The plunder of the city of Tyre (Ezek 26:12-26:14)

“They will plunder

Your riches.

They will loot

Your merchandise.

They will break down

Your walls.

They will destroy

Your fine houses.

They will cast

Into the water

Your stones,

Your timber,

Your soil.

I will silence

The music

Of your songs.

The sound

Of your lyres

Will be heard

No more.

I will make you

A bare rock.

You shall be a place

For spreading nets.

You shall never

Be rebuilt.

I!

Yahweh!

Have spoken!’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to have the Babylonians plunder their riches and loot the merchandise of the city of Tyre. These Babylonian invaders were going to break down their walls and destroy the fine houses of Tyre. These invaders were going to throw the local stones, timber, and soil of Tyre into the water. There would be no more music or songs. Yahweh would silence the sounds of the lyres or harps. Tyre would become a bare rock or a place for spreading fishing nets. It would never be rebuilt again. Yahweh, God, had spoken.  Actually, the siege of Tyre lasted 12 years and then they settled things. Alexander the Great in 332 BCE also captured Tyre. This ancient Phoenician island city still exists in southern Lebanon today with about 100,000 people.

Dedication of the wall (Neh 12:27-12:30)

“Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with rejoicing, thanksgivings, and singing, along with cymbals, harps, and lyres. The companions of the singers gathered together from the circuit round Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites. They also came from Beth-Gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth. The singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites purified themselves. They purified the people, the gates, and the wall.”

This probably should have come after chapter 6 in this book, when the wall was completed. In some ways it is reminiscent of the dedication of the Temple that was in Ezra, chapter 6. They wanted all the Levites from every town to come to the celebration with their various musical instruments, cymbals, harp, and lyres. They were to rejoice and given thanksgiving. The singers had made villages around Jerusalem. The priests and Levites purified themselves, the people, the gates, and the wall.

 

The celebration at the Temple (2 Chr 29:25-29:30)

“King Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh. They had cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of King David, Gad the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. This commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David. The priests had the trumpets. Then King Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to Yahweh began also with the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped. The singers sang. The trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped. King Hezekiah and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to Yahweh with the words of King David and of the seer Asaph. They sang praises with gladness. They bowed down and worshiped.”

During the burning or the cooking of the animal sacrifices, the musical part of the celebration at the Temple began. Here the musicians play a major role, unlike the Spartan sacrifices and feasts that followed the Mosaic Law. However, the justification of the musicians was from the prophets of Yahweh, particularly at the time of King David, Gad and Nathan. The king commanded this organized musical praise of Yahweh with a slight theatrical flair. Throughout the burnt offering, the trumpets blasted, the instruments sounded, the singers sung. All this happened during the burning or cooking of the animals until they were done. When they finished, King Hezekiah and his officials bowed down and worshipped. They then asked the singers to sing the songs of King David and Asaph, which is probably a reference to the psalms.

The booty and spoils of the battles (2 Chr 20:24-20:30)

“When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude. There were corpses lying on the ground. No one had escaped. When King Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the booty from them, they found livestock in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They spent three days taking the booty, because of its abundance. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed Yahweh. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, with King Jehoshaphat at their head, returned to Jerusalem with joy. Yahweh had enabled them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem, with harps, lyres, and trumpets, to the house of Yahweh. The fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that Yahweh had fought against the enemies of Israel. The realm of King Jehoshaphat was quiet. God gave him rest all around.”

When Judah and its king arrived at the spot where they would do battle with their enemies, they were surprised to see that they were all dead, with bodies all over the place. No one was alive. This was a strange massacre since everyone killed everyone else with no survivors. Thus King Jehoshaphat and his people gathered up all the booty for 3 days. There were livestock, goods, and clothing. After 3 days they could not take any more. On the 4th day they praised Yahweh in the Valley of Beracah. Some have speculated that this was on the road from Hebron to Jerusalem near Tekoa. Therefore they did not have to go far to return home with all their goodies. Moab and Ammon were defeated. When all the other countries heard that Yahweh had defeated the enemies of Judah, they too were in fear of Judah. Thus there was rest all around King Jehoshaphat. So ends the King Jehoshaphat story of this biblical writer.

 

King Solomon and precious algum wood (2 Chr 9:10-9:11)

“Moreover the servants of King Huram and the servants of King Solomon, who brought gold from Ophir, brought algum wood and precious stones. From the algum wood, the king made steps for the house of Yahweh. For the king’s house, he made lyres and harps for the singers. There never was seen the like of them before in the land of Judah.”

Once again, based on 1 Kings, chapter 10, King Solomon, who was an expert in wood, with his cedar and cypress wood planks, also had some almug wood, some kind of hard wood, which came from near the gold mines of Ophir. It is sometimes referred to as sandalwood. He also had some precious stones from his mines. Here he used this almug wood as steps for the Temple, and not as supports in the Temple as in 1 Kings. He also made lyres and harps from this wood. No one has ever seen any wood like this before. There is no mention of the present day as in 1 Kings.

The sons of Heman (1 Chr 25:4-25:6)

“The sons of Heman were Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him. God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. They were all under the direction of their father for the music in the house of Yahweh. They played cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God.”

Heman had 14 sons and 3 daughters. Apparently, they all performed music in the house of Yahweh, the Temple, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. Heman was also called a seer or prophet to the king. Of Heman’s 14 listed sons, 8 of them are names that only are mentioned here and in the giving of the lots, but nowhere else in the biblical literature, (1) Bukkiah, (8) Eliathah, (9) Giddalti, (10) Romamti-ezer, (11) Joshbekashah, (12) Mallothi, (13) Hothir, and (14) Mahazioth. There were 9 different people with the name of (2) Mattaniah, but this Mattaniah will be in charge of the 9th group of singers. There were 8 different people with this name of (3) Uzziel. There was only 1 other (4) Shebuel. There were 7 different people with the name of (5) Jerimoth. There were 13 different people with the name of (6) Hananiah. There were 5 different people with the name of (7) Hanani.

The three cantors (1 Chr 25:1-25:1)

“King David and the officers of the army also set apart certain of the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun for the worship service. They should prophesy with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals.”

As mentioned earlier in chapter 6 of this book, King David was associated with songs, music, and psalms. Thus it does not seem strange that he should appoint Levites to sing songs in the house of Yahweh. The problem is that the house of Yahweh was only established under Solomon. Therefore, this section talks about songs around the tabernacle in the tent of meeting. However, once the temple was complete, they performed there. The 3 people in charge were Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. Earlier in chapter 6 it was Ethan rather than Jeduthun who was in charge. The other 2 people are the same as the 2 mentioned in chapter 6.

The music service of the Levites before the ark (1 Chr 16:4-16:6)

“King David appointed certain of Levites as ministers before the ark of Yahweh. They invoked, thanked, and praised Yahweh, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief. Second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel with harps and lyres. Asaph was to sound the cymbals. The priest Benaiah and Jahaziel were to blow trumpets regularly, before the Ark of the Covenant of God.”

Certain Levites were appointed by King David to invoke, thank, and praise Yahweh in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Based on the preceding chapter, certain Levites played different musical instruments. Here Asaph and not Heman was the leader. He sounded the cymbal. The 2nd order of Levites was led by Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom and Jeiel who played the harps and lyres. Most of them were the harp players except for the last 2 who played the lyre. Benaiah and Jahaziel, who were only mentioned here, and not in the previous chapter like the others, played the trumpet regularly in front of the Ark of the Covenant.

The musicians prepare to transport the ark (1 Chr 15:16-15:24)

“King David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their kindred as the singers to play on musical instruments, on harps, lyres, and cymbals, to raise loud sounds of joy. So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel with his kindred Asaph son of Berechiah. Of the sons of Merari and their kindred, was Ethan son of Kushaiah. With them were their kindred of the second order Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals. Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth. But Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it. Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, should blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah also were to be gatekeepers for the ark.”

Ever the musician King David, in fact, wanted some kind of band or orchestra to accompany the ark on its travels. He wanted the Levites to be in charge of music, to play the harp, the lyre, and the cymbals.  The Kohathite Levite Heman, son of Joel and the grandson of the prophet Samuel, was appointed by King David as one of the leaders of the temple-singing earlier in chapter 6 of this book. Although Asaph the son of Berechiah is called Heman’s kindred he is actually a Gershonite Levite, not a Kohathite Levite, as in chapter 6 of this book. The 3rd leader was the Merarite Ethan, so that all three main braches of the Levites were included. There was a 2nd order of 11 singers or musicians. The 3 leaders were to play the cymbals. 8 people were to play the harps according to Alamoth, which means some kind of high pitch like a female voice. 6 people were to play the lyres according to Sheminith, which is a lower pitch or the lowest pitch of a male voice. Chenaniah was in charge of the music because he seemed to understand it better than anyone else. There were 7 horn blowers. This seems like it was very organized here, while in 2 Samuel, chapter 6, it seemed more haphazard. It looks like here there are about 24 people playing 4 different instruments, cymbals (3), harps (8), lyres (6), and trumpets (7). Obed-edom keeps showing up as a gate keeper, but actually the ark was at his house, since there is no indication that they are different people.