1 Chronicles 25
Pulpit Commentary
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:
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.
Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.
Verse 2. - Four sons of Asaph are here given, the number, however, not being ex. pressed, although it is expressed in the cases of Jeduthun and Heman (vers. 3, 5). "For Asaph," we find twelve psalms inscribed, viz. Psalm 1; Psalm 73-83; of some of which he was himself the inspired composer. When it is said "for Asaph," the meaning is for those "under his hand," or direction, and who as a band bore his name, and performed among other odes those which he prophesied. Zaccur. A descendant after the Return is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:35. Asarelah. This last of the four sons of Asaph is called in ver. 14, Jesharelah. Under the hands of... according to the order of. The Hebrew words are "to the hand of" and "to the hands of." Between the signification of these two forms, the one expressed in the singular number and the ether in the plural, there does not seem to be any distinction, and accordingly they might be better translated, under the direction of... under the directions of. The latter form is that found in vers. 3, 6.
Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.
Verse 3. - Six sons are here said to be under the direction of Jeduthun (or Ethan, 1 Chronicles 6:44). The name missing is Shimei, supplied by ver. 17, and which the Alexandrine Septuagint places fourth in this list. This is clear from the list of vers. 9-31, which contains all the same names as are found in the present vers. 2-4, and one more, Shimei, which therefore offers to supply the place vacant here. The name Zeri reappears in ver. 11 as Izri. Who prophesied (see headings to Psalm 39; Psalm 62; Psalm 77.: we do not know, however, that Jeduthun composed any of these, nor does the word "prophesy" necessitate it).
Of Heman: the sons of Heman; Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth:
Verse 4. - The two names Uzziel and Shebuel, in this verse, reappear respectively in vers. 18, 20, as Azareel and Shubael. It is remarkable that the ninth and tenth names of this list, with the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth, when put together, run into two lines of verse, which may be translated, "These bestowed great and high help; I have abundantly uttered oracles." Ewald suggests that these may be the commencing lines of some ancient prophet's oracles (Ewald, 'Lehrbueh der H. Spr.,' § 274, S. 672, 7th edit., cited by Keil).
All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.
Verse 5. - For the expression, the king's seer, and as other instances of the office, see 1 Chronicles 21:9; 2 Chronicles 35:15, in neither of which places, however, have we the attendant phrase, in the words of God. Yet we have the same sense strictly implied in 1 Chronicles 21:9, 19. The expression needs not to be generalized into "in the matters of God," but evidently describes the seer (Heman, Gad, or Jeduthun) as the authorized medium of verbal communication between God and the king. There is difficulty in assigning the right place of the clause, to lift up the horn. There can be no doubt at all that it contains no allusion whatever to the horn as an instrument of sound (the almost solitary approach to which use of the word is found in Joshua 6:5), but that it falls in with the very frequent figurative use of the phrase as it occurs in the very same words (Psalm 75:5, 6; Psalm 89:18, 25; Psalm 92:12; Psalm 112:9; 1 Samuel 2:1, 10, etc.), and which means "to add to the strength" or "honour" of any one. The allusion is to the number of Heman's children being a mark of the honour God set on him. The words cannot go with the latter part of the verse, while the conjunction (vav) in וַיִּתֵּן opens it. The possible order may be, All these sons were to Heman, the king's seer, by the words of God, to lift up the horn. The absence of the third personal pronoun suffix to קֶרֶן is noticeable, place the clause where we will The statement of the fourteen sons and three daughters belonging to Heman, in this verse, shows that up to this point the word "sons" is used in its stricter sense, however true it may be that the sense is amplified in vers. 10-31.
All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.
Verse 6. - This verse needs nothing except exact translation to make its meaning clear and consistent, All these (i.e. the names of vers. 2-4) were under the directions of their father, in the song of the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, under the directions of the king, Asaph, and Jeduthun and Heman.
So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.
Verse 7. - This verse introduces a large additional number of those called for the present brethren of the foregoing twenty-four. These brethren (partly composed of their sons, as appears from vers. 9-31) were to aid in the songs of the Lord, and were apparently under instruction for that purpose. Each one of the twenty-four had eleven associated subordinates with him, and for whose instruction and service he was probably answerable. These would, of course, multiply up to the two hundred four score and eight mentioned in the verse. This verse appears (contrary to the interpretation of Keil, Bertheau, and others) with sufficient precision to mark two classes מְלֻמְּדֵי־שִׁיר, and הַמֵּבִּין, the latter not embracing the former, but the two together making up the two hundred and eighty-eight spoken cf. These two classes will surely satisfy the "teacher and the scholar" classification of the following verse; the classes are denoted by the same Hebrew roots. In ver. 7 the passive Pual participle of the instructed and the Hiphil participle of the cunning, or skilled, correspond exactly with the "scholar" (תַלְמִיד) and the "teacher" (מֵּבִין) of ver. 8. The contents of vers. 9-31 point to the same, being as they are without an allusion to any other outsiders - to any but the already introduced names of "sons" and "brethren." The supposing, therefore, of any allusion here to the "four thousand" of 1 Chronicles 23:5 seems unnecessary and unnatural in whatever way they were distributed - and probably enough it was in an analogous manner - no distinct reference is made to them here.
And they cast lots, ward against ward, as well the small as the great, the teacher as the scholar.
Verse 8. - This verse should be translated, And they cast lots of attendance, small and great equally, teacher with scholar. The Septuagint translates גורָלות מִשִׁמֶרֶת by the words κλήρους ἐφημεριῶν.
Now the first lot came forth for Asaph to Joseph: the second to Gedaliah, who with his brethren and sons were twelve:
Verses 9-31. - List of the choirs in the order in which their lots came. The formula, his sons, and his brethren, which follows twenty-two out of the twenty-four leaders' names which now come before us, is absent from ver. 9, where we should have looked for it, viz. after the name Joseph. It has been supposed that this is a mere omission of carelessness. But this can scarcely be asserted conclusively. It is observable, for instance, that the order of the formula in the same verse, on occasion of its very first occurrence, is not identical with the other twenty-two instances of it, the word "brethren" preceding "sons," and the pronoun "he" being expressed. The preposition (ל) is sometimes expressed and sometimes not expressed before both the proper names and the ordinal numerals of the list. Examination of the contents of these verses shows, either that it was due to the Divine direction of the lot (Proverbs 16:33) that an issue resulted which looks so unlike mere chance, and the system of which is so methodical and traceable; or that the lot-taking was not one of families and sons, all thrown together from the first. This supposition would, of course, leave room for some such ingenious hypothesis as that of Berthean, too artificial by far to be defensible except as a theory that would indeed work out the result. He suggests that the modus operandi was by two urns, one for the first seven odd numbers, into which were put the names of Asaph's four sons and of the second, third, and fourth of Heman; the other for the first seven even numbers, into which were put the six sons of Jeduthun and the first of Heman. Turning from such a concocted theory to these verses, we find that the first cast brings to the surface the second son of Asaph, and the second cast brings up the eldest son of Jeduthun. At the end of the seventh all of Asaph's sons are exhausted, and what would have been his next place (the ninth) is occupied by the second son of Heman, whose eldest had just taken the sixth place so thrown out by the lot. At the end of the fourteenth throw Jeduthun's six sons are all used up, and all the remaining places belong to Heman's sons, but still in the order in which they are thrown out by the lot.
The third to Zaccur, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The fourth to Izri, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The fifth to Nethaniah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The sixth to Bukkiah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The seventh to Jesharelah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The eighth to Jeshaiah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The ninth to Mattaniah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The tenth to Shimei, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The eleventh to Azareel, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The twelfth to Hashabiah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The thirteenth to Shubael, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The fourteenth to Mattithiah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
Verse 21. - Mattithiah (see 1 Chronicles 15:18, 21). No other of these twenty-four names is found elsewhere out of this chapter in the history, a just indication of the trustworthiness rather than the contrary of this table.

The fifteenth to Jeremoth, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The sixteenth to Hananiah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The seventeenth to Joshbekashah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The eighteenth to Hanani, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The nineteenth to Mallothi, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The twentieth to Eliathah, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The one and twentieth to Hothir, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The two and twentieth to Giddalti, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The three and twentieth to Mahazioth, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve:
The four and twentieth to Romamtiezer, he, his sons, and his brethren, were twelve.
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