Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This chapter deals with (1) the classes of the porters, or warders (1Chronicles 26:1-19); (2) the keepers of the treasures of the sanctuary (1Chronicles 26:20-28); (3) the officials charged with external business, and chiefly scribes and judges (1Chronicles 26:29-32).
Concerning the divisions of the porters: Of the Korhites was Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph.(1) Concerning the divisions of the porters.—Literally, (as) to courses to porters. (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:6.) As many as 4,000 Levites were set apart for this function by the king’s orders. (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:25.)
Of the sons of Asaph.—Not the chief musician Asaph, who was a Gershonite (1Chronicles 6:39-48); whereas the Korhites were a Kohathite stock (Exodus 6:21). The name here is evidently an abbreviation of Ebiasaph (1Chronicles 9:19), as Ahaz of Jehoahaz.
And the sons of Meshelemiah were, Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth,(2) And the sons of Meshelemiah were.—Rather, And Meshelemiah had sons, viz., Zechariah the firstborn. (See 1Chronicles 9:21, and 1Chronicles 26:14 below.) The seven “sons” of Meshelemiah-Shallum represent seven guilds of porters.
Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh.(3) Jehohanan (Jah bestowed), the full form of Johanan, John.
Elioenai.—Heb., Elyĕhō-ēnai (mine eyes are towards Jehovah. Comp. Psalms 123), the full form of Elyō-ēnai (1Chronicles 3:24).
Moreover the sons of Obededom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth,(4) Moreover the sons of Obed-edom.—And Obed-edom had sons. Obed-edom (1Chronicles 15:24) is called a son of Jeduthun in 1Chronicles 16:38. This Jeduthun was not the Merarite chief musician, but a Korhite. (Comp. 1Chronicles 26:1; 1Chronicles 26:10; 1Chronicles 26:19.)
Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him.(5) For God blessed him.—Comp. 1Chronicles 13:14, where it is said, “God blessed the house of Obed-edom.” His sons’ names are all testimonies to his thankful recognition of the Divine favour. The firstborn is Shemaiah, Jah hath heard (viz.) the prayer for offspring; Jehozabad, Jah hath bestowed, is the second; Joah, Jah is a kinsman, the third; Sacar, reward (Genesis 15:1), is the fourth; Nethaneel, or Nathanael (Dositheus, Dorotheus, Deusdedit) God hath given, the fifth; Ammiel, a kinsman is God, the sixth; the seventh, Issachar, there is a reward; the eighth, Peulthai (Heb., Pĕullĕthai), work or recompense of Jah.
Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born, that ruled throughout the house of their father: for they were mighty men of valour.(6) That ruled throughout the house of their father.—Rather, The lords of their clan. The word translated “that ruled,” is not a verb, but an abstract noun (mimshāl), like our expression “the authorities,” or “the government.” It only occurs besides in Daniel 11:3; Daniel 11:5.
Mighty men of valour.—See Note on 1Chronicles 9:13.
The sons of Shemaiah; Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah.(7) And Obed, Elzabad.—This is probably corrupt, as the conjunction, which is used with the preceding names, is wanting between Obed and Elzabad. Probably Obed-Elzabad is a corruption of some single name, perhaps Obed-el: (comp. the Syriac and Arabic, Ubdâêl and Ufîdîlu), or Abdiel (1Chronicles 5:15; Syriac, Abdâêl; Arabic, Afâdîlu); see Note on 1Chronicles 26:12. (Those two versions, however, give six names, while the LXX. gives eight.)
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.
All these of the sons of Obededom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two of Obededom.(8) Able men.—Were men of power; in the original, a singular collective.
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. 1Chronicles 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 (1Chronicles 25:9; 1Chronicles 25:29).
And Meshelemiah had sons and brethren, strong men, eighteen.(9) And Meshelemiah.—This goes back to 1Chronicles 26:2, and forms a kind of supplement to the statement there. The Korhite (Kohathite) porters make a total of 80 families; viz., 62 of Obed-edom, and 18 of Meshelemiah.
Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons; Simri the chief, (for though he was not the firstborn, yet his father made him the chief;)(10) Also Hosah, of the children of Merari.—Four chiefs of the sons of Hosah are named, and thirteen assigned as the total number of families belonging to this clan (1Chronicles 26:10-11). Adding them to the 18 of Meshelemiah and the 62 of Obed-edom, we get a total of 93 principal porters, presiding over the 4,000 Levites appointed to that work (1Chronicles 23:5).
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.
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.(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.)
And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to the house of their fathers, for every gate.(13) And they cast lots.—Compare 1Chronicles 25:8.
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).
And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah. Then for Zechariah his son, a wise counseller, they cast lots; and his lot came out northward.(14) And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah.—The courses of the sons of Shelemiah (Meshelemiah 1Chronicles 26:1; 1Chronicles 26:9, and Shallum 9:19) received by lot the post of honour on the east side of the Sanctuary.
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. 1Chronicles 24:31; xxv, 8). Zechariah, the firstborn of Meshelemiah (1Chronicles 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.
To Obededom southward; and to his sons the house of Asuppim.(15) To Obed-edom (the lot fell) southward; and to his sons (fell by lot) the house of Asuppim.—“Asuppim” occurs only in 1Chronicles 26:15; 1Chronicles 26:17 of this chapter, and in Nehemiah 12:25. It seems to mean collections, stores of provisions and material for the use of the Temple and its ministers; so that Bêth-hā-asuppîm is the storehouse or magazine. Nothing more is known about it. (The Vulgate takes ’asuppîm to mean “Council of Elders;” confusing the word with ’asuppôth, Ecclesiastes 12:11.)
To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came forth westward, with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the going up, ward against ward.(16) To Shuppim and Hosah.—No such name as Shuppim (1Chronicles 7:12) occurs among those of the Levitical warders as given above in 1Chronicles 26:1-11. It is almost certainly a mistaken repetition of the last two syllables of Asuppim, which immediately precedes it. (The mistake is as old as the Vulgate; the LXX. has εἰς δεύτερον, perhaps reading lishnàyîm instead of le Shuppîm.) Read: And to Hosah (the lot fell) to the west, with the gate Shallèketh on the highway that goeth up.
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 1Chronicles 26:12 and 1Chronicles 25:8; 1Chronicles 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.
Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and toward Asuppim two and two.(17) Eastward were six Levites.—Literally, To the east the Levites were six; to the northward for the day four; to the southward for the day four; and to the Stores two two (i.e., two apiece, or two by two). We must supply for the day in the first clause, with the LXX.
Toward Asuppim two and two.—The magazine appears to have had two doors, with two warders stationed at each.
At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.(18) At (the) Parbar westward.—See 2Kings 23:11, where a plural Parwārîm occurs. The meaning of the word is unknown. According to Gesenius (Thesaur. p. 1123), “Parwār” is the right spelling; and the term answers to a Persian word denoting “summer-house,” i.e., a building open to light and air. He makes “the Parbar” a cloister running round the court of the Temple, from which the cells were entered. (See Note on 1Chronicles 23:28.) Both spellings occur in Persian. Richardson’s Persian Dictionary gives as many as fifteen variant forms of the word, besides Parwâr and Parbâr. His definition of the meaning is, “an open gallery or balcony on the top of a house, au upper room open on all sides to the air; a summer department or habitation; the roof of a house; a private door or entrance to a house.”
At the causeway.—That is, the highway of 1Chronicles 26:16. These four warders, therefore, stood by the gate Shalleketh. Adding together the numbers given in 1Chronicles 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. 1Chronicles 26:12). Twenty-four would be an insignificant fraction of 4,000 (1Chronicles 23:6).
These are the divisions of the porters among the sons of Kore, and among the sons of Merari.(19) These are the divisions of the porters.—These are the courses of the porters, belonging to the sons of the Korhite, and to the sons of Merari. This concluding remark proves that only the Kohathite and Merarite divisions of Levi had part in the duty of Temple-warders. The Gershonites were not represented among the porters (see 1Chronicles 26:1; 1Chronicles 26:10).
And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things.II.—THE KEEPERS OF THE TEMPLE TREASURES
(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 1Chronicles 23:7 sqq.; (2) it stands alone, without any reference to a family, such as is made in every other case (see 1Chronicles 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; 1Chronicles 29:7-8).
Treasures of the dedicated things.—See margin and 1Chronicles 26:26-27.
As concerning the sons of Laadan; the sons of the Gershonite Laadan, chief fathers, even of Laadan the Gershonite, were Jehieli.(21, 22) These two verses contain one statement, viz :—The sons of Laadan, i.e., The sons of the Gershonite belonging to Laadan, the heads of the houses of Laadan the Gershonite, Jehieli, that is, the sons of Kehieli, Zetham, and Joel his brother, were over the treasures of the house of Jehovah. In other words, Zetham and Joel the chiefs of the clan Jehiel, which was the leading house of the Laadanite branch of Gershon, had charge of the Temple stores. (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:7-8.) Jehieli looks like the gentilic form of Jehiel, the Jehielite.
Of the Amramites, and the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites:(23) of the Amramites, and the Izharites.—Or, As for the Amramites, &c. This enumeration of the four great clans of Kohath is a sort of heading to the rest of the chapter, which relates to Amramites (1Chronicles 26:24-28), Izharites (1Chronicles 26:29), and Hebronites (1Chronicles 26:30-32). (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:12-20.)
And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.(24) And Shebuel.—Rather, Now Shebuel The office of comptroller-in-chief of the treasures was hereditary in the house of this Amramite. Hence he is called “ruler,” or rather prince, (nāgîd, 1Chronicles 5:2; 1Chronicles 12:27; 1Chronicles 13:1); both departments mentioned in 1Chronicles 26:20 being subject to his control.
And his brethren by Eliezer; Rehabiah his son, and Jeshaiah his son, and Joram his son, and Zichri his son, and Shelomith his son.(25) And his brethren by Eliezer.—And his (Shebuel’s) brethren (kinsmen) belonging to (the house of) Eliezer (Moses’ second son) were Rehabiah his (Eliezer’s) son, and Jeshaiah his (Rehabiah’s) son, &c. (Comp. 1Chronicles 23:17.) The object of the verse is to show the extraction of Shelomith or Shelomoth, whose function is defined in 1Chronicles 26:26. Shelomith the Amramite is not to be confused with the Gershomite Shelomith (1Chronicles 23:9), nor with the Izharite (1Chronicles 23:18; 1Chronicles 24:22).
Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated.(26) Which Shelomith and his brethen.—He, viz., Shelomoth and his kinsmen.
Chief of fathers.—Heads of the clans.
The captains over thousands.—Heb., to the captains; a scribe’s error.
Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD.(27) Out of the spoils won in battles.—The verse is an explanatory parenthesis. Literally, Out of the wars, and out of the spoils; a hendiadys, i.e., out of the spoils of war.
And all that Samuel the seer, and Saul the son of Kish, and Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah, had dedicated; and whosoever had dedicated any thing, it was under the hand of Shelomith, and of his brethren.(28) And all that Samuel the seer.—The enumeration of those who had dedicated spoil is resumed from 1Chronicles 26:26. The seer (rō’èh), the ancient term for prophet (nābî’). 1Samuel 9:9.
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. 2Samuel 8:11; 2Kings 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 (1Chronicles 22:14-16).
Under the hand of Shelomith.—Comp. the same phrase in 1Chronicles 25:2-3.
Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were for the outward business over Israel, for officers and judges.III. THE LEVITES CHARGED WITH BUSINESS EXTERNAL TO THE SANCTUARY (1Chronicles 26:29-32).
The outward business is defined as that of “officers” (shoterîm, scribes) and judges. Six thousand Levites were set apart for these duties (1Chronicles 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.
And of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brethren, men of valour, a thousand and seven hundred, were officers among them of Israel on this side Jordan westward in all the business of the LORD, and in the service of the king.(30) And of the Hebronites, Hashabiah.—Rather, As to the Hebronites, Hashabiah, and his kinsmen, sons of valour (1Chronicles 26:7), a thousand and seven hundred, were charged with (Heb., over) the supervision of Israel on yonder side of the Jordan, westward, for all the work of Iahweh and for the service of the king.
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.
Among the Hebronites was Jerijah the chief, even among the Hebronites, according to the generations of his fathers. In the fortieth year of the reign of David they were sought for, and there were found among them mighty men of valour at Jazer of Gilead.(31, 32) Among the Hebronites was Jerijah the chief.—Rather, To the Hebronites there was the head Jeriah (as to the Hebronites, according to their registers, according to families, in the fortieth year of the reign of David, they were sought out; and there were found among them valiant warriors in Jazer-Gilead); and his brethren, sons of might, two thousand seven hundred heads of families: and David the king made them overseers over the Reubenites, &c. The long parenthesis obscures the meaning or these two verses. The general statement is that other Hebronites were charged with the supervision of the land east of Jordan: the parenthesis accounts for the fact.
(31) Jerijah.—1Chronicles 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. 1Chronicles 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 (1Chronicles 23:4). The 2,700 fathers mentioned here, with the 1,700 of 1Chronicles 26:30, make a total of 4,400. The remaining 1,600 (6,000 minus 4,400) may probably be assigned to Chenaniah (1Chronicles 26:29). It is strange that the house of Hebron should be twice mentioned (1Chronicles 26:30-31) and the house of Uzziel not at all (see 1Chronicles 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.