Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them has the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister to him for ever.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then.—This word is here a real note of time. It seems to denote the end of the three months’ interval mentioned in 1Chronicles 13:14.
None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites.—See Numbers 4:5-15, where the Kohathite Levites are appointed to carry the Ark and other sacred objects; and the more definite Deuteronomy 10:8 : “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.” David’s enunciation of the law is a tacit acknowledgment that on the former occasion (1Chronicles 13:7-10) it had not been observed. That the Ark was now duly carried by bearers is expressly stated in the older account (2Samuel 6:13), though their being Levites is not noticed.1 Chronicles 15:2. David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites — The former miscarriage, when they brought up the ark from Kirjath- jearim, had taught him to treat it with greater reverence, according to the prescription of the law, which ordered the Levites to carry it on their shoulders, Numbers 4:15.1 Chronicles 13:11, had carefully considered all the legal requirements with respect to moving the ark, and was anxious that they should be strictly observed (compare 1 Chronicles 15:13).But the Levites, and that upon their shoulders; of which see Numbers 4:15 7:9; and not in a cart, as it was before, to our great grief and loss.
For ever, i.e. so long as the ark is to be removed, and as that worship continues.
none ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites; he saw his former mistake in employing those that were not Levites in bringing up the ark from Kirjathjearim, and bringing it in a cart, and not on the shoulders of the Levites, and so miscarried in his attempt, 2 Samuel 6:1 and, perhaps, had since more diligently consulted the law of God about this matter:
for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever; as long as the Levitical dispensation lasted, as appears from Numbers 1:50.Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. None … but the Levites] Numbers 1:50; Numbers 7:9. Nothing is said in the parallel place (2 Samuel 6:13) of the Levites, but bearers (and not a cart) are spoken of with regard to this second attempt. Cp. 2 Chronicles 5:4, note.Verse 2. - This verse together with vers. 12-15 show that the severe lesson of the destruction of Uzzah had been laid to heart, and had made David supremely anxious to take better counsel of the Law. Uzzah, though possibly the son of a Levite, more probably of a Hivite (Joshua 9:7, 17), was not a priest, nor is there any sufficient evidence that he was a Levite; and most distinct was the order of the Law (Numbers 1:51-53; Numbers 3:29-32; 4:15420), that "when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." So the sons of Kohath are to come to bear the sanctuary with all its sacred vessels, "but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die." Many things were allowed to be carried on waggons under the charge of the Gershonites and Merarites, but the strict contents of the sanctuary were to be borne in a specified manner by the Kohathites. 2 Samuel 5:12, in the Chronicle we read למעלה נשּׂאת כּי, that his kingdom had been lifted up on high. The unusual form נשּׂאת may be, according to the context, the third pers. fem. perf. Niph., nisaa't having first been changed into נשּׂאת, and thus contracted into נשּׂאת; cf. Ew. 194, b. In 2 Samuel 19:43 the same form is the infin. abs. Niph. למעלה is here, as frequently in the Chronicles, used to intensify the expression: cf. 1 Chronicles 22:5; 1 Chronicles 23:17; 1 Chronicles 29:3, 1 Chronicles 29:25; 2 Chronicles 1:1; 2 Chronicles 17:12. With regard to the sons of David, see on 1 Chronicles 3:5-8.
In the account of the victories over the Philistines, the statement (2 Samuel 5:17) that David went down to the mountain-hold, which has no important connection with the main fact, and would have been for the readers of the Chronicle somewhat obscure, is exchanged in 1 Chronicles 14:8 for the more general expression לפניהם ויּצא, "he went forth against them." In 1 Chronicles 14:14, the divine answer to David's question, whether he should march against the Philistines, runs thus: מעליהם הסב אחריהם תּעלה לא, Thou shalt not go up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the baca-bushes; - while in 2 Samuel 5:23, on the contrary, we read: אל־אחריהם הסב תעלה הסב אל־א לע, Thou shalt not go up (i.e., advance against the enemy to attack them in front); turn thee behind them (i.e., to their rear), and come upon them over against the baca-bushes. Bertheau endeavours to get rid of the discrepancy, by supposing that into both texts corruptions have crept through transcribers' errors. He conjectures that the text of Samuel was originally אחריהם תּעלה לא, while in the Chronicle a transposition of the words עליהם and אחריהם was occasioned by a copyist's error, which in turn resulted in the alteration of עליהם into מעליהם. This supposition, however, stands or falls with the presumption that by תּעלה לא (Sam.) an attack is forbidden; but for that presumption no tenable grounds exist: it would rather involve a contradiction between the first part of the divine answer and the second. The last clause, "Come upon them from over against the baca-bushes," shows that the attack was not forbidden; all that was forbidden was the making of the attack by advancing straight forward: instead of that, they were to try to fall upon them in the rear, by making a circuit. The chronicler consequently gives us an explanation of the ambiguous words of 2 Samuel, which might easily be misunderstood. As David's question was doubtless expressed as it is in 1 Chronicles 14:10, הפל על האעלה, the answer תּעלה לא might be understood to mean, "Go not up against them, attack them not, but go away behind them;" but with that the following וגו להם וּבאת, "Come upon them from the baca-bushes," did not seem to harmonize. The chronicler consequently explains the first clauses of the answer thus: "Go not up straight behind them," i.e., advance not against them so as to attack them openly, "but turn thyself away from them," i.e., strike off in such a direction as to turn their flank, and come upon them from the front of the baca-bushes. In this way the apparently contradictory texts are reconciled without the alteration of a word. In 1 Chronicles 14:17, which is wanting in Samuel, the author concludes the account of these victories by the remark that they tended greatly to exalt the name of David among the nations. For similar reflections, cf. 2 Chronicles 17:10; 2 Chronicles 20:29; 2 Chronicles 14:13; and for שׁם ויּצא, 2 Chronicles 26:15.
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