And for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem - Who were they that returned to Jerusalem? Some suppose that it means Jehoshaphat and his courtiers, who returned to Jerusalem after the expedition mentioned 2 Chronicles 19:4; : but if this were so, or if the text spoke of any person returning to Jerusalem, would not לירושלם lirushalem, To Jerusalem, and not the simple word ירושלם Yerushalem, without the preposition, be used?
Learned men have supposed, with great plausibility, that the word וישבו vaiyashubu, "and they returned," should be written יושבי yoshebey, "the inhabitants," and that the words should be read, And for the controversies of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. That this was the original reading is very probable from its vestiges in the Vulgate, habitatoribus ejus, "its Inhabitants;" and in the Septuagint it is found totidem verbis, Και κρινειν τους κατοικουντας εν Ἱερουσαλημ, And to judge the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
There is a clause in 2 Chronicles 34:9; where we have a similar mistake in our version: And they returned to Jerusalem, ירושלם וישבו where the false keri, or marginal note, directs it, in opposition to common sense and All the versions, to be read וישובו and they returned, which our translation has unhappily followed.
The “fathers of Israel” are the heads of families; the chief of the fathers” are the great patriarchal chiefs, the admitted heads of great houses or clans. They were now admitted to share in the judicial office which seems in David‘s time to have been confined to the Levites 1 Chronicles 23:4.
For the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies - By the former are meant disputed cases concerning the performance of religious obligations. In “controversies” are included all the ordinary causes, whether criminal or civil.
When they returned to Jerusalem - Rather, “and they returned to Jerusalem,” a clause which if detached from the previous words and attached to 2 Chronicles 19:9, gives a satisfactory sense.