Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
I CHRONICLES CHAPTER 17
Verse 1: "And David said to Nathan the prophet, Here I sit in a house of cedars but the Ark of the Covenant of HaShem is under curtains!" As a true lover of HaShem, David was distressed when he compared the opulence of his own royal residence with the makeshift, temporary nature of the tent which he had erected to house the Ark in Jerusalem . David knew that man's task is to give all the glory to God, not to take it for himself.
One of the most important keys to understanding the messianic quality of David's kingship is to note that the initiative to build the Temple was essentially his own: he was not directly commanded to build it. This is brought out in Rashi's comment on verse 6 of our present chapter on God's words to David: "Did I speak a word to any of the judges of Israel .?" Rashi paraphrases: "This I never did, and nor did the thought of building Me a House occur to any one of them in the way that this thought has arisen in your mind."
It was not just now that the thought entered David's mind. When he first fled from King Saul and went to take counsel with his mentor the prophet Samuel, "they sat BE-NOYOS" (I Samuel 19:18). Taken literally this appears to refer to the location where they sat, but our sages taught that they were actually sitting engaged in the BEAUTY (NOY) of the world - i.e. investigating the proper place to build (BANAH) the Temple (Zevachim 54b; see KNOW YOUR BIBLE commentary on I Samuel ch 19).
What gave David to understand that the time had now come to carry out his long-cherished plan was the fact that now "HaShem had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (II Samuel 7:1). As Rashi explains on verse 1 of our present text, David reasoned: "God has fulfilled what He promised in the Torah, 'and He will give you rest from all your enemies around' (Deut. 12:10). Now the obligation rests on me to carry out what is written immediately afterwards, 'And it shall be that the PLACE where HaShem your God will choose to cause His Name to dwell, there shall you bring all [the sacrifices] that I am commanding you' (ibid. v 11). That is to say, I shall make Him a Sanctuary" (Rashi on I Chron. 17:1).
Despite David's longing to build the Temple , he was not destined to do so because he was a man of war, whereas the Temple was to rise out of perfect peace and tranquility "for if you raise your sword upon it you will profane it" (Exodus 20:22). The actual Temple would only be built by Solomon, SHLOMO, the man of peace. God quickly sent Nathan prophecy that very night to stop David from carrying out his plan. In the words of Rashi, "This man that I am sending you to is wont to take vows - go and stop him before he swears to build it. The man I am sending you to is quick and energetic - go and tell him before he hires builders" (Rashi on v 3).
V 9: "And I will ordain a PLACE for my people Israel .. And they shall be moved no more, nor shall the children of wickedness waste them any more." From this verse the sages learned that "The enemies of everyone who has a fixed place to pray will fall before him" (Berachos 7b).
"And HaShem tells you that He will make for you a house" (v 10) - "You [David] thought that you would build a House to My Name. According to that exact same measure shall be your reward. The Holy One blessed be He is announcing to you that He will make You a house. HaShem will give you a son who will rule after you and sit upon the throne of Israel in your place. Everything that endures in a man's son after him is called a HOUSE, and thus He says, 'And I shall establish your seed after you' (v 11)" (Rashi on verse 10).
V 13: "I shall be to him as a father and he will be to Me as a son." The parallel account in II Samuel 7:14 warns that if Solomon would sin, God would chastise him, but this is left out of the account here in DIVREY HAYOMIM as this work omits anything that would detract from the honor of the House of David (Rashi on our present chapter v 13).
V 16: "And King David came and SAT before HaShem." David came to pray before the Ark of the Covenant. From the fact that he SAT, we learn that only the kings of the House of David are permitted to sit in the Temple Courtyard (AZARAH) and no-one else (Yoma 69b). All acts of service in the Temple (sacrifices, singing etc.) are carried out standing.
The eloquence of David's humble prayer of gratitude to God for promising him an eternal house vv 16-27 is unsurpassed. In the words of Rashi (on v 25): "If You Yourself had not promised me to bring all these benefits on my seed, it would not have occurred to me to request them, for who am I that you have brought me as far as this, to become king, but since you have said that for Your sake you will bring all these benefits to me, I therefore pray to you to fulfill Your words."
"After David said he would build the Temple and God said 'You shall not build it', David said, Since it is not for me to build the Temple but for my son, I shall now prepare and order everything for him so that when my son comes to build the Temple, he will have everything ready for him. The narrative now leaves everything else aside in order to go on to tell how David prepared all the building needs for Solomon through fighting with his enemies and dedicating their booty to the building of the Temple" (Rashi on verse 1).
V 4: ".and David lamed all the chariot horses". David did this because he did not want to infringe the Torah prohibition against the king multiplying horses for himself (Deut. 17:16).
V 13: "And he put garrisons in Edom ." The subjugation of Edom to Israel represents the triumph of the World of TIKKUN (Repair) over the World of TOHU (chaos) because the Seven Kings of Edom (Genesis 36:31-39) are emblematic of the seven lower Sefirot in a state of breakage and destruction. The stationing of Israelite garrisons in Edom indicates the repair of the broken vessels in preparation for the building of the Temple .
V 14: "And David ruled over all Israel and he practiced justice and charity to all his people." This indicates that David now withdrew from active engagement in warfare, devoting himself instead to judging the people fairly and charitably. The text goes on to tell us that Yo'av was commander-in-chief of the army, in order to make it clear that although David himself no longer fought, this does not mean that Israel ceased fighting (Rashi on vv 14 & 15).
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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