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  • The Chronicler’s Portrait of Temple Administration
  • Terry Ann Smith
A review of The Temple Administration and the Levites in Chronicles. By Yeong Seon Kim. CBQMS 51. Pp. viii + 227. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2014. Paper, $16.00.

Chronicles, as a particular depiction of the reigns of the kings of Judah, most notably David and Solomon, consists of lengthy genealogies and theological convictions that seemingly reiterate the history of Israel found in the books of Samuel and Kings. Yet, unlike Samuel and Kings, we find in the Chronicler’s account an emphasis on the temple and the establishment of worship. The Chronicler’s knowledge and use of biblical material provide an excellent, albeit biased, resource for understanding the structure, roles, and workings of these prominent political and religious institutions and the groups that operate within them. Yeong Seon Kim’s The Temple Administration and the Levites in Chronicles examines the intricacies of Chronicles and suggests that the authorial intent of Chronicles is to persuade the writer’s contemporary audience that the Levites, as a group embedded in Israel’s cultic traditions, are the rightful heirs to the temple’s administrative posts and positions. For Kim, the Chronicler establishes the Levites as prominent players in temple management by historically linking the Levites to the organizational, economic, and cultic activities of the temple.

The groundwork for Kim’s analysis is presented in chapter 1. Using selected passages from Chronicles, Kim reviews scholarship germane to a discussion of the historical and ideological particularities of the Levites as an influential presence in the administration of the temple and its economy. In the Chronicler’s reconstruction, the Levitical involvement in temple affairs dates to the reign of King David and the earliest installation of the Aaronide priesthood. Chapter 1 sets the tone for Kim’s investigation into the Chronicler’s “interest” and “vision” for the temple as these pertain to the Levites. In chapter 2, Kim raises a series of interrelated questions designed to investigate the Chronicler’s portrait of temple administration, specifically his depiction of the Levites as temple gatekeepers, treasurers, and tax collectors as recorded in 1 Chr 9:17–32; 26:1–32 and 2 Chr 24:5–11; 34:9–13. Having established the administrative roles of the Levites in chapter 2, she then provides a comparative analysis in chapter 3 of the Chronicler’s description of [End Page 411] administrative practices and policies with similar practices found in other ancient near eastern sources written in the post-exilic period and beyond, particularly those sources that offer information about the temple economy and its staff. In the fourth and final chapter, Kim puts forth a plausible explanation for what may be at stake in the Chronicler’s presentation of the Levites and temple administration. Kim’s observations lead her to conclude that the Chronicler makes intentional departures from biblical, extra-biblical and Second Temple sources, which she suggests provide evidence of the Chronicler’s specific ideological agenda. This agenda, according to Kim, reflects an “idealized” rather than “actual” portrait of temple administration, and thus, functions as the Chronicler’s way of making the administration of the temple “applicable to his time and generation” (p. 192).

Viewing the book of Chronicles as an idealized product of the Persian period, Kim selects the most relevant texts that address the economic and administrative polices of the temple with respect to Levitical involvement. She begins with a general inspection of 1 Chr 5:27–41 and 6, which introduce the genealogies of the priesthood stemming from the tribe of Levi, which, in turn, are grouped into the specific categories of priests, Levites, and singers (p. 8). These categories are nuanced somewhat in 1 Chr 9:17–32 where the Levites are also identified broadly as temple servants and Israelites. Kim submits “the first detailed explication of Levitical administrative functions,” the gatekeepers, is found in 1 Chr 9:18–24 and views this appearance and emphasis on the Levites as the Chronicler’s attempt to connect this group with the temple economy and cultic practices (p. 10). The Chronicler’s interest in the Levites is extended in 1 Chronicles 23–26...


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pp. 411-421
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