Concerning the divisions of the porters: Of the Korhites was Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph.
Verse 1. - The subject of the porters has been before us in 1 Chronicles 9:17-27; 1 Chronicles 15:23, 24; 1 Chronicles 16:38; 1 Chronicles 23:5, in which last passage we are told that there were four thousand of the Levites who were porters. The divisions of the porters spoken of in the present chapter were from the sons of Korah or Kore, and Merari (vers. 10, 19). The Korahite porters are given us in the first nine verses. The first mentioned is Meshelemiah, who, though called the same in vers. 2, 9, appears as Shelemiah in ver. 14, and in 1 Chronicles 9:19 as Shallum. Asaph, given here as one of the ancestors, must be replaced by Ebi-asaph (1 Chronicles 6:23, 37; 1 Chronicles 9:19; also Exodus 6:24), who was a Korahite, whereas Asaph was a Gershonite (1 Chronicles 6:39, 43).
And the sons of Meshelemiah were, Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth,
Verses 2, 3. - These verses contain the enumeration of seven sons of Shelemiah, of the firstborn of whom, viz. Zechariah, express mention was made in 1 Chronicles 9:21.
Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh.
Moreover the sons of Obededom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth,
Verses 4, 5. - Here we have the enumeration of eight sons of Obed-edom (1 Chronicles 15:21, 24; 1 Chronicles 16:38). That in this last reference Obed-edom seems to be called "son of Jeduthun" is owing probably to the omission of a name. For former occurrences of the sentence, God blessed him, with its present evident allusion, see 1 Chronicles 13:14; 2 Samuel 6:11. To this passage, the expression of 1 Chronicles 25:5, "to lift up the horn," is probably analogous, where see comment.
Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him.
Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born, that ruled throughout the house of their father: for they were mighty men of valour.
Verses 6, 7. - In the former of these verses, eulogy is pronounced by anticipation on the six grandsons of Obed-edom through his son Shemaiah, about to be mentioned in the latter verse. The singular number of the verb (נולַד), with a plural nominative, as found here, often occurs elsewhere, and repeatedly, even in this book, in cases where the relative pronoun אַשֶׁר intervenes between the subject and its verb. That ruled throughout the house of their father. The plural masculine abstract noun (הַמִּמְשָׁלִים) here employed, in place of a verbal or participial form, is intended to gain force. A similar use of the feminine form of the same noun in the singular, and with suffix, may be cited from 2 Chronicles 32:9. Whose brethren. An erroneous translation for his brethren; a correction, however, rendering more patent the inconvenience of the unexplained absence of the conjunction, which seems to be called for before both "Elzabad," and "his brethren." Bertheau suggests that other names are wanting which should fill up the meaning of "his brethren." The brethren intended were probably Elihu and Semachiah.
The sons of Shemaiah; Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah.
All these of the sons of Obededom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two of Obededom.
Verse 8. - Able men for strength for the service. The Hebrew gives this in the singular, אִישׁיחַיִל, etc. The apparent intention is to distribute equally to each and every one of all of the sons of Obed-edom, the high character for strength given to them as grouped here together.
And Meshelemiah had sons and brethren, strong men, eighteen.
Verse 9. - This somewhat sudden return to the name of Meshelemiah is evidently in order to put his numbers in a convenient position, to be added to those of Obed-edom just stated, thus making in all eighty porters from the Korabites.
Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons; Simri the chief, (for though he was not the firstborn, yet his father made him the chief;)
Verses 10, 11. - The porters from the descendants of Merari are given in these two verses, in all thirteen. Hosah, it will be remembered, is found together with Obed-edom in 1 Chronicles 16:38, as one of the porters of the the ark. These thirteen bring up the number of porters to ninety-three. We have read (1 Chronicles 9:22) that later the number became two hundred and twelve. Though... yet. The likelier translation of the Hebrew would be, For there was not a firstborn (i.e. the issue of the firstborn had failed, and his line was therefore extinct), and his father made him the chief. Moreover, it is but probable that, if it had been a case of superseding the firstborn, the fact would not have been stated without an explanation of what had led to it or justified it.
Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brethren of Hosah were thirteen.
Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men, having wards one against another, to minister in the house of the LORD.
Verse 12. - Translate, To these divisions of the porters, as regards the chief men, belonged the charge together with their brethren to officiate in the house of the Lord. According to the present chapter, then, the divisions add up to ninety-three. And if at any time of the history it were the case that these ninety-three were the leaders of groups among the total of "four thousand porters," it would put exactly forty-two under each of these ninety-three, leaving but one over. This number ninety-three, meantime, does not agree with the two hundred and twelve of 1 Chronicles 9:22. And the three score and two of Obed-edom in ver. 8 of the present chapter does not agree with the three score and eight of Obed-edom in 1 Chronicles 16:38. At the same time, no little light may be thrown on this subject by noticing that the porters numbered in Zerubbabel's time one hundred and thirty-nine (Ezra 2:42); and that the number one hundred and seventy-two is given for them by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:19). The conclusion may well be that the numbers varied in David's time and the other times severally;and that the date in question (1 Chronicles 9:22) was not the same with the date of David in our present chapter, but was a subsequent date nearer the time of the Captivity. There is, therefore, no special ground for doubting the accuracy of the numbers given in this chapter.
And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to the house of their fathers, for every gate.
And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah. Then for Zechariah his son, a wise counseller, they cast lots; and his lot came out northward.
Verses 14-16. - The casting of lots for the four chief names and the four chief aspects of gates, now proceeds. A special note is made of the care taken for the house of Asuppim; i.e. of "gatherings" or "stores." For all that we know of this "house," we seem to be left to the verses (15, 17) of this passage, and to the expression (Nehemiah 12:25), "the storehouses, or stores of the gates" (though the Authorized Version, the "thresholds" of the gates), which would have been more intelligible had it been reversed, "the gates of the stores." Presumably it was a building for keeping safe certain of the sacred property, and was situated south of the temple, and, judging from ver. 17, had two doorways. The Vulgate translates seniorum concilium. To Shuppim. Nothing can be made of this word in this connection, as a proper name, though we have it (1 Chronicles 7:12, 15) as such. It is now generally rejected, as probably due to the error of some transcriber, whose eye may have been caught again by the last two syllables of the closely preceding "Asuppim." But some would place it as the last word of the previous verse, and make it amplify the meaning of Asuppim, e.g. "gatherings for stores." Shallecheth. By derivation, this word means "sending or throwing down." Hence some call it, "the refuse gate." The situation of it is, however, defined here, as by the causeway of the going up, and would seem to render such an interpretation less likely. According to Grove (in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary'), this causeway is still traceable: it runs up from the central valley of the town to the sacred site west of the temple (1 Kings 10:5; 2 Chronicles 9:4); and Grove would identify the "gate of Shallecheth" with the present Bab Silsileh. The Septuagint translates ἡ πυλὴ παστοφορίου, i.e. the gate of the temple-cell, which word they could get from the inverting of the order of the first two letters of the Hebrew Shallecheth. The Septuagint then mutts the following word, מְסִלָּה, Ward against ward; i.e. watch with watch. The expression up- pears to refer to the fact that Hosah's lot threw to him the charge of a double position.
To Obededom southward; and to his sons the house of Asuppim.
To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came forth westward, with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the going up, ward against ward.
Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and toward Asuppim two and two.
Verses 17, 18. - These verses give the number of individuals who composed the watch at a time, beginning again from Shelemiah's eastward position. The two and two toward Asuppim suggest most naturally the suppositon of two attendants at each of two gates, or else of two succeeding two. Parbar (פַרְבָּר). This word appears as פָּרְוָר in 2 Kings 23:11. These words, with forms akin to them, are often found in the Targums, but not elsewhere in the Scriptures. The nearest approach to the meaning of the word, as yet discovered, is a "suburb." The connection may just do as much as indicate that, whereas four porters kept the causeway gate, the Parbar gate was in closer proximity to the temple that was to be, but what this Parbar really was is not yet ascertained. Possibly it is the προάστειον of Josephus ('Ant.,' 15. 11:5). If we add the numbers of Levites given in these two verses, it will be noticed that they mount up to twenty-four.
At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.
These are the divisions of the porters among the sons of Kore, and among the sons of Merari.
And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things.
Verses 20-28. - These verses describe those Levites to whom belonged the care of the treasures of the house of God and of the treasures of things dedicated, i.e. "dedicated to maintain the house of the Lord" (vers. 27, 28). Verse 20. - First, the Hebrew text contains no "of" in the first word of this verse; and, secondly, no meaning can be obtained cut of the name Ahijah as it is placed here. The Septuagint reading, "their brethren," is exactly what we should expect, and is paralleled by other passages (2 Chronicles 29:34). This correction of the present text may be safely accepted, viz. אֲחֵיהֶם for אֲהִיָּה The two classes of treasures are here marked, preparatory to the statements of vers. 22 and 26-28.
As concerning the sons of Laadan; the sons of the Gershonite Laadan, chief fathers, even of Laadan the Gershonite, were Jehieli.
Verses 21, 22. - These verses name those who had the care of the treasures of the house of the Lord. They are Gershonites through Laaden, previously called Libni (1 Chronicles 6:17; also Exodus 6:17; Numbers 3:18). The sons named as heads of houses are three, viz. Jehieli (1 Chronicles 23:8) and his sons, Zetham and Joel. Those who think that 1 Chronicles 23:8 carries with it the meaning that Jehieli, Zetham, and Joel were all three brothers, can, in point of fact, plausibly reduce this verse to their shape. For the yod, not welcome at the end of the name Jehieli here, might be read the conjunction vau in both instances in which it occurs. The reading would then run thus: "Jehiel and the sons of Jehiel, both Zetham and Joel his brother."
The sons of Jehieli; Zetham, and Joel his brother, which were over the treasures of the house of the LORD.
Of the Amramites, and the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites:
Verse 23. - The chiefs of the preceding two verses were introduced as descendants of Gershon through his son Laadan. The four names of this verse would seem to stand collectively for that of their father Kohath. One might, under these circumstances, have looked for the name of some member of each of these sub-families to appear in the number of the treasure-keepers just about to be mentioned. This is not so. Yet among other officials, and before the end of the general subject, the Izharites (ver. 29) and the Hebronites (vers. 30, 31) do appear. This may possibly explain the mapping out thus of the Kohath family.
And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.
Verses 24, 25. - Shebuel (1 Chronicles 23:16; 1 Chronicles 24:20), then, was the Amramite representative (and apparently a very special one in the office of נָגִיר, here attributed to him) through Gershom, the elder son of Moses. Next, through Eliezer, the second son of Moses, and through Rehabiah, son of Eliezer (1 Chronicles 23:17), we are brought to the four - Jeshaiah (1 Chronicles 24:21, Isshiah), and Joram, and Zichri, and Shelomith, who seem at first to mark four successions of generations upon Rehabiah, but who more probably (though it cannot be said positively) were four brothers, each a son of Rehabiah (1 Chronicles 23:17). And it may be that it is to these four that reference is made in the first clause of our next verse (26), "Which Shelomith and his brethren," etc. The Shelomith here intended as an Amramite must be distinguished from the Gershonite of 1 Chronicles 23:9, and from the Izharite of 1 Chronicles 23:18.
And his brethren by Eliezer; Rehabiah his son, and Jeshaiah his son, and Joram his son, and Zichri his son, and Shelomith his son.
Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated.
Verse 26. - The treasures. The very first use of this word to signify a place where treasures were kept is in Joshua 6:19, 24. The same word is used for either the place or the treasures kept in it. Not found in the Books of Samuel, the word often occurs in the two Books of Kings and of Chronicles, once in Ezra, several times in Nehemiah, etc. In our next chapter (1 Chronicles 27:25, 27, 28) it appears in the Authorized Version as "storehouses" and "cellars." Captains over thousands and hundreds (so see Exodus 18:21, 25; Numbers 31:14, etc.; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 8:12, etc.). Captains of the host (so Deuteronomy 20:9; Joshua 5:14, 15; Judges 4:2; 1 Samuel 17:55, etc.).
Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD.
Verse 27. - For such proceeds of war, see 2 Samuel 8:10-12, etc.
And all that Samuel the seer, and Saul the son of Kish, and Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah, had dedicated; and whosoever had dedicated any thing, it was under the hand of Shelomith, and of his brethren.
Verse 28. - It is, perhaps, somewhat remarkable that, though the sacred history suggests to us numerous fit occasions for the "dedications" spoken of in this verse, yet they are not described in detail, nor even alluded to at the times when they occurred. Samuel, Saul, Abner, and Joab had then been unwittingly finding some of the treasures now disposed to highest use by David.
Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were for the outward business over Israel, for officers and judges.
Verses 29-32. - The chapter closes with some enumeration of those who were appointed to the outward business (הַחִיעונָה לַמְּלָאכָה) over Israel i.e. the secular or civic rather than temple business. Verse 29. - Though the Authorized Version of 1 Chronicles 15:22 would make it appear very unlikely that the Chenaniah, a "chief of the Levites," here spoken of was identical with the present Chenaniah, yet the other translation of that passage, and the view that some take of it as describing one who had the special ordering of the carrying of the ark, would leave it more likely. For the officers and judges, see 1 Chronicles 23:4; 2 Chronicles 19:5-11. The too generic term "officers" (Exodus 5:6-19: Numbers 11:16, etc.) may be advantageously superseded by the word "scribes." These scribes and judges, it appears, were taken from the families of Izhar and Hebron alone, without any Amramite or Uzzielite of the other Kohathites, and without any Gershonite or Merarite of the other Levites.
And of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brethren, men of valour, a thousand and seven hundred, were officers among them of Israel on this side Jordan westward in all the business of the LORD, and in the service of the king.
Verse 30. - Were officers among them of Israel. The simpler translation would be, were for the superintending of Israel (compare the verb in ver. 32). On this side Jordan westward; literally, across Jordan westward, the point of view being from the Persian side. So Ezra 4:16; Ezra 6:6; Ezra 8:36; Nehemiah 2:7; but also Joshua 5:1; Joshua 22:7, when the point of view was that of those who had still to cross the Jordan to the west. The expression, in all the business of the Lord, is probably no mere reminiscence of the temple or semi-sacred business (such as the gathering of the tithes, etc.), but rather the recognition of the fact that all that pertained to the right discharge of the civil duties of an Israelite's life lay within that description.
Among the Hebronites was Jerijah the chief, even among the Hebronites, according to the generations of his fathers. In the fortieth year of the reign of David they were sought for, and there were found among them mighty men of valour at Jazer of Gilead.
Verse 31. - This verse is at first sight obscure; but its purport is to say that the Hebronite family was, in the lust year of David's reign, found at Jazer of Gilead, which seems a Merarite city (Joshua 13:25; Joshua 21:39; Numbers 21:32), and that Jerijah (1 Chronicles 23:19; 1 Chronicles 24:23) was then chief of them. He and his brethren were now appointed to the superintendence of the two tribes and a half eastward of Jordan, while "Hashabiah and his brethren" fulfilled the like duties westward of Jordan The number of those east of Jordan constituted overseers seems large in proportion to those mentioned on the west; but we must bear in mind that the numbers of Chenaniah and their range of sphere are not stated. These will presumably complete the six thousand of 1 Chronicles 23:4. Otherwise we have but to fall back on the conviction that the present account is imperfect as well as brief.
And his brethren, men of valour, were two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers, whom king David made rulers over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king.
Verse 32. - Chief fathers. The number of chief fathers mentioned in this verse leads Keil to point out very justly that here at least the designation cannot mean anything beyond the fathers of individual families - cannot mean the heads of those groups which are composed of all the branches or relations of one house. They must have been heads of households (πατέρες), not heads of fathers houses (πατριαί). The ambiguity is owing to the use of the words רָשֵׁי הָאָבות in ver. 32, the latter of which words has so often supposed the word בֵּית to precede it, coupled to it by a hyphen. Adding the numbers of vers. 30 and 32, we find a total of Hebronite "officers and judges" amounting to four thousand four hundred. The remaining sixteen hundred to complete the" six thousand" were drawn from the Gershon, Amram, and Izhar families. Some of the Uzzielites probably helped the Hebronites.