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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 4

The Expositor's Bible CommentaryThe Expositor's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-43


1 Chronicles 1:1-54; 1 Chronicles 2:1-55; 1 Chronicles 3:1-24; 1 Chronicles 4:1-43; 1 Chronicles 5:1-26; 1 Chronicles 6:1-81; 1 Chronicles 7:1-40; 1 Chronicles 8:1-40; 1 Chronicles 9:1-44

THE first nine chapters of Chronicles form, with a few slight exceptions, a continuous list of names. It is the largest extant collection of Hebrew names. Hence these chapters may be used as a text for the exposition of any spiritual significance to be derived from Hebrew names either individually or collectively. Old Testament genealogies have often exercised the ingenuity of the preacher, and the student of homiletics will, readily recollect the methods of extracting a moral from what at first sight seems a barren theme. For instance, those names of which little or nothing is recorded are held up as awful examples of wasted lives. We are asked to take warning from Mahalalel and Methuselah, who spent their long centuries so ineffectually that there was nothing to record except that they begat sons and daughters and died. Such teaching is not fairly derived from its text. The sacred writers implied no reflection upon the Patriarchs of whom they gave so short and conventional an account. Least of all could such teaching be based upon the lists in Chronicles, because the men who are there merely mentioned by name include Adam, Noah, Abraham, and other heroes of sacred story. Moreover, such teaching is unnecessary and not altogether wholesome. Very few men who are at all capable of obtaining a permanent place in history need to be spurred on by sermons; and for most people the suggestion that a man’s life is a failure unless he secures posthumous fame is false and mischievous. The Lamb’s book of life is the only record of the vast majority of honorable and useful lives; and the tendency to self-advertisement is sufficiently wide-spread and spontaneous already: it needs no pulpit stimulus. We do not think any worse of a man because his tombstone simply states his name and age, or any better because it catalogues his virtues and mentions that he attained the dignity of alderman or author.

The significance of these lists of names is rather to be looked for in an opposite direction. It is not that a name and one or two commonplace incidents mean so little, but that they suggest so much. A mere parish register is not in itself attractive, but if we consider even such a list, the very names interest us and kindle our imagination. It is almost impossible to linger in a country churchyard reading the half-effaced inscriptions upon the headstones, without forming some dim picture of the character and history and even the outward semblance of the men and women who once bore the names.

"For though a name is neither hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man,"

yet, to use a somewhat technical phrase, it connotes a man. A name implies the existence of a distinct personality, with a peculiar and unique history, and yet, on the other hand, a being with whom we are linked in close sympathy by a thousand ties of common human nature and everyday experience. In its lists of what are now mere names, the Bible seems to recognize the dignity and sacredness of bare human life.

But the names in these nine chapters have also a collective significance: they stand for more than their individual owners. They are typical and representative, the names of kings, and priests, and captains; they sum up the tribes of Israel, both as a Church and a nation, down all the generations of its history. The inclusion of these names in the sacred record, as the express introduction to the annals of the Temple, and the sacred city, and the elect house of David, is the formal recognition of the sanctity of the nation and of national life. We are entirely in the spirit of the Bible when we see this same sanctity in all organized societies: in the parish, the municipality, and the state; when we attach a Divine significance to registers of electors and census returns, and claim all such lists as symbols of religious privilege and responsibility.

But names do not merely suggest individuals and communities: the meanings of the names reveal the ideas of the people who used them. It has been well said that "the names of every nation are an important monument of national spirit and manners, and thus the Hebrew names bear important testimony to the peculiar vocation of this nation. No nation of antiquity has such a proportion of names of religious import." Amongst ourselves indeed the religious meaning of names has almost wholly faded away; "Christian name" is a mere phrase, and children are named after relations, or according to prevailing fashion, or after the characters of popular novels. But the religious motive can still be traced in some modern names; in certain districts of German the name "Ursula" or "Apollonia" is a sure indication that a girl is a Roman Catholic and has been named after a popular saint. The Bible constantly insists upon this religious significance, which would frequently be in the mind of the devout Israelite in giving names to his children. The Old Testament contains more than a hundred etymologies of personal names, most of which attach a religious meaning to the words explained. The etymologies of the patriarchal names -" Abraham," father of a multitude of nations; "Isaac," laughter; "Jacob,"supplanter; "Israel," prince with God-are specially familiar. The Biblical interest in edifying etymologies was maintained and developed by early commentators. Their philology was far from accurate, and very often they were merely playing upon the forms of words. But the allegorizing tendencies of Jewish and Christian expositors found special opportunities in proper names. On the narrow foundation of an etymology mostly doubtful and often impossible, Philo, and Origen, and Jerome loved to erect an elaborate structure of theological or philosophical doctrine. Philo has only one quotation from our author: "Manasseh had sons, whom his Syrian concubine bare to him, Machir; and Machir begat Gilead." {1 Chronicles 7:14} He quotes this verse to show that recollection is associated in a subordinate capacity with memory. The connection is not very clearly made out, but rests in some way on the meaning of Manasseh, the root of which means to forget. As forgetfulness with recollection restores our knowledge, so Manasseh with his Syrian concubine begets Machir. Recollection therefore is a concubine, an inferior and secondary quality. This ingenious trifling has a certain charm in spite of its extravagance, but in less dexterous hands the method becomes clumsy as well as extravagant. It has, however, the advantage of readily adapting itself to all tastes and opinions, so that we are not surprised when an eighteenth-century author discovers in Old Testament etymology a compendium of Trinitarian theology. Ahiah {1 Chronicles 7:8} is derived from ‘ehad, one, and yah, Jehovah, and is thus an assertion of the Divine unity; Reuel {1 Chronicles 1:35} is resolved into a plural verb with a singular Divine name for its subject: this is an indication of trinity in unity; Ahilud {1 Chronicles 18:15} is derived from ‘ehad, one, and galud, begotten, and signifies that the Son is only-begotten.

Modern scholarship is more rational in its methods, but attaches no less importance to these ancient names, and finds in them weighty evidence on problems of criticism and theology; and before proceeding to more serious matters, we may note a few somewhat exceptional names. As pointed in the present Hebrew text, Hagarmoveth and Azmaveth {1 Chronicles 8:36} have a certain grim suggestiveness. Hazarmaveth, court of death, is given as the name of a descendant of Shem. It is, however, probably the name of a place transferred to an eponymous ancestor, and has been identified with Hadramawt, a district in the south of Arabia. As, however, Hadramawt is a fertile district of Arabia Felix, the name does not seem very appropriate. On the other hand, Azmaveth, "strength of death," would be very suitable for some strong death-dealing soldier. Azubah, {1 Chronicles 2:18} "forsaken," the name of Caleb’s wife, is capable of a variety of romantic explanations. Hazel-elponi {1 Chronicles 4:3} is remarkable in its mere form; and Ewald’s interpretation, "Give shade, Thou who turnest to me Thy countenance," seems rather a cumbrous signification for the name of a daughter of the house of Judah. Jushabhesed, {1 Chronicles 3:20} "Mercy will be renewed," as the name of a son of Zerubbabel, doubtless expresses the gratitude and hope of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Jashubi-lehem, {1 Chronicles 4:22} however, is curious and perplexing. The name has been interpreted "giving bread" or "turning back to Bethlehem," but the text is certainly corrupt, and the passage is one of many into which either the carelessness of scribes or the obscurity of the chronicler’s sources has introduced hopeless confusion. But the most remarkable set of names is found in 1 Chronicles 25:4, where Giddalti and Romantiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Maha-zioth, are simply a Hebrew sentence meaning, "I have magnified and exalted help; sitting in distress, I have spoken visions in abundance." We may at once set aside the cynical suggestion that the author lacked names to complete a genealogy and, to save the trouble of inventing them separately, took the first sentence that came to hand and cut it up into suitable lengths, nor is it likely that a father would spread the same process over several years and adopt it for his family. This remarkable combination of names is probably due to some misunderstanding of his sources on the part of the chronicler. His parchment rolls must often have been torn and fragmentary, the writing blurred and half illegible; and his attempts to piece together obscure and ragged manuscripts naturally resulted at times in mistakes and confusion.

These examples of interesting etymologies might easily be multiplied; they serve, at any rate, to indicate a rich mine of suggestive teaching. It must, however, be remembered that a name is not necessarily a personal name because it occurs in a genealogy; cities, districts, and tribes mingle freely with persons in these lists. In the same connection we note that the female names are few and far between, and that of those which do occur the "sisters" probably stand for allied and related families, and not for individuals.

As regards Old Testament theology, we may first notice the light thrown by personal names on the relation of the religion of Israel to that of other Semitic peoples. Of the names in these chapters, and elsewhere, a large proportion are compounded of one or other of the Divine names. El is the first element in Elishama, Eliphelet, Eliada, etc.; it is the second in Othniel, Jehaleleel, Asareel, etc. Similarly Jehovah is represented by the initial Jeho-in Jehoshaphat, Jehoiakim, Jehoram, etc., by the final - iah in Amaziah, Azariah, Hezekiah, etc. It has been calculated that there are a hundred and ninety names beginning or ending with the equivalent of Jehovah, including most of the kings of Judah and many of the kings of Israel. Moreover, some names which have not these prefixes and affixes in their extant form are contractions of older forms which began or ended with a Divine name. Ahaz, for instance, is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as Jahuhazi-i.e., Jehoahaz-and Nathan is probably a contracted form of Neth-aniah.

There are also numerous compounds of other Divine names. Zur, rock, is found in Pedahzur, {Numbers 1:10} Shaddai, A.V Almighty, in Ammishaddai; {Numbers 1:12} the two are combined in Zurishaddai. {Numbers 1:6} Melech is a Divine name in Malchiram and Malchishua. Baal occurs as a Divine name in Eshbaal and Meribbaal. Abi, father, is a Divine name in Abiram, Abinadab, etc., and probably also Ahi in Ahiram and Ammi in Amminadab. Possibly, too, the apparently simple names Melech, Zur, Baal, are contractions of longer forms in which these Divine names were prefixes or affixes.

This use of Divine names is capable of very varied illustration. Modern languages have Christian and Christopher, Emmanuel, Theodosius, Theodora, etc.; names like Hermogenes and Heliogabalus are found in the classical languages. But the practice is specially characteristic of Semitic languages. Mohammedan princes are still called Abdur-rahman, servant of the Merciful, and Abdallah, servant of God; ancient Phoenician kings were named Ethbaal and Abdalonim, where alonim is a plural Divine name, and the bal in Hannibal and Hasdrubal = baal. The Assyrian and Chaldaean kings were named after the gods Sin, Nebo, Assur, Merodach, e.g., Sin-akki-irib (Sennacherib); Nebuchadnezzar; Assur-bani-pal; Merodach-baladan.

Of these Divine names El and Baal are common to Israel and other Semitic peoples, and it has been held that the Hebrew personal names preserve traces of polytheism. In any case, however, the Baal-names are comparatively few, and do not necessarily indicate that Israelites worshipped a Baal distinct from Jehovah; they may be relics of a time when Baal (Lord) was a title or equivalent of Jehovah, like the later Adonai. Other possible traces of polytheism are few and doubtful. In Baanah and Resheph we may perhaps find the obscure Phoenician deities Anath and Reshaph. On the whole, Hebrew names as compared; for instance, with Assyrian afford little or no evidence of the prevalence of polytheism.

Another question concerns the origin and use of the name Jehovah. Our lists conclusively prove its free use during the monarchy, and its existence under the judges. On the other hand, its apparent presence in Jochebed, the name of the mother of Moses, seems to carry it back beyond Moses. Possibly it was a Divine name peculiar to his family or clan. Its occurrence in Yahubidi, a king of Hamath, in the time of Sargon may be due to direct Israelite influence. Hamath had frequent relations with Israel and Judah.

Turning to matters of practical religion, how far do these names help us to understand the spiritual life of ancient Israel? The Israelites made constant use of El and Jehovah in their names, and we have no parallel practice. Were they then so much more religious than we are? Probably in a sense they were. It is true that the etymology and even the original significance of a name in common use are for all practical purposes quickly and entirely forgotten. A man may go through a life-time bearing the name of Christopher and never know its etymological meaning. At Cambridge and Oxford sacred names like "Jesus "and "Trinity" are used constantly and familiarly without suggesting anything beyond the colleges so called. The edifying phrase, "God encompasseth us," is altogether lost in the grotesque tavern sign "The Goat and Compasses." Nor can we suppose that the Israelite or the Assyrian often dwelt on the religious significance of the Jeho-or- iah, the Nebo, Sin, or Merodach, of current proper names. As we have seen, the sense of -iah, -el, or Jeho-was often so little present to men’s minds that contractions were formed by omitting them. Possibly because these prefixes and affixes were so common, they came to be taken for granted; it was scarcely necessary to write them, because in any case they would be understood. Probably in historic times Abi-, Ahi-, and Ammi-were no longer recognized as Divine names or titles; and yet the names which could still be recognized as compounded of El and Jehovah must have had their influence on popular feeling. They were part of the religiousness, so to speak, of the ancient East; they symbolized the constant intertwining of religious acts, and words, and thoughts with all the concerns of life. The quality of this ancient religion was very inferior to that of a devout and intelligent modern Christian; it was perhaps inferior to that of Russian peasants belonging to the Greek Church: but ancient religion pervaded life and society more consciously than modern Christianity does; it touched all classes and occasions more directly, if also more mechanically. And, again, these names were not the fossil relics of obsolete habits of thought and feeling, like the names of our churches and colleges; they were the memorials of comparatively recent acts of faith. The name "Elijah" commemorated the solemn occasion on which a father professed his own faith and consecrated a new-born child to the true God by naming his boy "Jehovah is my God." This name-giving was also a prayer; the child was placed under the protection of the deity whose name it bore. The practice might be tainted with superstition; the name would often be regarded as a kind of amulet; and yet we may believe that it could also serve to express a parent’s earnest and simple-minded faith. Modern Englishmen have developed a habit of almost complete reticence and reserve on religious matters, and this habit is illustrated by our choice of proper names. Mary, and Thomas, and James are so familiar that their Scriptural origin is forgotten, and therefore they are tolerated; but the use of distinctively Scriptural Christian names is virtually regarded as bad taste. This reticence is not merely due to increased delicacy of spiritual feeling: it is partly the result of the growth of science and of literary and historical criticism. We have become absorbed in the wonderful relations of methods and processes; we are fascinated by the ingenious mechanism of nature and society. We have no leisure to detach our thoughts from the machinery and carry them further on to its Maker and Director. Indeed, because there is so much mechanism and because it is so wonderful, we are sometimes asked to believe that the machine made itself. But this is a mere phase in the religious growth of mankind: humanity will tire of some of its new toys, and will become familiar with the rest; deeper needs and instincts will reassert themselves; and men will find themselves nearer in sentiment than they supposed to the ancient people who named their children after their God. In this and other matters the East today is the same as of old; the permanence of its custom is no inapt symbol of the permanence of Divine truth, which revolution and conquest are powerless to change.

"The East bowed low before the blast

In patient, deep disdain;

She let the legions thunder past,

And plunged in thought again."

But the Christian Church is mistress of a more compelling magic than even Eastern patience and tenacity: out of the storms that threaten her, she draws new energies for service, and learns a more expressive language in which to declare the glory of God.

Let us glance for a moment at the meanings of the group of Divine names given above. We have said that, in addition to Melech in Malehi-, Abi, Ahi, and Ammi are to be regarded as Divine names. One reason for this is that their use as prefixes is strictly analogous to that of El and Jeho-. We have Abijah and Ahijah as well as Elijah, Abiel and Ammiel as well as Eliel, Abiram and Ahiram as well as Jehoram; Ammishaddai compares with Zurishaddai, and Ammizabad with Jehozabad, nor would it be difficult to add many other examples. If this view be correct, Ammi will have nothing to do with the Hebrew word for "people," but will rather be connected with the corresponding Arabic word for "uncle." As the use of such terms as "brother" and "uncle" for Divine names is not consonant with Hebrew theology in its historic period, the names which contain these prefixes must have come down from earlier ages, and were used in later times without any consciousness of their original sense. Probably they were explained by new etymologies more in harmony with the spirit of the times; compare the etymology "father of a multitude of nations" given to Abraham. Even Abi-, father, in the early times to which its use as a prefix must be referred, cannot have had the full spiritual meaning which now attaches to it as a Divine title. It probably only signified the ultimate source of life. The disappearance of these religious terms from the common vocabulary and their use in names long after their significance had been forgotten are ordinary phenomena in the development of language and religion. How many of the millions who use our English names for the days of the week ever give a thought to Thor or Freya? Such phenomena have more than an antiquarian interest. They remind us that religious terms, and phrases, and formulae derive their influence and value from their adaptation to the age which accepts them: and therefore many of them will become unintelligible or even misleading to later generations. Language varies continuously, circumstances change, experience widens, and every age has a right to demand that Divine truth shall be presented in the words and metaphors that give it the clearest and most forcible expression. Many of the simple truths that are most essential to salvation admit of being stated once for all; but dogmatic theology fossilizes fast, and the bread of one generation may become a stone to the next.

The history of these names illustrates yet another phenomenon. In some narrow and imperfect sense the early Semitic peoples seem to have called God "Father" and "Brother." Because the terms were limited to a narrow sense, the Israelites grew to a level of religious truth at which they could no longer use them; but as they made yet further progress they came to know more of what was meant by fatherhood and brotherhood, and gained also a deeper knowledge of God. At length the Church resumed these ancient Semitic terms; and Christians call God "Abba, Father," and speak of the Eternal Son as their elder Brother. And thus sometimes, but not always, an antique phrase may for a time seem unsuitable and misleading, and then again may prove to be the best expression for the newest and fullest truth. Our criticism of a religious formula may simply reveal our failure to grasp the wealth of meaning which its words and symbols can contain.

Turning from these obsolete names to those in common use-El; Jehovah; Shaddai; Zur; Melech-probably the prevailing idea popularly associated with them all was that of strength: El, Strength in the abstract; Jehovah, strength shown in permanence and independence; Shaddai, the strength that causes terror, the Almighty from whom cometh destruction; Zur, rock, the material symbol of strength; Melech, king, the possessor of authority. In early times the first and most essential attribute of Deity is power, but with this idea of strength a certain attribute of beneficence is soon associated. The strong God is the Ally of His people; His permanence is the guarantee of their national existence; He destroys their enemies. The rock is a place of refuge; and, again, Jehovah’s people may rejoice in the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The King leads them to battle, and gives them their enemies for a spoil.

We must not, however, suppose that pious Israelites would consciously and systematically discriminate between these names, any more than ordinary Christians do between God, Lord, Father, Christ, Savior, Jesus. Their usages would be governed by changing currents of sentiment very difficult to understand and explain after the lapse of thousands of years. In the year A.D. 3000, for instance, it will be difficult for the historian of dogmatics to explain accurately why some nineteenth-century Christians preferred to speak of "dear Jesus" and others of "the Christ."

But the simple Divine names reveal comparatively little; much more may be learnt from the numerous compounds they help to form. Some of the more curious have already been noticed, but the real significance of this nomenclature is to be looked for in the more ordinary and natural names. Here, as before, we can only select from the long and varied list. Let us take some of the favorite names and some of the roots most often used, almost always, be it remembered, in combination with Divine names. The different varieties of these sacred names rendered it possible to construct various personal names embodying the same idea. Also the same Divine name might be used either as prefix or affix. For instance, the idea that "God knows" is equally well expressed in the names Eliada (El-yada’), Jediael (Yada’-el), Jehoiada (Jeho-yada’), and Jedaiah (Yada’-yah). "God remembers" is expressed alike by Zachariah and Jozachar; " God hears" by Elishama (El-shama’), Samuel (if for Shama’-el), Ishmael (also from Shama’-el), Shemaiah, and Ishmaiah (both from Shama’ and Yah); "God gives" by Elnathan, Nethaneel, Jonathan, and Nethaniah; " God helps" by Eliezer, Azareel, Joezer, and Azariah; " God is gracious" by Elhanan, Hananeel, Johanan, Ha-naniah, Baal-hanan, and, for a Carthaginian, Hannibal, giving us a curious connection between the Apostle of love, John (Johanan), and the deadly enemy of Rome.

The way in which the changes are rung upon these ideas shows how the ancient Israelites loved to dwell upon them. Nestle reckons that in the Old Testament sixty-one persons have names farmed from the root nathan, to give; fifty-seven from shama, to hear; fifty-six from ‘azar, to help; forty-five from hanan, to be gracious; forty-four from zakhar, to remember. Many persons, too, bear names from the root yada’, to know. The favorite name is Zechariah, which is borne by twenty-five different persons.

Hence, according to the testimony of names, the Israelites’ favorite ideas about God were that He heard, and knew, and remembered; that He was gracious, and helped men, and gave them gifts: but they loved best to think of Him as God the Giver. Their nomenclature recognizes many other attributes, but these take the first place. The value of this testimony is enhanced by its utter unconsciousness and naturalness; it brings us nearer to the average man in his religious moments than any psalm or prophetic utterance. Men’s chief interest in God was as the Giver. The idea has proved very permanent; St. James amplifies it: God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. It lies latent in names: Theodosius, Theodore, Theodora, and Dorothea. The other favorite ideas are all related to this. God hears men’s prayers, and knows their needs, and remembers them; He is gracious, and helps them by His gifts. Could anything be more pathetic than this artless self-revelation? Men’s minds have little leisure for sin and salvation; they are kept down by the constant necessity of preserving and providing for a bare existence. Their cry to God is like the prayer of Jacob, "If Thou wilt give me bread to eat and raiment to put on!" The very confidence and gratitude that the names express imply periods of doubt and fear, when they said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?" times when it seemed to them impossible that God could have heard their prayer or that He knew their misery, else why was there no deliverance? Had God forgotten to be gracious? Did He indeed remember? The names come to us as answers of faith to these suggestions of despair.

Possibly these old-world saints were not more pre-occupied with their material needs than most modern Christians. Perhaps it is necessary to believe in a God who rules on earth before we can understand the Father who is in heaven. Does a man really trust in God for eternal life if he cannot trust Him for daily bread? But in any case these names provide us with very comprehensive formulae, which we are at liberty to apply as freely as we please: the God who knows, and hears, and remembers, who is gracious, and helps men, and gives them gifts. To begin with, note how in a great array of Old Testament names God is the Subject, Actor, and Worker; the supreme facts of life are God and God’s doings, not man and man’s doings, what God is to man, not what man is to God. This is a foreshadowing of the Christian doctrines of grace and of the Divine sovereignty. And again we are left to fill in the objects of the sentences for ourselves: God hears, and remembers, and gives-what? All that we have to say to Him and all that we are capable of receiving from Him.


1 Chronicles 1:1-54; 1 Chronicles 2:1-55; 1 Chronicles 3:1-24; 1 Chronicles 4:1-43; 1 Chronicles 5:1-26; 1 Chronicles 6:1-81; 1 Chronicles 7:1-40; 1 Chronicles 8:1-40; 1 Chronicles 9:1-44

IT has been said that Religion is the great discoverer of truth, while Science follows her slowly and after a long interval. Heredity, so much discussed just now, is sometimes treated as if its principles were a great discovery of the present century. Popular science is apt to ignore history and to mistake a fresh nomenclature for an entirely new system of truth, and yet the immense and far-reaching importance of heredity has been one of the commonplaces of thought ever since history began. Science has been anticipated, not merely by religious feeling, but by a universal instinct. In the old world political and social systems have been based upon the recognition of the principle of heredity, and religion has sanctioned such recognition. Caste in India is a religious even more than a social institution; and we use the term figuratively in reference to ancient and modern life, even when the institution has not formally existed. Without the aid of definite civil or religious law the force of sentiment and circumstances suffices to establish an informal system of caste. Thus the feudal aristocracy and guilds of the Middle Ages were not without their rough counterparts in the Old Testament. Moreover, the local divisions of the Hebrew kingdoms corresponded in theory, at any rate, to blood relationships; and the tribe, the clan, and the family had even more fixity and importance than now belong to the parish or the municipality. A man’s family history or genealogy was the ruling factor in determining his home, his occupation, and his social position. In the chronicler’s time this was especially the case with the official ministers of religion, the Temple establishment to which he himself belonged. The priests, the Levites, the singers, and doorkeepers formed castes in the strict sense of the word. A man’s birth definitely assigned him to one of these classes, to which none but the members of certain families could belong.

But the genealogies had a deeper significance. Israel was Jehovah’s chosen people, His son, to whom special privileges were guaranteed by solemn covenant. A man’s claim to share in this covenant depended on his genuine Israelite descent, and the proof of such descent was an authentic genealogy. In these chapters the chronicle has taken infinite pains to collect pedigrees from all available sources and to construct a complete set of genealogies exhibiting the lines of descent of the families of Israel. His interest in this research was not merely antiquarian: he was investigating matters of the greatest social and religious importance to all the members of the Jewish community, and especially to his colleagues and friends in the Temple service. These chapters, which seem to us so dry and useless, were probably regarded by the chronicler’s contemporaries as the most important part of his work. The preservation or discovery of a genealogy was almost a matter of life and death. Witness the episode in Ezra and Nehemiah: {Ezra 2:61-63 Nehemiah 7:63-65} "And of the priests: the children of Hobaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai, which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name. These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were deemed polluted and put from the priesthood. And the governor said unto them that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim." Cases like these would stimulate our author’s enthusiasm. As he turned over dusty receptacles, and unrolled frayed parchments, and painfully deciphered crabbed and faded script, he would be excited by the hope of discovering some mislaid genealogy that would restore outcasts, to their full status and privileges as Israelites and priests. Doubtless he had already acquired in some measure the subtle exegesis and minute casuistry that were the glory of later Rabbinism. Ingenious interpretation of obscure writing or the happy emendation of half-obliterated words might lend opportune aid in the recovery of a genealogy. On the other hand, there were vested interests ready to protest against the too easy acceptance of new claims. The priestly families of undoubted descent from Aaron would not thank a chronicler for reviving lapsed rights to a share in the offices and revenues of the Temple. This part of our author’s task was as delicate as it was important.

We will now briefly consider the genealogies in these chapters in the order in which they are given. Chapter 1 contains genealogies of the patriarchal period selected from Genesis. The existing races of the world are all traced back through Shem, Ham, and Japheth to Noah, and through him to Adam. The chronicler thus accepts and repeats the doctrine of Genesis that God made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. {Acts 17:26} All mankind, "Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman," {Colossians 3:11} were alike descended from Noah, who was saved from the Flood by the special care of God; from Enoch, who walked with God; from Adam, who was created by God in His own image and likeness. The Israelites did not claim, like certain Greek clans, to be the descendants of a special god of their own, or, like the Athenians, to have sprung miraculously from sacred soil. Their genealogies testified that not merely Israelite nature, but human nature, is molded on a Divine pattern. These apparently barren lists of names enshrine the great principles of the universal brotherhood of men and the universal Fatherhood of God. The chronicler wrote when the broad universalism of the prophets was being replaced by the hard exclusiveness of Judaism; and yet, perhaps unconsciously, he reproduces the genealogies which were to be one weapon of St. Paul in his struggle with that exclusiveness. The opening chapters of Genesis and Chronicles are among the foundations of the catholicity of the Church of Christ.

For the antediluvian period only the Sethite genealogy is given. The chronicler’s object was simply to give the origin of existing races; and the descendants of Cain were omitted, as entirely destroyed by the Flood.

Following the example of Genesis, the chronicler gives the genealogies of other races at the points at which they diverge from the ancestral line of Israel, and then continues the family history of the chosen race. In this way the descendants of Japheth and Ham, the non-Abrahamic Semites, the Ishmaelites, the sons of Keturah, and the Edomites are successively mentioned.

The relations of Israel with Edom were always close and mostly hostile. The Edomites had taken advantage of the overthrow of the Southern Kingdom to appropriate the south of Judah, and still continued to occupy it. The keen interest felt by the chronicler in Edom is shown by the large space devoted to the Edomites. The close contiguity of the Jews and Idumaeans tended to promote mutual intercourse between them, and even threatened an eventual fusion of the two peoples. As a matter of fact, the Idumaean Herods became rulers of Judaea. To guard against such dangers to the separateness of the Jewish people, the chronicler emphasises the historical distinction of race between them and the Edomites.

From the beginning of the second chapter onwards the genealogies are wholly occupied with Israelites. The author’s special interest in Judah is at once manifested. After giving the list of the twelve Patriarchs he devotes two and a half chapters to the families of Judah. Here again the materials have been mostly obtained from the earlier historical books. They are, however, combined with more recent traditions, so that in this chapter matter from different sources is pieced together in a very confusing fashion. One source of this confusion was the principle that the Jewish community could only consist of families of genuine Israelite descent. Now a large number of the returned exiles traced their descent to two brothers, Caleb and Jerahmeel; but in the older narratives Caleb and Jerahmeel are not Israelites. Caleb is a Kenizzite, {Joshua 14:6} and his descendants and those of Jerahmeel appear in close connection with the Kenites. {1 Samuel 27:10} Even in this chapter certain of the Calebites are called Kenites and connected in some strange way with the Rechabites. Though at the close of the monarchy the Calebites and Jerahmeelites had become an integral part of the tribe of Judah, their separate origin had not been forgotten, and Caleb and Jerahmeel had not been included in the Israelite genealogies. But after the Exile men came to feel more and more strongly that a common faith implied unity of race. Moreover, the practical unity of the Jews with these Kenizzites overbore the dim and fading memory of ancient tribal distinctions. Jews and Kenizzites had shared the Captivity, the Exile, and the Return; they worked, and fought, and worshipped side by side; and they were to all intents and purposes one nation, alike the people of Jehovah. This obvious and important practical truth was expressed as such truths were then wont to be expressed. The children of Caleb and Jerahmeel were finally and formally adopted into the chosen race. Caleb and Jerahmeel are no longer the sons of Jephunneh the Kenizzite; they are the sons of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah. A new genealogy was formed as a recognition rather than an explanation of accomplished facts.

Of the section containing the genealogies of Judah, the lion’s share is naturally given to the house of David, to which a part of the second chapter and the whole of the third are devoted.

Next follow genealogies of the remaining tribes, those of Levi and Benjamin being by far the most complete. Chapter 6, which is devoted to Levi, affords evidence of the use by the chronicler of independent and sometimes inconsistent sources, and also illustrates his special interest in the priesthood and the Temple choir. A list of high-priests from Aaron to Ahimaaz is given twice over (1 Chronicles 6:4-8 and 1 Chronicles 6:49-53), but only one line of high-priests is recognized, the house of Zadok, whom Josiah’s reforms had made the one priestly family in Israel. Their ancient rivals the high-priests of the house of Eli are as entirely ignored as the antediluvian Cainites. The existing high-priestly dynasty had been so long established that these other priests of Saul and David seemed no longer to have any significance for the religion of Israel.

The pedigree of the three Levitical families of Gershom, Kohath, and Merari is also given twice over: in 1 Chronicles 6:16-30 and 1 Chronicles 6:31-49. The former pedigree begins with the sons of Levi, and proceeds to their descendants; the latter begins with the founders of the guilds of singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, and traces back their genealogies to Kohath, Gershom, and Merari respectively. But the pedigrees do not agree; compare, for instance, the lists of the Kohathites:- 1 Chronicles 6:22-24; 1 Chronicles 6:36-38 Kohath Kohath Amminadab Izhar Korah Korah Assir Elkanah Ebiasaph Ebiasaph Assir Assir Tahath Tahath Uriel Zephaniah Uzziah Asariah Shaul Etc. We have here one of many illustrations of the fact that the chronicler used materials of very different value. To attempt to prove the absolute consistency of all his genealogies would be mere waste of time. It is by no means certain that he himself supposed them to be consistent. The frank juxtaposition of varying lists of ancestors rather suggests that he was prompted by a scholarly desire to preserve for his readers all available evidence of every kind.

In reading the genealogies of the tribe of Benjamin, it is specially interesting to find that in the Jewish community of the Restoration there were families tracing their descent through Mephibosheth and Jonathan to Saul. Apparently the chronicler and his contemporaries shared this special interest in the fortunes of a fallen dynasty, for the genealogy is given twice over. These circumstances are the more striking because in the actual history of Chronicles Saul is all but ignored.

The rest of the ninth chapter deals with the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the ministry of the Temple after the return from the Captivity, and is partly identical with sections of Ezra and Nehemiah. It closes the family history, as it were, of Israel, and its position indicates the standpoint and ruling interests of the chronicler.

Thus the nine opening chapters of genealogies and kindred matter strike the keynotes of the whole book. Some are personal and professional: some are religious. On the one hand, we have the origin of existing families and institutions; on the other hand, we have the election of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, of the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron.

Let us consider first the hereditary character of the Jewish religion and priesthood. Here, as elsewhere, the formal doctrine only recognized and accepted actual facts. The conditions which received the sanction of religion were first imposed by the force of circumstances. In primitive times, if there was to be any religion at all, it had to be national; if God was to be worshipped at all, His worship was necessarily national, and He became in some measure a national God. Sympathies are limited by knowledge and by common interest. The ordinary Israelite knew very little of any other people than his own. There was little international comity in primitive times, and nations were slow to recognize that they had common interests. It was difficult for an Israelite to believe that his beloved Jehovah, in whom he had been taught to trust, was also the God of the Arabs and Syrians, who periodically raided his crops, and cattle, and slaves, and sometimes carried off his children, or of the Chaldaeans, who made deliberate and complete arrangements for plundering the whole country, razing its cities to the ground, and carrying away the population into distant exile. By a supreme act of faith, the prophets claimed the enemies and oppressors of Israel as instruments of the will of Jehovah, and the chronicler’s genealogies show that he shared this faith; but it was still inevitable that the Jews should look out upon the world at large from the standpoint of their own national interests and experience. Jehovah was God of heaven and earth; but Israelites knew Him through the deliverance He had wrought for Israel, the punishments He had inflicted on her sins, and the messages He had entrusted to her prophets. As far as their knowledge and practical experience went, they knew Him as the God of Israel. The course of events since the fall of Samaria narrowed still further the local associations of Hebrew worship.

"God was wroth, And greatly abhorred Israel, So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, The tent which He placed among men";

"He refused the tent of Joseph, And chose not the tribe of Ephraim, But chose the tribe of Judah, The Mount Zion which He loved: And He built His sanctuary like the heights Like the earth, which He hath established forever." {Psalms 78:59-60; Psalms 78:67-69}

We are doubtless right in criticizing those Jews whose limitations led them to regard Jehovah as a kind of personal possession, the inheritance of their own nation, and not of other peoples. But even here we can only blame their negations. Jehovah was their inheritance and personal possession; but then He was also the in heritance of other nations. This Jewish heresy is by no means extinct: white men do not always believe that their God is equally the God of the Negro; Englishmen are inclined to think that God is the God of England in a more especial way than He is the God of France. When we discourse concerning God in history, we mostly mean our own history. We can see the hand of Providence m the wreck of the Armada and the overthrow of Napoleon; but we are not so ready to recognize in the same Napoleon the Divine instrument that created a new Europe by relieving her peoples from cruel and degrading tyranny. We scarcely realize that God cares as much for the Continent as He does for our island.

We have great and perhaps sufficient excuses, but we must let the Jews have the benefit of them. God is as much the God of one nation as of another; but He fulfils Himself to different nations in different ways, by a various providential discipline. Each people is bound to believe that God has specially adapted His dealings to its needs, nor can we be surprised if men forget or fail to observe that God has done no less for their neighbors. Each nation rightly regards its religious ideas, and life and literature as a precious inheritance peculiarly its own; and it should not be too severely blamed for being ignorant that other nations have their inheritance also. Such considerations largely justify the interest in heredity shown by the chronicler’s genealogies. On the positive, practical side, religion is largely a matter of heredity, and ought to be. The Christian sacrament of baptism is a continual profession of this truth: our children are "clean"; they are within the covenant of grace; we claim for them the privileges of the Church to which we belong. That was also part of the meaning of the genealogies.

In the broad field of social and religious life the problems of heredity are in some ways less complicated than in the more exact discussions of physical science. Practical effects can be considered without attempting an accurate analysis of causes. Family history not only determines physical constitution, mental gifts, and moral character, but also fixes for the most part country, home, education, circumstances, and social position. All these were a man’s inheritance more peculiarly in Israel than with us; and in many cases in Israel a man was often trained to inherit a family profession. Apart from the ministry of the Temple, we read of a family of craftsmen, of other families that were potters, of others who dwelt with the king for his work, and of the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen. {1 Chronicles 14:1-2} Religion is largely involved in the manifold inheritance which a man receives from his fathers. His birth determines his religious education, the examples of religious life set before him, the forms of worship in which as a child he takes part. Most men live and die in the religion of their childhood; they worship the God of their fathers; Romanist remains Romanist: Protestant remains Protestant. They may fail to grasp any living faith, or may lose all interest in religion; but such religion as most men have is part of their inheritance. In the Israel of the chronicler faith and devotion to God were almost always and entirely inherited. They were part of the great debt which a man owed to his fathers.

The recognition of these facts should tend to foster our humility and reverence, to encourage patriotism and philanthropy. We are the creatures and debtors of the past, though we are slow to own our obligations. We have nothing that we have not received; but we are apt to consider ourselves self-made men, the architects and builders of our own fortunes, who have the right to be self-satisfied, self-assertive, and selfish. The heir of all the ages, in the full vigor of youth, takes his place in the foremost ranks of time, and marches on in the happy consciousness of profound and multifarious wisdom, immense resources, and magnificent opportunity. He forgets or even despises the generations of labor and anguish that have built up for him his great inheritance. The genealogies are a silent protest against such insolent ingratitude. They remind us that in bygone days a man derived his gifts and received his opportunities from his ancestors; they show us men as the links in a chain, tenants for life, as it were, of our estate, called upon to pay back with interest to the future the debt which they have incurred to the past. We see that the chain is a long one, with many links; and the slight estimate we are inclined to put upon the work of individuals in each generation recoils upon our own pride. We also are but individuals of a generation that is only one of the thousands needed to work out the Divine purpose for mankind. We are taught the humility that springs from a sense of obligation and responsibility.

We learn reverence for the workers and achievements of the past, and most of all for God. We are reminded of the scale of the Divine working:-

"A thousand years in Thy sight

Are but as yesterday when it is past,

And as a watch in the night."

A genealogy is a brief and pointed reminder that God has been working through all the countless generations behind us. The bare series of names is an expressive diagram of His mighty process. Each name in the earlier lists stands for a generation or even for several generations. The genealogies go back into dim, prehistoric periods; they suggest a past too remote for our imagining. And yet they take us back to Adam, to the very beginning of human life. From that beginning, however, many thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, the life of man has been sacred, the object of the Divine care and love, the instrument of the Divine purpose.

Later on we see the pedigree of our race dividing into countless branches, all of which are represented in this sacred diagram of humanity. The Divine working not only extends over all time, but also embraces all the complicated circumstances and relationships of the families of mankind. These genealogies suggest a lesson probably not intended by the chronicler. We recognize the unique character of the history of Israel, but in some measure we discern in this one full and detailed narrative of the chosen people a type of the history of every race. Others had not the election of Israel, but each had its own vocation. God’s power, and wisdom, and love are manifested in the history of one chosen people on a scale commensurate with our limited faculties, so that we may gain some faint, idea of the marvelous providence in all history of the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Another principle closely allied to heredity and also discussed in modern times is the solidarity of the race. Humanity is supposed to possess something akin to a common consciousness, personality, or individuality. Such a quality evidently becomes more intense as we narrow its scope from the race to the nation, the clan, and the family; it has its roots in family relationships. Tribal, national, humanitarian feelings indicate that the larger societies have taken upon themselves something of the character of the family. Thus the common feelings and mutual sympathies of mankind are due ultimately to blood relationship. The genealogies that set forth family histories are the symbols of this brotherhood or solidarity of our race. The chart of converging lines of ancestors in Israel carried men’s minds back from the separate families to their common ancestor; again, the ancestry of ancestors led back to a still earlier common origin, and the process continued till all the lines met in Noah. Each stage of the process enlarged the range of every man’s kinship, and broadened the natural area of mutual help and affection. It is true that the Jews failed to learn this larger lesson from their genealogies, but within their own community they felt intensely the bond of kinship and brotherhood. Modern patriotism reproduces the strong Jewish national feeling, and our humanitarianism is beginning to extend it to the whole world. By this time the facts of heredity have been more carefully studied and are better understood. If we drew up typical genealogies now, they would more fully and accurately represent the mutual relationships of our people. As far as they go, the chronicler’s genealogies form a clear and instructive diagram of the mutual dependence of man on man and family on family. The value of the diagram does not require the accuracy of the actual names any more than the validity of Euclid requires the actual existence of triangles called A B C, D E F. These genealogies are in any case a true symbol of the facts of family relations; but they are drawn, so to speak, in one dimension only, backwards and forwards in time. Yet the real family life exists in three dimensions. There are numerous cross-relations, cousinship of all degrees, as well as sonship and brotherhood. A man has not merely his male ancestors in the directly ascending line-father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.-but he has female ancestors as well. By going back three or four generations a man is connected with an immense number of cousins; and if the complete network of ten or fifteen generations could be worked out, it would probably show some blood bond throughout a whole nation. Thus the ancestral roots of a man’s life and character have wide ramifications in the former generations of his people. The further we go back the larger is the element of ancestry common to the different individuals of the same community. The chronicler’s genealogies only show us individuals as links in a set of chains. The more complete genealogical scheme would be better illustrated by the ganglia of the nervous system, each of which is connected by numerous nerve fibers with the other ganglia. The Church has been compared to the body, "which is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body." Humanity, by its natural kinship, is also such a body; the nation is still more truly "one body." Patriotism and humanity are instincts as natural and as binding as those of the family; and the genealogies express or symbolize the wider family ties, that they may commend the virtues and enforce the duties that arise out of these ties.

Before closing this chapter something may be said on one or two special points. Women are virtually ignored in these genealogies, a fact that rather indicates a failure to recognize their influence than the absence of such influence. Here and there a woman is mentioned for some special reason. For instance, the names of Zeruiah and Abigail are inserted in order to show that Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, together with Amasa, were all cousins of David. The same keen interest in David leads the chronicler to record the names of his wives. It is noteworthy that of the four women who are mentioned in St. Matthew’s genealogy of our Lord only two-Tamar and Bath-shua (i.e., Bathsheba)-are mentioned here. Probably St. Matthew was careful to complete the list because Rahab and Ruth, like Tamar and possibly Bathsheba, were foreigners, and their names in the genealogy indicated a connection between Christ and the Gentiles, and served to emphasize His mission to be the Savior of the world.

Again, much caution is necessary in applying any principle of heredity. A genealogy, as we have seen, suggests our dependence in many ways upon our ancestry. But a man’s relations to his kindred are many and complicated; a quality, for instance, may be latent for one or more generations and then reappear, so that to all appearance a man inherits from his grandfather or from a more remote ancestor rather than from his father or mother. Conversely the presence of certain traits of character in a child does not show that any corresponding tendency has necessarily been active in the life of either parent. Neither must the influence of circumstances be confounded with that of heredity. Moreover, very large allowance must be made for our ignorance of the laws that govern the human will, an ignorance that will often baffle our attempts to find in heredity any simple explanation of men’s characters and actions. Thomas Fuller has a quaint "Scripture observation" that gives an important practical application of these principles:-

Lord, I find the genealogy of my Savior strangely chequered with four remarkable changes in four immediate generations:

1. ‘Rehoboam begat Abiam’; that is, a bad father begat a bad son.

2. ‘Abiam begat Asa’; that is, a bad father a good son.

3. ‘Asa begat Jehosaphat’; that is, a good father a good son.

4. ‘Jehosaphat begat Joram’; that is, a good father a bad son.

"I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed; that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son."


STATISTICS play an important part in Chronicles and in the Old Testament generally. To begin with, there are the genealogies and other lists of names, such as the lists of David’s counselors and the roll of honor of his mighty men. The chronicler specially delights in lists of names, and most of all in lists of Levitical choristers. He gives us lists of the orchestras and choirs who performed when the Ark was brought to Zion {1 Chronicles 15:1-29} and at Hezekiah’s passover (Cf. 2 Chronicles 29:12; 2 Chronicles 30:22) also a list of Levites whom Jehoshaphat sent out to teach in Judah. {2 Chronicles 17:8} No doubt family pride was gratified when the chronicler’s contemporaries and friends read the names of their ancestors in connection with great events in the history of their religion. Possibly they supplied him with information from which these lists were compiled. An incidental result of the celibacy of the Romanist clergy has been to render ancient ecclesiastical genealogies impossible; modern clergymen cannot trace their descent to the monks who landed with Augustine. Our genealogies might enable a historian to construct lists of the combatants at Agincourt and Hastings; but the Crusades are the only wars of the Church militant for which modern pedigrees could furnish a muster-roll.

We find also in the Old Testament the specifications and subscription-lists for the Tabernacle and for Solomon’s temple. These {Exodus 25:1-40; Exodus 26:1-37; Exodus 27:1-21; Exodus 28:1-43; Exodus 29:1-46; Exodus 30:1-38; Exodus 31:1-18; Exodus 32:1-35; Exodus 33:1-23; Exodus 34:1-35; Exodus 35:1-35; Exodus 36:1-38; Exodus 37:1-29; Exodus 38:1-31; Exodus 39:1-43, 1 Kings 7:1-51, 1 Chronicles 29:1-30, 2 Chronicles 3:5} statistics, however, are not furnished for the second Temple, probably for the same reason that in modern subscription-lists the donors of shillings and half-crowns are to be indicated by initials, or described as "friends" and "sympathizers," or massed together under the heading "smaller sums."

The Old Testament is also rich in census returns and statements as to the numbers of armies and of the divisions of which they were composed. There are the returns of the census taken twice in the wilderness and accounts of the numbers of the different families who came from Babylon with Zerubbabel and later on with Ezra; there is a census of the Levites in David’s time according to their several families; {1 Chronicles 15:4-10} there are the numbers of the tribal contingents that came to Hebron to make David king, {1 Chronicles 7:23-37} and much similar information.

Statistics therefore occupy a conspicuous position in the inspired record of Divine revelation, and yet we often hesitate to connect such terms as "inspiration" and "revelation" with numbers, and names, and details of civil and ecclesiastical organization. We are afraid lest any stress laid on purely accidental details should distract men’s attention from the eternal essence of the gospel, lest any suggestion that the certainty of Christian truth is dependent on the accuracy of these statistics should become a stumbling-block and destroy the faith of some. Concerning such matters there have been many foolish questions of genealogies, Profane and vain babblings, which have increased unto more ungodliness. Quite apart from these, even in the Old Testament a sanctity attaches to the number seven, but there is no warrant for any considerable expenditure of time and thought upon mystical arithmetic. A symbolism runs through the details of the building, furniture, and ritual alike of the Tabernacle and the Temple, and this symbolism possesses a legitimate religious significance; but its exposition is not specially suggested by the book of Chronicles. The exposition of such symbolism is not always sufficiently governed by a sense of proportion. Ingenuity in supplying subtle interpretations of minute details often conceals the great truths which the symbols are really intended to enforce. Moreover, the sacred writers did not give statistics merely to furnish materials for Cabbala and Gematria or even to serve as theological types and symbols. Sometimes their purpose was more simple and practical. If we knew all the history of the Tabernacle and Temple subscription-lists, we should doubtless find that they had been used to stimulate generous gifts towards the erection of the second Temple. Preachers for building funds can find abundance of suitable texts in Exodus, Kings, and Chronicles.

But Biblical statistics are also examples in accuracy and thoroughness of information, and recognitions of the more obscure and prosaic manifestations of the higher life. Indeed, in these and other ways the Bible gives an anticipatory sanction to the exact sciences.

The mention of accuracy in connection with Chronicles may be received by some readers with a contemptuous smile. But we are indebted to the chronicler for exact and full information about the Jews who returned from Babylon; and in spite of the extremely severe judgment passed upon Chronicles by many critics, we may still venture to believe that the chronicler’s statistics are as accurate as his knowledge and critical training rendered possible. He may sometimes give figures obtained by calculation from uncertain data, but such a practice is quite consistent with honesty and a desire to supply the best available information. Modern scholars are quite ready to present us with figures as to the membership of the Christian Church under Antoninus Pius or Constantine; and some of these figures are not much more probable than the most doubtful in Chronicles. All that is necessary to make the chronicler’s statistics an example to us is that they should be the monument of a conscientious attempt to tell the truth, and this they undoubtedly are.

This Biblical example is the more useful because statistics are often evil spoken of, and they have no outward attractiveness to shield them from popular prejudice. We are told that "nothing is so false as statistics," and that "figures will prove anything"; and the polemic is sustained by works like "Hard Times" and the awful example of Mr. Gradgrind. Properly understood, these proverbs illustrate the very general impatience of any demand for exact thought and expression. If "figures" will prove anything, so will texts.

Though this popular prejudice cannot be altogether ignored, yet it need not be taken too seriously. The opposite principle, when stated, will at once be seen to be a truism. For it amounts to this: exact and comprehensive knowledge is the basis of a right understanding of history, and is a necessary condition of right action. This principle is often neglected because it is obvious. Yet, to illustrate it from our author, a knowledge of the size and plan of the Temple greatly adds to the vividness of our pictures of Hebrew religion. We apprehend later Jewish life much more clearly with the aid of the statistics as to the numbers, families, and settlements of the returning exiles; and similarly the account-books of the bailiff of an English estate in the fourteenth century are worth several hundred pages of contemporary theology. These considerations may encourage those who perform the thankless task of compiling the statistics, subscription-lists, and balance-sheets of missionary and philanthropic societies. The zealous and intelligent historian of Christian life and service will need these dry records to enable him to understand his subject, and the highest literary gifts may be employed in the eloquent exposition of these apparently uninteresting facts and figures. Moreover, upon the accuracy of these records depends the possibility of determining a true course for the future. Neither societies nor individuals, for instance, can afford to live beyond their income without knowing it.

Statistics, too, are the only form in which many acts of service can be recognized and recorded. Literature can only deal with typical instances, and naturally it selects the more dramatic. The missionary report can only tell the story of a few striking conversions; it may give the history of the exceptional self-denial revolved in one or two of its subscription-lists; for the rest we must be content with tables and subscription-lists. But these dry statistics represent an infinitude of patience and self-denial, of work and prayer, of Divine grace and blessing. The city missionary may narrate his experiences with a few inquirers and penitents, but the great bulk of his work can only be recorded in the statement of visits paid and services conducted. We are tempted sometimes to disparage these statements, to ask how many of the visits and services had any result; we are impatient sometimes because Christian work is estimated by any such numerical line and measure. No doubt the method has many defects, and must not be used too mechanically; but we cannot give it up without ignoring altogether much earnest and successful labor.

Our chronicler’s interest in statistics lays healthy emphasis on the practical character of religion. There is a danger of identifying spiritual force with literary and rhetorical gifts; to recognize the religious value of statistics is the most forcible protest against such identification. The permanent contribution of any age to religions thought will naturally take a literary form, and the higher the literary qualities of religious writing, the more likely it is to survive. Shakespeare, Milton, and Bunyan have probably exercised a more powerful direct religious influence on subsequent generations than all the theologians of the seventeenth century. But the supreme service of the Church in any age is its influence on its own generation, by which it moulds the generation immediately following. That influence can only be estimated by careful study of all possible information, and especially of statistics. We cannot assign mathematical values to spiritual effects and tabulate them like Board of Trade returns; but real spiritual movements will before long have practical issues, that can be heard, and seen, and felt, and even admit of being put into tables. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth"; {John 3:8} and yet the boughs and the corn bend before the wind, and the ships are carried across the sea to their desired haven. Tables may be drawn up of the tonnage and the rate of sailing. So is every one that is born of the Spirit. You cannot tell when and how God breathes upon the soul; but if the Divine Spirit be indeed at work in any society, there will be fewer crimes and quarrels, less scandal, and more deeds of charity. We may justly suspect a revival which has no effect upon the statistical records of national life. Subscription-lists are very imperfect tests of enthusiasm, but any widespread Christian fervor would be worth little if it did not swell subscription-lists.

Chronicles is not the most important witness to a sympathetic relationship between the Bible and exact science. The first chapter of Genesis is the classic example of the appropriation by an inspired writer of the scientific spirit and method. Some chapters in Job show a distinctly scientific interest in natural phenomena. Moreover, the direct concern of Chronicles is in the religious aspects of social science. And yet there is a patient accumulation of data with no obvious dramatic value: names, dates, numbers, specifications, and ritual which do not improve the literary character of the narrative. This conscientious recording of dry facts, this noting down of anything and everything that connects with the subject, is closely akin to the initial processes of the inductive sciences. True, the chronicler’s interests are in some directions narrowed by personal and professional feeling; but within these limits he is anxious to make a complete record, which, as we have seen, sometimes leads to repetition. Now inductive science is based on unlimited statistics. The astronomer and biologist share the chronicler’s appetite for this kind of mental food. The lists in Chronicles are few and meager compared to the records of Greenwich Observatory or the volumes which contain the data of biology or sociology; but the chronicler becomes in a certain sense the forerunner of Darwin, Spencer, and Galton. The differences are indeed immense. The interval of two thousand odd years between the ancient annalist and the modern scientists has not been thrown away. In estimating the value of evidence and interpreting its significance, the chronicler was a mere child compared with his modern successors. His aims and interests were entirely different from theirs. But yet he was moved by a spirit which they may be said to inherit. His careful collection of facts, even his tendency to read the ideas and institutions of his own time into ancient history, are indications of a reverence for the past and of an anxiety to base ideas and action upon a knowledge of that past. This foreshadows the reverence of modern science for experience, its anxiety to base its laws and theories upon observation of what has actually occurred. The principle that the past determines and interprets the present and the future lies at the root of the theological attitude of the most conservative minds and the scientific work of the most advanced thinkers. The conservative spirit, like the chronicler, is apt to suffer its inherited pre-possessions and personal interests to hinder a true observation and understanding of the past. But the chronicler’s opportunities and experience were narrow indeed compared with those of theological students today; and we have every right to lay stress on the progress which he had achieved and the onward path that it indicated rather than on the yet more advanced stages which still lay beyond his horizon.

Verses 9-10

elete_me 1 Chronicles 1:19-46


1 Chronicles 1:10; 1 Chronicles 1:19-46; 1 Chronicles 2:3; 1 Chronicles 2:7-34; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10; 1 Chronicles 4:18; 1 Chronicles 4:22; 1 Chronicles 4:27; 1 Chronicles 4:34-43; 1 Chronicles 5:10; 1 Chronicles 5:18-22; 1 Chronicles 7:21-23; 1 Chronicles 8:13

CHRONICLES is a miniature Old Testament, and may have been meant as a handbook for ordinary people, who had no access to the whole library of sacred writings. It contains nothing corresponding to the books of Wisdom or the apocalyptic literature; but all the other types of Old Testament literature are represented. There are genealogies, statistics, ritual, history, psalms, and prophecies. The interest shown by Chronicles in family traditions harmonizes with the stress laid by the Hebrew Scriptures upon family life. The other historical books are largely occupied with the family history of the Patriarchs, of Moses, of Jephthah, Gideon, Samson, Saul, and David. The chronicler intersperses his genealogies with short anecdotes about the different families and tribes. Some of these are borrowed from the older books; but others are peculiar to our author, and were doubtless obtained by him from the family records and traditions of his contemporaries. The statements that "Nimrod began to be mighty upon the earth"; {1 Chronicles 1:10} that "the name of one" of Eber’s sons "was Peleg, because in his days the earth was divided"; {1 Chronicles 1:19} and that Hadad "smote Moab in the field of Midian," {1 Chronicles 1:46} are borrowed from Genesis. As he omits events much more important and more closely connected with the history of Israel, and gives no account of Babel, or of Abraham, or of the conquest of Canaan, these little notes are probably retained by accident, because at times the chronicler copied his authorities somewhat mechanically. It was less trouble to take the genealogies as they stood than to exercise great care in weeding out everything but the bare names.

In one instance (Cf. Genesis 36:24, and 1 Chronicles 1:40), however, the chronicler has erased a curious note to a genealogy in Genesis. A certain Anah is mentioned both in Genesis and Chronicles among the Horites, who inhabited Mount Seir before it was conquered by Edom. Most of us, in reading the Authorized Version, have wondered what historical or religious interest secured a permanent record for the fact that "Anah found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father." A possible solution seemed to be that this note was preserved as the earliest reference to the existence of mules, which animals played an important part in the social life of Palestine; but the Revised Version sets aside this explanation by substituting "hot springs" for "mules," and as these hot springs are only mentioned here, the passage becomes a greater puzzle than ever. The chronicler could hardly overlook this curious piece of information, but he naturally felt that this obscure archaeological note about the aboriginal Horites did not fall within the scope of his work. On the other hand, the tragic fates of Er and Achar had a direct genealogical significance. They are referred to in order to explain why the lists contain no descendants of these members of the tribe of Judah. The notes to these names illustrate the more depressing aspects of history. The men who lived happy, honorable lives can be mentioned one after another without any comment; but even the compiler of pedigrees pauses to note the crimes and misfortunes that broke the natural order of life. The annals of old families dwell with melancholy pride on murders, and fatal duels, and suicides. History, like an ancient mansion, is haunted with unhappy ghosts. Yet our interest in tragedy is a testimony to the blessedness of life; comfort and enjoyment are too monotonously common to be worth recording, but we are attracted and excited by exceptional instances of suffering and sin.

Let us turn to the episodes of family life only found in Chronicles. They may mostly be arranged in little groups of two or three, and some of the groups present us with an interesting contrast.

We learn from 1 Chronicles 2:34-41; 1 Chronicles 4:18 that two Jewish families traced their descent from Egyptian ancestors. Sheshan, according to Chronicles, was eighth in descent from Judah and fifth from Jerahmeel, the brother of Caleb. Having daughters, but no son, he gave one of his daughters in marriage to an Egyptian slave named Jarha. The descendants of this union are traced for thirteen generations. Genealogies, however, are not always complete; and our other data do not suffice to determine even approximately the date of this marriage. But the five generations between Jerahmeel and Sheshan indicate a period long after the Exodus; and as Egypt plays no recorded part in the history of Israel between the Exodus and the reign of Solomon, the marriage may have taken place under the monarchy. The story is a curious parallel to that of Joseph, with the parts of Israelite and Egyptian reversed. God is no respecter of persons; it is not only when the desolate and afflicted in strange lands belong to the chosen people that Jehovah relieves and delivers them. It is true of the Egyptian, as well as of the Israelite, that "the Lord maketh poor and maketh rich."

"He bringeth low, He also lifteth up; He raiseth up the poor out of the dust: He lifteth up the needy from the dunghill, To make them sit with princes; And inherit the throne of glory." {1 Samuel 2:7-8}

This song might have been sung at Jarha’s wedding as well as at Joseph’s.

Both these marriages throw a sidelight upon the character of Eastern slavery. They show how sharply and deeply it was divided from the hopeless degradation of Negro slavery in America. Israelites did not recognize distinctions of race and color between themselves and their bondsmen so as to treat them as worse than pariahs and regard them with physical loathing. An American considers himself disgraced by a slight taint of Negro blood in his ancestry, but a noble Jewish family was proud to trace its descent from an Egyptian slave.

The other story is somewhat different, and rests upon an obscure and corrupt passage in 1 Chronicles 4:18. The confusion makes it impossible to arrive at any date, even by rough approximation. The genealogical relations of the actors are by no means certain, but some interesting points are tolerably clear. Some time after the conquest of Canaan, a descendant of Caleb married two wives, one a Jewess, the other an Egyptian. The Egyptian was Bithiah, a daughter of Pharaoh, i.e., of the contemporary king of Egypt. It appears probable that the inhabitants of Eshtemoa traced their descent to this Egyptian princess, while those of Gedor, Soco, and Zanoah claimed Mered as their ancestor by his Jewish wife. Here again we have the bare outline of a romance, which the imagination is at liberty to fill in. It has been suggested that Bithiah may have been the victim of some Jewish raid into Egypt, but surely a king of Egypt would have either ransomed his daughter or recovered her by force of arms. The story rather suggests that the chiefs of the clans of Judah were semi-independent and possessed of considerable wealth and power, so that the royal family of Egypt could intermarry with them, as with reigning sovereigns. But if so, the pride of Egypt must have been greatly broken since the time when the Pharaohs haughtily refused to give their daughters in marriage to the kings of Babylon.

Both Egyptian alliances occur among the Kenizzites, the descendants of the brothers Caleb and Jerahmeel. In one case a Jewess marries an Egyptian slave; in the other a Jew marries an Egyptian princess. Doubtless these marriages did not stand alone, and there were others with foreigners of varying social rank. The stories show that even after the Captivity the tradition survived that the clans in the south of Judah had been closely connected with Egypt, and that Solomon was not the only member of the tribe who had taken an Egyptian wife. Now intermarriage with foreigners is partly forbidden by the Pentateuch; and the prohibition was extended and sternly enforced by Ezra and Nehemiah (Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua; Ezra 9:1; Ezra 9:10 Nehemiah 13:23). In the time of the chronicler there was a growing feeling against such marriages. Hence the traditions we are discussing cannot have originated after the Return, but must be at any rate earlier than the publication of Deuteronomy under Josiah.

Such marriages with Egyptians must have had some influence on the religion of the south of Judah, but probably the foreigners usually followed the example of Ruth, and adopted the faith of the families into which they came. When they said, "Thy people shall be my people," they did not fail to add, "and thy God shall be my God." When the Egyptian princess married the head of a Jewish clan, she became one of Jehovah’s people; and her adoption into the family of the God of Israel was symbolized by a new name: "Bithiah," "daughter of Jehovah." Whether later Judaism owed anything to Egyptian influences can only be matter of conjecture; at any rate, they did not pervert the southern clans from their old faith. The Calebites and Jerahmeelites were the backbone of Judah both before and after the Captivity.

The remaining traditions relate to the warfare of the Israelites with their neighbors. The first is a colorless reminiscence, that might have been recorded of the effectual prayer of any pious Israelite. The genealogies of chapter 4 are interrupted by a paragraph entirely unconnected with the context. The subject of this fragment is a certain Jabez never mentioned elsewhere, and, so far as any record goes, as entirely "without father, without mother, without genealogy," as Melchizedek himself. As chapter 4 deals with the families of Judah, and in 1 Chronicles 2:55 there is a town Jabez also belonging to Judah, we may suppose that the chronicler had reasons for assigning Jabez to that tribe; but he has neither given these reasons, nor indicated how Jabez was connected therewith. The paragraph runs as follows: {1 Chronicles 4:9-10} "And Jabez was honored above his brethren, and his mother called his name Jabez" (Ya’bec), "saying, In pain" (‘oceb) "I bore him. And Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘If Thou wilt indeed bless me by enlarging my possessions, And Thy hand be with me to provide pasture, that I be not in distress" (‘oceb).

And God brought about what he asked. The chronicler has evidently inserted here a broken and disconnected fragment from one of his sources; and we are puzzled to understand why he gives so much, and no more. Surely not merely to introduce the etymologies of Jabez; for if Jabez were so important that it was worth while to interrupt the genealogies to furnish two derivations of his name, why are we not told more about him? Who was he, when and where did he live, and at whose expense were his possessions enlarged and pasture provided for him? Everything that could give color and interest to the narrative is withheld, and we are merely told that he prayed for earthly blessing and obtained it. The spiritual lesson is obvious, but it is very frequently enforced and illustrated in the Old Testament. Why should this episode about an utterly unknown man be thrust by main force into an unsuitable context, if it is only one example of a most familiar truth? It has been pointed out that Jacob vowed a similar vow and built an altar to El, the God of Israel; {Genesis 28:20; Genesis 33:20} but this is one of many coincidences. The paragraph certainly tells us something about the chronicler’s views on prayer, but nothing that is not more forcibly stated and exemplified in many other passages; it is mainly interesting to us because of the light it throws on his methods of composition. Elsewhere he embodies portions of well-known works and apparently assumes that his readers are sufficiently versed in them to be able to understand the point of his extracts. Probably Jabez was so familiar to the chronicler’s immediate circle that he can take for granted that a few lines will suffice to recall all the circumstances to a reader.

We have next a series of much more definite statements about Israelite prowess and success in wars against Moab and other enemies.

1 Chronicles 4:21-22, we read, "The sons of Shelah the son of Judah: Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea; and Jokim, and the men of Cozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had dominion in Moab and returned to Bethlehem." Here again the information is too vague to enable us to fix any date, nor is it quite certain who had dominion in Moab. The verb "had dominion" is plural in Hebrew, and may refer to all or any of the sons of Shelah. But, in spite of uncertainties, it is interesting to find chiefs or clans of Judah ruling in Moab. Possibly this immigration took place when David conquered and partly depopulated the country. The men of Judah may have returned to Bethlehem when Moab passed to the Northern Kingdom at the disruption, or when Moab regained its independence.

The incident in 1 Chronicles 4:34-43 differs from the preceding in having a definite date assigned to it. In the time of Hezekiah some Simeonite clans had largely increased in number and found themselves straitened for room for their flocks. They accordingly went in search of new pasturage. One company went to Gedor, another to Mount Seir.

The situation of Gedor is not clearly known. It cannot be the Gedor of Joshua 15:58, which lay in the heart of Judah. The LXX has Gerar, a town to the south of Gaza, and this may be the right reading; but whether we read Gedor or Gerar, the scene of the invasion will be in the country south of Judah. Here the children of Simeon found what they wanted, "fat pasture, and good," and abundant, for "the land was wide." There was the additional advantage that the inhabitants were harmless and inoffensive and fell an easy prey to their invaders: "The land was quiet and peaceable, for they that dwelt there aforetime were of Ham." As Ham in the genealogies is the father of Cainan, these peaceable folk would be Cainanites; and among them were a people called Meunim, probably not connected with any of the Maons mentioned in the Old Testament, but with some other town or district of the same name. So "these written by name came in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and smote their tents, and the Meunim that were found there, and devoted them to destruction as accursed, so that none are left unto this day. And the Simeonites dwelt in their stead."

Then follows in the simplest and most unconscious way the only justification that is offered for the behavior of the invaders: "because there was pasture there for their flocks." The narrative takes for granted-

"The good old rule, the simple plan,

That they should take who have the power,

And they should keep who can."

The expedition to Mount Seir appears to have been a sequel to the attack on Gedor. Five hundred of the victors emigrated into Edom, and smote the remnant of the Amalekites who had survived the massacre under Saul; {1 Samuel 15:1-35} "and they also dwelt there unto this day."

In substance, style, and ideas this passage closely resembles the books of Joshua and Judges, where the phrase "unto this day" frequently occurs. Here, of course, the "day" in question is the time of the chronicler’s authority. When Chronicles was written the Simeonites in Gedor and Mount Seir had long ago shared the fate of their victims.

The conquest of Gedor reminds us how in the early days of the Israelite occupation of Palestine "Judah went with Simeon his brother into the same southern lands," and they smote the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and devoted them to destruction as accursed; {Judges 1:17} and how the house of Joseph took Bethel by treachery. {Judges 1:22-26} But the closest parallel is the Danite conquest of Laish. {Judges 18:1-31} The Danite spies said that the people of Laish "dwelt in security, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure," harmless and inoffensive, like the Gedorites. Nor were they likely to receive succor from the powerful city of Zidon or from other allies, for "they were far from the Zidonians, and had no dealings with any man." Accordingly, having observed the prosperous but defenseless position of this peaceable people, they returned and reported to their brethren, "Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good; and are ye still? Be not slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land. When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and the land," like that of Gedor, "is large, for God hath given it into your hand, a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth."

The moral of these incidents is obvious. When a prosperous people is peaceable and defenseless, it is a clear sign that God has delivered them into the hand of any warlike and enterprising nation that knows how to use its opportunities. The chronicler, however, is not responsible for this morality, but he does not feel compelled to make any protest against the ethical views of his source. There is a refreshing frankness about these ancient narratives. The wolf devours the lamb without inventing any flimsy pretext about troubled waters.

But in criticizing these Hebrew clans who lived in the dawn of history and religion we condemn ourselves. If we make adequate allowance for the influence of Christ, and the New Testament, and centuries of Christian teaching, Simeon and Dan do not compare unfavorably with modern nations. As we review the wars of Christendom, we shall often be puzzled to find any ground for the outbreak of hostilities other than the defenselessness of the weaker combatant. The Spanish conquest of America and the English conquest of India afford examples of the treatment of weaker races which fairly rank with those of the Old Testament. Even today the independence of the smaller European states is mainly guaranteed by the jealousies of the Great Powers. Still there has been progress in international morality; we have got at last to the stage of Aesop’s fable. Public opinion condemns wanton aggression against a weak state; and the stronger power employs the resources of civilized diplomacy in showing that not only the absent, but also the helpless, are always wrong. There has also been a substantial advance in humanity towards conquered peoples. Christian warfare even since the Middle Ages has been stained with the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War and many other barbarities; the treatment of the American Indians by settlers has often been cruel and unjust; but no civilized nation would now systematically massacre men, women, and children in cold blood. We are thankful for any progress towards better things, but we cannot feel that men have yet realized that Christ has a message for nations as well as for individuals, As His disciples we can only pray more earnestly that the kingdoms of the earth may in deed and truth become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.

The next incident is more honorable to the Israelites. The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh did not merely surprise and slaughter quiet and peaceable people: they conquered formidable enemies in fair fight (1 Chronicles 5:7-10, 1 Chronicles 5:18-22). There are two separate accounts of a war with the Hagrites, one appended to the genealogy of Reuben and one to that of Gad. The former is very brief and general, comprising nothing but a bare statement that there was a successful war and a consequent appropriation of territory. Probably the two paragraphs are different forms of the same narrative, derived by the chronicler from independent sources. We may therefore confine our attention to the more detailed account.

Here, as elsewhere, these Transjordanic tribes are spoken of as "valiant {Deuteronomy 33:20 1 Chronicles 12:8-21} men," "men able to bear buckler and sword and to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war." Their numbers were considerable. While five hundred Simeonites were enough to destroy the Amalekites on Mount Seir, these eastern tribes mustered "forty and four thousand seven hundred and threescore that were able to go forth to war." Their enemies were not "quiet and peaceable people," but the wild Bedouin of the desert "the Hagrites, with Jetur and Naphish and Nodab." Nodab is mentioned only here; Jetur and Naphish occur together in the lists of the sons of Ishmael. {Genesis 25:15} Ituraea probably derived its name from the tribe of Jetur. The Hagrites or Hagarenes were Arabs closely connected with the Ishmaelites, and they seem to have taken their name from Hagar. In Psalms 83:6-8 we find a similar confederacy on a larger scale:-

"The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagarenes, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre, Assyria also is joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot."

There could be no question of unprovoked aggression against these children of Ishmael, that "wild ass of a man, whose hand was against every man, and every man’s hand against him." {Genesis 16:12} The narrative implies that the Israelites were the aggressors, but to attack the robber tribes of the desert would be as much an act of self-defense as to destroy a hornet’s nest. We may be quite sure that when Reuben and Gad marched eastward they had heavy losses to retrieve and bitter wrongs to avenge. We might find a parallel in the campaigns by which robber tribes are punished for their raids within our Indian frontier, only we must remember that Reuben and Gad were not very much more law-abiding or unselfish than their Arab neighbors. They were not engaged in maintaining a pax Britannica for the benefit of subject nations; they were carrying on a struggle for existence with persistent and relentless foes. Another partial parallel would be the border feuds on the Northumbrian marches when-

"over border, dale, and fell

Full wide and far was terror spread;

For pathless marsh and mountain cell

The peasant left his lowly shed:

The frightened flocks and herds were pent

Beneath the peel’s rude battlement,

And maids and matrons dropped the tear

While ready warriors seized the spear

The watchman’s eye

Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy."

But the Israelite expedition was on a larger scale than any "warden raid," and Eastern passions are fiercer and shriller than those sung by the Last Minstrel: the maids and matrons of the desert would shriek and wail instead of "dropping a tear."

In this great raid of ancient times "the war was of God," not, as at Laish, because God found for them helpless and easy victims, but because He helped them in a desperate struggle. When the fierce Israelite and Arab borderers joined battle, the issue was at first doubtful; and then "they cried to God, and He was entreated of them, because they put their trust in Him," "and they were helped against" their enemies; "and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them, and there fell many slain, because the war was of God"; "and they took away their cattle: of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of slaves a hundred thousand." "And they dwelt in their stead until the captivity."

This "captivity" is the subject of another short note. The chronicler apparently was anxious to distribute his historical narratives equally among the tribes. The genealogies of Reuben and Gad each conclude with a notice of a war, and a similar account follows that of Eastern Manasseh:-"And they trespassed against the God of their fathers, and went a-whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God destroyed before them. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river of Gozan, unto this day." And this war also was "of God." Doubtless the descendants of the surviving Hagrites and Ishmaelites were among the allies of the Assyrian king, and saw in the ruin of Eastern Israel a retribution for the sufferings of their own people; but the later Jews and probably the exiles in "Halah, Habor, and Hara," and by "the river of Gozan," far away in Northeastern Mesopotamia, found the cause of their sufferings in too great an intimacy with their heathen neighbors: they had gone a-whoring after their gods.

The last two incidents which we shall deal with in this chapter serve to illustrate afresh the rough-and-ready methods by which the chronicler has knotted together threads of heterogeneous tradition into one tangled skein. We shall see further how ready ancient writers were to represent a tribe by the ancestor from whom it traced its descent. We read in 1 Chronicles 7:20-21, "The sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah, and Bered his son, and Tahath his son, and Eleadah his son, and Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in the land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle."

Ezer and Elead are apparently brothers of the second Shuthelah; at any rate, as six generations are mentioned between them and Ephraim, they would seem to have lived long after the Patriarch. Moreover, they came down to Gath, so that they must have lived in some hill-country not far off, presumably the hill-country of Ephraim. But in the next two verses (1 Chronicles 7:22-23) we read, "And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And he went in to his wife, and she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house."

Taking these words literally, Ezer and Elead were the actual sons of Ephraim; and as Ephraim and his family were born in Egypt and lived there all their days, these patriarchal cattle-lifters did not come down from any neighboring highlands, but must have come up from Egypt, all the way from the land of Goshen, across the desert and past several Philistine and Canaanite towns. This literal sense is simply impossible. The author from whom the chronicler borrowed this narrative is clearly using a natural and beautiful figure to describe the distress in the tribe of Ephraim when two of its clans were cut off, and the fact that a new clan named Beriah was formed to take their place. Possibly we are not without information as to how this new clan arose. In 1 Chronicles 8:13 we read of two Benjamites, "Beriah and Shema, who were heads of fathers’ houses of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who put to flight the inhabitants of Gath." Beriah and Shema probably, coming to the aid of Ephraim, avenged the defeat of Ezer and Elead; and in return received the possessions of the clans, who been cut off, and Beriah was thus reckoned among the children of Ephraim.

The language of 1 Chronicles 7:22 is very similar to that of Genesis 37:34-35: "And Jacob mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him"; and the personification of the tribe under the name of its ancestor may be paralleled from Judges 21:6: "And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother."

Let us now reconstruct the story and consider its significance. Two Ephraimite clans, Ezer and Elead, set out to drive the cattle "of the men of Gath, who were born in the land," i.e., of the aboriginal Avvites, who had been dispossessed by the Philistines, but still retained some of the pasture-lands. Falling into an ambush or taken by surprise when encumbered with their plunder, the Ephraimites were cut off, and nearly all the fighting men of the clans perished. The Avvites, reinforced by the Philistines of Gath, pressed their advantage, and invaded the territory of Ephraim, whose border districts, stripped of their defenders, lay at the mercy of the conquerors. From this danger they were rescued by the Benjamite clans Shema and Beriah, then occupying Aijalon; and the men of Gath in their turn were defeated and driven back. The grateful Ephraimites invited their allies to occupy the vacant territory and in all probability to marry the widows and daughters of their slaughtered kinsmen. From that time onwards Beriah was reckoned as one of the clans of Ephraim.

The account of this memorable cattle foray is a necessary note to the genealogies to explain the origin of an important clan and its double connection with Ephraim and Benjamin. Both the chronicler and his authority recorded it because of its genealogical significance, not because they were anxious to perpetuate the memory of the unfortunate raid. In the ancient days to which the episode belonged, a frontier cattle foray seemed as natural and meritorious an enterprise as it did to William of Deloraine. The chronicler does not think it necessary to signify any disapproval-it is by no means certain that he did disapprove-of such spoiling of the uncircumcised; but the fact that he gives the record without comment does not show that he condoned cattle-stealing. Men today relate with pride the lawless deeds of noble ancestors, but they would be dismayed if their own sons proposed to adopt the moral code of mediaeval barons or Elizabethan buccaneers.

In reviewing the scanty religious ideas involved in this little group of family traditions, we have to remember that they belong to a period of Israelite history much older than that of the chronicler; in estimating their value, we have to make large allowance for the conventional ethics of the times. Religion not only serves to raise the standard of morality, but also to keep the average man up to the conventional standard; it helps and encourages him to do what he believes to be right as well as gives him a better understanding of what right means. Primitive religion is not to be disparaged because it did not at once convert the rough Israelite clansmen into Havelocks and Gordons. In those early days, courage, patriotism, and loyalty to one’s tribesmen were the most necessary and approved virtues. They were fostered and stimulated by the current belief in a God of battles, who gave victory to His faithful people. Moreover, the idea of Deity implied in these traditions, though inadequate, is by no means unworthy. God is benevolent; He enriches and succors His people; He answers prayer, giving to Jabez the land and pasture for which he asked. He is a righteous God; He responds to and justifies His people’s faith: "He was entreated of the Reubenites and Gadites because they put their trust in Him." On the other hand, He is a jealous God; He punishes Israel when "they trespass against the God of their fathers and go a-whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land." But the feeling here attributed to Jehovah is not merely one of personal jealousy. Loyalty to him meant a great deal more than a preference for a god called Jehovah over a god called Chemosh. It involved a special recognition of morality and purity, and gave a religious sanction to patriotism and the sentiment of national unity. Worship of Moabite or Syrian gods weakened a man’s enthusiasm for Israel and his sense of fellowship with his countrymen, just as allegiance to an Italian prince and prelate has seemed to Protestants to deprive the Romanist of his full inheritance in English life and feeling. He who went astray after other gods did not merely indulge his individual taste in doctrine and ritual: he was a traitor to the social order, to the prosperity and national union, of Israel. Such disloyalty broke up the nation, and sent Israel and Judah into captivity piecemeal.



A MORE serious charge has been brought against Chronicles than that dealt with in the last chapter. Besides anachronisms, additions, and alterations, the chronicler has made omissions that give an entirely new complexion to the history. He omits, for instance, almost everything that detracts from the character and achievements of David and Solomon; he almost entirely ignores the reigns of Saul and Ishbosheth, and of all the northern kings. These facts are obvious to the most casual reader, and a moment’s reflection shows that David as we should know him if we had only Chronicles is entirely different from the historical David of Samuel and Kings. The latter David has noble qualities, but displays great weakness and falls into grievous sin; the David of Chronicles is almost always a hero and a blameless saint.

All this is unquestionably true, and yet the purpose and spirit of Chronicles are honest and praiseworthy. Our judgment must be governed by the relation which the chronicler intended his work to sustain towards the older history. Did he hope that Samuel and Kings would be altogether superseded by this new version of the history of the monarchy, and so eventually be suppressed and forgotten? There were precedents that might have encouraged such a hope. The Pentateuch and the books from Joshua to Kings derived their material from older works; but the older works were superseded by these books, and entirely disappeared. The circumstances, however, were different when the chronicler wrote: Samuel and Kings had been established for centuries. Moreover, the Jewish community in Babylon still exercised great influence over the Palestinian Jews. Copies of Samuel and Kings must have been preserved at Babylon, and their possessors could not be eager to destroy them, and then to incur the expense of replacing them by copies of a history written at Jerusalem from the point of view of the priests and Levites. We may therefore put aside the theory that Chronicles was intended altogether to supersede Samuel and Kings. Another possible theory is that the chronicler, after the manner of mediaeval historians, composed an abstract of the history of the world from the Creation to the Captivity as an introduction to his account in Ezra and Nehemiah of the more recent post-Exilic period. This theory has some truth in it, but does not explain the fact that Chronicles is disproportionately long if it be merely such an introduction. Probably the chronicler’s main object was to compose a text-book, which could safely and usefully be placed in the hands of the common people. There were obvious objections to the popular use of Samuel and Kings. In making a selection from his material, the chronicler had no intention of falsifying history. Scholars, he knew, would be acquainted with the older books, and could supplement his narrative from the sources which he himself had used. In his own work he was anxious to confine himself to the portions of the history which had an obvious religious significance, and could readily be used for purposes of edification. He was only applying more thoroughly a principle that had guided his predecessors. The Pentateuch itself is the result of a similar selection, only there and in the other earlier histories a very human interest in dramatic narrative has sometimes interfered with an exclusive attention to edification.

Indeed, the principles of selection adopted by the chronicler are common to many historians. A school history does not dwell on the domestic vices of kings or on the private failings of statesmen. It requires no great stretch of imagination to conceive of a Royalist history of England, that should entirely ignore the Commonwealth. Indeed, historians of Christian missions sometimes show about the same interest in the work of other Churches than their own that Chronicles takes in the Northern Kingdom. The work of the chronicler may also be compared to monographs which confine themselves to some special aspect of their subject. We have every reason to be thankful that the Divine providence has preserved for us the richer and fuller narrative of Samuel and Kings, but we cannot blame the chronicler because he has observed some of the ordinary canons for the composition of historical text-books.

The chronicler’s selective method, however, is carried so far that the historical value of his work is seriously impaired; yet in this respect also he is kept in countenance by very respectable authorities. We are more concerned, however, to point out the positive results of the method. Instead of historical portraits, we are presented with a gallery of ideals, types of character which we are asked either to admire or to condemn. On the one hand, we have David and Solomon, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, and the rest of the reforming kings of Judah; on the other hand, there are Jeroboam, and Ahab, and Ahaz, the kings of Israel, and the bad kings of Judah. All these are very sharply defined in either white or black. The types of Chronicles are ideals, and not studies of ordinary human character, with its mingled motives and subtle gradations of light and shade. The chronicler has nothing in common with the authors of modern realistic novels or anecdotal memoirs. His subject is not human nature as it is so much as human nature as it ought to be. There is obviously much to be learnt from such ideal pictures, and this form of inspired teaching is by no means the least effective; it may be roughly compared with our Lord’s method of teaching by parables, without, however, at all putting the two upon the same level.

Before examining these types in detail, we may devote a little space to some general considerations upon teaching by types. For the present we will confine ourselves to a non-theological sense of type, using the word to mean any individual who is representative or typical of a class. But the chronicler’s individuals do not represent classes of actual persons, but good men as they seem to their most devoted admirers and bad men as they seem to their worst enemies. They are ideal types. Chronicles is not the only literature in which such ideal types are found. They occur in the funeral sermons and obituary notices of popular favorites, and in the pictures which politicians draw in election speeches of their opponents, only in these there is a note of personal feeling from which the chronicler is free.

In fact, all biography tends to idealize; human nature as it is has generally to be looked for in the pages of fiction. When we have been blessed with a good and brave man, we wish to think of him at his best; we are not anxious to have thrust upon our notice the weaknesses and sins which he regretted and for the most part controlled. Some one who loved and honored him is asked to write the biography, with a tacit understanding that he is not to give us a picture of the real man in the deshabille, as it were, of his own inner consciousness. He is to paint us a portrait of the man as he strove to fashion himself after his own high ideal. The true man, as God knows him and as his fellows should remember him, was the man in his higher nature and nobler aspirations. The rest, surely, was but the vanishing remnant of a repudiated self. The biographer idealizes, because he believes that the ideal best represents the real man.

This is what the chronicler, with a large faith and liberal charity, has done for David and Solomon.

Such an ideal picture appeals to us with pathetic emphasis. It seems to say, "In spite of temptation, and sin, and grievous falls, this is what I ever aimed at and desired to be. Do not thou content thyself with any lower ideal My higher nature had its achievements as well as its aspirations. Remember that in thy weakness thou mayest also achieve."

"What I aspired to be, And was not, comforts me; All I could never be, All men ignored in me, This I was worth to God"

But we may take these ideals as types, not only in a general sense, but also in a modification of the dogmatic meaning of the word. We are not concerned here with the type as the mere external symbol of truth yet to be revealed; such types are chiefly found in the ritual of the Pentateuch. The circumstances of a man’s life may also serve as a type in the narrower sense, but we venture to apply the theological idea of type to the significance of the higher nature in a good man. It has been said in reference to types in the theological sense that "a type is neither a prophecy, nor a symbol, nor an allegory, yet it has relations with each of these. A prophecy is a prediction in words, a type a prediction in things. A symbol is a sensuous representation of a thing; a type is such a representation having a distinctly predictive aspect a type is an enacted prophecy, a kind of prophecy by action." We cannot, of course, include in our use of the term type "sensuous representation" and some other ideas connected with "type" in a theological sense. Our type is a prediction in persons rather than in things. But the use of the term is justified as including the most essential point: that "a type is an enacted prophecy, a kind of prophecy by action." These personal types are the most real and significant; they have no mere arbitrary or conventional relation to their antitype. The enacted prophecy is the beginning of its own fulfillment, the first-fruits of the greater harvest that is to be. The better moments of the man who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness are a type, a promise, and prophecy of his future satisfaction. They have also a wider and deeper meaning: they show what is possible for humanity, and give an assurance of the spiritual progress of the world. The elect remnant of Israel were the type of the great Christian Church; the spiritual aspirations and persistent faith of a few believers were a prophecy that "the earth should be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed which is less than all seeds; but when it-is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree." When therefore the chronicler ignores the evil in David and Solomon and only records the good, he treats them as types. He takes what was best in them and sets it forth as a standard and prophecy for the future, a pattern in the mount to be realized hereafter in the structure of God’s spiritual temple upon earth.

But the Holy Spirit guided the hopes and intuitions of the sacred writers to a special fulfillment. We can see that their types have one antitype in the growth of the Church and the progress of mankind: but the Old Testament looked for their chief fulfillment in a Divine Messenger and Deliverer: its ideals are types of the Messiah. The higher life of a good man was a revelation of God and a promise of His highest and best manifestation in Christ. We shall endeavor to show in subsequent chapters how Chronicles served to develop the idea of the Messiah.

But the chronicler’s types are not all prophecies of future progress or Messianic glory. The brighter portions of his picture are thrown into relief by a dark background. The good in Jeroboam is as completely ignored as the evil in David. Apart from any question of historical accuracy, the type is unfortunately a true one. There is a leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, as well as a leaven of the kingdom. If the base leaven be left to work by itself, it will leaven the whole mass; and in a final estimate of the character of those who do evil "with both hands earnestly," little allowance needs to be made for redeeming features. Even if we are still able to believe that there is a seed of goodness in things evil, we are forced to admit that the seed has remained dead and unfertilized, has had no growth and borne no fruit. But probably most men may sometimes be profitably admonished by considering the typical sinner-the man in whose nature evil has been able to subdue all things to itself.

The strange power of teaching by types has been well expressed by one who was herself a great mistress of the art: "Ideas are often poor ghosts: our sun-filled eyes cannot discern them; they pass athwart us in thin vapor, and cannot make themselves felt; they breathe upon us with warm breath, they touch us with soft, responsive hands; they look at us with sad, sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones; they are clothed in a living human soul their presence is a power."



KING and kingdom were so bound up in ancient life that an ideal for the one implied an ideal for the other: all distinction and glory possessed by either was shared by both. The tribe and kingdom of Judah were exalted by the fame of David and Solomon: but, on the other hand, a specially exalted position is accorded to David in the Old Testament because he is the representative of the people of Jehovah. David himself had been anointed by Divine command to be king of Israel, and he thus became the founder of the only legitimate dynasty of Hebrew kings. Saul and Ishbosheth had no significance for the later religious history of the nation. Apparently to the chronicler the history of true religion in Israel was a blank between Joshua and David; the revival began when the Ark was brought to Zion, and the first steps were taken to rear the Temple in succession to the Mosaic tabernacle. He therefore omits the history of the Judges and Saul. But the battle of Gilboa is given to introduce the reign of David, and incidental condemnation is passed on Saul: "So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for that he asked counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire thereby, and inquired not of the Lord; therefore He slew him and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse."

The reign of Saul had been an unsuccessful experiment; its only real value had been to prepare the way for David. At the same time the portrait of Saul is not given at full length, like those of the wicked kings, partly perhaps because the chronicler had little interest for anything before the time of David and the Temple but partly, we may hope, because the record of David’s affection for Saul kept alive a kindly feeling towards the founder of the monarchy.

Inasmuch as Jehovah had "turned the kingdom unto David," the reign of Ishbosheth was evidently the intrusion of an illegitimate pretender; and the chronicler treats it as such. If we had only Chronicles, we should know nothing about the reign of Ishbosheth, and should suppose that, on the death of Saul. David succeeded at once to an undisputed sovereignty over all Israel. The interval of conflict is ignored because, according to the chronicler’s views, David was, from the first, king de jure over the whole nation. Complete silence as to Ishbosheth was the most effective way of expressing this fact.

The same sentiment of hereditary legitimacy, the same formal and exclusive recognition of a de jure sovereign, has been shown in modern times by titles like Louis XVIII and Napoleon III. For both schools of Legitimists the absence of de facto sovereignty did not prevent Louis XVII and Napoleon II from having been lawful rulers of France. In Israel, moreover, the Divine right of the one chosen dynasty had religious as well as political importance. We have already seen that Israel claimed a hereditary title to its special privileges; it was therefore natural that a hereditary qualification should be thought necessary for the kings. They represented the nation; they were the Divinely appointed guardians of its religion; they became in time the types of the Messiah, its promised Savior. In all this Saul and Ishbosheth had neither part nor lot; the promise to Israel had always descended in a direct line, and the special promise that was given to its kings and through them to their people began with David. There was no need to carry the history further back.

We have already noticed that, in spite of this general attitude towards Saul, the genealogy of some of his descendants is given twice over in the earlier chapters. No doubt the chronicler made this concession to gratify friends or to conciliate an influential family. It is interesting to note how personal feeling may interfere with the symmetrical development of a theological theory. At the same time we are enabled to discern a practical reason for rigidly ignoring the kingship of Saul and Ishbosheth. To have recognized Saul as the Lord’s anointed, like David, would have complicated contemporary dogmatics, and might possibly have given rise to jealousies between the descendants of Saul and those of David. Within the narrow limits of the Jewish community such quarrels might have been inconvenient and even dangerous.

The reasons for denying the legitimacy of the northern kings were obvious and conclusive. Successful rebels who had destroyed the political and religious unity of Israel could not inherit "the sure mercies of David" or be included in the covenant which secured the permanence of his dynasty.

The exclusive association of Messianic ideas with a single family emphasizes their antiquity, continuity, and development. The hope of Israel had its roots deep in the history of the people; it had grown with their growth and maintained itself through their changing fortunes. As the hope centered in a single family, men were led to expect an individual personal Messiah: they were being prepared to see in Christ the fulfillment of all righteousness.

But the choice of the house of David involved the choice of the tribe of Judah and the rejection of the kingdom of Samaria. The ten tribes, as well as the kings of Israel, had cut themselves off both from the Temple and the sacred dynasty, and therefore from the covenant into which Jehovah had entered with "the man after his own heart." Such a limitation of the chosen people was suggested by many precedents. Chronicles, following the Pentateuch, tells how the call came to Abraham, but only some of the descendants of one of his sons inherited the promise. Why should not a selection be made from among the sons of Jacob? But the twelve tribes had been explicitly and solemnly included in the unity of Israel, largely through David himself. The glory of David and Solomon consisted in their sovereignty over a united people. The national recollection of this golden age loved to dwell on the union of the twelve tribes. The Pentateuch added legal sanction to ancient sentiment. The twelve tribes were associated together in national lyrics, like the "Blessing of Jacob" and the "Blessing of Moses." The song of Deborah told how the northern tribes "came to the help of the Lord against the mighty." It was simply impossible for the chronicler to absolutely repudiate the ten tribes; and so they are formally included in the genealogies of Israel, and are recognized in the history of David and Solomon. Then the recognition stops. From the time of the disruption the Northern Kingdom is quietly but persistently ignored. Its prophets and sanctuaries were as illegitimate as its kings. The great struggle of Elijah and Elisha for the honor of Jehovah is omitted, with all the rest of their history. Elijah is only mentioned as sending a letter to Jehoram, king of Judah; Elisha is never even named.

On the other hand, it is more than once implied that Judah, with the Levites, and the remnants of Simeon and Benjamin, are the true Israel. When Rehoboam "was strong he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him." After Shishak’s invasion, "the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves." {2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 12:6} The annals of Manasseh, king of Judah, are said to be "written among the acts of the kings of Israel." {2 Chronicles 33:18} The register of the exiles who returned with Zerubbabel is headed "The number of the men of the people of Israel." {Ezra 2:2} The chronicler tacitly anticipates the position of St. Paul: "They are not all Israel which are of Israel": and the Apostle might have appealed to Chronicles to show that the majority of Israel might fail to recognize and accept the Divine purpose for Israel, and that the true Israel would then be found in an elect remnant. The Jews of the second Temple naturally and inevitably came to ignore the ten tribes and to regard themselves as constituting this true Israel. As a matter of history, there had been a period during which the prophets of Samaria were of far more importance to the religion of Jehovah than the temple at Jerusalem; but in the chronicler’s time the very existence of the ten tribes was ancient history. Then, at any rate, it was true that God’s Israel was to be found in the Jewish community, at and around Jerusalem. They inherited the religious spirit of their fathers, and received from them the sacred writings and traditions, and carried on the sacred ritual. They preserved the truth and transmitted it from generation to generation, till at last it was merged in the mightier stream of Christian revelation.

The attitude of the chronicler towards the prophets of the Northern Kingdom does not in any way represent the actual importance of these prophets to the religion of Israel; but it is a very striking expression of the fact that after the Captivity the ten tribes had long ceased to exercise any influence upon the spiritual life of their nation.

The chronicler’s attitude is also open to criticism on another side. He is dominated by his own surroundings, and in his references to the Judaism of his own time there is no formal recognition of the Jewish community in Babylon; and yet even his own casual allusions confirm what we know from other sources, namely that the wealth and learning of the Jews in Babylon were an important factor in Judaism until a very late date. This point perhaps rather concerns Ezra and Nehemiah than Chronicles, but it is closely connected with our present subject, and is most naturally treated along with it. The chronicler might have justified himself by saying that the true home of Israel must be in Palestine, and that a community in Babylon could only be considered as subsidiary to the nation in its own home and worshipping at the Temple. Such a sentiment, at any rate, would have met with universal approval amongst Palestinian Jews. The chronicler might also have replied that the Jews in Babylon belonged to Judah and Benjamin and were sufficiently recognized in the general prominence given to these tribes. In all probability some Palestinian Jews would have been willing to class their Babylonian kinsmen with the ten tribes. Voluntary exiles from the Temple, the Holy City, and the Land of Promise had in great measure cut themselves off from the full privileges of the people of Jehovah. If, however, we had a Babylonian book of Chronicles, we should see both Jerusalem and Babylon in another light.

The chronicler was possessed and inspired by the actual living present round about him; he was content to let the dead past bury its dead. He was probably inclined to believe that the absent are mostly wrong, and that the men who worked with him for the Lord and His temple were the true Israel and the Church of God. He was enthusiastic in his own vocation and loyal to his brethren. If his interests were somewhat narrowed by the urgency of present circumstances, most men suffer from the same limitations. Few Englishmen realize that the battle of Agincourt is part of the history of the United States, and that Canterbury Cathedral is a monument of certain stages in the growth of the religion of New England. We are not altogether willing to admit that these voluntary exiles from our Holy Land belong to the true Anglo-Saxon Israel.

Churches are still apt to ignore their obligations to teachers who. like the prophets of Samaria, seem to have been associated with alien or hostile branches of the family of God. A religious movement which fails to secure for itself a permanent monument is usually labeled heresy. If it has neither obtained recognition within the Church nor yet organized a sect for itself, its services are forgotten or denied. Even the orthodoxy of one generation is sometimes contemptuous of the older orthodoxy which made it possible; and yet Gnostics, Arians and Athanasians, Arminians and Calvinists, have all done something to build up the temple of faith.

The nineteenth century prides itself on a more liberal spirit. But Romanist historians are not eager to acknowledge the debt of their Church to the Reformers; and there are Protestant partisans who deny that we are the heirs of the Christian life and thought of the medieval Church and are anxious to trace the genealogy of pure religion exclusively through a supposed succession of obscure and half-mythical sects. Limitations like those of the chronicler still narrow the sympathies of earnest and devout Christians.

But it is time to return to the more positive aspects of the teaching of Chronicles, and to see how far we have already traced its exposition of the Messianic idea. The plan of the book implies a spiritual claim on behalf of the Jewish community of the Restoration. Because they believed in Jehovah, whose providence had in former times controlled the destinies of Israel, they returned to their ancestral home that they might serve and worship the God of their fathers. Their faith survived the ruin of Judah and their own captivity; they recognized the power, and wisdom, and love of God alike in the prosperity and in the misfortunes of their race. "They believed God, and it was counted unto them for righteousness." The great prophet of the Restoration had regarded this new Israel as itself a Messianic people, perhaps even "a light to the Gentiles" and "salvation unto the ends of the earth." {Isaiah 49:6} The chronicler’s hopes were more modest; the new Jerusalem had been seen by the prophet as an ideal vision; the historian knew it lay experience as an imperfect human society: but he believed none the less in its high spiritual vocation and prerogatives. He claimed the future for those who were able to trace the hand of God in their past.

Under the monarchy the fortunes of Jerusalem had been bound up with those of the house of David. The chronicler brings out all that was best in the history of the ancient kings of Judah, that this ideal picture of the state and its rulers might encourage and inspire to future hope and effort. The character and achievements of David and his successors were of permanent significance. The grace and favor accorded to them symbolized the Divine promise for the future, and this promise was to be realized through a Son of David.



IN order to understand why the chronicler entirely recasts the graphic and candid history of David given in the book of Samuel, we have to consider the place that David had come to fill in Jewish religion. It seems probable that among the sources used by the author of the book of Samuel was a history of David, written not long after his death, by some one familiar with the inner life of the court. "No one," says the proverb, "is a hero to his valet"; very much what a valet is to a private gentleman courtiers are to a king: their knowledge of their master approaches to the familiarity which breeds contempt. Not that David was ever a subject for contempt or less than a hero even to his own courtiers: but they knew him as a very human hero, great in his vices as well as in his virtues, daring in battle and wise in counsel, sometimes also reckless in sin, yet capable of unbounded repentance, loving not wisely, but too well. And as they knew him, so they described him; and their picture is an immortal possession for all students of sacred life and literature. But it is not the portrait of a Messiah; when we think of the "Son of David," we do not want to be reminded of Bathsheba.

During the six or seven centuries that elapsed between the death of David and the chronicler the name of David had come to have a symbolic meaning, which was largely independent of the personal character and career of the actual king. His reign had become idealized by the magic of antiquity; it was a glory of "the good old times." His own sins and failures were obscured by the crimes and disasters of later kings. And yet, in spite of all its shortcomings, the "house of David" still remained the symbol alike of ancient glory and of future hopes. We have seen from the genealogies how intimate the connection was between the family and its founder. Ephraim and Benjamin may mean either patriarchs or tribes. A Jew was not always anxious to distinguish between the family and the founder. "David" and "the house of David" became almost interchangeable terms.

Even the prophets of the eighth century connect the future destiny of Israel with David and his house. The child, of whom Isaiah prophesied, was to sit "upon the throne of David" and be "over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with judgment and with righteousness from henceforth even forever." {Isaiah 9:7} And, again, the king who is to "sit in truth judging, and seeking judgment, and swift to do righteousness," is to have "his throne established in mercy in the tent of David." When {Isaiah 16:5} Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem, the city was defended {Isaiah 37:35} for Jehovah’s own sake and for His servant David’s sake. In the word of the Lord that came to Isaiah for Hezekiah, David supersedes, as it were, the sacred fathers of the Hebrew race; Jehovah is not spoken of as "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," but "the God of David." {Isaiah 38:5} As founder of the dynasty, he takes rank with the founders of the race and religion of Israel: he is "the patriarch David." {Acts 2:29} The northern prophet Hosea looks forward to the time when the children of Israel shall return, and seek the Lord "their God and David their king"; {Hosea 3:5} when Amos wishes to set forth the future prosperity of Israel, he says that the Lord "will raise up the tabernacle of David"; {Amos 9:11} in Micah "the ruler in Israel" is to come forth from Bethlehem Ephrathah, the birthplace of David; {Micah 5:2} in Jeremiah such references to David are frequent, the most characteristic being those relating to the "righteous branch, whom the Lord will raise up unto David," who "shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute judgment and justice in the land, in whose days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely"; in Ezekiel "My servant David" is to be the shepherd and prince of Jehovah’s restored and reunited people; {Ezekiel 34:23-24} Zechariah, writing at what we may consider the beginning of the chronicler’s own period, follows the language of his predecessors: he applies Jeremiah’s prophecy of "the righteous branch" to Zerubbabel, the prince of the house of David: similarly in Haggai Zerubbabel is the chosen of Jehovah; {Haggai 2:23} in the appendix to Zechariah it is said that when "the Lord defends the inhabitants of Jerusalem the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them." {Zechariah 12:8} In the later literature, Biblical and apocryphal, the Davidic origin of the Messiah is not conspicuous till it reappears in the Psalms of Solomon and the New Testament, but the idea had not necessarily been dormant meanwhile. The chronicler and his school studied and meditated on the sacred writings, and must have been familiar with this doctrine of the prophets. The interest in such a subject would not be confined to scholars. Doubtless the downtrodden people cherished with ever-growing ardor the glorious picture of the Davidic king. In the synagogues it was not only Moses, but the Prophets, that were read; and they could never allow the picture of the Messianic king to grow faint and pale.

David’s name was also familiar as the author of many psalms. The inhabitants of Jerusalem would often hear them sung at the Temple, and they were probably used for private devotion. In this way especially the name of David had become associated with the deepest and purest spiritual experiences.

This brief survey shows how utterly impossible it was for the chronicler to transfer the older narrative bodily from the book of Samuel to his own pages. Large omissions were absolutely necessary. He could not sit down in cold blood to tell his readers that the man whose name they associated with the most sacred memories and the noblest hopes of Israel had been guilty of treacherous murder, and had offered himself to the Philistines as an ally against the people of Jehovah.

From this point of view let us consider the chronicler’s omissions somewhat more in detail. In the first place, with one or two slight exceptions, he omits the whole of David’s life before his accession to the throne, for two reasons: partly because he is anxious that his readers should think of David as king, the anointed of Jehovah, the Messiah; partly that they may not be reminded of his career as an outlaw and a freebooter and of his alliance with the Philistines. It is probably only an unintentional result of this omission that it enables the chronicler to ignore the important services rendered to David by Abiathar, whose family were rivals of the house of Zadok in the priesthood.

We have already seen that the events of David’s reign at Hebron and his struggle with Ishbosheth are omitted because the chronicler does not recognize Ishbosheth as a legitimate king. The omission would also commend itself because this section contains the account of Joab’s murder of Abner and David’s inability to do more than protest against the crime. "I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me," {2 Samuel 3:39} are scarcely words that become an ideal king.

The next point to notice is one of those significant alterations that mark the chronicler’s industry as a redactor. In 2 Samuel 5:21 we read that after the Philistines had been defeated at Baal-perazim they left their images there, and David and his men took them away. Why did they take them away? What did David and his men want with images? Missionaries bring home images as trophies, and exhibit them triumphantly, like soldiers who have captured the enemy’s standards. No one, not even an unconverted native, supposes that they have been brought away to be used in worship.

But the worship of images was no improbable apostasy on the part of an Israelite king. The chronicler felt that these ambiguous words were open to misconstruction; so he tells us what he assumes to have been their ultimate fate: "And they left their gods there; and David gave commandment, and they were burnt with fire." {2 Samuel 5:21 1 Chronicles 14:12}

The next omission was obviously a necessary one; it is the incident of Uriah and Bathsheba. The name Bathsheba never occurs in Chronicles. When it is necessary to mention the mother of Solomon, she is called Bathshua, possibly in order that the disgraceful incident might not be suggested even by the use of the name. The New Testament genealogies differ in this matter in somewhat the same way as Samuel and Chronicles. St. Matthew expressly mentions Uriah’s wife as an ancestress of our Lord, but St. Luke does not mention her or any other ancestress.

The next omission is equally extensive and important. It includes the whole series of events connected with the revolt of Absalom, from the incident of Tamar to the suppression of the rebellion of Sheba the son of Bichri. Various motives may have contributed to this omission. The narrative contains unedifying incidents, which are passed over as lightly as possible by modern writers like Stanley. It was probably a relief to the chronicler to be able to omit them altogether. There is no heinous sin like the murder of Uriah, but the story leaves a general impression of great weakness on David’s part. Joab murders Amasa as he had murdered Abner, and this time there is no record of any protest even on the part of David. But probably the main reason for the omission of this narrative is that it mars the ideal picture of David’s power and dignity and the success and prosperity of his reign.

The touching story of Rizpah is omitted; the hanging of her sons does not exhibit David in a very amiable light. The Gibeonites propose that "they shall hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord," and David accepts the proposal. This punishment of the children for the sin of their father was expressly against the Law and the whole incident was perilously akin to human sacrifice. How could they be hung up before Jehovah in Gibeah unless there was a sanctuary of Jehovah in Gibeah? And why should Saul at such a time and in such a connection be called emphatically "the chosen of Jehovah"? On many grounds, it was a passage which the chronicler would be glad to omit.

2 Samuel 21:15-17 we are told that David waxed faint and had to be rescued by Abishai. This is omitted by Chronicles probably because it detracts from the character of David as the ideal hero. The next paragraph in Samuel also tended to depreciate David’s prowess. It stated that Goliath was slain by Elhanan. The chronicler introduces a correction. It was not Goliath whom Elhanan slew, but Lahmi, the brother of Goliah. However, the text in Samuel is evidently corrupt; and possibly this is one of the cases in which Chronicles has preserved the correct text. {2 Samuel 21:19 1 Chronicles 20:5}

Then follow two omissions that are not easily accounted for 2 Samuel 22:1-51; 2 Samuel 23:1-39, contain two psalms, Psalms 18:1-50, and "the Last Words of David," the latter not included in the Psalter. These psalms are generally considered a late addition to the book of Samuel, and it is barely possible that they were not in the copy used by the chronicler; but the late date of Chronicles makes against this supposition. The psalms may be omitted for the sake of brevity, and yet elsewhere a long cento of passages from post-Exilic psalms is added to the material derived from the book of Samuel. Possibly something in the omitted section jarred upon the theological sensibilities of the chronicler, but it is not clear what. He does not as a rule look below the surface for obscure suggestions of undesirable views. The grounds of his alterations and omissions are usually sufficiently obvious; but these particular omissions are not at present susceptible of any obvious explanation. Further research into the theology of Judaism may perhaps provide us with one hereafter.

Finally, the chronicler omits the attempt of Adonijah to seize the throne, and David’s dying commands to Solomon. The opening chapters of the book of Kings present a graphic and pathetic picture of the closing scenes of David’s life. The king is exhausted with old age. His authoritative sanction to the coronation of Solomon is only obtained when he has been roused and directed by the promptings and suggestions of the women of his harem. The scene is partly a parallel and partly a contrast to the last days of Queen Elizabeth; for when her bodily strength failed, the obstinate Tudor spirit refused to be guided by the suggestions of her courtiers. The chronicler was depicting a person of almost Divine dignity, in whom incidents of human weakness would have been out of keeping; and therefore they are omitted.

David’s charge to Solomon is equally human. Solomon is to make up for David’s weakness and undue generosity by putting Joab and Shimei to death; on the other hand, he is to pay David’s debt of gratitude to the son of Barzillai. But the chronicler felt that David’s mind in those last days must surely have been occupied with the temple which Solomon was to build, and the less edifying charge is omitted.

Constantine is reported to have said that, for the honor of the Church, he would conceal the sin of a bishop with his own imperial purple. David was more to the chronicler than the whole Christian episcopate to Constantine. His life of David is compiled in the spirit and upon the principles of lives of saints generally, and his omissions are made in perfect good faith.

Let us now consider the positive picture of David as it is drawn for us in Chronicles. Chronicles would be published separately, each copy written, out on a roll of its own. There may have been Jews who had Chronicles, hut not Samuel and Kings, and who knew nothing about David except what they learned from Chronicles. Possibly the chronicler and his friends would recommend the work as suitable for the education of children and the instruction of the common people. It would save its readers from being perplexed by the religious difficulties suggested by Samuel and Kings. There were many obstacles, however, to the success of such a scheme; the persecutions of Antiochus and the wars of the Maccabees took the leadership out of the hands of scholars and gave it to soldiers and statesmen. The latter perhaps felt more drawn to the real David than to the ideal, and the new priestly dynasty would not be anxious to emphasize the Messianic hopes of the house of David. But let us put ourselves for a moment in the position of a student of Hebrew history who reads of David for the first time in Chronicles and has no other source of information.

Our first impression as we read the book is that David comes into the history as abruptly as Elijah or Melchizedek. Jehovah slew Saul "and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse." {1 Chronicles 10:14} Apparently the Divine appointment is promptly and enthusiastically accepted by the nation; all the twelve tribes come at once in their tens and hundreds of thousands to Hebron to make David king. They then march straight to Jerusalem and take it by storm, and forthwith attempt to bring up the Ark to Zion. An unfortunate accident necessitates a delay of three months, but at the end of that time the Ark is solemnly installed in a tent at Jerusalem. {Cf. 1 Chronicles 11:1-9; 1 Chronicles 12:23; 1 Chronicles 13:14}

We are not told who David the son of Jesse was, or why the Divine choice fell upon him or how he had been prepared for his responsible position, or how he had so commended himself to Israel as to be accepted with universal acclaim. He must however, have been of noble family and high character; and it is hinted that he had had a distinguished career as a soldier. {1 Chronicles 11:2} We should expect to find his name in the introductory genealogies: and if we have read these lists of names with conscientious attention, we shall remember that there are sundry incidental references to David, and that he was the seventh son of Jesse, {1 Chronicles 2:15} who was descended from the Patriarch Judah, though Boaz, the husband of Ruth.

As we read further we come to other references which throw some light on David’s early career, and at the same time somewhat mar the symmetry of the opening narrative. The wide discrepancy between the chronicler’s idea of David and the account given by his authorities prevents him from composing his work on an entirely consecutive and consistent plan. We gather that there was a time when David was in rebellion against his predecessor, and maintained himself at Ziklag and elsewhere, keeping "himself close, because of Saul the son of Kish," and even that he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle, but was prevented by the jealousy of the Philistine chiefs from actually fighting against Saul. There is nothing to indicate the occasion or circumstances of these events. But it appears that even at this period, when David was in arms against the king of Israel and an ally of the Philistines, he was the chosen leader of Israel. Men flocked to him from Judah and Benjamin, Manasseh and Gad, and doubtless from the other tribes as well: "From day to day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God." {1 Chronicles 20:1-8}

This chapter partly explains David’s popularity after Saul’s death; but it only carries the mystery a stage further back. How did this outlaw, and apparently unpatriotic rebel, get so strong a hold on the affections of Israel?

Chapter 12 also provides material for plausible explanations of another difficulty. In chapter 10 the army of Israel is routed, the inhabitants of the land take to flight, and the Philistines occupy their cities; in 11 and 1 Chronicles 12:23-40 all Israel come straightway to Hebron in the most peaceful and unconcerned fashion to make David king. Are we to understand that his Philistine allies, mindful of that "great host, like the host of God," all at once changed their minds and entirely relinquished the fruits of their victory?

Elsewhere, however, we find a statement that renders other explanations possible. David reigned seven years in Hebron, {1 Chronicles 29:27} so that our first impression as to the rapid sequence of events at the beginning of his reign is apparently not correct, and there was time in these seven years for a more gradual expulsion of the Philistines. It is doubtful, however, whether the chronicler intended his original narrative to be thus modified and interpreted.

The main thread of the history is interrupted here and later on {1 Chronicles 11:10-47; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8} to insert incidents which illustrate the personal courage and prowess of David and his warriors. We are also told how busily occupied David was during the three months’ sojourn of the Ark in the house of Obededom the Gittite. He accepted an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre: he added to his harem: he successfully repelled two inroads of the Philistines, and made him houses in the city of David. {1 Chronicles 13:14}

The narrative returns to its main subject: the history of the sanctuary at Jerusalem. As soon as the Ark was duly installed in its tent, and David was established in his new palace, he was struck by the contrast between the tent and the palace: "Lo, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord dwelleth under curtains." He proposed to substitute a temple for the tent, but was forbidden by his prophet Nathan, through whom God promised him that his son should build the Temple, and that his house should be established forever. {1 Chronicles 17:1-27}

Then we read of the wars, victories, and conquests of David. He is no longer absorbed in the defense of Israel against the Philistines. He takes the aggressive and conquers Gath; he conquers Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Amalek; he and his armies defeat the Syrians in several battles, the Syrians become tributary, and David occupies Damascus with a garrison. "And the Lord gave victory to David whithersoever he went." The conquered were treated after the manner of those barbarous times. David and his generals carried off much spoil, especially brass, and silver, and gold; and when he conquered Rabbath, the capital of Ammon, "he brought forth the people that were therein, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. And thus did David unto all the cities of the children of Ammon." Meanwhile his home administration was as honorable as his foreign wars were glorious: "He executed judgment and justice unto all his people"; and the government was duly organized with commanders of the host and the bodyguard, with priests and scribes. {1 Chronicles 18:1-17; 1 Chronicles 20:3}

Then follows a mysterious and painful dispensation of Providence, which the historian would gladly have omitted, if his respect for the memory of his hero had not been overruled by his sense of the supreme importance of the Temple. David, like Job, was given over for a season to Satan, and while possessed by this evil spirit displeased God by numbering Israel. His punishment took the form of a great pestilence, which decimated his people, until, by Divine command, David erected an altar in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite and offered sacrifices upon it, whereupon the plague was stayed. David at once perceived the significance of this incident: Jehovah had indicated the site of the future Temple. "This is the house of Jehovah Elohim, and this is the altar of burnt, offering for Israel."

This revelation of the Divine will as to the position of the Temple led David to proceed at once with preparations for its erection by Solomon, which occupied all his energies for the remainder of his life. {1 Chronicles 21:1-30; 1 Chronicles 22:1-19; 1 Chronicles 23:1-32; 1 Chronicles 24:1-31; 1 Chronicles 25:1-31; 1 Chronicles 26:1-32; 1 Chronicles 27:1-34; 1 Chronicles 28:1-21; 1 Chronicles 29:1-30} He gathered funds and materials, and gave his son full instructions about the building; he organized the priests and Levites, the Temple orchestra and choir, the doorkeepers, treasurers, officers, and judges; he also organized the army, the tribes, and the royal exchequer on the model of the corresponding arrangements for the Temple.

Then follows the closing scene of David’s life. The sun of Israel sets amid the flaming glories of the western sky. No clouds or mists rob him of accustomed splendor. David calls a great assembly of princes and warriors; he addresses a solemn exhortation to them and to Solomon; he delivers to his son instructions for "all the works" which "I have been made to understand in writing from the hand of Jehovah." It is almost as though the plans of the Temple had shared with the first tables of stone the honor of being written with the very finger of God Himself, and David were even greater than Moses. He reminds Solomon of all the preparations he had made, and appeals to the princes and the people for further gifts; and they render willingly-thousands of talents of gold, and silver, and brass, and iron. David offers prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord: "And David said to all the congregation, Now bless Jehovah our God. And all the congregation blessed Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Jehovah and the king. And they sacrificed sacrifices unto Jehovah, and offered burnt offerings unto Jehovah, 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, and did eat and drink before Jehovah on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon king; and David died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor, and Solomon his son reigned in his stead." {1 Chronicles 29:20-22; 1 Chronicles 29:28} The Roman expressed his idea of a becoming death more simply: "An emperor should die standing." The chronicler has given us the same view at greater length; this is how the chronicler would have wished to die if he had been David, and how, therefore, he conceives that God honored the last hours of the man after His own heart.

It is a strange contrast to the companion picture in the book of Kings. There the king is bedridden, dying slowly of old age; the lifeblood creeps coldly through his veins. The quiet of the sick-room is invaded by the shrill outcry of an aggrieved woman, and the dying king is roused to hear that once more eager hands are clutching at his crown. If the chronicler has done nothing else, he has helped us to appreciate better the gloom and bitterness of the tragedy that was enacted in the last days of David.

What idea does Chronicles give us of the man and his character? He is first and foremost a man of earnest piety and deep spiritual feeling. Like the great religions leaders of the chronicler’s own time, his piety found its chief expression in ritual. The main business of his life was to provide for the sanctuary and its services; that is, for the highest fellowship of God and man, according to the ideas then current. But David is no mere formalist; the psalm of thanksgiving for the return of the Ark to Jerusalem is a worthy tribute to the power and faithfulness of Jehovah. {1 Chronicles 16:8-36} His prayer after God had promised to establish his dynasty is instinct with devout confidence and gratitude. {1 Chronicles 17:16-27} But the most gracious and appropriate of these Davidic utterances is his last prayer and thanksgiving for the liberal gifts of the people for the Temple.

Next to David’s enthusiasm for the Temple, his most conspicuous qualities are those of a general and soldier: he has great personal strength and courage, and is uniformly successful in wars against numerous and powerful enemies; his government is both able and upright; his great powers as an organizer and administrator are exercised both in secular and ecclesiastical matters; in a word, he is in more senses than one an ideal king.

Moreover, like Alexander, Marlborough, Napoleon, and other epoch-making conquerors, he had a great charm of personal attractiveness; he inspired his officers and soldiers with enthusiasm and devotion to himself. The pictures of all Israel flocking to him in the first days of his reign and even earlier, when he was an outlaw, are forcible illustrations of this wonderful gift; and the same feature of his character is at once illustrated and partly explained by the romantic episode at Adullam. What greater proof of affection could outlaws give to their captain than to risk their lives to get him a draught of water from the well of Bethlehem? How better could David have accepted and ratified their devotion than by pouring out this water as a most precious libation to God? {1 Chronicles 11:15-19} But the chronicler gives most striking expression to the idea of David’s popularity when he finally tells us in the same breath that the people worshipped Jehovah and the king. {1 Chronicles 29:20}

In drawing an ideal picture, our author has naturally omitted incidents that might have revealed the defects of his hero. Such omissions deceive no one, and are not meant to deceive any one. Yet David’s failings are not altogether absent from this history. He has those vices which are characteristic alike of his own age and of the chronicler’s, and which indeed are not yet wholly extinct. He could treat his prisoners with barbarous cruelty. His pride led him to number Israel, but his repentance was prompt and thorough; and the incident brings out alike both his faith in God and his care for his people. When the whole episode is before us, it does not lessen our love and respect for David. The reference to his alliance with the Philistines is vague and incidental. If this were our only account of the matter, we should interpret it by the rest of his life, and conclude that if all the facts were known, they would justify his conduct.

In forming a general estimate of David according to Chronicles, we may fairly neglect these less satisfactory episodes. Briefly David is perfect saint and perfect king, beloved of God and man.

A portrait reveals the artist as well as the model, and the chronicler in depicting David gives indications of the morality of his own times. We may deduce from his omissions a certain progress in moral sensitiveness. The book of Samuel emphatically condemns David’s treachery towards Uriah, and is conscious of the discreditable nature of many incidents connected with the revolts of Absalom and Adonijah; but the silence of Chronicles implies an even severer condemnation. In other matters, however, the chronicler "judges himself in that which he approveth." {Romans 14:22} Of course the first business of an ancient king was to protect his people from their enemies and to enrich them at the expense of their neighbors. The urgency of these duties may excuse, but not justify, the neglect of the more peaceful departments of the administration. The modern reader is struck by the little stress laid by the narrative upon good government at home; it is just mentioned, and that is about all. As the sentiment of international morality is even now only in its infancy, we cannot wonder at its absence from Chronicles; but we are a little surprised to find that cruelty towards prisoners is included without comment in the character of the ideal king. {2 Samuel 12:31 1 Chronicles 20:3} It is curious that the account in the book of Samuel is slightly ambiguous and might possibly admit of a comparatively mild interpretation; but Chronicles, according to the ordinary translation, says definitely, "He cut them with saws." The mere reproduction of this passage need not imply full and deliberate approval of its contents; but it would not have been allowed to remain in the picture of the ideal king, if the chronicler had felt any strong conviction as to the duty of humanity towards one’s enemies. Unfortunately we know from the book of Esther and elsewhere that later Judaism had not attained to any wide enthusiasm of humanity.



IN estimating the personal character of David, we have seen that one element of it was his ideal kingship. Apart from his personality his name is significant for Old Testament theology as that of the typical king. From the time when the royal title Messiah "began to" be a synonym for the hope of Israel, down to the period when the Anglican Church taught the Divine right of kings, and Calvinists insisted on the Divine sovereignty or royal authority of God, the dignity and power of the King of kings have always been illustrated by, and sometimes associated with, the state of an earthly monarch-whereof David is the most striking example.

The times of the chronicler were favorable to the development of the idea of the perfect king of Israel, the prince of the house of David. There was no king in Israel; and, as far as we can gather, the living representatives of the house of David held no very prominent position in the community. It is much easier to draw a satisfactory picture of the ideal monarch when the imagination is not checked and hampered by the faults and failings of an actual Ahaz or Hezekiah. In earlier times the prophetic hopes for the house of David had often been rudely disappointed, but there had been ample space to forget the past and to revive the old hopes in fresh splendor and magnificence. Lack of experience helped to commend the idea of the Davidic king to the chronicler. Enthusiasm for a benevolent despot is mostly confined to those who have not enjoyed the privilege of living under such autocratic government.

On the other hand, there was no temptation to flatter any living Davidic king, so that the semi-Divine character of the kingship of David is not set forth after the gross and almost blasphemous style of Roman emperors or Turkish sultans. It is indeed said that the people worshipped Jehovah and the king; but the essential character of Jewish thought made it impossible that the ideal king should sit "in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God." David and Solomon could not share with the pagan emperors the honors of Divine worship in their life-time and apotheosis after their death. Nothing addressed to any Hebrew king parallels the panegyric to the Christian emperor Theodosius, in which allusion is made to his "sacred mind," and he is told that "as the Fates are said to assist with their tablets that God who is the partner in your majesty, so does some Divine power serve your bidding, which writes down and in due time suggests to your memory the promises which you have made." Nor does Chronicles adorn the kings of Judah with extravagant Oriental titles, such as "King of kings of kings of kings." Devotion to the house of David never oversteps the bounds of a due reverence, but the Hebrew idea of monarchy loses nothing by this salutary reserve.

Indeed, the title of the royal house of Judah rested upon Divine appointment. "Jehovah turned the kingdom unto David and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of Jehovah by the hand of Samuel." {1 Chronicles 10:14; 1 Chronicles 11:3} But the Divine choice was confirmed by the cordial consent of the nation; the sovereigns of Judah, like those of England, ruled by the grace of God and the will of the people. Even before David’s accession the Israelites had flocked to his standard; and after the death of Saul a great array of the twelve tribes came to Hebron to make David king, "and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king." {1 Chronicles 12:38} Similarly Solomon is the king "whom God hath chosen," and all the congregation make him king and anoint him to be prince. {1 Chronicles 29:1; 1 Chronicles 29:22} The double election of David by Jehovah and by the nation is clearly set forth in the book of Samuel, and in Chronicles the omission of David’s early career emphasizes this election. In the book of Samuel we are shown the natural process that brought about the change of dynasty; we see how the Divine choice took effect through the wars between Saul and the Philistines and through David’s own ability and energy. Chronicles is mostly silent as to secondary causes, and fixes our attention on the Divine choice as the ultimate ground for David’s elevation.

The authority derived from God and the people continued to rest on the same basis. David sought Divine direction alike for the building of the Temple and for his campaigns against the Philistines At the same time, when he wished to bring up the Ark to Jerusalem, he "consulted with the captains of thousands and of hundreds. even with every leader; and David said unto all the assembly of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and if it be of Jehovah our God let us bring again the ark of our God to us and all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people." {1 Chronicles 13:4} Of course the chronicler does not intend to describe a constitutional monarchy, in which an assembly of the people had any legal status. Apparently in his own time the Jews exercised their measure of local self-government through an informal oligarchy, headed by the high-priest; and these authorities occasionally appealed to an assembly of the people. The administration under the monarchy was carried on in a somewhat similar fashion, only the king had greater authority than the high-priest, and the oligarchy of notables were not so influential as the colleagues of the latter. But apart from any formal constitution the chronicler’s description of these incidents involves a recognition of the principle of popular consent in government as well as the doctrine that civil order rests upon a Divine sanction.

It is interesting to see how a member of a great ecclesiastical community, imbued, as we should suppose, with all the spirit of priestcraft, yet insists upon the royal supremacy both in state and Church. But to have done otherwise would have been to go in the teeth of all history; even in the Pentateuch the "king in Jeshurun" is greater than the priest. Moreover the chronicler was not a priest, but a Levite; and there are indications that the Levites’ ancient jealousy of the priests had by no means died out. In Chronicles, at any rate, there is no question of priests interfering with the king’s secular administration. They are not even mentioned as obtaining oracles for David as Abiathar did before his accession. {1 Samuel 23:9-13; 1 Samuel 30:7-8} This was doubtless implied in the original account of the Philistine raids in chapter 14, but the chronicler may not have understood that "inquiring of God" meant obtaining an oracle from the priests.

The king is equally supreme also in ecclesiastical affairs; we might even say that the civil authorities generally shared this supremacy. Somewhat after the fashion of Cromwell and his major-generals, David utilized "the captains of the host" as a kind of ministry of public worship; they joined with him in organizing the orchestra and choir for the services of the sanctuary, {1 Chronicles 25:1-2} probably Napoleon and his marshals would have had no hesitation in selecting anthems for Notre Dame if the idea had occurred to them. David also consulted his captains {1 Chronicles 13:1} and not the priests, about bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. When he gathered the great assembly to make his final arrangements for the building of the Temple, the princes and captains, the rulers and mighty men, are mentioned, but no priests. {1 Chronicles 28:1} And, last, all the congregation apparently anoint {1 Chronicles 29:22} Zadok to be priest. The chronicler was evidently a pronounced Erastian (But Cf. 2 Chronicles 26:1-23). David is no mere nominal head of the Church; he takes the initiative in all important matters, and receives the Divine commands either directly or through his prophets Nathan and Gad. Now these prophets are not ecclesiastical authorities; they have nothing to do with the priesthood, and do not correspond to the officials of an organized Church. They are rather the domestic chaplains or confessors of the king, differing from modern chaplains and confessors in having no ecclesiastical superiors. They were not responsible to the bishop of any diocese or the general of any order; they did not manipulate the royal conscience in the interests of any party in the Church; they served God and the king, and had no other masters. They did not beard David before his people, as Ambrose confronted Theodosius or as Chrysostom rated Eudoxia; they delivered their message to David in private, and on occasion he communicated it to the people. {Cf. 1 Chronicles 17:4-15 and 1 Chronicles 28:2-10} The king’s spiritual dignity is rather enhanced than otherwise by this reception of prophetic messages specially delivered to himself. There is another aspect of the royal supremacy in religion. In this particular instance its object is largely the exaltation of David; to arrange for public worship is the most honorable function of the ideal king. At the same time the care of the sanctuary is his most sacred duty, and is assigned to him that it may be punctually and worthily discharged. State establishment of the Church is combined with a very thorough control of the Church by the state.

We see then that the monarchy rested on Divine and national election, and was guided by the will of God and of the people. Indeed, in bringing up the 1 Chronicles 13:1-14 the consent of the people is the only recorded indication of the will of God. "Vox populi vox Dei." The king and his government are supreme alike over the state and the sanctuary, and are entrusted with the charge of providing for public worship. Let us try to express the modern equivalents of these principles. Civil government is of Divine origin, and should obtain the consent of the people: it should be carried on according to the will of God, freely accepted by the nation. The civil authority is supreme both in Church and state, and is responsible for the maintenance of public worship.

One at least of these principles is so widely accepted that it is quite independent of any Scriptural sanction from Chronicles. The consent of the people has long been accepted as an essential condition of any stable government. The sanctity of civil government and the sacredness of its responsibilities are coming to be recognized, at present perhaps rather in theory than in practice. We have not yet fully realized how the truth underlying the doctrine of the Divine right of kings applies to modern conditions. Formerly the king was the representative of the state, or even the state itself; that is to say, the king directly or indirectly maintained social order, and provided for the security of life and property. The Divine appointment and authority of the king expressed the sanctity of law and order as the essential conditions of moral and spiritual progress. The king is no longer the state. His Divine right, however, belongs to him, not as a person or as a member of a family, but as the embodiment of the state, the champion of social order against anarchy. The "Divinity that doth hedge a king" is now shared by the sovereign with all the various departments of government. The state-that is to say, the community organized for the common good and for mutual help-is now to be recognized as of Divine appointment and as wielding a Divine authority. "The Lord has turned the kingdom to" the people.

This revolution is so tremendous that it would not be safe to apply to the modern state the remaining principles of the chronicler. Before we could do so we should need to enter into a discussion which would be out of place here, even if we had space for it.

In one point the new democracies agree with the chronicler: they are not inclined to submit secular affairs to the domination of ecclesiastical officials.

The questions of the supremacy of the state over the Church and of the state establishment of the Church involve larger and more complicated issues than existed in the mind or experience of the chronicler. But his picture of the ideal king suggests one idea that is in harmony with some modern aspirations. In Chronicles the king, as the representative of the state, is the special agent in providing for the highest spiritual needs of the people. May we venture to hope that out of the moral consciousness of a nation united in mutual sympathy and service there may arise a new enthusiasm to obey and worship God? Human cruelty is the greatest stumbling-block to belief and fellowship; when the state has somewhat mitigated the misery of "man’s inhumanity to man," faith in God will be easier.


"And again the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them saying, Go, number Israel and Judah." 2 Samuel 24:1

"And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel."- 1 Chronicles 21:1

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed."- James 1:13-14

THE census of David is found both in the book of Samuel and in Chronicles, in very much the same form; but the chronicler has made a number of small but important alterations and additions. Taken together, these changes involve a new interpretation of the history, and bring out lessons that cannot so easily be deduced from the narrative in the book of Samuel. Hence it is necessary to give a separate exposition of the narrative in Chronicles.

As before, we will first review the alterations made by the chronicler and then expound the narrative in the form in which it left his hand, or rather in the form in which it stands in the Masoretic text. Any attempt to deal with the peculiarly complicated problem of the textual criticism of Chronicles would be out of place here. Probably there are no corruptions of the text that would appreciably affect the general exposition of this chapter.

At the very outset the chronicler substitutes Satan for Jehovah, and thus changes the whole significance of the narrative. This point is too important to be dealt with casually, and must be reserved for special consideration later on. In 1 Chronicles 21:2 there is a slight change that marks the different points of the views of the Chronicler and the author of the narrative in the book of Samuel. The latter had written that Joab numbered the people from Dan to Beersheba, a merely conventional phrase indicating the extent of the census. It might possibly, however, have been taken to denote that the census began in the north and was concluded in the south. To the chronicler, whose interests all centered in Judah, such an arrangement seemed absurd; and he carefully guarded against any mistake by altering "Dan to Beersheba" into "Beersheba to Dan." In 1 Chronicles 21:3 the substance of Joab’s words is not altered, but various slight touches are added to bring out more clearly and forcibly what is implied in the book of Samuel. Joab had spoken of the census as being the king’s pleasure. It was scarcely appropriate to speak of David "taking pleasure in" a suggestion of Satan. In Chronicles Joab’s words are less forcible. "Why doth my lord require this thing?" Again, in the book of Samuel Joab protests against the census without assigning any reason. The context, it is true, readily supplies one; but in Chronicles all is made clear by the addition, "Why will he" (David) "be a cause of guilt unto Israel?" Further on the chronicler’s special interest in Judah again betrays itself. The book of Samuel described, with some detail, the progress of the enumerators through Eastern and Northern Palestine by way of Beersheba to Jerusalem. Chronicles having already made them start from Beersheba, omits these details.

In 1 Chronicles 21:5 the numbers in Chronicles differ not only from those of the older narrative, but also from the chronicler’s own statistics in chapter 27. In this last account the men of war are divided into twelve courses of twenty-four thousand each, making a total of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand; in the book of Samuel Israel numbers eight hundred thousand, and Judah five hundred thousand; but in our passage Israel is increased to eleven hundred thousand, and Judah is reduced to four hundred and seventy thousand. Possibly the statistics in chapter 27 are not intended to include all the fighting men, otherwise the figures cannot be harmonized. The discrepancy between our passage and the book of Samuel is perhaps partly explained by the following verse, which is an addition of the chronicler. In the book of Samuel the census is completed, but our additional verse states that Levi and Benjamin were not included in the census. The chronicler understood that the five hundred thousand assigned to Judah in the older narrative were the joint total of Judah and Benjamin; he accordingly reduced the total by thirty thousand, because, according to his view, Benjamin was omitted from the census. The increase in the number of the Israelites is unexpected. The chronicler does not usually overrate the northern tribes. Later on Jeroboam, eighteen years after the disruption, takes the field against Abijah with "eight hundred thousand chosen men," a phrase that implies a still larger number of fighting men, if all had been mustered. Obviously the rebel king would not be expected to be able to bring into the field as large a force as the entire strength of Israel in the most flourishing days of David. The chronicler’s figures in these two passages are consistent, but the comparison is not an adequate reason for the alteration in the present chapter. Textual corruption is always a possibility in the case of numbers, but on the whole this particular change does not admit of a satisfactory explanation.

In 1 Chronicles 21:7 we have a very striking alteration. According to the book of Samuel, David’s repentance was entirely spontaneous: "David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people"; but here God smites Israel, and then David’s conscience awakes. In 1 Chronicles 21:12 the chronicler makes a slight addition, apparently to gratify his literary taste. In the original narrative the third alternative offered to David had been described simply as "the pestilence," but in Chronicles the words "the sword of Jehovah" are added in antithesis to "the sword of Thine enemies" in the previous verse.

1 Chronicles 21:16, which describes David’s vision of the angel with the drawn sword, is an expansion of the simple statement of the book of Samuel that David saw the angel. In 1 Chronicles 21:18 we are not merely told that Gad spake to David, but that he spake by the command of the angel of Jehovah. 1 Chronicles 21:20, which tells us how Ornan saw the angel, is an addition of the chronicler’s. All these changes lay stress upon the intervention of the angel, and illustrate the interest taken by Judaism in the ministry of angels. Zechariah, the prophet of the Restoration, received his messages by the dispensation of angels; and the title of the last canonical prophet, Malachi, probably means "the Angel." The change from Araunah to Ornan is a mere question of spelling. Possibly Ornan is a somewhat Hebraized form of the older Jebusite name Araunah.

In 1 Chronicles 21:22 the reference to "a full price" and other changes in the form of David’s Words are probably due to the influence of Genesis 23:9. In 1 Chronicles 21:23 the chronicler’s familiarity with the ritual of sacrifice has led him to insert a reference to a meal offering, to accompany the burnt offering. Later on the chronicler omits the somewhat ambiguous words which seem to speak of Araunah as a king. He would naturally avoid anything like a recognition of the royal status of a Jebusite prince.

In 1 Chronicles 21:25 David pays much more dearly for Ornan’s threshing-floor than in the book of Samuel. In the latter the price is fifty shekels of silver, in the former six hundred shekels of gold. Most ingenious attempts have been made to harmonize the two statements. It has been suggested that fifty shekels of silver means silver to the value of fifty shekels of gold and paid in gold, and that six hundred shekels of gold means the value of six hundred shekels of silver paid in gold. A more lucid but equally impossible explanation is that David paid fifty shekels forevery tribe, six hundred in all. The real reason for the change is that when the Temple became supremely important to the Jews the small price of fifty shekels for the site seemed derogatory to the dignity of the sanctuary; six hundred shekels of gold was a more appropriate sum. Abraham had paid four hundred shekels for a burying-place; and a site for the Temple, where Jehovah had chosen to put His name, must surely have cost more. The chronicler followed the tradition which had grown up under the influence of this feeling.

1 Chronicles 21:27-30; 1 Chronicles 22:1 are an addition. According to the Levitical law, David was falling into grievous sin in sacrificing anywhere except before the Mosaic altar of burnt offering. The chronicler therefore states the special circumstances that palliated this offence against the exclusive privileges of the one sanctuary of Jehovah. He also reminds us that this threshing-floor became the site of the altar of burnt offering for Solomon’s temple. Here he probably follows an ancient and historical tradition; the prominence given to the threshing-floor in the book of Samuel indicates the special sanctity of the site. The Temple is the only sanctuary whose site could be thus connected with the last days of David. When the book of Samuel was written, the facts were too familiar to need any explanation; every one knew that the Temple stood on the site of Araunah’s threshing-floor. The chronicler, writing centuries later, felt it necessary to make an explicit statement on the subject.

Having thus attempted to understand how our narrative assumed its present form, we will now tell the chronicler’s story of these incidents. The long reign of David was drawing to a close. Hitherto he had been blessed with uninterrupted prosperity and success. His armies had been victorious over all the enemies of Israel, the borders of the land of Jehovah had been extended, David himself was lodged with princely splendor, and the services of the Ark were conducted with imposing ritual by a numerous array of priests and Levites. King and people alike were at the zenith of their glory. In worldly prosperity and careful attention to religious observances David and his people were not surpassed by Job himself. Apparently their prosperity provoked the envious malice of an evil and mysterious being, who appears only here in Chronicles: Satan, the persecutor of Job. The trial to which he subjected the loyalty of David was more subtle and suggestive than his assault upon Job. He harassed Job as the wind dealt with the traveler in the fable, and Job only wrapped the cloak of his faith closer about him; Satan allowed David to remain in the full sunshine of prosperity, and seduced him into sin by fostering his pride in being the powerful and victorious prince of a mighty people. He suggested a census. David’s pride would be gratified by obtaining accurate information as to the myriads of his subjects. Such statistics would be useful for the civil organization of Israel; the king would learn where and how to recruit his army or to find an opportunity to impose additional taxation. The temptation appealed alike to the king, the soldier, and the statesman, and did not appeal in vain. David at once instructed Joab and the princes to proceed with the enumeration; Joab demurred and protested: the census would be a cause of guilt unto Israel. But not even the great influence of the commander-in-chief could turn the king from his purpose. His word prevailed against Joab, wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. This brief general statement indicates a long and laborious task, simplified and facilitated in some measure by the primitive organization of society and by rough and ready methods adopted to secure the very moderate degree of accuracy with which an ancient Eastern sovereign would be contented. When Xerxes wished to ascertain the number of the vast army with which he set out to invade Greece, his officers packed ten thousand men into as small a space as possible and built a wall round them; then they turned them out, and packed the space again and again; and so in time they ascertained how many tens of thousands of men there were in the army. Joab’s methods would be different, but perhaps not much more exact. He would probably learn from the "heads of fathers’ houses" the number of fighting men in each family. Where the hereditary chiefs of a district were indifferent, he might make some rough estimate of his own. We may be sure that both Joab and the local authorities would be careful to err on the safe side. The king was anxious to learn that he possessed a large number of subjects. Probably as the officers of Xerxes went on with their counting they omitted to pack the measured area as closely as they did at first; they might allow eight or nine thousand to pass for ten thousand. Similarly David’s servants would, to say the least, be anxious not to underestimate the number of his subjects. The work apparently went on smoothly; nothing is said that indicates any popular objection or resistance to the census; the process of enumeration was not interrupted by any token of Divine displeasure against the "cause of guilt unto Israel." Nevertheless Joab’s misgivings were not set at rest; he did what he could to limit the range of the census and to withdraw at least two of the tribes from the impending outbreak of Divine wrath. The tribe of Levi would be exempt from taxation and the obligation of military service; Joab could omit them without rendering his statistics less useful for military and financial purposes. In not including the Levites in the general census of Israel, Joab was following the precedent set by the numbering in the wilderness. Benjamin was probably omitted in order to protect the Holy City, the chronicler following that form of the ancient tradition which assigned Jerusalem to Benjamin. Later on, {1 Chronicles 27:23-24} however, the chronicler seems to imply that these two tribes left to the last were not numbered because of the growing dissatisfaction of Joab with his task: "Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but finished not." But these different reasons for the omission of Levi and Benjamin do not mutually exclude each other. Another limitation is also stated in the later reference: "David took not the number of them twenty years old and under, because Jehovah had said that He would increase Israel like to the stars of heaven." This statement and explanation seems a little superfluous: the census was specially concerned with the fighting men, and in the book of Numbers only those over twenty are numbered. But we have seen elsewhere that the chronicler has no great confidence in the intelligence of his readers, and feels bound to state definitely matters that have only been implied and might be overlooked. Here, therefore, he calls our attention to the fact that the numbers previously given do not comprise the whole male population, but only the adults. At last the census, so far as it was carried out at all, was finished, and the results were presented to the king. They are meager and bald compared to the volumes of tables which form the report of a modern census. Only two divisions of the country are recognized: "Judah" and "Israel," or the ten tribes. The total is given for each: eleven hundred thousand for Israel, four hundred and seventy thousand for Judah, in all fifteen hundred and seventy thousand. Whatever details may have been given to the king, he would be chiefly interested in the grand total. Its figures would be the most striking symbol of the extent of his authority and the glory of his kingdom.

Perhaps during the months occupied in taking the census David had forgotten the ineffectual protests of Joab, and was able to receive his report without any presentiment of coming evil. Even if his mind were not altogether at ease, all misgivings would for the time be forgotten, He probably made or had made for him some rough calculation as to the total of men, women, and children that would correspond to the vast array of fighting men. His servants would not reckon the entire population at less than nine or ten millions. His heart would be uplifted with pride as he contemplated the statement of the multitudes that were the subjects of his crown and prepared to fight at his bidding. The numbers are moderate compared with the vast populations and enormous armies of the great powers of modern Europe; they were far surpassed by the Roman Empire and the teeming populations of the valleys of the Nile, the Euphrates, and the Tigris; but during the Middle Ages it was not often possible to find in Western Europe so large a population under one government or so numerous an army under one banner. The resources of Cyrus may not have been greater when he started on his career of conquest; and when Xerxes gathered into one motley horde the warriors of half the known world, their total was only about double the number of David’s robust and warlike Israelites. There was no enterprise that was likely to present itself to his imagination that he might not have undertaken with a reasonable probability of success. He must have regretted that his days of warfare were past, and that the unwarlike Solomon, occupied with more peaceful tasks, would allow this magnificent instrument of possible conquests to rust unused.

But the king was not long left in undisturbed enjoyment of his greatness. In the very moment of his exaltation, some sense of the Divine displeasure fell upon him. Mankind has learnt by a long and sad experience to distrust its own happiness. The brightest hours have come to possess a suggestion of possible catastrophe, and classic story loved to tell of the unavailing efforts of fortunate princes to avoid their inevitable downfall. Polycrates and Croesus, however, had not tempted the Divine anger by ostentatious pride; David’s power and glory had made him neglectful of the reverent homage due to Jehovah, and he had sinned in spite of the express warnings of his most trusted minister.

When the revulsion of feeling came, it was complete. The king at once humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, and made full acknowledgment of his sin and folly: "I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing: but now put away, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have done very foolishly."

The narrative continues as in the book of Samuel. Repentance could not avert punishment, and the punishment struck directly at David’s pride of power and glory. The great population was to be decimated either by famine, war, or pestilence. The king chose to suffer from the pestilence, "the sword of Jehovah"; "Let me fall now into the hand of Jehovah, for very great are His mercies: and let me not fall into the hand of man. So Jehovah sent a pestilence upon Israel, and there felt of Israel seventy thousand men." Not three days since Joab handed in his report, and already a deduction of seventy thousand would have to be made from its total; and still, the pestilence was not checked, for "God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it." If, as we have supposed, Joab had withheld Jerusalem from the census, his pious caution was now rewarded: "Jehovah repented Him of the evil, and said to the destroying angel, It is enough; now stay thine hand." At the very last moment the crowning catastrophe was averted. In the Divine counsels Jerusalem was already delivered, but to human eyes its fate still trembled in the balance: "And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of Jehovah stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem." So another great Israelite soldier lifted up his eyes beside Jericho and beheld the captain of the host of Jehovah standing over against him with his sword drawn in his hand. {Joshua 5:13} Then the sword was drawn to smite the enemies of Israel, but now it was turned to smite Israel itself. David and his elders fell upon their faces as Joshua had done before them: "And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done very wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Thine hand, I pray Thee, O Jehovah my God, be against me and against my father’s house, but not against Thy people, that they should be plagued."

The awful presence returned no answer to the guilty king, but addressed itself to the prophet Gad, and commanded him to bid David go up and build an altar to Jehovah in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The command was a message of mercy. Jehovah permitted David to build Him an altar; He was prepared to accept an offering at his hands. The king’s prayers were heard, and Jerusalem was saved from the pestilence. But still the angel stretched out his drawn sword over Jerusalem; he waited till the reconciliation of Jehovah with His people should have been duly ratified by solemn sacrifices. At the bidding of the prophet, David went up to the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Sorrow and reassurance, hope and fear, contended for the mastery. No sacrifice could call back to life the seventy thousand victims whom the pestilence had already destroyed, and yet the horror of its ravages was almost forgotten in relief at the deliverance of Jerusalem from the calamity that had all but overtaken it. Even now the uplifted sword might be only held back for a time; Satan might yet bring about some heedless and sinful act, and the respite might end not in pardon, but in the execution of God’s purpose of vengeance. Saul had been condemned because he sacrificed too soon; now perhaps delay would be fatal. Uzzah had been smitten because he touched the Ark; till the sacrifice was actually offered who could tell whether some thoughtless blunder would not again provoke the wrath of Jehovah? Under ordinary circumstances David would not have dared to sacrifice anywhere except upon the altar of burnt offering before the tabernacle at Gibeon; he would have used the ministry of priests and Levites. But ritual is helpless in great emergencies. The angel of Jehovah with the drawn sword seemed to bar the way to Gibeon, as once before he had barred Balaam’s progress when he came to curse Israel. In his supreme need David builds his own altar and offers his own sacrifices; he receives the Divine answer without the intervention this time of either priest or prophet. By God’s most merciful and mysterious grace, David’s guilt and punishment, his repentance and pardon, broke down all barriers between himself and God.

But, as he went up to the threshing-floor, he was still troubled and anxious. The burden was partly lifted from his heart, but he still craved full assurance of pardon. The menacing attitude of the destroying angel seemed to hold out little promise of mercy and forgiveness, and yet the command to sacrifice would be cruel mockery if Jehovah did not intend to be gracious to His people and His anointed.

At the threshing-floor Ornan and his four sons were threshing wheat, apparently unmoved by the prospect of the threatened pestilence. In Egypt the Israelites were protected from the plagues with which their oppressors were punished. Possibly now the situation was reversed, and the remnant of the Canaanites in Palestine were not afflicted by the pestilence that fell upon Israel. But Ornan turned back and saw the angel; he may not have known the grim mission with which the Lord’s messenger had been entrusted, but the aspect of the destroyer, his threatening attitude, and the lurid radiance of his unsheathed and outstretched sword must have seemed unmistakable tokens of coming calamity. Whatever might be threatened for the future, the actual appearance of this supernatural visitant was enough to unnerve the stoutest heart; and Ornan’s four sons hid themselves.

Before long, however, Ornan’s terrors were somewhat relieved by the approach of less formidable visitors. The king and his followers had ventured to show themselves openly, in spite of the destroying angel: and they had ventured with impunity. Ornan went forth and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. In ancient days the father of the faithful, oppressed by the burden of his bereavement, went to the Hittites to purchase a burying-place for his wife. Now the last of the Patriarchs, mourning for the sufferings of his people, came by Divine command to the Jebusite to purchase the ground on which to offer sacrifices, that the plague might be stayed from the people. The form of bargaining was somewhat similar in both cases. We are told that bargains are concluded in much the same fashion today. Abraham had paid four hundred shekels of silver for the field of Ephron in Machpelah, "with the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field." The price of Ornan’s threshing-floor was m proportion to the dignity and wealth of the royal purchaser and the sacred purpose for which it was designed. The fortunate Jebusite received no less than six hundred shekels of gold.

David built his altar, and offered up his sacrifices and prayers to Jehovah. Then, in answer to David’s prayers, as later in answer to Solomon’s, fire fell from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering, and all this while the sword of Jehovah flamed across the heavens above Jerusalem, and the destroying angel remained passive, but to all appearances unappeased. But as the fire of God fell from heaven, Jehovah gave yet another final and convincing token that He would no longer execute judgment against His people. In spite of all that had happened, to reassure them, the spectators must have been thrilled with alarm when they saw that the angel of Jehovah no longer remained stationary, and that his flaming sword was moving through the heavens. Their renewed terror was only for a moment: "the angel put up his sword again into the sheath thereof," and the people breathed more freely when they saw the instrument of Jehovah’s wrath vanish out of their sight.

The use of Machpelah as a patriarchal burying-place led to the establishment of a sanctuary at Hebron, which continued to be the seat of a debased and degenerate worship even after the coming of Christ. It is even now a Mohammedan holy place. But On the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite there was to arise a more worthy memorial of the mercy and judgment of Jehovah. Without the aid of priestly oracle or prophetic utterance, David was led by the Spirit of the Lord to discern the significance of the command to perform an irregular sacrifice in a hitherto unconsecrated place. When the sword of the destroying angel interposed between David and the Mosaic tabernacle and altar of Gibeon, the way was not merely barred against the king and his court on one exceptional occasion. The incidents of this crisis symbolized the cutting off forever of the worship of Israel from its ancient shrine and the transference of the Divinely appointed center of the worship of Jehovah to the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, that is to say to Jerusalem, the city of David and the capital of Judah.

The lessons of this incident, so far as the chronicler has simply borrowed from his authority, belong to the exposition of the book of Samuel. The main features peculiar to Chronicles are the introduction of the evil angel Satan, together with the greater prominence given to the angel of Jehovah, and the express statement that the scene of David’s sacrifice became the site of Solomon’s altar of burnt offering.

The stress laid upon angelic agency is characteristic of later Jewish literature, and is especially marked in Zechariah and Daniel. It was no doubt partly due to the influence of the Persian religion, but it was also a development from the primitive faith of Israel, and the development was favored by the course of Jewish history. The Captivity and the Restoration, with the events that preceded and accompanied these revolutions, enlarged the Jewish experience of nature and man. The captives in Babylon and the fugitives in Egypt saw that the world was larger than they had imagined. In Josiah’s reign the Scythians from the far North swept over Western Asia, and the Medes and Persians broke in upon Assyria and Chaldaea from the remote East. The prophets claimed Scythians, Medes, and Persians as the instruments of Jehovah. The Jewish appreciation of the majesty of Jehovah, the Maker and Ruler of the world, increased as they learnt more of the world He had made and ruled; but the invasion of a remote and unknown people impressed them with the idea of infinite dominion and unlimited resources, beyond all knowledge and experience. The course of Israelite history between David and Ezra involved as great a widening of man’s ideas of the universe as the discovery of America or the establishment of Copernican astronomy. A Scythian invasion was scarcely less portentous to the Jews than the descent of an irresistible army from the planet Jupiter would be to the civilized nations of the nineteenth century. The Jew began to shrink from intimate and familiar fellowship with so mighty and mysterious a Deity. He felt the need of a mediator, some less exalted being, to stand between himself and God. For the ordinary purposes of everyday life the Temple, with its ritual and priesthood, provided a mediation; but for unforeseen contingencies and exceptional crises the Jews welcomed the belief that a ministry of angels provided a safe means of intercourse between himself and the Almighty. Many men have come to feel today that the discoveries of science have made the universe so infinite and marvelous that its Maker and Governor is exalted beyond human approach. The infinite spaces of the constellations seem to intervene between the earth and the presence-chamber of God; its doors are guarded against prayer and faith by inexorable laws; the awful Being, who dwells within, has become "unmeasured in height, undistinguished into form." Intellect and imagination alike fail to combine the manifold and terrible attributes of the Author of nature into the picture of a loving Father. It is no new experience, and the present century faces the situation very much as did the chronicler’s contemporaries. Some are happy enough to rest in the mediation of ritual priests; others are content to recognize, as of old, powers and forces, not now, however, personal messengers of Jehovah, but the physical agencies of "that which makes for righteousness." Christ came to supersede the Mosaic ritual and the ministry of angels; He will come again to bring those who are far off into renewed fellowship with His Father and theirs.

On the other hand, the recognition of Satan, the evil angel, marks an equally great change from the theology of the book of Samuel. The primitive Israelite religion had not yet reached the stage at which the origin and existence of moral evil became an urgent problem of religious thought; men had not yet realized the logical consequences of the doctrine of Divine unity and omnipotence. Not only was material evil traced to Jehovah as the expression of His just wrath against sin, but "morally pernicious acts were quite frankly ascribed to the direct agency of God." God hardens the heart of Pharaoh and the Canaanites; Saul is instigated by an evil spirit from Jehovah to make an attempt upon the life of David; Jehovah moves David to number Israel; He sends forth a lying spirit that Ahab’s prophets may prophesy falsely and entice him to his ruin. {Exodus 4:21, 1 Samuel 19:9-10, 2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Kings 22:20-23} The Divine origin of moral evil implied in these passages is definitely stated in the book of Proverbs: "Jehovah hath made everything for its own end, yea even the wicked for the day of evil"; in Lamentations, "Out of the mouth of the Most High cometh there not evil and good?" and in the book of Isaiah, "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things." {Proverbs 16:4, Lamentations 3:38, Isaiah 45:7}

The ultra-Calvinism, so to speak, of earlier Israelite religion was only possible so long as its full significance was not understood. An emphatic assertion of the absolute sovereignty, of the one God was necessary as a protest against polytheism, and later on against dualism as well. For practical purposes men’s faith needed to be protected by the assurance that God worked out His purposes in and through human wickedness. The earlier attitude of the Old Testament towards moral evil had a distinct practical and theological value.

But the conscience of Israel could not always rest in this view of the origin of evil. As the standard of morality was raised, and its obligations were more fully insisted on, as men shrank from causing evil themselves and from the use of deceit and violence, they hesitated more and more to ascribe to Jehovah what they sought to avoid themselves. And yet no easy way of escape presented itself. The facts remained; the temptation to do evil was part of the punishment of the sinner and of the discipline of the saint. It was impossible to deny that sin had its place in God’s government of the world; and in view of men’s growing reverence and moral sensitiveness, it was becoming almost equally impossible to admit without qualification or explanation that God was Himself the Author of evil. Jewish thought found itself face to face with the dilemma against which the human intellect vainly beats its wings, like a bird against the bars of its cage.

However, even in the older literature there were suggestions, not indeed of a solution of the problem, but of a less objectionable way of stating facts. In Eden the temptation to evil comes from the serpent; and, as the story is told, the serpent is quite independent of God; and the question of any Divine authority or permission for its action is not in any way dealt with. It is true that the serpent was one of the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made, but the narrator probably did not consider the question of any Divine responsibility for its wickedness. Again, when Ahab is enticed to his ruin, Jehovah does not act directly, but through the twofold agency first of the lying spirit and then of the deluded prophets. This tendency to dissociate God from any direct agency of evil is further illustrated in Job and Zechariah. When Job is to be tried and tempted, the actual agent is the malevolent Satan; and the same evil spirit stands forth to accuse the high-priest Joshua {Zechariah 3:1} as the representative of Israel. The development of the idea of angelic agency afforded new resources for the reverent exposition of the facts connected with the origin and existence of moral evil. If a sense of Divine majesty led to a recognition of the angel of Jehovah as the Mediator of revelation, the reverence for Divine holiness imperatively demanded that the immediate causation of evil should also be associated with angelic agency. This agent of evil receives the name of Satan, the adversary of man, the advocatus diaboli who seeks to discredit man before God, the impeacher of Job’s loyalty and of Joshua’s purity. Yet Jehovah does not resign any of His omnipotence. In Job Satan cannot act without God’s permission; he is strictly limited by Divine control: all that he does only illustrates Divine wisdom and effects the Divine purpose. In Zechariah there is no refutation of the charge brought by Satan; its truth is virtually admitted: nevertheless Satan is rebuked for his attempt to hinder God’s gracious purposes towards His people. Thus later Jewish thought left the ultimate Divine sovereignty untouched, but attributed the actual and direct causation of moral evil to malign spiritual agency.

Trained in this school, the chronicler must have read with something of a shock that Jehovah moved David to commit the sin of numbering Israel He was familiar with the idea that in such matters Jehovah used or permitted the activity of Satan. Accordingly he carefully avoids reproducing any words from the book of Samuel that imply a direct Divine temptation of David, and ascribes it to the well-known and crafty animosity of Satan against Israel. In so doing, he has gone somewhat further than his predecessors: he is not careful to emphasize any Divine permission given to Satan or Divine control exercised over him. The subsequent narrative implies an overruling for good, and the chronicler may have expected his readers to understand that Satan here stood in the same relation to God as in Job and Zechariah; but the abrupt and isolated introduction of Satan to bring about the fall of David invests the archenemy with a new and more independent dignity.

The progress of the Jews in moral and spiritual life had given them a keener appreciation both of good and evil, and of the contrast and opposition between them. Over against the pictures of the good kings, and of the angel of the Lord, the generation of the chronicler set the complementary pictures of the wicked kings and the evil angel. They had a higher ideal to strive after, a clearer vision of the kingdom of God; they also saw more vividly the depths of Satan and recoiled with horror from the abyss revealed to them.

Our text affords a striking illustration of the tendency to emphasize the recognition of Satan as the instrument of evil and to ignore the question of the relation of God to the origin of evil. Possibly no more practical attitude can be assumed towards this difficult question. The absolute relation of evil to the Divine sovereignty is one of the problems of the ultimate nature of God and man. Its discussion may throw many sidelights upon other subjects, and will always serve the edifying and necessary purpose of teaching men the limitations of their intellectual powers. Otherwise theologians have found such controversies barren, and the average Christian has not been able to derive from them any suitable nourishment for his spiritual life. Higher intelligences than our own, we have been told, -

" reasoned high

Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,

Fixed fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute,

And found no end, in wandering mazes lost."

On the other hand, it is supremely important that the believer should clearly understand the reality of temptation as an evil spiritual force opposed to Divine grace. Sometimes this power of Satan will show itself as "the alien law in his members, warring against the law of his mind and bringing him into captivity under the law of sin, which is in his members." He will be conscious that "he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed." But sometimes temptation will rather come from the outside. A man will find his "adversary" in circumstances, in evil companions, in "the sight of means to do ill deeds"; the serpent whispers in his ear, and Satan moves him to wrong-doing. Let him not imagine for a moment that he is delivered over to the powers of evil; let him realize clearly that with every temptation God provides a way of escape. Every man knows in his own conscience that speculative difficulties can neither destroy the sanctity of moral obligation nor hinder the operation of the grace of God.

Indeed, the chronicler is at one with the books of Job and Zechariah in showing us the malice of Satan overruled for man’s good and God’s glory. In Job the affliction of the Patriarch only serves to bring out his faith and devotion, and is eventually rewarded by renewed and increased prosperity; in Zechariah the protest of Satan against God’s gracious purposes for Israel is made the occasion of a singular display of God’s favor towards His people and their priest. In Chronicles the malicious intervention of Satan leads up to the building of the Temple.

Long ago Jehovah had promised to choose a place in Israel wherein to set His name; but, as the chronicler read in the history of his nation, the Israelites dwelt for centuries in Palestine, and Jehovah made no sign: the ark of God still dwelt in curtains. Those who still looked for fulfillment of this ancient promise must often have wondered by what prophetic utterance or vision Jehovah would make known His choice. Bethel had been consecrated by the vision of Jacob, when he was a solitary fugitive from Esau, paying the penalty of his selfish craft; but the lessons of past history are not often applied practically, and probably, no one ever expected that Jehovah’s choice of the site for His one temple would be made known to His chosen king, the first true Messiah of Israel, in a moment of even deeper humiliation than Jacob’s, or that the Divine announcement would be the climax of a series of events initiated by the successful machinations of Satan.

Yet herein lies one of the main lessons of the incident. Satan’s machinations are not really successful; he often attains his immediate object, but is always defeated in the end. He estranges David from Jehovah for a moment, but eventually Jehovah and His people are drawn into closer union, and their reconciliation is sealed by the long-expected choice of a site for the Temple. Jehovah is like a great general, who will sometimes allow the enemy to obtain a temporary advantage, in order to overwhelm him in some crushing defeat. The eternal purpose of God moves onward, unresting and un-hasting; its quiet and irresistible persistence finds special opportunity in the hindrances that seem sometimes to check its progress. In David’s case a few months showed the whole process complete: the malice of the Enemy; the sin and punishment of his unhappy victim; the Divine relenting and its solemn symbol in the newly consecrated altar. But with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; and this brief episode in the history of a small people is a symbol alike of the eternal dealings of God in His government of the universe and of His personal care for the individual soul. How short-lived has been the victory of sin in many souls! Sin is triumphant; the tempter seems to have it all his own way, but his first successes only lead to his final rout; the devil is cast out by the Divine exorcism of chastisement and forgiveness; and he learns that his efforts have been made to subserve the training in the Christian warfare of such warriors as Augustine and John Bunyan. Or, to take a case more parallel to that of David, Satan catches the saint unawares, and entraps him into sin; and, behold, while the evil one is in the first flush of triumph, his victim is back again at the throne of grace in an agony of contrition, and before long the repentant sinner is bowed down into a new humility at the undeserved graciousness of the Divine pardon: the chains of love are riveted with a fuller constraint about his soul, and he is tenfold more the child of God than before.

And in the larger life of the Church and the world Satan’s triumphs are still the heralds of his utter defeat. He prompted the Jews to slay Stephen; and the Church were scattered abroad, and went about preaching the word; and the young man at whose feet the witnesses laid down their garments became the Apostle of the Gentiles. He tricked the reluctant Diocletian into ordering the greatest of the persecutions, and in a few years Christianity was an established religion in the empire. In more secular matters the apparent triumph of an evil principle is usually the signal for its downfall.

In America the slave-holders of the Southern States rode roughshod over the Northerners for more than a generation, and then came the Civil War.

These are not isolated instances, and they serve to warn us against undue depression and despondency when for a season God seems to refrain from any intervention with some of the evils of the world. We are apt to ask in our impatience, -

"Is there not wrong too bitter for atoning?

What are these desperate and hideous years?

Hast Thou not heard Thy whole creation groaning

Sighs of the bondsman, and a woman’s tears?"

The works of Satan are as earthly as they are devilish; they belong to the world, which passeth away, with the lust thereof: but the gracious providence of God has all infinity and all eternity to work in. Where today we can see nothing but the destroying angel with his flaming sword, future generations shall behold the temple of the Lord.

David’s sin, and penitence, and pardon were no inappropriate preludes to this consecration of Mount Moriah. The Temple was not built for the use of blameless saints, but the worship of ordinary men and women. Israel through countless generations was to bring the burden of its sins to the altar of Jehovah. The sacred splendor of Solomon’s dedication festival duly represented the national dignity of Israel and the majesty of the God of Jacob; but the self-abandonment of David’s repentance, the deliverance of Jerusalem from impending pestilence, the Divine pardon of presumptuous sin, constituted a still more solemn inauguration of the place where Jehovah had chosen to set His name. The sinner, seeking the assurance of pardon in atoning sacrifice, would remember how David had then received pardon for, his sin, and how the acceptance of his offering had been the signal for the disappearance of the destroying angel. So in the Middle Ages penitents founded churches to expiate their sins. Such sanctuaries would symbolize to sinners in after-times the possibility of forgiveness; they were monuments of God’s mercy as well as of the founders’ penitence. Today churches, both in fabric and fellowship, have been made sacred for individual worshippers because in them the Spirit of God has moved them to repentance and bestowed upon them the assurance of pardon. Moreover, this solemn experience consecrates for God His most acceptable temples in the souls of those that love Him.

One other lesson is suggested by the happy issues of Satan’s malign interference in the history of Israel as understood by the chronicler. The inauguration of the new altar was a direct breach of the Levitical law, and involved the superseding of the altar and tabernacle that had hitherto been the only legitimate sanctuary for the worship of Jehovah. Thus the new order had its origin in the violation of existing ordinances and the neglect of an ancient sanctuary. Its early history constituted a declaration of the transient character of sanctuaries and systems of ritual. God would not eternally limit Himself to any building, or His grace to the observance of any forms of external ritual. Long before the chronicler’s time Jeremiah had proclaimed this lesson in the ears of Judah: "Go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I caused My name to dwell at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel I will do unto the house which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh I wilt make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth." {Jeremiah 7:12-14} In the Tabernacle all things were made according to the pattern that was showed to Moses in the mount; for the Temple David was made to understand the pattern of all things "in writing from the hand of Jehovah." {1 Chronicles 28:19} If the Tabernacle could be set aside for the Temple, the Temple might in its turn give place to the universal Church. If God allowed David in his great need to ignore the one legitimate altar of the Tabernacle and to sacrifice without its officials, the faithful Israelite might be encouraged to believe that in extreme emergency Jehovah would accept his offering without regard to place or priest.

The principles here involved are of very wide application. Every ecclesiastical system was at first a new departure. Even if its highest claims be admitted, they simply assert that within historic times God set aside some other system previously enjoying the sanction of His authority, and substituted for it a more excellent way. The Temple succeeded the Tabernacle; the synagogue appropriated in a sense part of the authority of the Temple; the Church superseded both synagogue and Temple. God’s action in authorizing each new departure warrants the expectation that He may yet sanction new ecclesiastical systems; the authority which is sufficient to establish is also adequate to supersede. When the Anglican Church broke away from the unity of Western Christendom by denying the supremacy of the Pope and refusing to recognize the orders of other Protestant Churches, she set an example of dissidence that was naturally followed by the Presbyterians and Independents. The revolt of the Reformers against the theology of their day in a measure justifies those who have repudiated the dogmatic systems of the Reformed Churches. In these and in other ways to claim freedom from authority, even in order to set up a new authority of one’s own, involves in principle at least the concession to others of a similar liberty of revolt against one’s self.


THE chronicler’s history of Solomon is constructed on the same principles as that of David, and for similar reasons. The builder of the first Temple commanded the grateful reverence of a community whose national and religious life centered in the second Temple. While the Davidic king became the symbol of the hope of Israel, the Jews could not forget that this symbol derived much of its significance from the widespread dominion and royal magnificence of Solomon. The chronicler, indeed, attributes great splendor to the court of David, and ascribes to him a lion’s share in the Temple itself. He provided his successor with treasure and materials and even the complete plans, so that on the principle, "Qui facit per alium, facit per se," David might have been credited with the actual building. Solomon was almost in the position of a modern engineer who puts together a steamer that has been built in sections. But, with all these limitations, the clear and obvious fact remained that Solomon actually built and dedicated the Temple. Moreover, the memory of his wealth and grandeur kept a firm hold on the popular imagination; and these conspicuous blessings were received as certain tokens of the favor of Jehovah.

Solomon’s fame, however, was threefold: he was not only the Divinely appointed builder of the Temple and, by the same Divine grace, the richest and most powerful king of Israel: he had also received from Jehovah the gift of "wisdom and knowledge." In his royal splendor and his sacred buildings he only differed in degree from other kings; but in his wisdom he stood alone, not only without equal, but almost without competitor. Herein he was under no obligation to his father, and the glory of Solomon could not be diminished by representing that he bad been anticipated by David. Hence the name of Solomon came to symbolize Hebrew learning and philosophy.

In religious significance, however, Solomon cannot rank with David. The dynasty of Judah could have only one representative, and the founder and eponym of the royal house was the most important figure for the subsequent theology. The interest that later generations felt in Solomon lay apart from the main line of Jewish orthodoxy, and he is never mentioned by the prophets.

Moreover, the darker aspects of Solomon’s reign made more impression upon succeeding generations than even David’s sins and misfortunes. Occasional lapses into vices and cruelty might be forgiven or even forgotten; but the systematic oppression of Solomon rankled for long generations in the hearts of the people, and the prophets always remembered his wanton idolatry. His memory was further discredited by the disasters which marked the close of his own reign and the beginning of Rehoboam’s. Centuries later these feelings still prevailed. The prophets who adopted the Mosaic law for the closing period of the monarchy exhort the king to take warning by Solomon, and to multiply neither horses, nor wives, nor gold and silver. {Deuteronomy 17:16-17; Cf. 2 Chronicles 1:14-17 and 1 Kings 11:3-8}

But as time went on Judah fell into growing poverty and distress, which came to a head in the Captivity and were renewed with the Restoration. The Jews were willing to forget Solomon’s faults in order that they might indulge in fond recollections of the material prosperity of his reign. Their experience of the culture of Babylon led them to feel greater interest and pride in his wisdom, and the figure of Solomon began to assume a mysterious grandeur, which has since become the nucleus for Jewish and Mohammedan legends. The chief monument of his fame in Jewish literature is the book of Proverbs, but his growing reputation is shown by the numerous Biblical and apocryphal works ascribed to him. His name was no doubt attached to Canticles because of a feature in his character which the chronicler ignores. His supposed authorship of Ecclesiastes and of the Wisdom of Solomon testifies to the fame of his wisdom, while the titles of the "Psalms of’ Solomon" and even of some canonical psalms credit him with spiritual feeling and poetic power.

When the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach proposes to "praise famous men," it dwells upon Solomon’s temple and his wealth, and especially upon his wisdom; but it does not forget his failings. {Sirach 47:12-21} Josephus celebrates his glory at great length. The New Testament has comparatively few notices of Solomon; but these include references to his wisdom, {Matthew 12:42} his splendor, {Matthew 6:29} and his temple. {Acts 7:47} The Koran, however, far surpasses the New Testament in its interest in Solomon; and his name and his seal play a leading part in Jewish and Arabian magic. The bulk of this literature is later than the chronicler, but the renewed interest in the glory of Solomon must have begun before his time. Perhaps, by connecting the building of the Temple as far as possible with David, the chronicler marks his sense of

Solomon’s unworthiness. On the other hand, there were many reasons why he should welcome the aid of popular sentiment to enable him to include Solomon among the ideal Hebrew kings. After all, Solomon had built and dedicated the Temple; he was the "pious founder," and the beneficiaries of the foundation would wish to make the most of his piety. "Jehovah" had "magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel." {1 Chronicles 29:25} "King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom; and all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart." {2 Chronicles 9:22-23} The chronicler would naturally wish to set forth the better side of Solomon’s character as an ideal of royal wisdom and splendor, devoted to the service of the sanctuary. Let us briefly compare Chronicles and Kings to see how he accomplished his purpose.

The structure of the narrative in Kings rendered the task comparatively easy: it could be accomplished by removing the opening and closing sections and making a few minor changes in the intermediate portion. The opening section is the sequel to the conclusion of David’s reign; the chronicler omitted this conclusion, and therefore also its sequel. But the contents of this section were objectionable in themselves. Solomon’s admirers willingly forgot that his reign was inaugurated by the execution of Shimei, of his brother Adonijah, and of his father’s faithful minister Joab, and by the deposition of the high-priest Abiathar. The chronicler narrates with evident approval the strong measures of Ezra and Nehemiah against foreign marriages, and he is therefore not anxious to remind his readers that Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter. He does not, however, carry out his plan consistently. Elsewhere he wishes to emphasize the sanctity of the Ark and tells us that "Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her, for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David, king of Israel, because the places are holy whereunto the ark of the Lord hath come." {2 Chronicles 8:11}

In Kings the history of Solomon closes with a long account of his numerous wives and concubines, his idolatry and consequent misfortunes. All this is omitted by the chronicler; but later on, with his usual inconsistency, he allows Nehemiah to point the moral of a tale he has left untold: "Did not Solomon, king of Israel, sin by these things? Even him did strange women cause to sin." {Nehemiah 13:26} In the intervening section he omits the famous judgment of Solomon, probably on account of the character of the women concerned, he introduces sundry changes which naturally follow from his belief that the Levitical law was then in force. His feeling for the dignity of the chosen people and their king comes out rather curiously in two minor alterations. Both authorities agree in telling us that Solomon had recourse to forced labor for his building operations; in fact, after the usual Eastern fashion from the Pyramids down to the Suez Canal, Solomon’s temple and palaces were built by the corvee. According to the oldest narrative, he "raised a levy out of all Israel." This suggests that forced labor was exacted from the Israelites themselves, and it would help to account for Jeroboam’s successful rebellion. The chronicler omits this statement as open to an interpretation derogatory to the dignity of the chosen people, and not only inserts a later explanation which he found in the book of Kings, but also another express statement that Solomon raised his levy of the "strangers that were in the land of Israel." {2 Chronicles 2:2; 2 Chronicles 2:17-18; 2 Chronicles 8:7-10} These statements may have been partly suggested by the existence of a class of Temple slaves called Solomon’s servants.

The other instance relates to Solomon’s alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre. In the book of Kings we are told that "Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee." {1 Kings 9:11-12} There were indeed redeeming features connected with the transaction; the cities were not a very valuable possession for Hiram: "they pleased him not"; yet he "sent to the king six score talents of gold." However, it seemed incredible to the chronicler that the most powerful and wealthy of the kings of Israel should either cede or sell any portion of Jehovah’s inheritance. He emends the text of his authority so as to convert it into a causal reference to certain cities which Hiram had given to Solomon. {2 Chronicles 8:1-2. R.V}

We will now reproduce the story of Solomon as given by the chronicler. Solomon was the youngest of four sons born to David at Jerusalem by Bathshua, the daughter of Ammiel. Besides these three brothers, he had at least six other eider brothers. As in the cases of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David himself, the birthright fell to a younger son. In the prophetic utterance which foretold his birth, he was designated to succeed to his father’s throne and to build the Temple. At the great assembly which closed his father’s reign he received instructions as to the plans and services of the Temple, {1 Chronicles 28:9} and was exhorted to discharge his duties faithfully. He was declared king according to the Divine choice, freely accepted by David and ratified by popular acclamation. At David’s death no one disputed his succession to the throne: "All Israel obeyed him; and all the princes and the mighty men and all the sons likewise of King David submitted themselves unto Solomon the king." {1 Chronicles 29:23-24}

His first act after his accession was to sacrifice before the brazen altar of the ancient Tabernacle at Gideon. That night God appeared unto him "and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee." Solomon chose wisdom and knowledge to qualify-him for the arduous task of government. Having thus "sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," all other things -" riches, wealth, and honor"-were added unto him. {2 Chronicles 1:7-13}

He returned to Jerusalem, gathered a great array of chariots and horses by means of traffic with Egypt, and accumulated great wealth, so that silver, and gold, and cedars became abundant at Jerusalem. {2 Chronicles 1:14-17}

He next proceeded with the building of the Temple, collected workmen, obtained timber from Lebanon and an artificer from Tyre. The Temple was duly erected and dedicated, the king taking the chief and most conspicuous part in all the proceedings. Special reference, however, is made to the presence of the priests and Levites at the dedication. On this occasion the ministry of the sanctuary was not confined to the course whose turn it was to officiate, but "all the priests that were present had sanctified themselves and did not keep their courses; also the Levites, which were the singers, all of them, even Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and their brethren, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, and psalteries, and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets."

Solomon’s dedication prayer concludes with special petitions for the priests, the saints, and the king: "Now therefore arise, O Jehovah Elohim, into Thy resting-place, Thou and the ark of Thy strength; let Thy priests, O Jehovah Elohim, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in goodness. O Jehovah Elohim, turn not away the face of Thine anointed; remember the mercies of David Thy servant."

When David sacrificed at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, the place had been indicated as the site of the future Temple by the descent of fire from heaven; and now, in token that the mercy shown to David should be continued to Solomon, the fire again fell from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of Jehovah "filled the house of Jehovah," as it had done earlier in the day, when the Ark was brought into the Temple. Solomon concluded the opening ceremonies by a great festival: for eight days the Feast of Tabernacles was observed according to the Levitical law, and seven days more were specially devoted to a dedication feast.

Afterwards Jehovah appeared again to Solomon, as He had before at Gibeon, and told him that this prayer was accepted. Taking up the several petitions that the king had offered, He promised, "If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I send pestilence among My people; if My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent, unto the prayer that is made in this place." Thus Jehovah, in His gracious condescension, adopts Solomon’s own words to express His answer to the prayer. He allows Solomon to dictate the terms of the agreement, and merely appends His signature and seal.

Besides the Temple, Solomon built palaces for himself and his wife, and fortified many cities, among the rest Hamath-zobah, formerly allied to David. He also organized the people for civil and military purposes.

As far as the account of his reign is concerned, the Solomon of Chronicles appears as "the husband of one wife"; and that wife is the daughter of Pharaoh. A second, however, is mentioned later on as the mother of Rehoboam; she too was a "strange woman," an Ammonitess, Naamah by name.

Meanwhile Solomon was careful to maintain all the sacrifices and festivals ordained in the Levitical law, and all the musical and other arrangements for the sanctuary commanded by David, the man of God.

We read next of his commerce by sea and land, his great wealth and wisdom, and the romantic visit of the queen of Sheba.

And so the story of Solomon closes with this picture of royal state, -

"The wealth of Ormus and of Ind, Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold."

Wealth was combined with imperial power and Divine wisdom. Here, as in the case of Plato’s own pupils Dionysius and Dion of Syracuse, Plato’s dream came true; the prince was a philosopher, and the philosopher a prince.

At first sight it seems as if this marriage of authority and wisdom had happier issue at Jerusalem than at Syracuse. Solomon’s history closes as brilliantly as David’s, and Solomon was subject to no Satanic possession and brought no pestilence upon Israel. But testimonials are chiefly significant in what they omit; and when we compare the conclusions of the histories of David and Solomon, we note suggestive differences.

Solomon’s life does not close with any scene in which his people and his heir assemble to do him honor and to receive his last injunctions. There are no "last words" of the wise king; and it is not said of him that "he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor." "Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father; and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead" that is all. When the chronicler, the professed panegyrist of the house of David, brings his narrative of this great reign to so lame and impotent a conclusion, he really implies as severe a condemnation upon Solomon as the book of Kings does by its narrative of his sins.

Thus the Solomon of Chronicles shows the same piety and devotion to the Temple and its ritual which were shown by his father. His prayer at the dedication of the Temple is parallel to similar utterances of David. Instead of being a general and a soldier, he is a scholar and a philosopher. He succeeded to the administrative abilities of his father; and his prayer displays a deep interest in the welfare of his subjects. His record-in Chronicles-is even more faultless than that of David. And yet the careful student with nothing but Chronicles, even without Ezra and Nehemiah, might somehow get the impression that the story of Solomon, like that of Cambuscan, had been "left half told." In addition to the points suggested by a comparison with the history of David, there is a certain abruptness about its conclusion. The last fact noted of Solomon, before the formal statistics about "the rest of his acts" and the years of his reign, is that horses were brought for him "out of Egypt and out of all lands." Elsewhere the chronicler’s use of his materials shows a feeling for dramatic effect. We should not have expected him to close the history of a great reign by a reference to the king’s trade in horses. {1 Chronicles 9:28}

Perhaps we are apt to read into Chronicles what we know from the book of Kings; yet surely this abrupt conclusion would have raised a suspicion that there were omissions, that facts had been suppressed because they could not bear the light. Upon the splendid figure of the great king, with his wealth and wisdom, his piety and devotion, rests the vague shadow of unnamed sins and unrecorded misfortunes. A suggestion of unhallowed mystery attaches itself to the name of the builder of the Temple, and Solomon is already on the way to become the Master of the Genii and the chief of magicians.

When we turn to consider the spiritual significance of this ideal picture of the history and character of Solomon, we are confronted by a difficulty that attends the exposition of any ideal history. An author’s ideal of kingship in the early stages of literature is usually as much one and indivisible as his ideal of priesthood, of the office of the prophet, and of the wicked king. His authorities may record different incidents in connection with each individual; but he emphasizes those which correspond with his ideal, or even anticipates the higher criticism by constructing incidents which seem required by the character and circumstances of his heroes. On the other hand, where the priest, or the prophet, or the king departs from the ideal, the incidents are minimized or passed over in silence. There will still be a certain variety because different individuals may present different elements of the ideal, and the chronicler does not insist on each of his good kings possessing all the characteristics of royal perfection. Still the tendency of the process is to make all the good kings alike. It would be monotonous to take each of them separately and deduce the lessons taught by their virtues, because the chronicler’s intention is that they shall all teach the same lessons by the same kind of behavior described from the same point of view. David has a unique position, and has to be taken by himself; but in considering the features that must be added to the picture of David in order to complete the picture of the good king, it is convenient to group Solomon with the reforming kings of Judah. We shall therefore defer for more consecutive treatment the chronicler’s account of their general characters and careers. Here we shall merely gather up the suggestions of the different narratives as to the chronicler’s ideal Hebrew king. The leading points have already been indicated from the chronicler’s history of David. The first and most indispensable feature is devotion to the temple at Jerusalem and the ritual of the Pentateuch. This has been abundantly illustrated from the account of Solomon. Taking the reforming kings in their order:-

Asa removed the high places which were rivals of the Temple, renewed the altar of Jehovah, gathered the people together for a great sacrifice, and made munificent donations to the Temple treasury. {2 Chronicles 15:18-19}

Similarly Jehoshaphat took away the high places, and sent out a commission to teach the Law.

Joash repaired the Temple; {2 Chronicles 24:1-14} but, curiously enough, though Jehoram had restored the high places and Joash was acting under the direction of the high-priest Jehoiada, it is not stated that the high places were done away with. This is one of the chronicler’s rather numerous oversights. Perhaps, however, he expected that so obvious a reform would be taken for granted. Amaziah was careful to observe "the law in the book of Moses" that "the children should not die for the fathers," {2 Chronicles 25:4} but Amaziah soon turned away from following Jehovah. This is perhaps the reason why in his case also nothing is said about doing away with the high places. Hezekiah had a special opportunity of showing his devotion to the Temple and the Law. The Temple had been polluted and closed by Ahaz, and its services discontinued. Hezekiah purified the Temple, reinstated the priests and Levites, and renewed the services; he made arrangements for the payment of the Temple revenues according to the provisions of the Levitical law, and took away the high places. He also held a reopening festival and a passover with numerous sacrifices. Manasseh’s repentance is indicated by the restoration of the Temple ritual. {2 Chronicles 33:16} Josiah took away the high places, repaired the Temple, made the people enter into a covenant to observe the rediscovered Law, and, like Hezekiah, held a great Passover {2 Chronicles 34:1-33; 2 Chronicles 35:1-27} The reforming kings, like David and Solomon, are specially interested in the music of the Temple and in all the arrangements that have to do with the porters and doorkeepers and other classes of Levites. Their enthusiasm for the exclusive rights of the one Temple symbolizes their loyalty to the one God, Jehovah, and their hatred of idolatry. Zeal for Jehovah and His temple is still combined with uncompromising assertion of the royal supremacy in matters of religion. The king, and not the priest, is the highest spiritual authority in the nation. Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah control the arrangements for public worship as completely as Moses or David. Solomon receives Divine communications without the intervention of either priest or prophet; he himself offers the great dedication prayer, and when he makes an end of praying, fire comes down from heaven. Under Hezekiah the civil authorities decide when the passover shall be observed: "For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month." {2 Chronicles 30:2} The great reforms of Josiah are throughout initiated and controlled by the king. He himself goes up to the Temple and reads in the ears of the people all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of Jehovah. The chronicler still adheres to the primitive idea of the theocracy, according to which the chief, or judge, or king is the representative of Jehovah. The title to the crown rests throughout on the grace of God and the will of the people. In Judah, however, the principle of hereditary succession prevails throughout. Athaliah is not really an exception: she reigned as the widow of a Davidic king. The double election of David by Jehovah and by Israel carried with it the election of his dynasty. The permanent rule of the house of David was secured by the Divine promise to its founder. Yet the title is not allowed to rest on mere hereditary right. Divine choice and popular recognition are recorded in the case of Solomon and other kings. "All Israel came to Shechem to make Rehoboam king," and yet revolted from him when he refused to accept their conditions; but the obstinacy which caused the disruption "was brought about of God, that Jehovah might establish His word which He spake by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite."

Ahaziah, Joash, Uzziah, Josiah, Jehoahaz, were all set upon the throne by the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. {2 Chronicles 22:1, 2 Chronicles 23:1-15, 2 Chronicles 26:1, 2 Chronicles 33:25, 2 Chronicles 36:1} After Solomon the Divine appointment of kings is not expressly mentioned; Jehovah’s control over the tenure of the throne is chiefly shown by the removal of unworthy occupants.

It is interesting to note that the chronicler does not hesitate to record that of the last three sovereigns of Judah two were appointed by foreign kings: Jehoiakim was the nominee of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt; and the last king of all, Zedekiah, was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. In like manner, the Herods, the last rulers of the restored kingdom of Judah, were the nominees of the Roman emperors. Such nominations forcibly illustrate the degradations and ruin of the theocratic monarchy. But yet, according to the teaching of the prophets, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar were tools in the hand of Jehovah: and their nomination was still an indirect Divine appointment. In the chronicler’s time, however, Judah was thoroughly accustomed to receive her governors from a Persian or Greek king; and Jewish readers would not be scandalized by a similar state of affairs in the closing years of the earlier kingdom.

Thus the reforming kings illustrate the ideal kingship set forth in the history of David and Solomon: the royal authority originates in, and is controlled by, the will of God and the consent of the people: the king’s highest duty is the maintenance of the worship of Jehovah; but the king and people are supreme both in Church and state.

The personal character of the good kings is also very similar to that of David and Solomon. Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah are men of spiritual feeling as well as careful observers of correct ritual. None of the good kings, with the exception of Joash and Josiah, are unsuccessful in war; and good reasons are given for the exceptions. They all display administrative ability by their buildings, the organization of the Temple services and the army, and the arrangements for the collection of the revenue, especially the dues of the priests and Levites.

There is nothing, however, to indicate that the personal charm of David’s character was inherited by his descendants; but when biography is made merely a means of edification, it often loses those touches of nature which make the whole world kin, and are capable of exciting either admiration or disgust.

The later narrative affords another illustration of the absence of any sentiment of humanity towards enemies. As in the case of David, the chronicler records the cruelty of a good king as if it were quite consistent with loyalty to Jehovah. Before he turned away from following Jehovah, Amaziah defeated the Edomites and smote ten thousand of them. Others were treated like some of the Malagasy martyrs: "And other ten thousand did the children of Judah carry away alive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces." {1 Chronicles 25:11} In this case, however, the chronicler is not simply reproducing Kings: he has taken the trouble to supplement his main authority from some other source, probably local tradition. His insertion of this verse is another testimony to the undying hatred of Israel for Edom.

But in one respect the reforming kings are sharply distinguished from David and Solomon. The record of their lives is by no means blameless, and their sins are visited by condign chastisement. They all, with the single exception of Jotham, come to a bad end. Asa consulted physicians, and was punished by being allowed to die of a painful disease. {2 Chronicles 16:12} The last event of Jehoshaphat’s life was the ruin of the navy, which he had built in unholy alliance with Ahaziah, king of Israel, who did very wickedly. {2 Chronicles 20:37} Joash murdered the prophet Zechariah, the son of the high-priest Jehoiada; his great host was routed by a small company of Syrians, and Joash himself was assassinated by his servants. {2 Chronicles 24:20-27} Amaziah turned away from following Jehovah, and "brought the gods of the children of Self, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them." He was accordingly defeated by Joash, king of Israel, and assassinated by his own people. {2 Chronicles 25:14-27} Uzziah insisted on exercising the priestly function of burning incense to Jehovah, and so died a leper. {2 Chronicles 26:16-23} "Even Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up in the business of ambassadors of the princes of Babylon; therefore there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of Jehovah came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." But yet the last days of Hezekiah were clouded by the thought that he was leaving the punishment of his sin as a legacy to Judah and the house of David. {2 Chronicles 32:25-33} Josiah refused to heed the warning sent to him by God through the king of Egypt: "He hearkened not unto the words of Neco from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo"; and so Josiah died like Ahab: he was wounded by the archers, carried out of the battle in his chariot, and died at Jerusalem. {2 Chronicles 35:20-27}

The melancholy record of the misfortunes of the good kings in their closing years is also found in the book of Kings. There too Asa in his old age was diseased in his feet, Jehoshaphat’s ships were wrecked, Joash and Amaziah were assassinated, Uzziah became a leper, Hezekiah was rebuked for his pride, and Josiah slain at Megiddo. But, except in the case of Hezekiah, the book of Kings says nothing about the sins which, according to Chronicles, occasioned these sufferings and catastrophes. The narrative in the book of Kings carries upon the face of it the lesson that piety is not usually rewarded with unbroken prosperity, and that a pious career does not necessarily ensure a happy deathbed. The significance of the chronicler’s additions will be considered elsewhere: what concerns us here is his departure from the principles he observed in dealing with the lives of David and Solomon. They also sinned and suffered; but the chronicler omits their sins and sufferings, especially in the case of Solomon. Why does he pursue an opposite course with other good kings and blacken their characters by perpetuating the memory of sins not mentioned in the book of Kings, instead of confining his record to the happier incidents of their career? Many considerations may have influenced him. The violent deaths of Joash, Amaziah, and Josiah could neither be ignored nor explained away. Hezekiah’s sin and repentance are closely parallel to David’s in the matter of the census. Although Asa’s disease, Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Israel, and Uzziah’s leprosy might easily have been omitted, yet, if some reformers must be allowed to remain imperfect, there was no imperative necessity to ignore the infirmities of the rest. The great advantage of the course pursued by the chronicler consisted in bringing out a clearly defined contrast between David and Solomon on the one hand and the reforming kings on the other. The piety of the latter is conformed to the chronicler’s ideal; but the glory and devotion of the former are enhanced by the crimes and humiliation of the best of their successors. Hezekiah, doubtless, is not more culpable than David, but David’s pride was the first of a series of events which terminated in the building of the Temple; while the uplifting of Hezekiah’s heart was a precursor of its destruction. Besides, Hezekiah ought to have profited by David’s experience.

By developing this contrast, the chronicler renders the position of David and Solomon even more unique, illustrious, and full of religious significance.

Thus as illustrations of ideal kingship the accounts of the good kings of Judah are altogether subordinate to the history of David and Solomon. While these kings of Judah remained loyal to Jehovah, they further illustrated the virtues of their great predecessors by showing how these virtues might have been exercised Under different circumstances: how David would have dealt with an Ethiopian invasion and what Solomon would have done if he had found the Temple desecrated and its services stopped. But no essential feature is added to the earlier pictures.

The lapses of kings who began to walk in the law of the Lord and then fell away serve as foils to the undimmed glory of David and Solomon. Abrupt transitions within the limits of the individual lives of Asa, Joash, and Amaziah bring out the contrast between piety and apostasy with startling, dramatic effect.

We return from this brief survey to consider the significance of the life of Solomon according to Chronicles. Its relation to the life of David is summed up in the name Solomon, the Prince of peace. David is the ideal king, winning by force of arms for Israel empire and victory, security at home and tribute from abroad. Utterly subdued by his prowess, the natural enemies of Israel no longer venture to disturb her tranquility. His successor inherits wide dominion, immense wealth, and assured peace. Solomon, the Prince of peace, is the ideal king, administering a great inheritance for the glory of Jehovah and His temple. His history in Chronicles is one of unbroken calm. He has a great army and many strong fortresses, but he never has occasion to use them. He implores Jehovah to be merciful to Israel when they suffer from the horrors of war; but he is interceding, not for his own subjects, but for future generations. In his time-

"No war or battle’s sound

Was heard the world around:

The idle spear and shield were high uphung;

The hooked chariot stood

Unstained with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng."

Perhaps, to use a paradox, the greatest proof of Solomon’s wisdom was that he asked for wisdom. He realized at the outset of his career that a wide dominion is more easily won than governed, that to use great wealth honorably requires more skill and character than are needed to amass it. Today the world can boast half a dozen empires surpassing not merely Israel, but even Rome, in extent of dominion; the aggregate wealth of the world is far beyond the wildest dreams of the chronicler: but still the people perish for lack of knowledge. The physical and moral foulness of modern cities taints all the culture and tarnishes all the splendor of our civilization; classes and trades, employers and employed, maim and crush one another in blind struggles to work out a selfish salvation; newly devised organizations move their unwieldy masses-

"like dragons of the prime That tare each other."

They have a giant’s strength, and use it like a giant. Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers; and the world waits for the reign of the Prince of peace who is not only the wise king, but the incarnate wisdom of God.

Thus one striking suggestion of the chronicler’s history of Solomon is the special need of wisdom and Divine guidance for the administration of a great and prosperous empire.

Too much stress, however, must not be laid on the twofold personality of the ideal king. This feature is adopted from the history, and does not express any opinion of the chronicler that the characteristic gifts of David and Solomon could not be combined in a single individual. Many great generals have also been successful administrators. Before Julius Caesar was assassinated he had already shown his capacity to restore order and tranquility to the Roman world; Alexander’s plans for the civil government of his conquests were as far-reaching as his warlike ambition; Diocletian reorganized the empire which his sword had re-established; Cromwell’s schemes of reform showed an almost prophetic insight into the future needs of the English people; the glory of Napoleon’s victories is a doubtful legacy to France compared with the solid benefits of his internal reforms.

But even these instances, which illustrate the union of military genius and administrative ability, remind us that the assignment of success in war to one king and a reign of peace to the next is, after all, typical. The limits of human life narrow its possibilities. Caesar’s work had to be completed by Augustus; the great schemes of Alexander and Cromwell fell to the ground because no one arose to play Solomon to their David.

The chronicler has specially emphasized the indebtedness of Solomon to David. According to his narrative, the great achievement of Solomon’s reign, the building of the Temple, has been rendered possible by David’s preparations. Quite apart from plans and materials, the chronicler’s view of the credit due to David in this matter is only reasonable recognition of service rendered to the religion of Israel. Whoever provided the timber and stone, the silver and gold, for the Temple, David won for Jehovah the land and the city that were the outer courts of the sanctuary, and roused the national spirit that gave to Zion its most solemn consecration. Solomon’s temple was alike the symbol of David’s achievements and the coping-stone of his work.

By compelling our attention to the dependence of the Prince of Peace upon the man who "had shed much blood," the chronicler admonishes us against forgetting the price that has been paid for liberty and culture. The splendid courtiers whose "apparel" specially pleased the feminine tastes of the queen of Sheba might feel all the contempt of the superior person for David’s war-worn veterans. The latter probably were more at home in the "store cities" than at Jerusalem. But without the blood and toil of these rough soldiers Solomon would have had no opportunity to exchange riddles with his fair visitor and to dazzle her admiring eyes with the glories of his temple and palaces.

The blessings of peace are not likely to be preserved unless men still appreciate and cherish the stern virtues that flourish in troubled times. If our own times become troubled, and their serenity be invaded by fierce conflict, it will be ours to remember that the rugged life of "the hold in the wilderness" and the struggles with the Philistines may enable a later generation to build its temple to the Lord and to learn the answers to "hard questions." {2 Chronicles 9:1} Moses and Joshua, David and Solomon, remind us again how the Divine work is handed on from generation to generation: Moses leads Israel through the wilderness, but Joshua brings them into the Land of Promise: David collects the materials, but Solomon builds the Temple. The settlement in Palestine and the building of the Temple were only episodes in the working out of the "one increasing purpose," but one leader and one lifetime did not suffice for either episode. We grow impatient of the scale upon which God works: we want it reduced to the limits of our human faculties and of our earthly lives; yet all history preaches patience. In our demand for Divine interventions whereby-

"sudden in a minute All is accomplished, and the work is done,"

we are very Esaus, eager to sell the birthright of the future for a mess of pottage today.

And the continuity of the Divine purpose is only realized through the continuity of human effort. We must indeed serve our own generation; but part of that service consists in providing that the next generation shall be trained to carry on the work, and that after David shall come Solomon-the Solomon of Chronicles, and not the Solomon of Kings-and that, if possible, Solomon shall not be succeeded by Rehoboam. As we attain this larger outlook, we shall be less tempted to employ doubtful means, which are supposed to be justified by their end; we shall be less enthusiastic for processes that bring "quick returns," but give very "small profits" in the long run. Christian workers are a little too fond of spiritual jerry-building, as if sites in the kingdom of Heaven were let out on ninety-nine-year leases; but God builds for eternity, and we are fellow-workers together with Him.

To complete the chronicler’s picture of the ideal king, we have to add David’s warlike prowess and Solomon’s wisdom and splendor to the piety and graces common to both. The result is unique among the many pictures that have been drawn by historians, philosophers, and poets. It has a value of its own, because the chronicler’s gifts in the way of history, philosophy, and poetry were entirely subordinated to his interest in theology; and most theologians have only been interested in the doctrine of the king when they could use it to gratify the vanity of a royal patron.

The full-length portrait in Chronicles contrasts curiously with the little vignette preserved in the book which bears the name of Solomon. There, in the oracle which King Lemuel’s mother taught him, the king is simply admonished to avoid strange women and strong drink, to "judge righteously, and minister judgment to the poor and needy." {Proverbs 31:1-9}

To pass to more modern theology, the theory of the king that is implied in Chronicles has much in common with Wyclif’s doctrine of dominion: they both recognize the sanctity of the royal power and its temporal supremacy, and they both hold that obedience to God is the condition of the continued exercise of legitimate rule. But the priest of Lutterworth was less ecclesiastical and more democratic than our Levite.

A more orthodox authority on the Protestant doctrine of the king would be the Thirty-nine Articles. These, however, deal with the subject somewhat slightly. As far as they go, they are in harmony with the chronicler. They assert the unqualified supremacy of the king, both ecclesiastical and civil. Even "general councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes." On the other hand, princes are not to imitate Uzziah in presuming to exercise the priestly function of offering incense: they are not to minister God’s word or sacraments.

Outside theology the ideal of the king has been stated with greater fullness and freedom, but not many of the pictures drawn have much in common with the chronicler’s David and Solomon. Machiavelli’s Prince and Bolingbroke’s Patriot King belong to a different world; moreover, their method is philosophical, and not historical: they state a theory rather than draw a picture. Tennyson’s Arthur is what he himself calls him, an "ideal knight" rather than an ideal king. Perhaps the best parallels to David are to be found in the Cyrus of the Greek historians and philosophers and the Alfred of English story. Alfred indeed combines many of the features both of David and Solomon: he secured English unity, and was the founder of English culture and literature; he had a keen interest in ecclesiastical affairs; great gifts of administration, and much personal attractiveness. Cyrus, again, specially illustrates what we may call the posthumous fortunes of David: his name stood for the ideal of kingship with both Greeks and Persians, and in the "Cyropaedia" his life and character are made the basis of a picture of the ideal king.

Many points are of course common to almost all such pictures; they portray the king as a capable and benevolent ruler and a man of high personal character. The distinctive characteristic of Chronicles is the stress laid on the piety of the king, his care for the honor of God and the spiritual welfare of his subjects. If the practical influence of this teaching has not been altogether beneficent, it is because men have too invariably connected spiritual profit with organization, and ceremonies, and forms of words, sound or otherwise.

But today the doctrine of the state takes the place of the doctrine of the king. Instead of Cyropaedias we have Utopias. We are asked sometimes to look back, not to an ideal king, but to an ideal commonwealth, to the age of the Antonines or to some happy century of English history when we are told that the human race or the English people were "most happy and prosperous"; oftener we are invited to contemplate an imaginary future. We may add to those already made one or two further applications of the chronicler’s principles to the modern state. His method suggests that the perfect society will have the virtues of our actual life without its vices, and that the possibilities of the future are best divined from a careful study of the past. The devotion of his kings to the Temple symbolizes the truth that the ideal state is impossible without recognition of a Divine presence and obedience to a Divine will.


THE Israelite priesthood must be held to include the Levites. Their functions and status differed from those of the house of Aaron in degree, and not in kind. They formed a hereditary caste set apart for the services of the sanctuary, and as such they shared the revenues of the Temple with the sons of Aaron. The priestly character of the Levites is more than once implied in Chronicles. After the disruption, we are told that "the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to Rehoboam," because "Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, that they should not exercise the priest’s office unto Jehovah." On an emergency, as at Hezekiah’s great feast at the reopening of the Temple, the Levites might even discharge priestly functions. Moreover, the chronicler seems to recognize the priestly character of the whole tribe of Levi by retaining in a similar connection the old phrase "the priests the Levites."

The relation of the Levites to the priests, the sons of Aaron, was not that of laymen to clergy, but of an inferior clerical order to their superiors. When Charlotte Bronte has occasion to devote a chapter to curates, she heads it "Levitical." The Levites, again, like deacons in the Church of England, were forbidden to perform the most sacred ritual of Divine service. Technically their relation to the sons of Aaron might be compared to that of deacons to priests or of priests to bishops. From the point of view of numbers, revenues, and social standing, the sons of Aaron might be compared to the dignitaries of the Church: archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, deans, and incumbents of livings with large incomes and little work; while the Levites would correspond to the more moderately paid and fully occupied clergy. Thus the nature of the distinction between the priests and the Levites shows that they were essentially only two grades of the same order; and this corresponds roughly to what has been generally denoted by the term "priesthood." Priesthood, however, had a more limited meaning in Israel than in later times. In some branches of the Christian Church, the priests exercise or claim to exercise functions which in Israel belonged to the prophets or the king.

Before considering the central and essential idea of the priest as a minister of public worship, we will notice some of his minor duties. We have seen that the sanctity of civil government is emphasized by the religious supremacy of the king; the same truth is also illustrated by the fact that the priests and Levites were sometimes the king’s officers for civil affairs. Under David, certain Levites of Hebron are spoken of as having the oversight of all Israel, both east and west of Jordan, not only "for all the business of Jehovah," but also "for the service of the king." {1 Chronicles 26:30-32} The business of the law-courts was recognized by Jehoshaphat as the judgment of Jehovah, and accordingly amongst the judges there were priests and Levites. {2 Chronicles 19:4-11} Similarly the mediaeval governments often found their most efficient and trustworthy administrators in the bishops and clergy, and were glad to reinforce their secular authority by the sanction of the Church; and even today bishops sit in Parliament, incumbents preside over vestries, and sometimes act as county magistrates. But the interest of religion in civil government is most manifest in the moral influence exercised unofficially by earnest and public-spirited ministers of all denominations.

The chronicler refers more than once to the educational work of the priests, and especially of the Levites. The English version probably gives his real meaning when it attributes to him the phrase "teaching priest." Jehoshaphat’s educational commission was largely composed of priests and Levites, and Levites are spoken of as scribes. Jewish education was largely religious, and naturally fell into the hands of the priesthood, just as the learning of Egypt and Babylon was chiefly in the hands of priests and magi. The Christian ministry maintained the ancient traditions: the monasteries were the homes of mediaeval learning, and till recently England and Scotland mainly owed their schools to the Churches, and almost all schoolmasters of any position were in holy orders-priests and Levites. Under our new educational system the free choice of the people places many ministers of religion on the school boards.

The next characteristic of the priesthood is not so much in accordance with Christian theory and practice. The house of Aaron and the tribe Levi were a Church militant in a very literal sense. In the beginning of their history the tribe of Levi earned the blessing of Jehovah by the pious zeal with which they flew to arms in His cause and executed His judgment upon their guilty fellow-countrymen. {Exodus 32:26-35} Later on, when "Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor, and the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel," {Numbers 25:3} then stood up Phinehas, "the ancestor of the house of Zadok," and executed judgment.

"And so the plague was stayed, And that was counted unto him for righteousness Unto all generations forevermore." {Psalms 106:30-31}

But the militant character of the priesthood was not confined to its early history. Amongst those who "came armed for war to David to Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of Jehovah," were four thousand six hundred of the children of Levi and three thousand seven hundred of the house of Aaron, "and Zadok, a young man mighty of valor, and twenty-two captains of his father’s house." {1 Chronicles 12:23-28} "The third captain of David’s army for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the priest."

David’s Hebronite overseers were all "mighty men of valor." When Judah went out to war, the trumpets of the priests gave the signal for battle; {2 Chronicles 13:12} when the high-priest Jehoiada recovered the kingdom of Joash, the Levites compassed the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, "every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held his weapon," {Nehemiah 4:17} and amongst the rest the priests. Later on, when Jehovah delivered Israel from the hand of Antiochus Epiphanes, the priestly family of the Maccabees, in the spirit of their ancestor Phinehas, fought and died for the Law and the Temple. There were priestly soldiers as well as priestly generals, for we read how "at that time certain priests, desirous to show their valor, were slain in battle, for that they went out to fight inadvisedly." In the Jewish war the priest Josephus was Jewish commander in Galilee.

Christianity has aroused a new sentiment with regard to war. We believe that the servant of the Lord must not strive in earthly battles. Arms may be lawful for the Christian citizen, but it is felt to be unseemly that the ministers who are the ambassadors of the Prince of Peace should themselves be men of blood. Even in the Middle Ages fighting prelates like Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, were felt to be exceptional anomalies; and the prince-bishops and electoral archbishops were often ecclesiastics only in name. Today the Catholic Church in France resents the conscription of its seminarists as an act of vindictive persecution.

And yet the growth of Christian sentiment in favor of peace has not prevented the occasional combination of the soldier and the ecclesiastic. If Islam has had its armies of dervishes, Cyril’s monks fought for orthodoxy at Alexandria and at Constantinople with all the ferocity of wild beasts. The Crusaders, the Templars, the Knights of St. John, were in varying degrees partly priests and partly soldiers. Cromwell’s Ironsides, when they were wielding carnal weapons in their own defense or in any other good cause, were as expert as any Levites at exhortations and psalms and prayers; and in our own day certain generals and admirals are fond of playing the amateur ecclesiastic. In this, as in so much else, while we deny the form of Judaism, we retain its spirit. Havelock and Gordon were no unworthy successors of the Maccabees.

The characteristic function, however, of the Jewish priesthood was their ministry in public worship, in which they represented the people before Jehovah. In this connection public worship does not necessarily imply that the public were present, or that the worship in question was the united act of a great assembly. Such worshipping assemblies were not uncommon, especially at the feasts; but ordinary public worship was worship on behalf of the people, not by the people. The priests and Levites were part of an elaborate system of symbolic ritual. Worshippers might gather in the Temple courts, hut the Temple itself was not a place in which public meetings for worship were held, and the people were not admitted into it. The Temple was Jehovah’s house, and His presence there was symbolized by the Ark. In this system of ritual the priests and Levites represented Israel; their sacrifices and ministrations were the acceptable offerings of the nation to God. If the sacrifices were duly offered by the priests "according to all that was written in the law of Jehovah, and if the priests with trumpets and the Levites with psalteries, and harps, and cymbals duly ministered before the ark of Jehovah to celebrate, and thank, and praise Jehovah, the God of Israel," then the Divine service of Israel was fully performed. The whole people could not be regularly present at a single sanctuary, nor would they be adequately represented by the inhabitants of Jerusalem and casual visitors from the rest of the country. Three times a year the nation was fully and naturally represented by those who came up to the feasts, but usually the priests and Levites stood in their place.

When an assembly gathered for public worship at a feast or any other time, the priests and Levites expressed the devotion of the people. They performed the sacrificial rites, they blew the trumpets and played upon the psalteries, and harps, and cymbals, and sang the praises of Jehovah. The people were dismissed by the priestly blessing. When an individual offered a sacrifice as an act of private worship, the assistance of the priests and Levites was still necessary. At the same time the king as well as the priesthood might lead the people in praise and prayer, and the Temple psalmody was not confined to the Levitical choir. When the Ark was brought away from Kirjath-jearim, "David and all Israel played before God with all their might, even with songs, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets"; and when at last the Ark had been safely housed in Jerusalem, and the due sacrifices had all been offered, David dismissed the people in priestly fashion by blessing them in the name of Jehovah. {1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 16:2} At the two solemn assemblies Which celebrated the beginning and the close of the great enterprise of building the Temple, public prayer was offered, not by the priests, but by David {1 Chronicles 29:10-19} and Solomon; {2 Chronicles 6:1-42} Similarly Jehoshaphat led the prayers of the Jews when they gathered to seek deliverance from the invading Moabites and Ammonites. Hezekiah at his great passover both exhorted the people and interceded for them, and Jehovah accepted his intercession; but on this occasion, when the festival was over, it was not the king, but "the priests the Levites," {2 Chronicles 20:4-13; 2 Chronicles 30:6-9; 2 Chronicles 30:18-21; 2 Chronicles 30:27} who "arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy habitation, even unto heaven." In the descriptions of Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s festivals, the orchestra and choir, of course, are busy with the music and singing; otherwise the main duty of the priests and Levites is to sacrifice. In his graphic account of Josiah’s passover, the chronicler no doubt reproduces on a larger scale the busy scenes in which he himself had often taken part. The king, the princes, and the chiefs of the Levites had provided between them thirty-seven thousand six hundred lambs and kids and three thousand eight hundred oxen for sacrifices; and the resources of the establishment of the Temple were taxed to the utmost. "So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites by the courses, according to the king’s commandment. And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of their hand, and the Levites flayed the sacrifices. And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give them according to the divisions of the fathers’ houses of the children of the people to offer unto Jehovah, as it is written in the law of Moses; and so they did’ with the oxen. And they roasted the passover according to the ordinance; and they boiled the holy offerings in pots, and caldrons, and pans, and carried them quickly to all the children of the people. And afterward they prepared for themselves and for the priests, because the priests the sons of Aaron were busied in offering the burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves and for the priests the sons of Aaron. And the singers were in their place, and the porters were at their several gates; they needed not to depart from their service, for their brethren the Levites prepared for them. So all the service of Jehovah was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of Jehovah." {2 Chronicles 35:1-27} Thus even in the accounts of great public gatherings for worship the main duty of the priests and Levites is to perform the sacrifices. The music and singing naturally fall into their hands, because the necessary training is only possible to a professional choir. Otherwise the now symbolic portions of the service, prayer, exhortation, and blessing, were not exclusively reserved to ecclesiastics.

The priesthood, like the Ark, the Temple, and the ritual, belonged essentially to the system of religious symbolism. This was their peculiar domain, into which no outsider might intrude. Only the Levites could touch the Ark. When the unhappy Uzzah "put forth his hand to the Ark," "the anger of Jehovah was kindled against him; and he smote Uzzah so that he died there before God." {1 Chronicles 13:10} The king might offer up public prayer; but when Uzziah ventured to go into the Temple to barn incense upon the altar of incense, leprosy broke forth in his forehead, and the priests thrust him out quickly from the Temple. {2 Chronicles 26:16-23}

Thus the symbolic and representative character of the priesthood and ritual gave the sacrifices and other ceremonies a value in themselves, apart alike from the presence of worshippers and the feelings or "intention" of the officiating minister. They were the provision made by Israel for the expression of its prayer, its penitence and thanksgiving. When sin had estranged Jehovah from His people, the sons of Aaron made atonement for Israel; they performed the Divinely appointed ritual by which the nation made submission to its offended King and cast itself upon His mercy. The Jewish sacrifices had features which have survived in the sacrifice of the Mass, and the multiplication of sacrifices arose from motives similar to those that lead to the offering up of many masses.

One would expect, as has happened in the Christian Church, that the ministrants of the symbolic ritual would annExodus the other acts of public worship, not only praise, but also prayer and exhortation. Considerations of convenience would suggest such an amalgamation of functions; and among the priests, while the more ambitious would see in preaching a means of extending their authority, the more earnest would be anxious to use their unique position to promote the spiritual life of the people.

Chronicles, however, affords few traces of any such tendency; and the great scene in the book of Nehemiah in which Ezra and the Levites expound the Law had no connection with the Temple and its ritual. The development of the Temple service was checked by its exclusive privileges; it was simply impossible that the single sanctuary should continue to provide for all the religious wants of the Jews, and thus supplementary and inferior places of worship grew up to appropriate the non-ritual elements of service. Probably even in the chronicler’s time the division of religious services between the Temple and the synagogue had already begun, with the result that the representative and symbolic character of the priesthood is almost exclusively emphasized.

The representative character of the priesthood has another aspect. Strictly the priest represented the nation before Jehovah; but in doing so it was inevitable that he should also in some measure represent Jehovah to the nation. He could not be the channel of worship offered to God without being also the channel of Divine grace to man. From the priest the worshipper learnt the will of God as to correct ritual, and received the assurance that the atoning sacrifice was duly accepted. The high-priest entered within the veil to make atonement for Israel; he came forth as the bearer of Divine forgiveness and renewed grace, and as he blessed the people he spoke in the flame of Jehovah. We have been able to discern the presence of these ideas in Chronicles, but they are not very conspicuous. The chronicler was not a layman; he was too familiar with priests to feel any profound reverence for them. On the other hand he was not himself a priest, but was specially preoccupied with the musicians, the Levites, and the doorkeepers; so that probably he does not give us an adequate idea of the relative dignity of the priests and the honor in which they were held by the people. Organists and choirmasters, it is said, seldom take an exalted view of their minister’s office.

The chronicler deals more fully with a matter in which priests and Levites were alike interested: the revenues of the Temple. He was doubtless aware of the bountiful provision made by the Law for his order, and loved to hold up this liberality of kings, princes, and people in ancient days for his contemporaries to admire and imitate. He records again and again the tens of thousands of sheep and oxen provided for sacrifice, not altogether unmindful of the rich dues that must have accrued to the priests out of all this abundance; he tells us how Hezekiah first set the good example of appointing "a portion of his substance for the burnt offerings," and then "commanded the people that dwelt at Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites that they might give themselves to the law of the Lord. And as soon as the commandment came abroad the children of Israel gave in abundance the first-fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly." {2 Chronicles 31:3-5} These were the days of old, the ancient years when the offering of Judah and Jerusalem was pleasant to Jehovah; when the people neither dared nor desired to offer on God’s altar a scanty tale of blind, lame, and sick victims; when the tithes were not kept back, and there was meat in the house of God; {Malachi 1:8; Malachi 3:4; Malachi 1:10} when, as Hezekiah’s high-priest testified, they could eat and have enough and yet leave plenty. {2 Chronicles 31:10} The manner in which the chronicler tells the tale of ancient abundance suggests that his days were like the days of Malachi. He was no pampered ecclesiastic, reveling in present wealth and luxury, but a man who suffered hard times, and looked back wistfully to the happier experiences of his predecessors.

Let us now restore the complete picture of the chronicler’s priest from his scattered references to the subject. The priest represents the nation before Jehovah, and in a less degree represents Jehovah to the nation; he leads their public worship, especially at the great festal gatherings; he teaches the people the Law. The high character, culture, and ability of the priests and Levites occasion their employment as judges and in other responsible civil offices. If occasion required, they could show themselves mighty men of valor in their country’s wars. Under pious kings, they enjoyed ample revenues which gave them independence, added to their importance in the eyes of the people, and left them at leisure to devote themselves exclusively to their sacred duties.

In considering the significance of this picture, we can pass over without special notice the exercise by priests and Levites of the functions of leadership in public worship, teaching, and civil government. They are not essential to the priesthood, but are entirely consistent with the tenure of the priestly office, and naturally become associated with it. Warlike prowess was certainly no part of the priesthood; but, whatever may be true of Christian ministers, it is difficult to charge the priests of the Lord of hosts with inconsistency because, like Jehovah Himself, they were men of war {Exodus 15:3} and went forth to battle in the armies of Israel. When a nation was continually fighting for its very existence, it was impossible for one tribe out of the twelve to be non-combatant.

With regard to the representative character of the priests, it would be out of place here to enter upon the burning questions of sacerdotalism; but we may briefly point out the permanent truth underlying the ancient idea of the priesthood. The ideal spiritual life in every Church is one of direct fellowship between God and the believer.

"Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and spirit with spirit can meet;

Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet."

And yet a man may be truly religious and not realize this ideal, or only realize it very imperfectly. The gift of an intense and real spiritual life may belong to the humblest and poorest, to men of little intellect and less learning; but, none the less, it is not within the immediate reach of every believer, or indeed of any believer at every time. The descendants of Mr. Littlefaith and Mr. Ready-to-halt are amongst us still, and there is no immediate prospect of their race becoming extinct. Times come when we are all glad to put ourselves under the safe conduct of Mr. Great-heart. There are many whose prayers seem to themselves too feebly winged to rise to the throne of grace; they are encouraged and helped when their petitions are borne upwards on the strong pinions of another’s faith. George Eliot has pictured the Florentines as awed spectators of Savonarola’s audiences with Heaven. To a congregation sometimes the minister’s prayers are a sacred and solemn spectacle; his spiritual feeling is beyond them; he intercedes for blessings they neither desire nor understand; they miss the heavenly vision which stirs his soul. He is not their spokesman, but their priest; he has entered the holy place, bearing with him the sins that crave forgiveness, the fears that beg for deliverance, the hopes that yearn to be fulfilled. Though the people may remain in the outer court, yet they are fully assured that he has passed into the very presence of God. They listen to him as to one who has had actual speech with the King and received the assurance of His goodwill towards them. When the vanguard of the Ten Thousand first sighted the Euxine, the cry of "Thalassa! Thalassa!" ("The sea! the sea!") rolled backward along the line of march; the rearguard saw the long-hoped-for sight with the eyes of the pioneers. Much unnecessary self-reproach would be avoided if we accepted this as one of God’s methods of spiritual education, and understood that we all have in a measure to experience this discipline in humanity. The priesthood of the believer is not merely his right to enter for himself into the immediate presence of God: it becomes his duty and privilege to represent others. But times will also come when he himself will need the support of a priestly intercession in the Divine presence-chamber, when he will seek out some one of quick sympathy and strong faith and say, "Brother, pray for me." Apart from any ecclesiastical theory of the priesthood, we all recognize that there are God-ordained priests, men and women, who can inspire dull souls with a sense of the Divine presence and bring to the sinful and the struggling the assurance of Divine forgiveness and help. If one in ten among the official priests of the historic Churches had possessed these supreme gifts, the world would have accepted the most extravagant sacerdotalism without a murmur. As it is, every minister, every one who leads the worship of a congregation, assumes for the time being functions and should possess the corresponding qualifications. In his prayers he speaks for the people; he represents them before God; on their behalf he enters into the Divine presence; they only enter with him, if, as their spokesman and representative, he has grasped their feelings and raised them to the level of Divine fellowship. He may be an untutored laborer in his working garments; but ii he can do this, this spiritual gift makes him a priest of God. But this Christian priesthood is not confined to public service; as the priest offered sacrifice for the individual Jew, so the man of spiritual sympathies helps the individual to draw near his Maker. "To pray with people" is a well-known ministry of Christian service, and it involves this priestly function of presenting another’s prayers to God. This priesthood for individuals is exercised by many a Christian who has no gifts of public utterance.

The ancient priest held a representative position in a symbolic ritual, a position partly independent of his character and spiritual powers. Where symbolic ritual is best suited for popular needs, there may be room for a similar priesthood today. Otherwise the Christian priesthood is required to represent the people not in symbol, but in reality, to carry not the blood of dead victims into a material Holy of holies, but living souls into the heavenly temple.

There remains one feature of the Jewish priestly system upon which the chronicler lays great stress: the endowments and priestly dues. In the case of the high-priest and the Levites, whose whole time was devoted to sacred duties, it was obviously necessary that those who served the altar should live by the altar. The same principle would apply, but with much less force, to the twenty-four courses of priests, each of which in its turn officiated at the Temple. But, apart from the needs of the priesthood, their representative character demanded that they should be able to maintain a certain state. They were the ambassadors of Israel to Jehovah. Nations have always been anxious that the equipment and suite of their representative at a foreign court should be worthy of their power and wealth; moreover, the splendor of an embassy should be in proportion to the rank of the sovereign to whom it is accredited. In former times, when the social symbols were held of more account, a first-rate power would have felt itself insulted if asked to receive an envoy of inferior rank, attended by only a meager train. Israel, by her lavish endowment of the priesthood, consulted her own dignity and expressed her sense of the homage due to Jehovah. The Jews could not express their devotion in the same way as other nations. They had to be content with a single sanctuary, and might not build a multitude of magnificent temples or adorn their cities with splendid, costly statues in honor of God. There were limits to their expenditure upon the sacrifices and buildings of the Temple; but the priesthood offered a large opportunity for pious generosity. The chronicler felt that loyal enthusiasm to Jehovah would always use this opportunity, and that the priests might consent to accept the distinction of wealth and splendor for the honor alike of Israel and Jehovah. Their dignity was not personal to themselves, but rather the livery of a self-effacing servitude. For the honor of the Church, Thomas a Becket kept up a great establishment, appeared in his robes of office, and entertained a crowd of guests with luxurious fare; while he himself wore a hair shirt next his skin and fasted like an ascetic monk: When the Jews stinted the ritual or the ministrants of Jehovah, they were doing what they could to put Him to open shame before the nations. Julian’s experience in the grove of Daphne at Antioch was a striking illustration of the collapse of paganism: the imperial champion of the ancient gods must have felt his heart sink within him when he was welcomed to that once splendid sanctuary by one shabby priest dragging a solitary and reluctant goose to the deserted altar. Similarly Malachi saw that Israel’s devotion to Jehovah was in danger of dying out when men chose the refuse of their flocks and herds and offered them grudgingly at the shrine.

The application of these principles leads directly to the question of a paid ministry; but the connection is not so close as it appears at first sight, nor are we yet in possession of all the data which the chronicler furnishes for its discussion. Priestly duties form an essential, but not predominant, part of the work of most Christian ministers. Still the loyal believer must always be anxious that the buildings, the services, and the men which, for himself and for the world, represent his devotion to Christ, should be worthy of their high calling. But his ideas of the symbolism suitable for spiritual realities are not altogether those of the chronicler: he is less concerned with number, size, and weight, with tens of thousands of sheep and oxen, vast quantities of stone and timber, brass and iron, and innumerable talents of gold and silver. Moreover, in this special connection the secondary priestly function of representing God to man has been expressly transferred by Christ to the least of His brethren. Those who wish to honor God with their substance in the person of His earthly representatives are enjoined to seek for them in hospitals, and workhouses, and prisons, to find these representatives in the hungry, the thirsty, the friendless, the naked, the captives. No doubt Christ is dishonored when those who dwell in "houses of cedar" are content to worship Him in a mean, dirty church, with a half-starved minister; but the most disgraceful proof of the Church’s disloyalty to Christ is to be seen in the squalor and misery of men, and women, and children whose bodies were ordained of God to be the temples of His Holy Spirit.

This is only one among many illustrations of the truth that in Christ the symbolism of religion took a new departure. His Church enjoys the spiritual realities prefigured by the Jewish temple and its ministry. Even where Christian symbols are parallel to those of Judaism, they are less conventional and richer in their direct spiritual suggestiveness.


IN dealing with the various subjects of this book, we have reserved for separate treatment their relation to the Messianic hopes of the Jews and to the realization of these hopes in Christ. The Messianic teaching of Chronicles is only complete when we collect and combine the noblest traits in its pictures of David and Solomon, of prophets, priests, and kings. We cannot ascribe to Chronicles any great influence on the subsequent development of the Jewish idea of the Messiah. In the first place the chronicler does not point out the bearing which his treatment of history has upon the expectation of a future deliverer. He has no formal intention of describing the character and office of the Messiah; he merely wishes to write a history so as to emphasize the facts which most forcibly illustrated the sacred mission of Israel. And, in the second place, Chronicles never exercised any great influence over Jewish thought, and never attained to anything like the popularity of the books of Samuel and Kings. Many circumstances conspired to prevent the Temple ministry from obtaining an undivided authority over later Judaism. The growth of their power was broken in upon by the persecution of Antiochus and the wars of the Maccabees. The ministry of the Temple under the Maccabaean high-priests must have been very different from that to which the chronicler belonged. Even if the priests and Levites still exercised any influence upon theology, they were overshadowed by the growing importance of the rabbinical schools of Babylon and Palestine. Moreover, the rise of Hellenistic Judaism and the translation of the Scriptures into Greek introduced another new and potent factor into the development of the Jewish religion. Of all the varied forces that were at work few or none tended to assign any special authority to Chronicles, nor has it left any very marked traces on later literature. Josephus indeed uses it for his history, but the New Testament is under very slight obligation to our author.

But Chronicles reveals to us the position and tendencies of Jewish thought in the interval between Ezra and the Maccabees. The Messiah was expected to renew the ancient glories of the chosen people, "to restore the kingdom to Israel"; we learn from Chronicles what sort of a kingdom He was to restore. We see the features of the ancient monarchy that were dear to the memories of the Jews, the characters of the prophets, priests, and kings whom they delighted to honor As their ideas of the past shaped and colored their hopes for the future, their conception of what was noblest and best in the history of the monarchy was at the same time the measure of what they expected in the Messiah. However little influence Chronicles may have exerted as a piece of literature, the tendencies of which it is a monument continued to leaven the thought of Israel, and are everywhere manifest in the New Testament.

We have to bear in mind that Messiah, "Anointed," was the familiar title of the Israelite kings; its use for the priests was late and secondary. The use of a royal title to denote the future Savior of the nation shows us that He was primarily conceived of as an ideal king; and apart from any formal enunciation of this conception, the title itself would exercise a controlling influence upon the development of the Messianic idea. Accordingly in the New Testament we find that the Jews were looking for a king; and Jesus calls His new society the Kingdom of Heaven.

But for the chronicler the Messiah, the Anointed of Jehovah, is no mere secular prince. We have seen how the chronicler tends to include religions duties and prerogatives among the functions of the king. David and Solomon and their pious successors are supreme alike in Church and state as the earthly representatives of Jehovah. The actual titles of priest and prophet are not bestowed upon the kings, but they are virtually priests in their care for and control over the buildings and ritual of the Temple, and they are prophets when, like David and Solomon, they hold direct fellowship with Jehovah and announce His will to the people. Moreover, David, as "the Psalmist of Israel," had become the inspired interpreter of the religious experience of the Jews. The ancient idea of the king as the victorious conqueror was gradually giving place to a more spiritual conception of his office; the Messiah was becoming more and more a definitely religious personage. Thus Chronicles prepared the way for the acceptance of Christ as a spiritual Deliverer, who was not only King, but also Priest and Prophet. In fact, we may claim the chronicler’s own implied authority for including in the picture of the coming King the characteristics he ascribes to the priest and the prophet. Thus the Messiah of Chronicles is distinctly more spiritual and less secular than the Messiah of popular Jewish enthusiasm in our Lord’s own time. Whereas in the chronicler’s time the tendency was to spiritualize the idea of the king, the tenure of the office of high-priest by the Maccabaean princes tended rather to secularize the priesthood and to restore older and cruder conceptions of the Messianic King.

Let us see how the chronicler’s history of the house of David illustrates the person and work of the Son of David, who came to restore the ancient monarchy in the spiritual kingdom of which it was the symbol. The Gospels introduce our Lord very much as the chronicler introduces David: they give us His genealogy, and pass almost immediately, to His public ministry. Of his training and preparation for that ministry, of the chain of earthly circumstances that determined the time and method of His entry upon the career of a public Teacher, they tell us next to nothing. We are only allowed one brief glimpse of the life of the holy Child; our attention is mainly directed to the royal Savior when He has entered upon His kingdom; and His Divine nature finds expression in mature manhood, when none of the limitations of childhood detract from the fullness of His redeeming service and sacrifice.

The authority of Christ rests on the same basis as that of the ancient kings: it is at once human and Divine. In Christ indeed this twofold authority is in one sense peculiar to Himself; but in the practical application of His authority to the hearts and consciences of men He treads in the footsteps of His ancestors. His kingdom rests on His own Divine commission and on the consent of His subjects. God has given Him the right to rule, but He will not reign, in any heart till He receives its free submission. And still, as of old, Christ, thus chosen and well beloved of God and man, is King over the whole life of His people, and claims to rule over them in their homes, their business, their recreation, their social and political life, as well as in their public and private worship. If David and his pious successors were devoted to Jehovah and His temple, if they protected their people from foreign foes and wisely administered the affairs of Israel, Christ sets us the example of perfect obedience to the Father; He gives us deliverance and victory in our warfare against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places; He administers in peace and holiness the inner kingdom of the believing heart. All that was foreshadowed both by David and Solomon is realized in Christ. The warlike David is a symbol of the holy warfare of Christ and the Church militant, of Him who came not to send peace on earth, but a sword; Solomon is the symbol of Christ, the Prince of peace in the Church triumphant. The tranquility and splendor of the reign of the first son of David are types of the serene glory of Christ’s kingdom as it is partly realized in the hearts of His children and as it will be fully realized in heaven; the God-given wisdom of Solomon prefigures the perfect knowledge and understanding of Him who is Himself the Word and Wisdom of God.

The shadows that darken the history of the kings of Judah and even the life of David himself remind us that the Messiah moved upon a far higher moral and spiritual level than the monarchs whose royal dignity was a type of His own. Like David, He was exposed to the machinations of Satan; but, unlike David, He successfully resisted the tempter. He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

The great priestly work of David and Solomon was the building of the Temple and the organization of its ritual and ministry. By this work the kings made splendid provision for fellowship between Jehovah and His people, and for the system of sacrifices, whereby a sinful nation expressed their penitence and received the assurance of forgiveness. This has been the supreme work of Christ: through Him we have access to God; we enter into the holy place, into the Divine presence, by a new and living way that is to say His flesh; He has brought us into the perpetual fellowship of the Spirit. And whereas Solomon could only build one temple, to which the believer paid occasional visits and obtained the sense of Divine fellowship through the ministry Of the priests, Christ makes every faithful heart the temple of sacred service, and He has offered for us the one sacrifice, and provides a universal atonement.

In His priesthood, as in His sacrifice, He represents us before God, and this representation is not merely technical and symbolic: in Him we find ourselves brought near to God, and our desires and aspirations are presented as petitions at the throne of the heavenly grace. But, on the other hand, in His love and righteousness He represents God to us, and brings the assurance of our acceptance.

Other minor features of the office and rights of the priests and Levites find a parallel in Christ. He also is our Teacher and our Judge; to Him and to His service all worldly wealth may be consecrated. Christ is in all things the spiritual Heir of the house of Aaron as well as of the house of David; because He is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, He, like Melchizedek, is also King of Salem; of His kingdom and of His priesthood there shall be no end. But while Christ is to the Kingdom of Heaven what David was to the Israelite monarchy, while in the different aspects of His work He is at once Temple, Priest, and Sacrifice, yet in the ministry of His earthly life He is above all a Prophet, the supreme successor of Elijah and Isaiah. It was only in a figure that He sat upon David’s throne; it formed no part of His plan to exercise earthly dominion: His kingdom was not of this world. He did not belong to the priestly tribe, and performed none of the external acts of priestly ritual; He did not base His authority upon any genealogy with regard to priesthood, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says, "It is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests." {Hebrews 7:14} His royal birth had its symbolic value, but He never asked men to believe in Him because of His human descent from David. He relied as little on the authority of office as on that of birth. Officially He was neither scribe nor rabbi. Like the prophets, His only authority was His Divine commission and the witness of the Spirit in the hearts of His hearers. The people recognized Him as a prophet; they took Him for Elijah or one of the prophets; He spoke of Himself as a prophet: "Not without honor, save in his own country." We have seen that, while the priests ministered to the regular and recurring needs of the people, the Divine guidance in special emergencies and the Divine authority for new departures were given by the prophets. By a prophet Jehovah brought Israel out of Egypt, {Hosea 12:13} and Christ as a Prophet led His people out of the bondage of the Law into the liberty of the Gospel. By Him the Divine authority was given for the greatest religious revolution that the world has ever seen. And still He is the Prophet of the Church. He does not merely provide for the religious wants that are common to every race and to every generation: as the circumstances of His Church alter, and the believer is confronted with fresh difficulties and called upon to undertake new tasks, Christ reveals to His people the purpose and counsel of God. Even the record of His earthly teaching is constantly found to have anticipated the needs of our own time; His Spirit enables us to discover fresh applications of the truths He taught: and through Him special light is sought and granted for the guidance of individuals and of the Church in their need.

But in Chronicles special stress is laid on the darker aspects of the work of the prophets. They constantly appear to administer rebukes and announce coming punishment. Both Christ and His apostles were compelled to assume the same attitude towards Israel. Like Jeremiah, their hearts sank under the burden of so stern a duty. Christ denounced the Pharisees, and wept over the city that knew not the things belonging to its peace; He declared the impending ruin of the Temple and the Holy City. Even so His Spirit still rebukes sin, and warns the impenitent of inevitable punishment.

We have seen also in Chronicles that no stress was laid on any material rewards for the prophets, and that their fidelity was sometimes recompensed with persecution and death. Like Christ Himself, they had nothing to do with priestly wealth and splendor. The silence of the chronicler as to the income of these prophets makes them fitting types of Him who had not where to lay His head. A discussion of the income of Christ would almost savor of blasphemy; we should shrink from inquiring how far "those who derived spiritual profit from His teaching gave Him substantial proofs of their appreciation of His ministry." Christ’s recompense at the hands of the world and of the Jewish Church was that which former prophets had received. Like Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, He was persecuted and slain; He delivered a prophet’s message, and died a prophet’s death.

But, besides the chronicler’s treatment of the offices of prophet, priest, and king, there was another feature of his teaching which would prepare the way for a clear comprehension of the person and work of Christ. We have noticed how the growing sense of the power and majesty of Jehovah seemed to set Him at a distance from man, and how the Jews welcomed the idea of the mediation of an angelic ministry. And yet the angels were too vague and unfamiliar, too little known, and too imperfectly understood to satisfy men’s longing for some means of fellowship between themselves and the remote majesty of an almighty God; while still their ministry served to maintain faith in the possibility of mediation, and to quicken the yearning after some better way of access to Jehovah. When Christ came he found this faith and yearning waiting to be satisfied; they opened a door through which Christ found His way into hearts prepared to receive Him. In Him the familiar human figures of priest and prophet were exalted into the supernatural dignity of the Angel of Jehovah. Men had long strained their eyes in vain to a far-off heaven; and, behold, a human voice recalled their gaze to the earth; and they turned and found God beside them, kindly and accessible, a Man with men. They realized the promise that a modern poet puts into David’s mouth:-

"O Saul, it shall be A face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me

Thou shalt love and be loved by forever; a Hand

like this hand Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!"

We have thus seen how the figures of the chronicler’s history-prophet, priest, king, and angel-were types and foreshadowings of Christ. We may sum up this aspect of his teaching by a quotation from a modern exponent of Old Testament theology:-

"Moses the prophet is the first type of the Mediator. By his side stands Aaron the priest, who connects the people with God, and consecrates it But from the time of David both these figures pale in the imagination of the people before the picture of the Davidic king. His is the figure which appears the most indispensable condition of all true happiness for Israel. David is the third and by far the most perfect type of the Consummator."

This recurrence to the king as the most perfect type of the Redeemer suggests a last application of the Messianic teaching of the chronicler. In discussing his pictures of the kings, we have ventured to give them a meaning adapted to modern political life. In Israel the king stood for the state. When a community combined for common action to erect a temple or repel an invader, the united force was controlled and directed by the king; he was the symbol of national union and co-operation. Today, when a community acts as a whole, its agent and instrument is the civil government; the state is the people organized for the common good, subordinating individual ends to the welfare of the whole nation. Where the Old Testament has "king," its modern equipment may read the state or the civil government, -nay, even for special purposes the municipality, the county council, or the school board. Shall we obtain any helpful or even intelligent result if we apply this method of translation to the doctrine of the Messiah? Externally at any rate the translation bears a startling likeness to what has been regarded as a specially modern development. "Israel looked for salvation from the king," would read, "Modern society should seek salvation from the state." Assuredly there are many prophets who have taken up this burden without any idea that their new heresy was only a reproduction of old and forgotten orthodoxy. But the history of the growth of the Messianic idea supplies a correction to the primitive baldness of this principle of salvation by the state. In time the picture of the Messianic King came to include the attributes of the prophet and the priest. If we care to complete our modern application, we must affirm that the state can never be a savior till it becomes sensitive to Divine influences and conscious of a Divine presence.

When we see how the Messianic hope of Israel was purified and ennobled to receive a fulfillment glorious beyond its wildest dreams, we are encouraged to believe that the fantastic visions of the Socialist may be divinely guided to some reasonable ideal and may prepare the way for some further manifestation of the grace of God. But the Messianic state, like the Messiah, may be called upon to suffer and die for the salvation of the world, that it may receive a better resurrection.


ONE remarkable feature of Chronicles as compared with the book of Kings is the greater interest shown by the former in the prophets of Judah. The chronicler, by confining his attention to the Southern Kingdom, was compelled to omit almost all reference to Elijah and Elisha, and thus excluded from his work some of the most thrilling chapters in the history of the prophets of Israel. Nevertheless the prophets as a whole play almost as important a part in Chronicles as in the book of Kings. Compensation is made for the omission of the two great northern prophets by inserting accounts of several prophets whose messages were addressed to the kings of Judah.

The chronicler’s interest in the prophets was very different from the interest he took in the priests and Levites. The latter belonged to the institutions of his own time, and formed his own immediate circle. In dealing with their past, he was reconstructing the history of his own order; he was able to illustrate and supplement from observation and experience the information afforded by his sources.

But when the chronicler wrote, prophets had ceased to be a living institution in Judah. The light that had shone so brightly in Isaiah and Jeremiah burned feebly in Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, and then went out. Not long after the chronicler’s time the failure of prophecy is expressly recognized. The people whose synagogues have been burnt up complain, -

"We see not our signs; There is no more any prophet."

When Judas Maccabaeus appointed certain priests to cleanse the Temple after its pollution by the Syrians, they pulled down the altar of burnt offerings because the heathen had defiled it, and laid up the stones in the mountain of the Temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to show what should be done with them. This failure of prophecy was not merely brief and transient. It marked the disappearance of the ancient order of prophets. A parallel case shows how the Jews had become aware that the high-priest no longer possessed the special gifts connected with the Urim and Thummim. When certain priests could not find their genealogies, they were forbidden "to eat of the most holy things till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim." {Ezra 2:63} We have no record of any subsequent appearance of "a priest with Urim and with Thummim" or of any prophet of the old order.

Thus the chronicler had never seen a prophet; his conception of the personality and office of the prophet was entirely based upon ancient literature, and he took no professional interest in the order. At the same time he had no prejudice against them; they had no living successors to compete for influence and endowments with the priests and Levites. Possibly the Levites, as the chief religious teachers of the people, claimed some sort of apostolic succession from the prophets; but there are very slight grounds for any such theory. The chronicler’s information on the whole subject was that of a scholar with a taste for antiquarian research.

Let us briefly examine the part played by the prophets in the history of Judah as given by Chronicles. We have first, as in the book of Kings, the references to Nathan and Gad: they make known to David the will of Jehovah as regards the building of the Temple and the punishment of David’s pride in taking the census of Israel. David unhesitatingly accepts their messages as the word of Jehovah. It is important to notice that when Nathan is consulted about building the Temple he first answers, apparently giving a mere private opinion, "Do all that is in thine heart, for God is with thee"; but when "the word of God comes" to him, he retracts his former judgment and forbids David to build the Temple. Here again the plan of the chronicler’s work leads to an important omission: his silence as to the murder of Uriah prevents him from giving the beautiful and instructive account on the way in which Nathan rebuked the guilty king. Later narratives exhibit other prophets in the act of rebuking most of the kings of Judah, but none of these incidents are equally striking and pathetic. At the end of the histories of David and of most of the later kings we find notes which apparently indicate that, in the chronicler’s time, the prophets were credited with having written the annals of the kings with whom they were contemporary. In connection with Hezekiah’s reformation we are incidentally told that Nathan and Gad were associated with David in making arrangements for the music of the Temple: "He set the Levites in the house of Jehovah, with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was of Jehovah by His prophets."

In the account of Solomon’s reign, the chronicler omits the interview of Ahijah the Shilonite with Jeroboam, but refers to it in the history of Rehoboam. From this point, in accordance with his general plan, he omits almost all missions of prophets to the northern kings.

In Rehoboam’s reign, we have recorded, as in the book of Kings, a message from Jehovah by Shemaiah forbidding the king and his two tribes of Judah and Benjamin to attempt to compel the northern tribes to return to their allegiance to the house of David. Later on, when Shishak invaded Judah, Shemaiah was commissioned to deliver to the king and princes the message, "Thus saith Jehovah: Ye have forsaken Me; therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak." But when they repented and humbled themselves before Jehovah, Shemaiah announced to them the mitigation of their punishment.

Asa’s reformation was due to the inspired exhortations of a prophet called both Oded and Azariah the son of Oded. Later on Hanani the seer rebuked the king for his alliance with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. "Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in the prison-house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing."

Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab and his consequent visit to Samaria enabled the chronicler to introduce from the book of Kings the striking narrative of Micaiah the son of Imlah; but this alliance with Israel earned for the king the rebukes of Jehu the son of Hanani the seer and Eliezar the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah. However, on the occasion of the Moabite and Ammonite invasion Jehoshaphat and his people received the promise of Divine deliverance from "Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite, of the sons of Asaph."

The punishment of the wicked king Jehoram was announced to him by "a writing from Elijah the prophet." His son Ahaziah apparently perished without any prophetic warning; but when Joash and his princes forsook the house of Jehovah and served the Asherim and the idols, "He sent prophets to them to bring them again to Jehovah," among the rest Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest. Joash turned a deaf ear to the message, and put the prophet to death.

When Amaziah bowed down before the gods of Edom and burned incense unto them, Jehovah sent unto him a prophet whose name is not recorded. His mission failed, like that of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada; and Amaziah, like Joash, showed no respect for the person of the messenger of Jehovah. In this case the prophet escaped with his life. He began to deliver his message, but the king’s patience soon failed, and he said unto the prophet, "Have we made thee of the king’s counsel? Forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten?" The prophet, we are told, "forbare"; but his forbearance did not prevent his adding one brief and bitter sentence: "I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this and hast not hearkened unto my counsel." Then apparently he departed in peace and was not smitten. We have now reached the period of the prophets whose writings are extant. We learn from the headings of their works that Isaiah saw his "vision," and that the word of Jehovah came unto Hosea, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; that the word of Jehovah came to Micah in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; and that Amos "saw" his "words" in the days of Uzziah. But the chronicler makes no reference to any of these, prophets in connection with either Uzziah, Jotham, or Ahaz. Their writings would have afforded the best possible materials for his history, yet he entirely neglected them. In view of his anxiety to introduce into his narrative all missions of prophets of which he found any record, we can only suppose that he was so little interested in the prophetical writings that he neither referred to them nor recollected their dates. To Ahaz in Chronicles, in spite of all his manifold and persistent idolatry, no prophet was sent. The absence of Divine warning marks his extraordinary wickedness. In the book of Samuel the culmination of Jehovah’s displeasure against Saul is shown by his refusal to answer him either by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. He sends no prophet to Ahaz, because the wicked king of Judah is utterly reprobate. Prophecy, the token of the Divine presence and favor, has abandoned a nation given over to idolatry, and has even taken a temporary refuge in Samaria. Jerusalem was no longer worthy to receive the Divine messages, and Oded was sent with his words of warning and humane exhortation to the children of Ephraim. There he met with a prompt and full obedience, in striking contrast to the reception accorded by Joash and Amaziah to the prophets of Jehovah. The chronicler’s history of the reign of Hezekiah further illustrates his indifference to the prophets whose writings are extant. In the book of Kings great prominence is given to Isaiah. In the account of Sennacherib’s invasion his messages to Hezekiah are given at considerable length. {2 Kings 19:5-7; 2 Kings 19:20-34} He announces to the king his approaching death and Jehovah’s gracious answers to Hezekiah’s prayer for a respite and his request for a sign. When Hezekiah, in his pride of wealth, displayed his treasures to the Babylonian ambassadors, Isaiah brought the message of Divine rebuke and judgment. Chronicles characteristically devotes three long chapters to ritual and Levites, and dismisses Isaiah in half a sentence: "And Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this"-i.e., the threatening language of Sennacherib-"and cried to Heaven." {2 Chronicles 32:20} In the accounts of Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery and of the Babylonian embassy the references to Isaiah are entirely omitted. These omissions may be due to lack of space, so much of which had been devoted to the Levites that there was none to spare for the prophet.

Indeed, at the very point where prophecy began to exercise a controlling influence over the religion of Judah the chronicler’s interest in the subject altogether flags. He tells us that Jehovah spake to Manasseh and to his people, and refers to "the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel" {2 Chronicles 33:10; 2 Chronicles 33:18} but he names no prophet and does not record the terms of any Divine message. In the case of Manasseh his sources may have failed him, but we have seen that in Hezekiah’s reign he deliberately passes over most of the references to Isaiah.

The chronicler’s narrative of Josiah’s reign adheres more closely to the book of Kings. He reproduces the mission from the king to the prophetess Huldah and her Divine message of present forbearance and future judgment. The other prophet of this reign is the heathen king Pharaoh Necho, through whose mouth the Divine warning is given to Josiah. Jeremiah is only mentioned as lamenting over the last good king. In the parallel text of this passage in the apocryphal’ book of Esdras Pharaoh’s remonstrance is given in a somewhat expanded form; but the editor of Esdras shrank from making the heathen king the mouthpiece of Jehovah. While Chronicles tells us that Josiah "hearkened not unto the words of Neco from the month of God," Esdras, glaringly inconsistent both with the context and the history, tells us that he did not regard "the words of the prophet Jeremiah spoken by the mouth of the Lord." This amended statement is borrowed from the chronicler’s account of Zedekiah, who "humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet, speaking from the mouth of Jehovah." But this king was not alone in his disobedience. As the inevitable ruin of Jerusalem drew near, the whole nation, priests and people alike, sank deeper and deeper in sin. In these last days, where sin abounded, "grace did yet more abound." Jehovah exhausted the resources of His mercy: "Jehovah, the god of their fathers, sent to them by His messengers, rising tip early and sending, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling-place." It was all in vain: "They mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of Jehovah arose against His people, till there was no remedy." There are two other references in the concluding paragraphs of Chronicles to the prophecies of Jeremiah; but the history of prophecy in Judah closes with this last great unavailing manifestation of prophetic activity.

Before considering the general idea of the prophet that may be collected from the various notices in Chronicles, we may devote a little space to the chronicler’s curious attitude towards our canonical prophets. For the most part he simply follows the book of Kings in making no reference to them; but his almost entire silence as to Isaiah suggests that his imitation of his authority in other cases is deliberate and intentional, especially as we find him inserting one or two references to Jeremiah not taken from the book of Kings. The chronicler had much more opportunity of using the canonical prophets than the author or authors of the book of Kings. The latter wrote before Hebrew literature had been collected and edited; but the chronicler had access to all the literature of the monarchy, Captivity, and even later times. His numerous extracts from almost the entire range of the Historical Books, together with the Pentateuch and Psalms, show that his plan included the use of various sources, and that he had both the means and ability to work out his plan. He makes two references to Haggai and Zechariah, {Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14} so that if he ignores Amos, Hosea, and Micah, and all but ignores Isaiah, we can only conclude that he does so of set purpose. Hosea and Amos might be excluded on account of their connection with the Northern Kingdom; possibly the strictures of Isaiah and Micah on the priesthood and ritual made the chronicler unwilling to give them special prominence. Such an attitude on the part of a typical representative of the prevailing school of religious thought has an important bearing on the textual and other criticism of the early prophets. If they were neglected by the authorities of the Temple in the interval between Ezra and the Maccabees, the possibility of late additions and alterations is considerably increased.

Let us now turn to the picture of the prophets drawn for us by the chronicler. Both prophet and priest are religious personages, otherwise they differ widely in almost every particular; we cannot even speak of them as both holding religious offices. The term "office" has to be almost unjustifiably strained in order to apply it to the prophet, and to use it thus without explanation would be misleading. The qualifications, status, duties, and rewards of the priests are all fully prescribed by rigid and elaborate rules; but the prophets were the children of the Spirit: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." The priest was bound to be a physically perfect male of the house of Aaron; the prophet might be of any tribe and of either sex. The warlike Deborah found a more peaceful successor in Josiah’s counselor Huldah, and among the degenerate prophets off Nehemiah’s time a prophetess Noadiah {Nehemiah 6:14} is specially mentioned. The priestly or Levitical office did not exclude its holder from the prophetic vocation. The Levite Jaha-ziel delivered the message of Jehovah to Jehoshaphat; and the prophet Zechariah, whom Joash put to death, was the son of the high-priest Jehoiada, and therefore himself a priest. Indeed, upon occasion the prophetic gift was exercised by those whom we should scarcely call prophets at all. Pharaoh Necho’s warning to Jehoshaphat is exactly parallel to the prophetic exhortations addressed to other kings. In the crisis of David’s fortunes at Ziklag, when Judah and Benjamin came out to meet him with apparently doubtful intentions, their adhesion to the future king was decided by a prophetic word given to the mighty warrior Amasai: "Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was one of the thirty, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace, be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee." In view of this wide distribution of the prophetic gift we are not surprised to find it frequently exercised by the pious kings. They receive and communicate to the nation direct intimations of the Divine will. David gives to Solomon and the people instructions which God has given him with regard to the Temple; God’s promises are personally addressed to Solomon, without the intervention of either prophet or priest; Abijah rebukes and exhorts Jeroboam and he Israelites very much as other prophets address the wicked kings; the speeches of Hezekiah and Josiah might equally well have been delivered by one of the prophets. David indeed is expressly called a prophet by St. Peter, {Acts 2:30} and though the immediate reference is to the Psalms the chronicler’s history both of David and of other kings gives them a valid claim to rank as prophets.

The authority and status of the prophets rested on no official or material conditions, such as hedged in the priestly office on every side. Accordingly their ancestry, previous history, and social standing are matters with which the historian has no concern. If the prophet happens so to be a priest or Levite, the chronicler, of course, knows and records his genealogy. It is essential that the genealogy of a priest should be known, but there are no genealogies of the prophets; their order was like that of Melchizedek, standing on the page of history "without father, without mother, without genealogy"; they appear abruptly, with no personal introduction, they deliver their message, and then disappear with equal abruptness. Sometimes not even their names are given. They had the one qualification compared with which birth and sex, rank and reputation, were trivial and meaningless things. The living word of Jehovah was on their lips; the power of His Spirit controlled their hearers; messenger and message were alike their own credentials. The supreme religious authority of the prophet testified to the subordinate and accidental character of all rites and symbols. On the other hand, the combination of priest and prophet in the same system proved the loftiest spirituality, the most emphatic recognition of the direct communion of the soul with God, to be consistent with an elaborate and rigid system of ritual. The services and ministry of the Temple were like lamps whose flame showed pale and dim when earth and heaven were lit up by the lightnings of prophetic inspiration.

The gifts and functions of the prophets did not lend themselves to any regular discipline or organization; but we can roughly distinguish between two classes of prophets. One class seem to have exercised their gifts more systematically and continuously than others. Gad and Nathan, Isaiah and Jeremiah, became practically the domestic chaplains and spiritual advisers of David, Hezekiah, and the last kings of Judah. Others are only mentioned as delivering a single message; their ministry seems to have been occasional, perhaps confined to a single period of their lives. The Divine Spirit was free to take the whole life or to take a part only; He was not to be conditioned even by gifts of His own bestowal.

Human organization naturally attempted to classify the possessors of the prophetic gift, to set them apart as a regular order, perhaps even to provide them with a suitable training, and, still more impossible task, to select the proper recipients of the gift and to produce and foster the prophetic inspiration. We read elsewhere of "schools of the prophets" and "sons of the prophets." The chronicler omits all reference to such institutions or societies; he declines to assign them any place in the prophetic succession in Israel. The gift of prophecy was absolutely dependent on the Divine will, and could not be claimed as a necessary appurtenance of the royal court at Jerusalem or a regular order in the kingdom of Judah. The priests are included in the list of David’s ministers, but not the prophets Gad and Nathan. Abijah mentions among the special privileges of Judah "priests ministering unto Jehovah, even the sons of Aaron and the Levites in their work"; it does not occur to him to name prophets among the regular and permanent ministers of Jehovah.

The chronicler, in fact, does not recognize the professional prophet. The fifty sons of the prophets that watched Elisha divide the waters in the name of the God of Elijah were no more prophets for him than the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the Asherah that ate at Jezebel’s table. The true prophet, like Amos, need not be either a prophet or the son of a prophet in the professional sense. Long before the chronicler’s time the history and teaching of the great prophets had clearly established the distinction between the professional prophet, who was appointed by man or by himself, and the inspired messenger, who received a direct commission from Jehovah.

In describing the prophet’s sole qualification we have also stated his function. He was the messenger of Jehovah and declared His will. The priest in his ministrations represented Israel before God, and in a measure represented God to Israel. The rites and ceremonies over which he presided symbolized the permanent and unchanging features of man’s religious experience and the eternal righteousness and mercy of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. From generation to generation men received the good gifts of God, and brought the offerings of their gratitude; they sinned against God and came to seek forgiveness; and the house of Aaron met them generation after generation in the same priestly robes, with the same rites, in the one Temple, in token of the unchanging willingness of Jehovah to accept and forgive His children.

The prophet, too, represented God to man; his words were the words of God; through him the Divine presence and the Divine Spirit exerted their influence over the hearts and consciences of his hearers. But while the priestly ministrations symbolized the fixity and permanence of God’s eternal majesty, the prophets expressed the infinite variety of His Divine nature and its continual adaptation to all the changes of human life. They came to the individual and to the nation in each crisis of history with the Divine message that enabled them to suit themselves to altered circumstances, to grapple wit new difficulties, and to solve new problems. The priest and the prophet together set forth the great paradox that the unchanging God is the source of all change,

"Lord God, by whom all change is wrought,

By whom new things to birth are brought,

In whom no change is known,

To Thee we rise, in Thee we rest";

"We stay at home, we go in quest,

Still Thou art our abode:

The rapture swells, the wonder grows,

As full on us new life still flows

From our unchanging God."

The prophetic utterances recorded by the chronicler illustrate the work of the prophets in delivering the message that tact the present needs of the people. There is nothing in Chronicles to encourage the unspiritual notion that the main object of prophecy was to give exact and detailed information as to the remote future. There is prediction necessarily: it was impossible to declare the will of God without stating the punishment of sin and the victory of righteousness; but prediction is only part of the declaration of God’s will. In Gad and Nathan prophecy appears as a means of communication between the inquiring soul and God; it does not, indeed, gratify curiosity, but rather gives guidance m perplexity and distress. The later prophets constantly intervene to initiate reform or to hinder the carrying out of an evil policy. Gad and Nathan lent their authority to David’s organization of the Temple music; Asa’s reform originated in the exhortation of Oded the prophet; Jehoshaphat went out to meet the Moabite and Ammonite invaders in response to the inspiriting utterance of Jahaziel the Levite; Josiah consulted the prophetess Huldah before carrying out his reformation; the chiefs of Ephraim sent back the Jewish captives in obedience to another Oded. On the other hand, Shemaiah prevented Rehoboam from fighting against Israel; Micaiah warned Ahab and Jehoshaphat not to go up against Ramoth-gilead.

Often, however, the prophetic message gives the interpretation of history, the Divine judgment upon conduct, with its sentence of punishment or reward. Hanani the seer, for instance, comes to Asa to show him the real value of his apparently satisfactory alliance with Benhadad, king of Syria: "Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and hast not relied on Jehovah thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt have wars." Jehoshaphat is told why his ships were broken: "Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, Jehovah hath destroyed thy works." Thus the prophetic declaration of Divine judgment came to mean almost exclusively rebuke and condemnation. The witness of a good conscience may be left to speak for itself; God does not often need to send a prophet to His obedient servants in order to signify His approval of their righteous acts. But the censures of conscience need both the stimulus of external suggestion and the support of external authority. Upon the prophets was constantly laid the unwelcome task of rousing and bracing the conscience for its stern duty. They became the heralds of Divine wrath, the precursors of national misfortune. Often, too, the warnings that should have saved the people were neglected or resented, and thus became the occasion of new sin and severer punishment. We must not, however, lay too much stress on this aspect of the prophets’ work. They were no mere Cassandras, announcing inevitable ruin at the hands of a blind destiny; they were not always, or even chiefly, the messengers of coming doom. If they declared the wrath of God, they also vindicated His justice; in the day of the Lord which they so often foretold, mercy and grace tempered and at last overcame judgment. They taught, even in their sternest utterances, the moral government of the world and the benevolent purpose of its Ruler. These are man’s only hope, even in his sin and suffering, the only ground for effort, and the only comfort in misfortune.

There are, however, one or two elements in the chronicler’s notices of the prophets that scarcely harmonize with this general picture. The scanty references of the books of Samuel and Kings to the "schools" and the sons of the prophets have suggested the theory that the prophets were the guardians of national education, culture, and literature. The chronicler expressly assigns the function to the Levites, and does not recognize that the "schools of the prophets" had any permanent significance for the religion of Israel, possibly because they chiefly appear in connection with the Northern Kingdom. At the same time, we find this idea of the literary character of the prophets in Chronicles in a new form. The authorities referred to in the subscriptions to each reign bear the names of the prophets who flourished during the reign. The primary significance of the tradition followed by the chronicler is the supreme importance of the prophet for his period; he, and not the king, gives it a distinctive character. Therefore the prophet gives his name to his period, as the consuls at Rome, the Archon Basileus at Athens, and the Assyrian priests gave their own names to their year of office. Probably by the time Chronicles was written the view had been adopted which we know prevailed later on, and it was supposed that the prophets wrote the Historical Books which bore their names. The ancient prophets had given the Divine interpretation of the course of events and pronounced the Divine judgment on history. The Historical Books were written for religious edification; they contained a similar interpretation and judgment. The religious instincts of later Judaism rightly classed them with the prophetic Scriptures.

The striking contrast we have been able to trace between the priests and the prophets in their qualifications and duties extends also to their rewards. The book of Kings gives us glimpses of the way in which the reverent gratitude of the people made some provision for the maintenance of the prophets. We are all familiar with the hospitality of the Shunammite. and we read how "a man from Baal-shalishah" brought first-fruits to Elisha. {2 Kings 4:42} But the chronicler omits all such references as being connected with the Northern Kingdom, and does not give us any similar information as to the prophets of Judah. He is not usually indifferent as to ways and means. He devotes some space to the revenues of the kings of Judah, and delights to dwell on the sources of priestly income. But it never seems to occur to him that the prophets have any wants to be provided for. To use George MacDonald’s phrase, he is quite content to leave them "on the lily and sparrow footing." The priesthood and the Levites must be richly endowed; the honor of Israel and of Jehovah is concerned in their having cities, tithes, first-fruits, and offerings. Prophets are sent to reproach the people when the priestly dues are withheld; but for themselves the prophets might have said with St. Paul, "We seek not yours, but you." No one supposed that the authority and dignity of the prophets needed to be supported by ecclesiastical status, splendid robes, and great incomes. Spiritual force so manifestly resided in them that they could afford to dispense with the most impressive symbols of power and authority. On the other hand, they received an honor that was never accorded to the priesthood: they suffered persecution for the cause of Jehovah. Zechariah the son of Jehoiada was put to death, and Micaiah the son of Imlah was imprisoned. We are never told that the priest as priest suffered persecution. Ahaz closed the Temple, Manasseh set up an idol in the house of God, but we do not read of either Ahaz or Manasseh that they slew the priests of Jehovah. The teaching of the prophets was direct and personal, and thus eminently calculated to excite resentment and provoke persecution; the priestly services, however, did not at all interfere with concurrent idolatry, and the priests were accustomed to receive and execute the orders of the kings. There is nothing to suggest that they sought to obtrude the worship of Jehovah upon unwilling converts; and it is not improbable that some, at any rate, of the priests allowed themselves to be made the tools of the wicked kings. On the eve of the Captivity we read that "the chiefs of the priests and the people trespassed very greatly after all the abominations of the heathen, and they polluted the house of Jehovah." No such disloyalty is recorded of the prophets in Chronicles. The most splendid incomes cannot purchase loyalty. It is still true that "the hireling fleeth because he is a hireling"; men’s most passionate devotion is for the cause in which they have suffered.

We have seen that the modern ministry presents certain parallels to the ancient priesthood. Where are we to look for an analogue to the prophet? If the minister be, in a sense, a priest when he leads the worship of the people, is he also a prophet when he preaches to them? Preaching is intended to be-perhaps we may venture to say that it mostly is-a declaration of the will of God. Moreover, it is not the exposition of a fixed and unchangeable ritual or even of a set of rigid theological formulae. The preacher, like the prophet, seeks to meet the demands for new light that are made by constantly changing circumstances; he seeks to adapt the eternal truth to the varying needs of individual lives. So far he is a prophet, but the essential qualifications of the prophet are still to be sought after. Isaiah and Jeremiah did not declare the word of Jehovah as they had learnt it from a Bible or any other book, nor yet according to the traditions of a school or the teaching of great authorities; such declaration might be made by the scribes and rabbis in later times. But the prophets of Chronicles received their message from Jehovah Himself: while they mused upon the needs of the people, the fire of inspiration burned within them: then they spoke. Moreover, like their great antitype, they spoke with authority, and not as the scribes; their words carried with them conviction even when they did not produce obedience. The reality of men’s conviction of their Divine authority was shown by the persecution to which they were subjected. Are these tokens of the prophet also the notes of the Christian ministry of preaching? Prophets were found among the house of Aaron and from the tribe of Levi, but not every Levite or priest was a prophet. Every branch of the Christian Church has numbered among its official ministers men who delivered their message with an inspired conviction of its truth; in them the power and presence of the Spirit have compelled a belief in their authority to speak for God: this belief has received the twofold attestation of hearts and consciences submitted to the Divine will on the one hand or of bitter and rancorous hostility on the other. In every Church we find the record of men who have spoken, "not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth." Such were Wyclif and Latimer, Calvin and Luther, George Whitefield and the Wesleys; such, too, were Moffat and Livingstone. Nor need we suppose that in the modern Christian Church the gift of prophecy has been confined to men of brilliant genius who have been conspicuously successful. In the sacred canon Haggai and Obadiah stand side by side with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The chronicler recognizes the prophetic calling of men too obscure to be mentioned by name. He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, not necessarily the orator whom men crowd to hear and whose name is recorded in history; and God giveth not the Spirit by measure. Many of the least distinguished of His servants are truly His prophets, speaking, by the conviction He has given them, a message which comes home with power to some hearts at any rate, and is a savor of life unto life and of death unto death. The seals of their ministry are to he found in redeemed and purified lives, and also only too often in the bitter and vindictive ill-will of those whom their faithfulness has offended.

We naturally expect to find that the official ministry affords the most suitable sphere for the exercise of the gift of prophecy. Those who are conscious of a Divine message will often seek the special opportunities which the ministry affords. But our study of Chronicles reminds us that the vocation of the prophet cannot be limited to any external organization; it was not confined to the official ministry of Israel; it cannot be conditioned by recognition by bishops, presbyteries, conferences, or Churches; it will often find its only external credential in a gracious influence over individual lives. Nay, the prophet may have his Divine vocation and be entirely rejected of men. In Chronicles we find prophets, like Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, whose one Divine message is received with scorn and defiance.

In practice, if not in theory, the Churches have long since recognized that the prophetic gift is found outside any official ministry, and that they may be taught the will of God by men and women of all ranks and callings. They have provided opportunities for the free exercise of such gifts in lay preaching, missions, Sunday-schools, meetings of all kinds.

We have here stumbled upon another modern controversy: the desirability of women preaching. Chronicles mentions prophetesses as well as prophets; on the other hand, there were no Jewish priestesses. The modern minister combines some priestly duties with the opportunity, at least, of exercising the gift of prophecy. The mention of only two or three prophetesses in the Old Testament shows that the possession of the gift by women was exceptional. These few instances, however, are sufficient to prove that God did not in old times limit the gift to men; they suggest at any rate the possibility of its being possessed by women now, and when women have a Divine message the Church will not venture to quench the Spirit. Of course the application of these broad principles would have to be adapted to the circumstances of individual Churches. Huldah, for instance, is not described as delivering any public address to the people; the king sent his ministers to consult her in her own house. Whatever hesitation may be felt about the public ministry of women, no one will question their Divine commission to carry the messages of God to the bedsides of the sick and the homes of the poor. Most of us have known women to whom men have gone, as Josiah’s ministers went to Huldah, to "inquire of the Lord."

Another practical question, the payment of the ministers of religion, has already been raised by the chronicler’s account of the revenues of the priests. What more do we learn on the subject from his silence as to the maintenance of the prophets? The silence is, of course, eloquent as to the extent to which even a pious Levite may be preoccupied with his own worldly interests and quite indifferent to other people’s; but it would not have been possible if the idea of revenues and endowments for the prophets had ever been very familiar to men’s minds. It has been said that today the prophet sells his inspiration, but the gift of God can no more be bought and sold with money now than in ancient Israel. The purely spiritual character of true prophecy, its entire dependence on Divine inspiration, makes it impossible to hire a prophet at a fixed salary regulated by the quality and extent of his gifts. By the grace of God there is an intimate practical connection between the work of the official ministry and the inspired declaration of the Divine will; and this connection has its bearing upon the payment of ministers. Men’s gratitude is stirred when they have received comfort and help through the spiritual gifts of their minister, but in principle there is no connection between the gift of prophecy and the payment of the ministry. A Church can purchase the enjoyment of eloquence, learning, intellect, and industry; a high character has a pecuniary value for ecclesiastical as well as for commercial purposes. The prophet may be provided with leisure, society, and literature so that the Divine message may be delivered in its most attractive form; he may be installed in a large and well-appointed building, so that he may have the best possible opportunity of delivering his message; he will naturally receive a larger income when he surrenders obscure and limited opportunities to minister in some more suitable sphere. But when we have said all, it is still only the accessories that have to do with payment, not the Divine gift of prophecy itself. When the prophet’s message is not comforting, when his words grate upon the theological and social prejudices of his hearers, especially when he is invited to curse and is Divinely compelled to bless, there is no question of payment for such ministry. It has been said of Christ, "For the minor details necessary to secure respect, and obedience, and the enthusiasm of the vulgar, for the tact, the finesse, the compromising faculty, the judicious ostentation of successful politicians-for these arts He was not prepared." Those who imitate their Master often share His reward.

The slight and accidental connection of the payment of ministers with their prophetic gifts is further illustrated by the free exercise of such gifts by men and women who have no ecclesiastical status and do not seek any material reward. Here again any exact adoption of ancient methods is impossible; we may accept from the chronicler the great principle that loyal believers will make all adequate provision for the service and work of Jehovah, and that they will be prepared to honor Him in the persons of those whom they choose to represent them before Him, and also of those whom they recognize as delivering to them His messages. On the other hand, the prophet-and for our present purpose we may extend the term to the humblest and least gifted Christian who in any way seeks to speak for Christ-the prophet speaks by the impulse of the Spirit and from no meaner motive.

With regard to the functions of the prophet, the Spirit is as entirely free to dictate His own message as He is to choose His own messenger. The chronicler’s prophets were concerned with foreign politics-alliances with Syria and Assyria, wars with Egypt and Samaria-as well as with the ritual of the Temple and the worship of Jehovah. They discerned a religious significance in the purely secular matter of a census. Jehovah had His purposes for the civil government and international policy of Israel as well as for its creed and services. If we lay down the principle that politics, whether local or national, are to be kept out of the pulpit, we must either exclude from the official ministry all who possess any measure of the prophetic gift, or else carefully stipulate that, if they be conscious of any obligation to declare the Lord’s will in matters of public righteousness, they shall find some more suitable place than the Lord’s house and some more suitable time than the Lord’s day. When we suggest that the prophet should mind his own business by confining himself to questions of doctrine, worship, and the religious experiences of the individual, we are in danger of denying God’s right to a voice in social and national affairs.

Turning, however, to more directly ecclesiastical affairs, we have noted that Asa’s reformation received its first impulse from the utterances of the prophet Azariah or Oded, and also that one feature of the prophet’s work is to provide for the fresh needs developed by changing circumstances. A priesthood or any other official ministry is often wanting in elasticity; it is necessarily attached to an established organization and trammeled by custom and tradition. The Holy Spirit in all ages has commissioned prophets as the free agents in new movements in the Divine government of the world. They may be ecclesiastics, like many of the Reformers and like the Wesleys; but they are not dominated by the official spirit. The initial impulse that moves such men is partly one of recoil from their environment; and the environment in return casts them out. Again, prophets may become ecclesiastics, like the tinker to whom English-speaking Christians owe one of their great religious classics and the cobbler who stirred up the Churches to missionary enthusiasm. Or they may remain from beginning to end without official status in any Church, like the apostle of the anti-slavery movement. In any case the impulse to a larger, purer, and nobler standard of life than that consecrated by long usage and ancient tradition does not come from the ecclesiastical official because of his official training and experience; the living waters that go mat of Jerusalem in the day of the Lord are too wide, and deep, and strong to flow in the narrow rock-hewn aqueducts of tradition: they make new channels for themselves; and these channels are the men who do not demand that the Spirit shall speak according to familiar formulae and stereotyped ideas, but are willing to be the prophets of strange and even uncongenial truth. Or, to use the great metaphor of St. John’s Gospel, with such men, both for themselves and for others, the water that the Lord gives them becomes a well of water springing up unto eternal life.

But the chronicler’s picture of the work of the prophets has its darker side. Few were privileged to give the signal for an immediate and happy reformation. Most of the prophets were charged with messages of rebuke and condemnation, so that they were ready to cry out with Jeremiah, "Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have not lent on usury, neither have men lent to me on usury, yet every one of them doth curse me." {Jeremiah 15:10}

Perhaps even today the prophetic spirit often charges its possessors with equally unwelcome duties. We trust that the Christian conscience is more sensitive than that of ancient Israel, and that the Church is more ready to profit by the warnings addressed to it; but the response to the sterner teaching of the Spirit is not always accompanied by a kindly feeling towards the teacher, and even where there is progress, the progress is slow compared to the eager longing of the prophet for the spiritual growth of his hearers. And yet the sequel of the chronicler’s history suggests some relief to the gloomier side of the picture. Prophet after prophet utters his unavailing and seemingly useless rebuke, and delivers his announcement of coming ruin, and at last the ruin falls upon the nation. But that is not the end. Before the chronicler wrote there had arisen a restored Israel, purified from idolatry and delivered from many of its former troubles. The Restoration was only rendered possible through the continued testimony of the prophets to the Lord and His righteousness. However barren of immediate results such testimony may seem today, it is still the word of the Lord that cannot return unto Him void, but shall accomplish that which He pleaseth and shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.

The chronicler’s conception of the prophetic character of the historian, whereby his narrative sets forth God’s will and interprets His purposes, is not altogether popular at present. The teleological view of history is somewhat at a discount. Yet the prophetic method, so to speak, of Carlyle and Ruskin is largely historical; and even in so unlikely a quarter as the works of George Eliot we can find an example of didactic history. "Romola" is largely taken up with the story of Savonarola, told so as to bring out its religious significance. But teleological history is sometimes a failure even from the standpoint of the Christian student, because it defeats its own ends, He who is bent on deducing lessons from history may lay undue stress on part of its significance and obscure the rest. The historian is perhaps most a prophet when he leaves history to speak for itself. In this sense, we may venture to attribute a prophetic character to purely scientific history; accurate and unbiased narrative is the best starting-point for the study of the religious significance of the course of events.

In concluding our inquiry as to how far modern Church life is illustrated by the work of the prophets, one is tempted to dwell for a moment on the methods they did not use and the subjects not dealt with in their utterances. This theme, however, scarcely belongs to the exposition of Chronicles; it would be more appropriate to a complete examination of the history and writings of the prophets. One point, however, may be noticed. Their utterances in Chronicles lay less direct stress on moral considerations than the writings of the canonical prophets, not because of any indifference to morality, but because, seen in the distance of a remote past all other sins seemed to be summed up in faithlessness to Jehovah. Perhaps we may see in this a suggestion of a final judgment of history, which should be equally instructive to the religious man who has any inclination to disparage morality and to the moral man who wishes to ignore religion.

Our review and discussion of the varied references of Chronicles to the prophets bring home to us with fresh force the keen interest felt in them by the chronicler and the supreme importance he attached to their work. The reverent homage of a Levite of the second Temple centuries after the golden age of prophecy is an eloquent testimony to the unique position of the prophets in Israel. His treatment of the subject shows that the lofty ideal of their office and mission had lost nothing in the course of the development of Judaism; his selection from the older material emphasizes the independence of the true prophet of any professional status or consideration of material reward; his sense of the importance of the prophets to the state and Church in Judah is an encouragement to those "who look for redemption in Jerusalem," and who trust the eternal promise of God that in all times of His people’s need He "will raise up a prophet from among their brethren and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command them." {Deuteronomy 18:18} "The memorial of the prophets was blessed for they comforted Jacob, and delivered them by assured hope." {Ecclesiastes 4:9-10} Many prophets of the Church have also left a blessed memorial of comfort and deliverance, and God ever renews this more than apostolic succession.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/teb/1-chronicles-4.html.
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