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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Chronicles 15

Introduction

In this chapter we have a detailed account of the transfer of the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem. It corresponds with 2 Samuel 6:12-23, but is a fuller account, and records the prominence of the priests and Levites in the transaction.

Verse 1

1. Made him houses Continued the work of building and fortifying mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:8.

Prepared a place for the ark of God A suitable site on Zion.

A tent A new tabernacle on the newly selected site. See note on 2 Samuel 2:6-17.

Verse 2

2. None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites See Numbers 1:50. The neglect or forgetfulness of this fact was the cause of the misfortune attending the previous attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem, and severely had God punished the error. Compare 1 Chronicles 15:13 and chapter 13.

Verse 16

16. David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music Already many of the Levites were skilled in vocal and instrumental music, otherwise they could not, upon so short a notice, have entered at once upon the service of song to which David called them. But sacred music had long been cultivated in Israel, and the schools of the prophets had probably carried it to a considerable degree of perfection. It is possible that some kind of musical service had also already become a part of the tabernacle worship, but it seems to have been the exalted genius of David that first made it a fixed and permanent part of Levitical service; and the new regime was appropriately inaugurated with the removal of the ark to its new tabernacle in Jerusalem. On the musical instruments here named see notes at 1 Samuel 10:5; 2 Samuel 6:5.

Verse 17

17. Heman… Asaph… Ethan These three distinguished Levites became immortalized in sacred history by this appointment as chief musicians. Each of the three great divisions of the tribe of Levi had thus a representative family in the choir. Their genealogy is given in 1 Chronicles 6:31-47. At the close of David’s reign the Levitical musicians numbered four thousand. 1 Chronicles 23:5.

Verse 18

18. Their brethren of the second degree Second in rank and dignity to the three chief musicians.

Verses 19-21

19-21. The singers were divided into three choirs, or companies: 1.) The three chiefs, who used cymbals of brass; 2.) Eight others played with psalteries on Alamoth; 3.) Six others played with harps on the Sheminith to excel. The words on Alamoth, and on the Sheminith, are of doubtful meaning. Some understand them as the names of musical instruments; others as the names of different tunes, or of different melodies. Alamoth means virgins, and Sheminith means the eighth, hence Keil explains on Alamoth, “after the manner of virgins, that is, in the soprano;” and on the Sheminith. “after the octave, that is, in bass.” Our acquaintance with the music of the ancient Hebrews is too limited to decide the meaning of these and kindred terms. These and similar words occur at the beginning of many of the psalms.

To excel Rather, to lead; to take the lead in the music.

Verse 22

22. Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song Chenaniah was not chief of the Levitical singers, for we have just been told that Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were the leaders in that department. Hence we regard the rendering for song as an error. The Hebrew is במשׂא , in the burden; that is, the burden of bearing the ark. In Numbers 4:15, the duty of bearing the sanctuary and its sacred vessels is expressly called “the burden ( משׂא ) of the sons of Kohath.”

He instructed about the song Rather, he gave instruction about the burden; that is, he gave the proper orders and instructions about the bearing of the ark. The whole verse should accordingly be rendered: Chenaniah, a prince of the Levites, was in charge of the burden; he gave instruction in respect to the burden, for he was skillful. David carefully guarded this time against carelessness and ignorance in the matter of removing the ark, by putting the matter in charge of a prince of the Levites who possessed the requisite knowledge and skill to superintend the responsible burden.

Verse 23

23. Doorkeepers for the ark Whose duty it was to see that no one profanely touched the ark, or attempted, like the men of Beth-shemesh, (1 Samuel 6:19,) to uncover and look into it.

Verse 26

26. When God helped the Levites By enabling them to remove the ark six paces without injury to any one. Comp. 2 Samuel 6:13. The death of Uzzah had inspired a fear that Jehovah might not again allow them to remove the ark at all, but as soon as this fear appears to be groundless they offer sacrifice to God.

Verse 27

27. The master of the song Rather, prince of the burden. See note above on 1 Chronicles 15:22.

With the singers There is no with in the Hebrew, and the word singers is probably an interpolation, being a repetition from the previous line made by some ancient transcriber.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-chronicles-15.html. 1874-1909.