1 Chronicles 23
Clarke's Commentary
David makes Solomon king, 1 Chronicles 23:1. Numbers the Levites, and appoints them their work, 1 Chronicles 23:2-5. The sons of Levi, Gershom, Kohath, Merari, and their descendants, 1 Chronicles 23:6-12. The sons of Amram, and their descendants, 1 Chronicles 23:13. The sons of Moses, and their descendants, 1 Chronicles 23:14-24. David appoints the Levites to wait on the priests for the service of the sanctuary, 1 Chronicles 23:25-32.

So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel.
David was old and full of days - On the phrase full of days, see the note on Genesis 25:8.

And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites.
Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.
Thirty years and upward - The enumeration of the Levites made in the desert, Numbers 4:3, was from thirty years upwards to fifty years. In this place, the latter limit is not mentioned, probably because the service was not so laborious now; for the ark being fixed they had no longer any heavy burdens to carry, and therefore even an old man might continue to serve the tabernacle. David made another ordinance afterwards; see on 1 Chronicles 23:24-27 (note).

Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges:
Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.
Four thousand praised the Lord - David made this distribution according to his own judgment, and from the dictates of his piety; but it does not appear that he had any positive Divine authority for such arrangements. As to the instruments of music which he made they are condemned elsewhere; see Amos 6:5, to which this verse is allowed to be the parallel.

And David divided them into courses among the sons of Levi, namely, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
Of the Gershonites were, Laadan, and Shimei.
The sons of Laadan; the chief was Jehiel, and Zetham, and Joel, three.
The sons of Shimei; Shelomith, and Haziel, and Haran, three. These were the chief of the fathers of Laadan.
And the sons of Shimei were, Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei.
And Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second: but Jeush and Beriah had not many sons; therefore they were in one reckoning, according to their father's house.
Therefore they were in one reckoning - The family of Shimei, being small, was united with that of Laadan, that the two families might do that work which otherwise belonged to one, but which would have been too much for either of these separately.

The sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four.
The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.
To bless in his name - To bless the people by invoking the name of the Lord.

Now concerning Moses the man of God, his sons were named of the tribe of Levi.
Moses the man of God - "Moses the prophet of God," - T.

The sons of Moses were, Gershom, and Eliezer.
Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel was the chief.
To this verse the Targum adds, "The same Jonathan, who became a false prophet, repented in his old age; and David made him his chief treasurer."

And the sons of Eliezer were, Rehabiah the chief. And Eliezer had none other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many.
But the sons of Rehabiah were very many - The Targum says, "On account of the merits of Moses, the posterity of Rehabiah were multiplied to more than sixty myriads."

Of the sons of Izhar; Shelomith the chief.
Of the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth.
Of the sons of Uzziel; Michah the first, and Jesiah the second.
The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. The sons of Mahli; Eleazar, and Kish.
And Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters: and their brethren the sons of Kish took them.
Their brethren the sons of Kish took them - This was according to the law made Numbers 27:1, etc., and Numbers 36:5-9, in favor of the daughters of Zelophehad, that women who were heiresses should marry in the family of the tribe of their father, and that their estates should not be alienated from them.

The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.
These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the LORD, from the age of twenty years and upward.
Twenty years and upward - It appears that this was a different ordinance from that mentioned 1 Chronicles 23:3. At first he appointed the Levites to serve from thirty years and upward; now from twenty years. These were David's last orders; see 1 Chronicles 23:27. They should begin at an earlier age, and continue later.

This was not a very painful task; the ark being now fixed, and the Levites very numerous, there could be no drudgery.

For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever:
And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof.
For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above:
Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God;
Purifying of all holy things - Keeping all the vessels and utensils belonging to the sacred service clean and neat.

Both for the shewbread, and for the fine flour for meat offering, and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the pan, and for that which is fried, and for all manner of measure and size;
Both for the shew-bread - It was the priests' office to place this bread before the Lord, and it was their privilege to feed on the old loaves when they were replaced by the new. Some of the rabbins think that the priests sowed, reaped, ground, kneaded, and baked the grain of which the shew-bread was made. This appears to be a conceit. Jerome, in his comment on Malachi 1:6, mentions it in these words: "Panes propositionis quos, juxta traditiones Hebraicas, ipsi serere, ipsi demetere, ipsi molere, ipsi coquere debebatis."

For all manner of measure and size - The standards of all weights and measures were kept at the sanctuary, and by those there deposited all the weights and measures of the land were to be tried. See the note on Exodus 30:13.

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even;
To stand every morning - At the offering of the morning and evening sacrifice, they sounded their musical instruments, and sang praises to God.

And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD:
And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service of the house of the LORD.
The charge of the sons of Aaron - It was the priests' business to kill, flay, and dress, as well as to offer, the victims, but being few, they were obliged to employ the Levites to flay those animals. The Levites were, properly speaking, servants to the priests, and were employed about the more servile part of Divine worship.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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