Friday, March 17, 2006

David as the New Moses

I have always enjoyed reading Peter Leithart. His book From Silence to Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003) is full of interesting insights. I highly recommend it.

Here is a selection which I especially enjoyed (from pages 25-27):


"David, the New Moses

Consistent with [the Chronicler’s] overall liturgical interest, Chronicles presents David as a new Moses, who, with the great prophet, co-founded the worship of Israel.[1] The simple fact that Chronicles devotes so much space to David’s preparations for the temple is enough to bring out parallels with Moses, since much of the revelation given to Moses concerned the tabernacle, its furnishings and its worship (Exod. 25—31, 35—40; Leviticus; Num. 3—9). Like Moses, David assigned duties to the priests and Levites. Like Moses, David received a ‘pattern’ for the house of Yahweh (Exod. 25:9, 40; 26:30; 1 Chr. 28:19). Like Moses, David ensured that the plundered riches of Yahweh’s enemies were devoted to the service of His house.

The Chronicler also appeals to the commands and ordinances of David as authoritative instruction for Israel’s worship.[2] This is not to say that Chronicles subverts the liturgical authority of Moses, as the repetition of the phrase ‘as Moses commanded’ indicates, the Mosaic ceremonial laws remained authoritative for Israel throughout that period of he monarchy (1 Chr. 6:49; 15:15; 2 Chr. 8:12-13; 23:18; 24:6, 9; 35:6). Alongside these references to Moses, however, the Chronicler also refers with some frequency to the liturgical authority of David. In 2 Chronicles 8:13-14, David’s ‘ordinance’ concerning the ‘divisions of priests for their service, and the Levites for their duties’ is set alongside ‘the commandment of Moses’ concerning the festival calendar of Israel.[3] Similarly, 2 Chronicles 23:18 records that ‘Jehoiada placed the offices of the house of the Lord under the authority of the Levitical priests, whom David had assigned over the house of Yahweh, to offer the ascension of offerings of Yahweh, as it is written in the law of Moses.’

When Josiah celebrated the Passover, he instructed the Levites to ‘prepare yourselves by your fathers’ households in your divisions, according to the writing of David king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon’ (2 Chr. 35:4). The Levitical musicians at Josiah’s Passover ‘were also at their stations according to the command of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer’ (2 Chr. 35:15).

If David was a new Moses, Solomon was a new Joshua, whose temple-building is implicitly compared to the conquest.[4] David’s frequent encouragement to Solomon to ‘be strong and courageous’ (1 Chr. 22:13; 28:10, 20), echoes Moses’ instructions to Joshua, his successor (see Josh. 1:7, 9, 18; Deut 31:6-7).[5] As Joshua was to cling to the word of the Lord delivered through Moses (Josh. 1:7-8), so Solomon was to walk in the way of the Lord’s commandments ‘as your father David walked’ (1 Kgs. 3:14; 9:4).

The notion that David is a new Moses, founding a new ‘cult,’ helps to explain some of the peculiarities of the tabernacle of David. After the exodus, Moses pitched a tent outside the camp (Exod. 33:7-11) and later organized the building of the tabernacle and turned its care over to the priests. Similarly, after David’s exodus from Philistia, he erected a tent on Zion and then organized the building of a temple, which was eventually turned over to the care of priests. And, just as Moses had direct access to Yahweh in the tent of meeting, so David had direct access to Yahweh in the tent on Zion (see chapter 3 below). The parallels between David and Moses are not exact, but in each case, the sanctuary was established in two stages, a sequence repeated in the post-exilic period, for the altar was restored some twenty years before the temple was completed (Ezra 3:1-6; 4:24; 6:13-18). As we shall see, this sequence of sanctuaries came to ultimate fruition in the new covenant.”

[1] See especially De Vries, “Moses and David as Cult Founders.”
[2] Ibid. Also John W. Kleinig, The Lord’s Song: The Basis, Function, and Significance of Choral Music in Chronicles (JSOT Supplement #156; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993), 28-29.
[3] Significantly, David is given the Mosaic title ‘man of God’ in 2 Chronicles 8:14.
[4] See Wright, “The Founding Father,” 57.
[5] The reasons for David’s exhortations are not clear: What threat did Solomon face that demanded courage? In part, this exhortation highlights the fact that the temple was the conclusion and final act of the conquest. But the exhortations are most directly relevant to the original post-exilic readers of Chronicles, for, unlike Solomon, they rebuilt the temple under threat from the surrounding nations.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I really enjoy Leithart's blog, but I haven't read any of his books yet. This sounds like a great one to begin with.