1 Chronicles 6


The Priestly Line (6:1-81)

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The significance of Levi is shown both by the amount of space devoted to this tribe and by its central position within this section of the book. Just as Judah (2:3-4:23) heads the genealogies of Israel (because of the leadership provided by the Davidic monarchy), and Benjamin (8:1-40) concludes them (because of its close association with the preexilic kingdom of Judah and the restoration community), Levi is placed in the literary and spiritual center of the Chronicler’s ideal conception of Israel. The Chronicler will show that the Davidic monarchy and the Jerusalem temple (which is served in every respect by the Levites) together constitute the institutional foundations of Israel’s existence, and in fact have a mutually supportive relationship. Primacy among the Levites belongs to the Aaronic high priests (6:1-15), who offered sacrifices of atonement for a guilty nation (v. 49)- one of the principal themes of the book (see 2 Chron 7:12-14; 29:24). Other Levites were charged with the ministry of worship in Gibeon and Jerusalem (1 Chron 6:31-48), another matter to which the Chronicler will frequently draw attention (see 16:7, 37; 23:1-27:34; 2 Chron 29:27-28). At the same time, the Levites, who possessed no tribal territory themselves, are distributed throughout the cities of Israel (1 Chron 6:54-81).”

        • NET Bible points out that there is a numbering discrepancy in this chapter between English and Hebrew versions, “Beginning with 6:1, the verse numbers through 6:81 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 6:1 ET = 5:27 HT, 6:2 ET = 5:28 HT, 6:16 ET = 6:1 HT, etc., through 6:81 ET = 6:66 HT. Beginning with 7:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “This section [speaking of verses 1-48] provides the genealogies of the three most significant groups of the tribe of Levi: the high priests (6:1-15), the three clans of Levites (6:16-30), and the singers (6:31-47). Each genealogy begins with an introduction, followed by a list of names.”

The High Priests from Aaron to Exile

        • On this section, ESV Study Bible notes, “Drawing from Ex 6:16-25 for 1 Chron 6:1-4a, this genealogy focuses on the line of Eleazar descended through Kohath from Levi, as the origin of the high-priestly line down to the exiled Jehozadak. The list of high priests is incomplete, omitting several mentioned in other parts of this book (Jehoiada, 2 Chron 22:11, two other Azariahs, 2 Chron 26:20, 31:10) and elsewhere in the OT (Eli and his descendants, 1 Sam 14:3; Uriah, 2 Kings 16:10). The concluding note on the deportation of Jehozadak is a sober reminder that sin and its consequences touched even the most sacred person among the people (see 2 Chron 36:14). Nevertheless, Jehozadak’s line was preserved into the postexilic period (see Ezra 5:2, where he is called Jozadak), just as David’s line was (1 Chron 3:17-24), as indications of God’s continuing commitment to his people. One of the insistent themes of Chronicles is that God’s grace is not nullified by human disobedience, but that rather God creates fresh opportunities for each generation to trust and obey.”

      • The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes “The three sons of Levi are introduced, but their actual genealogies are postponed to follow the list of high priests.”

      • The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

      • The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.

      • The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible explains, “There were two families from the line of Aaron from whom high priests came. (1) The house of Eli (descended from Ithamar) was disqualified from office by the activities of Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Sam 2:27-36; 1 Kgs 2:27). (2) The Zadokites (descended from Eleazar) are given here. The importance of the preservation of the priestly line for the continued functioning of the temple in the postexilic period need hardly be stated…)

      • Eleazar was Phinehas’ father; Phinehas was Abishua’s father; Abishua was Bukki’s father; Bukki was Uzzi’s father; Uzzi was Zerahiah’s father; Zerahiah was Meraioth’s father; Meraioth was Amariah’s father; Amariah was Ahitub’s father; Ahitub was Zadok’s father; Zadok was Ahimaaz’s father; Ahimmaz was Azariah’s father; Azariah was Johanan’s father; Johanan was Azariah’s father (it was he who served as priest in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem); Azariah was Amariah’s father; Amariah was Ahitub’s father; Ahitub was Zadok’s father; Zadok was Shallum’s father; Shallum was Hilkiah’s father; Hilkiah was Azariah’s father; Azariah was Seraiah’s father; and Seraiah was Jehozadak’s father. Jehozadak went into exile when Yahweh sent the people of Judah and Jerusalem into exile by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.

        • There is some disagreement regarding which man was the priest who served at the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. Was it the first Azariah (in v. 9) or the second Azariah (in v. 10)? Or, was it Johanan of v. 10 or his son Azariah?

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Most OT scholars agree that the phrase the high priest at the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem belongs in 6:9 (connected to the first Azariah) but that the order was transposed through a scribal error. Making this correction yields 12 generations between Aaron and the building of the Temple, which conforms to the date in 1 Kgs 6:1 (480 years is the equivalent of 12 generations of 40 years each in numerical typology). The correction also results in 12 generations between the building of the Temple under Azariah to the rebuilding of the Temple under Jeshua (Ezra 3:2).”

        • Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says, “…It is doubtful whether the person in favor of whom this testimony is borne be Johanan or Azariah. If the former, he is the same as Jehoiada, who rendered important public services (2Ki 11:1-20); if the latter, it refers to the worthy and independent part he acted in resisting the unwarrantable encroachments of Uzziah (2Ch 26:17).”

The Families of the Levites

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The second introduction of the Levites (6:16-19a) introduces the heads of all the Levitical families (6:19b-30). The list contains the genealogies of Gershon (6:20-21), Kohath (6:22-24), and Merari (6:29-30).”

        • On the numbering discrepancy, NET Bible adds, “Chapter 6 of 1 Chr begins here in the Hebrew text; 6:16-81 ET = 6:1-66 HT.”

      • The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.

        • On the discrepancy in the spelling of the name “Gershom,” NET Bible writes, “The name ‘Gershom’ (also in vv. 17, 20, 43, 62, 71) appears as ‘Gershon’ in 1 Chr 6:1.”

      • These are the names of Gershom’s sons: Libni and Shimei.

      • The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

        • The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.

        • These are the Levites’ families according to their fathers:

        • Of Gershom: his son Libni, Libni’s son Jahath, Jahath’s son Zimmah, Zimmah’s son Joah, Joah’s son Iddo, Iddo’s son Zerah, and Zerah’s son Jeatherai.

        • Kohath’s descendants: his son Amminadab, Amminadab’s son Korah, Korah’s son Assir, Assir’s son Elkanah, Elkanah’s son Ebiasaph, Ebiasaph’s son Assir, Assir’s son Tahath, Tahath’s son Uriel, Uriel’s son Uzziah, and Uzziah’s son Shaul.

        • Again we run into difficulties. Amminadab isn’t listed anywhere else as Kohath’s son, and the three names listed in v. 23 are listed elsewhere as brothers rather than a line of father/son.

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “The Kohathite line is a little more difficult to follow. Amminadab may be an alternative name for Izhar (see v. 38) or Amram (v. 18). Verses 22-27 present the vertical line of descent from Korah, also giving seven generations, from Kohath through Assir to Shaul. Combined with this are horizontal lines of the family tree (Elkanah and Ebiasaph, v.23, are Assir’s brothers).”

          • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers offers, “Amminadab is not mentioned as a son of Kohath in the Pentateuch or elsewhere. Korah, here called son of Amminadab, is called son of Izhar, son of Kohath, Exodus 6:21. (See 1Chronicles 6:18, supra, and 1Chronicles 6:38, infra.) Some assume that Amminadab is a ‘by-name’ of Izhar (so Margin). It is more likely that the name Izhar has dropped out of the text of 1Chronicles 6:22. Comp. Exodus 6:24 : ‘And the sons of Korah, Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph, these are the sons of Korah.’ The connection, then, is as follows:—The conjunction and, in 1Chronicles 6:23, seems to hint that the connection is no longer one of direct descent, but that the three, Assir, Elkanah, and Ebiasaph, are to be regarded as brothers. Comp. 1Chronicles 6:37 below, in the line of Heman, which in great part coincides with the present series. There we read, ‘Assir, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah.’ The present Assir is therefore son of Ebiasaph, and nephew of the former Assir (1Chronicles 6:22). The form of a direct descent is now resumed and continued with Tahath, son of Assir (1Chronicles 6:24).”

      • The descendants of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth. His son Elkanah, Elkanah’s son Zophai, Zophai’s son Nahath, Nahath’s son Eliab, Eliab’s on Jeroham, and Jeroham’s son Elkanah.

        • Again, we don’t seem to know exactly how this is supposed to be understood. On the second Elkanah (v. 26), Benson Commentary says, “This was another Elkanah, son or grandson of the former Elkanah, and either the son or brother of Ahimoth, last mentioned, or of Amasai. Nahath his son — Called also Toah, 1 Chronicles 6:34, and Tohu, 1 Samuel 1:1. The Elkanah mentioned in the next verse was the father of the Prophet Samuel, whose name therefore follows.”

        • But, it’s actually more complicated than that because we aren’t sure if Amasai and Ahimoth are supposed to be listed as brothers. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says, “The Hebrew text reads: ‘Elkanah his son—Elkanah—Zophai his son,’ … Zophai might mean the Zophite. The LXX. has (1Chronicles 6:25) ‘And sons of Elkanah, Amessi and Ahimoth;’ (1Chronicles 6:26) ‘Elkanah his son, Souphi his son,’ … So the Syriac. That this is correct appears from comparison of Heman’s pedigree (1Chronicles 6:35). The second Elkanah in 1Chronicles 6:26 is therefore an intrusion, due perhaps to some scribe who remembered 1Samuel 1:1, where Zophim occurs just before Elkanah. In 1Chronicles 6:35 Elkanah is son of Mahath, son of Amasai. Perhaps Mahath is identical with the Ahimoth of 1Chronicles 6:25; if so, the true reading of 1Chronicles 6:25-26 would be: ‘And sons of Elkanah: Amasai his son, Ahimoth (Mahath) his son, Elkanah his son, Zophai his son,’ … Zophai is to Zuph (1Chronicles 6:35) as Chelubai (1Chronicles 2:9) to Chelub (1Chronicles 4:11). Nahath looks like a transformation of Toah (1Chronicles 6:34), and Eliab (1Chronicles 6:27)—’El is father’—may be a by-form of Eliel (ibid.) ‘El is el.’ Jeroham and Elkanah go back to Eliel in 1Chronicles 6:34, just as they spring from Eliab here. The two series again coincide.”

      • The sons of Samuel: Joel, his firstborn, and Abijah, his second born.

        • A couple more difficulties to mention here:

          • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says, “We see from 1Chronicles 6:33-34 that Samuel (Shemuel, name of God) is son of Elkanah, son of Jeroham; hence we might suppose that the clause ‘Samuel his son’ has been accidentally omitted at the end of 1Chronicles 6:27. But it is quite possible that the writer assumed the connection to be too well known to require specification, or that he has here thrown together three independent genealogical fragments. Comp. with 1Chronicles 6:27-28 the pedigree of Elkanah, 1Samuel 1:1 : ‘Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph.’ Here again the names vary, yet not so as to obliterate their identity. Elihu (‘El is He’) = Eliab, Eliel; Tohu, a fuller form of Toah = Nahath.”

          • ESV Study Bible points out, “The genealogy of the prophet Samuel identifies him as a Kohathite. First Samuel 1:1 states that his father Elkanah was from an ‘Ephraimite’ family, but this may indicate the locality in which they lived as part of a Kohathite clan (see Josh 21:20-21) rather than their tribal identity. A clear genealogical link with the Kohathite singer Heman is established in 1 Chron 6:33-38 (basically the same as vv. 22-28, with the names arranged in a single vertical line).”

          • HCSB adds, “The name ‘Joel’ is not present here in the text, but added by the translator. The text reads only, ‘the firstborn, and his second son Abijah.’ We learn that the name of the firstborn is ‘Joel’ from 1 Sm 8:2.”

      • The descendants of Merari: Mahli, Mahli’s son Libni, Libni’s son Shimei, Shimei’s son Uzzah, Uzzah’s son Shimea, Shimea’s son Haggai, Haggai’s son Asaiah.

        • Reflecting on the scattering of the tribes of Simeon and Levi, Guzik remarks, “As previously seen, Simeon and Levi were both cursed to be scattered because of their massacre of the men of Shechem (Genesis 34:24-30, 49:5-7). God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi and scatter them among Israel. Yet the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as curse.”

The Temple Musicians

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Genealogical details are provided of the Levites whom David put in charge of the service of song (v. 31) before the ark in Jerusalem and the tabernacle in Gibeon (explained in detail in 16:4-6, 41-42). Their leaders were appointed from each of the Levitical clans: Heman, from the Kohathites (6:33-38); Asaph, from the Gershomites (vv. 39-43); and Ethan, from the Merarites (vv. 44-47). Each line is traced back vertically to Levi.”

      • These are the men David put in charge of the music in Yahweh’s house after the ark was placed there. Before Solomon built the house of Yahweh in Jerusalem, they ministered with song in front of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting. They performed their duties according to the regulations given to them.

        • Guzik says, “The dramatic entry of the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem is described in both 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15-16. The fact that David appointed these men over the service of song shows that the musical worship of God is important, it is worthy of attention, and should be organized. In fact, it is specifically said they served in their office according to their order…Their ministry was music. It was sacred service before the LORD, worthy of their dedication and hard work.”

      • These are the men who served, along with their sons:

        • From the Kohathites: Heman the muscian. Heman was Joel’s son, Joel was Samuel’s son, Samuel was Elkanah’s son, Elkanah was Jeroham’s son, Jeroham was Eliel’s son, Eliel was Toah’s son, Toah was Zuph’s son, Zuph was Elkanah’s son, Elkanah was Mahath’s son, Mahath was Amasai’s son, Amasai was Elkanah’s son, Elkanah was Joel’s son, Joel was Azariah’s son, Azariah was Zephaniah’s son, Zephaniah was Tahath’s son, Tahath was Assir’s son, Assir was Ebiasaph’s son, Ebiasaph was Korah’s son, Korah was Izhar’s son, Izhar was Kohath’s son, Kohath was Levi’s son, Levi was Israel’s son.

          • Guzik notes, “This man is mentioned several times in connection with temple worship in the days of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 15:17-19, 16:41-42, 25:1-7, 2 Chronicles 5:12-13). He was an important part of the ceremonies connected with bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and the dedication of the temple…Psalm 88 is attributed to Heman…”

        • Heman’s relative was Asaph, who stood at his right hand: Asaph was Berekiah’s son, Berekiah was Shimea’s son, Shimea was Michael’s son, Michael was Baaseiah’s son, Baaseiah was Malkijah’s son, Malkijah was Ethni’s son, Ethni was Zerah’s son, Zerah was Adaiah’s son, Adaiah was Ethan’s son, Ethan was Zimmah’s son, Zimmah was Shimei’s son, Shimei was Jahath’s son, Jahath was Gershom’s son, and Gershom was Levi’s son.

          • Guzik writes, “This is the first mention of Asaph in the Bible; the Asaph listed in 2 Kings 18:18 and 18:37 is a different man. Asaph was a man of wide and long-lasting influence among God’s people. 1 Chronicles 15:17-19 mentions Asaph as a fellow singer with Heman and Ethan. 1 Chronicles 16:5 describes Asaph as the chief at the ceremony bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem…2 Chronicles 20:14 and 29:13 indicate that the influence of Asaph lasted far beyond his death, in that future worship leaders and musicians were known as the sons of Asaph, even to the days of Ezra (Ezra 2:41, 3:10; Nehemiah 7:44, 11:17 and 22). 12 Psalms are attributed to Asaph (Psalm 50 and Psalms 73 through 83).”

        • On the left hand were their relatives, Merari’s descendants: Ethan was Kishi’s son, Kishi was Abdi’s son, Abdi was Malluk’s son, Malluk was Hashabiah’s son, Hashabiah was Amaziah’s son, Amaziah was Hilkiah’s son, Hilkiah was Amzi’s son, Amzi was Bani’s son, Bani was Shemer’s son, Shemer was Mahli’s son, Mahli was Mushi’s son, Mushi was Merari’s son, and Merari was Levi’s son.

      • The rest of their fellow Levites were appointed to perform all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “This explanation of the priests’ prerogatives introduces the list that follows.”

The Descendants of Aaron

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The work of the Aaronic priests in making atonement for Israel will be a recurrent theme in the narrative as the means for restoring and maintaining Israel’s relationship with God (see 2 Chron 13:10-11; 29:21). Verses 50-53 of 1 Chronicles 6 repeat vv. 4-8 to enclose the Levitical genealogies within the line of Aaronides down to Zadok and Ahimaaz, who were contemporaries of Solomon. Aaron’s first two sons, Nadab and Abihu, who died for their disobedience, are not mentioned here (cf v. 3; 24:1-2; also Ex 6:23; 24:9; Lev 10:1-7; Num 3:2-4; 26:60-61).”

      • But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who did all the work of the most holy place. They presented sacrifices on the altar for burnt offering and on the altar of incense to make atonement for Israel in accordance with all that Moses, the servant of God, had commanded them.

        • Guzik explains, “The priesthood descended from Aaron and Aaron only. He, his sons, and their descendants were the only ones authorized to offer sacrifices on the altar. Only an authorized priest could make atonement. Though Jesus was not descended from Aaron, He was nevertheless an authorized priest according to the order of Melchezidek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).”

      • These were the descendants of Aaron: His son Eleazar, Eleazar’s son Phinehas, Phinehas’ son Abishua, Abishua’s son Bukki, Bukki’s son Uzzi, Uzzi’s son Zerahiah, Zerahiah’s son Meraioth, Meraioth’s son Amariah, Amariah’s son Ahitub, Ahitub’s son Zadok, and Zadok’s son Ahimaaz.

Territory for the Levites

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “The list of priests from Aaron to Ahimaaz provides an introduction to the territorial list (6:54-81). The list runs down to David’s time, when Ahimaaz served (2 Sam 15:36; 17:17-29; 18:19-29).”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Summarized from Joshua 21 with some small omissions and variations of order. As a sign of their central role in the nation’s life and well-being, it was intended that the Levites, with no allocated tribal land of their own, should reside throughout the tribal territory of Israel as spiritual representatives and leaders of the people.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “The holdings of the priests, the descendants of Aaron, are all within the territories of Judah and Benjamin. The towns allotted to the rest of the Levite families were in what later became the northern kingdom of Israel on both sides of the Jordan.”

      • These were the locations of the settlements of Aaron’s descendants allotted as their territory:

      • The following belonged to the Kohathite family because they received the first lot was for them:

        • They were given Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasturelands. But the fields and villages around the city were given to Jephunneh’s son Caleb.

        • Aaron’s descendants were given Hebron, which was a city of refuge, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Hilen, Debir, Ashan, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands. Within the territory of the tribe of Benjamin they were given Gibeon, Geba, Alemeth, and Anathoth, together with their pasturelands. Their families were allotted 13 cities in all. The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted 10 cities in the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh.

      • The families of Gershom’s descendants were allotted 13 cities within the territory of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and from the part of the tribe of Manasseh that is in Bashan.

      • The families of Merari’s descendants were allotted 12 cities within the territories of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.

        • So the Israelites gave these cities and their pasturelands to the Levites. These cities in the territories of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, mentioned by name, were assigned to them by lot.

        • Some of the families of Kohath’s descendants were given cities within the territory of the tribe of Ephraim: In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem, which was a city of refuge, Gezer, Jokmeam, Beth Horon, Aijalon, and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands.

      • Within the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh, the Israelites gave the rest of Kohath’s descendants Aner and Bileam, together with their pasturelands.

        • The following belonged to Gershom’s descendants:

        • Within the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan, and Ashtaroth, together with their pasturelands.

        • Within the territory of the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh, Daberath, Ramoth, and Anem, together with their pasturelands.

          • Within the territory of the tribe of Asher: Mashal, Abdon, Hukok, and Rehob, together with their pasturelands.

          • Within the territory of the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee, Hammon, and Kiriathaim, together with their pasturelands.

        • The following belonged to the rest of Merari’s descendants:

          • Within the territory of the tribe of Zebulun: Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmono, and Tabor, together with their pasturelands.

          • Within the territory of the tribe of Reuben across the Jordan River, east of Jericho: Bezer in the wilderness, Jahzah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands.

          • Within the territory of the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer, together with their pasturelands.

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