I Chronicles 24



In this chapter we have brought before us a catalogue of the Aaronites,

or priests, who were divided into twenty-four classes, corresponding to the

sons of Eleazar and Ithamar, and appointed to perform the service in

succession as determined by lot, prominent notice being given to the heads

of these twenty-four classes; and a list of the fathers’ houses of the other

descendants of Levi, in the order of succession, also settled by lot



The Twenty-Four Classes of Priests (vs. 1-19)


1 “Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron;

Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.” The Hebrew of this verse reads,

And to the sons of Aaron, their divisions μt;wOql]j]m"); the sons of Aaron:

 Nadeb and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. The word “divisions” is the same

word that is translated “courses” in v. 6, and which verse also would read literally,

“And David divided them divisions to the sons of Levi, to Gershon, Kohath,

 and Merari.” Our present verse evidently continues both the subject and construction

of that verse. Of the four sons (Exodus 6:23), two died without issue, viz. Nadab and

Abihu (v. 2); and the other two have to supply the “chief men of the house,” viz.

Eleazar sixteen, and Ithamar eight (v. 4).


 2 “But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children:

therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office.” (Compare

Leviticus 10:1-2, for the death of these; and for their being childless, Numbers

3:2-4; 26:60-61).


Principles in a Parenthesis (v.2)


This verse is parenthetical; we may let it suggest to us some valuable




HISTORY. After the full statement of the sin committed by these young

men (Leviticus 10.), and the allusion made to it in the Book of Numbers

(Numbers 3:4), we might have supposed that we had heard the last of it

in the sacred narrative. But here it comes up again; once more we are

reminded how Aaron’s sons provoked the Lord, and brought down his

displeasure. So now are THERE ARE SINS AGAINST GOD AND


ALONE!   It records them on its page, and, further on, it writes them

down again, that the attention of another generation may be called

thereto. Some iniquities there are which are of such significance

that no writer of his country’s story will leave them out of his record. But

this is as pathetically true of individual life. Too often it happens that men

cannot shake themselves free from the sins of earlier days. They think they

have done with them, but some way further on they present themselves

again, and look them in the face. How many a man is called upon to say,

again and again, as the miserable effects of past sin come up to reproach,

or to enfeeble, or to balk him, “Ah! that that word had been left

unspoken, that deed undone, that habit unformed, that course unchosen!”

If such is sin in its resurgent powers:




Ø      what a compensatory fact we have in the truth that it may be

wholly forgiven by the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, so that

it does not continue to interpose between our souls and HIS



Ø      how wise to bring our life at its very commencement under the

law of holiness, so that those sins may be avoided which would,

if incurred, dog our steps and haunt our spirits!



THE LIFE OF MAN. So far as the word can be used appropriately in

such a case, we may say that it is the natural thing for the sons to close

the eyes of their father (see Genesis 46:4), to carry him to the grave, to

cherish his memory, to follow his last directions. There is something

strikingly unnatural when it has to be written that “they died before

their father.” But it is the constant consequence of sin. Sin is the great

overturning, confusing, inverting power in the world; putting that before

which should be behind, and that below which should be above,

disordering and disarranging everything in the world which God made

beautiful and blessed. Illustrations abound in every sphere of human




THOUGHT TO GIVE US. These young men died, and “had no

children.”  In the common course of providence they would have had

the deep, full joy of parents, and their children and descendants would

have carried down their lineage to the distant future. But that one

“PRESUMPTUOUS SIN” cut all this off. In how many ways does

human guilt shut the hand of beneficence, impoverishing itself and

all whom it can affect!



FOR LONELY AGE. These words may be written of those who are not

sinful but unfortunate. In the families of the holy and the faithful it is

often the painful record — the young men, the young women, “die before

their parents.” No one who is wise will risk anything on the assurance of

continued life. Youth in all its vigor may be but a step or two distant from

the grave. Strong manhood, rejoicing motherhood, may be about to enter

on a life of clouded loneliness. Be ready for early death, and for the long

dark shadow of bereavement.  (“Lord, help me to be ready to leave this

world, or to be left!”  (Philip Henry, the father of Mathew Henry)



The Abiding Warning of the Willful (v.2)


The narrative of Nadab and Abihu which is here recalled is given in

Leviticus 10:1-5. The wording of the verse is taken from Numbers 3:4.

It is a story which we find it difficult to understand. Probably its

explanation depends on an intimate acquaintance with the Jewish system,

and the sentiments prevailing in those earlier times. Nadab and Abihu had

been honored with special privileges (see Exodus 24:1, 9-10); by

reason of this they may have become unduly exalted, and have been

tempted by spiritual pride to imagine that they were not bound by ordinary

rules in the discharge of the duties of the priest’s office. Kitto gives a brief

but sufficient sketch of the incident. “Among the priestly services was that

of offering the precious incense upon the golden altar within the tabernacle,

at the very time that the daily sacrifice was being consumed upon the

brazen altar in the court without. At the time the ritual service had been

inaugurated, the fire of the great altar was kindled from heaven; and it was

made an ordinance that this holy fire should always be kept up and

preserved, and that this, and this alone, was to be used in all the sacred

services. The priests who offered incense had, therefore, to fill their censers

with fire from the great altar when they went into the tabernacle to burn

incense. It was in this matter that Nadab and Abihu sinned. Treating this

ordinance as of no importance, thinking to themselves that common fire

would burn their incense quite as well as the other; or, perhaps, as there is

reason to fear, having been led into a mistake, or neglect, by inebriety, they

filled their censers with ‘strange fire,’ unhallowed fire, not from the altar,

and ventured to bring it into the tabernacle? Permanent instruction may be

drawn from this incident by regarding willfulness as the very essence of

these men’s sin. When there was a distinct, definite, and well-known

Divine command, it pleased them to act on the dictate of their own feeling.

In view of that full loyalty to Christ, and daily waiting upon Him for

guidance and direction, which are necessary features of the Christian life,

wilfulness is as perilous and as wicked in the modern dispensation as in

the older. In setting forth this evil and its fatal influence, consider:



bias left on humanity from our first father’s fall. We see the signs of

human depravity mainly in this — that men’s wills are set against God’s

will, and have to be subdued to His obedience. This is true of man:


Ø      as an individual, and

Ø      equally true of men when acting together in society or in the nation.

(witness the post-Christian era in Europe and now in the United

States – CY – 2012)


But there are different degrees of willfulness, and in some the self-will is

a master-passion. Some measures of willfulness in the common affairs of

life ensure energy and mastery of circumstance; BUT IT IS WHOLLY


depend on the spirit of service to Christ.



King Saul in his later and worse moods, or from Judas Iscariot, who, with

views of his own, came to betray his very Lord. The apostle warns us

concerning those who “will be rich, and so fall into temptation and a

snare (I Timothy 6:9).  Willfulness expressed in acts brings us at once

under Divine notice, because it then affects the comfort and well-being

of others.



It puts a wrong tone upon all the relations, and spoils the whole life by

possessing it with the spirit of self. God the Spirit cannot rule the life, and

self rule at the same time; and if it be self that really rules, then we are

dead while we live.”  Practically dead, because none of the “means of

grace” can prove the soul’s nourishment when willfulness rules.

(My besetting sins over my lifetime have been sins of:


Ø      the flesh,

Ø      pride,

Ø      vanity,

Ø      selfishness,

Ø      an unforgiving Spirit and

Ø      not allowing the Holy Spirit of God to control me.


This last one is the source of them all, because if I allowed the Holy

Spirit to control me, I would not have as much trouble with the flesh,

pride, vanity, and selfishness.   I also would be more forgiving, for no

man has sinned against me as I have sinned against God!  (Like Paul,

I can only moan and say, “O wretched man that I am, who shall

deliver me from the body of this death?  I can then thankfully say,

“I thank God through Jesus Christ.  So then with the mind I

myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” –

Romans 7:24-25 – CY  - 2012) 




Illustrated in the case of Nadab and Abihu. Where willfulness is but

growing, Divine chastisements come for correction. Where willfulness

has gained full mastery, there must be Divine judgments, such as utterly

crush down the pride.  Exactly what Christianity proposes is the

conversion of self-will,” and the bestowment of the spirit that

worships, and follows wholly, the “good, and acceptable, and

perfect will of God.”   (Romans 12:1)


3 “And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar,

and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in

their service.” The Hebrew of this verse reads, And David divided them, and

Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimalech of the sons of Ithamar,

according to their offices (μt;D;suk]l"), in their service (μt;d;bo[]B"). And

the evident purport of it is that the three, David, Zadok, and Ahimelech,

conjointly made the arrangements. This is virtually repeated in vs. 6, 31

(see also ch. 25:1 for an analogous case). For the Ahimelech of this verse

and vs. 6, 31, should be read Abiathar,” as shown in ch.18:16, by comparison

of I Samuel 22:20; II Samuel 20:25; I Kings 1:7-8; Mark 2:26.


4 “And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than

of the sons of Ithamar, and thus were they divided. Among the

sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their

fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the

house of their fathers.” The simpler translation of this verse might run thus:

And there were found (of) sons of Eleazar, more for chief men, than (of)

sons of Ithamar, and they divided themto sons of Eleazar, sixteen

chiefs of fathers’ houses; and to sons of Ithamar, eight.


5 “Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the

governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God,

were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar.”

Translate, And they divided them by lots, these with those;

i.e. as there was no ground of choice between the two families, which

differed only in number, and as the highest ecclesiastical places had been

filled already by both of them, the impartiality of the “lot” was resorted to,

for the settling of the order in which they would take the services now in

question (ch.25:8). The governors; read rather, the princes.

The distinction intended between “the holy princes,” or “princes of the

sanctuary,” on the one hand, and “the princes of God” on the other, is not

very clear. One instance of the former expression is found in Isaiah

43:28. Keil supposes there may be no distinction between them, but adds

that if there is, he would take the “princes of God” to stand for the regular

high priests exclusively, viz. those who could enter into the most holy place

before God. The “princes of God” is a title evidently illustrated by the

wordIsrael” (Genesis 32:28).


6 “And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites,

wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest,

and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the

fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being

taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar.” The person who acted

as clerk or secretary on the occasion, and the whole number of the witnesses, and

the lot-taking itself, are here given. The present Hebrew text repeats the word zjua;

(taken) twice, before the name of Ithamar, at the end of the sentence. The evident

and easy correction of the first occurrence of which into dj;a, (one) will make the

clause and sense correspond with what goes before. Bertheau, however,

and Keil, and some others do not accept this correction, and would keep

the present Hebrew text, the first-named, moreover, contending that the

repetition of the word for “taking” points to two lots being represented by

each house of Ithamar, whose total number was only eight, for one of

Eleazar, whose total was sixteen. Not only does the repetition of the

present Hebrew text not avail to authorize such a supposition, but the

supposition itself would be unsupported and gratuitous. What is really told

us amounts to this only, that the drawing was first from the collection of

families under the name of Eleazar, and then from that descended from

Ithamar. For anything we are here told, the urn of Ithamar can have held

out only half as long as that of Eleazar, and it can be only conjecture to

suppose that two lots were drawn from the urn of Eleazar for every one

from that of Ithamar, so as to make them run out together at the end.

Could any one of the names from sixteen to twenty-four that are recorded

in this chapter as “coming forth” in the shape of a “lot,” be identified as

belonging to families descended from Ithamar, the question might be

solved. Ahimelech the son of Abiathar; read, as above, v. 3, ch.18:16, etc.,

Abiathar the son of Abimelech.


7 “Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,”

Jehoiarib. Written thus only here and in ch.9:10; elsewhere always Joiarib.

He then is the head of the first of the twenty-four courses of priests in David’s time,

and according to his plan. (For the evidence of the return of some of this family

from the Exile, see Nehemiah 11:10, though the text of this clause is very suspicious;

 and Ibid. ch.12:6,19.  Jedaiah. (For the return of some of the descendants

of this family, see Ezra 2:36; Nehemiah 7:39; 12:6-7,19,21).


8 “The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,” - Harim (for the mention of

his descendants, see Ezra 2:39; 10:21; Nehemiah 7:42; 10:5; 12:4 (where the name

appears as Rehum), 15). The sons of Harim mentioned in Ezra 2:32; 10:31;

Nehemiah 7:35; 10:27, were not a priest-family. Seorim. This name does not

occur again.


9 “The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,” -  Malchijah. An earlier priest

of this same name is mentioned in ch.9:12, who is again mentioned in Nehemiah 11:12;

Jeremiah 21:1; 38:1. The name in our present verse is probably the same (but used to

mark a family and not the individual) as that found in Nehemiah 10:3 (see also Ibid. ch.

12:42). The Malchijah of Nehemiah 3:11 and Ezra 10:25 is the name of an Israelitish

layman. Mijamin. In like manner, this as a family name reappears in Nehemiah 10:7;

12:5 (in the form Miamin), 17, 41 (in the form Miniamin); see also II Chronicles 31:15,

where the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Peshito Syriac read Benjamin. The name as

of a layman also appears in Ezra 10:25.


10 “The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,” – Hakkoz - The first half of

this word is the definite article, as may be seen in Nehemiah 3:4, 21 and Ezra 2:61,

where the name is found, as in the cases above, for the priest-family. Abijah (see

again Nehemiah 10:7; Luke 1:5). To this course, therefore, Zaharias, father

of John the Baptist, belonged.


11 “The ninth to Jeshuah, the tenth to Shecaniah,” - Jeshuah. In Ezra 2:36

and Nehemiah 7:39 certain “children of Jedaiah,” who returned from Babylon,

are mentioned as belonging to the “house of Jeshua,” and distinguished presumably

thereby from children of another Jedaiah. This accords with the fact that in

Nehemiah 12:6-7, and again in vs.19, 21, two families of the name Jedaiah are

given in the priest-lists. We may, therefore, conclude that families descended from

the Jeshuah of our present verse were among those who returned from captivity

(Ezra 2:36; Nehemiah 7:39).  Shecaniah (see Nehemiah 12:3, where spelt

Shechaniah). Of those similarly named in Ezra 8:3, 5, the former may possibly

have been descendants of this Shecaniah, the latter not so.


12 “The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,” - Eliashib. Not the

progenitor of the Eliashib of Nehemiah 3:1,20-21; for see Ibid.ch.12:10,22-23,

for the pedigree of the latter. Jakim, This name does not reappear.


13 “The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,”-

HuppahJeshebeab. The former of these names is not found again among

priest-names, and the latter not at all.


14 “The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,” -  BilgahImmer.

The former name reappears, not for the same person, in Nehemiah 12:5, 18;

and, under a slightly altered form, Bilgai, in Nehemiah 10:8. The latter is the name

of a family known already (ch.9:12), and which became much better known

(Ezra 2:37; 10:20; Nehemiah 3:29; 7:40; 11:13; Jeremiah 20:1).  The notices

parallel to one another (Ezra 2:59; Nehemiah 7:61) are interesting, but obscure.

They probably speak of a place called Immer, but even this is not quite clear.


15 “The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses,”-HezirAphses.

The former name, as that of a layman, is found again in Nehemiah 10:20. Of the

latter, spelt in the Hebrew Hapizez, nothing more is known.



16 “The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,” -

PethahiahJehezekel. The former name reappears as one of

those who separated themselves from the alliances they had contracted in

the land of their captivity (Ezra 10:23; Nehemiah 9:5). The latter is

in its characters (laqez]j;y;) the same with those of Ezekiel, though here

Anglicized as Jehezekel!


17 “The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,”

JachinGamul. The latter of these names is not found again in any connection

with a priest-family. Of the former we read as well in ch.9:10 as in Nehemiah

11:10, and probably he is the Achim of Matthew 1:14.


18 “The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to

Maaziah.” - DelaiahMaaziah. The spelling of the former of these

names, as it appears here and in Jeremiah 36:12, 25, differs by the

addition of a shurek (W) from the name, spelt the same in the English

Version, found in ch.3:24; Nehemiah 6:10; 7:62; Ezra 2:60. The latter

name recurs in Nehemiah 10:8, though without a final shurek.


19 “These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the

house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their

father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.” The order has

been thus given of the twenty-four classes or courses of the priests. Each course

served a week from the seventh day to the seventh (II  Kings 11:9; II Chronicles

23:8). An interesting allusion to this order of courses is tacitly made in Ezekiel

8:16-18, where the twenty-fifth idolater may be supposed to be the high priest.

Some have, on very insufficient grounds, supposed that this “ordering” of

courses was not really the institution of David, but attributed to him after

the Exile for the sake of the authority of his name. In Nehemiah 12:1-7,

moreover, the names do not appear as even twenty-four, but twenty-two

deficient by two! — a thing most easily to be accounted for. In addition

to the direct scriptural witness on this subject, Josephus’s (‘Ant.,’ 7:14)

testimony confirms the account of our present chapter. 



The Will of the Lord (v.19)


“As the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.” These words may be

said to constitute the key-note of the whole Law (Exodus 39:42;

Leviticus 27:34; Numbers 36:13; Deuteronomy 34:9). Just as

Israel should pay heed to this commandment of Jehovah, so it would

flourish and rejoice; in proportion as it should depart from these

commandments, so it would fail and be distressed. Everything hung on a

loyal obedience to the Divine will. There were three forms of obedience

then, and there is the same number now. We look at both.





Ø      Minute conformity to positive precept. Everything, to the smallest

particular, was to be “AFTER THE PATTERN” (Exodus 25:9,40;

Numbers 8:4). In the celebration of the sacrifices, the priests were

to be studious to follow the exact directions given in the

commandment of the Lord,” and any deviation, though but

slight and apparently immaterial in itself, would vitiate

everything that was to be done.


Ø      Application of broad principles. It was hopeless to anticipate

every possible breach of such laws as, “Thou shall not defraud

 thy neighbor;” “Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself”

(Leviticus 19:13,18).  An interpretation and application of such

commandments as these must have been left largely to

the individual conscience.


Ø      Inquiry of the Lord to know His will, and so to do it. This was

the case, like that recorded in this chapter, whenever the mind of

God was taken by means of the lot (vs. 5- 6). A direct appeal

was then made to him for his direction, and, THUS GAINED,




SUMMONING US.  They correspond to the preceding, yet differ

in some respects from them.


Ø      Christ has left us but few positive enactments. We seldom

meet with any minute prescriptions regulating behavior in

the New Testament. Days, forms, and methods of devotion

and service are left to our conscience and judgment. But there

are some interdictions and requirements which still exist, and

which bind us to the obedience of conformity to statute.


Ø      Christ requires of us that we make constant application of

 the broad principles He has taught us. He has said to us,

“Love me: Follow me: Care for my friends and little ones:

Walk in love, in humility, in purity: Do good and communicate,”

 etc.; and He leaves it to those who bear His Name to apply and

illustrate these His general commandments, in all the details of

their individual, family, Church, national life. The man or the

Church that does not try to find out THE WILL OF CHRIST

FROM HIS LIFE AND HIS WORDS,  and to do that will

when thus discovered, is “NOT WORTHY OF HIM” and is

no true friend of His (John 15:14).


Ø      Christ desires us to be continually seeking His will from His

own Divine Spirit. He has promised to come to us, to dwell

with us and within us, to instruct and inspire us by the

communications of the Spirit of God. We are thus to learn

His will, and, when thus directed, are to do what is right and

pleasing in His sight. So far is the life of Christian obedience

from being one that is merely formal and mechanical. In Christ

Jesus the statutes are few; the application of heavenly principles

is our daily duty; the inquiry of the Lord to know what He would

have us do is our high privilege and our abiding obligation.

                        (Note WWJD – WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?- a part of

                        modern culture! – CY – 2012)



Ancient Divine Rules Preserved in Modern Adjustments (v. 19)


David found it necessary to make alterations and adaptations when he reconstituted

the worship for the new tabernacle and the anticipated temple, but in all his

adaptations he anxiously preserved the Mosaic principles and the Mosaic order;

 thereby giving an important example of the spirit and the manner in which

modern adjustments of permanent principles should be made. We must accept

the fact of the changeableness of human life, thought, and forms of relationship

and society. Age differs from age. A succeeding age will often strive to realize

a contrast with the age preceding; it will prefer what it disliked, and put in the

front what it had set in the background. We must take care that the changes are

set under wise limitations, and the first of these is the fair and adequate

representation, in the new scenes, of the old and permanent social, or

moral, or religious principles. Some persons love change for change’s sake;

and such persons often put the best things in peril, and prevent the noblest

schemes for human well-being from gaining an adequate trial. Others resist

change as if it were wholly wrong and injurious; and such persons help to

keep the yokes pressing on men’s necks long after it is manifest how the

neck has become galled and painful. And many persons fail to take

change” at the hopeful time, and so they lose all the finest opportunities

that life brings. These diversities of relation to necessary change may be

illustrated in relation to human customs, to political history, to

ecclesiastical order, and to Church doctrine. We are instructed not to

meddle with those who are given to change;” but we have a very proper

admiration for such a man as the Apostle Paul, who, with far-seeing

wisdom, discerned how Judaism was passing into the broader spiritual

Christianity, and put himself forward as a leader in the change. Another

fact requires attention. All forms for the expression of principles tend to

exhaust their capacity for expressing truth. Like vessels, or pipes, that get

encrusted with use, they have to be taken away, and replaced by other and

larger forms. All we have to care for, from the most conservative




We may even plead that, in view of the ever-varying wants of men, we should

be ready to adopt new forms and modes in the religious life and service.

 Illustration may be taken from the attitude advisable towards such schemes

as that of the Salvation Army, or modern mission halls and revivals. David

lived in one of the so-called “periods of transition,” and it is very interesting

to mark how he led the change that was demanded, but CAREFULLY


WHICH HAD BEEN DIVINELY GIVEN!  (Has this idea been lost on

the Progressive Movement in America?  We just came through an election

that concerned itself about health care to the point of providing condoms for

promiscuous women; entitlements for people who will not work, {historically,

it can be documented that democracies fall when the public realizes that

it can vote itself money out of the public treasury!} Two states, Washington

and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana -  I recommend a close scrutiny of

II Peter 2 and Jude 1 – to see that though the citizens of a country may not

have resolve to clean up their act, GOD DOES HAVE THAT RESOLVE

AND HE WILL JUDGE! Also consider that David served his generation

[Acts 13:36] and we may rightfully ask, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR

OUR GENERATION? – “Rejoice O young man, in thy youth; and let

thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of

thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes:  BUT KNOW THOU, THAT


JUDGMENT – Ecclesiastes 11:9 - CY – 2012).  We may be sure that God

will watch jealously over His truth; and will have, in every age, godly men

who will “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

(I Kings 19:18; Jude 1:3)



The Distribution of the Other Levites (vs. 20-31)


20 “And the rest of the sons of Levi were these: Of the sons of Amram;

Shubael: of the sons of Shubael; Jehdeiah.”  The rest of the sons of Levi

designated here are explained sufficiently clearly by v. 30. They were those who

were not of the sons of Aaron, not priests, but whose “office was to wait on

the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord” (ch.23:28),

for certain specified work, some of which was of the more menial character.

These, of course, do not exhaust the whole of the non-priestly Levites; for we

Read distinctly in the following two chapters of other detachments of the non-priestly

Levites, whose office was as singers, door-keepers, and treasure-keepers.

And this consideration may of itself possibly be a sufficient account of the absence

of any of the family of Gershonites in the list of the present chapter, though they do

appear to view for other work in ch. 26:21, etc.   AmramShubael. The latter

of these two names marks the line of Moses, in his eider son, Gershon, whose

son was Shebuel (ch. 23:15-16), as the former is the name of the father of

Moses, and eldest son of Kohath.


21 “Concerning Rehabiah: of the sons of Rehabiah, the first was

Isshiah.”  Rehabiah. This name marks the line of Moses, in the person

of his younger son, Eliezer, father of Rehabiah. And the practical result of

these two verses is to give us the two “chiefs,” or heads, or representatives,

Jehdeiah (v.20) and Isshiah, both Amramites.


22 “Of the Izharites; Shelomoth: of the sons of Shelomoth; Jahath.”

Jahath. Here follows in order after the Amramites, Jahath, a descendant

from Izhar, Kohath’s second son (ch.23:12, 18), through Shelomoth (otherwise

Shelemith). This Jahath furnishes for us the third name of this series of “other

sons of Levi.”   From the absence of these three names from the list of

ch.23:6-23, which list is occupied with fathers’ houses, this list is occupied with

the official classes of the Levites who were to be engaged in the way already stated.


23 “And the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second,

Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth.”  This verse is manifestly imperfect.

What is necessary to fill up the evident gaps is to be found, however, in ch.23:19;

Also the pointed allusion to the time of David, in ch.26:31, is deserving of special

notice. The four names of this verse, then, are descendants of Kohath’s third son,

Hebron (ch.23:12).


24 “Of the sons of Uzziel; Michah: of the sons of Michah; Shamir.

25 The brother of Michah was Isshiah: of the sons of Isshiah;

Zechariah.”  These verses give us Shamir and Zechariah, descendants

of Uzziel, Kohath’s fourth son (ch.23:12), the former through Michah

(Ibid. v.20), and the latter through Michah’s brother, Isshiah (Ibid.), called here

sons of Uzziel,” but presumably not intended for immediate sons (Exodus 6:22).

In all these fourteen heads were drawn from the four sons of Kohath.


26 “The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi: the sons of Jaaziah;

Beno.  27 The sons of Merari by Jaaziah; Beno, and Shoham, and Zaccur,

and Ibri.  28 Of Mahli came Eleazar, who had no sons.  29  Concerning Kish:

the son of Kish was Jerahmeel.” We now pass from the Kohath family to that of

Merari. For the oft-repeated Mahli and Mushi, they belonged to the time of Moses

(Exodus 6:19; Numbers 3:33). The elder of these, Mahli, as already seen in

ch. 23:21-22, had two sons, Eleazar and Kish, the sons of the latter of whom took

the daughters of Eleazar, who had no sons, and thus kept only one house surviving,

the head of which was (v. 29) Jerahmeel. This would seem to complete all that

needs to be said of the Mahli line. Meantime, however, we are confronted by the

contents of the latter half of our v. 26 and v. 27. These purport to give, amid some

confusion of expression, sons of Merari by Jaaziah his son (Beno). No

anterior authority, however, can be found for this Jaaziah. Neither of him

nor of any of the three names (omitting Beno, which is evidently to be

translated “his son”) here linked on to his, is anything known. While we

accept the text as it at present is, we have an additional branch with three

families to add to the account of Merari — the branch of Jaaziah, the

three families of Shoham, Zaccur, Ibri. Even so we have in v. 27 to

obliterate arbitrarily the conjunction van, prefixed to the name Shoham.

Under these circumstances, Keil impatiently rejects these clauses

altogether, as an interpolation, though one of which he can give no

account, and adds up, in consequence, the families of Levi (exclusive of the

priests) to twenty-two instead of the unexplained twenty-five of the present

text. On the other hand, Bertheau retains the present reading, and accepts

Jaaziah as a third branch of the family of Merari. If this were so, it is

surprising that nowhere else is room found for the slightest mention of

Jaaziah, nor any other mention of these supposed descendants.


30 “The sons also of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth. These

were the sons of the Levites after the house of their fathers.”

The three sons of Mushi here given agree with ch.23:23. It is to be observed

that, in the foregoing verses, we have no expressed sum of the families or heads

to which they add up.  Hence Bertheau finds twenty-five in all, which he would

reduce to the twenty-four he wants by omitting, without any adequate

justificacation, the Mahli of v. 30. Others, omitting the three names of Shoham,

Zaccur, Ibri, bring the twenty-five to twenty-two. Keil finds only fifteen “heads” or

classes,” but surmises that the Hebronite and Mushite “fathers’ houses”

may have been numerous enough to find more than one “class;” and

thereby to make up the twenty-four classes which he desires as well for

symmetry’s sake as for the patent suggestions of v. 31.


31 “These likewise cast lots over against their brethren the sons of

Aaron in the presence of David the king, and Zadok, and

Ahimelech, and the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites,

even the principal fathers over against their younger brethren.”

Over against… over against. This translation of the Hebrew

(tM"[l]) is obscure and awkward. The meaning is “equally with,” or

correspondingly with” (ch.26:12,16). The root means “communion,” and the

word is found only in the constructive state.



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