Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
I CHRONICLES CHAPTER 29
In the previous chapter (I Chron. 28) we learned about the great assembly of all the leaders of the people whom David called to Jerusalem in order to hand over the kingship to Solomon and to deliver his last will and testament - that all the people and Solomon in particular must follow the commandments of the Torah, and that they must build the Temple according to the plan received by David from the prophet Samuel.
In our present chapter David now turns to the assembly with an eloquent appeal to contribute to the Temple building project. David's call to Israel to donate to the building of the Temple bears comparison with Moses' call to the people in the generation of the wilderness to contribute to the building of the Sanctuary (Exodus 35:4ff).
Vv 1-3: David emphasizes the youth and softness of Solomon, his divinely-chosen successor, and the magnitude of the task lying ahead of him - to build a "house" not for a man of flesh and blood but for the great and awesome One whom even the heavens and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain (Rashi on v 1). Before turning to the people to make their contributions, David - who knew that the best way to teach and inspire is through example - recounts how he had put all his strength into preparing the materials for the Temple . Before the entire assembly David now announces that he still has a special treasury of gold and silver which a lesser king might have kept for his successors, but which David dedicates to the Temple project (vv 3-5). Having led the way with his own exceptional display of generosity, David now asks the assembled leaders of the people to take up the challenge: "And who [among you] is going to volunteer to dedicate himself to HaShem?"
Vv 6-9: The dedications by the heads of the various families in each tribe and by the captains of the people and the king's officers.
V 9: "Then the people rejoiced. because with a perfect heart they offered willingly to HaShem" - "They gave with one heart with the desire of their souls and not with two hearts. For sometimes a person gives because he is constrained to do so, not because he really wants to - he may be ashamed of what others might think if he doesn't. This is called 'with two hearts', but in their case, they gave with the will of their very souls" (Rashi ad loc.)
"AND DAVID BLESSED HASHEM." (v 10)
When David saw the people's great joy in donating to the Temple, he was overjoyed, because all the souls of Israel were unified in this greatest of all projects - to make a House for His Indwelling Presence in Jerusalem, the eternal city. David's beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for God's blessings of wealth and abundance (vv 10-13) is incorporated into the daily morning Shacharis service at the climax of P'SUKEY DEZIMRA (the "verses of song" which precede Shema and its blessings) after the conclusion of the Halleluiahs (Psalms 145-150), before the Song of the Sea (Ex. 14:30-15:19).
V 10: "Blessed are You HaShem the God of Israel our father" - "The reason why he mentions Israel (=Jacob) rather than Abraham and Isaac is because Jacob also vowed to make dedications, as it says: 'And Jacob vowed a vow' (Genesis 28:20)" (Rashi ad loc.).
V 11: "Yours HaShem is the greatness (=Chessed) and the might (=Gevurah) and the glory (=Tiferes) and the victory (Netzach) and the majesty (Hod) for all-that-is-in-the-Heaven (=Yesod) and on the earth (=Malchus) is Yours." This verse unites all of the seven lower Sefiros, affirming that all the plurality of creation is under the rule and control of the One God. David thus used this occasion on which all the leaders of Israel dedicated many different kinds of wealth to the Temple to teach about the underlying unity of God.
Vv 14f: "But who am I and who are my people that we should be able thus to offer willingly.?" Lest the generous donations to the building of the glorious Temple become the cause of a swell of national self-satisfaction and arrogance, David reminds the people that everything belongs to God and we only give Him what is His - for we are nothing but temporary residents on His earth. "Rabbi Elazar a man from Bartotha says, Give Him from what is His, for you and what is yours belong to Him, and so David says, 'For everything is from You and from Your hand they have given to You'" (Pirkey Avos 3:7). "Our days are as a shadow over the earth" (our chapter v 15) - "And not like the shadow of a tree or even the shadow of a bird as it flies over. but like the shadow of the wings of the bumblebee, which has wings yet does not cast a shadow [because of the great speed at which they move]" (Midrash Koheles 1:2, see Rashi on v 15).
V 18: "O HaShem God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Your people and direct their hearts to You." This verse containing David's prayer that the generosity exhibited at the time of the dedication to the Temple should be eternally planted in the hearts of Israel is also included in the daily prayer services as part of the section U-VA LETZION GO'EL ("And a redeemer shall come to Zion") recited after ASHREY following the daily morning AMIDAH and TACHANUN prayers and also prior to the afternoon AMIDAH prayer on Sabbaths and festivals and at the conclusion of the Sabbath.
Vv 20ff: David now leads the assembly in prayer, followed the next day by sacrifices of burnt offerings and peace offerings. But on the day of the assembly itself the people did not have time to sacrifice because they had to go in search of animals to buy for their offerings - Rashi on v 21.
V 22: "And they appointed Solomon the son of David king a second time." Solomon had already been publicly anointed as king in succession to David after the thwarting of the conspiracy of Adoniyahu (I Kings 1:39). Now he was reconfirmed as the new king with the mission of building the Temple . Tzaddok was concurrently anointed as High Priest because Eviathar, who had served previously, had rebelled by anointing Adoniahu (I Kings 1:7; Rashi on our verse).
V 23: "And Solomon sat on the throne of HaShem as king." - "Here it is appropriate to say that he reigned on the throne of HaShem, because the throne is HaShem's to appoint whoever He wants as king upon it. The Midrash explains that his throne was full just like the moon on the fifteenth of the month. For from Abraham to Solomon there were fifteen generations: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob , Judah , Peretz, Hetzron, Ram, Aminadav, Nachshon, Salmah, Bo'az, Oved, Yishai, David, Shlomo. And from Solomon onwards the kings became successively diminished in their greatness, like the moon that steadily wanes, until Tzedekiah, whose eyes were finally blinded" (Rashi ad loc.).
"And ALL Israel listened to him [Solomon]" - "Which had not been so in the case of Saul - see I Samuel 10:27 - and David too initially ruled only in Hebron for seven years" (Rashi).
V 24: Whereas David's warriors had not given their hand to Adoniahu, the entire people and all the rest of David's sons now gave their hand in support of Solomon.
V 29: "And the acts of David the king, the first and the last, are surely written in the book of Samuel the seer and in the book of Nathan the prophet and in the book of Gad the seer." It is a tribute to the greatness of King David that so many books were written recording the events of his life and times (cf. Rashi ad loc.). Metzudas David (ad loc.) comments that the book of Samuel is that which we have in our hands today, while Nathan and Gad wrote books that we do not have. However this does not answer the question who wrote the sections of the book Samuel that describe the events after the death of Samuel (i.e. from I Samuel ch 25 to the end of II Samuel). It seems plausible that these actually consist of a weave of the writings of Nathan and Gad, both of whom prophesied until the last days of David.
II CHRONICLES CHAPTER 1
It is quite obvious that II Chronicles is a direct continuation from I Chronicles. In the parchment scrolls of the prophets and holy writings (NaCh), the Hebrew DIVREY HAYAMIM is all one book, but in printed Bibles and for reference purposes it is divided into two books for greater convenience, to avoid an unwieldy work of 65 chapters.
Vv 1-6: The first act of Solomon's reign was to assemble all the leaders of the people who had been present at David's final assembly in Jerusalem to Giv'on. It was here that the Sanctuary had been located since Saul's killing of the priests of the town of Nov , to which it had been taken after the destruction of Shilo by the Philistines in the time of Eli the High Priest. After the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant, David eventually brought it up to Jerusalem , but the sacrificial altar still remained in the Sanctuary courtyard in Givon. Solomon's sacrifices in Giv'on were to initiate the Temple building project with which he had been entrusted by his father David.
"With WISDOM (Chochmah) shall the house be built" (Proverbs 24:3). Whereas the Future Temple that we daily await is rooted in the highest Sefirah, KETER, the crown, Solomon's Temple was rooted in the first emanation from KETER, i.e. CHOCHMAH, as explained by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in "Secrets of the Future Temple" . This is why the narrative of the building of Solomon's Temple is preceded by the narrative of his dream at Giv'on, in which he asked for the Wisdom he needed in order to rule the people and accomplish his mission.
"The king needs a wise heart in order to know how to judge the people - and I am but a young, soft lad! Even a thousand wise men would find it hard to judge a great people like this. It is impossible without enormous effort because many people are constantly coming for legal decisions and he does not have the time to examine their cases. One person starts complaining and doesn't stop talking, and then immediately someone else arrives and starts screaming. Who can decide a thousand cases in one day unless he is a wise and understanding man who has the spirit of God in him? This is what I ask - that you should give me the wisdom and understanding to judge this great people, for this is what I need You to give me" (Rashi on v 10).
God gave Solomon what he requested ".because a person does not ask for such a thing except one who has fear of Heaven in his heart" (Rashi on v 11). Not only did He give him the wisdom he asked for, but also the wealth and glory that he did not request. "Because upon the wisdom that I am giving you depend also wealth and glory and length of days, as it is written, 'Length of days are in her right hand, and in her left wealth and honor' (Proverbs 3:16)" (Rashi on v 12).
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved