2 Chronicles 23:6
But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.
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(6) But let none come into the house of the Lord.—This verse is not read in Kings. Apparently it is merely an emphatic repetition of the direction of the last verse that all the people were to remain in the courts, and not to break the law by presuming to enter the holy chambers. In 2Kings 11:7 we read instead: “And the two parts among you, all that go out on the Sabbath, they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord, with regard to the king.” The last words of the present verse, “And all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord” repeat a portion of this, but in a different sense: “Let all the people carefully observe the legal rule against entering the sanctuary.”

2 Chronicles 23:6. Let none come into the house of the Lord — Strictly so called, and distinguished from the courts just mentioned, namely, into the sanctuary, or holy place. Save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites — Who are to minister in course, or according to my present appointment. They shall go in, for they are holy — They have been consecrated to the service of God, and are bound to attend there. But all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord — That is, of the house of the Lord, as is expressed 2 Kings 11:6. The meaning is, Let them stand in their court to prevent and oppose any person that shall endeavour violently to break into the house, to seize upon the king, or to oppose the present work, which he expected Athaliah and her accomplices would do.

23:12-20 A warning from God was sent to Jehoram. The Spirit of prophecy might direct Elijah to prepare this writing in the foresight of Jehoram's crimes. He is plainly told that his sin should certainly ruin him. But no marvel that sinners are not frightened from sin, and to repentance, by the threatenings of misery in another world, when the certainty of misery in this world, the sinking of their estates, and the ruin of their health, will not restrain them from vicious courses. See Jehoram here stripped of all his comforts. Thus God plainly showed that the controversy was with him, and his house. He had slain all his brethren to strengthen himself; now, all his sons are slain but one. David's house must not be wholly destroyed, like those of Israel's kings, because a blessing was in it; that of the Messiah. Good men may be afflicted with diseases; but to them they are fatherly chastisements, and by the support of Divine consolations the soul may dwell at ease, even when the body lies in pain. To be sick and poor, sick and solitary, but especially to be sick and in sin, sick and under the curse of God, sick and without grace to bear it, is a most deplorable case. Wickedness and profaneness make men despicable, even in the eyes of those who have but little religion.Keep the watch of the Lord - i. e. guard against any attempt that might be made by the Baal-worshippers to force their way through the courts into the temple. 4-9. This is the thing that ye shall do—The arrangements made for defense are here described. The people were divided into three bodies; one attended as guards to the king, while the other two were posted at all the doors and gates, and the captains and military officers who entered the temple unarmed to lull suspicion, were furnished with weapons out of the sacred armory, where David had deposited his trophies of victory and which was reopened on this occasion. Into the house of the Lord; strictly so called, as it is distinguished from the courts, into which others were permitted to come, 2 Chronicles 23:5, to wit, into the holy place.

The priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they who are to minister in course, or by my present appointment.

The watch of the Lord, i.e. of the house of the Lord; as the phrase may be filled up out of this place and 2 Kings 11:6. The sense is, Let them stand in their court to prevent and oppose any person who shall endeavour violently to break into the house to seize upon the king, or to disturb their present work; which he expected Athaliah and her accomplices would do.

The contents of this chapter are the same with 2 Kings 11:4 and need no other explanation than what may be found in the notes there, to which the reader is referred.See Gill on 2 Kings 11:4. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:5. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:6. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:7. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:8. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:9. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:10. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:11. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:12. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:13. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:14. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:15. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:16. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:17. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:18. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:19. See Gill on 2 Kings 11:20. But let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy: but all the people shall keep the watch of the LORD.
6. let none come into the house of the Lord] It is clear on the contrary from Kings (2 Chronicles 23:11) that the royal guards (who were laymen) were brought into the Temple itself under Jehoiada’s directions. Ritual custom was broken through for such a crisis.

all the people] Not mentioned in Kings; but cp. 2 Kings 11:14.

Verse 6. - But let none come... save the priests. Through this little chink we get some light confirmatory of the concurrent jurisdiction of the account in the parallel The express caution of this clause shows that there were others about, and others officiating, beside the Levites, who only have been mentioned hitherto in our text, except under the most generic designation (as before, so again in last clause of this verse) of "all the people." The last clause of this verse may cover the contents of ver. 7 in the parallel. The distinction between "the courts of the house of the Lord" (ver. 5), and "the house of the Lord" (ver. 6) is, of course, quite apparent. 2 Chronicles 23:6The case is similar with the contradictions in the account of the carrying out of the arrangements agreed upon. In Bertheau's view, this is the state of the case: According to 2 Kings 11:5-8, the one part of the body-guard, which on Sabbath mounted guard in the royal palace, were to divide themselves into three bands: one third was to keep the guard of the royal house, which was certainly in the neighbourhood of the main entrance; the second third was to stand at the gate Sur, probably a side-gate of the palace; the third was to stand behind the door of the runners. The other part of the body-guard, on the other hand - all those who were relieved on the Sabbath - were to occupy the temple, so as to defend the young king. But according to the representation of the Chronicle, (1) the priests and the Levites were to divide themselves into three parts: the first third, those of the priests and Levites, who entered upon their duties on the Sabbath, were to be watchers of the thresholds (cf. on 1 Chronicles 9:19.), i.e., were to mount guard in the temple as usual; the second third was to be in the house of the king (i.e., where the first third was to keep watch, according to 2 Kings); the third was to be at the gate Jesod. Then (2) the whole people were to stand in the courts of the temple, and, according to 2 Chronicles 23:6, were to observe the ordinance of Jahve (2 Chronicles 13:11), by which they were forbidden to enter the temple. From this Bertheau then concludes: "The guarding of the house of Jahve for the protection of the king (2 Kings 11:7) has here become a יהוה משׁמרת." But in opposition to this, we have to remark that in 2 Kings 11:5-8 is it not said that the royal body-guard was to be posted as guards in the royal palace and in the temple; that is only a conclusion from the fact that Jehoiada conferred on the matter with the המּאות שׂרי of the executioners and runners, i.e., of the royal satellites, and instructed these centurions, that those entering upon the service on Sabbath were to keep watch in three divisions, and those retiring from the service in two divisions, in the following places, which are then more accurately designated. The one division of those entering upon the service were to stand, according to 2 Kings, by the gate Sur; according to the Chronicle, by the gate Jesod. The second, according to 2 Kings, was to keep the guard of the king's house; according to the Chronicle, it was to be in or by the king's house. The third was, according to 2 Kings, to be by (in) the gate behind the runners, and to keep the guard of the house Massach; according to the Chronicle, they were to serve as watchers of the thresholds. If, as is acknowledged by all, the gate סוּר is identical with the gate היסוד, - although it can neither be ascertained whether the difference in name has resulted merely from an orthographical error, or rests upon a double designation of one gate; nor yet can it be pointed out what the position of this gate, which is nowhere else mentioned, was, - then the Chronicle and 2 Kings gree as to the posts which were to occupy this door. The position also of the third part, המּלך בּבית (Chron.), will not be different from that of the third part, to which was committed the guarding of the king's house (Kings). The place where this third part took up its position is not exactly pointed out in either narrative, yet the statement, "to keep the watch of the house (temple) for warding off" (Kings), agrees with the appointment "to be guards of the thresholds" (Chron.), since the guarding of the thresholds has no other aim than to prevent unauthorized persons from entering. Now, since the young king, not merely according to the Chron., but also according to 2 Kings 11:4, - where we are told that Jehoiada showed the son of the king to the chief men whom he had summoned to the house of Jahve, - was in the temple, and only after his coronation and Athaliah's death was led solemnly into the royal palace, we might take the king's house, the guard of which the one third of those entering upon the service were to keep (2 Kings 11:7), to be the temple building in which the young king was, and interpret המּלך בּבית in accordance with that idea. In that case, there would be no reference to the settling of guards in the palace; and that view would seem to be favoured by the circumstance that the other third part of those entering upon their service on the Sabbath were to post themselves at the gate, behind the runners, and keep the guard of the house מסּח. That מסּח is not a nom. propr., but appellat., from נסח, to ward off, signifying warding off, is unanimously acknowledged by modern commentators; only Thenius would alter מסּח into וּנסח, "and shall ward off." Gesenius, on the contrary, in his Thesaurus, takes the word to be a substantive, cum משׁמרת per appositionem conjunctum, in the signification, the guard for warding off, and translates, et vos agetis custodiam templi ad depellendum sc. populum (to ward off). If this interpretation be correct, then these words also do not treat of a palace guard; and to take הבּית to signify the temple is so evidently suggested by the context, according to which the high priest conducted the whole transaction in the temple, that we must have better grounds for referring the words to the royal palace than the mere presumption that, because the high priest discussed the plan with the captains of the royal body-guard, it must be the occupation of the royal palace which is spoken of.

But quite apart from the Chronicle, even the further account of the matter in 2 Kings 11 is unfavourable to the placing of guards in the royal palace. According to 2 Chronicles 23:9, the captains did exactly as Jehoiada commanded. They took each of them their men - those coming on the Sabbath, and those departing - and went to the priest Jehoiada, who gave them David's weapons out of the house of God (2 Chronicles 23:10), and the satellites stationed themselves in the court of the temple, and there the king was crowned. The unambiguous statement, 2 Chronicles 23:9, that the captains, each with his men - i.e., those coming on Sabbath (entering upon the service), and those departing - came to the high priest in the temple, and there took up their position in the court, decisively excludes the idea that "those coming on the Sabbath" had occupied the guard-posts in the royal palace, and demands that the divisions mentioned in 2 Chronicles 23:5 and 2 Chronicles 23:6 should be posted at different parts and gates of the temple. That one third part had assigned to it a place behind the gate of the runners is not at all inconsistent with the above idea; for even if the gate behind the runners be identical with the gate of the runners (2 Kings 11:19), it by no means follows from that that it was a gate of the palace, and not of the outer court of the temple. In accordance with this view, then, 2 Kings 11:5, 2 Kings 11:6 do not treat of an occupation of the royal palace, but of a provision for the security of the temple by the posting of guards. It is, moreover, against the supposition that the entrances to the palace were occupied by guards, that Athaliah, when she heard from her palace the noise of the people in the temple, came immediately into the temple, and was dragged forth and slain by the captains there in command. For what purpose can they have placed guards by the palace gates, if they did not desire to put any hindrance in the way of the queen's going forth into the temple? The hypotheses of Thenius, that it was done to keep away those who were devoted to Athaliah, to make themselves masters of the palace, and to hinder Athaliah from taking any measures in opposition to them, and to guard the place of the throne, are nothing but expedients resulting from embarrassment. If there was no intention to put any hindrance in the way of the queen leaving the palace, there could have been none to prevent her taking opposing measures. For the rest, the result obtained by careful consideration of the account in 2 Kings 11, that in 2 Chronicles 23:5, 2 Chronicles 23:6 an occupation by guards, not of the royal palace, but of the temple, is spoken of, does not stand or fall with the supposition that המּלך בּית was the dwelling of the young king in the temple building, and not the palace. The expression המּלך בּית משׁמרת שׁמר, to guard the guard of the king's house, i.e., to have regard to whatever is to be regarded in reference to the king's house, is so indefinite and elastic, that it may have been used of a post which watched from the outer court of the temple what was going on in the palace, which was over against the temple. With this also the corresponding המּלך בּבית, in the short account of the distribution of the guards given by the chronicler (2 Chronicles 23:5), may be reconciled, if we translate it "at the house of the king," and call to mind that, according to 2 Kings 16:18 and 1 Kings 10:5, there was a special approach from the palace to the temple for the king, which this division may have had to guard. But notwithstanding the guarding of this way, Athaliah could come from the palace into the court of the temple by another way, or perhaps the guards were less watchful at their posts during the solemnity of the young king's coronation.

And not less groundless is the assertion that the priest Jehoiada availed himself in the execution of his plan, according to 2 Kings 11, mainly of the co-operation of the royal body-guard, according to the Chronicle mainly of that of the Levites; or that the chronicler, as Thenius expresses it, "has made the body-guards of 2 Kings to Levites, in order to diver to the priesthood the honour which belonged to the Praetorians." The המּאות שׂרי, mentioned by name in the Chronicle, with whom Jehoiada discussed his plan, and who had command of the guards when it was carried out, are not called Levites, and may consequently have been captains of the executioners and runners, i.e., of the royal body-guard, as they are designated in 2 Kings 11:4. But the men who occupied the various posts are called in both texts השּׁבּת בּאי (2 Kings 11:5; 2 Chronicles 23:4): in 2 Kings 11:7 and 2 Kings 11:9, the corresponding השּׁבּת יצאי is added; while in the Chronicle the השׁבת באי are expressly called Levites, the words וללויּם לכּהנים being added. But we know from Luke 1:5, compared with 1 Chronicles 24, that the priests and Levites performed the service in the temple in courses from one Sabbath to another, while we have no record of any such arrangement as to the service of the Praetorians; so that we must understand the words "coming on the Sabbath" (entering upon the service), and "going on the Sabbath" (those relieved from it), of the Levites in the first place. Had it been intended that by these words in 2 Kings 11 we should understand Praetorians, it must necessarily have been clearly said. From the words spoken to the centurions of the body-guard, "the third part of you," etc., it does not follow at all as a matter of course that they were so, any more than from the fact that in 2 Kings 11:11, the posts set are called הרצים, the runners equals satellites. If we suppose that in this extraordinary case the Levitic temple servants were placed under the command of centurions of the royal body-guard, who were in league with the high priest, the designation of the men they commanded by the name רצים, satellites, is fully explained; the men having been previously more accurately described as those who were entering upon and being relieved from service on the Sabbath. In this way I have explained the matter in my apologet. Versuch ber die Chron. S. 362ff., but this explanation of it has neither been regarded nor confuted by Thenius and Bertheau. Even the mention of כּרי and רצים along with the captains and the whole people, in 2 Kings 11:19, is not inconsistent with it; for we may without difficulty suppose, as has been said in my commentary on that verse, that the royal body-guard, immediately after the slaughter of Athaliah, went over to the young king just crowned, in order that they, along with the remainder of the people who were assembled in the court, might lead him thence to the royal palace. There is only one statement in the two texts which can scarcely be reconciled with this conjecture, - namely, the mention of the רצים and of the people in the temple before Athaliah was slain (2 Chronicles 23:12 and 2 Kings 11:13 Kings), since it follows from that that runners or satellites belonging to the body-guard were either posted, or had assembled with the others, in the court of the temple. To meet this statement, we must suppose that the centurions of the body-guard employed not merely the Levitic temple guard, but also some of the royal satellites, upon whose fidelity they could rely, to occupy the posts mentioned in 2 Kings 11:5-7 and 2 Chronicles 23:4, 2 Chronicles 23:5 ; so that the company under the command of the centurions who occupied the various posts in the temple consisted partly of Levitic temple guards, and partly of royal body-guards. But even on this view, the suspicion that the chronicler has mentioned the Levites instead of the body-guard is shown to be groundless and unjust, since the רצים also are mentioned in the Chronicle.

According to this exposition, the true relation between the account in the Chronicle and that in the book of Kings would seem to be something like this: Both accounts mention merely the main points of the proceedings, - the author of the book of Kings emphasizing the part played in the affair by the royal body-guard; the author of the Chronicle, on the other hand, emphasizing that played by the Levites: so that both accounts mutually supplement each other, and only when taken together give a full view of the circumstances. We have still to make the following remarks on the narrative of the Chronicle in detail. The statement (2 Kings 11:5) that all those relived on the Sabbath were to keep guard of the house of Jahve, in reference to the king, in two divisions, is in 2 Chronicles 23:5, thus generalized: "all the people were in the courts of the house of Jahve." כּל־העם is all the people except the before-mentioned bodies of men with their captains, and comprehends not only the remainder of the people mentioned in 2 Kings 11:13 and 2 Kings 11:19, who came to the temple without any special invitation, but also the body of guards who were relieved from service on Sabbath. This is clear from 2 Chronicles 23:8 of the Chronicle, where we have the supplementary remark, that those departing on the Sabbath also, as well as those coming, did what Jehoiada commanded. In addition to this, in 2 Chronicles 23:6 this further command of Jehoiada is communicated: Let no one enter the house of Jahve (יהוה בּית is the temple building, i.e., the holy place and the most holy, as distinguished from the courts), save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites, i.e., of those Levites who perform the service, who are consecrated thereto; but all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord, i.e., keep what is to be observed in reference to Jahve, i.e., here, to keep without the limits appointed in the law to the people in drawing near to the sanctuaries. The whole verse, therefore, contains only an elucidation of the command that all the people were to remain in the courts, and not to press farther into the sanctuary.

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