THE RESETTLING OF THE EXILES FOCUSED ON ESTABLISHING TEMPLE WORSHIP IN JERUSALEM UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE PRIESTS, LEVITES AND OTHER TEMPLE SERVANTS WHILE REMEMBERING THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL’S KINGS BEGINNING WITH SAUL
August Konkel: Anniversaries are not only about celebrating memorable events or certain achievements. Celebrating anniversaries is a way of putting the present into a life context. For this reason it is important for church congregations to celebrate anniversaries. As they look back to the vision of how a congregation came into being and trace what has happened since then, they may find a focus for decisions affecting the future. . . Chronicles has left no information as to what inspired the compilation of genealogy, but the purpose is quite clear. Before Israel can truly be who they are, they must understand who they are. The Chronicler’s long look backward on the many centuries of their formation as Israel is to create an understanding and inspire a vision. No one could have predicted Cyrus when Zedekiah met his demise, but the resulting community has a calling and a future. For the people of Jerusalem, this transition initiates the foundation for inspiring the hope of the kingdom of Yahweh. . .
The Levites and the priests were at the center of the organization of the nation because they were central to its function and to its success. This was the nature of the nation of which God was king. The Chronicler drew upon the records of ancient times, as far back as Moses and David, to describe the historical possessions of the people and their rank. This description of all Israel not only served to legitimize the situation as the Chronicler knew it in his time, but also to defend it as ideal, a hope for the future.
Andrew Hill: The list of families resettling Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile joins the present to the past. It is through this extensive prologue cataloging the names of Hebrew ancestors that the restoration community is directly linked to the twelve patriarchs of Israel. As noted elsewhere, the purpose of the genealogical introduction was twofold:
(1) to legitimize the restoration community as the rightful heirs of the promises made to the patriarchs and kings of Israel, and
(2) to bolster the morale of those Hebrews returning to Judah from Babylonia and inspire full participation in the restoration initiative.
Thomas Constable: The rest of the chapter [after transition of vv.1-3] is organized as follows: heads of important families from the tribe of Judah that used to live in Jerusalem (9:4-6), similar heads of leading families of Benjamin (9:7-9), priestly family heads (9:10-13), Levitical family heads (9:14-16), the family heads of the city gatekeepers (9:17-27), the family heads that were responsible for other temple service (9:28-34), and finally the family of King Saul (9:35-44).
Iain Duguid: This one verse contains two contrasting statements. First is the picture that has been laid before the hearers of “all Israel,” of all the tribes spread throughout the whole land. Its extent is much broader in both people and places than is their current experience. The passage that follows, describing returnees, will include only some of the tribes (1 Chron. 9:3), and the land occupied is small, although centered in Jerusalem and with Levites serving in the temple. The genealogies provide a picture that uses details from the past to envision a future.
The second statement summarizes what went wrong. The genealogies of the “sons of Israel” began with Judah, soon recalling the “trouble” that came because Achan “broke faith” (2:7). Further on came details of how the Transjordanian tribes “broke faith” and as a result were taken into exile by the Assyrians (5:25–26). Now the genealogies conclude by focusing on Judah again; this time the whole tribe “was taken into exile . . . because of their breach of faith.” “Breaking faith,” being disloyal to God by turning away from him and his ways, not worshiping him alone, has its consequences. The concise statement foreshadows the details at the end of Chronicles of God’s response to Judah’s being “exceedingly unfaithful” (2 Chron. 36:14).
A. Focus on the Unity of All Israel as Reflected in the Historical Genealogies
“So all Israel was enrolled by genealogies;
and behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel.”
August Konkel: The registration of all Israel forms an inclusio with these are the sons of Israel in 2:1. Acknowledgment of the exile of Judah in 9:1b is an assertion that the identity of the people is bound up with their land. Living in foreign lands is an interlude rather than a normal way of life. The Judean distinctiveness in the age of the Chronicler derived from its settlement in the land and the centrality of Jerusalem within it. The identity of the people in the present is to be found in their continuity with the generations of the past. Not all had returned to the land, but Jerusalem remained central to the identity and hope of those Israelites scattered among the diverse nations.
B. Focus on the Culpability of Judah in Deserving Exile in Babylon
“And Judah was carried away into exile to Babylon for their unfaithfulness.”
Frederick Mabie: This two-part verse summarizes the Chronicler’s genealogical portrait of Israel in chs. 1–8 (note that the NIV section headings places the first part of v.1 with the previous section) and also succinctly summarizes the time frame just prior to his own, namely, the captivity and exile. As will be portrayed throughout the balance of his theological summary of the southern kingdom (Judah), the root cause of the nation’s captivity and exile was unfaithfulness.
August Konkel: Each group in the registration of Israel inhabited its territories as affirmed by the official records. The nation had suffered deportations because of its disobedience but had never lost its identity with the land of its inheritance. Whatever the scope of the deportation of Judah, it had been reversed by the decree of Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22–23). The people living in Jerusalem in the days of the Chronicler were regarded as continuous with those of the past.
I. (:2-34) RESETTLEMENT OF THE EXILES AND ESTABLISHMENT OF TEMPLE WORSHIP IN JERUSALEM
Frederick Mabie: The Chronicler’s listing of those in the postexilic setting who had resettled Jerusalem reflects important familial connections between the Chronicler’s postexilic audience and the covenantal community of ancient Israel (cf. Hill, 178). Such continuity between the past (particularly the patriarchs and the tribes of Israel) and the Chronicler’s present audience provides a tangible means for covenantal hope in the light of God’s faithfulness. . .
The Chronicler’s introductory statement on those who returned to their “own” property (v.2, ʾaḥuzzâ [GK 299]; cf. Jos 22:9) in the postexilic period includes individuals (“Israelites”) associated with tribes from the house of Judah (i.e., Benjamin and Judah—the southern kingdom) as well as the house of Joseph (i.e., Ephraim and Manasseh—the northern kingdom). The Chronicler’s mention of the key tribal units from both sides of the long-divided Israelite kingdom acts as a powerful display of the Chronicler’s message of tribal unity and covenantal hope. . .
In addition to these Israelites from northern and southern tribes, the Chronicler mentions individuals central to the Israelite covenantal community (namely, priests, Levites, and temple servants). While some of these covenantal fiduciaries relocated to their “own” towns (Levitical and priestly cities [v.2]; cf. Ne 11:3), a significant number resettled in Jerusalem, hub of the Israelite covenantal community (vv.10–34; recall Ne 11:1–2). The importance of priests as teachers of God’s ways and will (cf. Lev 10:11; Dt 33:8–11), together with the musical worship and temple service provided by the Levites, underscores the Chronicler’s emphasis on hope and covenantal renewal.
The Chronicler’s list of priests and Levites includes extended details regarding the Levitical gatekeepers (vv.17–28). In these verses, the repeated stress of protecting and guarding Yahweh’s holy space seems to reflect the importance of guarding and watching over all that pertains to God, as seen in earlier days (note the references to tribal forefathers, Phinehas, Samuel, and David within this section; e.g., vv.19–22). Such faithfulness (“positions of trust,” v.22) on the part of these Levitical gatekeepers will foster God’s presence with them as with Phinehas (v.20).
Beyond gatekeeping, the Chronicler mentions other temple and worship duties of Levites, including the caretaking of temple items (vv.29, 31–32) and music (v.33; see Johnstone, 1:119–29; for more on the specific duties and distinctions of priests and Levites, see comments on 6:31–47, 48–49). In closing this section, the Chronicler again makes mention of Jerusalem, the physical and metaphysical center of the Israelite covenantal community (v.34).
“Now the first who lived in their possessions in their cities were Israel,
the priests, the Levites and the temple servants.”
A. (:3-9) Centrality of Jerusalem
“And some of the sons of Judah, of the sons of Benjamin, and of the sons of Ephraim and Manasseh lived in Jerusalem: 4 Uthai the son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, from the sons of Perez the son of Judah. 5 And from the Shilonites were Asaiah the first-born and his sons. 6 And from the sons of Zerah were Jeuel and their relatives, 690 of them. 7 And from the sons of Benjamin were Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hassenuah, 8 and Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, and Elah the son of Uzzi, the son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephatiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah; 9 and their relatives according to their generations, 956. All these were heads of fathers’ households according to their fathers’ houses.”
Andrew Hill: vs. 3 — The Chronicler’s report of the reoccupation of Jerusalem (9:3) is another important tie between the present and the past for the postexilic community. The resettling of Jerusalem is a sure sign of God’s blessing and a hopeful omen since the prophetic promises for the rebuilding of the nation of Israel are centered in the city of David (Isa. 44:26, 28; Jer. 33:16).
August Konkel: The Chronicler turns his attention to the inhabitants of Jerusalem because it had always been the center of all Israel, where people from all the tribes lived. To make this point explicit, the Chronicler says that the inhabitants of Jerusalem came from Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh (v. 3). Ephraim and Manasseh are not named in the parallel list in Nehemiah 11:4. Their mention is an affirmation of the presence of all the tribes, since the Chronicler does not supplement the list found in Nehemiah with family heads from the northern tribes.
B. (:10-13) Priestly Families of Israel
“And from the priests were Jedaiah, Jehoiarib, Jachin, 11 and Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the chief officer of the house of God; 12 and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer; 13 and their relatives, heads of their fathers’ households, 1,760 very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.”
August Konkel: The whole priestly passage appears to give the records of three priests: Jedaiah (v. 10), Adaiah (v. 12a), and Maasai (v. 12b). This short priestly list needs to be compared with related lists of priests in Ezra-Nehemiah. Jedaiah belongs to the house of Joshua (Ezra 2:36), Adaiah belongs to the house of Pashhur (1 Chron 9:12a; Ezra 2:38), and Maasai belongs to the house of Immer (1 Chron 9:12b; Ezra 2:37). No mention is made of the family of Harim (Ezra 2:39), which might indicate that it was absorbed by the other groups. . .
There were various offices among the priests. Ahitub was the chief officer of the house of God (1 Chron 9:11). Though the high priest could also be the chief officer, as might have been the case with Azariah of the house of Zadok (cf. 2 Chron 31:10, 13), there could be at least three chief officers at the same time (cf. 2 Chron 35:8b). In his conclusion of the priests (v. 13), the Chronicler refers to three separate titles found in Nehemiah: the heads of the father’s houses (Neh 11:13a); the mighty men of valor (11:14a); those who did the work for the house of God (11:12a). The total number of priests who were family heads given by the Chronicler is larger than the totals of Nehemiah (1 Chron 9:13; Neh 11:12–14). These differences could be a change of situation in the time of writing, but the reason for the variables cannot be determined.
C. (:14-16) Levites and Their Duties
“And of the Levites were Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari; 15 and Bakbakkar, Heresh and Galal and Mattaniah the son of Mica, the son of Zichri, the son of Asaph, 16 and Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah the son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, who lived in the villages of the Netophathites.”
August Konkel: The work of the Levites is distributed in the list of Nehemiah. Three Levites (Shemaiah, Shabbethai, Jozabad) were responsible for the tasks outside of the temple itself (Neh 11:15–16); three others (Mathaniah, Bakbukiah, Abda/Obadiah) were to take the lead in thanksgiving and prayer (Neh 11:17). The Chronicler includes only Shemaiah of the first three (1 Chron 9:14). Though Bakbakkar, Heresh, and Galal might belong to the list of temple servants (v. 15), it appears that there may be a confusion of names with Bakbukiah (seen in the Nehemiah list) and Galal found later in the Chronicler’s list (v. 16). The Chronicler has listed Mathaniah, Obadiah, and Berechiah from the villages of the Netophathites as the singers. Berechiah is not named by Nehemiah, but he does refer to the singers from the villages of the Netophathites (Neh 12:28). The Nehemiah list contains two singers related to Asaph and one related to Jeduthun. Chronicles has one singer each for Asaph and Jeduthun, plus an additional family. The family of Berechiah in Chronicles may be an indication of developments in the families of the singers. Elkanah, the grandfather of Berechiah, is prominent in the genealogy of Heman (1 Chron 6:33–36), a dominant group of singers for the Chronicler.
J.A. Thompson: The list of Levites is now given, a little longer than the list in Nehemiah 11. The reason may be that it is an updating. The families of Shemaiah, Mattaniah, and Obadiah are singled out for special mention. These were descended from the chief Levitical families of Merari, Asaph, and Jeduthun. Netophath was somewhere near Jerusalem. The villages of the Netophathites were the home of Levitical singers (Neh 12:28). The town is closely identified with Bethlehem (2:54; Ezra 2:21–22; Neh 7:26) and is sometimes identified with a site some three and a half miles southeast of Bethlehem.
D. (:17-33) Gatekeepers – Defined by Roles
1. (:17-23) Sentries Securing the Gates
“Now the gatekeepers were Shallum and Akkub and Talmon and Ahiman and their relatives (Shallum the chief 18 being stationed until now at the king’s gate to the east). These were the gatekeepers for the camp of the sons of Levi. 19 And Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his relatives, of his father’s house, the Korahites, were over the work of the service, keepers of the thresholds of the tent; and their fathers had been over the camp of the LORD, keepers of the entrance. 20 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was ruler over them previously, and the LORD was with him. 21 Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper of the entrance of the tent of meeting. 22 All these who were chosen to be gatekeepers in the thresholds were 212. These were enrolled by genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer appointed in their office of trust. 23 So they and their sons had charge of the gates of the house of the LORD, even the house of the tent, as guards.”
2. (:24-27) Stewards Providing Oversight
“The gatekeepers were on the four sides, to the east, west, north, and south. 25 And their relatives in their villages were to come in every seven days from time to time to be with them; 26 for the four chief gatekeepers who were Levites, were in an office of trust, and were over the chambers and over the treasuries in the house of God. 27 And they spent the night around the house of God, because the watch was committed to them; and they were in charge of opening it morning by morning.”
J.A. Thompson: There is a break in the prescriptions at v. 26b. The emphasis changes from the specific duties of the gatekeepers to a more general discussion of the duties of the Levites. This can be made clearer by translating vv. 25–26a: “Their brothers in their villages had to come from time to time and share their duties for seven-day periods because they were faithful. The four chief gatekeepers were Levites.” The general outline of Levitical duties follows, beyond that of being gatekeepers. In addition to the opening of the temple each morning, they also were responsible for the implements used in the temple service, the care of the furnishings and all other articles of the sanctuary, and the handling of the flour, wine, oil, incense, and spices.
3. (:28-32) Servants Responsible for Tasks Related to Temple Worship
“Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out. 29 Some of them also were appointed over the furniture and over all the utensils of the sanctuary and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the frankincense and the spices. 30 And some of the sons of the priests prepared the mixing of the spices. 31 And Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the first-born of Shallum the Korahite, had the responsibility over the things which were baked in pans. 32 And some of their relatives of the sons of the Kohathites were over the showbread to prepare it every sabbath.”
4. (:33) Singers
“Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night.”
Iain Duguid: More extensive is the listing of Levites and their diverse responsibilities (vv. 14–34). The increasing level of detail is like a crescendo, rising to the culmination of “singers . . . on duty day and night” (v. 33).
Andrew Hill: The Chronicler’s section on the gatekeepers is an extensive expansion of a single verse in Nehemiah (Neh. 11:19). The gatekeepers are numbered with the Levites (1 Chron. 9:26) and form a separate class in the catalog of priests, Levites, and other temple ministers and servants. In addition to their Levitical descent, this listing emphasizes their exemplary behavior in heeding the call to live in Jerusalem (9:22, 25) and in their self-sacrificing spirit as they willingly accept additional tasks (9:26–32). The essential function of a gatekeeper was “guarding the thresholds of the Tent … the entrance to the dwelling of the LORD” (9:19).
Four chief gatekeepers are identified, as there were four entrances to the temple precincts. A gate was located on each of the cardinal compass points, with the east gate being the most important. This gate was the King’s Gate and faced the entrance to the temple sanctuary (9:18; cf. Ezek. 46:2). According to 1 Chronicles 26:13, the gate assignments of the chief gatekeepers were originally determined by the casting of lots. The gatekeepers worked their shifts in pairs for seven-day periods (9:25), and in all they manned twenty-two stations around the clock (26:17–18). The census of Nehemiah tallies 172 gatekeepers (Neh. 11:19), and by the time of the Chronicler that total has increased to 212 gatekeepers (1 Chron. 9:22).
Selman has conveniently outlined the section treating the gatekeepers according to the basic aspects of their temple ministry: authority (9:17–23), leadership (9:24–27), and tasks (9:28–32). The authority of the gatekeepers rested in their genealogical association with the Levites through Korah (9:18–19) and their spiritual association with Phinehas, who supervised the gatekeepers during the days of Moses (9:20; cf. Num. 25:7–13). As if to emphasize the point by “name-dropping,” the Chronicler adds
the fact that the position of gatekeeper itself was formally constituted by the likes of Samuel and David (1 Chron. 9:22; cf. 23:4–5).
The gatekeepers provided leadership in the day-to-day operations of the temple by continually guarding the premises and its contents and opening the gates for temple services every morning (9:27). In addition, the gatekeepers supported the temple ministries by maintaining the furniture and the implements used in the worship rituals and by preparing the ingredients required for the priestly sacrifices and offerings (9:29–30).
It has been suggested the anomalous inclusion of the unnamed temple musicians is a concession to a group of disgruntled Levites who feel they have been slighted by their more prominent associates. But it seems more likely they are included for the sake of completeness in the recitation of priestly ministries connected with the temple.
August Konkel: The detailed description of the gatekeepers’ responsibility is divided into the arrangement of the guards at the gates (9:23–26a), and their specific responsibilities (vv. 26b-29). Four chief gatekeepers were responsible for the four gates of the temple court. They received help from their colleagues, who lived in the surrounding villages and at an appointed time would lodge in the vicinity of the temple for a week. They were responsible for protecting the rooms and the treasuries, opening the gates each morning, keeping count of the sacred utensils, and providing the supplies for the regular services.
Certain other temple functions were carried out by other members of the clergy (9:30–33). The gatekeepers were responsible for maintaining the flour, wine, oil, incense, and spices (v. 29); the priests prepared the mixture of the spices (v. 30). Other Levites prepared the flat cakes (v. 31) and arranged the table bread every Sabbath (v. 32). The Levitical singers, who also lived in the temple chambers, were free from all such duties (v. 33) because they had responsibility for their own work day and night.
(:34) Summary and Transition
“These were heads of fathers’ households of the Levites
according to their generations, chief men, who lived in Jerusalem.”
August Konkel: This conclusion and transition to the next major section of the book refers to the two major sections of the previous passage. The Levites have been the central concern in designating the responsibilities of the community (vv. 14–33). The reference to Jerusalem brings the reader back to the topic of defining all Israel in terms of its representatives living in the city (vv. 3–9). All the tribes were represented in the residents of Jerusalem.
J.A. Thompson: Verse 34 is a transitional verse between the Levitical musicians and the genealogy of Saul. It is preparatory to the accounts of the death of Saul related in chap. 10.
II. (:35-44) LINEAGE OF SAUL
“And in Gibeon Jeiel the father of Gibeon lived, and his wife’s name was Maacah, 36 and his first-born son was Abdon, then Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, 37 Gedor, Ahio, Zechariah, and Mikloth. 38 And Mikloth became the father of Shimeam. And they also lived with their relatives in Jerusalem opposite their other relatives. 39 And Ner became the father of Kish, and Kish became the father of Saul, and Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Eshbaal. 40 And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal; and Merib-baal became the father of Micah. 41 And the sons of Micah were Pithon, Melech, Tahrea, and Ahaz. 42 And Ahaz became the father of Jarah, and Jarah became the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri became the father of Moza, 43 and Moza became the father of Binea and Rephaiah his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. 44 And Azel had six sons whose names are these: Azrikam, Bocheru and Ishmael and Sheariah and Obadiah and Hanan. These were the sons of Azel.”
Frederick Mabie: The purpose of the Chronicler’s reiteration of the genealogical information presented at 8:29–38 is to set up the subsequent summary of the reign of Saul (or at least the closing moments of Saul’s reign) in the following chapter. The Chronicler’s pursuit of the line of Saul for several (twelve) generations after Saul provides hope for the line of Saul and the tribe of Benjamin that extends well beyond Saul’s reign (cf. Selman, 131).
J.A. Thompson: Before dealing with the story of Saul, the Chronicler repeats his genealogy from 8:29–38, although there are differences. This text has Ner between Baal and Nadab in v. 36; it includes the name “Mikloth” in v. 37, has “Shimeam” for Shimeah in v. 38, and adds Ahaz to the sons of Micah (v. 41). Some spellings also are different. It may seem unusual to us to repeat the genealogy of Saul, but in a sense it is quite appropriate as an introduction to 1 Chronicles 10.
August Konkel: In the record of Saul, the introduction of the military at Gibeon continues the theme of residence. The introductory phrase those who lived in Gibeon (1 Chron 9:34 AT) forms a literary parallel with those who lived in Jerusalem (9:3 AT). Gibeonites also lived in Jerusalem (v. 38). The Chronicler provided the abrupt genealogy of Saul (Ner was father of Kish) with an introduction (v. 39). It is generally recognized that the Chronicler was responsible for joining together the militia list of Gibeon with the genealogy of the royal family of Saul. There were logical reasons for such a union: both had to do with the military, both were very significant components in the social order of Benjamin, and though distinguished by genealogy, both came from the same area and were closely related to each other. The Chronicler regarded both as essential to his portrayal of Benjamin. As he embarks on the story of the nation, he begins with the aspects that best represented its roots.
Iain Duguid: Of all that could have been said about Saul and events prior to his final battle, the Chronicler has chosen to tell only of his family and its association with Gibeon. In contrast to “in Jerusalem” (the last words of v. 34), the story starts “in Gibeon” (the first words in the Hebrew text of v. 35). A major town 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Jerusalem, Gibeon features in Chronicles as the location of the tabernacle and altar of burnt offerings until the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem (16:39; 2 Chron. 1:3–6). Starting the story with Gibeon and Saul sets the scene for the future movement to Jerusalem as the national center of rule and worship under David, foreshadowed in the mention of Saul’s relatives who came to live “in Jerusalem” (1 Chron. 9:38).