1 Chronicles 26 – The Gatekeepers for the Temple
A. The divisions of the gatekeepers.
1. (1-5) The divisions of the gatekeepers.
Concerning the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. And the sons of Meshelemiah were Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh. Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.
a. Divisions of the gatekeepers: These had the responsibility for security, both in a practical and spiritual sense. They made sure that only those who were ready to serve and worship God could come to the temple and its associated building. Their work had to be organized and arranged just as much as the work of the priests who officiated at the sacrifices.
i. “Though less prominent than some of their Levitical colleagues, from time to time the gatekeepers made a vital contribution to national life, notably under the high priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 23:4-6, 19), and in the reigns of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:14-19) and Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:9-13).” (Selman)
ii. “Essentially their duty was to make ordinary people aware of the practical limits of holiness, for anyone entering the sanctuary unlawfully did so on penalty of death.” (Selman)
iii. Though some might see their work as humble, it was actually of great privilege. Remember the envy of the Psalmist: I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)
b. Of the sons of Asaph: “Not that famous Asaph the singer, but another Asaph, called also Ebiasaph, 1 Chronicles 6:37.” (Trapp)
2. (6-8) Shemaiah and his sons, and the other sons of Obed-Edom.
Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men. All these were of the sons of Obed-Edom, they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the work: sixty-two of Obed-Edom.
a. Who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability: Shemaiah was of the family of gatekeepers, yet his sons rose to positions of high responsibility because they were men of great ability. They are also described as able men with strength for the work.
i. “Able men might be better translated, ‘strong men’. The job might entail removal of unwelcome people or objects (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:16-20).” (Selman)
3. (9-12) Other gatekeepers.
And Meshelemiah had sons and brethren, eighteen able men. Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shimri the first (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him the first), Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth; all the sons and brethren of Hosah were thirteen. Among these were the divisions of the gatekeepers, among the chief men, having duties just like their brethren, to serve in the house of the LORD.
a. Having duties just like their brethren, to serve in the house of the LORD: Some would make a distinction between the spiritual work of the temple and the practical work of the temple and regard the spiritual work as more important. The Chronicler is careful to remind us that the work of these gatekeepers, whose service was more practical in nature, was esteemed by God as just as valuable.
i. “A very important point is made by the inclusion of these groups, even though they might seem to represent a diversion from Chronicles’ main theme. As God’s people pay proper attention to their status as a worshipping community, the distinction between the sacred and the secular disappears. All tasks, whether mundane or specialized, ‘religious’ or ‘lay’, have value in the eyes of God.” (Selman)
4. (13-19) The lot for each family of the gatekeepers.
And they cast lots for each gate, the small as well as the great, according to their father’s house. The lot for the East Gate fell to Shelemiah. Then they cast lots for his son Zechariah, a wise counselor, and his lot came out for the North Gate; to Obed-Edom the South Gate, and to his sons the storehouse. To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came out for the West Gate, with the Shallecheth Gate on the ascending highway; watchman opposite watchman. On the east were six Levites, on the north four each day, on the south four each day, and for the storehouse two by two. As for the Parbar on the west, there were four on the highway and two at the Parbar. These were the divisions of the gatekeepers among the sons of Korah and among the sons of Merari.
a. They cast lots for each gate: They determined the order and arrangement of the service for the gatekeepers the same way that they determined the order and arrangement for the priests in their service.
b. The small as well as the great: This means that David let the LORD decide when it came to organizing and ordering these offices, and he did not let prestige or position determine their appointments.
i. “Our method is not that of casting lots, but of seeking the direct guidance of the Spirit. But we need to remember that in our choice of men for office in the work of the Church of God, the things of privilege, which too often count in human affairs, must have no weight with us.” (Morgan)
ii. “But chiefly we are concerned with the temple of the heart. We surely need the doorkeeper there, for in the history of the inner life there is so much going and coming; such troops of thoughts pour into the shrine of the soul, and pour out. And often, in the crowd, disloyal and evil thoughts intrude, which, before we know it, introduce a sense of distance and alienation from God.” (Meyer)
B. Other Levitical servants to the temple.
1. (20-25) Overseers for the treasuries of the house of God.
Of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasuries of the house of God and over the treasuries of the dedicated things. The sons of Laadan, the descendants of the Gershonites of Laadan, heads of their fathers’ houses, of Laadan the Gershonite: Jehieli. The sons of Jehieli, Zetham and Joel his brother, were over the treasuries of the house of the LORD. Of the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites: Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was overseer of the treasuries. And his brethren by Eliezer were Rehabiah his son, Jeshaiah his son, Joram his son, Zichri his son, and Shelomith his son.
a. Over the treasuries of the house of God and over the treasuries of the dedicated things: David set in order the financial organization necessary to administrate the building of the temple, including oversight of all the riches brought in by David’s conquest of neighboring peoples (the dedicated things).
2. (26-28) Shelomith, a notable overseer of the treasuries of the house of God.
This Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasuries of the dedicated things which King David and the heads of fathers’ houses, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the army, had dedicated. Some of the spoils won in battles they dedicated to maintain the house of the LORD. And all that Samuel the seer, Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah had dedicated, every dedicated thing, was under the hand of Shelomith and his brethren.
3. (29-32) Other servants for the kingdom of Israel.
Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons performed duties as officials and judges over Israel outside Jerusalem. Of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brethren, one thousand seven hundred able men, had the oversight of Israel on the west side of the Jordan for all the business of the LORD, and in the service of the king. Among the Hebronites, Jerijah was head of the Hebronites according to his genealogy of the fathers. In the fortieth year of the reign of David they were sought, and there were found among them capable men at Jazer of Gilead. And his brethren were two thousand seven hundred able men, heads of fathers’ houses, whom King David made officials over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, for every matter pertaining to God and the affairs of the king.
a. For every matter pertaining to God and the affairs of the king: “Expounding also of the law, and therehence answering cases, solving doubts; superintendents, some say they were, throughout the whole kingdom.” (Trapp)
i. “The statistic that 2,700 Levites maintained the laws of ‘God and…the king’ among the tribes west of the Jordan (v.30) seems strange…but contains a hint of the importance of the district of Gilead.” (Payne)