This chapter deals with (1) the classes of the porters, or warders (1 Chronicles 26:1-19); (2) the keepers of the treasures of the sanctuary (1 Chronicles 26:20-28); (3) the officials charged with external business, and chiefly scribes and judges (1 Chronicles 26:29-32).
Of the Korhites was Meshelemiah.—To the Korhites (sons of Korah) belonged Meshelemiah son of Kōrē. Meshelemiah is called Shelemiah (1 Chronicles 26:14), and Shallum (1 Chronicles 9:19).
Of the sons of Asaph.—Not the chief musician Asaph, who was a Gershonite (1 Chronicles 6:39-48); whereas the Korhites were a Kohathite stock (Exodus 6:21). The name here is evidently an abbreviation of Ebiasaph (1 Chronicles 9:19), as Ahaz of Jehoahaz.
Elioenai.—Heb., Elyĕhō-ēnai (mine eyes are towards Jehovah. Comp. Psalms 123), the full form of Elyō-ēnai (1 Chronicles 3:24).
Mighty men of valour.—See Note on 1 Chronicles 9:13.
Whose brethren were strong men.—The Hebrew has “his brethren.” The conjunction appears to be missing again. Read: And his brethren, sons of strength, Elihu and Semachiah.
For strength.—Literally, In the strength, i.e., ability.
Were threescore and two . . .—A distinct sentence: There were sixty and two (belonging) to Obed-edom. Perhaps the word kol, “every,” has fallen out before ish hayil (comp. 1 Chronicles 10:12, where the same phrase occurred). In that case render, All these were of the sons of Obed-edom; they and their sons and their brethren, every man of power in the strength for service. The “sons and brethren” of the porters may be compared with those of the musicians (1 Chronicles 25:9; 1 Chronicles 25:29).
Simri (Shimri) the chief (for though he was not his firstborn . . .).—This may mean either that the oldest family had died out, or that none of these families could prove its seniority to the rest.
As well the small as the great . . .—Rather, Small and great (senior and junior) alike, according to their houses, for each gate. The posts of the porters were assigned by lot, without distinction of rank between the various families. The Sanctuary was built square with the four points of the compass, and had four gates, one on each side. The orientation of temples was the rule with the ancient Semites; and the importance attached to the cardinal points is illustrated by the ancient designation of the Babylonian and Assyrian sovereigns as “King of the four quarters,” i.e., of heaven (sar arba’i kiprat).
Then for Zechariah his son.—Heb., And Zechariah his son, counselling with sagacity, they cast lots. The preposition for may have fallen out before Zechariah; or perhaps Zechariah is the real subject of the verb “cast lots,” which is plural, because Zechariah is the name of a clan or guild. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 24:31; xxv, 8). Zechariah, the firstborn of Meshelemiah (1 Chronicles 26:2), obtained the charge of the north side “They cast lots” may mean drew a lot from the urn.
A wise counsellor.—This little touch is obviously a mark of truth. The chronicler could have had no motive for so characterising a warder of the Temple, unless he had found it in some older source, of which he has only given extracts.
The gate Shalleketh, mentioned here only. The name means casting down (in Isaiah 6:13, it denotes felling a tree); and hence this gate has been identified with the “Rubbish” or “Refuse Gate.” (Comp. Nehemiah 3:13.) It seems an objection to this, that the gate faced the highway that goeth up from the lower city to the Temple. Perhaps the name alludes to the drop, or steep descent, from the Sanctuary to the city.
Ward against ward.—Heb., mishmār lĕ‘ummath mishmār. Compare the use of the same preposition in 1 Chronicles 26:12 and 1 Chronicles 25:8; 1 Chronicles 24:31. Here the meaning seems to be that Hosah had to guard two posts, viz., the western gate of the Temple, and the gate Shalleketh which lay opposite, in the western wall of the Temple area. (The LXX. has φυλακὴ κατέναντι φυλακῆς; the Vulgate custodia contra custodiam; implying that Hosah’s warders were stationed opposite to each other.) But perhaps these concluding words refer to all four stations, and should be rendered, ward like ward, or ward and ward alike, or post over against post.
Toward Asuppim two and two.—The magazine appears to have had two doors, with two warders stationed at each.
At the causeway.—That is, the highway of 1 Chronicles 26:16. These four warders, therefore, stood by the gate Shalleketh. Adding together the numbers given in 1 Chronicles 26:17-18, we find that there were twenty-four warders on duty every day. The recurrence of the number is curious; but its relation to the twenty-four classes of the porters can hardly be determined. It is likely, however, that the twenty-four warders represent chiefs with their companies rather than individuals (comp. 1 Chronicles 26:12). Twenty-four would be an insignificant fraction of 4,000 (1 Chronicles 23:6).
(1 Chronicles 26:20-28).
(20) And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God.—Literally, And the Levites—Ahijah over the treasures, . . . a strange beginning, for hitherto none but Levites have been in question. We should have expected at least “the other Levites.” Further, the name Ahijah is suspicious, because (1) not found among the proper names in 1 Chronicles 23:7 sqq.; (2) it stands alone, without any reference to a family, such as is made in every other case (see 1 Chronicles 26:21-25); (3) the addition of the single letter m at the end of the word, would give the sense “their brethren,” which is in fact the reading of the LXX. Read therefore, And the Levites their brethren were over the treasures; that is, the Levites other than those whose duties have already been described.
Treasures of the house of God.—The ordinary revenues and stores of the Sanctuary, including various kinds of legally prescribed contributions, and special gifts (see Exodus 30:11-14; Leviticus 27; Numbers 18:16; 1 Chronicles 29:7-8).
Treasures of the dedicated things.—See margin and 1 Chronicles 26:26-27.
Chief of fathers.—Heads of the clans.
The captains over thousands.—Heb., to the captains; a scribe’s error.
Captains of the host.—Two are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 26:28, viz., Abner and Joab (see 2 Samuel 8:16; 1 Chronicles 18:15; 1 Chronicles 27:34).
To maintain the house.—In 2 Kings 12:8 the verb means to repair or restore. (Comp. Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 3:7.) Here to make strong appears to be the idea. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 29:12.)
And whosoever had dedicated any thing.—These words point to a general prevalence of the practice of dedicating to God the spoils of war. (Comp. 2 Samuel 8:11; 2 Kings 12:18). The Law, in fact, ordained the dedication of all metals to the endowment of the Sanctuary (Numbers 31:22-23; Numbers 31:50; Joshua 6:19). These accumulations of spoil in the times preceding David help us to understand how it was that so much wealth was available for building and decorating the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:14-16).
Under the hand of Shelomith.—Comp. the same phrase in 1 Chronicles 25:2-3.
(29) Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons.—As to the Izharites, Chenaniah, &c. Izhar was the second, as Hebron (1 Chronicles 26:30) was the third of the Kohathite stocks (1 Chronicles 23:12).
The outward business is defined as that of “officers” (shoterîm, scribes) and judges. Six thousand Levites were set apart for these duties (1 Chronicles 23:4). As Nehemiah 11:16 mentions “the outward business of the house of God,” the outward business here spoken of may have been in part connected with the Temple, and included such work as the collection of tithes and taxes.
Officers.—Pĕquddah (oversight, superintendence). Vulg., praeërant Israeli: LXX., ἐπὶ τῆς ἐπισκέψεως τοῦ Ισραηλ. (See 1 Chronicles 23:11; 1 Chronicles 24:19 for another meaning of the word.)
Hashabiah.—A Kohathite of this name is not mentioned elsewhere.
On this side Jordan.—Rather, on the other side (‘ēber): the western side of the river is so called in Joshua 5:1; Joshua 22:7. The use of this expression here seems to imply that the source upon which the chronicle is here dependent, was written in some locality east of the Jordan, perhaps at Babylon.
(31) Jerijah.—1 Chronicles 23:19, “Jeriah.” The Hebrew is the same (Yĕrîyâh).
In the fortieth year of the reign of David.—This datum is important as fixing the time of these last regulations of David. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 23:1.) It evidently points to an ancient source.
Jazer of Gilead.—A Merarite city (Joshua 21:39); whereas the Hebronites were Kohathites. Perhaps we should read, “In the cities of Gilead.”
(32) Two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers.—Rather, heads of the families, i.e., of single households. Sometimes the Hebrew phrase means heads of father-houses or clans; but it obviously cannot be so here, as the whole number of Levites appointed to be “officers and judges” was only 6,000 (1 Chronicles 23:4). The 2,700 fathers mentioned here, with the 1,700 of 1 Chronicles 26:30, make a total of 4,400. The remaining 1,600 (6,000 minus 4,400) may probably be assigned to Chenaniah (1 Chronicles 26:29). It is strange that the house of Hebron should be twice mentioned (1 Chronicles 26:30-31) and the house of Uzziel not at all (see 1 Chronicles 26:23). Further, of the three great branches of Levi, none but Kohathite houses are named in connexion with “the outward business.” The account appears to be incomplete.