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In the account of David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem, Chronicles states on that day David appointed Asaph to sing praises:

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers. (1 Chronicles 16:7) [ESV]

What follows in Chronicles is a song, which, according to the JPS translators was taken from portions of Psalms 96, 105, and 106:1

1 Chronicles    Psalms
16:8-22         105:1-15
16:23-33        96:1-13
16:35-36        106:47-48

About this composition David Rothstein comments:

The exact relation between Chronicles and these psalms has been debated, though it is most likely that Chronicles had the book of Psalms more or less in the form we have it, and here copied out sections of psalms that were relevant to this occasion, and were popular among the Jews of his time.2

Psalm 105, which begins the passage in Chronicles, is seen as having a post-exilic audience:

Ps. 105: Like 78, 106, 135, and 136, this psalm invokes selected authoritative Torah traditions along with exegetical comments on them in praise of God. The main theme is God's covenant with Abraham to give him the promised land. This covenant, a popular them in postexilic times (eg. Isa. 41.8, 51.2, 63.16; Neh. 9.7), was eternal and unconditional, and therefore still in effect despite the exile and the fact that Jews both in and outside the land of Israel lived under Persian rule. It provides encouragement and assurance to the postexilic audience (most likely those who had returned to the land of Israel) that they are entitled to the land of Israel by divine right. Vv. 1-15 are quoted in 1 Chron 16:8-22.3

The covenant with Abraham is included in Chronicles:

8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” (Psalm 105)

15 Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations 16 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 17 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 18 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.” (1 Chronicles 16)

But before restating the covenant nearly verbatim, the Chronicler makes a change:

O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (1 Chronicles 16:13)

O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (Psalm 105:6)

What does the Chronicler accomplish by saying "offspring of Israel" instead of "offspring of Abraham" which is found in the Psalm and implied in a message to a post-exilic audience assuring them of the covenant with Abraham?


1. Tanakh - The Holy Scriptures, The Jewish Publication Society, 1985, notes on pp.1553-1555
2. David Rothstein, The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 1745
3. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 1399

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  • The question assumes the Chronicler took from the Psalms. Yet usage of the 2nd person in the Chronicles passage, and 3rd person in the Psalmic passage may suggest that the version in Chronicles is the original, and the one in Psalms, a later redaction. The context after all was David addressing the congregation. Also, the likelihood that the Chronicler, a chronic summarizer, would have changed an original 3rd person to 2nd person seems quite low, in my opinion.
    – user21676
    Oct 20, 2018 at 8:12
  • @user21676 You bring up an interesting point. The MT has no subscription to Ps 96, 105, or 106, but the LXX indicates 96(95) was when the house was rebuilt after the captivity. This lends some support to your statement. The position I have taken, Psalms before Chronicles is accepted by scholars. In addition, there is the section which follows which speaks directly to the covenant with Abraham. So the same tension with Psalm 105 is within Chronicles. Oct 29, 2018 at 18:03

2 Answers 2

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Perhaps it is worth pointing out that "offspring of Israel" is a narrower definition than "offspring of Abraham".

"Israel" is Jacob (Genesis ch32 v26), frequently identified in the Old Testament as the immediate ancestor of the nation.

Whereas Abraham had many children who were not Israelites (Genesis ch25 v1). Even the Ishmaelites were children of Abraham (Genesis ch16).

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  • The scripture itself narrows that line by saying sons of Jacob after both.
    – Gina
    Feb 19, 2023 at 16:55
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The poetic parallelism of the scriptures defines the first part in each of the verses. Because of the internal definitions, there is not a discrepancy. Each part b and c defines part a.

"O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones." (1 Chron. 16:13, KJV)

The parallel parts are a) seed of Israel set to equal b) children of Jacob, and are therefore equal to part c) his chosen ones. It is more clear that they are defining His chosen ones in the YLT.

"O seed of Israel, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!"

So, to say it as in the Psalm you have the same result.

"O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones." (YLT)

Same parallel definitions: Seed of Abraham = sons of Jacob = His chosen ones.

There is no difference in saying it either way as the definitions are set out in the rest of the verse.

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