1 Chronicles 25:1
Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXV.

THE TWENTY-FOUR CLASSES OF SINGERS, OR MINSTRELS.

(1) Moreover (and) David and the captains of the host.—The latter (“the princes” of 1Chronicles 24:6), were also concerned in the arrangement of the priestly classes (1Chronicles 23:2).

Separated to the service of the sons of Asaph.—Rather, separated for service the sons of Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun. These formed three guilds of sacred minstrels, famous to all after times. (Comp. the headings of many psalms in which these names occur, and also 1Chronicles 6:33, sqq., whence it appears that Asaph belonged to the sub tribe of Gershon, Heman to that of Kohath, and Ethan-Jeduthun to that of Merari, so that all the branches of Levi were represented among the musicians.)

Separated.—So Numbers 16:9, and Genesis 1:7. (Comp Acts 13:2.)

Who should prophesy with harps.—In Hebrew, the verb to prophesy is a reflexive form, implying utterance under a spiritual influence. The ancients regarded musical utterance as an effect and proof of direct inspiration, and we still speak of the higher results of genius as inspired, however we may choose to explain the term away as a mere figure of speech. The power of moving sounds, whether of voice or instrument, is not to be gained by mere study or training; it is commonly spoken of as a “gift,” and its products are called “inspirations.” Whence come they, if not from the Divine source of life, and of all that makes life glad and beautiful? (James 1:17; 1Samuel 10:5; 1Samuel 16:16; 1Samuel 18:10).

Harps, with psalteries.—Lutes and harps.

And the number of the workmen according to their service was.—Literally, And the number of themthat is, of the men of workfor their service proved (as follows).

Men of work.—A remarkable appellation. The term “work” is popularly restricted to what is called productive labour, but it is not difficult to see that persons engaged, like these minstrels, in singing and playing to the praise of God are actually helping to produce one of the best of real results, viz., the conservation of the religious spirit: that is, of the right attitude of man towards the Power upon whom his entire welfare absolutely depends.

1 Chronicles 25:1. And captains — All the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites, whom David gathered together (1 Chronicles 23:2) for this very end, that, with their approbation and consent, all these things might be established, who are here fitly called the captains of the host; for the princes were, under David, the chief captains of the militia of the kingdom; and as the Levites are called a host, and the Lord’s host, because of their number and order in holy ministrations, so these priests and Levites were the captains and governors of the rest. Separated — Distributed them into their several ranks: which, though chiefly done by David as a prophet, and by divine direction, yet is imputed in part to the captains of the host, because it was done with their concurrence and approbation. The service — To the service of God, under the conduct of these persons. Who should prophesy — Praise God by singing the psalms of David, and other sacred songs made by themselves, who were prophets, or by other prophets or holy men of God. The number of the workmen according to their service — Although this sacred work of praising God is here termed service, and the persons employed in it workmen, yet it is the greatest liberty and pleasure to be engaged in it. But the expressions intimate that it is our duty to make a business of it, and stir up all that is within us to it; and that in our present state of corruption and infirmity, it will not be done, as it should be done, without labour and struggle. We must take pains with our hearts to bring and keep them to this work, and to engage all that is within us in it. It is probable, Heman, Asaph, and Jeduthun were bred up under Samuel, and had their education in the schools of the prophets, of which he was the founder and president. Then they were pupils, now they come to be masters. Those that would be eminent must begin early and take time to prepare themselves. This good work, of singing God’s praises, Samuel revived and set on foot, but lived not to see it brought to the perfection in which it appears here. Solomon perfects what David began. So David perfects what Samuel began. Let each in their day do what they can for God and his church, though they cannot carry it so far as they would; when they are gone, God can out of stones raise up others, who shall build upon their foundation, and bring forth the top-stone.

25:1-31 The singers and musicians. - David put those in order who were appointed to be singers and musicians in the temple. To prophesy, in this place, means praising God with great earnestness and devout affections, under the influences of the Holy Spirit. In raising these affections, poetry and music were employed. If the Spirit of God do not put life and fervour into our devotions, they will, however ordered, be a lifeless, worthless form.The captains of the host - Rather, "the princes" of 1 Chronicles 23:2; 1 Chronicles 24:6. CHAPTER 25

1Ch 25:1-7. Number and Office of the Singers.

1. David and the captains of the host—that is, the princes (1Ch 23:2; 24:6). It is probable that the king was attended on the occasion of arranging the singers by the same parties that are mentioned as having assisted him in regulating the order of the priests and Levites.The number and offices of the singers out of the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, 1 Chronicles 25:1-7. Their division by lot into twenty-four orders, 1 Chronicles 25:8-31 The captains of the host; both of the civil and sacred host, to wit, all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites, whom David gathered together, 1 Chronicles 23:2, for this very end, that in their presence, and with their approbation and consent, all these things might be established; who are here fitly called the captains of the host; for the princes were, under David, the chief captains or commanders of the militia or trained bands of the kingdom: and as the Levites are called a host, and the Lord’s host, Numbers 4:3, and elsewhere, because of their number and order in holy ministrations; so these priests and Levites were the captains and governors of the rest. Separated, i.e. distributed them into their several ranks and orders; which, though chiefly done by David as a prophet, and by Divine direction, as hath been oft observed, yet is here imputed in part to the captains of the host, because it was done with their concurrence and approbation. To the service of the sons of Asaph, &c, i.e. to the service of God under the conduct and command of these persons. Who should prophesy, i.e. praise God by singing the Psalms of David, (of which See Poole "1 Chronicles 16:7",) and other sacred songs made by themselves, who were prophets in some sort, or by other prophets or holy men of God. Or this action of theirs is called prophesying, because it had been formerly performed by the prophets; and the sons of the prophets; of which see 1 Samuel 10:5 19:20 2 Kings 3:15 1 Chronicles 15:19. The number of the workmen; of the persons employed in this sacred work.

Moreover, David and the captains of the host separated to the service,.... Of singing the praises of God; this was done by the princes of the people, and the chief of the priests, who were gathered together, and before whom the lots were cast, both for priests and Levites, and now here for the singers, see 1 Chronicles 22:2 and those that were separated were

of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun; or Ethan, the three precentors, or chief of the singers:

who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals; sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, endited by the Holy Spirit of God; which contained in them prophecies concerning things to come, particularly relating to the Messiah, of which there are many in the book of Psalms; and to the tunes of these they played on the above instruments of music:

and the number of the workmen, according to their service, was; as follows.

Moreover David and the captains of the host {a} separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:

(a) The singers were divided into 24 courses, so that every course or order contained twelve, and in all there were 288, as in 1Ch 25:7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 1 Chronicles 25:1-7. The Families of the Singers

1. Moreover David] Render, And David.

separated] Cp. 1 Chronicles 23:13, note.

to the service of the sons of Asaph] R.V. for the service certain of the sons of Asaph.

psalteries] See 1 Chronicles 13:8, note.

of the workmen] R.V. of them that did the work.

Verse 1. - The twenty-four courses of those who were to be engaged in the temple service as singers and musicians fill up this chapter. They are to be taken from the three great families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. For the captains of the host, as designating those who superintended the order of temple worship, see 1 Chronicles 22:17; 1 Chronicles 23:2; 1 Chronicles 24:6; as also Numbers 4:3; Numbers 8:23. The sons of Asaph. (For a clear instance of the use of the preposition (lamed) prefixed, as here, see Ezra 8:24.) The English should appear "the sons of Asaph." Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun belonged respectively to the Gershon, Kohath, and Merarite families (1 Chronicles 6:18-32). Thus these singers and musicians were drawn from each great branch of Levi; viz. from Gershon, four through Asaph; from Kohath, six through Jeduthun; and from Merari, fourteen through Heman; while the whole number of those trained to sing was two hundred and eighty-eight. Who should prophesy. The Hebrew הַגִּבְּאִים (Jeremiah 14:14, 16) stands for Niphal participle plural, the singular of which (חַנּבָּא) appears in the following two verses. These were the utterers in song of the Divine mind and will. The essential meaning of the expression evidently is to use the voice in sacred service, more or less under Divine impulse. With cymbals. These instruments were used to regulate the time (compare this verse with 1 Chronicles 13:8). For some particulars respecting these and other musical instruments used in Israel at this time, the article "Music" in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary' may be consulted with advantage. And the number, etc. The literal translation of the last clause of this verse is, And was their number, the men of work, for their service, i.e. "And the number of workmen for the service was." The workmen intend, of course, those who performed the service. 1 Chronicles 25:1The twenty-four classes of musicians. - 1 Chronicles 25:1. "David and the princes of the host separated for the service the sons of Asaph," etc. הצּבא שׂרי are not princes of the Levite host; for although the service of the Levites is called צבא צבא in Numbers 4:23, yet the princes of the Levites are nowhere called הצבא שׂרי. This expression rather denotes either the leaders of the army of the chiefs of Israel, as the host of Jahve, Exodus 12:17, Exodus 12:41, etc. Here it is used in the last signification, as synonymous with princes of Israel (1 Chronicles 23:2); in Exodus 24:6 we have simply the princes, along with whom the heads of the fathers'-houses of the priests and the Levites are mentioned. לעבדה הבדּיל, separate for the service; cf. Numbers 16:9. The ל in אסף לבני is nota acc. Since Asaph was, according to 1 Chronicles 6:39-43, a descendant of Gershon, Heman, according to 1 Chronicles 6:33-38, a descendant of Kohath, and Jeduthun ( equals Ethan) a descendant of Merari (1 Chronicles 6:44-47), all the chief families of Levi had representatives among the singers. The Kethibh הנביאים is an orthographical error for הנּבּאים (Keri), partic. Niph., corresponding to the singular הנּבּא, 1 Chronicles 25:2 and 1 Chronicles 25:3. נּבּא, prophetare, is here used in its wider signification of the singing and playing to the praise of God performed in the power of the Divine Spirit. In reference to the instruments of these chief musicians, cf. 1 Chronicles 15:16. The suffix in מספּרם refers to the following noun, which is subordinated to the word מספּר as genitive; cf. the similar construction עצל נפשׁו, his, the sluggard's, soul, Proverbs 13:4, and Ew. 309, e. "Their number (the number) of the workmen for the service, i.e., of those who performed the work of the service, was (as follows)."
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