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Deeper Commentary

1Ch 23:1 Now David was old and full of days; and he made Solomon his son king over Israel-
The very language used of the death of the patriarchs, as if to show that David was directly their seed, and also in spirit. "Full of days" rather than full of years could mean that his days had been filled with significance, rather than living the same day over and over year after year. The term is clearly not the same as just meaning "old". 

1Ch 23:2 He gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites-
We now have four chapters describing the Levites, the 24 orders of priests and singers, and the divisions of the gatekeepers / porters. David's idea was that the Levites were to be divided up to do tasks and hold offices according to the various families which are listed in these chapters. They are effectively genealogies, and the idea was that the descendants of those families were to have specific roles. This was a level of division of labour which was not found in the law of Moses.

1Ch 23:3 The Levites were numbered from thirty years old and over: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty-eight thousand-
Joab had refused to do this earlier, although he was specifically counting the Levite soldiers, whereas this was a general census of Levites available for religious service (1 Chron. 21:3-6). David numbered the Levites from 30 years old (1 Chron. 23:3), in accordance with the law which said Levites were to serve between the ages of 30 and 50 (Num. 4:3,23,35,39). But in 1 Chron. 23:24 we are told that David numbered the Levites from 20 years old. We note in Num. 8:23 that there appeared some flexibility within the Mosaic law; the Levites could be numbered from 25 years old. This is one of many examples of how the Mosaic law was not set in stone. It was principle and spirit rather than letter of the law, and within it there are examples of where one law overrode another, or one principle overrode letter of the law. The law was not designed as a simple test of obedience, for it was far more detailed than that. It was designed to inculcate a spirit of living which looked forward to the spirit of the Lord Jesus. And so David felt free to number the Levites from 20 years old, even though we also read that he numbered 'the Levites from 30 years old', suggesting that this was a technical term rather than a literal description. This would go toward explaining why 38,000 Levites were numbered by David in 1 Chron. 23:3, although "thousand" may mean a division rather than a literal 1000. At the time of Num. 4:47,48 there were only 8,580. And Levite males from a month old were 22,000 in Num. 3:39 and 23,000 at the time of Num. 26:62. This suggests a great increase in the number of Levites by David's time; or perhaps he more generously counted who was a Levite, because he wanted to have as many as possible involved in his grandiose plans for the temple services. There was no need for such large numbers of Levites in order to serve God effectively, for there were far fewer Levites at the time of the figures given in the book of Numbers, and the sanctuary and Divine service still continued.

1Ch 23:4 David said, Of these, twenty-four thousand are to oversee the work of the house of Yahweh; six thousand are to be officers and judges-
"Thousand" can not be a literal 1000 but rather a division. These 24 divisions may connect with the 24 orders of singers in 1 Chron. 25. Solomon taught that if the ants can be so zealous, well why can’t the ecclesia of God be zealous [for it was ‘believers’ that he was teaching]. The ants scurry around, working as if there is no tomorrow, to build up something so precarious that is in any case so tragically short lived. Can’t we be yet more zealous, with a like loving co-operation, building the eternal things that we are (Prov. 6:6,7)? And Solomon pressed the point further, in that ants are self-motivated; they need no “guide, overseer or ruler”. This was surely a reference to the complex system of overseers which Solomon had to place over Israel in order to build the temple and build up the Kingdom. The same Hebrew word for “overseer” is found in 1 Chron. 23:4; 26:29.  Yet ideally, he seems to be saying, every Israelite ought to be a zealous worker. Prov. 12:24 says the same: “The hand of the diligent [whoever he / she is] shall bear rule [in practice]” [s.w. Prov. 6:7 “ruler”]. And we must ask ourselves, whether for whatever reason the new Israel hasn’t slumped into the same problem, of lack of self-motivation, waiting to be asked to do something before we do it, over-relying upon our “overseers”. The ants aren’t like this. They see the job to be done, and naturally get on with it.

1Ch 23:5 four thousand are to be doorkeepers; and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments which I made for giving praise-
"Thousand" here may not be literally 1000, but may be a technical term for a division of people, similar to the "divisions" of :6. The "doorkeepers" were literally, the openers or dividers of the gates. The word is also translated "porters". To have so many suggests David envisaged his future temple as having many gates which were to be guarded. The instruments "made" can simply mean 'appointed', although note Am. 6:5, which implies David did indeed make the instruments. It all seems however rather narcissistic, the fantasy of an old man, all about himself and how he dreamed of things becoming in this temple complex.

1Ch 23:6 David divided them into divisions according to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari-
I suggested on 1 Chron. 22 that David arranged for everything to be ready for the temple to be built even during his lifetime, and urged Solomon and the princes of Israel to get on with it immediately, whilst he was still alive. Solomon however didn't begin the work until after David's death. David had prepared the workmen at this stage but it seems they were not used, and so when Solomon began the work, he had to seek such workmen again (1 Chron. 22:15 cp. 2 Chron. 2:7). And likewise it seems David had even prepared the Levites in great detail to actually start officiating in the new building. But it seems likely that all his careful plans regarding all the intended individuals weren't quite used by Solomon, or at least not for some time, by which time some of the individuals may have died. Solomon obeyed the general pattern, however (2 Chron. 8:14; 29:25).   

1Ch 23:7 Of the Gershonites: Ladan and Shimei-
The idea was that those in David's time who were from these branches of the Gershonites were to serve in the new temple complex he had planned.

1Ch 23:8 The sons of Ladan: Jehiel the chief, Zetham and Joel, three-
Zethan and Joel were grandsons (1 Chron. 26:22), but "son of..." is a Hebrew phrase with very elastic meaning.

1Ch 23:9 The sons of Shimei: Shelomoth, Haziel and Haran, three. These were the heads of the fathers’ households of Ladan-
As this Shimei was from Ladan, he is not the Shimei of :7 but some other descendant of Ladan. The Shimei of :10 is that of :7.

1Ch 23:10 The sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, Jeush and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei-
This is the Shimei of :7, not the one of :9.

1Ch 23:11 Jahath was the chief, and Zizah the second: but Jeush and Beriah didn’t have many sons; therefore they combined to become a father’s house-
Heb. 'in one reckoning' or 'office' (:18). The descendants of these branches of the family were to have the same 'office' in David's planned temple. This could imply that all the other 'father's houses' also had a specific 'office' planned for them by David. He certainly made very detailed plans, to the point of obsession.

1Ch 23:12 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four-
"Gershon" can mean 'expelled', maybe meaning that like Reuben he was expelled from the role of firstborn [he is mentioned first as if he was the firstborn]. This is a theme of the Genesis record. But perhaps because of these weaknesses, the line to the high priest ran through Kohath.

1Ch 23:13 The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was sanctified, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons, forever, to burn incense before Yahweh, to minister to Him, and to bless in His name, forever-
This is alluded to by the Lord in Jn. 17:17: "Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth". The reference is to how the Levites were sanctified. The Levites were initially consecrated in God's eyes by their zeal to rid Israel of apostacy; this is what constituted them Yahweh's "holy (sanctified) one" (Dt. 33:8,9). They sanctified themselves to God, and He sanctified them. Through His allusions to this, the Lord was telling the disciples not to be frightened to stand alone from the Israelite community they knew; for it was deeply apostate. So often, the Lord is speaking of the development of a new Israel, with new Rabbis and Levites taken from the ranks of very ordinary and dysfunctional people who had believed in Him.

1Ch 23:14 But as for Moses the man of God, his sons were named among the tribe of Levi-
The sense is that the sons of Moses were not priests, but Levites, general servants of the priests. This was purposeful, because Moses was also descended from Amram and Kohath. His sons could have been priests, but God specifically didn't want any cult of pride or personality developing around the descendants of Moses, who was Israel's greatest leader. Perhaps the legendary meekness of Moses led he himself to insist upon this. He thereby showed his appreciation of servant leadership. 

1Ch 23:15 The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer-
In reading the genealogies we must be aware that people often had more than one name. They were given a birth name, reflecting their parents' hopes or situation at the time of the birth; and then later acquired a name which reflected their character and life experience. Some retained their birth name; "Gershom" was named by Moses in reflection of how he had been a stranger in a strange land. And his son apparently retained that name, as it would have also fitted his own life experience.

1Ch 23:16 The sons of Gershom: Shebuel the chief-
"Shebuel", 'returned of God', would be an appropriate name for a child born in the wilderness who entered Canaan. 

1Ch 23:17 The sons of Eliezer were: Rehabiah the chief. Eliezer had no other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many-
We note from 1 Chron. 23:15-17 that there were descendants of Moses through Gershom and Eliezer in Israel at David's time, who could demonstrate their pedigree. They were given designated roles of service within David's plans for the new temple system; which is why they are mentioned in 1 Chron. 23. So we can deduce from this that they did not remain in Midian but identified themselves with Israel. It seems that the marriage of Moses and Zipporah broke up, and she returned to her father in Midian with the two boys. But Jethro brought them all back to Moses (Ex. 18:2-4). He advises Moses not to work so hard and to delegate more- perhaps in order to have more time for his wife and family. Moses agrees, and then Jethro returns home alone (Ex. 18:27), the implication being that Zipporah and the boys now remained with Moses.

1Ch 23:18 The sons of Izhar: Shelomith the chief-
Six family groups emerged from Amram but only one from Izhar. This could have been because of lack of commitment to their priestly calling; or quite simply the genealogical records were lacking. 

1Ch 23:19 The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the chief, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth-
These would have all been born in Egypt, and it is noteworthy that they all retain the Yahweh Name somewhere in their names. For it seems Israel generally turned away tot he gods of Egypt at that time, taking the gods of Egypt with them through the Red Sea (Ez. 20).

1Ch 23:20 The sons of Uzziel: Micah the chief, and Isshiah the second-
Micah, 'who is like Yah?', was an appropriate name for a child born in a faithful family whilst Israel was in Egypt, surrounded by false gods which they largely accepted.

1Ch 23:21 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish-
"Mahli" and "Mushi" mean 'sickly' and 'sensitive' respectively.  This confirms the suggestion I have often made, that names were given in response to later character and life experience. Sometimes in these genealogies we read the birth names, at others, the names they were given later in life. And therefore the same person can have more than one name.

1Ch 23:22 Eleazar died, and had no sons, but daughters only; and their brothers the sons of Kish took them as wives-
The levirate law of Num. 36:5-12 was that a man should marry his relative's widow to raise up children to keep the inheritance through in dead man's name. But the Levites had no inheritance. So they were obeying the spirit rather than the letter of the law. To take extra wives and have extra children was a financial burden, so they did this in obedience to the spirit of the law and respect for Eleazar. And that is recorded and remembered in the record to this day. See on :23 for another example.

1Ch 23:23 The sons of Mushi: Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three-
Mushi has a son who has the same name as his brother, Mahli (:21); which meant 'sickly', so perhaps he died, and he raised up a son in his brother's name, seeing that Mahli's young son Eleazar died childless (1 Chron. 24:28). This may be as in the spirit of :22 (see note there).

1Ch 23:24 These were the sons of Levi after their fathers’ houses, even the heads of the fathers’ houses of those who were counted individually, in the number of names by their polls, who did the work for the service of the house of Yahweh, from twenty years old and over-
For the difference with :3 where they were apparently numbered from 30 years old, see on :3.

1Ch 23:25 For David said, Yahweh, the God of Israel, has given rest to His people; and He dwells in Jerusalem forever-
David had in his mind that he couldn't build the temple because he had been a man of war. But he wanted Solomon to build the temple, in his name, to get around God's prohibition of David building it. But this was all in David's mind. God's reasons for not wanting a temple were nothing to do with David's personal history. And so in line with this twisted thinking, David wishes to present Israel as being at rest. Even though the nation was in turmoil and David faced a putsch from his son Adonijah even on his deathbed. He also overlooks the conditional nature of God's promise to dwell "forever" in Jerusalem; as well as the fact God had said that instead of dwelling in a physical place, He would dwell in the hearts of His people, David's "house".  

1Ch 23:26 Also the Levites will no longer need to carry the tabernacle and all its vessels for its service-
David was enthralled with the idea that the tabernacle would now not be carried but would have a permanent place. But this was at variance with God's explanation to him of why He didn't want such a permanent place; He was a God on a journey, as He always had been, mobile and forging forward. But David's religious pole quite blinded him to the spiritual pole of perceiving the dynamic nature of God. And we see that tendency in all His people.

1Ch 23:27 For by the last words of David the sons of Levi were numbered, from twenty years old and over-
This could be a different numbering from that of :3, which counted them from 30 years old. But see note there. Perhaps David was desperate to show he had an ever larger number of Levites, whom he could use in his various plans [fantasies?] for the new temple system. Even though the sanctuary had operated quite fine with a fraction of the numbers he was now claiming.

1Ch 23:28 Their ministry was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of Yahweh, in the courts, and in the rooms, and in the purifying of all holy things, even the work of the service of God’s house-
The number of Levites David claims as available for service was out of proportion to the number of priests. The whole scale of the new temple system was quite beyond the more humble set up of the tabernacle, which God's law had established. The danger was that the priests were elevated to a high position, effectively having thousands of servants, which was beyond what the law of Moses envisaged. The priests were to teach the people, but there is little evidence this happened in Solomon's temple. The focus was all upon offering far more sacrifices and doing far more rituals than the law of Moses stipulated. And David should have remembered the lesson taught through his sin with Bathsheba and his wilderness years away from the sanctuary- that sacrifice and offering were not really what God was looking for, but rather contrite hearts (Ps. 40:6,7). And Solomon therefore totally failed to understand this. 

1Ch 23:29 for the showbread also, and for the fine flour for a meal offering, whether of unleavened wafers, or of that which is baked in the pan, or of that which is soaked, and for all kinds of measure and size-
These things were all required under the law of Moses, but David envisaged setting up thousands of Levites and priests to offer them in the temple- rather than being out in the provinces, teaching the people. He clearly thought God would be better served by offering the required offerings but on a far grander scale- rather than teaching simple village folks about God's ways. We sense that David rather lost his spirituality at the end of his life, although he still died in faith.

1Ch 23:30 And to stand every morning to thank and praise Yahweh, and likewise in the evening-
These regular offerings would have been made by just a fraction of the number of Levites and priests which David now had in mind. So he presumably wanted to bring in all this extra labour to the temple because he imagined huge numbers of offerings being made, far beyond those required by the law.

1Ch 23:31 and to offer all burnt offerings to Yahweh, on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts, in number according to the ordinance concerning them, continually before Yahweh-
"In number..." is misleading, because I have suggested above that the greater number of Levites and priests brought in to the temple was because David envisaged offering far greater numbers of sacrifices than stipulated. And Solomon began the temple dedication with huge numbers of offerings. The sense is rather as GNB "Rules were made specifying the number of Levites assigned to do this work each time". 

1Ch 23:32 and that they should keep the duty of the Tent of Meeting, and the duty of the holy place, and the duty of the sons of Aaron their brothers, for the service of the house of Yahweh
The allusion is to the commands about the Levites assisting the priests in Num. 18:2-7. But those commands repeatedly state that they were to assist in "the service of the tent" (LXX), or tabernacle. But David purposefully replaces "tent" with "house". And that is exactly out of step with God's reasons for not wanting a temple. He wanted a tent, and not a house. David was really obsessed with his own vision, rather than faith in the grace offered to him in the promise to build him a house of redeemed people.