine right as the firstborn, losing the personal connection. And YHWH had promised that he would sit on his throne, a young man full of wisdom and promise, with the whole world before him, and YHWH at his side. What could possibly go wrong? The answer to that question was, of course, that the building of the magnificent Temple itself would so possess Solomon’s thoughts, that he would then think beyond it to greater things, and become taken up with his own magnificence (as the writer of Kings subtly brings out. Compare 1 Kings 6.38 with 7.1). The thing that should have turned his thoughts on God, became the snare that drew him to his doom. It is always dangerous to concentrate too much on the physical in spiritual matters).

28.6 “And he said to me, “Solomon your son, he will build my house and my courts; for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”

The wording here is so similar to the promises in chapter 17 that it is difficult to see the source of them as coming from anywhere else. The ‘house’ in question there was the Davidic house, which would be God’s house, His instrument through which He ruled Israel and established His kingdom. But it was David who had added ‘My courts’, for he himself was visualising the Temple he had planned (how unwise we are to add to the word of God). So the initial meaning was that Solomon was to build YHWH’s house, (the continuing Davidic kingship), and was to be YHWH’s chosen son, as YHWH was to be his father. There would be a closeness of relationship which would spell well for the future, with God the loving and authoritative father, and Solomon the obedient and responsive son. David changed this emphasis by making it refer to a physical Temple.

That he had misunderstood the reference to the building of a house was far from David’s thoughts. He thought materially in terms of a physical house because it was that which was the desire of his heart, even though elsewhere he appeared to have grasped the deeper meaning of the words (17.17). It was, however, the idea of a physical house that had taken hold of his heart. How often we read into God’s word our own conceptions. But the house that YHWH had envisaged, not a physical house but a house made up of obedient rulers, had by this been thrust into the background. And Solomon by his folly in fact failed to establish the Davidic house over the whole of Israel, because his own magnificence meant more to him than establishing a righteous rule.

28.7 “And I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my ordinances, as at this day.”

God’s aim was that by building up the Davidic house Solomon would establish his kingdom for ever. But it would only happen if he himself was faithful in his obedience to God. That was why there was the proviso that Solomon would be constant and do His commandments and ordinances for ever. But he was a stable young man who had already demonstrated his wisdom, and his heart appeared to be fixed on YHWH. Thus outwardly the future seemed secure.

All this was to some extent put at risk by David’s misinterpretation of it as signifying the building of the Temple, because as a consequence he set Solomon’s mind in the wrong direction and made him apply his thoughts to the wrong thing. He set his mind to outward magnificence rather than to solid rulership. As we have seen God sought to minimise this by making the coming Temple symbolise the kingdom of peace. But the attempt failed because of Solomon’s failure to grasp the truth.

It was Jesus Who would later point out that it was this very Temple which had become one great obstacle to the true spiritual worship of God (John 4.20-24), and to coming under God’s Kingly Rule, and that God had replaced it by the living Temple Which was Himself (John 2.19-22). He thoroughly understood the promises of chapter 17.

28.8 “Now therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of YHWH, and in the audience of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of YHWH your God; that you may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you for ever.”

David now directs his words towards all who had gathered, and in the hearing of YHWH. The verbs are in the plural. He commands them to observe and keep all God’s commandments, and to do it in the presence of all Israel, and in the presence of YHWH, in order that the promises might be fulfilled, and the everlasting kingdom assured. At least he was aware that these things could only come about if YHWH’s people were faithful to YHWH’s covenant. And as he looked at Solomon’s eager young face, and saw him nodding his agreement, he probably had no doubt that all would work out. Little did he realise what his passion for a physical Temple would do to his son.

28.9 “And you, Solomon my son, know you the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind, for YHWH searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found of you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.”

But even in his fervid optimism David was aware that the fulfilment of God’s promises depended on obedience. So turning now to his son Solomon he urged him to develop a true knowledge of God. He was to know Him as the God Who had seen David through all his adversities, and had brought him to the place in which he now was (but sadly such knowledge only comes through experience). And he was to serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind, knowing that we can hide nothing from God. For God is the One Who searches all our hearts, and understands all our thoughts and reasonings. He knows the imaginations of our hearts (compare Genesis 6.5). Nothing is hid from Him.

So he assured him that if he truly sought God He would be found by him, but that if he forsook Him, following his own ways, he would be cast off for ever. For God is not mocked. What a man sows he will reap. Yet even as he spoke he must have felt that his strictures were unnecessary. Solomon’s heart seemed so firmly fixed on God that it would hardly seem likely that he could fail. The future was to prove otherwise.

28.10 “Take careful note now, for YHWH has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.”

David then planted his own ambitions on his son, as he had no doubt previously tried to arouse them in him. He told him to take careful note that YHWH had chosen him to build a house for the Sanctuary, replacing the curtained tent with a magnificent cedar structure. He must let nothing stop him. He must be strong and do it, however difficult the venture might seem.

But what he was unable to do was plant his years of experience of God in his son. What would to him have been the crowning moment of his dedication to God, would for his son become the first step on the way to destruction. You cannot put an old head on young shoulders. And yet to begin with it did not appear to be a danger. Only time would reveal the consequences of his ambition. It is always dangerous to add to God’s plans.

David Hands Over To His Son The Wherewithal For The Building Of The Temple (28.11-19).

David had planned for his Temple meticulously, and now handed over to Solomon patterns for the building of the Temple, and for its ministries, which had been obtained ‘by the Spirit’. He also handed over access to a vast amount of wealth that would go towards the building of the Temple, giving the pattern of what would be done with it. There was nothing that he had not thought of. All this explains why Solomon was able to proceed as rapidly as he did. In no time at all the young king had become the Master Temple builder.

28.11 ‘Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch of the temple, and of its houses, and of its treasuries, and of its upper rooms, and of its inner chambers, and of the place of the mercy-seat.’

The Chronicler spells out in detail what preparations David had made, preparations which he now handed over to his son. He gave him the pattern of the porch of the new Temple, and of all the buildings connected with it, and of its treasure chambers, and of its rooms above the Sanctuary, and of the very place where the mercy seat would be set.

28.12 ‘And the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, for the courts of the house of YHWH, and for all the chambers round about, for the treasuries of the house of God, and for the treasuries of the dedicated things.’

He gave him the pattern for the courts of the house of YHWH, and for all its surrounding chambers, including the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for things dedicated to YHWH, all of which he had received from ‘the Spirit’. Having gone along with David in his enterprise God guided him in it by His Spirit so that it would not lead men astray. (We can compare how God had also guided Saul by His Spirit, even though He had not approved of the establishing of a king).

28.13 ‘Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of YHWH, and for all the vessels of service in the house of YHWH,’

He also gave him the pattern for the courses of the priests and Levites (as earlier divulged to the reader), and for all the vessels which would be used in the house of YHWH.

28.14-15 ‘Of gold by weight for the vessels of gold, for all vessels of every kind of service; of silver for all the vessels of silver by weight, for all vessels of every kind of service; by weight also for the lampstands of gold, and for its lamps, of gold, by weight for every lampstand and for its lamps, and for the lampstands of silver, silver by weight for every lampstand and for its lamps, according to the use of every lampstand,’

And he provided the gold and silver which would be needed for the many different kinds of vessels required, and gold and silver for the many lampstands and their lamps. These would include the seven branched lampstand in the Holy Place, and the many lampstands which would be required to enable worship day and night (1 Kings 7.48-49).

28.16 ‘And the gold by weight for the tables of showbread, for every table; and silver for the tables of silver,’

He provided the gold that would be needed for the making of the tables of showbread (1 Kings 7.48), and silver for other tables which would be required outside the Holy Place.

28.17 ‘And the flesh-hooks, and the basins, and the cups, of pure gold; and for the golden bowls by weight for every bowl; and for the silver bowls by weight for every bowl,’

He provided gold for the golden flesh hooks and basins and golden cups, and for all the golden bowls, as well as silver for the silver bowls. All that was to be used in the Holy Place was made of gold.

28.18 ‘And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot, even the cherubim, which spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of YHWH.’

And he provided the gold required for the making of the altar of incense (1 Kings 7.48), and for the fashioning of the cherubim who were YHWH’s chariot (1 Kings 6.28).

28.19 “All this,” said David, “have I been made to understand in writing from the hand of YHWH, even all the works of this pattern.”

All this, David assured Solomon, he had learned from writing from the hand of YHWH. For it was YHWH Who had made known to Him the patterns, just as he had made them known to Moses in respect of the Tabernacle. By this David may have meant that his own patterns were drawn from Exodus, which he saw as written by the hand of YHWH. Had YHWH actually handed to David written patterns we would probably have heard a lot more of the event.

David Encourages His Son In The Face Of The Task Ahead (28.20-21).

28.20 ‘And David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for YHWH God, even my God, is with you, he will not fail you, nor forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of YHWH be finished.”

As he had in 22.13 David now encouraged Solomon to be strong and courageous in the face of the awesome task which he faced. He was not to be afraid or dismayed, because YHWH would be with him and would not fail him or forsake him until all was complete. The words are based on YHWH’s charge to Joshua as he faced the conquest that lay ahead (Joshua 1.5-7). In a sense Solomon also was entering a sphere where all was new, where he had crucial decisions to make, and was filled with responsibilities which might weigh heavily on him. The point was not just that building the Temple would be an arduous task in itself, but that he was entering into the unknown, and that it required special concentration and spirituality as what was worthy of YHWH was being produced. This was something unique which had never been attempted before. He did not want Solomon to be weighed down by the responsibility.

28.21 “And, behold, there are the courses of the priests and the Levites, for all the service of the house of God, and there will be with you in all manner of work every willing man who has skill, for any manner of service, also the captains and all the people will be wholly at your command.”

He assured Solomon that he would have all the help that was needed. All the courses of the priest and Levites were on hand to assist him, especially in spiritual matters, and there was a great band of willing and skilled artisans, brought together by David himself, who would be there to guide him in every aspect of the work. Furthermore all David’s commanders, and indeed all the people, would be available, wholly at his command. Nothing that could be made available with regard to human resources was missing.

David Calls On His Officials And His People To Make Their Own Contribution Towards The Building Of The Temple (29.1-9).

Having made his own huge contribution towards the Temple David now calls on his officials and people to make their own contribution towards the building of the Temple, pointing to his own personal giving. He does not want the work to be all his own, but to be the activity of all Israel. The call is successful and the people give gladly. There is a reminiscence here of how the people had previously gladly given for the construction of the Tabernacle in the days of Moses (Exodus 35.21-29).

29.1 ‘And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great, for the palace is not for man, but for YHWH God.”

Once again David calls on the whole assembly of leaders at all levels, to support his son Solomon in the venture that lay ahead, but this time with a view to obtaining their contributions towards the project. He calls on them to join with him in his consecration to God. Note the use of the word ‘palace’. It was a foreign word found only in Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel, and was presumably a rendering by the Chronicler of a different word used by David. But it is clearly intended to bring out that the Temple is to be seen as YHWH’s palace. He will be there as King among them. See also verse 19.

29.2 “Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God, the gold for the things of gold, and the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, stones for inlaid work, and of variegated colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.’

He initially points out the vast amounts of gold, silver, bronze and other valuable items which have already been contributed out of the treasury of the house of God, and out of the dedicated treasures that have resulted from the huge booty gained in war over the previous hundred years or so, ‘the dedicated things’ (26.26-28). Onyx stones were mentioned frequently in the Exodus narrative, as is the mention of stones being set. Indeed, much of the language, ideas and thought are based on Exodus. David saw himself as building the Temple as Moses had the Tabernacle, utilising the wisdom of God and the gifts of the people.

29.3-4 “Furthermore also, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, seeing that I have a treasure of my own, of gold and silver, I give it to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, with which to overlay the walls of the houses,’

He then stresses the contribution that he has made out of his own vast treasures because of the love that he had for this house of God which is in preparation. There can be no questioning his own zeal, dedication and love for YHWH. Note his reference to ‘the house of MY God’, stressing his personal relationship with YHWH. And he stresses that it is a contribution out of his own personal treasury, over and above all that he has contributed from the Tabernacle treasuries. The use of three and seven in describing them, both indicating completeness, brings out the fullness of his giving. The addition of ‘thousand’ indicates the huge amounts involved. It is doubtful if we are to take them literally. The weighing of such treasures would be a huge task. They are rather round numbers linked to the significance of ‘three’ and ‘seven’ indicating vast amounts, of which the silver was over twice as much as the gold, enough to overlay the walls of the coming Temple whatever its size. Gold from Ophir was clearly especially valued.

29.5 “Of gold for the things of gold, and of silver for the things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. Who then offers willingly to consecrate himself this day to YHWH?”

His gold and silver would not only overlay the walls of the houses which were part of the Temple, but would also be used for vessels and instruments which would be made by skilled artificers. He thus calls on those assembled for their willing contributions to the work.

29.6 ‘Then the princes of the fathers’ houses, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers over the king’s work, offered willingly,’

Moved by David’s enthusiasm, and full of praise towards YHWH who had made their country so rich and powerful beyond their dreams, the princes, generals, commanders and rulers, joined together and offered willingly towards the work.

29.7 ‘And they gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand darics, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of bronze eighteen thousand talents, and of iron a hundred thousand talents.’

And they added for the service of the house of God even more than David had added from his own private wealth. The sums were enormous. They offered five thousand talents in weight of gold, plus ten thousand darics (drachmas) of gold, ten thousand talents weight of silver, eighteen thousand talents weight of bronze and one hundred thousand talents weight of iron. If the whole were actually weighed it would have taken a considerable time. But again they were probably round figured estimates, based on proportions of it being weighed.

The reference to drachmas (or darics), which would not have been known in David’s day, but were well known in the time of the Chronicler, is with the purpose of making the figures understandable in the Chronicler’s day in the same way as we might update figures in terms of pounds (dollars) and grams (ounces).

29.8 ‘And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of YHWH, under the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.’

Those who had precious stones also gave them to the treasure of the house of YHWH, which was under the supervision of Jehiel the Gershonite (see 23.8; 26.21). Nothing was too good for YHWH.

29.9 ‘Then the people rejoiced, in that they offered willingly, because with a perfect heart they offered willingly to YHWH, and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.’

The heartfelt and willing giving to YHWH was a cause of joy to all the people, and David also rejoiced in it with great joy. This idea of joy occurs continually in Chronicles. To him YHWH was the giver and inciter of joy.

David Blesses YHWH Acknowledging That All That They Had Was His (29.10-19)

These prayers of David are remarkable as providing a pattern for prayer. Indeed, they are the pattern for all true prayer when not wrought out of adversity, as so many of David’s psalms were. But this was a time of joy and thanksgiving, unaffected by adversity, and it is reflected in the prayer. Commencing with worship, it includes thanksgiving, and then moves on to intercession, as all general prayer should. Such praying should not be seen as the prerogative of a later age. Compare for this Psalms 9; 30; etc.

29.10a ‘For which reason David blessed YHWH before all the assembly, and David said,’

The manifold gifts, and the joy and willingness and perfect heart with which they were given, moved David to bless YHWH and acknowledge that all that they had was His. As a priest after the order of Melchizedek (a status which became his when he captured Jebusite Jerusalem. See Psalm 110.4), which he had necessarily transformed into an intercessory priesthood, he led the people in praise and worship.

29.10b “Blessed be you, O YHWH, the God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.”

The phrase ‘blessed be God’ is found in David’s psalm of remembrance and praise in Psalm 68.35. Its source is therefore Davidic. It occurs also in Psalm 66.20. Indeed, ‘Blessed be YHWH’ occurs in the Davidic Psalms 28.6; 31.21; 144.1; and in Psalm 135.21. It is thus not a sign of late authorship. By this he praises YHWH and calls blessing on Him for ever and ever, because He is ‘the God of Israel our father’, in other words the God of Jacob, the ‘founder’ of the nation (compare also verse 18). It was such a thought that caused Jesus to say, ‘God is not the God of the dead but of the living’ (Matthew 22.32). It is quite possible that this was David’s thought also, for he too believed that death was not the end for true believers (Psalm 17.15).

The idea of ‘for ever and ever’ is found in the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90.2, and in the Psalm of David 103.17. It is also found along with ‘blessed be YHWH’ in Psalm 106.48.

In such psalms of blessing David is exercising his authority as a ‘priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (Psalm 110.4), a status taken over from the previous Jebusite king-priest, which he had made into an intercessory priesthood. But compare verse 20 where all the people bless YHWH in response to David’s prayer.

29.11 “Yours, O YHWH, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingship, O YHWH, and you are exalted as head above all.”

He extols the greatness, power, glory, triumph and majesty of God, in that all things are His, whether in Heaven or earth. And that includes the kingship of the world, because He is exalted as Head above all. Thus He is Lord of all, Ruler of all, Creator of all, and Owner of all.

The words used here are found in many Psalms. For ‘greatness’ see 17.19, 21; Psalm 71.21; 145.3, 6 (a Davidic psalm). For ‘power’ see e.g. Psalm 20.6; 21.13 ; 65.6; (all Davidic psalms); 89.13; 90.11; 106.2, 8; 145.11, 12 (a Davidic psalm); 150.2. For ‘glory, splendour’ see Psalm 71.8; 89.17; 96.6. For ‘majesty’ see Psalm 8.1; 21.5; 45.3 (all Davidic psalms); 96.6; 104.1; etc).

29.12 “Both riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. And in your hand is power and might, and in your hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all.”

Thus whatever wealth men receive, and whatever honour they achieve, they come from Him and belong to Him, because He rules over all. All power and might is in His hand, and it is in His hand to make great, and in His hand to give strength to all. Note the multiplication of words honouring YHWH.

29.13 “Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name.”

And because David has become great, and Israel have become great, thanks and praise are due to ‘our God’ because it is all of Him. He thus thanks God and praises His glorious Name.

29.14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

Compare for the opening words David’s words in 17.16. This recognition that all is of God, leads on to the recognition that if we have received anything, it is of what belongs to God. For all things come from Him. And David is thus humbled to think that they can give willingly to God because God has first given willingly to them. As he says, ‘who am I and what is my people, that we should have this wherewithal to give to God?’ He recognises that it is of God’s graciousness, and fully undeserved, and that they do but give Him what is already His own. (If only Solomon had held on to things so lightly he would have been saved from huge problems).

29.15 “For we are strangers before you, and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is no abiding.”

He acknowledges that their life on earth is a temporary gift, fleeting as it is. And that whilst they may live on earth, and in some ways possess it, it does not belong to them. For in God’s eyes they are as ‘strangers’. That is, they are seen as having no rights of possession. They are as ‘sojourners’, here for a brief time with temporary privilege of residence, and then gone. For their days on earth are but a shadow, soon fading away. No man can settle on earth for a longer period than God allows. They are temporary residents, not permanent dwellers. They thus have no rights of possession.

No one understood such a position as David did. For a large part of his early life he had literally been a ‘stranger’ and a ‘sojourner’, living among strangers with no rights of possession, and with no permanent home. And as we see here it had formulated his view of life. It was something that he had never forgotten, and that had made him what he was. He would never hold on too tightly to earthly things. And it had reminded him of how his people had also once been strangers and sojourners in the wilderness (‘as all our fathers were’), something which he may well have meditated on in his times of adversity. It was a necessary reminder to a great king of the temporary nature of life. It was, however, a gift that he could not pass on to Solomon, born in security and always cosseted, however hard he tried.

This is a reminder to us that we also are ‘sojourners and pilgrims’ in the earth, and should not hold on to earthly things too tightly (1 Peter 2.11).

29.16 “O YHWH our God, all this store that we have prepared to build you a house for your holy name comes of your hand, and is all your own.”

So he acknowledges that although they have given generously and willingly, they have really given nothing. For it all belonged to God anyway. Having known what it was to have had nothing to call his own, he held lightly to earthly things. Thus he recognised that all that they had laid in store as preparation for building God’s house had actually come from God’s hand in the first place. We note that the house is built ‘for your holy Name’. This echoes the concept of Deuteronomy 12.5, 11, 21 where His Name is seen as being in the Tabernacle.

29.17 “I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things, and now have I seen with joy your people, who are present here, offer willingly to you.”

He calls on God very personally as ‘MY God’, and as the One who tests men’s hearts and has pleasure in uprightness, to recognise that he gives from the uprightness of his heart. He wants Him to observe that there is no dissimulation or hypocrisy in him, that his is a genuine desire to honour YHWH, and YHWH only. He openly claims that he has willingly offered all that he has offered from a pure heart, and what is more, that his heart rejoices because God’s people, now present with him, have also offered willingly in the same way,

29.18 “O YHWH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of your people, and prepare their heart towards you.”

In 28.9 he had prayed that Solomon would keep his heart perfect and his mind willing because God understood all the imaginations of men’s hearts. Now he prays that YHWH the God of their fathers will keep the imaginations of the hearts of His people in the same way, and will make their hearts ready before Him, as He had their fathers. It is a clear recognition that if men are to be open and honest, they require God’s help in the process.

‘The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.’ A rare phrase, replacing Jacob with Israel. For this compare verse 10. He was wanting to incorporate Israel with their ancestor. Compare also a similar use in 1 Kings 18.36 (the only other occurrence of the phrase) where Elijah had the same motive.

29.19 “And give to Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for which I have made provision.”

And acknowledging that the same was true of Solomon he calls on God to also give him a perfect heart to keep His commandments, His testimonies and His statutes (compare Deuteronomy 6.17), and that he might from that perfect heart do all the things that David required of him, and might build the palace for which he, David, had made provision. Once again the Temple is spoken of as YHWH’s grand palace (see verse 1). YHWH is to be King among them. With Solomon about to be recrowned it was a necessary reminder. Note how in verse 22 he is ‘anointed to YHWH’ to be ‘Prince’.

David Calls On All Israel To Worship YHWH With Him And Solomon Is Made King A Second Time And Anointed As ‘Prince’ (nagid) Before YHWH (29.20-25).

The attempted coup by Adonijah, and the subsequent hastily arranged crowning of Solomon described in 1 Kings 1, has been completely ignored by the Chronicler, but is acknowledged here by reference to ‘made Solomon the son of David king a second time’ (verse 22). Whilst it was necessary in view of the circumstances, the initial coronation is now set aside and replaced by a more formal ceremony. He wants Solomon’s acceptance to be seen as unquestioned and universal.

29.20 ‘And David said to all the assembly, “Now bless YHWH your God.” And all the assembly blessed YHWH, the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped YHWH, and the king.”

Having finished his worship and prayer David now called on the whole gathered assembly to ‘bless YHWH your God’. In his faith, wrought in the crucible of tribulation, all could worship God freely. And the assembly obeyed him as one man, and all blessed YHWH the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and worshipped Him. ‘And the king’ may mean that the king also bowed his head and worshipped (the more probable meaning), or that as the assembly worshipped YHWH in response to the king’s command, they thereby paid homage to the king as well. The appending of a final phrase which has in mind what has gone before and adds to it is a well known Old Testament technique (compare Genesis 2.9).

29.21 ‘And they sacrificed sacrifices to YHWH, and offered burnt-offerings to YHWH, on the morrow after that day, even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink-offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel.’

There was then on the following day a great celebratory sacrifice, as they sacrificed sacrifices to YHWH and offered up to Him burnt offerings. They sacrificed/offered a large number of bullocks, a large number of rams, and a large number of lambs, along with ample drink-offerings. Such a huge volume of sacrifices was necessary if there was to be a great feast, as animal slaughtered for eating had to be slaughtered as sacrifices. Thus they sacrificed sacrifices in abundance for ‘all Israel’. To satisfy ‘all Israel’, even in a limited sense, would require a huge number of sacrifices. They were probably mainly sacrifices of thanksgiving.

The feast reminds us of the feast arranged by Adonijah when he sought to steal the throne (1 Kings 1.9, 19, 25). He hoped that that too would lead to a coronation (1 Kings 1.25). But it was not to be, for in David’s eyes he was a usurper. Compare also a similar feast for Saul in 1 Samuel 11.15. Feasting was linked with coronations.

Note the correct use of terminology which was not always followed. They sacrificed sacrifices, and offered offerings. Burnt offerings could not be partaken of by the people in general.

29.22a ‘And did eat and drink before YHWH on that day with great gladness.’

The offerings and sacrifices were followed by the celebratory feast ‘before YHWH’. It was a time of great gladness as they celebrated His presence with them and sensed that He shared with them the joy of the day. To be ‘before YHWH’ would probably here mean feasting in front of the Sanctuary, which might suggest that there was a large court around the Jerusalem Tent, although it could simply signify that they gathered specifically in a large room temporarily dedicated to God and experienced His presence though faith.

For feasting ‘before YHWH’ we can compare Exodus 24.9-11 where the elders of Israel ‘beheld God and did eat and drink’ when they had gone up into the mountain with Moses. They too were ‘eating and drinking before YHWH’, although then there were tokens of His visible presence. Compare also Exodus 18.12 where ‘before God’ presumably meant ‘in front of, or around, the altar’ on which the sacrifices had been offered, experiencing His presence through faith. Thus in both Exodus 18.12 and here the presence of God was experienced through faith.

We can also compare how Jacob wanted to ‘eat before YHWH’ on his deathbed, after which he would bless Esau, which very much stressed an act of personal faith as he sensed His presence with him in his tent (Genesis 27.7). The phrase can in fact have wide connotations, but regularly means ‘before the door of the Sanctuary’.

29.22b ‘And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him to YHWH to be prince (nagid), and Zadok to be priest.’

Then they made Solomon --- king the second time.’ . The first time had been the hurried coronation in 1 Kings 1.

‘And they anointed him to YHWH to be prince (nagid).’ He was ‘anointed to YHWH’, separated to Him as His ‘Prince’ (nagid), because YHWH was King supreme. From the earliest days ‘prince’ (nagid) was a regular term applied to rulers of Israel, especially by YHWH. It was applied to Saul, David and Solomon (1 Samuel 9.16; 10.1; 13.14; 25.30; 2 Samuel 5.2; 6.21; 7.8; 1 Kings 1.35) and to early rulers of Israel and Judah after Solomon (1 Kings 14.7; 16.2; 2 Kings 20.5). God commanded that Saul was to be anointed ‘nagid’ over Israel (1 Samuel 9.16; 10.1). God said that David was to replace him as ‘nagid’ (1 Samuel 13.14) as David acknowledged (2 Samuel 6.21), even though he was anointed king (2 Samuel 2.4; 3.39), and saw himself as such (2 Samuel 6.21). And even though David later saw Solomon as being anointed as king, he still recognised that in becoming king he would be appointed ‘nagid’ (1 Kings 1.35). This was the ancient terminology, earlier passed over by the Chronicler in 11.3 although correctly stated by the elders in 11.1. The earliest kings were all spoken of as being anointed as ‘prince’ (nagid - war leader), even though made king, because YHWH was still recognised as King (1 Samuel 10.1; 2 Samuel 5.2). Note in verse 23 that he sits on ‘the throne of YHWH’.

‘And Zadok to be Priest.’ Abiathar the Priest (1 Samuel 30.7) had been disgraced because he followed Adonijah, and his son Ahimelech (2 Samuel 8.17) presumably fell with him. Thus Zadok, although he had been High Priest before along with Abiathar and Ahimelech (24.3, 31; 2 Samuel 8.17), was now anointed as sole High Priest. It was in a sense a new beginning.

A Description Of Solomon’s Status In The Eyes Of Israel (29.23-25).

This summary takes up the fact that Solomon was made king and anointed as prince, and summarises what was to be the situation in the first part of Solomon’s reign. It stresses that he took over all the majesty of David, and received his people’s obedience as David had. He was essentially David’s successor (no greater encomium could be given). This kind of pre-summary is common in the Old Testament (in the Hebrew the narrative of 2 Chronicles is the continuation of 1 Chronicles. There is no break).

29.23 ‘Then Solomon sat on the throne of YHWH as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.’

Solomon takes his place on ‘the throne of YHWH’ as king as David his father had done. He does so as YHWH’s under-king, His anointed ‘prince’. And the prosperity of the kingdom continues, and all Israel obey him, as they had David. David’s wishes are being fulfilled.

29.24 ‘And all the princes, and the mighty men, and in the same way all the sons of king David, submitted themselves to Solomon the king.’

There was complete submission to Solomon. All the tribal leaders, and all the king’s officials, and the mighty men, and even David’s own sons, submitted themselves to Solomon as king. The succession was passed on successfully without a hint of any further trouble (an unusual circumstance in those days). The kingdom was intact and Solomon was over all.

This was, of course, after the abortive coup of Adonijah, whose followers had finally submitted to Solomon. But these, with their machinations, are not seen as important. They were firmly dealt with by Solomon.

29.25 ‘And YHWH magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.’

That these words are hyperbole comes out in the fact that there had only been two kings before him in Israel, the rustic King Saul, and David his father. It is really therefore declaring the outstanding nature of his royal majesty. God raised him to a height that would not be seen in Israel (or Judah) again. All Israel acknowledged his magnificence, and recognised his royal majesty as supreme. He was king par excellence. Outwardly it boded well for the future.

Summary Of The Reign Of David (29.26-30).

29.26 ‘Now David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel.’

It is now stressed that David the son of Jesse ruled over ‘all Israel’. Israel was a unity. In the eyes of the Chronicler the divisions of the kingdoms had been a temporary blip. David’s Israel was one.

29.27 ‘And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and thirty three years he reigned in Jerusalem.’

Thus even when speaking of David’s reign over Judah in Hebron the Chronicler describes it as ‘over Israel’ (it was prospective Israel). So David ruled for forty years ‘over Israel’, seven years in Hebron, and thirty three in Jerusalem.

29.28 ‘And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour, and Solomon his son reigned instead of him.’

‘He died in a good old age.’ Such a sentiment indicated that YHWH had given him long life. Similar sentiments were echoed of Abraham (Genesis 25.8); Isaac (Genesis 35.39); Gideon (Judges 8.32); and Job (Job 42.17) although with differences of wording. ‘Full of days’, he had lived a full and long life. Compare 23.1. ‘Full of riches and honour’. God had made up to him abundantly for his earlier trials (as He did Job). And to crown it all Solomon, his own son, now reigned instead of him. His cup was full.

29.29-30 ‘Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the history of Samuel the seer, and in the history of Nathan the prophet, and in the history of Gad the seer, with all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries.’

In closing the account of his reign the Chronicler points us to the sources of information concerning that reign, ‘the history of Samuel the seer’ (not our book of Samuel); ‘the history of Nathan the prophet’, and ‘the history of Gad the seer’. The distinction between prophet and seer is not known to us, and they may simply be synonymous. Or it may be that Nathan was an official prophet and appointed as such, whilst Samuel and Gad were inspired prophets but not officially appointed by the king. However, the fact that the two descriptions are given confirm that these titles have not been invented (otherwise why the distinction?).

In these accounts are told the details of all his reign and all his might, and all the times that he went through, and that Israel went through, and that all the nations round about went through. They made up a complete history.

So the whole of 1 Chronicles has concentrated on the greatness of David, how God supplied him with his successful army, how he committed his religious errors (moving the Ark without concern for God’s requirements, numbering Israel, and even possibly his enthusiasm for the building of a Temple), his great victories, and his activities in promoting the worship of YHWH. His reign was an overall success, and prepared the way as a model for the Coming King.

At this point in our Bibles 1 Chronicles ends, but in the Hebrew Bible there was no break. The story continued without a break in what we call 2 Chronicles.

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