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242. In fact HENGSTENBERG has to eke out his explanation thus :
As it is not allowable to have recourse to a corruption or interpolation, unless every other mode of explanation fails, it must be admitted that the author follows not a chronological order, but an arrangement founded on the different parties engaged in the transaction, and thus everything will be in its proper place. He relates what the Philistines did—they sacrificed. the kine (A)—then what the Israelites did, i.e. (i) the Levites, on whom according to the Law the carrying of the Ark devolved—they took it down and placed it on the great stone (B)–(ii) the Bethshemites,—they offered sacrifices (C). Thus everything is most suitably arranged. The author might the more readily adopt this method, since the chronological order, viz. B (the taking-down of the Ark), A (the sacrifice of the Philistines), C (the sacrifice of the Bethshemites)—is self-evident.
Rather, it is self-evident'that the story, as it stands, is contradictory, and that v.15, about the Levites,” is an interpolation.
243. After this, more than a century elapses before the name • Levite' occurs again in the more authentic history. Then we read, 29.xv.24, that when David fled from Jerusalem before his son Absalom,
Zadok also and all the Levites were with him, bearing the Ark of the Coronant of God.'
At this time, then, the Levites, it would seem, were certainly employed in sacred offices; and such words as those addressed to them in G.xlix. 7 would hardly, we must suppose, have been written in this age about them. This furnishes us, therefore, with a date, B.C. 1023, after which the Blessing of Jacob'could scarcely have been written. We have already set the date of its composition (199) about twenty years previously—perhaps, about the time referred to in 2S.vii, when David 'sat in his house,' and Jehovah had given him rest round about from all his enemies '--for a time, at least, for some of his great conquests follow afterwards, viii—and he thought of building a House for Jehovah, and received the promise of an everlasting kingdom, vii.16.
244. Yet up to this time there is no indication in his history of any respect being paid to the Levites. When David brings up the Ark to Jerusalem, 2S.vi.l, not a word is said about the Levites carrying it, or even being present on the occasion. No mention, in fact, is made of Priest or Levite. Nay, the express commands of the Pentateuch were flatly disobeyed in the matter. They set the Ark of Elohim upon a new cart," we are told, v.3, where they'refers plainly to · David and all the people that were with him,' v.2. If it be said that these included Priests and Levites—though it is very strange that these should not be even mentioned—yet why, then, did not the Priests 'cover' the Ark and the Levites carry' it, as they are supposed to have done during so many long marches in the wilderness, and as they were expressly commanded to do, N.iv.15?
242. So it is David, who sacrifices oxen and fatlings,' v.13, -even as Samuel and Saul, though neither of them a Priest, had done repeatedly before him. David wears a “linen ephod,' v.14, the Priestly dress. And then we read
David and all the House of Israel brought up the Ark of Jehovah, and set it in its place in the midst of the Tabernacle that David had pitched for it, and David. offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before Jehovah. And, as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, he blessed the people in the Name of Jehovah of Hosts.' v.15,17,18.
We should have expected surely, on the traditionary view, that the High Priest, and not David, would have blessed the people on this solemn occasion, as in L.ix.22—
And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them,'— in accordance with the direction in N.vi.23–27,
"Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
Jehovah bless thee and keep thee!
Jehovah lift up His Countenance upon thee and give thee peace! And they shail put My Name upon the Children of Israel, and I will bless them.'
246. It may, of course, be said that David “sacrificed' by means of a Priest, though this can hardly be said of his blessing. But there is no indication in the story that David did 80, or that Saul or Samuel did so. Thus we read as follows :
* And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt-offering to me and peace-offerings. And he offered the burnt-offering,' 1S.xiii.9 ;
And Samuel took a sucking-lamb, and offered it for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah,' 1S.vii.9; just as we have had also in Genesis,
"And Noah built an altar to Jehovah, ... and he offered burnt-offerings upon the altar,' viii.20;
*And Israel sacrificed sacrifices unto the Elohim of his father Isaac,' xlvi.l.
247. In short, exactly as in the Book of Judges, Gideon the Manassite, vi.26,27, and Manoah the Danite, xiii.19, offer sacrifices themselves,-plainly without the intervention of a Priest or Levite,—so here there would be no doubt, except for its directly contradicting the laws of the Pentateuch, that David did actually in his own person offer the sacrifices on this occasion,—that is, he did not himself kill the animals, but he • blessed the sacrifice,' iS.ix.13, and performed what other ceremonies constituted in those days the act of offering.'
248. Just so we find it stated in 1K.viii.55 that Solomon blessed the congregation of Israel,' and in v.64 that Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the House of Jehovah,' and in ix.25 that Solomon "offered incense upon the Altar that was before Jehovah,'—which last act he could hardly have done by means of the Priests,' any more than the first. Yet for offering incense, Korah, though a Levite, and Dathan and Abiram were destroyed, N.xvi, and their brazen censers made into a covering for the Altar,
'to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before Jehovah, that he be not as Korah and his company,' v.40; and for attempting to do it, according to the Chronicler, 2Ch.xxvi.16–21, Solomon's descendant, King Uzziah, was in later days stricken with leprosy.
THE LEVITES IN THE TIME OF DAVID.
249. We have thus seen sufficient proof that at the time when we suppose Jacob's Blessing' to have been writtenperhaps, about the time of the bringing up of the Ark, or not long after it,—the Levites must have been, to all appearance, in a low and insignificant position. Not only are they not named in the history of 25.vi, but in the very Psalm, lxviii, which is believed generally (and we also believe this) to have been written on this very occasion, of the bringing-up of the Ark to Mount Zion, not the slightest reference is made to the tribe of Levi, as having any special duties on that occasion, or any special rank and privileges in Israel, nor are they even mentioned at all, although Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, and Naphtali, . are each expressly named, v.27. And the Levites are equally ignored in Ps.lx, which belongs most probably to a somewhat later period of the same age, and in which Gilead and Manasseh, Ephraim and Judah are especially mentioned, v.7.
250. Nay, all the conditions of the Priesthood, as we gather them from the more authentic history, were in those days utterly at variance with the laws and examples of the Pentateuch. In David's time, 25.viii. 17, and in Solomon's, 1K.iv.4, we have two chief priests, instead of one, like Aaron, Eleazar, or Phinehas. And the two are not father and son, or elder and younger brothers, but apparently not closely related to each other, and in Solomon's days in direct opposition and hostility to each
other, 1K.1.7,8,25,26. And accordingly Solomon, a youth of eighteen, thrusts out' Abiathar, 1K.ii.27, the older of the two chief priests, and therefore, if any, the true High-Priest,
anointed with the holy oil,' L.xxi.10, N.xxxv.25, who bare the Ark before David his father,' and · Zadok the Priest did the king put in his room,' 1K.ii.35. It is plain—whatever may have been the case in later or in earlier days—the
priests' of the time of David and Solomon were merely nominees of the king's own appointment; and as such they are ranked among the king's chief officers, but low down in the list, 2S.viii. 16-18, 1K.iv.2-6, instead of at the head of all, in accordance with the Pentateuch, where Aaron ranks everywhere next to Moses, and Eleazar to Joshua, or even before him, Jo.xiv.1.
251. When, therefore, we read of Zadok, and all the Levites with him,' in attendance upon David in his flight, bearing out of Jerusalem the Ark of the covenant, and of Abiathar 'goingup' with David also, 29.xv.24, and of Z adok and Abiathar being sent back with the Ark to stay in the city, and do their best to keep it for David, v.29, we have evidence certainly that there were Levites attached at that time to the Sanctuary, with two Priests at their head; but we have no ground to infer that the former were a numerous and influential body, or the latter were invested with anything like the power and dignity which are ascribed to them in the Pentateuch. In Josiah's time, when, no doubt, the Priests had considerable influence, there was one chief Priest,' some • Priests of the second order,' and others, keepers of the door,'2K.xxiii.4, who are expressly called • Priests' in 2K.xii.9. In Zedekiah’s days, there were only five Priests altogether ministering in the Temple, 2K.xxv. 18, “a chief' and a “second' Priest, and three doorkeepers.' It is probable that in David's time, in the Tabernacle, and still more in Solomon's time in the Temple, there was a larger number of Levites in attendance upon the two chief Priests. Yet, until David set up the Tabernacle on Mount Zion, in con