1 Chronicles 25 – “The Musicians are Arranged for Service”

HarpHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The musicians are divided into twenty-four divisions. They are then assigned, by means of a lottery, specific times to serve.

II. Photo
David appoints musicians to serve: “David and the officers of the army set apart for service the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied to the accompaniment of lyres, harps, and cymbals…” (v. 1)

III. Important Verses
v. 1: David and the officers of the army set apart for service the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied to the accompaniment of lyres, harps, and cymbals. The list of men who performed this work, according to their service, was…
vv. 6-7: all these were under the charge of their father for the singing in the House of the LORD, to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps, and lyres, for the service of the House of God by order of the king. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman — their total number with their kinsmen, trained singers of the LORD — all the masters, 288.
v. 8: They cast lots for shifts on the principle of “small and great alike, like master like apprentice.”

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2. The Asaphites
3. The Jeduthunites
4. The Hemanites
5-7. Summary
8. Casting lots
9-31. The twenty-four divisions of singers

V. Comment
Chapter 25 continues with David’s final preparations before his death. It lists the musicians he appoints and describes how they are designated by lottery to serve in twenty-four groups. Scholars point to three phenomena that give this chapter a “high degree of artificiality.” First, v. 7 describes how the total number of singers was 288. Instead of being random or unsystematic, vv. 9-31 describe how each of the 24 families had exactly 12 members (12 x 24 = 288). While it is possible that this refers to the number of people who served from each family, and not necessarily the total family members, the next two phenomena are even more striking.

In regards to the children of Heman, v. 4 says: “Heman — the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth.” De Vries writes: “The casual reader will notice the unusual length of the Heman name list, v. 4; but the truly striking thing is that it has been arranged as a kind of rebus, though designed for worship and not for entertainment… As most contemporary scholar would agree, after the first five names, the names begin to hang together syntactically, producing, with justifiable emendations, the following:

  • haneni yah haneni – “Be gracious to me, [Lord], be gracious to me”
  • ’eli ’atta – “My God art thou”
  • giddalti weromamti ‘ozri – “ I have magnified and will exalt my helper”
  • yosheb qasha malloti – “Dwelling in adversity I have spoken”
  • hotir machaziot – “Be generous with revelations”

It may also be, as Myers… has suggested, that these five lines are actually the incipits, or first-line titles, of five psalm.” (205) (While I haven’t seen Myers’ study, as of now I can only think of psalms to correspond to the first three lines, not the last two.)

In addition to the names of the last nine sons of Heman being a “rebus,” they are distinguishable in their lottery position too. While the sons of Asaph, Jeduthun, and the first five sons of Heman take up the first 15 slots, Heman’s last 9 sons occupy the last 9 slots. Yet, their order has been changed slightly.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
De Vries, Simon J. “1 and 2 Chronicles,” The Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989).
Photo taken from http://www.jacksonspointvillage.com/imgbody/Harp.jpg