Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Chronicles 26:1
The classes of the doorkeepers, the stewards of the treasures of the sanctuary, and the officers for the external business. - Vv. 1-19. The classes of the doorkeepers. Ch1 26:1. The superscription runs shortly thus: "As to (ל) the divisions of the doorkeepers." The enumeration beings with לקרחים: to the Korahites (belongs) Meshelemiah (in Ch1 26:14, Shelemiah). Instead of אסף מן־בּני we should read, according to Ch1 9:19, אביסף מן־בּני, for the Korahites are descended from Kohath (Exo 6:21; Exo 18:16), but Asaph is a descendant of Gershon (Ch1 6:39.). - In Ch1 26:2, Ch1 26:3, seven sons of Meshelemiah are enumerated; the first-born Zechariah is mentioned also in Ch1 9:21, and was entrusted, according to Ch1 26:14, with the guarding of the north side.
1 Chronicles 26:4
Obed-edom's family. Obed-edom has been already mentioned in Ch1 16:38 and Ch1 15:24 as doorkeeper; see the commentary on the passage. From our passage we learn that Obed-edom belonged to the Kohathite family of the Korahites. According to Ch1 26:19, the doorkeepers were Korahites and Merarites. The Merarites, however, are only treated of from Ch1 26:10 and onwards. אדם וּלעבד (Ch1 26:4) corresponds to ולמשׁלמיהוּ (Ch1 26:2), and is consequently thereby brought under לקּרהים (Ch1 26:1). Here, Ch1 26:4, Ch1 26:5, eight sons with whom God had blessed him (cf. Ch1 13:14), and in Ch1 26:6 and Ch1 26:7 his grandchildren, are enumerated. The verb נולד is used in the singular, with a subject following in the plural, as frequently (cf. Ew. 316, a). The grandchildren of Obed-edom by his first-born son Shemaiah are characterized as המּמשׁלים, the dominions, i.e., the lords (rulers) of the house of their fathers (ממשׁל, the abstract dominion, for the concrete משׁל; cf. Ew. 160, b), because they were חיל גּבּורי, valiant heroes, and so qualified for the office of doorkeepers. In the enumeration in Ch1 26:7, the omission of the ו cop. with אחיו אלזבד is strange; probably we must supply ו before both words, and take them thus: And Elzabad and his brethren, valiant men, (viz.) Elihu and Semachiah. For the conjecture that the names of the אחיו are not given (Berth.) is not a very probable one.
1 Chronicles 26:8
The whole number of doorkeepers of Obed-edom's family, his sons and brethren, was sixty-two; able men with strength for the service. The singular חיל אישׁ, after the preceding plural, is most simply explained by taking it to be in apposition to the כּל at the beginning of the verse, by repeating כּל mentally before אישׁ. - In Ch1 26:9 the number of Meshelemiah's sons and brothers is brought in in a supplementary way.
1 Chronicles 26:10
The Merarites. Hosah's sons and brothers. חוסה has been already mentioned (Ch1 16:38) along with Obed-edom as doorkeeper. Hosah made Shimri head of the Merarites, who served as doorkeepers, because there was no first-born, i.e., because his first-born son had died without leaving any descendant, so that none of the families descended from Hosah had the natural claim to the birthright. All the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen. Meshelemiah had eighteen (cf. Ch1 26:9), and Obed-edom sixty-two (Ch1 26:8); and all taken together they make ninety-three, whom we are (according to Ch1 26:12.) to regard as the heads of the 4000 doorkeepers. In Ch1 9:22 the number of the doorkeepers appointed by David is stated to be 212, but that number most probably refers to a different time (see on Ch1 9:22). Bertheau further remarks: "According to Ch1 16:38, sixty-eight are reckoned to Obed-edom and Hosah, in our passage seventy-five; and the small difference between the numbers is explained by the fact that in the first passage only the doorkeepers before the ark are referred to." Against this we have already shown, in our remarks on Ch1 16:38, that the number there mentioned cannot be held with certainty to refer to the doorkeepers.
1 Chronicles 26:12
The division of the doorkeepers according to their posts of service. Ch1 26:12. "To these classes of doorkeepers, viz., to the heads of the men, (were committed) the watches, in common with their brethren, to serve in the house of Jahve." By מחלקות לאלּה it is placed beyond doubt that the above-mentioned names and numbers give us the classes of the doorkeepers. By the apposition הגּברים לראשׁי, the meaning of which is discussed in the commentary on Ch1 24:4, השׁ מחלקות is so defined as to show that properly the heads of the households are meant, only these having been enumerated in the preceding section, and not the classes.
The distribution of the stations by lot followed (cf. Ch1 25:8), the small as the great; i.e., the younger as the older cast lots, according to their fathers'-houses, "for door and door," i.e., for each door of the four sides of the temple, which was built so that its sides corresponded to the points of the compass.
The lot towards the east, i.e., for the guarding of the east side, fell to Shelemiah (cf. Ch1 26:1, Ch1 26:2); while that towards the north fell to his first-born Zechariah. Before זכריהוּ, ל is to be repeated. To him the title בּשׂכל יויץ is given, for reasons unknown to us. גו הפּילוּ, (for him) they threw lots.
To Obed-edom (fell the lot) towards the south, and to his sons it fell (to guard) the house Asuppim. As to בּית־האספּים, called for brevity עספּים in Ch1 26:17, i.e., house of collections or provisions (cf. Neh 12:25), we can say nothing further than that it was a building used for the storing of the temple goods, situated in the neighbourhood of the southern door of the temple in the external court, and that it probably had two entrances, since in Ch1 26:19 it is stated that two guard-stations were assigned to it.
The word לשׁפּים is unintelligible, and probably has come into the text merely by a repetition of the two last syllables of the preceding word, since the name שׁפּים (Ch1 7:12) has no connection with this passage. To Hosah fell the lot towards the west, by the door Shallecheth on the ascending highway. העולה המסלּה is the way which led from the lower city up to the more lofty temple site. Instead of the door on this highway, in Ch1 26:18, in the statement as to the distribution of the guard-stations, Parbar is named, and the highway distinguished from it, four doorkeepers being appointed for the מסלּה, and two for פּרבּר. פּרבּר .פּר, probably identical with פּרורים, Kg2 23:11, a word of uncertain meaning, was the name of an out-building on the western side, the back of the outer court of the temple by the door Shallecheth, which contained cells for the laying up of temple goods and furniture. שׁלּכת, Bttcher translates, Proben, S. 347, "refuse-door;" see on Kg2 23:11. Nothing more definite can be said of it, unless we hold, with Thenius on Kg2 23:11, that Ezekiel's temple is in all its details a copy of the Solomonic temple, and use it, in an unjustifiable way, as a source of information as to the prae-exilic temple. משׁמר לעמּת משׁמר (as in Neh 12:24), guard with (over against?) guard, or one guard as the other (cf. on לעמּת, Ch1 26:12 and Ch1 25:8), Bertheau connects with Hosah, according to the Masoretic punctuation, and explains it thus: "Because it was Hosah's duty to set guards before the western gate of the temple, and also before the gate Shallecheth, which lay over against it." Clericus, on the contrary, refers the words to all the guard-stations: cum ad omnes januas essent custodiae, sibi ex adverso respondebant. This reference, according to which the words belong to what follows, and introduce the statement as to the number of guards at the individual posts which follows in Ch1 26:17., seems to deserve the preference. So much is certain in any case, that there is no ground in the text for distinguishing the gate Shallecheth from the western gate of the temple, for the two gates are not distinguished either in Ch1 26:16 or in Ch1 26:18.
Settlement of the number of guard-stations at the various sides and places. Towards morning (on the east side) were six of the Levites (six kept guard); towards the north by day (i.e., daily, on each day), four; towards the south daily, four; and at the storehouse two and two, consequently four also; at Parbar towards the west, four on the highway and two at Parbar, i.e., six. In all, therefore, there were twenty-four guard-stations to be occupied daily; but more than twenty-four persons were required, because, even supposing that one man at a time was sufficient for each post, one man could not stand the whole day at it: he must have been relieved from time to time. Probably, however, there were always more than one person on guard at each post. It further suggests itself that the number twenty-four may be in some way connected with the divisions or classes of doorkeepers; but there is only a deceptive appearance of a connection. The division of the priests and musicians each into twenty-four classes respectively is no sufficient analogy in the case, for these classes had to perform the service in succession each for a week at a time, while the twenty-four doorkeepers' stations had to be all occupied simultaneously every day. - In Ch1 26:2-11, then, twenty-eight heads in all are enumerated by name (Meshelemiah with seven sons, Obed-edom with eight sons and six grandsons, and Hosah with four sons); but the total number in all the three families of doorkeepers is stated at ninety-three, and neither the one nor the other of these numbers bears any relation to twenty-four. Finally, the posts are so distributed that Meshelemiah with his eighteen sons and brothers kept guard on the east and north sides with six posts; Obed-edom with his sixty-two sons and brothers on the south side with four and 2 x 2, that is, eight posts; and Hosah with his thirteen sons and brothers on the western side with four and two, that is, six; so that even here no symmetrical distribution of the service can be discovered.
Subscription, in which it is again stated that the classes of doorkeepers were taken from among the Korahites and Merarites.
1 Chronicles 26:20
The stewards of the treasures of the sanctuary. - Ch1 26:20 appears to contain the superscription of the succeeding section. For here the treasures of the house of God and the treasures of the consecrated things are grouped together, while in Ch1 26:22 and Ch1 26:26 they are separated, and placed under the oversight of two Levite families: the treasures of the house of Jahve under the sons of the Gershonite Laadan (Ch1 26:21, Ch1 26:22); the treasures of the consecrated things under the charge of the Amramites. But with this the words אחיּה הלויּם cannot be made to harmonize. According to the Masoretic accentuation, הלויּם alone would be the superscription; but הלויּם alone gives no suitable sense, for the Levites have been treated of already from 1 Chron 23 onwards. Moreover, it appears somewhat strange that there is no further characterization of אחיּה, for the name is a very common one, but has not before occurred in our chapter, whence we would expect a statement of his descent and his family, such as we find in the case of the succeeding chief overseers. All these things tend to throw doubt upon the correctness of the Masoretic reading, while the lxx, on the contrary, in καὶ οἱ Δευῖται ἀδελφοὶ αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τῶν θησαυρῶν κ.τ.λ, give a perfectly suitable superscription, which involves the reading אחיהם instead of אחיּה. This reading we, with J. D. Mich. and Berth., hold to be the original. On אהיהם הלויּם, cf. Ch1 6:29; Ch2 29:34.
Ch1 26:21 and Ch1 26:22 to together: "The sons of Laadan, (namely) the sons of the Gershonite family which belong to Laadan, (namely) the heads of the fathers'-houses of Laadan of the Gershonite family: Jehieli, (namely) the sons of Jehieli, Zetham and his brother Joel (see Ch1 23:7), were over the treasures of the house of Jahve." The meaning is this: "Over the treasures of the house of Jahve were Zetham and Joel, the heads of the father's-house of Jehieli, which belonged to the Laadan branch of the Gershonites." Light is thrown upon these words, so obscure through their brevity, by Ch1 23:7-8, according to which the sons of Jehiel, or the Jehielites, are descended from Laadan, the older branch of the Gershonites. This descent is briefly but fully stated in the three clauses of the 21st verse, each of which contains a more definite characterization of the father's-house Jehieli, whose two heads Zetham and Joel were entrusted with the oversight of the treasures of the house of God.
Ch1 26:23 and Ch1 26:24 also go together: "As to the Amramites, Jisharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites (the four chief branches of the Kohathite family of Levites, Ch1 23:15-20), Shebuel the son of Gershon, the son of Moses, was prince over the treasures" (w before Shebuel introduces the apodosis, cf. Ew. 348, a, and = Germ. "so war").
"And his (Shebuel's) brethren of Eliezer were Rehabiah his (Eliezer's) son, and Jeshaiah his son, ... and Shelomoth his son." These descendants of Eliezer were called brethren of Shebuel, because they were descended through Eliezer from Moses, as Shebuel was through his father Gershon.
This Shelomoth (a descendant of Eliezer, and so to be distinguished both from the Jisharite Shelomith Ch1 23:18 and Ch1 24:22, and the Gershonite of the same name Ch1 23:9), and his brethren were over the treasures of the consecrated things which David the king had consecrated, and the heads of the fathers'-houses, etc. Instead of לשׂרי we must read ושׁרי, according to Ch1 29:6. The princes over the thousands and hundreds are the war captains, and the הצּבא שׂרי are the commanders-in-chief, e.g., Abner, Joab, Ch1 27:34, Sa2 8:16; Ch1 18:15. - The 27th verse is an explanatory parenthesis: "from the wars and from the booty," i.e., from the booty taken in war had they consecrated. לחזּק, to make strong, i.e., to preserve in strength and good condition the house of Jahve. חזּק elsewhere of the renovation of old buildings, Kg2 12:8., Neh 3:2., here in a somewhat general signification. - In Ch1 26:28 the enumeration of those who had consecrated, thus interrupted, is resumed, but in the form of a new sentence, which concludes with a predicate of its own. In ההקדּישׁ the article represents אשׁר, as in Ch1 29:17; Ch2 29:36, and elsewhere; cf. Ew. 331, b. With המּקדּישׁ כּל, all who had consecrated, the enumeration is concluded, and the predicate, "was at the hand of Shelomith and his brethren," is then brought in. על־יד, laid upon the hand, i.e., entrusted to them for preservation; Germ. unter der Hand (under the hand).
If we glance back at the statements as to the stewards of the treasures (Ch1 26:20-28), we find that the treasures of the house of Jahve were under the oversight of the Jehielites Zetham and Joel, with their brethren, a branch of the Gershonites (v. 22); and the treasures of the consecrated things under the oversight of the Kohathite Shelomith, who was of the family of Moses' second son Eliezer, with his brethren (v. 28). But in what relation does the statement in v. 24, that Shebuel, the descendant of Moses through Gershon, was על־האצרות נגיד, stand to this? Bertheau thinks "that three kinds of treasures are distinguished, the guarding of which was committed to different officials: (1) The sons of Jehieli, Zetham and Joel, had the oversight of the treasures of the house of God, which, as we may conclude from Ch1 29:8, had been collected by voluntary gifts: (2) Shebuel was prince over the treasures, perhaps over the sums which resulted from regular assessment for the temple (Exo 30:11-16), from redemption-money, e.g., for the first-born (Num 18:16.), or for vows (Lev); consequently over a part of the sums which are designated in Kg2 12:5 by the name הקדשים כסף: (3) Shelomith and his brothers had the oversight of all the הקדשים אוצרות, i.e., of the consecrated gifts which are called in Kg2 12:19 קדשים, and distinguished from the קדשים כסף in Kg2 12:5." But this view has no support in the text. Both in the superscription (Ch1 26:20) and in the enumeration (Ch1 26:22, Ch1 26:26) only two kinds of treasures-treasures of the house of God (of Jahve), and treasures of the קדשׁים - are mentioned. Neither by the facts nor by the language used are we justified in supposing that there was a third kind of treasures, viz., the sums resulting from the regular assessment for the holy place. For it is thoroughly arbitrary to confine the treasures of the house of God to the voluntary contributions and the consecrated gifts given from the war-booty; and it is still more arbitrary to limit the treasures over which Shebuel was prince to the sums flowing into the temple treasures from the regular assessment; for the reference to Kg2 12:19 and Kg2 12:5 is no proof of this, because, though two kinds of קדשׁים are there distinguished, yet both are further defined. The quite general expression האצרות, the treasures, can naturally be referred only to the two different kinds of treasures distinguished in Ch1 26:22. This reference is also demanded by the words נגיד...שׁבוּאל (Ch1 26:24). Heads of fathers'-houses, with their brethren (אהיהם), are mentioned as guardians of the two kinds of treasures spoken of in Ch1 26:20; while here, on the contrary, we have Shebuel alone, without assistants. Further, the other guardians are not called נגיד, as Shebuel is. The word נגיד denotes not an overseer or steward, but only princes of kingdoms (kings), princes of tribes (Ch1 12:27; Ch1 13:1; Ch1 27:16; Ch2 32:21), ministers of the palace and the temple, and commanders-in-chief (Ch2 11:11; Ch2 28:7), and is consequently used in our section neither of Zetham and Joel, nor of Shelomoth. The calling of Shebuel נגיד consequently shows that he was the chief guardian of the sacred treasures, under whose oversight the guardians of the two different kinds of treasures were placed. This is stated in Ch1 26:23, Ch1 26:24; and the statement would not have been misunderstood if it had been placed at the beginning or the end of the enumeration; and its position in the middle between the Gershonites and the Kohathites is explained by the fact that this prince was, according to Ch1 23:16, the head of the four Levite families descended from Kohath.
1 Chronicles 26:29
The officials for the external business. - Ch1 26:29. "As to the Izharites, Chenaniah (see on Ch1 15:22) with his sons was for the outward business over Israel for scribes and judges." According to this, the external business of the Levites consisted of service as scribes and judges, for which David had set apart 6000 Levites (Ch1 23:4). Without sufficient reason, Bertheau would refer the external business to the exaction of the dues for the temple, because in Neh 11:16 ההיצנה המּלאכה for the temple is spoken of. But it does not at all follow that in our verse the external work had any reference to the temple, and that the scribes and judges had only this narrow sphere of action, since here, instead of the house of God, ישׂראל על is mentioned as the object with which the external service was connected.
Of Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brethren, 1700 valiant men, were ישׂ פּקדּת על, for the oversight (inspection) of Israel this side Jordan, for all the business of Jahve and the service of the king. Bertheau takes פּקדּה to mean "due," "fixed tribute," a meaning which the word cannot be shown to have. The lxx have translated correctly, ἐπὶ τῆς ἐπισκέψεως τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, ad inspectionem Israelis, i.e., praefecti erant (J. H. Mich.). For פּקדּת על is in Ch1 26:32 rendered by על יפקיד. ליּרדּן מעבר is shown by the addition מערבה to refer to the land of Canaan, as in Jos 5:1; Jos 22:7, since Israel, both under Joshua and also after the exile, had come from the eastward over Jordan into Canaan. The words מלאכת and עבדת are synonymous, and are consequently both represented in Ch1 26:32 by דּבר.
David set another branch of the Hebronites, under the head Jeriah (cf. Ch1 23:9), over the East-Jordan tribes. Between the words "Jeriah the head," Ch1 26:31, and ואחיו, Ch1 26:32, a parenthesis is inserted, which gives the reason why David made these Hebronites scribes and judges among the East-Jordan tribes. The parenthesis runs thus: "As to the Hebronites, according to their generations, according to fathers, they were sought out in the fortieth year of David's rule, and valiant heroes were found among them in Jazer of Gilead." Jazer was a Levite city in the tribal domain of Gad, assigned, according to Jos 21:39, to the Merarites (see on Ch1 6:81). The number of these Hebronites was 2700 valiant men (Ch1 26:32). The additional האבות ראשׁי is obscure, for if we take אבות to be, as it often is in the genealogies, a contraction for בּית־עבות rof no, the number given does not suit; for a branch of the Hebronites cannot possibly have numbered 2700 fathers'-houses (πατριαὶ, groups of related households): they must be only 2700 men (גּברים), or heads of families, i.e., households. Not only the large number demands this signification, but also the comparison of this statement with that in Ch1 26:30. The 1700 חיל בּני of which the Hebronite branch, Hashabiah with his brethren, consisted, were not so many πατριαὶ, but only so many men of this πατριά. In the same way, the Hebronite branch of which Jeriah was head, with his brethren, 2700 חיל בּני, were also not 2700 πατριαὶ, but only so many men, that is, fathers of families. It is thus placed beyond doubt that אבות ראשׁי cannot here denote the heads of fathers'-houses, but only heads of households. And accordingly we must not understand לאבות (Ch1 26:31) of fathers'-houses, as the lxx and all commentators do, but only of heads of households. The use of the verb נדרשׁוּ also favours this view, for this verb is not elsewhere used of the legal census of the people, i.e., the numbering and entering of them in the public lists, according to the great families and fathers'-houses. There may therefore be in נדרשׁוּ a hint that it was not a genealogical census which was undertaken, but only a numbering of the heads of households, in order to ascertain the number of scribes and judges to be appointed. There yet remain in this section three things which are somewhat strange: 1. Only 1700 scribes and judges were set over the cis-Jordanic land, inhabited as it was by ten and a half tribes, while 2700 were set over the trans-Jordanic land with its two and a half tribes. 2. Both numbers taken together amount to only 4400 men, while David appointed 6000 Levites to be scribes and judges. 3. The scribes and judges were taken only from two fathers'-houses of the Kohathites, while most of the other Levitical offices were filled by men of all the families of the tribe of Levi. On all these grounds, it is probable that our catalogue of the Levites appointed to be scribes and judges, i.e., for the external business, is imperfect.