Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brothers, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All of them of Asaph . . . brethren.—Heb., to all of them, to Asaph, to Heman, &c., &c., and to their sons, and to their brethren. This use of the particle le (to, for) is characteristic of the chronicler, whose style in these verses stands in marked contrast with the former part of the chapter. As to the Levitical guilds of musicians, comp. 1Chronicles 25:1-7; 1Chronicles 15:16, seq.
Arrayed in white linen.—1Chronicles 15:27.
Having cymbals and psalteries and harps.—With cymbals and nebels and kinnors (harps and lutes, or guitars). (See 1Chronicles 15:28.)
Stood at the east end of the altar.—Were standing east of the altar.
And with them . . . trumpets.—And with them priests, to a hundred and twenty, were trumpeting with trumpets. (See 1Chronicles 15:24.)
An hundred and twenty.—Thus five to each of the twenty-four classes of the priests.
The mark of parenthesis should be cancelled.1 Kings 8:8, some read, "the ends of the staves were seen from the Holy place."
with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—The trumpet was always used by the priests, and in the divine service it was specially employed in calling the people together during the holy solemnities, and in drawing attention to new and successive parts of the ritual. The number of trumpets used in the divine service could not be less than two (Nu 10:2), and their greatest number never exceeded the precedent set at the dedication of the temple. The station where the priests were sounding with trumpets was apart from that of the other musicians; for while the Levite singers occupied an orchestra east of the altar, the priests stood at the marble table on the southwest of the altar. There both of them stood with their faces to the altar. The manner of blowing the trumpets was, first, by a long plain blast, then by one with breakings and quaverings, and then by a long plain blast again [Brown, Jewish Antiquities].Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons] R.V. even Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons. Cp. 1 Chronicles 25:1-7.
being arrayed in white linen] R.V. arrayed in fine linen.
psalteries … harps] See 1 Chronicles 13:8, notes.
at the east end of the altar] Looking westward, facing the Holy of Holies. To face the East was to turn the back upon the sanctuary; Ezekiel 8:16.
trumpets] See 1 Chronicles 15:24, note.Verse 12. - This verse, marked off in the Authorized Version in brackets, is most graphic. First all the priests, who were not hors de combat, i.e. all the "courses" of them together, thronged the arena; and now they are joined by all the Levites who were singers, of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 25:1-31), i.e. twenty-four choirs in one, with their sons and their brethren; and this collected choir is arrayed in white linen; and they have three kinds of musical instruments - cymbals (Psalm el. 5) and psalteries (or lutes) and harps (1 Chronicles 16:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1); and they take up their station at the east end of the altar, and still further a strong support flanks these of a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets (1 Chronicles 16:6). So ends our inopportune Authorized Version parenthesis. But to what all this? It is a scene in a nation's history, in the universal Church's history; it is witnessed from heaven, and by Heaven's will recorded in the book on earth, which will endure through all generations, as long as the sun and moon endure, as ushering in the moment when, as described in the next verse, to the unanimous fervent adoration and praise of man, God bent a willing, gracious ear, and to earth the glory of heaven drew nigh. Cymbals. The word used here (מְצִלְתַּים), denoting strictly "pair of cymbals," occurs eleven times in Chronicles, once in Ezra, and once in Nehemiah. Another form of essentially the same word occurs once in 2 Samuel 6:5 and twice in Psalm 150:5. This last passage notes two kinds of cymbals - the "loud" and the "high-sounding." It was the former of these that Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun used, and their use was probably to regulate or beat the time (see Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 1:375, 376; Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 167, 2nd edit.). Psalteries (נֶבֶל). This word occurs twenty-eight times in the Old Testament, but of these it is translated (Authorized Version) four times as "viols" (Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 14:11; Amos 5:23; Amos 6:5); it is also once rendered "vessels of flagons" (Isaiah 22:24), but the margin offers the version "instruments of viols." While the cymbal was, of course, an instrument of percussion, the psaltery was one of strings - its use was as an accompaniment to the voice. The first mention of it is very interesting (1 Samuel 10:5). Compare also David's and Solomon's psaltery in 2 Samuel 6:5; 2 Chronicles 9:11. Harps (כִּנּור). This word occurs forty-two times, beginning with Genesis 4:21. Trumpets (חֲלֺצצְרָה). This word (including eleven of the personal forms of it, as e.g. the person blowing the trumpet) occurs just forty times, beginning with Numbers 10:2. It was the straight tuba, and was not, therefore, the same with the ram's-horn shaped buccina (שֹׁפָר), generally rendered in the Authorized Version "cornet," but sometimes "trumpet;" the specialty of the cornet being to blow a sound for a signal or summons of some sort, whether secular as in war, or sacred as for some festival. The trumpets of our verse evidently (Numbers 10:8) were in a particular sense the instrument of the priests. 2 Chronicles 5:7) the priests bare the ark into the holy place, we must understand by הלויּם such Levites were also priests. - In 2 Chronicles 5:5, too the words הלויּם הכּהנים are inexact, and are to be corrected by 1 Kings 8:4, והלויּם הכּהנים. For even if the Levitic priests bare the ark and the sacred utensils of the tabernacle into the temple, yet the tabernacle itself (the planks, hangings, and coverings of it) was borne into the temple, to be preserved as a holy relic, not by priests, but only by Levites. The conj. ו before הלוים has probably been omitted only by a copyist, who was thinking of הלוים הכהנים (Joshua 3:3; Deuteronomy 17:9, Deuteronomy 17:18, etc.). - In 2 Chronicles 5:8 ויכסּוּ is an orthographical error for ויּסכּוּ, 1 Kings 8:7; cf. 1 Chronicles 28:18; Exodus 25:20. - In 2 Chronicles 5:9, too, מן־הארון has probably come into our text only by a copyist's mistake instead of מן־הקּדשׁ (1 Kings 8:8).
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