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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 25

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

Verses 1-31

For the Chapter 25 passage and footnotes, see 1 Chronicles 23:1 ff.

6. The Twenty-four Classes of Singers: 1 Chronicles 25:0.—And David and the captains of the host separated. “Captains of the host”(שׂרי הצבא) are those partakers in the legislative and judicial government of David who were designated, 1 Chronicles 24:6, merely as “princes,” 1 Chronicles 23:2, as “princes of Israel.” The designation explains itself from the conception of Israel as the host of the Lord (Exodus 12:17; Exodus 12:41), not from that of the Levites as an army, or their doings as a military service (Numbers 4:23).—The sons of Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun. The לְ before אָסָף is here nota accusativi; comp. Ezra 8:24. For the genealogy of the three song-masters, of whom Asaph was a Gershonite, Heman a Kohathite, and Jeduthun a Merarite, see 1 Chronicles 6:18; 1Ch 6:24; 1 Chronicles 6:29 ff.—Who prophesied with harps, or showed themselves inspired with harps; for “the really artificial play is, like every art, an expression of inspiration or enthusiasm ” (Berth.); comp. Exodus 31:3, and for the Keriהַנִּבָּאִים as alone admissible, the Crit. Note.—And the number of the workmen for the service was. For the position of the genitive אַנְשֵׁי וגו׳ after the governing מִסְפָר with suffix, comp. the similar construction נַפְשׁוֹ עָצֵל, “his the sluggard’s soul,” Proverbs 13:4 (Ew. § 309, c). That statements are actually made in the sequel concerning the number of the Levitical musicians appears from 1 Chronicles 25:3-5, where the families of them are referred to: four sons of Asaph (1 Chronicles 25:2, without express mention of the number four), six sons of Jeduthun, and fourteen sons of Heman; and also from 1 Chronicles 25:7, where the sum of all the singers of these families is stated to be 288.

1 Chronicles 25:2. Sons of Asaph under Asaph, literally, “by the hand,” or “at the hand,” of Asaph, that is, led by him. עַל־יַד here means the same as in the 1 Chronicles 25:3; 1 Chronicles 25:6, עַל־ידֵי, “at the hands,” under the guidance or order.

1 Chronicles 25:3. For Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun were Gedaliah, or, “as to Jeduthun (the family of Jeduthun), the sons of Jeduthun,” etc. As the number of these “sons of Jeduthun” (perhaps disciples trained by him; comp., for this figurative import of the term’ “sons” in our section, on 1 Chronicles 25:7) is expressly stated to be six, and yet only five are here named, hence one name must have fallen out, and, indeed, according to 1 Chronicles 25:17, that of Shimi, the only one that is wanting in our verses, while all the other twenty-three names recur (1 Chronicles 25:9-31).—Under their father Jeduthun on the harp, or “under the guidance of their father Jeduthun on the harp;” בַּכִּנּוֹר belongs to יְדוּתוּן. For the following: “ who prophesied (or ‘ was inspired”) to thank and praise the Lord,’ comp. 1 Chronicles 14:4; 2 Chronicles 5:13.

1 Chronicles 25:4. Giddalti and Romamti-ezer. The genitive עֶזֶר probably belongs also to גִּדַּלְתִּי, so that the full name of this son of Heman is Giddalti-ezer (though in 1 Chronicles 25:9 this is not expressly stated).

1 Chronicles 25:5. All these were the sons of Heman, the king’s seer m the words of God. Heman is so called as mediator of divine revelations for the king; comp. 2 Chronicles 35:15, where the same predicate is applied to Jeduthun, and 1 Chronicles 21:9, where Gad is introduced as David’s seer.—To lift up the horn; and God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. The rich blessing of descendants is here, as elsewhere (for example, Job 42:13; Psalms 127:3 f.; also 1 Chronicles 26:5), represented as a lifting up of the horn, that is, the might and consequence of the person concerned; comp. for הֵרִים קֶרֶן (which does not mean to “sound the horn,” as Berth., misled by the certainly erroneous Masoretic accentuation, supposes) in this figurative sense, for example, 1 Samuel 2:10 (Luke 1:78); Lamentations 2:17; Psalms 89:18; Psalms 92:11; Psalms 148:14.

1 Chronicles 25:6. All these were under their father, literally, “ under the guidance of their father.” The genitive אֲבִיהֶם is distributive, and does not refer specially to Heman (Berth.); for by “all these” our verse clearly points to all enumerated from 1 Chronicles 25:2, and not merely to Heman’s sons, 1 Chronicles 25:4-5.—Under the king, with Asaph, and jeduthun, and Heman. That here, by the עַל־יְדֵי referring to הַמֶּלֶךְ and the three following names, David appears co-ordinated with the three song-masters, is explained by his having co-operated With them in the first arrangement and institution of the service of song.

1 Chronicles 25:7. And their number…all that were cunning, were two hundred eighty and eight. This total of 288, or 24 x 12, as the sequel (1 Chronicles 25:9 ff.) shows, is explained by this, that each of the twenty-four (4 + 6 + 14) sons of Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman, with, his eleven “brethren,” not his nearest kindred, but rather his companions in calling, was incorporated into one class or choir of twelve musicians, so that thus there were twenty-four such dodecades. These 288 musicians were designated “all the cunning” (כָּל־הַמֵּבִין), as by instruction and practice they were entrusted with the art of sacred singing, and were able to train the great body of singers (the 4000 who, 1 Chronicles 25:8, are distinguished from them as “scholars,” תַּלְמִידִים).

1 Chronicles 25:8. And they cast lots for the charge, גּוֹרָלוֹת מִשְׁמֶרֶת, properly, “lots of service” (κλήρους ἐφημεριῶν, Sept.).—The small as the great, the teacher with the scholar. To לְעֻמַּת belongs כַּקָּטֹן כַּגָּדוֹל as genitive: “ in the way of as the small so the great” (comp. Ecclesiastes 5:15 and Ew. § 360, a.). The repetition of a מִשְׁמֶרֶת after לְעֻמַּת, which some mss. present, and some Rabbinical expositors, as Raschi and Kimchi, demand, is an unnecessary attempt to amend and interpret. The passage says that the whole of the Levites destined for the service of song, the leaders as well as the choristers, the 288 מֵבִינִים as well as the 3712 תַּלְמִידִים, were chosen by lot; and so the regularly exchanging classes, or ἐφημερίαι, included both kinds of singers.

1 Chronicles 25:9-31. The Result of the Lot.—And the first lot came out for Asaph to Joseph, literally, “for Asaph, (namely) for Joseph” his son. The לְ “for” or “on,” is usually omitted in the following. For the question whether the words “his son and his brethren twelve” (or, “he and his sons and his brethren”—together—“twelve”), which stand after the following twenty-three names, have fallen out after לְיוֹסֵף, or were intentionally omitted, see Crit. Note.

1 Chronicles 25:11. The fourth to Izri, his sons. This Izri is called Zeri in 1 Chronicles 25:3, as several other names in this list vary in spelling and form from those in 1 Chronicles 25:2-4,—namely, Nethanjahu and Hananjahu, 1 Chronicles 25:12; 1 Chronicles 25:23 (for Nethaniah, Hananiah, 1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:4); Hashabiah, 1 Chronicles 25:19 (for Hashabjahu, 1 Chronicles 25:3); Jesharelah, 1 Chronicles 25:14 (for Asharelah, 1 Chronicles 25:2); Azarel, 1 Chronicles 25:18 (for Uzziel, 1 Chronicles 25:4; comp. the various forms of the royal name Uzziah-Azariah, 1 Chronicles 3:12; 2 Chronicles 26:1); Shubael, 1 Chronicles 25:20 (for Shebuel, 1 Chronicles 25:4); Jeremoth, 1 Chronicles 25:22 (for Jerimoth, 1 Chronicles 25:4); Elijathah, 1 Chronicles 25:27 (for Eliathah, 1 Chronicles 25:4). For the absence of Shimi, 1 Chronicles 25:17, in the former list, see on 1 Chronicles 25:3. The various deviations in the spelling and formation of the names deepen the impression of the historical character, for which the whole account of singing-classes vouches. That of the twenty-four names of the leaders only one, that of Mattithiah, 1 Chronicles 25:21, occurs elsewhere (1 Chronicles 15:18; 1 Chronicles 15:21, in the account of the removal of the ark), proves nothing against the credibility of the present double list, the arbitrary invention of which would be far more difficult to conceive than the assumption of its resting on ancient and genuine documents.

With regard to the series of names in 1 Chronicles 25:9-31, what is remarked by Keil suffices for its explanation :—“The series is so determined by lot, that the four sons of Asaph hold the first, third, fifth, and seventh places; the six sons of Jeduthun, the second, fourth, eighth, tenth, twelfth, and fourteenth places; lastly, the four sons of Heman mentioned in 1 Chronicles 25:4, the sixth, ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth places; and the remaining places, 15–24, fall to the remaining sons of Heman. Hence it follows that the lots of the sons of the three song-masters were not put in separate urns, and one lot drawn from each urn in succession, but all the lots were united in one urn, and, in drawing, the lots of Asaph and Jeduthun so came out, that after the fourteenth drawing only the sons of Heman remained.” This simple explanation of the order of the names is certainly preferable to the artificial assumption of Bertheau, that “two series of seven each were first put in the urns, and one drawn from each of these alternately, and then the remaining ten sons of Heman were put in.”

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 25". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-chronicles-25.html. 1857-84.
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