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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Chronicles 9

There is a noticeable resemblance between the list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem here given, (1 Chronicles 9:2-17,) and that which is recorded in Nehemiah 11:0. Both lists agree in their general plan, and in a considerable number of their names, but otherwise they differ much. These correspondences and differences have led to three different opinions as to their relation to each other. 1.) Both lists are to be referred to the same time, and were derived from a common source, namely, an older document, which contained a fuller list of names, and was every way more complete than either of these. The writers of these lists, accordingly, selected from the fuller document before them only such names and facts as suited each his particular purpose. 2.) Keil holds that the present list refers to the population of Jerusalem before the exile, and that of Nehemiah to a period subsequent to the return from exile. 3.) A third opinion is, that this list is, according to 1 Chronicles 9:2, a register of “the first inhabitants” who settled in Jerusalem after the exile, while that of Nehemiah belongs to the later times of Nehemiah himself, and speaks of those who dwelt in neighbouring cities as well as those who dwelt in Jerusalem. This opinion seems, on the whole, to be the best sustained.

Verse 2

2. Israelites… priests… Levites… Nethinim Four classes of inhabitants. The Israelites here denote the mass of the people, the laity, as distinguished from the three classes next named.

The Nethinim The given ones. Hebrew, נתינים ; Septuagint οι δεδομενοι . Here this name first occurs as an appellative, though the participle Nethunim, ( נתונם ,) from the same root, is applied to the Levites of the time of Moses.

Numbers 3:9; Numbers 8:19. The Levites were given to Aaron and his sons to do service in the tabernacle. At a later time a number of captive Midianites were given to the Levites to assist them in the charge of the tabernacle, (Numbers 31:47;) and still later the Gibeonites were also given to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord.” Joshua 9:27. Jewish tradition regards the Nethinim as descendants of those ancient Gibeonitish sanctuary slaves, so that they seem ever to have borne the stigma of a Canaanitish origin. Their work was to perform the menial and laborious service connected with the sanctuary, such as carrying wood and water, and any similar labour which the Levites might require of them. “The only period at which they rise into any thing like prominence, is that of the return from the captivity. In that return the priests were conspicuous and numerous; but the Levites, for some reason unknown to us, hung back. Under Zerubbabel there were but three hundred and forty-one Levites to four thousand two hundred and eighty-nine priests. Ezra 2:36-42. Under Ezra none came up till after a special call. Ezra 8:15. The services of the Nethinim were consequently of more importance, but in their case, also, the small number of those that joined indicates that many preferred remaining in the land of their exile to returning to their old service. Those that did come were consequently thought worthy of special mention. The names of their families were registered with as much care as those of the priests. Ezra 2:43-58. They were admitted, in strict conformity to the letter of the rule of Deuteronomy 29:11, to join in the great covenant with which the restored people inaugurated its new life. Nehemiah 10:28. They, like the priests and Levites, were exempted from taxation by the Persian satraps. Ezra 7:24. They were also under the control of a chief of their own body. Ezra 2:43; Nehemiah 7:46. They took an active part in the work of rebuilding the city, (Nehemiah 3:26,) and the tower of Ophel was assigned to some of them as a residence, (Nehemiah 11:21,) while others dwelt with the Levites in their cities. Ezra 2:70. They took their place in the chronicles of the time as next in order to the Levites.” SMITH’S Bib. Dict.

Verse 11

11. Ruler of the house of God A designation of the high priest, as by virtue of his office intrusted with the chief authority and control over the temple. The title seems also to have been given to some who were not high priests, (Jeremiah 20:1,) but held a secondary rank, and had charge of the temple-police and guards. “The Rabbies,” says Hervey, “speak very frequently of one second in dignity to the high priest, whom they call the sagan, and who often acted in the high priest’s room. He is the same who is called “the second priest.” 2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 25:18. They say Moses was sag-an to Aaron. Thus, too, it is explained of Annas and Caiaphas, (Luke 3:2,) that Annas was sagan. In like manner they say Zadok and Abiathar were high priest and sagan in the time of David. The sagan is also very frequently called memunneh, or prefect of the temple, and upon him chiefly lay the care and charge of the temple services. If the high priest was incapacitated from officiating by any accidental uncleanness, the sagan took his place.”

Verse 18

18. Porters Gate or doorkeepers, whose work it was to open, close, and guard the entrances to the sanctuary. Theirs was a responsible office, and none but Levites were intrusted with its duties. The honour attaching to this position is enhanced by the statements of the following verses. Their fathers in the ancient time were intrusted with this noble service, “being over the host of the Lord,” that is, the encampment of his people in the wilderness, and even the distinguished “Phinehas the son of Eleazar” was their ruler in that ancient time.

Verse 22

22. Whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain This statement adds further to the dignity and honour of the office of the porters. But Samuel the seer was dead long before David reorganized and arranged the various departments of the sanctuary service, and so this passage is to be understood of Samuel’s indirect assistance in the matter, either by planning and advising with David on the subject during his lifetime, or, as is more probable, by actually taking measures to organize and arrange the Levites for service during the reign of Saul. “The mention of Samuel after David,” says Keil, “has not a chronological signification, but David is named first on account of his connexion with the matter in hand, for the thorough reorganization of the worship, and the classification of the persons engaged in carrying it on, originated with David. For these arrangements of David, however, Samuel had prepared the way in his struggle for the restoration of the theocracy, and of the worship which had fallen into desuetude under Eli and his profligate sons. To do this in any measure he must have, without doubt, ordained trustworthy men to the individual offices, and thus have prepared the way for King David.”

Verse 23

23. By wards Rather, for a guard.

Verse 28

28. The ministering vessels As these seem to be distinguished from the ordinary vessels of the sanctuary mentioned in the next verse, they are understood by Bertheau and Keil to be the peculiarly costly vessels; for example, “the golden cups for the libations, etc., which were brought from the treasure chamber only for a short time for use in the service.”

By tale Or, by number. They were carefully numbered, both when brought in and taken out, lest any one of them should become lost or missing.

Verse 29

29. All the instruments of the sanctuary Such as are enumerated in 1 Kings 7:45-50.

Fine flour… wine… oil… frankincense… spices Compare Exodus 25:6; Exodus 29:40; Exodus 30:23-38; Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5.

Verse 31

31. Things that were made in the pans The meat or bread offerings. See on Leviticus 2:4-7.

Verse 32

32. Showbread See Leviticus 24:5-9.

Verses 35-44

35-44. This register is substantially identical with that of 1 Chronicles 8:29-38, and is repeated here to form a transition to the account of Saul’s death, which the writer inserts, in chap. x, as an introduction to the history of David’s reign. Keil thinks the two documents were derived from different sources, and thus accounts for their slight differences; while others think the differences have arisen from corruptions in the text, and in some cases, perhaps, by design of the compiler himself.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.