1 Chronicles 23 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of 1 Chronicles 23)


1. when David was old . . . he made Solomon . . . king--This brief statement, which comprises the substance of 1Ki 1:32-48, is made here solely to introduce an account of the preparations carried on by David during the latter years of his life for providing a national place of worship.


2. he gathered together all the princes of Israel--All important measures relating to the public interest were submitted for consideration to a general assembly of the representatives of the tribes (1Ch 13:1; 15:25; 22:17; 26:1-32).

3. the Levites were numbered . . . thirty and eight thousand--Four times their number at the early census taken by Moses (see on Nu 4:1-49; 26:1-51). It was, in all likelihood, this vast increase that suggested and rendered expedient that classification, made in the last year of David's reign, which the present and three subsequent chapters describe.
by their polls, man by man--Women and children were not included.

4. twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the Lord--They were not to preside over all the services of the temple. The Levites were subject to the priests, and they were superior to the Nethinim and other servants, who were not of the race of Levi. But they had certain departments of duty assigned, some of which are here specified.

5. praised the Lord with the instruments which I made--David seems to have been an inventor of many of the musical instruments used in the temple (Am 6:5).

6. David divided them into courses among the sons of Levi--These are enumerated according to their fathers' houses, but no more of these are mentioned here than the twenty-four thousand who were engaged in the work connected with the Lord's house. The fathers' houses of those Levites corresponded with the classes into which they [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities] as well as the priests were divided (see on 1Ch 24:20-31; 1Ch 26:20-28).

1Ch 23:7-11. SONS OF GERSHON.

7-11. the Gershonites--They had nine fathers' houses, six descended from Laadan, and three from Shimei.

1Ch 23:12-20. OF KOHATH.

12. The sons of Kohath--He was the founder of nine Levitical fathers' houses.

13. Aaron was separated--as high priest (see on 1Ch 25:1-19).

14. concerning Moses--His sons were ranked with the Levites generally, but not introduced into the distinctive portion of the descendants of Levi, who were appointed to the special functions of the priesthood.

1Ch 23:21-23. OF MERARI.

21-23. The sons of Merari--They comprised six fathers' houses. Summing them together, Gershon founded nine fathers houses, Kohath nine, and Merari six: total, twenty-four.


24-27. These were the sons of Levi . . . that did the work . . . from the age of twenty years and upward--The enumeration of the Levites was made by David (1Ch 23:3) on the same rule as that followed by Moses (Nu 4:3), namely, from thirty years. But he saw afterwards that this rule might be beneficially relaxed, and that the enrolment of Levites for their proper duties might be made from twenty years of age. The ark and tabernacle being now stationary at Jerusalem, the labor of the Levites was greatly diminished, as they were no longer obliged to transport its heavy furniture from place to place. The number of thirty-eight thousand Levites, exclusive of priests, was doubtless more than sufficient for the ordinary service of the tabernacle. But this pious king thought that it would contribute to the glory of the Lord to employ as many officers in his divine service as possible. These first rules, however, which David instituted, were temporary, as very different arrangements were made after the ark had been deposited in the tabernacle of Zion.