Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.XIII.
(1) And David consulted.—This consultation took place some time after the coronation at Hebron (comp. 2Samuel 6:1), “And David gathered together again every chosen man iıı Israel, thirty thousand.” This is all that Samuel has corresponding to our 1Chronicles 13:1-5. It is by no means necessary to assume that, “according to the context, we are still at Hebron in the assemblage of 350,000 warriors” (Reuss). Samuel implies the contrary.
Captains of thousands.—The thousands (comp. 1Chronicles 12:20).
And the hundreds.—Comp. Numbers 31:14. The hundreds were the smaller military divisions of the tribe, representing, perhaps, the warlike strength of the houses, as the thousands represented that of the clans or sub-tribes.
And with every leader.—Rather, viz. with every prince (nagîd) or chief. These chiefs constituted the Great Council of the nation.
And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us:(2) All the congregation of Israel.—As represented by the Council of Chiefs, who, according to the passage in Samuel, were 30,000 iıı number.
And that it be.—Rather, and if it be. The clause is not dependent. David says: “If before you (the thing be) good, and if (the motion come) from Jehovah.” The former phrase recurs in Nehemiah 2:5; Nehemiah 2:7, and is late Hebrew; the latter is illustrated by Genesis 24:50.
Let us send abroad.—Literally, break we forth, send we, i.e., let us send with all despatch.
Everywhere.—Not in the Hebrew.
Land.—Hebrew, lands or territories, i.e., of the various tribes. Comp. Genesis 26:3-4, where the same plural implies the partition of Canaan into many smaller national domains.
In their cities and Suburbs.—In the cities of their pastures. The Levites appear to have occupied themselves with pastoral pursuits when not engaged in the services of religion (comp. 1Chronicles 6:57 seq.).
That they may gather themselves unto us.—The result would be a great addition to an already large gathering. However, it does not follow that every one to whom the summons came would be willing or able to obey it. The invitation was, in fact, a kind of formal proclamation to the entire people of a solemn act of national importance.
And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul.(3) Let us bring again.—Bring we round: transfer it from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem, as the throne was transferred (same verb) from Saul to David (1Chronicles 10:14; 1Chronicles 12:23).
The Ark of our God to us.—The Ark was at Kirjath-jearim, a city of Judah, David’s own tribe. But the ting wished to establish it as the centre of the national worship in his new capital and royal residence, Jerusalem.
For we enquired not at it.—Rather, we sought it not, that is, neglected it, cared nothing about it. The Ark had been left in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, for twenty years, after the Philistines sent it back (1Samuel 7:2). There may be a reference to Saul’s despairing neglect of consulting the Lord (1Chronicles 10:13); and, perhaps, we should translate, “we sought Him not,” referring the suffix to God (comp. 1Chronicles 15:13; Isaiah 9:12). There is no clear evidence that the Ark itself was ever used as an oracle (comp. Exodus 25:10-22; 1Kings 8:9).
And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.(4) All the assembly said, So should we do (comp. for the construction 1Chronicles 5:5; 1Chronicles 9:25). The thing, the proposal.
So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim.(5) So David gathered all Israel.— Assembled; a different word in 1Chronicles 13:2.
Shihor of Egypt.—The boundary between Egypt and Canaan is elsewhere called Nahal Micrayim (Authorısed Version, River of Egypt; Isaiah 27:12; 2Chronicles 7:8). It is the modern Wady el Arish. Joshua 13:3 also calls this winter torrent the Shihor (Blackwater); but, in Isaiah 23:3, Shihor means the Nile.
The entering of Hemath.—Hamath.—This was the usual designation of the north boundary of Palestine, as the “torrent of Egypt” was that of the south (1Kings 8:65). Hamath was the seat of an ancient kingdom, independent of, but friendly to David. The prophet Amos (eighth century B.C. ) calls it Hamath Rabbah, Great Hamath (Amos 6:2). A revived interest attaches to Hamath in our day, owing to the discovery of five curious inscriptions at Hâmah, written in a peculiar hieroglyphic character, which has been pronounced to be Hittite, but still awaits decipherment.
And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.(6) From this point our narrative coincides with that of 2Samuel 6:2-11. The original text was plainly the same, whether the chronicler drew directly from the Book of Samuel, or from another source. Such differences as appear consist of abridgments, paraphrases, and corrections.
All Israel.—Samuel, “All the people that were with him.”
To Baalah.—Joshua 15:60, “Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim.” “Baaľs town” was doubtless the original name. “Town of woods” describes the position of the place. Our text appears more correct than that of Samuel, which has, “And David rose and went, and all the people that were with him, from BaalêJudah.” The Targum, LXX., and Syriac, translate that which the Authorised Version gives as a proper name, “The people that were with him of the cities lords men of Judah.” If this be right, perhaps “Baalah” has fallen out of the text of Samuel owing to its resemblance to the word baalê. lords. Kirjath־jearim is the modern ‘Erma, four miles east of Ain Shems (Bethshemesh).—Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, October, 1881.
Whose name is called on it.—The Hebrew is, “who (or which) is called Name.” The Israelites in later days avoided all mention of the Divine name of Jehovah, and substituted hashshēm “the Name” (comp. Leviticus 24:16, and the Third Commandment). A comparison with 2Samuel 6:2, however, suggests that a word meaning “upon it” (‘ālâw), has fallen out. In that case the literal rendering will be, upon which (i.e., the Ark) the Name (of Jehovah) is called= which is called by the name (of Jehovah). The Ark was often called “the Ark of Jehovah” (1Chronicles 15:3). The Hebrew and Targum of Samuel favour this. Some MSS. of Chron. read “there” (shām) instead of “name” (shēm). This, gives the meaning, who is invoked there (at the Ark). Comp. the LXX. οὗ ἐπεκλήθη ὄνομα αὐτοῦ.
And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.(7) Abridged form of the fuller text preserved in 2Samuel 6:3 (see Notes there).
Drave.—Were driving. 2Samuel 6:4, is wholly omitted by the Chronicles. “Ahio” may mean his brother, or, with different points, his brothers (so LXX. and Syriac).
And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.(8) Played.—Were dancing (to music).
With all their might, and with singing.—So LXX. and Syriac. Samuel has “with all woods of cypresses;” a strange expression, probably due to confusion of similar letters, and transposition. The LXX. there has “in strength.”
Cymbals and trumpets.—Samuel (Hebrew) has sistrums (a kind of rattle) and cymbals. The former word only occurs there. The Chronicle has a later term for cymbals (meçiltayim for çilçeţlîm).
And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.(9) Chidon.—So one MS. of LXX. Syriac and Arabic, Rāmîn. The Nachon of Samuel seems right. The Targum, Syriac, and Arabic of Samuel have, “prepared threshing floor (s),” treating nākûn as a participle.
Put forth his hand to hold the ark.—An explanatory paraphrase of the more ancient text, “Uzza put forth unto the ark of God, and held thereon” (Samuel).
Stumbled.—Or, plunged. The margin is wrong. The verb is used transitively, in 2Kings 9:33, “Throw her down.”
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.(10) And he smote him.—Abridged from “and God smote him there” (Samuel).
Because he put his hand to the ark.—“Because he put” is in the Heb., ‘al ’asher shalah. For this Samuel has ’al hashshal, an obscure phrase, occurring nowhere else in the Old Testament. The similarity of letters in the two phrases can hardly be accidental, but whether the chronicler has given the original text of the passage as he found it preserved in his source, or whether he has himself made a guess at the true reading, cannot be determined. The Syriac of Samuel reads, “because he put forth his hand;” and so the Arabic, adding, “to the ark.” The Targum, “because he sinned” (using a word like hashshal). The Vat. LXX. omits the phrase.
And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perezuzza to this day.(11) Made a breach.—Ɓrokenforťh against. The same verb recurs in 1Chronicles 14:11. (Comp. Exodus 19:22.)
Wherefore that place is called.—Heb., and he (one) called that place.
To this day.—It is not implied necessarily that the place was known by this name in the days of the Chronicles. The same phrase occurs in the parallel verse of Samuel, and the chronicler has merely given a exact transcript of his source.
And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?(12) God . . . ark of God.—Here and in 1Chronicles 13:8; 1Chronicles 13:14, &c. Samuel has Jehovah. The chronicler or his authority has avoided the frequent use of that most holy Name.
Saying.—Samuel, “and said.”
How.—Hêk, an Aramaic form, perhaps due to a transcriber rather than to the author.
Shall I bring.—Samuel, “shall come.” Two different voices of the same verb.
So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite.(13) Brought not . . . home.—A different verb from that in 1Chronicles 13:12. Literally, And David caused not the ark to turn aside unto himself. Slightly abridged. (See Samuel.)
Obed-edom the Gittite.—As, according to 1Chronicles 26:1-4, Obed-edom was a Korhitic Levite, the term “Gittite” is generally assumed to mean native of Gathrimmon, a Levitical township (Joshua 21:24) belonging to the great clan of Kohath, which was charged with the carriage of the Ark, and of which Obed-edom was a member (Numbers 4:15).
And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had.(14) With the family.—By (near) the house. The preposition is wanting in Samuel, according to older usage.
In his house.—In its own house (shrine). Instead of this, Samuel has “the Gittite,” and for the concluding words, “And the Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his house.” (Comp. 2Samuel 6:12.) As to the nature of the blessing, see 1Chronicles 26:4-8; and comp. Psalms 125