1 Chronicles 26:12
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.
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(12) Among these were the divisions of the porters.—Rather, To these, the courses (1Chronicles 23:6) of porters, that is, to the heads of the men (1Chronicles 24:4), were watches or charges (1Chronicles 25:8) in common with their brethren (1Chronicles 24:31), to minister in the house of Jehovah (1Chronicles 16:37). The statement of this verse makes it evident that the names in 1Chronicles 26:2-11 represent the courses of the porters or warders. As the twenty-four sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun represented the twenty-four courses of musicians in 1 Chronicles 25, a similar classification might naturally be expected here. Accordingly, we actually find seven sons of Meshelemiah (1Chronicles 26:2-3), eight sons of Obed-edom (1Chronicles 26:4-5), and four sons of Hosah (1Chronicles 26:10-11), which together make nineteen heads and classes. It remains to add the “sons” of Shemaiah son of Obed-edom. As the text stands, these appear to be six in number, which would give a total of twenty-five (7 + 8 + 4 + 6). But the connection of the Hebrew in 1Chronicles 26:7 is so unusual as to suggest at once that something is wrong: and if we assume Obed-Elzabad to represent one original composite name, like Obed-edom, we get five “sons of Shemaiah,” and so a total of twenty-four classes or courses of warders. (From this verse to the end of chapter 27 the Syriac and Arabic versions fail us.)

1 Chronicles 26:12. Wards — Hebrew, having wards answerably to their brethren the other Levites, who were divided into twenty-four courses, as the priests also, and the porters were.26:1-32 The offices of the Levites. - The porters and treasurers of the temple, had occasion for strength and valour to oppose those who wrongly attempted to enter the sanctuary, and to guard the sacred treasures. Much was expended daily upon the altar; flour, wine, oil, salt, fuel, beside the lamps; quantities of these were kept beforehand, besides the sacred vestments and utensils. These were the treasures of the house of God. These treasures typified the plenty there is in our heavenly Father's house, enough and to spare. From those sacred treasuries, the unsearchable riches of Christ, all our wants are supplied; and receiving from his fulness, we must give him the glory, and endeavour to dispose of our abilities and substance according to his will. We have an account of those employed as officers and judges. The magistracy is an ordinance of God for the good of the church, as truly as the ministry, and must not be neglected. None of the Levites who were employed in the service of the sanctuary, none of the singers or porters, were concerned in this outward business; one duty was enough to engage the whole man. Wisdom, courage, strength of faith, holy affections, and constancy of mind in doing our duty, are requisite or useful for every station.This verse is obscure, but its probable meaning is the following: "To these divisions of the porters, principal men, (were assigned) the watches, together with their brethren, for service in the house of the Lord;" i. e., the "chief men" 1 Chronicles 26:1-11, amounting to no more than 93, kept the watch and ward of the house, together with a further number of their brethren (4,000, 1 Chronicles 23:5), who assisted them from time to time. 12. Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men—These were charged with the duty of superintending the watches, being heads of the twenty-four courses of porters. Having wards one against another; Heb. having wards against or answerably to their brethren, to wit, the other Levites, who were divided into twenty-four courses, as the priests also were, and so it seems were the porters. Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men,.... These before named were the principal men of the porters, among which was a division or distribution of them into classes or courses, in which they served weekly in turn:

having wards one against another, to minister in the house of the Lord; meaning either to watch in, as on the north against the south, and the east against the west, and "vice versa". The Jews say (t), the priests kept ward in three places in the house of the sanctuary; in the house of Abtines, in the house of Nitzotz, and in the house of Moked; and the Levites in twenty one places, five at the five gates of the mountain of the house, four at the four corners of it within, five at the five gates of the court, four at the four corners of it without, one at the chamber of the offering, one at the chamber of the vail, and another behind the house of atonement, the holy of holies; but rather the sense is, that they had wards or courses answerable to those of the priests, and the other Levites, the singers, and were distributed into twenty four classes or courses as they, which are thus reckoned by Kimchi; at the east six, at the north four, at the south four, at Asuppim two and two, which were four, at the west four, and at Parbar two; lo, twenty four; see 1 Chronicles 26:17.

(t) Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 1.

Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men, having wards one {e} against another, to minister in the house of the LORD.

(e) According to their turns as well the one as the other.

12. Among these … another] R.V. Of these were the courses of the doorkeepers, even of the chief man, having charges like as their brethren. In 1 Chronicles 26:8-9; 1 Chronicles 26:11 taken together ninety-three doorkeepers are enumerated, who are presumably the heads of the four thousand mentioned in 1 Chronicles 23:5. In 1 Chronicles 9:22 again the total number (as it seems) of doorkeepers is given as two hundred and twelve. The discrepancy is probably due to the use of different documents belonging to different dates by the Chronicler.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. Obed-edom's family. Obed-edom has been already mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:38 and 1 Chronicles 15:24 as doorkeeper; see the commentary on the passage. From our passage we learn that Obed-edom belonged to the Kohathite family of the Korahites. According to 1 Chronicles 26:19, the doorkeepers were Korahites and Merarites. The Merarites, however, are only treated of from 1 Chronicles 26:10 and onwards. אדם וּלעבד (1 Chronicles 26:4) corresponds to ולמשׁלמיהוּ (1 Chronicles 26:2), and is consequently thereby brought under לקּרהים (1 Chronicles 26:1). Here, 1 Chronicles 26:4, 1 Chronicles 26:5, eight sons with whom God had blessed him (cf. 1 Chronicles 13:14), and in 1 Chronicles 26:6 and 1 Chronicles 26:7 his grandchildren, are enumerated. The verb נולד is used in the singular, with a subject following in the plural, as frequently (cf. Ew. 316, a). The grandchildren of Obed-edom by his first-born son Shemaiah are characterized as המּמשׁלים, the dominions, i.e., the lords (rulers) of the house of their fathers (ממשׁל, the abstract dominion, for the concrete משׁל; cf. Ew. 160, b), because they were חיל גּבּורי, valiant heroes, and so qualified for the office of doorkeepers. In the enumeration in 1 Chronicles 26:7, the omission of the ו cop. with אחיו אלזבד is strange; probably we must supply ו before both words, and take them thus: And Elzabad and his brethren, valiant men, (viz.) Elihu and Semachiah. For the conjecture that the names of the אחיו are not given (Berth.) is not a very probable one.
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