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1 Chronicles: Chapter 23

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Text view alone

1When David was old and full of days, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.

2David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests and the Levites. 3The Levites, thirty years old and upward, were counted, and the total was thirty‐eight thousand. 4“Twenty‐four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the work in the house of the LORD, six thousand shall be officers and judges, 5four thousand gatekeepers, and four thousand shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.” 6And David organized them in divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, a Heb shalom Kohath, and Merari.

7The sons of Gershon b Or Gershom; See 1 Chr 6.1, note, and 23.15 were Ladan and Shimei. 8The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the chief, Zetham, and Joel, three. 9The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, Haziel, and Haran, three. These were the heads of families of Ladan. 10And the sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, Jeush, and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei. 11Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second; but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons, so they were enrolled as a single family.

12The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four. 13The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart to consecrate the most holy things, so that he and his sons forever should make offerings before the LORD, and minister to him and pronounce blessings in his name forever; 14but as for Moses the man of God, his sons were to be reckoned among the tribe of Levi. 15The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer. 16The sons of Gershom: Shebuel the chief. 17The sons of Eliezer: Rehabiah the chief; Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very numerous. 18The sons of Izhar: Shelomith the chief. 19The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the chief, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth. 20The sons of Uzziel: Micah the chief and Isshiah the second.

21The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish. 22Eleazar died having no sons, but only daughters; their kindred, the sons of Kish, married them. 23The sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth, three.

24These were the sons of Levi by their ancestral houses, the heads of families as they were enrolled according to the number of the names of the individuals from twenty years old and upward who were to do the work for the service of the house of the LORD. 25For David said, “The LORD, the God of Israel, has given rest to his people; and he resides in Jerusalem forever. 26And so the Levites no longer need to carry the tabernacle or any of the things for its service”— 27for according to the last words of David these were the number of the Levites from twenty years old and upward— 28“but their duty shall be to assist the descendants of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, having the care of the courts and the chambers, the cleansing of all that is holy, and any work for the service of the house of God; 29to assist also with the rows of bread, the choice flour for the grain offering, the wafers of unleavened bread, the baked offering, the offering mixed with oil, and all measures of quantity or size. 30And they shall stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening, 31and whenever burnt offerings are offered to the LORD on sabbaths, new moons, and appointed festivals, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD. 32Thus they shall keep charge of the tent of meeting and the sanctuary, and shall attend the descendants of Aaron, their kindred, for the service of the house of the LORD.”


b Heb shalom

a Or Gershom; See 1 Chr 6.1, note, and 23.15

Text Commentary view alone

23.1–32 : Establishing a national administration.

David attains a venerable stage in his life (v. 1 ), full of days, much like Abraham (Gen 25.8 ), Isaac (Gen 35.29 ), and Job (42.17) before him. He begins preparing for his death and the reign of his son by convening his administrative leadership. This transition is smooth, in contrast to 2 Sam 15–1 Kings 2 , which are omitted. The Chronicler will eventually return to the issue of Solomon's accession, but his first priority is to detail David's appointment of and instructions to the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites (v. 2 ), who will help Solomon to succeed in his various tasks, especially completing the Temple. The summit of select leaders forms the background of David's major administrative initiatives, outlined in the narratives and the lists of 23.3–27.34 .

5 :

The divisions and responsibilities of the gatekeepers are outlined in ch 26 .

6 :

The tripartite segmentation of the Levites in vv. 6–23 resembles that of earlier Priestly sources (Ex 6.16–19; Num 3.17–39; 1 Chr 6.1,16–47 ).

7–23 :

The advent of the Temple, and the centralized worship that it represents, leads to the establishment of a system of divisions or courses among the Levites and priests. Each division was to work its appointed turn in rotation until a round was completed and a new round was begun. Although ascribed to David's initiative, this development, unattested in preexilic texts, is only attested in the Second Temple period. It persists to the Roman period (see Lk 1.5 ). Thus, here the Chronicler is legitimating worship as he knew it by attributing it to David.

13 :

The mandate for the sons of Aaron to make offerings before the LORD is detailed in a number of contexts (Ex 29.38–42; 30.1–10; Lev 8.1–9.24; 18.8–20 ).

18 :

Although included in the earlier genealogy ( 6.37 ), the line of Korah is not mentioned here; this is probably connected with the tradition of Korah's rebellion narrated in Num 16 .

25–32 :

The Levitical job description is revised in light of the move toward one permanent, stationary sanctuary.

28 :

The Heb means “stand at the side of,” rather than to assist the descendants of Aaron. In Chronicles the Levites and the priests have different but complimentary responsibilities (see also Neh 12.45 ).

29 :

Rows of bread, cf. Lev 25.4–9 .

30–31 :

The Levites are to praise the LORD whenever burnt offerings are offered by the priests ( 16.4,7–38; 23.5 ). This contrasts with other descriptions of Temple worship, which depict a sanctuary of silence.

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