1 Chronicles 6


Gill, in his commentary, gives us a useful summary of this chapter.

‘This chapter begins with the fathers and heads of the tribe of Levi, 1 Chronicles 6:1, and reckons up the high priests in the line of Eleazar, to the Babylonish captivity, 1 Chronicles 6:4 gives an account of the families of the sons of Levi, 1 Chronicles 6:16 and of those Levites that were employed as singers, and in other ministrations in the sanctuary in the times of David and Solomon, 1 Chronicles 6:31, then follows a repetition of the sons of Aaron in the line of Eleazar, to the said times, 1 Chronicles 6:50, and a recital of the dwelling places of the Levites in the several tribes, 1 Chronicles 6:54.’


‘The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 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. Eleazar was the father of Phinehas, Phinehas the father of Abishua, Abishua the father of Bukki, Bukki the father of Uzzi, Uzzi the father of Zerahiah, Zerahiah the father of Meraioth, Meraioth the father of Amariah, Amariah the father of Ahitub, Ahitub the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Ahimaaz, Ahimaaz the father of Azariah, Azariah the father of Johanan, Johanan the father of Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem), Azariah the father of Amariah, Amariah the father of Ahitub, Ahitub the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Shallum, Shallum the father of Hilkiah, Hilkiah the father of Azariah, Azariah the father of Seraiah, and Seraiah the father of Jozadak. Jozadak was deported when the LORD sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.’ 1 Chronicles 6:1-15

There is a lot of space devoted to the genealogies of the Levites and the reason for this, is because of the importance of the priestly tribe in the religious life of Israel.

Aaron was the high priest, Moses the prophet and lawgiver, and Miriam a prophetess, Micah 6:4. There are three omissions in the descendants of Aaron. They are Jehoiada, 2 Kings 11:15 / 2 Chronicles 22:11, Urijah, 2 Kings 16:11 / 2 Kings 16:16, and Azariah, 2 Chronicles 26:17 / 2 Chronicles 26:20 / 2 Chronicles 31:10.

Nadab and Abihu are probably famous for all the wrong reasons, they were the ones who offered ‘strange fire’ to the Lord and as a result, were killed by God, Leviticus 20:1-2 / Numbers 3:4. The descendants of Nadab and Abihu, 1 Chronicles 24:2 / Leviticus 10:1, are omitted, as well as the descendants of Ithamar.

Abihu succeeded his father in the high priesthood, the line of which is drawn from Aaron through him into the Babylonish captivity. Jozadak, Haggai 1:1, was young when he went into Babylon, and whose son Joshua, born in the captivity, came out of it on the proclamation of Cyrus, Ezra 2:2.

‘The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. These are the names of the sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites listed according to their fathers: Of Gershon: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son and Jeatherai his son. The descendants of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son and Shaul his son. The descendants of Elkanah: Amasai, Ahimoth, Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son and Samuel his son. The sons of Samuel: Joel the firstborn and Abijah the second son. The descendants of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son and Asaiah his son.’ 1 Chronicles 6:16-30

Here we are given the genealogies from the sons of Levi and they are a repetition of what was written in 1 Chronicles 6:1 / Exodus 6:17.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The names in this list are curiously different from those in 1 Chronicles 6:41-43, which yet appear to represent the same line reversed. Probably both lists are more or less corrupted, and, as in many genealogies, omission is made, to reduce the number of the names to seven. e.g. 1 Chronicles 6:22-28 with 1 Chronicles 6:33-38. Compare the other genealogy ties of this chapter and see also Matthew 1:1-17.’

Notice that Samuel was the son of Elkanah, who was a Levite. His firstborn son was Joel and his second son was Abijah.

The Temple Musicians

‘These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the LORD after the ark came to rest there. They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. Here are the men who served, together with their sons: From the Kohathites: Heman, the musician, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Heman’s associate Asaph, who served at his right hand: Asaph son of Berekiah, the son of Shimea, the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malkijah, the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei, the son of Jahath, the son of Gershon, the son of Levi; and from their associates, the Merarites, at his left hand: Ethan son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluk, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer,  the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. Their fellow Levites were assigned to all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God.’ 1 Chronicles 6:31-48

Here we read of the genealogies of David’s three chief singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan or Jeduthun. Once the temple was built, David chosen these men in order that they be responsible for the music that was associated with the temple.

Heman’s genealogy is traced in reverse to Kohath, 1 Chronicles 6:33-38. Asaph is also traced in reverse to Gershom, 1 Chronicles 6:39-43. The genealogy of Ethan is traced back to Merari, 1 Chronicles 6:44-47.

The ark of the covenant had been moved with around with the tabernacle for over 400 years. David brought all this moving of the ark and the tabernacle to an end when it was placed along the tribes. Years later, when Solomon built the temple, the ark would have a permanent place to dwell.

‘But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense in connection with all that was done in the Most Holy Place, making atonement for Israel, in accordance with all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. These were the descendants of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, Zadok his son and Ahimaaz his son.’ 1 Chronicles 6:49-53

The information given in these verses are parallel to 1 Chronicles 6:1-15, specifically 1 Chronicles 6:4-8.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This list, a mere repetition of that in 1 Chronicles 6:3-8, came, probably, from a different source, a source belonging to the time of David, with whom Ahimaaz, the last name on the list, was contemporary. The other list 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 came, no doubt, from a document belonging to the time of the captivity, 1 Chronicles 6:15.’

Gill, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Aaron.

‘Those that descended from him, though of the same tribe of Levi were all priests, and they offered upon the altar of burnt offerings, the daily sacrifice, and all the offerings of the people brought to them, and on the altar of incense, they burnt incense night and morning: and were appointed for all the work of the place most holy; such as were high priests of the line of Eleazar, whose work it was to go into the most holy place once a year, to make atonement for all Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God commanded, Leviticus 16:1, and on mention of this, a list of the high priests from Aaron, in the line of Eleazar, is given, to the times of Solomon, in the four following verses, just in the same order as in 1 Chronicles 6:4.’

‘These were the locations of their settlements allotted as their territory (they were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clan, because the first lot was for them): They were given Hebron in Judah with its surrounding pasturelands. But the fields and villages around the city were given to Caleb son of Jephunneh. So the descendants of Aaron were given Hebron (a city of refuge), and Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Hilen, Debir, Ashan, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands. And from the tribe of Benjamin they were given Gibeon, Geba, Alemeth and Anathoth, together with their pasturelands. The total number of towns distributed among the Kohathite clans came to thirteen. The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of half the tribe of Manasseh. The descendants of Gershon, clan by clan, were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher and Naphtali, and from the part of the tribe of Manasseh that is in Bashan. The descendants of Merari, clan by clan, were allotted twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun. So the Israelites gave the Levites these towns and their pasturelands. From the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin they allotted the previously named towns. Some of the Kohathite clans were given as their territory towns from the tribe of Ephraim. In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge), and Gezer, Jokmeam, Beth Horon, Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands. And from half the tribe of Manasseh the Israelites gave Aner and Bileam, together with their pasturelands, to the rest of the Kohathite clans. The Gershonites received the following: From the clan of the half-tribe of Manasseh they received Golan in Bashan and also Ashtaroth, together with their pasturelands; from the tribe of Issachar they received Kedesh, Daberath, Ramoth and Anem, together with their pasturelands; from the tribe of Asher they received Mashal, Abdon, Hukok and Rehob, together with their pasturelands; and from the tribe of Naphtali they received Kedesh in Galilee, Hammon and Kiriathaim, together with their pasturelands. The Merarites (the rest of the Levites) received the following: From the tribe of Zebulun they received Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmono and Tabor, together with their pasturelands; from the tribe of Reuben across the Jordan east of Jericho they received Bezer in the wilderness, Jahzah, Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands; and from the tribe of Gad they received Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon and Jazer, together with their pasturelands’ 1 Chronicles 6:54-81

Here we read a condensed version of what is written in Joshua 21:1-42.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The entire account has suffered much from corruption. In the first list two names, those of Juttah and Gideon, have dropped out. It is necessary to restore them in order to complete the number of thirteen cities, 1 Chronicles 6:60. In the second list, 1 Chronicles 6:67-70, there is likewise an omission of two cities, Eltekah and Gibbethon, which are wanted to make up the number ten, 1 Chronicles 6:61. The third list is complete, though some of the names are very different from these of Joshua. In the fourth, two names are again wanting, those of Jokneam and Kartah.’

Simmons, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These genealogies for the returning Israelites from their captivity in Babylon were important to them. It was important for them to realize that their captivity had been only an interruption of their religious and national life. These genealogies gave them a most significant link with their past. They created a continuity between the pre-exilic and post-exilic Israel.’

The 48 cities for the Levites were given to the sons of Aaron and the pasture lands around the cities were given for the animals that were brought to the Levites for offerings, which offerings were to be eaten by the Levites who lived in the cities.

Out of all the cities which were given to the Levites, six of them were designated as cities of refuge, Joshua 20:7-8. These were cities where someone could flee if they accidentally killed someone. If some was allowed into the city they had to live there until the death of the high priest, after which they were free to return home.

Thirteen cities were given to the Kohathites, thirteen cities were given to the sons of Gershom, and twelve cities were given to the sons of Merari, Joshua 21.

There were to be three cities of refuge on the east side of the Jordan and three on the west side of the Jordan, Numbers 35. There was an additional 42 cities given from all the tribes to the Levites, making a total of 48 cities for the Levites.

When we read the account in Joshua 21 and compare them with what is written here, we find the following cities mentioned.

Kedesh, 1 Chronicles 6:72 / Joshua 21:32, Shechem, 1 Chronicles 6:67 / Joshua 21:21, Hebron, 1 Chronicles 6:57 / Joshua 21:13, Bezer, 1 Chronicles 6:78 / Joshua 21:36, Ramoth, 1 Chronicles 6:73 / Joshua 21:38, and Golan, 1 Chronicles 6:71 / Joshua 21:27.

Of all the cities that are mentioned here, Gezer is the most historical and strategic in reference Israel’s security. It was located on the southern border of Ephraim’s territory, Joshua 21:21.

Later, it was occupied by the Philistines in the early years of Saul, an unknown Pharaoh captured and burned the city, and presented it to Solomon’s daughter, 1 Kings 9:15-6. Eventually is was destroyed by Pharaoh Sheshonk I, 1 Kings 14:25.

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