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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
1 Chronicles 24

 

 

Verses 1-31

For the Chapter 24 passage and footnotes, see 1 Chronicles 23:1 ff.

4. The Twenty-four Classes of Priests: 1 Chronicles 24:1-19.—The enumeration of these follows quite suitably after the foregoing passage, particularly after 1 Chronicles 23:32; comp. the “sons of Aaron” with that in 1 Chronicles 24:1 of our chapter.—The sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, etc. Comp. on this introduction to the Davidic regulations referring to the Mosaic time in 1 Chronicles 24:1-2, 1Chronicles 5:29, and Exodus 6:23; Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4.

1 Chronicles 24:3. And David distributed them, so that Zadok of the sons of Eleazar. For ויחלקם, comp. on 1 Chronicles 23:6; for Zadok and Abiathar, on 1 Chr5:30, 1 Chronicles 16:39, 1 Chronicles 18:16; for פְּקֻדָּה, official class, on 1 Chronicles 23:11.

1 Chronicles 24:4. And the sons of Eleazar were found more numerous in chief men. These “men” (גְּבָרִים), of whom Eleazar had twice as many in heads or chiefs (רָאשִׁים) as Ithamar, are the chiefs, not of the great complex of families or houses (Berth.), but of the several families, the fathers, chiefs of the several priestly homes.

1 Chronicles 24:5. And they divided them. The subject is David, Zadok, and Ahimelech, to whom naturally this matter belonged.—One with the other, literally, “ these with those,” those of Eleazar with those of Ithamar; comp. 1 Chronicles 25:8.—For the holy princes and the princes of God. On the former phrase, comp. Isaiah 43:28, and the parallel phrase: “princes of the priests,” שָׂרֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים, 2 Chronicles 36:14; on the second (Sept. ἄρχοντες κυρίου) the equivalent: “high priests, upper priests.” For the princes of priests and high priests from Ithamar, who were far behind those of the line of Eleazar in number and importance, comp. on 2 Chr5:30.

1 Chronicles 24:6. Wrote them, namely, the classes, as the lot determined.—One father-house being taken for Eleazar and one for Ithamar, that Isaiah, alternately, from the urn containing the lots for Eleazar, and then from that containing the lots for Ithamar (so אָחֻז signifies; comp. Numbers 31:30; Numbers 31:47), that none might seem preferred before the other. And, indeed, this alternation in drawing the lots might have been so managed, that, on account of the double number of the families of Eleazar, two lots for Eleazar might be drawn for every one for Ithamar (comp. Berth.). Whether this mode of drawing lots be indicated by the doubling of the אָחֻז in the second place(וְאָחֻז אָחֻז לְאִיתָמָר), as Berth, thinks, is more than doubtful. Notwithstanding the almost universal agreement of the mss. respecting this double אָחֻז, and the fact that the old translators and the Rabbis did not understand the passage, the alteration of the first אָחֻז into אֶחָד (see Crit. Note) appears to be the only means of obtaining a correct conception of these otherwise dark words.

1 Chronicles 24:7 ff. The names of the twenty-four classes are now given in order, as they were settled by lot.—And the first lot came out of the urn; comp. for יצא in this sense, Joshua 16:1; Joshua 19:1. Jehoiarib and Jedaiah, the names of the first two classes, are so named together in 1 Chronicles 9:10. For Jedaiah, comp, besides Ezra 2:36, Nehemiah 7:39; for Jehoiarib, as the class from which Mattathias and the Maccabees sprang, 1 Maccabees 2:1; for Abijah, as the class of Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5; for the classes of Immer ( 1 Chronicles 24:14) and Jachin ( 1 Chronicles 24:17), 1 Chronicles 9:10; 1 Chronicles 9:12. Some of the twenty-four classes never occur again, namely, Seorim ( 1 Chronicles 24:8), Jeshehah ( 1 Chronicles 24:13), and Hapizez ( 1 Chronicles 24:15), some at least not among the priests, as Mijamin ( 1 Chronicles 24:9), Huppah ( 1 Chronicles 24:13), and Gamul ( 1 Chronicles 24:17). With respect to the name Pethahiah ( 1 Chronicles 24:16), Holzhausen (Die Weissagungen des Joel übers. und erklärt, Gött1829) has propounded the quite arbitrary conjecture that it is identical with Pethuel (פְּתוּאֵל = פְּתַחְיָה) the father of the prophet Joel,—a conjecture which is of almost as much value as that of Raschi, who would identify Pethuel the father of Joel with Samuel (comp. R. Wünsche, Die Weissagungen des Joel, 1872, p1).

1 Chronicles 24:19. According to their order by Aaron their father, as the Lord … had commanded him. Comp. the words occurring so often in the law: “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron” (for example, Numbers 4:1; Numbers 4:17), and similar Pentateuchic testimonies for the regulation of the priestly service according to the divine command.—The credibility of the present statements of the Chronist regarding the origin of the twenty-four classes of priests, and their order in the service by David, is attested by Ezekiel 8:16-18 (see the exposition of the passage), Nehemiah 12:1-7; Nehemiah 12:12-21, and by Josephus, Antiq. vii 141 Chronicles7 : διέμεινεν οὗτος μερισμὸς ἄχρι τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας, Against the assertion made by de Wette and Gramberg, and defended by Herzberg (Gesch. des v. Israel, i 381 ff.), that the twenty-four classes originated after the exile, see Movers, Chronik, p279 ff, and Oehler in Herzog’s Real Encycl. xii185 ff.

5. The Classes of the Levites: 1 Chronicles 24:20-31.—And for the remaining sons of Levi, after the enumeration of the priests. By this might be understood all the Levites except the family of Aaron or the priests; but as in the two following chapters the twenty-four orders of singers and the divisions of the porters and of those charged with external duties are enumerated apart, it seems necessary to suppose that the present section speaks only of the Levites employed in worship, and not of the whole body. They are “the brethren of Aaron,” the Levites specially assigned to the priests as assistants in divine service, whose division into classes is here described. Only on this assumption is explained the otherwise very surprising, indeed inconceivable, incompleteness of the present list of Levitical classes, compared with that of the Levitical houses named in 1 Chronicles 23:6-23, which embraces all the three families, the Kohathites, the Merarites, and the Gershonites, whereas the Gershonites are wholly excluded from the present list. This exclusion seems to have its ground in this, that, 1 Chronicles 26:20 ff, several Gershonite houses had the charge over the treasures of the sanctuary, and also the duties of officers and judges (although this is not expressly stated) were partly discharged by the Gershonites. So at least Keil, whereas others certainly, as Berth, regard our list as laid out for a full enumeration of all the Levitical classes or houses, but from some cause (perhaps “because the author was not able to make out all the names of the classes”) no longer fully preserved. The list, for the at least often defective character of which the elucidation of the details will afford more than one proof, begins after omitting the Gershonites, 1 Chronicles 24:20, at once with the classes of the Kohathites.—For the sons of Amram, Shubael was the chief or head of a class; obviously the son of Gershom son of Moses, therefore grandson of Amram, who is called Shebuel 1 Chronicles 23:16. The same double spelling of this name is found also 1 Chronicles 25:4; 1 Chronicles 25:20, in a family of singers of the house of Heman. As chief of the class springing from Shubael was, in David’s time, Jehdeiah, a person otherwise unknown, whose name, 1 Chronicles 27:30, is also borne by an officer of David.

1 Chronicles 24:21 ff. Other chiefs of classes are now named—1. For the Amramite class, Isshiah (different from the one named 1 Chronicles 24:25). 2. For the Izharite class, Jahath ( 1 Chronicles 24:22). 3. For the Uzzielite class of Micah, Shamir ( 1 Chronicles 24:24). 4. For the Uzzielite class of Isshiah, Zechariah ( 1 Chronicles 24:25). In this kind of enumeration, it is strange that in 1 Chronicles 24:23, where we should expect to find the chiefs of some classes of the great Hebronite family ( 1 Chronicles 23:19), only the names of the four chiefs or founders of the Hebronite houses, Jeriah, Amariah, Jahaziel, and Jekamam, are mentioned, quite as in 1 Chronicles 23:19, and indeed introduced by a mere וּבְנֵי before the name of the first יְרִיָּהוּ. There can be no doubt that the text is here defective. It is probable that not merely the name חֶבְרוֹן is to be inserted after וּבְנֵי (see Crit. Note), but that also the names of the four chiefs in David’s time have fallen out after those of the four classes.

1 Chronicles 24:26-27 bear still clearer marks of the corruption of the present text, perhaps even of its complete spuriousness, than 1 Chronicles 24:23 (comp. partly the Crit. Notes and partly the Exeg. Expl. of 1 Chronicles 23:21-23). Especially strange is—1. The בְּנֵי יַ‍ֽעֲזִיָּהוּ in 1 Chronicles 24:26 b, detached from that which goes before (instead of וּבְנֵי י״). 2. The בְּנוֹ in the same place, that cannot possibly be taken for a proper name (with some older exegetes), but rather indicates that a proper name had fallen out before it3. The repetition of בְּנֵי מְרָרִי at the beginning of 1 Chronicles 24:27, which appears to presume a wholly different mode of enumeration from that which is usual from 1 Chronicles 24:20 on4. The copula וְ before שֹׁהַם, as first of the sons of Jaaziah, in 1 Chronicles 24:27 b. To all this are to be added the reasons which make improbable the existence of a Jaaziah as third son of Merari along with Mahli and Mushi; see on 1 Chronicles 23:21 f. The spurious character of the two verses appears therefore almost certain, though they are attested by the Sept, Syr, and the Vulg.—For 1 Chronicles 24:28-29, comp. likewise the remark on 1 Chronicles 23:21 ff.

1 Chronicles 24:30. And the sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth. As in 1 Chronicles 24:23, so here it is strange to name the houses without stating the chiefs of the classes taken from them. The text appears here also to be defective.

1 Chronicles 24:31. And these also cast lots like their brethren the sons of Aaron. From this manifestation of the quite analogous character of the allotment of the Levites and the priests ( 1 Chronicles 24:1-19), it is highly probable that the number of the Levitical classes (as also that of the singers in the following chapter) was likewise twenty-four, although in the present text, the partial defectiveness of which is obvious, and needs no further proof, only fifteen chiefs of classes are expressly named.—The fathers, the chief like his younger brother; that Isaiah, the eldest brother representing the house, as well as his younger brother (for הָרֹאשׁ, in apposition with the father-house, comp. on 1 Chronicles 23:17-18). Quite correct in sense the Vulg.: “tam minores, quam majores; omnes sors æqualiter dividebat.” That nothing is communicated to us of the order of the several classes, as they were settled by lot, completes the impression of the great defectiveness which characterizes this section.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 24:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-chronicles-24.html. 1857-84.

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Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
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