Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
DAVID’S LAST INSTRUCTIONS AND DEATH
(1 Chronicles 28, 29).
And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem.(1) And David assembled all the princes of Israel.—As he had called the National Assembly before removing the Ark (1Chronicles 13:1; 1Chronicles 15:3). Who the princes (sārîm) were is defined in the following clauses.
The princes of the tribes.—See the list of them in 1Chronicles 27:16-22.
Captains of the companies.—Rather, princes of the courses, who served the king: viz., those enumerated in 1Chronicles 27:1-15.
Stewards.—See 1Chronicles 27:25-31. Both “captains” and “stewards” are sārîm in the Hebrew.
Possession (miqnèh).—A word generally used, like the Greek κτῆμα (κτῆνος), of possessions in cattle—live stock.
And of his sons.—Perhaps considered as his heirs, or rather, from the old tribal view of property, as sharing the royal domains with him.
With the officers.—Heb., sarîsîm, eunuchs. The word appears to be used in a generalised sense, and to denote simply courtiers or palace officials. (Comp. Genesis 37:36; 1Samuel 8:15; 1Kings 22:9; Jeremiah 38:7; Jeremiah 41:16.)
And with all the valiant men.—Literally, and every mighty man (“gibbôr”) of valour, a phrase meant to include all other persons of importance. It is noticeable that in this meeting of the estates of the realm all the dignitaries of 1 Chronicles 27 are present (contrast 1Chronicles 15:25; 1Chronicles 23:2; 1Chronicles 13:1), except the priests and Levites. (But comp. 1Chronicles 28:21.)
Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:(2) Then David the king stood up upon his feet.—To address the assembly, the king naturally rose from his throne.
Hear me.—Calling attention, as in Genesis 23:11-15.
My brethren, and my people.—Comp. 1Samuel 30:23; 2Samuel 19:12. The words do not so much imply condescension as an acknowledgment of what every one of David’s hearers felt to be true—viz., that all Israel were kin, and David the head of the family.
As for me, I had in mine heart to build.—See 1Chronicles 22:7-8 and the Notes there. 1Chronicles 28:2-7 of this chapter are in substance, and partly in expression, identical with 1Chronicles 22:7-10 (David’s private charge to Solomon).
An house of rest—i.e., a permanent abode instead of a sacred tent, which gave the idea of wandering from place to place, like the nomads of the desert. (Comp. Psalm 132:8.)
The footstool of our God.—The so-called mercy-seat, the golden kappôreth suspended over the Ark, on which were the cherubim—the throne of Deity (Psalm 99:1).
But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.(3) But God said unto me.—The emphasis lies on the word God, which is in direct contrast with the “I—in my heart it was,” of 1Chronicles 28:2. (Comp. 1Chronicles 22:8, of which this verse is a summary.)
Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel:(4) Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me.—Comp. 1Chronicles 11:2 and Notes. The Divine election of David preludes that of Solomon (1Chronicles 28:5).
For he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler.—Better, For Judah it was that he chose for prince (nāgîd), and in the house of Judah, my father’s house. (Comp. 1Chronicles 5:2 and Notes.)
And among the sons of my father he liked me.—The expression is scarcely adequate. The verb in the Hebrew is rāçāh, which answers to the Hellenistic εύδοκεῖν, “to be satisfied, well pleased with.” Translate, therefore, “It was I in whom He took pleasure.”(Comp. Proverbs 3:12.) David uses of himself the very phrase which the Divine voice spoke from heaven at the baptism of the Son of David, the true King of Israel and of mankind (Matthew 3:17).
And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.(5) Many sons.—See 1Chronicles 3:1-9, where nineteen are mentioned by name, “besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister.”
He hath chosen.—Heb., then he chose, the construction being changed after the parenthesis.
Solomon my son.—The son who has the best right to the name. (Comp. 1Chronicles 22:10.)
The throne of the kingdom of the Lord.—This expression is unique in the Old Testament. (Comp. 1Chronicles 29:23; 1Chronicles 17:14.) It brings out into strong relief the idea that the Israelite monarchy was only a vicegerency; not David nor Solomon, but Jehovah being the true and only King. (Comp. Gideon’s reply to the offer of the crown, Judges 8:23; 1Samuel 8:7; 1Samuel 12:12.)
And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.(6) He shall build.—Better, he it is that shall build. The pronoun is emphatic: he, and not thou.
I have chosen him. . . . his father.—Literally, I have chosen him for myself as a son, and I—I will become to him a father.
Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.(7) Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever.—So 1Chronicles 22:10 (at end).
As at this day.—As we are doing in our present work. The same words occur in the same sense at the end of Solomon’s Prayer (1Kings 8:61).
Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever.(8) Now therefore in the sight of all Israel.—Literally, And now to the eyes of all Israel . . . and in the ears of our God; scil. I adjure you. David ends his address to the people by a solemn appeal, like that, of Moses (Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19 : “I call heaven and earth to witness,” &c.). David’s appeal is to the whole nation as represented before him, and to the God whose ear is ever open.
And leave it for an inheritance.—Leviticus 25:46.
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.(9) And thou, Solomon my son.—The king now turns to his heir, urging a whole-hearted service to his father’s God (1Chronicles 28:9-10).
Know thou.—Regard thou, have care for (Psalm 1:6).
The God of thy father might mean the God of Israel (comp. 1Chronicles 29:10). But 1Chronicles 28:20, where David speaks of “my God,” suggests the simpler meaning, God of David, here. (Comp. Psalm 18:2; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 18:22; also Genesis 31:29; Genesis 31:42.)
With a perfect heart.—The word shālēm means whole, sound, unimpaired; the Latin integer. Hence, what is urged is an undivided allegiance, such as is enjoined by the Decalogue. (Comp. 1Chronicles 29:9; 1Chronicles 29:19; 1Kings 8:61.)
A willing mind.—For service is not real unless it be voluntary, and so glad as well as free.
For the Lord searcheth all hearts.—Search, i.e., seek (1Chronicles 28:8 and below). For the thought, comp. Psalm 139:1-4; Psalm 139:23; 1Samuel 16:7; Psalm 94:9; Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:13. The Searcher of hearts will at once see through an insincere and half-hearted obedience.
If thou forsake him.—Deliberately and of set purpose, as choosing to live by other laws than His.
He will cast thee off.—A strong word (hizniah), meaning strictly, to reject as noisome or foul-smelling. (Comp. Hosea 8:3; Hosea 8:5.) The verbal form hiphil is peculiar to Chronicles. (See 2Chronicles 11:14; 2Chronicles 29:19.)
Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.(10) Take heed now; for the Lord.—Or, See now that Jehovah hath chosen thee; consider this high commission, weigh it well and realise it thoroughly, then be strong, and act. (See 1Chronicles 22:13; 1Chronicles 22:16.)
David now, in presence of the Assembly, hands over to his son the plans of the Sanctuary and its vessels, remarking, as he does so, that the whole is of Divine origin (1Chronicles 28:19).
Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,(11) Then (and) David gave.—The description proceeds from the outer to the inner.
The pattern.—Heb., tahnîth, the word used in Exodus 25:9 of the model, plan, or design of the Tabernacle.
The porch.—See 1Kings 6:3. The Syriac has prûstidê: i.e., παραστάδες, colonnade, portico.
The houses thereof.—Its—i.e., the Temple’s—chambers. Throughout this verse the word thereof refers to the house mentioned in 1Chronicles 28:10. The two principal rooms of the Temple, the “holy place” and the “Holy of holies,” or, as we might say, the nave and the chancel, are called its “houses” (bāttîm).
The treasuries (ganzakkim), occurring here only. It appears to be a loan word from the Persian (ghanj, treasure, treasury; comp. the Latin and Greek gaza, treasure. In old Persian ka was a noun-ending; comp. bandaka, servant). With the singular, ganzak, comp. Persian Ghanjak (the classical Gazaca), the capital of Atropatene, which was a treasure-city. (Comp. also the word ginzê; Esther 3:9; Esther 4:7; Ezra 7:20, and ginzayyā, Ezra 5:17; Ezra 6:1, meaning treasures.) Gesenius (Thesaur., p. 296) assumes that the root G N Z has passed from Semitic into Persian, and not vice versâ. This may be true, as the root exists in the principal Semitic tongues, and yet it may be that ganzak in Hebrew is a modern loan word. The “treasuries” or store-rooms of the Temple were probably in the side-building of three storeys (1Kings 6:5).
The upper chambers (‘alîyôth).—Only here and in 2Chronicles 3:9. They were probably over the Holy of holies, the ceiling of which was twenty cubits from the floor, whereas the roof of the whole building was thirty cubits from the ground. A space of ten cubits high by twenty wide and twenty long was thus available for the upper chambers.
The inner parlours.—The fore-court, or vestibule, and the holy place, or nave, in contrast with “the place of the mercy-seat,” or chamber of the Kappôreth: i.e., the Holy of holies, the inmost shrine of the whole bolding.
And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:(12) And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit.—Rather, the pattern of all that was (or had come to be) in the spirit with him: i.e., had come into his mind; the whole design as it lay in his mind. (Comp. the phrase in 1Chronicles 28:2 : “with my heart it was to build.” See 1Chronicles 28:19, which attributes the design of the Temple to Divine inspiration.)
Of the courts.—For the courts.
The chambers.—The cells (lĕshākhôth). (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:28.)
The treasuries.—For the treasures (1Chronicles 26:20, and Notes).
Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the LORD.(13) Also (and) for the courses of the priests and the Levites.—This connects immediately with the phrase “all the chambers round about,” in 1Chronicles 28:12. The chambers or cells round the Temple court were intended not only for the stowage of the treasures, but also for the use of the priests and Levites who would sojourn in them by, course. The LXX. and the Vulg, render (David gave him) a description of the courses of the priests and Levites, a sense which the Hebrew admits, and which the Authorised version has adopted; but the former connexion of the words is preferable.
For all the work of the service.—Such as cooking the flesh which fell to the priests from the sacrifices, and baking the shewbread. “The vessels of service,” that is, the utensils used by the Levites in the work just specified, would naturally be kept in the cells.
The Syriac version paraphrases 1Chronicles 28:11-13 as follows:—“And David gave to Solomon his son the likeness of the porch, and the measure of the house and of the colonnade (kĕsôstĕrôn = ξυστός), and of the upper chambers; and of the inner cloisters (’estĕwê=στοαι), and of the outer cloisters, and of the upper and of the lower (storeys); and of the treasury (bêth gazzā), and of the house of service of the Lord’s house, and of the kitchens, and of the house of the water-carriers (or cupbearers), and of the house of lampmen.” The last words are interesting, as explaining the nature of “the work of the service” (1Chronicles 28:13).
He gave of gold by weight for things of gold, for all instruments of all manner of service; silver also for all instruments of silver by weight, for all instruments of every kind of service:(14) He gave of gold by weight for things of gold.—The Hebrew is very concise. Apparently it continues the construction of 1Chronicles 28:12, so that the sense is: “He gave him a pattern or description for the golden vessels (literally, for the gold), by the weight for the golden vessels (Heb., for the gold), for all vessels of each kind of service (i.e., use); and he gave him a pattern for all the silver vessels, by weight, for all vessels of each kind of service.” In other words, David gave Solomon an account or schedule of all the different vessels of gold and silver that would be required for the sanctuary, specifying the exact weight of each. (Comp. Ezra 8:25, seq. Ezra 8:34.)
Even the weight for the candlesticks of gold, and for their lamps of gold, by weight for every candlestick, and for the lamps thereof: and for the candlesticks of silver by weight, both for the candlestick, and also for the lamps thereof, according to the use of every candlestick.(15) Even the weight for the candlesticks of gold.—Rather, and a (specified) weight for the golden lampstands, and their golden lamps, in the weight of each lampstand and its lamps; and (a weight) for the lampstands of silver by weight, for a lampstand and its lamps, according to the service of each lampstand. The meaning still is that David gave Solomon a description of the designated articles, fixing the proper weight for each. (Comp. Exodus 25:31 sqq., the great golden candelabrum of the Mosaic sanctuary.) No mention of the silver lampstands occurs anywhere else in the Old Testament. According to the Rabbis, they stood in the chambers of the priests.
And by weight he gave gold for the tables of shewbread, for every table; and likewise silver for the tables of silver:(16) And by weight he gave gold.—And the gold he gave (assigned in the schedule or written plan) a certain weight.
For the tables of shewbread.—Only one table of shewbread is spoken of in the Law. (See Exodus 25:23-30, and comp. 1Kings 7:48.) The chronicler was well aware of this, as appears from 2Chronicles 29:18; and as he states elsewhere that Solomon made ten golden tables, and put them five on the right and five on the left in the holy place (2Chronicles 4:8), those tables may be intended here. It may even be the case that the term “shewbread” (hamma‘arèketh) is a gloss which has displaced the word “gold” (hazzāhāb), and that the original text was “for the tables of gold.” (Comp. “for the tables of silver,” at the end of the verse.) The table of shewbread would then be included among the golden tables. (But comp. 1Chronicles 6:57; 2Chronicles 28:16.)
For the tables of silver.—The silver tables are not again spoken of in the Old Testament. The rabbis assert that they stood in the court of the Temple, and that the prepared flesh of the sacrificial victims was laid upon them.
Also pure gold for the fleshhooks, and the bowls, and the cups: and for the golden basons he gave gold by weight for every bason; and likewise silver by weight for every bason of silver:(17) Also pure gold for the fleshhooks, and the bowls, and the cups.—Rather, and the forks, and the bowls, and the flagons were (in the schedule or inventory) pure gold. (See Exodus 27:3; 1Samuel 2:13-14.) The bowls were used in lustral sprinkling, the golden flagons in libations (Exodus 25:29; Exodus 37:16; Numbers 4:7 only).
By weight.—By the (required) weight. The altar of incense stood within the Holiest (the Dĕbîr, or Adytum; Exodus 40:5).
And gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings.—Rather, and for the model of the chariot, that is, the cherubim (he assigned) gold; to wit, for beings out-spreading (their wings) and overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah. The two cherubs lying on the (kappôreth) above the Ark are here called “the chariot,” with obvious reference to such passages as Psalm 18:11, where it is said of God, “He charioted on a cherub.” (Comp. also Psalm 99:1.) The rest of the verse describes the purpose of the symbolical cherubic figures, in terms borrowed from Exodus 25:20. (Comp. also Ezekiel’s vision, called by the Jews “The Chariot,” Ezekiel 1)
All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.(19) All this said David.—The words with which David delivered the plans of the building and the schedule of its vessels to Solomon. The omission of any introductory formula, such as “And David said,” is dramatic. (Comp. 1Chronicles 16:8; 1Chronicles 23:4-5.) Literally rendered, after the Hebrew punctuation, the verse runs:—“The whole in a writing from the hand of Jehovah, to me he made clear; all the works of the model.” With the expression “a writing from the hand of Jehovah” (comp. Exodus 31:18; Exodus 25:40), David affirms his “pattern” of the sanctuary and its vessels to have been conceived, and described in writing, under that Divine guidance which he sought and followed in all the great enterprises of his life. Whether “the writing” was a communication “by the hand of” one of David’s seers, or merely the description of the Mosaic sanctuary (Exodus 25 seq.), is not clear. The verb “he taught” (hiskîl) requires an object, such as is supplied in the Authorised version: “made me understand.” It takes a dative (Proverbs 21:11), and probably the word rendered “upon me” is really a later equivalent of the same construction. Else we might compare Nehemiah 2:8, Ezekiel 1:3, and render: “The whole, in a writing from the hand of Jehovah upon me, he taught,” implying that David himself sketched out the whole design under Divine inspiration. Perhaps the text is corrupt.
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.(20) And David said to Solomon his son.—The conclusion of the speech begun in 1Chronicles 28:9-10, and interrupted by the transfer of the plans and designs (1Chronicles 28:11-19).
Be strong and of good courage.—So 1Chronicles 22:13. “And do” is added here, because the time for action is imminent.
My God.—Recalling, in a single word, all his own wonderful experience of the Divine Helper.
Fail.—Drop, let go, and so dismiss, desert.
Until.—The word implies nothing about the time beyond the expressed limit. (Comp. εws, Matthew 1:25.)
And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.(21) And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites.—The form of expression suggests that David pointed to them as he spoke. The representatives of religion would hardly be absent from an assembly of “all the princes of Israel” (1Chronicles 28:1) (Comp. 1Chronicles 24:5, “princes of God.”) They might also be included among “the valiant men.” (Comp. 1Chronicles 9:13.)
And there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship.—Rather, And with thee in every kind of work will be every volunteer with skill, for every kind of service: that is to say, skilled craftsmen have volunteered for the work (1Chronicles 22:15), and will support thy endeavours. The word rendered “volunteer” (nādîb) strictly means one who offers free-will offerings. (Comp. Exodus 35:5; Exodus 35:22; and the verb Judges 5:1, hithnaddēb.) The phrase “volunteer with wisdom,” or artistic skill, is not found elsewhere.
Also the princes and all the people.—Spoken, perhaps, with another gesture. The whole assembly would subserve the wishes of Solomon.
Wholly at thy commandment.—Literally, For all thy words: i.e., orders (Vulg., praecepta), or matters, business (1Chronicles 26:32).