1 Chronicles 6
Though Joseph and Judah shared between them the forfeited honours of
the birthright, yet Levi was first of all the tribes, dignified and
distinguished with an honour more valuable than either the precedency
or the double portion, and that was the priesthood. That tribe God set
apart for himself; it was Moses's tribe, and perhaps for his sake was
thus favoured. Of that tribe we have an account in this chapter.
I. Their pedigree, the first fathers of the tribe
(1 Chronicles 6:1-3),
the line of the priests, from Aaron to the captivity
(1 Chronicles 6:4-15),
and of some other of their families,
1 Chronicles 6:16-30.
II. Their work, the work of the Levites
(1 Chronicles 6:31-48),
of the priests,
1 Chronicles 6:49-53.
III. The cities appointed them in the land of Canaan,
1 Chronicles 6:54-81.
1 The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
2 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.
3 And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The
sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
4 Eleazar begat Phinehas, Phinehas begat Abishua,
5 And Abishua begat Bukki, and Bukki begat Uzzi,
6 And Uzzi begat Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begat Meraioth,
7 Meraioth begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
8 And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Ahimaaz,
9 And Ahimaaz begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Johanan,
10 And Johanan begat Azariah, (he it is that executed the
priest's office in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem:)
11 And Azariah begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
12 And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Shallum,
13 And Shallum begat Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begat Azariah,
14 And Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat Jehozadak,
15 And Jehozadak went into captivity, when the LORD carried
away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
16 The sons of Levi; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.
17 And these be the names of the sons of Gershom; Libni, and
18 And the sons of Kohath were, Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron,
19 The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. And these are the
families of the Levites according to their fathers.
20 Of Gershom; Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son,
21 Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeaterai his son.
22 The sons of Kohath; Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir
23 Elkanah his son, and Ebiasaph his son, and Assir his son,
24 Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his
25 And the sons of Elkanah; Amasai, and Ahimoth.
26 As for Elkanah: the sons of Elkanah; Zophai his son, and
Nahath his son,
27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.
28 And the sons of Samuel; the firstborn Vashni, and Abiah.
29 The sons of Merari; Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son,
Uzza his son,
30 Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.
The priests and Levites were more concerned than any other Israelites
to preserve their pedigree clear and to be able to prove it, because
all the honours and privileges of their office depended upon their
descent. And we read of those who, though perhaps they really were
children of the priests, yet, because they could not find the register
of their genealogies, nor make out their descent by any authentic
record, were, as polluted, put from the priesthood, and
forbidden to eat of the holy things,
It is but very little that is here recorded of the genealogies of this
I. The first fathers of it are here named twice,
1 Chronicles 6:1,16.
Gershom, Kohath, and Merari, are three names which we were very
conversant with in the book of Numbers, when the families of the
Levites were marshalled and had their work assigned to them. Aaron, and
Moses, and Miriam, we have known much more of than their names, and
cannot pass them over here without remembering that this was that Moses
and Aaron whom God honoured in making them instruments of Israel's
deliverance and settlement and figures of him that was to come,
Moses as a prophet and Aaron as a priest. And the mention of Nadab and
Abihu (though, having no children, there was no occasion to bring them
into the genealogy) cannot but remind us of the terrors of that divine
justice which they were made monuments of for offering strange fire,
that we may always fear before him.
2. The line of Eleazar, the successor of Aaron, is here drawn down to
the time of the captivity,
1 Chronicles 6:4-15.
It begins with Eleazar, who came out of the house of bondage in Egypt,
and ends with Jehozadak, who went into the house of bondage in Babylon.
Thus, for their sins, they were left as they were found, which might
also intimate that the Levitical priesthood did not make anything
perfect, but this was to be done by the bringing in of a better
hope. All these here named were not high priests; for, in the time
of the judges, that dignity was, upon some occasion or other, brought
into the family of Ithamar, of which Eli was; but in Zadok it returned
again to the right line. Of Azariah it is here said
(1 Chronicles 6:10),
He it is that executed the priest's office in the temple that
Solomon built. It is supposed that this was that Azariah who
bravely opposed the presumption of king Uzziah when he invaded the
(2 Chronicles 26:17,18),
though he ventured his neck by so doing. This was done like a priest,
like one that was truly zealous for his God. He that thus boldly
maintained and defended the priest's office, and made good its barriers
against such a daring insult, might well be said to execute it;
and this honour is put upon him for it; while Urijah, one of his
successors, for a base compliance with King Ahaz, in building him an
idolatrous altar, has the disgrace put upon him of being left out of
this genealogy, as perhaps some others are. But some think that this
remark upon this Azariah should have been added to his grandfather of
the same name
(1 Chronicles 6:9),
who was the son of Ahimaaz, and that he was the priest who first
officiated in Solomon's temple.
3. Some other of the families of the Levites are here accounted for.
One of the families of Gershom (that of Libni) is here drawn down as
far as Samuel, who had the honour of a prophet added to that of a
Levite. One of the families of Merari (that of Mahli) is likewise drawn
down for several descents,
1 Chronicles 6:29,30.
31 And these are they whom David set over the service of song
in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest.
32 And they ministered before the dwelling place of the
tabernacle of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had
built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem: and then they waited
on their office according to their order.
33 And these are they that waited with their children. Of the
sons of the Kohathites: Heman a singer, the son of Joel, the son
34 The son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel,
the son of Toah,
35 The son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the
son of Amasai,
36 The son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the
son of Zephaniah,
37 The son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph,
the son of Korah,
38 The son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the
son of Israel.
39 And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, even
Asaph the son of Berachiah, the son of Shimea,
40 The son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of
41 The son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah,
42 The son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei,
43 The son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi.
44 And their brethren the sons of Merari stood on the left
hand: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of
45 The son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of
46 The son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shamer,
47 The son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the
son of Levi.
48 Their brethren also the Levites were appointed unto all
manner of service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
49 But Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of the burnt
offering, and on the altar of incense, and were appointed for
all the work of the place most holy, and to make an atonement
for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had
50 And these are the sons of Aaron; Eleazar his son, Phinehas
his son, Abishua his son,
51 Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son,
52 Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son,
53 Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.
When the Levites were first ordained in the wilderness much of the work
then appointed them lay in carrying and taking care of the tabernacle
and the utensils of it, while they were in their march through the
wilderness. In David's time their number was increased; and, though the
greater part of them was dispersed all the nation over, to teach the
people the good knowledge of the Lord, yet those that attended the
house of God were so numerous that there was not constant work for them
all; and therefore David, by special commission and direction from God,
new-modelled the Levites, as we shall find in the latter part of this
book. Here we are told what the work was which he assigned them.
1 Chronicles 6:31.
David was raised up on high to be the sweet psalmist of Israel
(2 Samuel 23:1),
not only to pen psalms, but to appoint the singing of them in the house
of the Lord (not so much because he was musical as because he was
devout), and this he did after that the ark had rest. While that
was in captivity, obscure, and unsettled, the harps were hung upon the
willow-trees: singing was then thought unseasonable (when the
bridegroom is taken away they shall fast); but the harps being resumed,
and the songs revived, at the bringing up of the ark, they were
continued afterwards. For we should rejoice as much in the prolonging
of our spiritual privileges as in the restoring of them. When the
service of the ark was much superseded by its rest they had other work
cut out for them (for Levites should never be idle) and were employed
in the service of song. Thus when the people of God come to the rest
which remains for them above they shall take leave of all their burdens
and be employed in everlasting songs. These singers kept up that
service in the tabernacle till the temple was built, and then they
waited on their office there,
1 Chronicles 6:32.
When they came to that stately magnificent house they kept as close
both to their office and to their order as they had done in the
tabernacle. It is a pity that the preferment of the Levites should ever
make them remiss in their business. We have here an account of the
three great masters who were employed in the service of the sacred
song, with their respective families; for they waited with their
children, that is, such as descended from them or were allied to
1 Chronicles 6:33.
Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were the three that were appointed to this
service, one of each of the three houses of the Levites, that there
might be an equality in the distribution of this work and honour, and
that every one might know his post, such an admirable order was there
in this choir service.
1. Of the house of Kohath was Heman with his family
(1 Chronicles 6:33),
a man of a sorrowful spirit, if it be the same Heman that penned the
and yet a singer. He was the grandson of Samuel the prophet, the son of
Joel, of whom it is said that he walked not in the ways of
(1 Samuel 8:2,3);
but it seems, though the son did not, the grandson did. Thus does the
blessing entailed on the seed of the upright sometimes pass over one
generation and fasten upon the next. And this Heman, though the
grandson of that mighty prince, did not think it below him to be a
precentor in the house of God. David himself was willing to be a
door-keeper. Rather we may look upon this preferment of the grandson in
the church as a recompense for the humble modest resignation which the
grandfather made of his authority in the state. Many such ways God has
of making up his people's losses and balancing their disgraces. Perhaps
David, in making Heman the chief, had some respect to his old friend
2. Of the house of Gershom was Asaph, called his brother,
because in the same office and of the same tribe, though of another
family. He was posted on Heman's right hand in the choir,
1 Chronicles 6:39.
Several of the psalms bear his name, being either penned by him or
tuned by him as the chief musician. It is plain that he was the penman
of some psalms; for we read of those that praised the Lord in the words
of David and of Asaph. He was a seer as well as a singer,
2 Chronicles 29:30.
His pedigree is traced up here, through names utterly unknown, as high
1 Chronicles 6:39-43.
3. Of the house of Merari was Ethan
(1 Chronicles 6:44),
who was appointed to Heman's left hand. His pedigree is also traced up
1 Chronicles 6:47.
If these were the Heman and Ethan that penned the
there appears no reason here why they should be called Ezrahites
(see the titles of those psalms), as there does why those should be
called so who are mentioned
1 Chronicles 2:6,
and who were the sons of Zerah.
II. There was serving-work, abundance of service to be done in the
tabernacle of the house of God
(1 Chronicles 6:48),
to provide water and fuel,--to wash and sweep, and carry out ashes,--to
kill, and flay, and boil the sacrifices; and to all such services there
were Levites appointed, those of other families, or perhaps those that
were not fit to be singers, that had either no good voice or no good
ear. As every one has received the gift, so let him minister.
Those that could not sing must not therefore be laid aside as good for
nothing; though they were not fit for that service, there was other
service they might be useful in.
III. There was sacrificing-work, and that was to be done by the priests
1 Chronicles 6:49.
They only were to sprinkle the blood and burn the incense; as for
the work of the most holy place, that was to be done by the high
priest only. Each had his work, and they both needed one another and
both helped one another in it. Concerning the work of the priests we
are here told,
1. What was the end they were to have in their eye. They were to
make an atonement for Israel, to mediate between the people and
God; not to magnify and enrich themselves, but to serve the public.
They were ordained for men.
2. What was the rule they were to have in their eye. They presided in
God's house, yet must do as they were bidden, according to all that God
commanded. That law the highest are subject to.
|The Cities of the Levites.
||B. C. 1444.|
54 Now these are their dwelling places throughout their
castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of
the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot.
55 And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the
suburbs thereof round about it.
56 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, they
gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
57 And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah,
namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her
suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs,
58 And Hilen with her suburbs, Debir with her suburbs,
59 And Ashan with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her
60 And out of the tribe of Benjamin; Geba with her suburbs, and
Alemeth with her suburbs, and Anathoth with her suburbs. All
their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities.
61 And unto the sons of Kohath, which were left of the family
of that tribe, were cities given out of the half tribe,
namely, out of the half tribe of Manasseh, by lot, ten
62 And to the sons of Gershom throughout their families out of
the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of
the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the tribe of Manasseh in
Bashan, thirteen cities.
63 Unto the sons of Merari were given by lot, throughout
their families, out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe
of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.
64 And the children of Israel gave to the Levites these
cities with their suburbs.
65 And they gave by lot out of the tribe of the children of
Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, and out of
the tribe of the children of Benjamin, these cities, which are
called by their names.
66 And the residue of the families of the sons of Kohath had
cities of their coasts out of the tribe of Ephraim.
67 And they gave unto them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem
in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with
68 And Jokmeam with her suburbs, and Beth-horon with her
69 And Aijalon with her suburbs, and Gath-rimmon with her
70 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh; Aner with her
suburbs, and Bileam with her suburbs, for the family of the
remnant of the sons of Kohath.
71 Unto the sons of Gershom were given out of the family of
the half tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, and
Ashtaroth with her suburbs:
72 And out of the tribe of Issachar; Kedesh with her suburbs,
Daberath with her suburbs,
73 And Ramoth with her suburbs, and Anem with her suburbs:
74 And out of the tribe of Asher; Mashal with her suburbs, and
Abdon with her suburbs,
75 And Hukok with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs:
76 And out of the tribe of Naphtali; Kedesh in Galilee with her
suburbs, and Hammon with her suburbs, and Kirjathaim with her
77 Unto the rest of the children of Merari were given out of
the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her
78 And on the other side Jordan by Jericho, on the east side of
Jordan, were given them out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer in
the wilderness with her suburbs, and Jahzah with her suburbs,
79 Kedemoth also with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her
80 And out of the tribe of Gad; Ramoth in Gilead with her
suburbs, and Mahanaim with her suburbs,
81 And Heshbon with her suburbs, and Jazer with her suburbs.
We have here an account of the Levites' cities. They are here called
(1 Chronicles 6:54),
not only because walled and fortified, and well guarded by the country
(for it is the interest of every nation to protect its ministers), but
because they and their possessions were, in a particular manner, the
care of the divine providence: as God was their portion, so God was
their protection; and a cottage will be a castle to those that abide
under the shadow of the Almighty. This account is much the same with
that which we had,
We need not be critical in comparing them (what good will it do us?)
nor will it do any hurt to the credit of the holy scripture if the
names of some of the places be not spelt just the same here as they
were there. We know it is common for cities to have several names.
Sarum and Salisbury, Salop and Shrewsbury, are
more unlike than Hilen
(1 Chronicles 6:58)
(1 Chronicles 6:59)
(1 Chronicles 6:60)
and time changes names. We are only to observe that in this appointment
of cities for the Levites God took care,
1. For the accomplishment of dying Jacob's prediction concerning this
tribe, that it should be scattered in Israel,
2. For the diffusing of the knowledge of himself and his law to all
parts of the land of Israel. Every tribe had Levites' cities in it;
and so every room was furnished with a candle, so that none could be
ignorant of his duty but it was either his own fault or the Levites'.
3. For a comfortable maintenance for those that ministered in holy
things. Besides their tithes and offerings, they had glebe-lands and
cities of their own to dwell in. Some of the most considerable cities
of Israel fell to the Levites' lot. Every tribe had benefit by the
Levites, and therefore every tribe must contribute to their support.
Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that
teacheth, and do it cheerfully.