And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brothers, in the service of the house of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And that they should keep.—This verse sums up the functions of the Levites under three general heads: “And let them keep the charge of the tent of meeting.” The words are evidently based upon Numbers 18:3-5.
And the charge of the sons of Aaron.—That is, all that the priests committed to them, and required of them (1Chronicles 23:28) as their appointed assistants. The word rendered “charge” literally means keeping, guard, watch.
In the service.—For the service.
ADDITIONAL NOTE on 1Chronicles 23:28; 1Chronicles 23:32. The law respecting the sacred tent was naturally applied to the future Temple. It is hardly fair to say, with Reuss, that “in the perspective of the author the Tabernacle of David and the Temple of Solomon were confounded with each other.” In 1Chronicles 16:37-39, the chronicler has clearly distinguished two sacred tents: that of the Ark on Mount Zion, and the ancient sanctuary at Gibeon. Throughout that lengthy narrative of the transfer of the Ark, the Temple is not mentioned at all. And if in 1Chronicles 23:28 David speaks of “courts” and “chambers,” that only shows that the king meant his assignation of the duties of the Levites to be permanent. Nor will it make much difference if we allow that the writer, in speaking of David’s tent, has used language more applicable to the Temple of Solomon. The functions of the Levites in both would be essentially the same. The great historian Ewald believed the whole section, 1Chronicles 23:24 to 1Chronicles 24:31 to be an authentic extract from “the Book of Origins,” which he refers to the early years of Solomon’s reign.2 Chronicles 29:34; 2 Chronicles 35:11-12.
24-27. These were the sons of Levi … that did the work … from the age of twenty years and upward—The enumeration of the Levites was made by David (1Ch 23:3) on the same rule as that followed by Moses (Nu 4:3), namely, from thirty years. But he saw afterwards that this rule might be beneficially relaxed, and that the enrolment of Levites for their proper duties might be made from twenty years of age. The ark and tabernacle being now stationary at Jerusalem, the labor of the Levites was greatly diminished, as they were no longer obliged to transport its heavy furniture from place to place. The number of thirty-eight thousand Levites, exclusive of priests, was doubtless more than sufficient for the ordinary service of the tabernacle. But this pious king thought that it would contribute to the glory of the Lord to employ as many officers in his divine service as possible. These first rules, however, which David instituted, were temporary, as very different arrangements were made after the ark had been deposited in the tabernacle of Zion.The charge of the sons of Aaron, i.e. what the priests should commit to their charge, or command them to do.
and the charge of the holy place; of things that belonged unto it, the vessels in it, and what was requisite for it, and used there: and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren; the priests, whatever they should command them to do: in the service of the house of the Lord; in any part and branch of it before specified.And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service of the house of the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)32. the tabernacle of the congregation] R.V. the tent of meeting.
the charge of the holy place] The limits within which this charge was confined are given Numbers 4:15. Not all Levites, but only the sons of Kohath had this particular charge.
the charge of the sons of Aaron] Cp. Numbers 18:1-7.Verse 32. - Keep the charge of the tabernacle... holy place... sons of Aaron. This concluding verse is equivalent to a quotation from Numbers 18:1-7; in the first verse of which passage Aaron and the priests generally are reminded both of their representative character and position, and of the solemn responsibility which rested on them.
1 Chronicles 23:24. "These (the just enumerated) are the sons of Levi according to their fathers'-houses, according to those who were counted (Numbers 1:21.; Exodus 30:14) in the enumeration by name (Numbers 1:18; Numbers 3:43), by the head, performing the work for the service of the house of Jahve, from the men of twenty years and upwards." המּלאכה עשׂה is not singular, but plural, as in 2 Chronicles 24:12; 2 Chronicles 34:10, 2 Chronicles 34:13; Exodus 3:9; Nehemiah 2:16, cf. 2 Chronicles 11:1. It occurs along with עשׁי, with a similar meaning and in a like position, 2 Chronicles 24:13; 2 Chronicles 34:17; Nehemiah 11:12; Nehemiah 13:10. It is only another way of writing עשׁי, and the same form is found here and there in other words; cf. Ew. 16, b. The statement that the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and upwards is accounted for in 1 Chronicles 23:25 thus: David said, The Lord has given His people rest, and He dwells in Jerusalem; and the Levites also have no longer to bear the dwelling (tabernacle) with all its vessels. From this, of course, it results that they had not any longer to do such heavy work as during the march through the wilderness, and so might enter upon their service even at the age of twenty. In 1 Chronicles 23:27 a still further reason is given: "For by the last words of David was this, (viz.) the numbering of the sons of Levi from twenty years old and upwards." There is a difference of opinion as to how העחרונים דויד בּדברי are to be understood. Bertheau translates, with Kimchi, "in the later histories of David are the number equals the numbered," and adduces in support of his translation 1 Chronicles 29:29, whence it is clear that by "the later histories of David" a part of a historical work is meant. But the passage quoted does not prove this. In the formula והאחרנים והאחרנים דּברי... (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 16:11, etc.), which recurs at the end of each king's reign, דּברי denotes not historiae, in the sense of a history, but res gestae, which are recorded in the writings named. In accordance with this, therefore, דויד דּברי cannot denote writings of David, but only words or things ( equals deeds); but the Levites who were numbered could not be in the acts of David. We must rather translate according to 2 Chronicles 29:30 and 2 Samuel 23:1. In the latter passage דויד דּברי are the last words (utterances) of David, and in the former דויד בּדּברי, "by the words of David," i.e., according to the commands or directions of David. In this way, Cler. and Mich., with the Vulg. juxta praecepta, have already correctly translated the words: "according to the last commands of David." המּה is nowhere found in the signification sunt as the mere copula of the subject and verb, but is everywhere an independent predicate, and is here to be taken, according to later linguistic usage, as neutr. sing. (cf. Ew. 318, b): "According to the last commands of David, this," i.e., this was done, viz., the numbering of the Levites from twenty years and upwards. From this statement, from twenty years and upwards, which is so often repeated, and for which the reasons are so given, it cannot be doubtful that the statement in 1 Chronicles 23:3, "from thirty years and upwards," is incorrect, and that, as has been already remarked on 1 Chronicles 23:3, שׁלשׁים has crept into the text by an error of the copyist, who was thinking of the Mosaic census.
(Note: The explanation adopted from Kimchi by the older Christian commentators, e.g., by J. H. Mich., is an untenable makeshift. It is to this effect: that David first numbered the Levites from thirty years old and upwards, according to the law (Numbers 4:3; Numbers 23:30), but that afterwards, when he saw that those of twenty years of age were in a position to perform the duties, lightened as they were by its being no longer necessary for the Levites to bear the sanctuary from place to place, he included all from twenty years of age in a second census, taken towards the end of his life; cf. 1 Chronicles 23:27. Against this Bertheau has already rightly remarked that the census of the Levites gave the number at 38,000 (1 Chronicles 23:3), and these 38,000 and no others were installed; it is nowhere said that this number was not sufficient, or that the arrangements based upon this number (1 Chronicles 23:4, 1 Chronicles 23:5) had no continued existence. He is, however, incorrect in his further remark, that the historian clearly enough is desirous of calling attention to the fact that here a statement is made which is different from the former, for of this there is no trace; the contrary, indeed, is manifest. Since אלּה (1 Chronicles 23:24) refers back to the just enumerated fathers'-houses of the Levites, and 1 Chronicles 23:24 consequently forms the subscription to the preceding register, the historian thereby informs us plainly enough that he does not communicate here a statement different from the former, but only concludes that which he has formerly communicated. We cannot very well see how, from the fact that he here for the first time adduces the motive which determined David to cause the Levites from twenty years old and upwards to be numbered and employed in the service, it follows that he derived this statement of David's motive from a source different from that account which he has hitherto made use of. Nor would it be more manifest if 1 Chronicles 23:27 contained - as it does not contain - a reference to the source from which he derived this statement.)
In 1 Chronicles 23:28-32 we have, in the enumeration of the duties which the Levites had to perform, another ground for the employment of those from twenty years old and upwards in actual service.
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