Review of De Vries, Simon J. “Moses and David as Cult Founders in Chronicles.”

De Vries, Simon J.  “Moses and David as Cult Founders in Chronicles.”  Journal of Biblical Literature 107 (December 1988): 619-39. [Israel/Tabernacle/Solomon]

At the outset De Vries notes that two great corpuses of literature came out of post-exilic Judaism–the Pentateuch and Chronicles.  The former portrays Moses as the great founder of the Temple “cult” and its legislation.  Whereas Chronicles gives little attention to Moses but strongly portrays David as founder of the temple and its ritual alongside of Moses.  The purpose of this study is to determine why Chronicles places this emphasis on David.

Perceptively De Vries discerns two different approaches in the use of the authority of Moses and David in Chronicles–indeed throughout the Pentateuch and the Histories.  The first he calls the Authorization Formula, in which the authority of Moses is invoked for the formulation of the temple ritual and laws, matters considered essential.  The second is the Regulation Formula which looks to the authority of David and Davidic kings in regulating specific matters of ritual and clerical assignment in the temple.  To aid the reader in determining the validity of his theory, De Vries produces lists of passages in which each of these “formulas” may be found, and discusses specific ones at length.  In specific instances both formulas are combined together.  Each formula is characterized by its own language to invoke the authority of either Moses or David.

De Vries also shows the extensive involvement David had in relationship to the temple, all of which highlight his authority.  He caused the ark of the covenant to be brought to his tent shrine.  He charges the Levites with the responsibility of carrying it.  He appoints singers and gatekeepers to do service at the sanctuary.  He employs his wealth to provide materials for the temple and prepares workmen to build it.  He then enjoins Solomon for the eventual task of building a temple to take the place of the tent-shrine.  He purchased  the new shrine site and dedicated the altar for the future Temple.  He organized the personnel for eventual duty at the temple.  Finally, he oversaw the installation of Solomon, and at that event as recorded in 1 Chron. 28:1-8, David’s emphasis is upon Solomon’s role as temple builder more than as king.

According to De Vries, the priorities in Chronicles are David, the Temple, festivals, the Levites and the priesthood.  The chronicler stresses the authority of David as a founder of the temple cult, because that is precisely the authority which needs bolstering.  The Deuteronomists have succeeded in setting up Moses as the archetype Prophet and law-giver and his authority is not questioned, but now the authority of the Davidic monarchy is highlighted and one way this is achieved is in reference to David’s authority in relationship to the Temple.

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