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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 23

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-2

Gathering, 1 Chronicles 23:1-2

Verse one ties the present ’chapter, with what preceded in chapter 22. The advanced age of David is stressed, and his appointment of Solomon as his successor. This information here indicates that David had made perfectly clear, some time before his death, his desire that. Solomon be king after him. The account of First Kings, chapter one, shows that many of the leading men of the kingdom, and Adonijah the oldest surviving son of David, sought to thwart the plans of the old king and usurp the throne from Solomon for Adonijah. This great assembly included the prince of each tribe, as well as leading men, also called princes, with the spiritual leaders, the priests and Levites. This was a very important meeting.

Verses 3-23

Levites, verses 3-23

The numbering of the Levites began at age thirty because it was at that age they were eligible to enter into their official duties (Numbers 4:3 and other verses in the chapter). The number came to only thirty-eight thousand, which seems a small number for the time. However, the active years of Levitical service extended only to age fifty, where doubtless the numbering also ended. This enumeration was especially important to those who returned from the Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel, Ezra, and others. At that time they had to establish their lineage to officiate ( see Ezra 2:61-63). This would help to explain why these matters were recorded in the Books of Chronicles, which were composed after the exile, but not in the Books of Kings.

The thirty-eight thousand Levites were divided into four groups A large group numbering twenty-four thousand were devoted strictly to the work of maintaining the house and worship of the Lord. Six thousand were appointed as officers and judges in the towns and tribes where they were scattered. Four thousand more were porters, or temple watchmen, while the remaining four thousand supplied the choristers and instrumentalists for the temple choir and orchestra.

The families of the Levites were arranged in courses according to their patronage, stemming from the three sons of Levi. These were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Verses 7-11 enumerate the sons and descendants of Gershon (sometimes Gershom). None of these are particularly prominent otherwise. It is interesting to note, from verse 11 that small families were included with larger ones.

The Kohathites were the largest family. The priestly family of Aaron came from the Kohathites, but most of the Kohathites were merely Levites, not priests. Verses 12-20 enumerate the heads of this important family. Amram was the father of Moses and Aaron. Though Moses was the great leader of Israel, the family of Aaron succeeded to greater prestige in later generations, and the sons and descendants of Moses were mere Levites. This is specifically indicated by verses 15-­17, where the descendants of Moses’ two sons are listed. Eliezer (the younger son) fathered a large family known as the sons of Rehabiah.

The families of the Merarites numbered only two, but in their times were about as numerous as some of the others. Very little is noted of them in this context. It is noted that one of the more prominent descendants died without sons. His daughters married their cousins and maintained their father’s lineage within the tribe of Levi (seethe law relative to this situation, Numbers, chapter 36).

Verses 24-32

New Duties, Verses 24-32

A difficulty with the text appears from a comparison of verses 24­-27, and verse 3. Whereas the thirty for the age of an active Levite is commensurate with the Numbers citation above, twenty is given as their age from which polled here. The age of twenty-five years is given at Numbers 8:24-25. Various explanations have been made, some suggesting a period of apprenticeship to age of thirty, which does not explain "twenty" in verses 24, 27. Therefore, there must obviously be a copyist’s error in one of the places where ages differ. The Septuagint rendered it ’Twenty-five" in every place, indicating that to be the age observed when the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek.

In his assembly David called to mind that the old task of the Levites in conveying the tabernacle and its articles of furniture from place to place would no longer be necessary. For that reason he appointed them their new tasks as noted above. It is again delineated in verses 28-32. These may be summarized as: to wait on the priests in the service of the house of the Lord, as they worked in the outside courts and the inner rooms to 1) keep the purity of the holy things; 2) to arrange for the shew bread and the fine flour for the meat (meal, or food) offering; 3) to oversee preparation of the pan-baked and fried unleavened cakes of every size and measure; 4) to stand every morning to praise the Lord and thank Him, and to repeat the exercise in the evening; 5) to assist in the offering of the burnt sacrifices on the sabbath, new moons, feast days continually; 6) to guard the sanctity of the tabernacle and the sanctuary of the temple according to the direction of the priest.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 23". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-chronicles-23.html. 1985.
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