Archive for December, 2010

Day 339: 1 Chronicles 1

            Some notes before you begin:

            Scholars generally agree that the Chronicles were compiled later than Samuel and Kings. Although in Chronicles we retrace much of the history we have already read in the earlier books, there are significant differences which we will encounter throughout. These two books are a gold mine of historical information, but more importantly they are a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom. The main problem with the book for casual readers is that the first nine chapters with their extensive genealogical lists are so daunting that many people never get to the meat of the books. Yet, even in those lists of hard-to-pronounce names, there are gems to mine. Here is a simple guide to pronouncing the names: They are generally stressed on the first syllable (names with more than four syllables are stressed on the third from the end). So,

1-4: A-dam; SETH; E-nosh; KE-nan, ma-HA-la-lel, JA-red, E-noch, me-THU-se-lah, LA-mech, NO-ah, SHEM, HAM, JA-pheth. This is the list of Adam’s lineage through the first nine chapters of Genesis, choosing the most prominent member from each generation (usually the eldest, but Seth is an exception because Cain, the oldest, fell from grace).

5-7: It is usually assumed that since Japheth is listed last among Noah’s sons, he must be the youngest, but here his line is given first. The names follow Genesis 10:3-5 with some changes in spelling. Beginning with Noah’s grandchildren the names are of cities in the ancient world, or of tribal groups known to later times (names ending “-im” usually denote a group). Elishah, not to be confused with the prophet Elisha, was a coastal region (Ez. 27:7) and Tarshish is thought to have been on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Kittim is thought to be an ancient name for Cyprus, and Rodanim (sometimes Dodanim) is the Island of Rhodes off the southwest coast of Turkey.

8-10: Again, the grandchildren of Noah are names of places. Cush is Ethiopia, I won’t take the time and space here to identify all of them, but it is a fascinating exercise to Google the names. Nimrod is often identified as one of the early Assyrian kings, Tikulti-Ninurta. In Genesis Nimrod is the ruler of Shinar, an Assyrian province.

11-12: The names in this section are of peoples known to the Israelites in ancient times. The Ludim are from Lydia. Caphtor is usually equated with Crete, and is considered the place of origin of the Philistines.

13-16: More indigenous peoples are explained as having arisen from Canaan, Noah’s grandson.

17-23: Now we come to Shem, Noah’s eldest son who was with him on the ark. Shem’s sons are all listed, but beginning with the next generation beyond them the text concentrates on the line which will lead directly to Abraham. An exception is the list of the descendants of Joktan (his brother Peleg is the ancestor of Abraham). Joktan’s lineage is named here because of the importance of many of these names as place names in the Middle East in ancient times. The importance of all these lists to this point is, of course, to demonstrate that from those who survived the Flood sprang all the peoples of the world.

24-27: Now the record backs up to Shem again and lists only those descendants who lead us directly to Abram/Abraham.

28-33: Abraham’s lineage will receive special attention, of course. His firstborn was Ishmael, but Isaac is listed here first because Isaac is the one who leads us to Jacob/Israel. Ishmael’s “sons” are listed. Some of the names are unknown elsewhere; some are names of cities in the region. Keturah’s descendants are listed for several generations. Keturah was Abraham’s wife after Sarah died. Again, most of the names are of cities or regions such as Midian and Sheba.

34-37: Isaac’s sons were Esau and Israel (Jacob), but the chronicler takes the time and space to honor Esau’s line.

38-42: Seir has not been mentioned above, but is part of Esau’s line. Esau settled in the “hill country of Seir,” part of Edom (see Deut. 2:8, for example). In fact, every other reference to Seir in the Bible is clearly as a place name. This is the only verse where it seems to represent the name of a descendant of Esau. Most of the other names listed in this section are either unknown or names of cities or other locales.

43-54: The list of the kings of Edom given in these verses generally follows the record that was given in Genesis 36:31-42 with a few differences in the spelling of names.

            We’re off to a great start! Don’t give up!

Day 340: 1 Chronicles 2

            1-4: Chapter 2 traces the lineage of Jacob’s son Judah. Judah was the fourth son born to Jacob (with Leah) but the tribe of Judah became the most prominent and last remaining tribe before the exile to Babylon. In tracing the lineage from Judah to David the chronicler follows the genealogical records we saw in Genesis. There is no attempt to hide the “skeletons in the closet.” David descended from the line that went through the sexual intercourse between Judah and his own daughter-in-law Tamar, even though such a union is specifically forbidden in the Law (Lev. 18:15 and 20:12). Judah and Tamar’s twin sons were Perez and Zerah (see Genesis 38 for the whole story).

            5-8: Perez is the one who interests us as the direct ancestor of King David, but space is given here to record the children of his twin brother Zerah as well. In the various listings in the Bible there is some confusion with regards to Zerah’s offspring. Five are listed here in verse 6, but in verse 7 Carmi is named, who is not in the list of five. Carmi was listed as a son of Reuben in previous lists (Gen. 46:9 and Ex. 6:14), but in Joshua is named as a grandson of Zerah by Zabdi, who is not mentioned here as a son of Zerah (see Joshua 7:1). The reference to the “devoted things” involves the story of the battle of Jericho. In that story, Achan (the same as the Achar named here), son of Carmi, stole some of the religious icons he found in Jericho, and for that Israel was defeated in their next battle. Achan was found to be the cause for their having lost God’s favor, and was stoned to death by all the people. Go back and read Joshua 7 if you want the whole story.

            9-17: This section returns to the line that runs through Perez, continuing with his son Hezron. We are taken on a direct lineage to David and his brothers and sisters. His nephews are listed as well, who played a role in his administration when he was king.

            18-20: We take another side trip; Caleb (not the one who teamed with Joshua) is named as a fourth son of Hezron, and his lineage is followed to his great-grandson Bezalel, the craftsman who made the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 37:1).

            21-24: In his old age Hezron married again and this line is traced in order to fit in some other significant (though now obscure) events involving towns in the land of Gilead.

            25-41: A complicated account of the family tree of Jerahmeel is given here, but there is nothing of particular note.

            42-50: Another version of the family tree of Caleb, fourth son of Hezron, is given, but none of the names here match the ones in verses 18-20.

            50-55: Hur is the son of Ephrath and Caleb (see verse 19). This list, too, is complicated and most of the names are obscure, but they seem to be an attempt to account for the existence of groups of people (Shumathites, Mishraites, etc.) who settled somewhere in or near Israel and had dealings with the descendants of Jacob.

Day 341: 1 Chronicles 3

            1-9: This paragraph follows chronologically from 2:15. The sons of David born in Hebron before he established the capital at Jerusalem are listed with their mothers, an unusual arrangement. More surprising are the four sons of David and Bathsheba (Bathshua here, but obviously the same woman) with Solomon listed 4th. How many children David begot is unknown. 20 are listed here, but there were concubines as well who had children by him. Tamar is the only daughter named.

            10-24: The descendants of Solomon are listed down to the Babylonian exile. The eldest son of Josiah, Johanan, is named Jehoahaz in II Kings (see chapter 24, beginning at verse 31). He only ruled 3 months and was deposed by Pharaoh Neco who put the second son on the throne, Eliakim, and changed his name to Jehoiakim, which is the name listed here in verse 15. He was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin, who is not named here at all. Curious. Jehoiachin was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and exiled to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar placed his son Mattaniah on the throne in Jerusalem and changed his name to Zedekiah, and that is the name given here. So, the records are a bit confused between the two accounts. Of the rest of the names listed here, the only one of any consequence is Zerubbabel, who will turn up in Ezra and Nehemiah, and later in the prophesies of Haggai and Zechariah.

Day 342: 1 Chronicles 4

            1-23: This chapter returns to the lineage of Judah and repeats some of the earlier information (see 2:4-8) but also adds extensively to what was given before, and includes some of the women in the family tree. The genealogy is interrupted in verse 9 with an aside to include a no doubt popular story of one Jabez, who is not mentioned before and thus whose place in the genealogical record is unknown. His name means “born in pain,” an appellation which should not have resulted in a successful life and career. But Jabez overcame his mother’s angst and was successful, expanding his territory in unspecified ways. His prayer, that God would protect him from hurt and harm, is in direct conflict with his mother’s experience of him. The chronicler wants to show that trust in God can overcome human fears. Jabez is a place name in 2:55, and so the connection with the idea of territory seems natural. The story also probably reflects the hope of the people returned from exile that they would recover territory lost to the Edomites and others after Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Most of the names in this chapter are otherwise unknown, but Persian and Egyptian influences are evident, reflecting the international connections that are part of Israel’s history.

            24-33: A pre-exilic account of the tribe of Simeon is given. Simeon was a small tribe situated to the southwest of Judah, and early on was pretty much absorbed by Judah. Verses 24-27 give the lineal descendants of Simeon, son of Israel; verse 27 bemoans the fact that Simeon remained small while Judah was enlarged. Verses 28-33 record the towns in which they settled, and assures the reader that the tribe, though largely assimilated by the time of the exile, did keep their own family records intact.

            34-43: More names are listed in verse 34-38, and then some of the tribe’s history is filled in. Migrations are mentioned in verses 39 and 42. The tribe struggled for survival, living peacefully with some neighbors (the descendants of Ham mentioned in verse 40), but at war with others (the Amalekites in verse 43). The settlement in Seir (Edom) seems to pretty much end the history of the tribe.

Day 343: 1 Chronicles 5

            1-10: The lineage of Reuben is given here, with a note explaining why Reuben forfeited the birthright. The birthright is the “head of family” authority usually conferred upon the eldest son. Reuben slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and thus was refused the birthright. It was not passed to any of the other sons of Leah, though Judah became the most prominent of the tribes up to the time of the Exile. The birthright was given to Rachel’s eldest son Joseph, whose two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were progenitors of tribes in later Israel. Ephraim was the chief tribe of the north, and the kingdom of Israel is often referred to as Ephraim. Judah became prominent, but Joseph (and then Ephraim) claimed head of family status.

            In addition to the names given, some events in the history of the tribe are highlighted. King Tilgath-pilneser of Assyria is likely the same as King Tiglath-pileser of II Kings 15:29, who captures a number of Israelite towns and carried much of the population into exile, many of whom likely belong to the tribe of Reuben. Only Beerah is mentioned here in verse 6, as a chieftain of Reuben who is taken into exile by the king of Assyria. Another prominent Reubenite was Bela, whose flocks and herds were so extensive he moved as far eastward as the Arabian Desert permitted. Bela makes war against the Hagrites. That is not mentioned in any of the histories we have read so far. Down in verse 19 we learn that the action involves not only Bela but also some of his cousins from the tribes of Gad and Manasseh.

            11-17: The descendants of Gad are listed, with no notables providing additional information. We do learn in verse 17 that their territory is at one time part of Judah as well as Israel, which is an indication that the boundary between these two feuding groups of God’s people is somewhat dynamic.

            18-22: The Hagrite war is mentioned only here in the Bible. Indeed, the Hagrites are unknown aside from this chapter, a mention in Psalm 83:6, and an individual named Jaziz the Hagrite as an official in King David’s administration in I Chronicles 27:30. Their territory is adjacent to Gilead to the east at the edge of the Arabian Desert where Bela is said to have moved. Three Israelite tribes – Gad, Reuben and Manasseh – 44,760 warriors – engage the Hagrites in battle and are victorious. Their victory is attributed to their prayer for God’s help, and they annex the territory of the Hagrites until they are exiled by the Assyrians. Along with the Hagrites there is mention of Jetur, Naphish and Nodab, probably the names of cities within the Hagrite territory, although Jetur and Naphish are listed elsewhere as sons of Ishmael, Abraham’s grandchildren (Genesis 25:15). The name Nodab occurs only here in the Bible.

            23-26: The half-tribe of Manasseh is mentioned next, to round out this section dealing with the three tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. King Pul of Assyria comes into the area during the time of King Menahem of Israel and more or less annexes Israel (see 2 Kings 19:19-20). Then his successor King Tilgath-pilneser (elsewhere called Tiglath-pileser) also exiles much of the population of these three tribes and resettles them in other parts of his empire (2 Kings 15:29)

Day 344: 1 Chronicles 6

            1-15: A great deal of attention is given to the tribe of Levi, no doubt because they provide the scribes who keep the records, and also because those records are essential in reorganizing the temple when the people are allowed to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Levi is set apart from the other tribes to be in charge of the religious life of Israel. Out of their families come the priests who take care of every detail of everything that takes place in the temple. They are not given an allotment of territory with the other tribes (which is why Joseph is divided into the two half-tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim; so that there are still twelve territories) but are given cities and pasture lands within the other tribal territories. Levi has three sons, you will recall; Gershom, Kohath and Merari. These verses trace the lineage of Kohath in which there are a number of prominent names. Aaron, of course, is Moses’ brother, and his sister Miriam is the only woman included in this list. Chief priests of note include Eleazar, Phinehas, Zadok, Azariah (who served as the first head priest in the temple of Solomon), Hilkiah (who found the scroll of the Law and gave it to King Hezekiah), and Seraiah (who accompanied the exiles to Babylon – see 2 Kings 25:18). Jehozadak is not mentioned anywhere before verse 15.

            16-30: Verses 16-18 repeat verses1 & 2, but with the two sons of Gershom inserted. Verse 19 lists the sons of Merari. Verse 20 picks up the line of Gershom and continues through the eldest from Libni through Jeatherai. Verse 22 picks up the line of Kohath again and carries it through the eldest sons down to Shaul in verse 24, then backs up to Elkanah and carries his line through eight generations to another Elkanah. Samuel suddenly appears in verse 28 without a connection, but we learn later that he is a descendant of Kohath and so this verse is a continuation of that line; perhaps a connecting verse has been lost. The chronicler then returns to the first generation of Levites to pick up the line of Merari down to the seventh generation.

            31-48: Now we are given a list of the Levites appointed by David to be in charge of the “service of song” in the tabernacle before the temple is built. David, being a poet, is interested especially in that aspect of worship. Three lines are listed, this time working backward; first, from Heman to Kohath, son of Levi; then from Asaph back to Gershom, son of Levi; then from Ethan back to Merari, son of Levi.

            49-53: The chronicler now backs up all the way to Aaron and presents a list of his sons.

            54-60: When the Israelites begin to conquer the land under Joshua’s leadership, allotments are made to the Levites of cities and pasturelands. Eventually the arrangement is that divisions of the Levites take turns serving in the temple in Jerusalem; so we have in the Gospel of Luke an account of the priest Zechariah taking his turn serving in the temple (Luke 1:5-9). If you are really, really interested in this, you can go back and read about the allotments in Joshua 21. The Kohathites are given holdings within the territories of Judah and Benjamin.

            61-65: The Kohathites are given additional holdings within the territory of Manasseh. The Gershonites are allotted land in Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh. The Merarites are given allotments in Reuben, Gad and Zebulun. The tribes of Simeon and Benjamin haven’t been mentioned yet, so they are tacked on in verse 65 with Judah (remember that the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into Judah early on). The only tribe not mentioned here is Ephraim.

            66-70: So, we learn that some of the Kohathites who somehow got left out above were given holdings in Ephraim and Manasseh.

            71-81: More listings are given for the Gershonites and Merarites within the tribal territories of Manasseh, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, Reuben and Gad. So much for that.

Day 345: 1 Chronicles 7

            1-5: The lists in Chapter 7 often include census data of each tribe listed, and generally pursue the lineage through eldest sons. Thus, Issachar is listed from Issachar down to Michael and his brothers, and the tribe is said to have had 87,000 warriors in the time of David.

            6-12: Two lists are given for Benjamin (the other is in chapter 8), and they are quite different from one another. Here the emphasis is on tribal leaders and military might, and the lines are traced for each of the three sons named in verse 6 rather than strictly following the eldest son lineages.

            13: Naphtali gets short mention and largely follows Genesis 46:24-25, including the mention of Bilhah as the female head of family.

            14-19: The listing for Manasseh has some confusion with Benjamin in the naming of Shuppim and Huppim. The daughters of Zelophehad mentioned in verse 15 we have met before. They are the ones who petitioned Moses for a special ruling concerning the transmission of an estate where there are no sons but only daughters (Numbers 27:1-7). Several mothers and daughters are included in the record for Manasseh.

            20-29: Ephraim is treated next, and the listing does not agree with the one in Numbers 26:35-37. Some of Ephraim’s sons are killed by the Philistines from Gath, an event not recorded elsewhere. In their grief he and his wife conceive more children; a son and a daughter. The daughter, Sheerah, is the first woman of record to be responsible for building towns. From there the record proceeds in a straight line down to Joshua, son of Nun, Moses’ successor. Then the chronicler turns to a description of the territorial claims of Ephraim.

            30-40: Asher’s genealogy is surprisingly complete compared to the rest. Not only eldest sons are recorded, but other family branches as well. Only one daughter is named, though, and that is Shua. She is unknown except for this mention.

Day 346: 1 Chronicles 8

            1-28: Now the tribe of Benjamin gets a fuller treatment. The names of the sons of Benjamin given in verses 1-5 differ from those given in 7:6, but no explanation is offered. Ehud in verse 6 is not connected with any of the names above, but we know that he is the son of Gera (Judges 3:15), son of Bela, son of Benjamin, and that he was a left-handed man and a judge who rescued Israel from the Moabite King Eglon. Shaharaim (verse 8) is another unconnected name, and he is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, nor are his wives. Verse 13 reflects the constant conflict on the edge of the territory of Benjamin where skirmishes with the Philistines were common. The rest of the names in this paragraph are obscure. Verse 28 tells us that Jerusalem is located in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.

            29-40: Jeiel is another name pulled out of the air, unconnected to any list that has gone before – the chronicler has a disturbing habit of doing this. Gibeon, however, is the site of an important battle in the time of Joshua (see Joshua 10). The names of Jeiel’s descendants are given, with a note that they are connected with the Benjaminite families in Jerusalem. Then in verse 33 we start all over again with Ner, who is not mentioned in any list above. Ner, however, is an important member of the genealogy of Benjamin, because he is the grandfather of Saul, the first anointed king of Israel. Saul’s progeny is carried down and thus preserved for fourteen generations, enough to bring that family history down to the time of the Exile (see Matthew 1:17). Crazy old King Saul is thus honored in the records of later administrations for at least several hundred years.

            CONGRATULATIONS! You have completed what is perhaps the most difficult week of readings you will have to encounter through the entire Bible. You made it! Go get a cookie and a glass of milk.

Day 347: 1 Chronicles 9

            1: The impression given in these verses is that the lists we have been working through are in some way connected with the Exile; that perhaps while in exile an effort was made to preserve as much of the lineage of the people as possible from what remained of the records in Samaria and Jerusalem.

            2-9: We have seen that when Nebuchadnezzar carried off the population of Jerusalem he left behind the poorest of them. They include Israelites (from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh as well as Judah and Benjamin), priests, Levites, and temple servants (gatekeepers and the like). Here is an attempt to account for the remaining Israelite families.

            10-13: A list of the priests who stay behind: 1760 of them to serve in a destroyed temple and minister to the remaining 956 Israelite citizens, although it is possible that the 1760 is intended to be inclusive.

            14-16: The lists in the remainder of the chapter appear to predate the Exile. No numbers are given for the Levites (who are responsible for maintaining the utensils and furnishings), gate keepers, singers or others, and we will see mention of both the tent of meeting and temple in the verses that follow.

            17-27: And so we have lists of gatekeepers, etc., but the list appears to cover those who were gatekeepers in the wilderness for the tabernacle, in Jerusalem during the time of David for the tent of meeting, and in the temple during and after the time of Solomon. In Jerusalem their time of service is on a rotating basis. They live in outlying towns and villages, but stay in Jerusalem when they are on duty.

            28-32: The service of the Levites is described here – caring for the utensils (basins, tongs, etc.) and the furnishings. Clearly these verses fit most comfortably in that period in which the temple in Jerusalem is in full swing.

            33-34: The singers and other Levites in charge of all that goes on in the temple are provided for out of the sacrifices that are made daily. Many of the Levites live elsewhere and only come to Jerusalem for a few weeks each year, but some of them are leaders who are permanent residents of the temple courts.

            35-44: This list of Saul’s family is almost identical to the one already given in 8:29-40, with some additional names tacked on at the end. Some of the names are spelled differently (i. e., Zechariah in verse 37 = Zecher in 8:31) but essentially the lists are the same. This prepares us to move now into the narrative portion of I Chronicles which begins with the battle in which Saul and Jonathan are killed.

            There will be other chapters here and there that consist almost entirely of lists of names, but you are finished now with what is by far the longest listing of names. Give yourself a pat on the back. If you can’t reach your back, have someone else do it for you. You deserve it.

Day 348: 1 Chronicles 10

            1-7: The Chronicler picks up the history with the story of the death of Saul in a battle with the Philistines. These verses are almost identical with I Samuel 31:1-7.

            8-12: The Philistines find the bodies of Saul and his sons, decapitate Saul and celebrate their victory. The men of Jabesh-Gilead recover the bodies and give them an honorable burial. These verses are slightly shortened from I Samueal 31:8-13.

            13-14: The chronicler adds his personal judgment that Saul’s demise was punishment for his unfaithfulness. He consulted a medium, for heaven’s sake! So, God did away with him and put David in his place, he says, skipping over much of the material with which II Samuel begins.

Day 349: 1 Chronicles 11

            1-3: According to the chronicler, upon Saul’s death all the tribes come to David at Hebron, embrace him as their brother, and anoint him king over all Israel.  The verses we have here are an amended version of 2 Samuel 5:1-5. The chronicler leaves out the history reported in 2 Samuel 2-4 – the 7 years David ruled in Hebron over Judah while Ishbaal son of Saul was king over the rest of Israel.

            4-9: Repeats most of 2 Samuel 5:6-10 to tell how Jerusalem became the capital of the country.

            10-11: David’s mighty warriors are headed by one Jashobeam, who must be the same person as Josheb-basshebeth (2 Samuel 23:8), although here he only kills three hundred at one time.

            12-14: The heroics of Eleazar are recounted next, how he stood next to David and defended a plot of ground against the Philistines. It is interesting to compare this account with that of 2 Samuel 23:9-10.

            15-19: The third member of the Three is omitted (but see 2 Samuel 23:11-12). But the exploits of the “three among the thirty” are recounted here (see 2 Samuel 23:13-17).

            20-21: Abishai is the head of the Thirty, but not as good as the three (2 Samuel 23:18-19).

            22-25: Benaiah’s exploits were reported in 2 Samuel 23:20-23.

            26-47: Here is a list of the “warriors of the army,” I count 44 of them, which is the Thirty (actually 31: see 2 Samuel 23:24-39) plus a baker’s dozen. Verses 26-41a are essentially the same as the list in 2 Samuel, with some names spelled differently. Verses 41b-47 are added. The chronicler thus begins the account of David’s reign with lists of names that in the 2 Samuel account are not given until much later.

Day 350: 1 Chronicles 12

            1-7: We go back to the days when David is hiding from King Saul, and here is a list of the Benjaminites (Saul’s tribes) who defect to David while he is at Ziklag. This list is peculiar to I Chronicles.

            8-15: A list is also given of the warriors who join him from the tribe of Gad.

            16-18: A group of Benjaminites and Judahites arrive at Ziklag together. They are challenged by David, and Amasai swears to their allegiance to them. This group apparently later becomes renowned as The Thirty.

            19-22: Back when David pretended to be an ally of the Philistines some warriors from the tribe of Manasseh desert to him. The story is told in I Samuel 27 that David allied himself with the Philistine King Achish of Gath. Achish gave David the town of Ziklag as a gift. David joined with Achish to attack Judah, but the Philistine generals would hear nothing of it, so David went back to Ziklag. When he arrived he found that the Amalekites had raided the town. This is the reference to a “band of raiders” in verse 21. The buildup of David’s following as described here is much more substantial than what we might have gathered from the previous accounts. King Saul’s power was slipping long before he was killed in battle.

            23-37: Here is an accounting of all those who come to Hebron to make David king, presumably after Saul’s son Ishbaal dies. All thirteen tribes are represented (the twelve tribes plus the Levites), numbering 340,822 warriors altogether, the vast majority of them from the northern tribes.

            38-40: They have a big party in Hebron, supplied by caravans from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali – fig cakes, raisin clusters, wine, oil, oxen and sheep. This is a much better reception for David than the one described in 2 Samuel 5:1-5.

Day 351: 1 Chronicles 13

            1-4: David gathers his leaders and suggests that the ark of the covenant be brought from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem. He wants his administration to be more firmly founded on the worship of the LORD than had been the case with Saul. I suspect that bringing the ark from Kiriath-jearim in the territory of Judah, David’s tribe, to Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, is calculated to solidify David’s authority. They all agree to the plan.

            5-8: It is a grand occasion, with lots of singing and dancing as they carry the ark towards Jerusalem, with Uzzah and Ahio driving the cart containing the ark.

            9-14: This is one of the strangest stories in the Bible. Uzzah touches the ark and God strikes him down in anger. Why? No explanation is given; it seems to be a completely capricious act on God’s part. Some suggest that Uzzah is not a Levite and therefore not authorized to handle holy objects, but if that were the case you would think it would be mentioned. In the account in 2 Samuel 6, Uzzah and Ahio are sons of Abinadab. Abinadab is a fairly common name, but it could be that he was one of David’s brothers (see 1 Chronicles 2:13), which would make Uzzah David’s nephew. In any case David is justifiably angry and afraid, and decides not to bring the ark into Jerusalem. He leaves it at the home of a man named Obed-edom, who apparently is a Levite (see 16:5). Obed-edom’s household prospers noticeably for the three months the ark is there.

            This chapter repeats the account in 2 Samuel 6:1-11 with some changes in the details.

Day 352: 1 Chronicles 14

            1-7: The relationship between King Hiram of Tyre and King David of Israel is a long a fruitful one which begins with overtures from Hiram in which he offers to build a “house” for David in Jerusalem. David takes it as evidence that he and Israel are now accepted as players on the world’s stage. He settles into his situation in Jerusalem, marrying wives and having children, whose name are given here; among them only Solomon plays a later role.

David’s sons that were born in Hebron were listed in 3:1-4, including Absalom and Adonijah who both tried to overthrow their father, but the Chronicles do not record the rebellion of Absalom that takes up so much of 2 Samuel or the attempt by Adonijah in the early chapters of 1 Kings to usurp his father’s throne. Nor do the Chronicles mention the affair with Bathsheba. The Chronicles present David’s reign as idyllic and discard all information to the contrary.

            8-12: The Philistines invade Israel’s territory and David engages them in the valley of Rephaim located about 4 miles north-northwest of Jerusalem. Before he goes into battle, however, he “inquires of God.” The chronicler wants to emphasize that David is faithful to the God of Israel, unlike Saul before him and most of the kings who follow him. The Philistines are not only defeated, but abandon their “gods,” and David has them burned.

            13-17: The Philistines are a determined lot, and raid the valley of Rephaim again (perhaps in an attempt to recover their gods). David again inquires of God, and in prayer he is inspired to engage them in a flanking maneuver to catch them off guard. The tactic works (the Philistines have probably prepared for a frontal attack as before), and the Philistines are routed and driven back deep into their own territory.

Day 353: 1 Chronicles 15

            1-10: We return now to the attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Having built houses for himself with Hiram’s help, David prepares a place for the ark and makes plans to bring it from Obed-edom. This time he is more careful in handling the ark. He declares that only Levites are to carry it. He assembles the three sections of the priests – Kohathites, Merarites and Gershomites – 470 of them in all. Three other groups are also listed; sons of Elizaphan, sons of Hebron, and sons of Uzziel – an additional 392. The Hebronites and Uzzielites are divisions of the Kohathites (see Numbers 3:27), and Elizaphan was a son of Uzziel (Numbers 3:30) whose descendants are apparently given their own particular duties at some later date.

            11-15: Zadok and Abiathar are the chief priests, and David gives them special instructions along with the heads of the six sections listed above. He is convinced that the problems encountered before were a result of not properly honoring God, and orders them to sanctify themselves in preparation. They go through whatever purification rituals are required, and this time they carry the ark manually the way it was done in the wilderness rather than use a cart.

            16-24: David also takes particular pains to organize the band and chorus to accompany the ark on its journey.

            25-28: This time the Levites sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams to honor God, and great rejoicing accompanies the ark as it enters the city. David and the Levites are all dressed in linen, and David is also wearing a linen ephod reminiscent of Aaron in the wilderness. They shout and sing and dance their way into the city.

            29: Michal was a daughter of Saul, David’s first wife (1 Samuel 18:27). She sees him leaping and dancing and is disgusted by the whole scene.

            The bringing in of the ark is described in 2 Samuel 6:12-16. The account in 1 Chronicles is much more elaborate, emphasizing the participation of the religious establishment. In 2 Samuel there is no organization of Levites, and when they begin to carry the ark David sacrifices one ox and one fatling. In Chronicles the Levites are elaborately organized and they are the ones who sacrifice 7 bulls and seven rams. In 2 Samuel Michal confronts David (2 Samuel 6:20-23) and David has nothing to do with her after that. In Chronicles we are told only that she despises David for his public display.

Day 354: 1 Chronicles 16

            1-3: The ark is placed in the tent and food is distributed to all the people.

            4-6: Priests are assigned as worship leaders before the ark.

            7-36: An example of the worship to be performed is given in the form of a psalm. Verses 8-22 are virtually identical to Psalm 105:1-15. Verses 23-33 are essentially the same as Psalm 96:2-13a. Verses 34-36 can be found in Psalm 106:1, 47-48.

            37-43: David establishes a permanent priesthood at the place of the ark in Jerusalem, and also at Gibeon. Gibeon is about 8 miles NW of Jerusalem, and was an early place of worship for Israel, although no explanation is given. Solomon had his dreams of God speaking to him at Gibeon (see 1 Kings 3:5). Gibeon has a rather long history in Israel, beginning with the initial settling of Canaan by the Israelites fresh from the wilderness (see Joshua 9). Still, why that site was ever chosen as a holy place is not known. Solomon is judged to be in the wrong for sacrificing there, but not David (1 Kings 3:3-4). In the eyes of the historians of Israel, David can do no wrong.

Day 355: 1 Chronicles 17
             1-2: David confides in the prophet Nathan that he is feeling some guilt that he is living in a fine house while the ark of the covenant rests under a tent. Nathan tells him to go ahead with whatever is on his mind.
             3-15: That night, though, Nathan hears God saying that David is not to build a temple, but rather that God will build David a “house,” meaning a dynasty, that will last forever. These verses are nearly identical to 2 Samuel 7:4-17, with one rather prominent omission. In verse 13, after “and he shall be a son to me,” the previous account has, “when he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.” (2 Samuel 7:14) This admonition is missing here. The chronicler will report nothing to cast aspersions on the character of David – the affair with Bathsheba is completely omitted in Chronicles.
             16-27: David goes into the tent and sits before the ark and prays a prayer of thanksgiving. The prayer is essentially the same as that recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.

 

Day 356: 1 Chronicles 18

            1: David goes about securing the kingdom and expanding his territory. First, he defeats the Philistines. (see 2 Samuel 8:1)

            2: He moves on to Moab and annexes that territory into his kingdom. The chronicler does not report the attrocities committed by David that we read about in 2 Samuel 8:2:

            3-8: He then turns north and east to claim territory all the way to the Euphrates. He soundly defeats the Arameans under Hadadezer and annexes Damascus and other cities. (see 2 Samuel 8: 3-8). That the bronze taken from Hadadezer was used by Solomon to make the great sea for the temple is not recorded in 2 Samuel.

            9-11: An alliance is formed further north at Hamath with King Tou (called Toi in 2 Samuel 8:9-13), who gives David gifts of silver, gold and bronze, which David adds to the store of valuables that he is saving for the temple.

            12-13: Abishai, chief of The Thirty (see 11:20), conquers Edom and annexes it for David. In 2 Samuel 8:13-14 the victory is ascribed to David, not to Abishai.

            14-17: A list of officials is given which is in most respects the same as the list given in 2 Samuel 8:15-18. However, in 2 Samuel David’s sons are said to be priests. The chronicler will not abide such an idea (priests are supposed to be only from the tribe of Levi) and simply says that his sons are “chief officials in the service of the king.” In Chronicles David’s sons are obedient and faithful.

 

Day 357: 1 Chronicles 19

            1-5: The insult to David’s envoys (and to him) and the subsequent war against the Ammonites are described in 2 Samuel 10.

 6-9: Aside from some differences in the numbers of troops involved the accounts are essentially the same. Note that David sends Joab to fight the initial battle.

10-15: The battle tactics used by Joab are interesting and are used as a case study in the military training of Israeli troops even today. He divides his army to face the enemy on two fronts. Both the Arameans and the Ammonites give way and the rout is on. The Ammonites retreat behind the walls of their capital, Rabbah, and having neutralized them Joab returns to Jerusalem to report to David.

16-19: The remaining Arameans under the command of Shophach send for reinforcements. David receives Joab’s report and musters the remainder of his army to go up against the Arameans, now strengthened by reinforcements led by Hadadezer. The Israelites are victorious, Shophach and many Aramean troops are killed in the battle, and Hadadezer sues for peace, which ends the alliance between the Arameans and the Ammonites and removes the final significant threat from David’s kingdom. The Arameans become subject to David, and the Ammonites are holed up in Rabbah, no longer on the offensive.

Day 358: I Chronicles 20
             1-3: The first part of verse 1, down to “but David remained at Jerusalem,” gives the same information as 2 Samuel 11:1. The last line of verse 1, “Joab attacked Rabbah, and overthrew it,” picks up the narrative at 2 Samuel 12:26. What the chronicler omits is the whole story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her unwanted pregnancy, the plot to kill her husband Uriah, the death of David and Bathsheba’s child, and the subsequent birth of Solomon to David and Bathsheba.
             From 2 Samuel 12:26 the chronicler again omits part of the narrative to 2 Samuel 12:30. Those verses told us that Joab set up Rabbah for the taking and sent for David to finish the job, making it appear that David was the victorious leader of the battle. In 2 Samuel David is clearly losing his edge. The chronicler will have none of that, and gives David credit for subduing the Ammonites when all he actually does is send Joab.
             4-8: These verses record skirmishes with Philistines in which individual Israelites distinguish themselves by besting an enemy champion. It is essentially the same as 2 Samuel 21:18-22, although in that account Elhanan was said to have killed Goliath while the chronicler says it was Lahmi, a brother of Goliath. Since David is supposed to have killed Goliath as a lad the chronicler’s version is most likely correct, which is a curious thing because David’s conquest of Goliath is not reported in 1 Chronicles.
             Another interesting difference between the two versions is that the chronicler omits the paragraph 2 Samuel puts immediately before these exploits (2 Samuel 21:15-17). In it, David takes part in the battle and one of his men has to rescue him from a Philistine giant named Ishbi-benoth. The episode so concerns his men that they beg him not to go into battle with them any longer. The chronicler omits this as well as the entire story of the rebellion of Absalom. These are further examples of how the chronicler tidies up David’s reign so as to remove any defects from his character.

 

Day 359: 1 Chronicles 21
             1-6: This paragraph parallels 2 Samuel 24:1-9. The census figures are not identical, reflecting differences in source materials. The 2 Samuel account gives more detail about how Joab goes about the task: how he delegates much of it to his commanders, how long it takes and where they travel. The present account adds that Joab does not count the Levites or the tribe of Benjamin, a detail not in 2 Samuel.
             7-13: The chronicler’s account is a bit different from that found in 2 Samuel 24:10-14. There, God’s punishment begins with David’s confession of sin. Here, God’s punishment begins before David confesses. From that point the two accounts agree: through the seer Gad David is given three choices. David chooses to “fall into the hands of the LORD,” which actually fits the first and third choices.
             14-17: God then chooses the shorter of those two and sends the “pestilence,” the exact nature of which is not described, but it is a terrible calamity in which 70,000 people die all over the country in the course of the three days. When the “angel” reaches Jerusalem, God relents. David sees the angel standing by the threshing floor of one Ornan the Jebusite (the Jebusites are the tribe that originally inhabited Jerusalem), and begs God to spare the city. David is joined by “the elders,” all clothed in sackcloth, a detail not included in the earlier account (2 Samuel 24:15-17, in which the Jebusite’s name is Araunah). Thus David is made to appear more pious.
             18-27: Gad, instructed by the angel (a detail not included in 2 Samuel 24:18-25), tells David to erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor. When David goes there, Ornan sees the angel and his four sons hide (a detail not in 2 Samuel). David arranges to buy the property in a conversation that is a bit more involved than the one in 2 Samuel, and pays 600 shekels of gold for it – quite a bit more than the 50 shekels of silver reported in the 2 Samuel account, again presenting David in a superior light. David builds the altar and God sends fire from heaven to consume the offering – another detail lacking in the 2 Samuel account. The angel, who has apparently been waiting patiently to see that things are properly done, finally sheathes his sword.
             28-30: The chapter ends with a curious note. Although the ark of the covenant is now in Jerusalem (15:25-28), the tabernacle and altar of burnt offering which had been with Moses in the wilderness are still in Gibeon. It is still there in the time of Solomon (2 Chronicles 1:5), and 1 Chronicles 6:32 tells us that priests are assigned to minister at the tabernacle in Gibeon until Solomon completes the temple in Jerusalem, but apparently the tabernacle itself is never relocated. These concluding verses make an excuse for David’s having sacrificed on the altar at the threshing floor instead of going to Gibeon; David is afraid to leave the angel standing there.

 

Day 360: 1 Chronicles 22

1: David designates the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, which he has just purchased, as the future site of the temple.

            2-5: David drafts all the resident aliens in the land to do the work of gathering materials for the building of the temple. The account in 2 Samuel says nothing of this, but 1 Kings gives Solomon credit for everything done in preparation for the temple. Here David is credited with gathering all the materials because “Solomon is young and inexperienced.” This is remarkable in that this is the first mention made that Solomon will be the son to succeed David.

            6-16: David summons Solomon and instructs him to build the temple. He says that he wanted to do it himself but God wouldn’t allow it because he had shed so much blood. He says that God told him he would have a son named Solomon (in Hebrew Shlomo, the same root as “shalom”) who would rule in peace. He advises Solomon to obey all the laws God gave to Moses. He gives him a list of all the provisions he has gathered and tells him to get to work. The narrative reads as if David expects him to get busy immediately, but Solomon won’t actually begin to build the temple until some years after David’s death. These instructions to Solomon are nothing like the instructions David gives him in 1 Kings 2:1-9!

            17-19: Gone in Chronicles are all the conflicts over who will succeed David. Solomon is the one, and David instructs his officials and the tribal leaders to support him in the work of building the temple.

Day 361: 1 Chronicles 23

            1: David elevates Solomon to the throne before he dies, an act of succession that won’t be repeated by any of his successors. The reason for the early succession of Solomon is that another of David’s sons, Adonijah, is conspiring to overthrow his father. David, old and increasingly weakening in authority, is persuaded by the prophet Nathan and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to act immediately to crown Solomon in order to thwart Adonijah’s attempted coup, and David agrees. The chronicler mentions none of this, in keeping with his policy of making David as innocent as possible, but the story can be read in 1 Kings 1.

            2-6: Another interest of the chronicler is to justify the priesthood of his day by showing how it was authorized by David himself. So, one of David’s last official acts is to organize the priesthood and the religious organization surrounding the temple that Solomon will build. The chronicler, much more than the other sources, credits David with setting up the religious establishment of Israel. Although Joab had refused to count the Levites in the recent census (21:6), David now has them counted and divides them into administrative groups corresponding to the arrangement first made by Moses in the wilderness. The three primary divisions are modeled after the instructions given by Aaron to the descendants of Levi’s three sons: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

            7-11: Gershon had originally been given responsibilities for maintaining the sanctuary and its apparatus (see Numbers 3:21-26). The genealogy given here is modeled on the earlier one.

            12-20: Kohath is the family to which Moses and Aaron belonged. They are to serve as the priests who manage the sacrificial rituals and the ministry of the tabernacle (Numbers 3:27-32).

            21-23: Merari was the family that was given responsibility for all the tabernacle excepting the sanctuary – the wall panels and frames, etc. (Numbers 3:33-37).

            24-32: David reasons that, with a permanent temple being built, their duties need to be redefined. They are to attend the tabernacle in Gibeon until the temple is built, then they are to assist the priests in the administration of the temple in Jerusalem.

Day 362: 1 Chronicles 24

1-6: Among the Levites the descendants of Aaron had long ago been set apart to serve as priests in the tabernacle (Exodus 28:1). David organizes them into units to serve in the temple Solomon will build. Shemaiah serves as scribe to keep the record of who does what. Priests are among the few at that time who are taught to read and write and recorders and secretaries are regularly chosen from among their number.

7-19: 24 “lots” are drawn, sixteen from the family of Eleazar and eight from that of Ithamar. They are to be called to serve in the house of the LORD (the temple) in rotation, according to the procedure established by Aaron (Exodus 29:38-46) perhaps two weeks at a time, twice a year.

20-31: The rest of the Levites are also divided by lots according to their ancestry, again 24 in all (depending on how you count them). Again, keep in mind that the chronicler’s interest in providing this information is probably to justify the arrangement that was being used in the chronicler’s time by showing (or claiming) that it dates all the way back to the wonderful, inimitable King David.

Day 363: 1 Chronicles 25

            1-8: David is particularly interested in the music department, and assigns certain of the Kohathites to be responsible for it. Asaph, Heman and Ethan (Jeduthun) have already been mentioned in connection with worship music (see 15:19, 16:7). So we find in the book of Psalms certain psalms that are ascribed to Asaph (Palm 50, and Psalms 73 – 83); or to Heman (Psalm 88); or to Ehtan (Psalm 89); or to Jeduthun (Psalms 39, 62 and 77).

            9-31: Twenty-four lots, or sections, of the musicians are set apart for service in the temple.

Day 364: 1 Chronicles 26

            1-11: Next the “gatekeepers” are appointed.

            12-19: The gatekeepers are organized according to their stations. Specific families are assigned to specific gates. Their duties are related to security for the temple area and the storehouses where furnishings and supplies are to be kept.

            20-21: Ahijah is the royal treasurer, and is to be over the temple treasury as well.

            22-28: Other families are assigned to duties within the treasurer’s office to serve as accountant and assessors and bankers and the like.

            29-32: Further provisions are made for the administration of government holdings on the west of the Jordan river and on the east (the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh).

Day 365: 1 Chronicles 27

            1: The chronicler now turns to the organization of David’s military establishment. It is noteworthy that the religious establish is treated first, then the military, whereas in the record of David’s 40 year reign the military undoubtedly came first. There are 12 divisions, each with 24,000 troops – a total of 288,000 – but this is more in the form of a militia than a standing army, for each division is to be on duty but for one month at a time.

            2-15: The twelve divisions are listed, each with its commander. Benaiah and Asahel, the third and fourth respectively, are the most prominent names.

            16-24: Leaders are named for 10 of the twelve tribes: Asher and Gad are not mentioned, nor is any reason given for their omission. Manasseh is divided between the ones east of the Jordan and those who are west of the Jordan. The tribe of Levi is divided between Levi and Aaron – the Aaronites are the priests and the Levites are those who have other duties surrounding the religious establishment. Verse 23 exonerates David for his part in taking the census. Since God promised Abraham that his descendants would be innumerable, taking a census was considered a sin. David leaves those under 20 years old uncounted as an acknowledgment of this restriction. That caveat was not mentioned in Chapter 21. There, Joab refuses to count Benjamin and Levi. Here he is said to have begun to count even those under 20 when the plague began, so that number was not entered in the final count.

            25-31: Other officials are named, civil officers in charge of royal properties of various kinds – fields, vineyards, wine presses, flocks and herds, treasuries, etc.

            32-34: A few more officials are added – counselors, scribe, attendant, “king’s friend,” and Joab, commander of the standing army. Hushai, the “king’s friend,” had helped David thwart Absalom’s attempted coup (see 2 Samuel 17). Why Hushai is not simply referred to as a counselor is a puzzle; perhaps it is because he is a foreigner.

Day 366: 1 Chronicles 28

            1-8: There is nothing like this in the earlier account in 1 Kings. There, David made Solomon king to thwart Adonijah’s attempted coup, and no mention is made of Solomon building the temple. In fact, David’s speech in these present verses most resembles Solomon’s speech at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:14-21. Whereas in Solomon’s speech no reason is given as to why God wanted Solomon to build the temple, here it is because David has been a warrior and has shed blood. This is the first mention of such a reason. In the original story in 2 Samuel 7:4-17 God tells David that his son, whose name is not given, will build a temple. The reason God doesn’t want David to build it in that passage is because God is building David’s “house,” and God is content to live in a tent until David’s “house” is established.

            9-10: In 1 Kings 2 David gave Solomon his final instructions, but these two verses are quite different in content. The sole emphasis here is on serving the LORD. In 1 Kings more ink was dedicated to repaying David’s enemies.

            11-18: David turns over the plans for the temple to Solomon. Nothing like this was reported in 1 Kings. There, Solomon is credited with the plans for the temple. Here, David has already made the plans.

            19: David says the plans came to him directly from God, putting himself in the same position as Moses. When Moses was on Mt. Sinai God gave him detailed plans for the tabernacle (see Exodus 24:9 – 31:18).

            20-21: David not only gives him the plans for the temple but also the organization of the priests and Levites for service in the temple. When David says, “and with you in all the work will be every volunteer who as skill for any kind of service,” he echoes the words of Moses in Exodus 36:2. Clearly the chronicler is trying to draw a comparison between David and Moses, thus elevating David to legendary status indeed.

Day 367: 1 Chronicles 29

            1-5: David announces that since Solomon is young and inexperienced, he has provided an offering for building a house for the LORD. He lists all the things he has collected for the project. Then he tells them what his own contribution will be, and it is impressive.

            6-9: Now the elders and leaders of the nation chip in and give to the work of building the temple an amount that, in sum, is even greater than David’s gift. When the total is announced the people rejoice, as does King David.

            10-13: David praises God before the assembly, ascribing to the LORD riches and honor and power.

            14-19: The second half of verse 14 is still spoken in churches today as an offertory prayer. David acknowledges that it all belongs to God, and prays for the continued “uprightness of heart” that will result the people always being as faithful as their offering implies.

            20-22: The people bow in worship. The next day they bring sacrifices and thousands of animals are offered on the altar, presumably the one David has erected on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (21:26).

            22-25: Solomon is made king a second time, although the first time is not reported unless the reference is to David’s speech (28:5), or perhaps even the episode in 1 Kings in which David has Solomon anointed when the report of Adonijah’s treason reaches Jerusalem (1 Kings 1:32-35). All the leaders pledge their allegiance to Solomon, and the chronicler lauds his reign as being the most prosperous of all the kings of Israel.

            26-30: David dies and is succeeded by Solomon. He has ruled for 40 years altogether, counting the 7 years he was in Hebron before moving the capital to Jerusalem. Ishbaal, son of Saul, reigned over the northern tribes for two years after Saul died (2 Samuel 2:8-11), but the chronicler makes no mention of any of this. He does mention, however, that there are other accounts of David’s reign. He says that Samuel left records. We have, of course, the two books of Samuel, and many have supposed that they were composed from the records of the prophet of that name. Nathan and Gad are given credit also with having kept records, and perhaps that explains some of the differences we have seen between the accounts in 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles.