Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Chronicles 16

I have two items for my post about I Chronicles 16.

1.  Although the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle were often together in the Pentateuch—-with the Ark being inside of the Tabernacle, except when it was brought out (usually for battle)—-they were separate from each other during David’s reign.  Or so says I Chronicles.  David brought the Ark to Jerusalem and pitched a tent for it, and there it remained while he was king.  The Tabernacle, however, was located in Gibeon, which John MacArthur says was six miles to the northwest of Jerusalem.  According to I Chronicles 16, there were thanksgiving, music, and Levitical priests at both sites.  Sacrifices, however, occurred at the Tabernacle.

Could sacrifices be offered outside of the Tabernacle?  Well, II Samuel 6:13 seems to say so, for, there, when the Ark was being transported from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem under King David, the people transporting the Ark walked six paces and offered sacrifices.  They had recently seen God strike Uzzah dead for touching the Ark, and they wanted to stay on God’s good side, so they offered sacrifices throughout their journey to Jerusalem.  The Chronicler, however, may tell the story differently, for I Chronicles 15:26 states: “And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams” (KJV).  Keil-Delitzsch interpret this passage to mean that the Levites offered their sacrifices after their transportation of the Ark had been successful.  Whereas II Samuel 6 depicts people offering sacrifices to God during the journey of transporting the Ark from Obed-Edom’s house to Jerusalem, I Chronicles 15 seems to depict Levites transporting the Ark, and then, once that is done, offering sacrifices to God.  Did the Chronicler have problems with the idea that sacrifices could be offered outside of a sanctuary?

Where exactly did the Levites offer those sacrifices, according to the Chronicler?  At the Tabernacle in Gibeon?  It doesn’t say.  I Chronicles 16:1-2 state: “So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.  And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD” (KJV).  Are these sacrifices being offered in Jerusalem, which is where the Ark is, or are David and the Israelites in Jerusalem, while the sacrifices are being offered in Gibeon, at the Tabernacle?  It makes more sense to me to go with the former—-the sacrifices were being offered at Jerusalem, where the ceremony was taking place.  So did the Chronicler think that sacrifices could be offered outside of Gibeon, after all?  Maybe.  The sacrifices in Jerusalem were occurring close to the Ark, which was holy, so perhaps that made them acceptable, in the Chronicler’s sight.  Why, then, would the Chronicler have problems with offering sacrifices during the Ark’s transportation from Obed-Edom’s house to Jerusalem?  The sacrifices would have been near the Ark, in that case.  I don’t know.  I Chronicles 16 (see v 40) seems to be specifying that sacrifices occurred at Gibeon.  Perhaps the Chronicler was open to sacrifices occurring elsewhere, on special occasions—-like in Jerusalem, after the Ark had arrived and been settled.  But he may have thought that offering sacrifices on a journey went a bit too far.

Why did David settle the Ark in Jerusalem rather than where the Tabernacle was located?  Maybe he just wanted to be near the Ark.  He desired God’s blessing, and he wanted God to be especially close to him.

Someone else who may have wanted to stay near the Ark was Obed-Edom, for I Chronicles 16 states that Obed-Edom and his brothers would serve at the Ark after it had been transported to Jerusalem.  That’s pretty cool, if that is the same Obed-Edom at whose house the Ark was after Uzzah was killed (and there is debate about this, and also about how many Obed-Edoms there are in Chronicles).  Obed-Edom’s house experienced the blessings of the Ark, so Obed-Edom decided to follow the Ark into Jerusalem and make a career as a doorkeeper there.  Imagine that!  Of course, there is the question of whether Obed-Edom was even qualified to be near the Ark, since only Levites were allowed near it, according to the Pentateuch.  Obed-Edom was a Gittite, which could be the Philistine ethnic group of which Goliath was part, according to II Samuel 21:19 and I Chronicles 20:5.  But the Orthodox Jewish Artscroll commentary states (on I Chronicles 13:13): “Since Oved-Edom is mentioned among the Levites at 15:18, Mefaresh thinks that he is called a Gittite because he used to live in Gath—-not because he was a Philistine…”  I Chronicles 15:18 does not explicitly say that Obed-Edom was a Levite, but that may be a good inference.  Perhaps Obed-Edom, after experiencing the blessings of the Ark at his house, decided to get in touch with his Levitical roots and minister to the Ark once it came to Jerusalem!

2.  According to I Chronicles 16, when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem, David delivered a psalm into the hands of Asaph and his brothers.  V 35 of that Psalm states: “And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise” (KJV).  That is pretty odd.  Why would David ask God to return Israelite exiles to Israel, when the exile had not happened yet?  Northern Israel had not yet fallen to Assyria (which happened in 722 B.C.E.), nor had Judah fallen to Babylon (which occurred in 587 B.C.E.).  Is David being prophetic here?  Is this an anachronism on the Chronicler’s part?

Keil-Delitzsch suggest that v 35 may refer to Israelite prisoners-of-war, taken captive by Israel’s enemies during Israel’s battles with them.  Saul and David both battled foreign enemies.  Those foreign enemies probably took Israelite captives.  Perhaps David is asking God to return those captives to Israel.

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