1 Chronicles 23:27 says:

כִּ֣י בְדִבְרֵ֚י דָוִיד֙ הָאַ֣חֲרוֹנִ֔ים הֵ֖מָּה מִסְפַּ֣ר בְּנֵֽי־לֵוִ֑י מִבֶּ֛ן עֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וּלְמָֽעְלָה:

which roughly translates as:

For in David's final words, the sons of the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and upwards.

The Torah says they were numbered from 30 years up. Why did King David deviate from the Torah? What do Chazal have to say about this?

  • 3
    The Malbim says that after the count of 30 and up, David counted 20 and up שאח"ז צוה דוד לספרם מבן עשרים and, in fact, the Metzudat David says that initially he wanted to follow what the Torah said (30) and then afterwards he also wanted a number of 20 and up. The Radak agrees.
    – rosends
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Levite priests are known to be killed in the war with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:5-11), at the Beth-Shemesh incident (1 Samuel 6:15-20), and especially the Nob massacre by Doeg the Edomite/King Saul (1 Samuel 22:11-19).

So for practical reasons, maybe David had to open up the age requirement so that the positions could be filled and not be lacking.

  • 30+ in the Torah passage refers to the "Tabernacle" work. 20+ in David's time referred to "Temple" work. Tabernacle involved an older work force (30+) while Temple allowed a younger work force (20+). It's two different things. 1 Chronicles 23:26.
    – Taylor
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 19:29

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