1 Chronicles 15


Preparations to Move the Ark

        • On verses 1-29 ESV Study Bible writes, “David’s second attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem is successful because, as well as preparing a suitable place to receive the holy object, this time he instructs and organizes the Levites and the priests in the right way of transporting it…The relatively brief mention of the second mission in 2 Sam 6:12-19 has been expanded here to show it as the climax of a carefully planned religious procession. Into the account of these preparations the Chronicler has inserted lists of the Levites involved and descriptions of their musical duties (1 Chron 15:4-10; 16-24). David emerges as the decisive figure in determining the new role of the Levites as the leaders of music and worship, once the ark has come to its permanent rest in Jerusalem and would no longer be borne about by them. Just as Moses set out the duties of the Levites for the wilderness days (see Num 3:5-9; 4:4-33), so David does the same for the more settled period of his kingdom. At the same time, he is very solicitous about the Law of Moses as the foundation for his own innovations in worship (see 1 Chron 15:2, 13, 15).”

      • After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David commanded that no one except for the Levites were to carry the ark of God because Yahweh had chosen the Levites to carry the ark of God and to serve before Him forever.

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “David uses the three-month interval that the ark is in the house of Obed-edom…to make the necessary preparations in procedures and personnel that were lacking in the first mission that ended in debacle. The tent is not the Mosaic ‘tent of meeting,’ which was in Gibeon at the time (16:39), but a temporary lodging for the ark (see 17:1). David now understands that violation of the law governing the correct handling of the ark had scuttled the earlier attempt; hence his words here about the Levites (see Deut 10:8; 18:5).”

      • David assembled all Israel to Jerusalem to bring the ark of Yahweh to the place he had prepared for it. Then David gathered together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites:

        • From Kohath’s descendants: the leader, Uriel, and 120 of his relatives;

        • From Merari’s descendants: the leader, Asaiah, and 220 of his relatives;

          • From Gershon’s descendants: the leader, Joel, and 130 of his relatives;

          • From Elizaphan’s descendants: the leader, Shemaiah, and 200 of his relatives;

        • From Hebron’s descendants: the leader, Eliel, and 80 of his relatives;

          • From Uzziel’s descendants: the leader, Amminadab, and 112 of his relatives.

          • ESV Study Bible says, “David’s authority is expressed in summoning the priests and Levites together for their sacred task. The three main divisions of the Levites (Kohath, Merari, and Gershom) are named. The Kohathites were responsible for carrying the ark (see Num 7:9). The final three groups mentioned (1 Chron 15:8-10) are also Kohathite families (see 6:18).”

      • Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, and the following Levites: Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He told them, “You are the leaders of the Levite families. You and your relatives are to consecrate yourselves so that you may bring the ark of Yahweh, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. Yahweh our God burst out in anger against us because you Levites didn’t carry it the first time, because we didn’t inquire of Him about the proper procedures.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of Yahweh, the God of Israel. The Levites carried the ark of God the way Moses had commanded, according to the word of Yahweh: with the poles on their shoulders.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “David’s instruction to the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves denotes not only ritual actions and abstinences (see Ex 19:14-15) but also the internal attitude that should accompany the handling of holy things…”

        • HCSB says, “For the Chronicler, proper observance of the law’s ritual and regulations was of utmost importance. Here he noted the proper way to transport the ark: Levites carrying it with poles (see Ex 25:13-15; Num 7:9). David had used a cart with no Levites. Had they followed the correct procedure, the ark would not have been in any danger of falling and a man would not have died.”

      • Then David told the Levite leaders to appoint some of their relatives as musicians. They were to play various instruments including lyres, harps, and cymbals, and to sing loudly and joyfully. So the Levites appointed Joel’s son Heman along with his relatives: Berekiah’s son Asaph; and from Merari’s descendants, their relative Ethan, who was Kushaiah’s son. With these were the following relatives who were ranked second, the gatekeepers: Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Obed-Edom, and Jeiel.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “This marks a turning point in the history of Israel’s worshp: the Levites are appointed, under David, to a new ministry of music and praise, which will be conducted in the presence of the ark…Solomon will follow in David’s footsteps in the organization of the Levites for the temple worship (2 Chron 8:14).”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible explains, “This is the first of three lists of Levitical musicians (see 15:19-22; 16:4-6). This list gave the names of the three leaders (Heman, Asaph, and Ethan; see 6:33-47) along with their assistants.”

      • The musicians Heman, Asaph, and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals. Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play the harps according to the alamoth style. Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to play the lyres according to the sheminith style, as led by the director. Kenaniah, who was the music leader of the Levites, was to direct the music because he was skillful at it. Berekiah, Elkanah, Obed-Edom, and Jehiah were to be the gatekeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer the priests were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The second list of Levitical musicians focused on their musical specialties rather than their rank.”

          • ESV Study Bible adds, “The Levites respond to David’s instructions. In contrast to the free exuberance of the earlier expedition (13:8), only the Levites duly consecrated for the task may lead the procession.” Referencing the debate on Obed-Edom’s identity, the same source continues, “Obed-edom may have been included among the Levitical gatekeepers, despite his probable Philistine origin, on account of his care for the ark. If so, ‘Levite’ may have been a functional description (denoting one doing a particular task) as well as a genealogical one in the early monarchy. The postexilic community took a much stricter line on genealogical descent (see Ezra 2:61-63).”

        • There is lots of debate regarding the meaning of the italicized words above, “alamoth” and “sheminith.” Most Bibles contain a footnote indicating that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. The following sources provide comment:

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible: “Hebrew adds according to Alamoth. Alamoth is probably a melody, believed to be sung in the soprano range (related to Hebrew ‘almah, ‘young woman’). Hebrew adds according to the Sheminith. Sheminith might be related to a term meaning ‘octave,’ suggesting a lower vocal range.”

        • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers: On Alamoth: “that is, probably, of soprano compass or pitch. The same expression occurs in the heading of Psalms 46.” On Sheminith: “Literally, after the mode of the eighth—i.e., an octave below the tenor—al ottava bassa.”

        • Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: On Alamoth: “Probably, psalteries whose tone resembled the voices of girl (…‛ălâmôth). Compare the ‘female flutes’ of the Lydians.” On Sheminith: “’Sheminith’ properly means ‘the eighth,’ and has been compared with the modern musical term ‘octave.’ Further, ‘Sheminith’ and ‘Alamoth’ are regarded as contrasted, and the harps of Mattithiah and his companions are supposed to have been pitched an octave below the psalteries of Zechariah and his brethren.”

Moving the Ark to Jerusalem

      • So David, the leaders of Israel, and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of Yahweh from Obed-Edom’s house with rejoicing. And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of Yahweh’s covenant, they sacrificed 7 bulls and 7 rams. David was dressed in a fine linen robe, as were all the Levites who carried the ark, the musicians, and Kenaniah the music leader. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of Yahweh with shouting, the sounding of ram’s horns and trumpets, cymbals, and the playing of harps and lyres.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “This second section supplements 2 Sam 6:12-16 (which focuses overwhelmingly on David) to emphasize the participation of all Israel (1 Chron 15:28) in the second mission to bring back the ark. References to David’s own activity are muted (e.g., his dancing, 2 Sam 6:14), while particular details about the Levites and God’s help for them are added (1 Chron 15:26-28). The ark is consistently called the ark of the covenant of the Lord (vv. 25, 26, 28, 29), perhaps to stress the true focus of this chapter and the joyful solemnity of the occasion…”

        • Various commentaries contribute to the discussion of the attire for this celebration:

          • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says that the fine linen robe, “Heb., a me’il of byssus. The me’il was an upper garment worn by persons of rank (2Samuel 12:18; 1Samuel 15:27; Job 29:14).”

        • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges points out the following regarding the ephod it is mentioned that David wore, “A linen ephod was the ordinary vestment for all priests (1 Samuel 22:18). The highpriest’s ephod was a more elaborate garment (Exodus 28:6-12), fitted with the means of divination (1 Samuel 23:6; 1 Samuel 23:9-12).”

        • Benson Commentary is quite comprehensive: “David was clothed with a double garment, with a robe of fine linen, and with a linen ephod. These two garments are expressly distinguished in the account of the vestments of the high-priest, Exodus 29:5; Exodus 28:4; Exodus 28:6; Exodus 39:23. The fabric of them was different; the ephod was made of gold, blue, purple, scarlet; whereas the robe was formed all of blue. The shape of them was different; the ephod reaching only to the knees, the robe flowing down even to the very covering of the feet. The robe had no division in it throughout, but was made whole and round, with an opening in the middle of it, at the top; so that it was impossible any part of the body could be seen through it, especially as the ephod, on this occasion of David’s dancing, was thrown over it, and tied, probably, with a girdle, as the priest’s ephod always was. David clothed himself with these linen garments on this solemnity, both out of reverence to God, and for convenience, because they were cooler. It may be further observed, that this robe was worn by kings, their children, princes, priests, Levites, and prophets, when they appeared on any solemn occasion, and it covered their other garments: see 1 Samuel 28:14; 2 Samuel 13:8. David, therefore, dressed himself on this occasion with this long, flowing linen robe, instead of the robe of state proper to him as king of Israel, and which was made of richer materials; and hence he was scornfully insulted by Saul’s daughter, as uncovering himself as a king, and appearing in a habit wholly unworthy, as she thought, of his royal character and dignity.”

      • Saul’s daughter Michal watched from the window as the ark of the covenant of Yahweh came into the City of David. When she saw David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.

        • Guzik remarks, “David didn’t hold back anything in his own expression of worship. He didn’t dance out of obligation but out of heartfelt worship. He was glad to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD into Jerusalem according to God’s word. This expression of David’s heart showed that he had a genuine emotional link to God. There are two great errors in this area – the error of making emotions the center of our Christian life and the error of an emotionally detached Christian life. In the Christian life emotions must not be manipulated and they must not be repressed. From our knowledge of ancient and modern culture we can surmise that David’s dance wasn’t a solo performance. The context clearly puts him together with the other priests and Levits, and he probably danced with simple rhythmic steps together with other men in the way one might see Orthodox Jewish men today dance. In this context, David’s linen ephod means he set aside his royal robes and dressed just like everyone else in the procession. It should also be observed that David’s dancing was appropriate in the context. This was a parade with a marching band, a grand procession. David’s dancing fit right in. If David did this as the nation gathered on the Day of Atonement it would be out of context and wrong. 2 Samuel 6:20-23 tell us more of Michal’s complaint and of David’s response to her. She sarcastically said to him, How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today. Michal seemed to indicate that she didn’t object to David’s dancing, but to what David wore when he set aside his royal robes and danced as a man just like the other men celebrating in the procession. David acted as if he were just another worshipper in Israel, and this offended Michal. In response, David told Michal that his actions were before the LORD; that is, he simply explained the truth: “I did it for God, not for you.” He went on to explain to her, and will be humble in my own sight. What David did was humbling to him. He didn’t dance to show others how spiritual he was.”

        • HCSB adds, “The Chronicler omitted Michal’s verbal confrontation of David for his dancing before the ark in 2 Sm 6:16-23. Her opinion had no bearing on David’s piety, which was the Chronicler’s main point.”

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