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1 Chronicles 25

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

 NASB  NKJV  NRSV  TEV   NJB
(LXX versing)
Number and Services of Musicians The Musicians David Organizes the Musicians The Temple Musicians The Cantors
25:1-7 25:1-8 25:1-8 25:1 25:1
25:2 25:2
25:3 25:3
25:4-6 25:4-6a
25:6b-31
Divisions of Musicians 25:7
25:8 25:8
25:9-31 25:9-31 25:9-31 25:9-31

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

  1. The Chronicler emphasizes
    1. the temple in Jerusalem
    2. the Levites' duties at the temple

    He was probably a Levite himself.

  2. Notice that music is designated "prophecy" (1 Chr. 25:1,2,3).

  3. This chapter documents the lineage of musicians going back to David, so as to give credibility to the descendants who returned from Babylonian exile (i.e., Cyrus' Decree, 539 B.C.). This information allowed them to serve the second temple in the post-exilic period.

  4. As 1 Chronicles 24 documented the 24 divisions of the priests and Levites, this chapter documents the 24 divisions of the musical families.
    1. Asaph
    2. Heman
    3. Jeduthun (or Ehtan)

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:1-7
1Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was: 2Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah and Asharelah; the sons of Asaph were under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun with the harp, who prophesied in giving thanks and praising the Lord. 4Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer to exalt him according to the words of God, for God gave fourteen sons and three daughters to Heman. 6All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the direction of the king. 7Their number who were trained in singing to the Lord, with their relatives, all who were skillful, was 288.

25:1 "David" See item C. in Contextual Insights.

NASB  "the commanders of the army"
NKJV  "the captains of the army"
NRSV, JPSOA  "the officers of the army"
TEV  "the leaders of the Levites"
NJB  "the religious officials"
REB  "the chief officers"
LXX  "the commanders of the force"
Peshitta  "the princes of the tribes"

There is a question about two words.

  1. "the commanders" (BDB 978), which has a wide usage
    1. tribal leader (Peshitta)
    2. civil leader (REB)
    3. military leader (NASB)
    4. religious leader (TEV)
  2. "the army" (BDB 838)
    1. army (NASB, JPSOA)
    2. Levites (TEV, NJB)
    3. used of YHWH (see )

    It seems that TEV and NJB fit best in this context.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Lord OF HOSTS

▣ "set apart for the service" This VERB (BDB 95; KB 110; Hiphil IMPERFECT with waw) basically means "to divide" or "to separate." It is used in many senses.

  1. God in creation ‒ Gen. 1:4,6
  2. sin causing a separation between humans and God ‒ Isa. 59:2
  3. Israel set apart from other nations ‒ Lev. 20:24,26; Num. 16:9
  4. Levites set apart for service ‒ Num. 8:14; Deut. 10:8; 1 Chr. 25:1
  5. priests (sons of Aaron) set apart for service ‒ 1 Chr. 23:13
  6. separating clean and unclean animals ‒ Lev. 20:25

▣ "to prophesy" It is surprising that musical personnel are designated as "prophesying" (cf. 1 Chr. 25:1,2,3). Even the son of Heman is said to be the king's "seer."

Music in worship was considered a divine act, as was revealing a message (1 Chr. 25:5, "according to the words of God"). Music revealed truths about God and His will! There was no theoretical distinction for Israel between the secular and the sacred. Life, all of life, was revealed and sacred!

The Chronicler asserts a prophetic role to Levites several times.

  1. 2 Chr. 20:14-17 ‒ Jahaziel, a Levite prophesies
  2. 2 Chr. 29:30 ‒ Asaph, the seer
  3. 2 Chr. 34:30 is repeated in 2 Kgs. 23:2 where "prophet" replaces "Levites"
  4. 2 Chr. 35:15 ‒ Jeduthun the king's seer
  5. 2 Chr. 24:19-22 ‒ a priest acts as a prophet

SPECIAL TOPIC: PROPHECY (OT)

25:2 "direction" This is literally "hands." This idiom is used in 1 Chr. 25:2,3, and 6 (twice).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND

▣ "Asharelah" In 1 Chr. 25:14 the name is changed to "Jesharelah."

25:3 "Zeri" In 1 Chr. 25:11, the name is "Izri."

▣ "Shimei" The MT omits the name. The NASB follows the LXX. It does appear in 1 Chr. 25:17 and is necessary for the "six" of 1 Chr. 25:3.

▣ "in giving thanks and praising the Lord" These are parallel (hendiadys) and not separate aspects of worship (cf. 1 Chr. 16:4; 23:30; 2 Chr. 31:2; Ezra 3:11; Neh. 12:24,26).

We praise God for Who He is and what He has done. Only then can we make requests in line with His character and His purpose for our lives!

SPECIAL TOPIC: THANKSGIVING

▣ "the Lord" This is the covenant name for Israel's God, YHWH.

SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, item D.

25:4 The NRSV; The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 531 (OT); AB, pp. 172-3; and The Jerusalem Bible, p. 525, all suggest that the nine names seem artificial and may reflect a series of phrases used in prayer (i.e., "Be gracious, O Lord, be gracious to me; You are my God, whom I magnify and exalt, my help when in trouble; I have fulfilled [or spoken], he has increased visions"). For exact names and lines of poetry, see Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 425.

▣ "Uzziel" This name appears as "Azarel" in 1 Chr. 25:18.

▣ "Shebuel" This name appears as "Shubael" in 1 Chr. 25:20.

▣ "Jerimoth" This name appears as "Jeremoth" in 1 Chr. 25:22.

25:5 "the king's seer" Notice how prophecy and musical worship are linked. See full note at 1 Chr. 25:1.

▣ "exalt" The literal idiom is "lift up the horn." It can be understood in this context as

  1. exalting YHWH (JPSOA)
  2. YHWH exalting Heman (the usual usage, NASB, REB)
  3. Heman blowing the horn in worship or for worship (NJB)
  4. Heman exalting the king (LXX)

If #2 is correct, then it reflects God's blessing on this man by his large number of children.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL

25:6 Because "three daughters" are mentioned at the end of 25:5, some scholars think 25:6 refers to their functioning in music ministry (singing or playing instruments; see Jewish Study Bible, p. 1758).

25:7 "288" This is such a small number compared to 1 Chr. 23:5 (i.e., 4,000) that this may refer only to the female singers (suggested in 1 Chr. 25:6).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:8
8They cast lots for their duties, all alike, the small as well as the great, the teacher as well as the pupil.

25:8 "They cast lots" This is mentioned in 1 Chr. 24:5,31; 25:8; 26:13. It was a physical mechanism for determining God's will.

SPECIAL TOPIC: URIM AND THUMMIM

NASB, NRSV, NJB  "pupil"
NKJV  "student"
TEV  "beginners"
LXX, JPSOA, REB  "apprentice"

This term (BDB 541) appears only here in the OT. It is related to the VERB (BDB 540) "to learn." The lexicon BDB suggests "scholar," from its later Hebrew usage.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 25:9-31
9Now the first lot came out for Asaph to Joseph, the second for Gedaliah, he with his relatives and sons were twelve; 10the third to Zaccur, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 11the fourth to Izri, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 12the fifth to Nethaniah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 13the sixth to Bukkiah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 14the seventh to Jesharelah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 15the eighth to Jeshaiah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 16the ninth to Mattaniah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 17the tenth to Shimei, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 18the eleventh to Azarel, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 19the twelfth to Hashabiah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 20for the thirteenth, Shubael, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 21for the fourteenth, Mattithiah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 22for the fifteenth to Jeremoth, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 23for the sixteenth to Hananiah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 24for the seventeenth to Joshbekashah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 25for the eighteenth to Hanani, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 26for the nineteenth to Mallothi, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 27for the twentieth to Eliathah, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 28for the twenty-first to Hothir, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 29for the twenty-second to Giddalti, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 30for the twenty-third to Mahazioth, his sons and his relatives, twelve; 31for the twenty-fourth to Romamti-ezer, his sons and his relatives, twelve.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. What does it mean "to be set apart"?
  2. Why are Levite singers and musicians called prophets?
  3. Why do the names change even within the same chapter?
  4. What does it mean to be "the king's seer"?
  5. Is it possible that 1 Chr. 25:6 refers to Heman's daughters as singers and/or musicians?
  6. What does "casting lots" involve? Why was it done?

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