1 Chronicles 27-29: The Last Days of David

The last few chapters of 1 Chronicles summarize David's legacy. Although the chapters are centered on David's rule as king, it is obvious that the main focus is on pricelessness of God.

Introduction

The last few chapters of 1 Chronicles summarize David's legacy. We are given a method to estimate the cost of materials used to construct the Temple, as well as, an example prayer to God. Although the chapters are centered on David's rule as king, it is obvious that the main focus is on pricelessness of God.
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Divisions of the State

In the previous chapters, we were given divisions related to the Temple and the service of God, but 1 Chronicles 27 outlines divisions dedicated to serving the nation and the king. We are told about the army, the princes of each tribe, and the overseers of the nations wealth.

CaptainTribal Affiliation
JashobeamJudah
Dodai
BenaiahLevi
Asahel
Shamhuth
Ira
HelezEphraim
Sibbecai
AbiezerBenjamin
Maharai
BenaiahEphraim
Heldai
The army was divided into 12 units of 24,000 men with one unit serving per month during times of peace. Would assume from the number 12 that each division represented a different tribe, but when the captains of the units are listed this doesn't seem to be the case. Only some of the captains are identified by tribal affiliation and we see two captains from the Tribe of Ephraim. Likely each unit consisted of a mix of tribes and the captains were merely the best of all the army. This method would help unify the nation of evade the possibility of tribes turning on each other. If the units were organized by tribe, it would be much easier for a civil war to break out. Of course, we know that eventually the nation splits in half anyway.

Just as we have governors of states today, back then each tribe had a ruler. These leaders were important and influential among their tribe, and likely acted as liaisons between the tribes and the king. Despite 1 Chronicles 27 only naming one person per tribe, several passages of the Bible is indicates that there could be more the one prince of a tribe. Perhaps there existed a ranking among princes that elevated only one to ruler—a succession line, basically. The Tribe of Manasseh, which was split across the Jordan, is the only tribe to have 2 leaders, because each half of the tribe had their own a leader.

The last set of divisions given in 1 Chronicles 27, involve the men who oversaw the riches of the king and nation. These men were in charge of the treasuries, vineyards, herds, army, etc. It is here that we find Joab listed as the general of the army. His name had been noticeably absent when discussing matters of the army previously. Joab's murderous habits likely demoted his status, causing the chronicler to give him less focus. Interestingly the man over the camels was an Ishmaelite. This is further proof that strangers were brought into the fold of Israel. Those who made themselves loyal to God were apparently joined into the nation. Another set of familiar names found in this list is that of Ahithophel, who turns on David during Absalom's rebellion, and Hushai, who spies for David during the same time period.
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Appointing Solomon King

In 1 Chronicles 28, David makes a public showing of declaring Solomon heir to throne and giving him detailed instructions on building the Temple. This action was likely for the people, and to ensure there was no confusion or rebellion against the throne. Although we are not told when during David's rule this occurs, it seems likely that it occurs after Absalom's rebellion. In 1 Chronicles 29, Solomon is officially made king. Interestingly it says he was made king for the second time. This furthers the idea that first time was during Absalom's rebellion, which was done in haste, and this time was probably more formal and deliberate.[1]

David presents Solomon with gold and riches for the Temple's construction and encourages him to be strong. Much emphasis is placed on the fact that God will see Solomon through the task. At first I wasn't sure why Solomon would need a pep talk about building a Temple. In my mind this was an easy task compared to Moses, or Joshua, or David. After deeper thought, it started to make sense.

People are often weary of change and the Temple would be a major change for Israel. Once it was constructed, there would be a centralized location for sacrifices to God. With that, people would have to travel to fulfill their duties. This would be an inconvenience, and may have been a contributing factor to the decline of Israel's relationship with God. When Solomon began construction, I imagine there would have been a fair amount of pushback from the people. David didn't want hesitancy form the nation to effect Solomon's ability to complete the task.
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David and the Magnificence of the Temple

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/JJ Jordan
The chronicler's focus on David's legacy are his exact contribution to the Temple. This reiterates how important it was that the Temple be built and how instrumental David was in its construction, despite not being the one to actually build it. David contributes 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver. This is equivalent to 226,194.28lbs of gold and 527,786.66lbs of silver.[2] Today, gold is worth $39,776.87 per kilogram and silver is worth $579.68 per kilogram.[3][4] By doing a little math, we see that David essentially contributed $4,081,106,843.94 worth of gold and $138,775,393.14 worth of silver.

That's enough to place the Temple at #4 on the list of today's most expensive buildings of the world.[5] However, that wasn't everything that went into the Temple! The people also donate gold, silver, brass, and iron to the Temple. The most important part about the giving of the people, isn't the price associated with it however, it's the fact that they gave willingly. David didn't issue a donate or die decree or scare the people into giving; they truly wanted to please God and gave of their own free will.

Nonetheless, a considerable amount of wealth is added to the Temple due to this. The people gave 5,000 talents and 10,000 drams of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron. A dram is approximately 1lb[6], making the amount of gold donated about 386,990.47lbs, which is worth $6,982,269,470.17. The people donated 753,980.93lbs of silver, which is worth $198,250,558.25. The average price of brass today is $1.16 per pound;[7] the Israelites donated 1,357,165.67lbs of brass, which is worth $1,574,312.20. Iron costs $0.02 for .1kg if buying in bulk or $7.20 for .1kg.[8] Since the Israelites donated 7,539,809.37lbs of iron, I'm going to use the bulk price to estimate its worth at $684,000.00. In total, the people donated $7,182,778,340.62 to the construction of the Temple! If we add the people 7.18 billion to David's donation, we can estimate the cost of the temple to be about 11.4 billion dollars! This would rank it at #2 on the list of today's most expensive buildings of the world, and remember, this total doesn't include anything Solomon added.
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Sacrifices

After pulling together that much wealth, the Israelites decide to offer sacrifices to God in celebration; this includes 1000 bulls, 1000 rams, and 1000 lambs. Reading this makes me understand the passage where God says He hates animal sacrifice (Isaiah 1:11). How sad is it that this many animals had to die to express gratitude and repentance? Although God mandated feasts and outlined sacrifices, you should note that God doesn't command them to sacrifice 3,000 animals at this point. This is something the Israelites did on their own. God didn't desire animals to die, however, there death was necessary to atone for our sins before Jesus' sacrifice. Over time, the Israelites confused this with God delighting in the sacrifice of blood.
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Prayer

When David ends his reign and transfers power to Solomon, he does so by praying to God. This prayer one of the many examples given of how we should pray to God. David exalts and praises God, then attests to God's mercy. He asks God to help Solomon keep the commandments. Even then, they knew that it is impossible to keep the commandments without God's help!
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References

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 729. 2014
  2. "Talents (Biblical Hebrew) to Pound Conversion". Unit Conversion; visited March 2017
  3. "Gold Prices Today Per Ounce & Gold Chart Historical". APMEX; visited March 2017
  4. "Silver Prices". APMEX; visited March 2017
  5. Alice Young. "The 10 Most Expensive Buildings in the World". Constructing Global. June 10, 2016
  6. "Dram". Bible Hub; visited March 2017
  7. "Brass - US Scrap Prices". Recycle In Me; visited March 2017
  8. "Iron Element Facts". Chemicool. October 6, 2012

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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