I Chronicles 6
The tribe of Levi is now taken. The first three verses prepare the way for running
rapidly down the line of high priest descent, from Aaron’s son Eleazar to
Jehozadak, who is reached at the twenty-fifth name from Levi, though not
necessarily the twenty-fifth generation, as there appear (vs. 11-13) to be some
omissions. Nor are all the names which are given those of high priests, for the
genealogy of Jehozadak did not always pass though such.
1 “The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.” This verse gives the
three branches of Levi,and is in agreement with the enumeration of them in
Genesis 46:11 and Exodus 6:16, viz. Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. We have
not the third parallel passage in the place of mention of the other tribes
(Numbers 1:47-54), but it is compensated for somewhat later (Ibid. ch.3:14-20).
2 “And the sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.”
The second son, Kohath, rather Kehath (th;q], Hebrew, and so Septuagint
and Vulgate), is at once singled out, in order to get at the priest line. He was one
the travelers with Jacob into
of Joseph, lived thirty years after his death, and attained the age of one hundred
thirty-three years, after a residence in
years in all. The Kohathites are expressly mentioned in their sacred duties in the
time of David (ch.15:5-8), and in the time of Hezekiah (II Chronicles
29:12-14). The four sons of Kohath are next instanced, in order to get another
step nearer the clear beginning of the priest line. This is done in the person of the
oldest brother, Amram, who became father of Aaron and Moses and Miriam.
3 “And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The
sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.” Once more,
Aaron is singled out, and Eleazar, the third of his four sons, fixes the exact
channel of descent required.
4 “Eleazar begat Phinehas, Phinehas begat Abishua,” Eleazar. From this
name inclusive follow the twenty-two, which terminate with Jehozadak, who
indeed never attained himself to the office of high priest, but was son of Geraiah,
last high priest before the Captivity, and father of Jeshua, high priest, who
returned with Zerubbabel from the Captivity. It has been pointed out that the
name Jehozadak is of the same meaning with Zedekiah, the last king before
the Captivity; and that Jeshua is the same in meaning with Joshua, the
leader of the tribes into
Nadab and Abihu, died without issue (Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4, 32; 20:28;
ch. 24:1-3). It is somewhat obscurely said that the sacred office remained in the
family of Eleazar till, in the person of Eli, it passed awhile into that of Ithamar,
his brother (I Kings 2:26-27; Josephus, 8:1, § 3), to be recovered again in the
Zadok of our v. 8 (ch. 24:3-4). Phinehas; a memorable man (Numbers
25:7-13; Joshua 22:10-33; Judges 20:28; Psalm 106:30-31; which compares
well with Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3). Abishua; only mentioned in this
chapter and Ezra 7:1-5. Josephus (8:1, § 3) asserts that he it was who was
succeeded in the high priesthood, not by any one of his own descendants,
but by Eli, till Zedok, in the time of David, all the intervening members of
the Eleazar family being private individuals. But no reliance can be placed
on this assertion, for see Josephus again (5:11, § 5).
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,”
Of the five succeeding names, Bukki, Uzzi, Zerahiah, Meraioth, Amariah,
it may be said that they reappear in the list of Ezra 7., but that little or nothing
else is known of them. It is possible that the change of priesthood family to
Ithamar took place after Meraioth. But it is just as probable that the gap
between Abishua and Eli, or possibly even between Phinehas and Eli, was
filled by holders of the high priest office unknown by name to us.
8 “And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Ahimaaz,” Ahitub. With
this name begins the light again. Ahitub, Zadok, Ahimaaz, and Azariah are of
frequent mention in the Books of Samuel and Kings. Ahitub, here and elsewhere
plainly given as father of Zadok, seems to be given as father of Meraioth in
ch. 9:11 and Nehemiah 11:11, and grandfather of Zadok; and in both passages is
termed “ruler of the house of God” — an expression probably equivalent
to high priest, as Azariah, high priest in the reign of Hezekiah, is also so
described (II Chronicles 31:13). The recurrence of the two names
Ahitub and Zadok in vs. 11-12 is very possibly the result of some
error; and it is in favor of such a supposition, in some form of it, at all
events, that in that place, where, including Shallum (or Meshullam), only
three steps are found, several more seem to be required — the period one
some one hundred and eighty years, and filled in the list of
by as many as nine in succession. On the other hand, it is open to question
whether the recurrence of the names Ahitub and Zadok be not legitimate.
And this may then be the solution of ch. 9:11 and Nehemiah 11:11, as above,
with their insertion of Meraioth — still other names being absent which would
make up the requisite number of generations. Zadok. The earliest glimpse we get
of him is in ch.12:28, where he is introduced as “a young man mighty of
valor,” who now casts in his lot with David at
II Samuel 15:24,29,35, we find him and Abiathar the recognized priests.
In I Kings 1:7-8, we find him true to David when Abiathar joined Adonijah —
the punishment of the latter and the reward of the former being recorded in
I Kings 2:27,35, respectively. Up to that time it is evident that Abiathar had
precedence in rank over Zadok. His death is not recorded, but it must be assigned
to a date previous to the dedication of the temple, from the account of which
(1 Kings 8.) his name is entirely absent. The last allusions to him are in I Kings 4:2,4;
in the latter of which verses (specially coupled as the name is with the deposed
Abiathar) the notice is probably as merely historical as it certainly is in the
former. This same verse states that Azariah was “the priest,” and that he was son,
i.q. grandson, of Zadok, proving, with very little doubt, that the explanatory
parenthesis of our v.10 should follow the Azariah mentioned in the previous verse.
9 “And Ahimaaz begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Johanan,” - Ahimaaz.
The first important notice of him is found in II Samuel 15:36, and the last
In Ibid. ch. 18:29. He is not to be identified with Solomon’s” officer” in Naphtali
(I Kings 4:15). Azariah. As above said, it is almost without a doubt after this
Azariah (Ibid. v.2) that the parenthetical comment of next verse should be read.
Again, this Azariah must not be identified with him of the time of King Uzziah
(II Chronicles 26:17, 20), who must have been nearly a century later, and was
contemporary with Isaiah, Joel, and Amos. (In fact, Smith’s A Dictionary of
the Bible has twenty-four  different Azariah’s mentioned in the Bible – CY –
10 “And Johanan begat Azariah, (he it is that executed the priest’s
office in the temple that Solomon built in
Azariah, his son, nothing can be found with any certainty. It is presumable
that they were priests in the reigns of Abijah and Asa.
11 “And Azariah begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,” - Amariah.
High priest in the reign of Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 19:11; see Smith’s ‘Bible
Dictionary,’ sub voce, 2). A step ascertainable as this helps to keep the line and
chronology steady amid surrounding obscurity.
12 “And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Shallum,” - (See above on v. 8.)
13 “And Shallum begat Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begat Azariah,” Shallum, called in
I Chronicles 9:11 and Nehemiah 11:11 Meshullam. There are at fewest fifteen persons
of this name. The present is named as ancestor of Ezra (Ezra 7:2). Hillkiah. There are
seven persons of this name. The present was the celebrated one of them all; and from
three chief circumstances:
(II Kings 22:8);
(Ibid. ch.14-20; 23:4-27);
year of Josiah’s reign (II Chronicles 35:1-19).
14 “And Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat Jehozadak,” Azariah.
The third occurrence of this name in this list. This person is found again in Ezra 7:l,
but is wanting in Nehemiah 11:11. Seraiah; found also in Ibid., in a list which omits
the preceding Azariah, and in Ezra 7:1. The end of his high priesthood and
of himself is recorded with that of Zephaniah (II Kings 25:18, 23), and
(not the Seraiah, “the quiet prince,” of Jeremiah 51:59-64) he is also
spoken of in Ibid. ch.52:24-27. He was high priest in the time of Zedekiah.
15 “And Jehozadak went into captivity, when the LORD carried away
not share the violent end of his father, nor did he attain his father’s high priest office,
but lived to the end a captive (see note on v. 4). Where this name occurs in Haggai
1:1,12,14; 2:2,4; and Zechariah 6:11, it is the same in the Hebrew as here, though
Anglicized in the Authorized Version as Josedech. Where it occurs in Ezra 3:2,8;
5:2; 10:18 and Nehemiah 12:26, the shorter form of Jozadak is found in the
Hebrew as in the Authorized Version.
A Witness in a Man’s Name (vs. 14-15)
In the midst of a long list of names the compiler of this record stops, as if one name
set him thinking. The name was one with a significant meaning; yet it was one that
seemed very strange when taken in the light of the man’s history. This name,
Jehozadak, meant “Jehovah is righteous;” but the man who bore it “went into
captivity, when the Lord
noted as remarkable that the heads of both the priestly and the royal stock carried
same elements, and assertive of the ‘justice of God,’ which their sufferings showed
forth so signally.”
recurrence to the ways of an older time, when children’s names were given
as embodying circumstances of birth, feelings of parents, etc., and when
names were changed to express new relations of the life. In those earlier
times names became elements of Divine revelations and agents of Divine
witness and teaching. Ab-ra-ham taught men by his name, and so did
Is-rael. Other instances of revival of this witness by names may be found
in the prophetic names given by the later prophets to their children, such as
Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), Shear-jashub (Ibid. v. 3), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz
(Ibid. ch. 8:1-3). It is interesting to add that, among the glories of the future
held out before the faithful, is this, “And I will give him a new name.”
(Revelation 2:17; 3;12) So Jehozadak had his mission in his name. Down
into captivity he went, but in all his intercourse with the humbled and captive
people, he pleaded with his name, saying, “Jehovah is righteous.” And
so we may learn that the least thing about us, a matter as seemingly
unimportant as our name, may be taken up into God’s service, and used
by Him. Therefore we “present our bodies” (our entire selves) “a
living sacrifice.” (Romans 12:1)
THE PROMISE OF A MAN’S BIRTH) AND HIS CIRCUMSTANCES.
It looked to be a most unlikely thing that a man whose very name declared
that “Jehovah was righteous” would ever go into captivity, and be
remarkable for a suffering and humiliated life. And yet this is the contrast
often observed. It puzzled Asaph and the writer of Job and the writer of
Ecclesiastes, in the olden time. It puzzles God’s people still. Men born in
sunshine spend lives in the ever-deepening shadows; and sufferers for life,
lying in their sick-beds, are the noblest of all witnesses that “Jehovah is
righteous.” Can there be Jehovah’s righteousness seen even in the
sufferings which come upon men as the natural fruitage of their own
wrong-doings? for that is precisely the case with
Babylonian tyranny. The presence of Jehozadak and Zedekiah among the
captives declared that there can be. Look below the train of causes of
which captivity seems the natural effect, and we may see God’s purposes
being accomplished, God’s laws being vindicated, and God’s
Judgments being executed. Ever we may turn away from the mere course
of history and details of events, and watch the “JUDGE OF ALL THE
EARTH DOING RIGH!” (Genesis 18:25) If, however, the suffering of
the good troubles us, we may find rest in an appeal to the great case —
OUR LORD SUFFERED! He was not merely “smitten of God and
afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). There was Divine righteousness in the affliction.
He was man’s Sin-bearer, and judged for others. Here is a firm foundational
truth (from the foundation of the world, CHRIST STOOD AS A LAMB
SLAIN (Revelation 13:8), then, which no earthly appearances or strange
human experiences can shake. Proclaim it once again, and proclaim it ever
— “JEHOVAH IS RIGHTEOUS.”
A Look at Two High Priests (vs. 10,15)
Among the sons of Levi the family of Aaron was the most conspicuous,
inasmuch as the Lord selected this family for the priestly office. The high
priest was always of Aaronic blood. And the succession of high priests
could no more be omitted from the chronicles of
popes from those of
from those of
executed this very important office during that part of the reign of
Solomon which saw the dedication of the magnificent first temple. This
was the very culmination of the splendor of the Hebrew monarchy, and
the office and duties of the national pontiff would be encompassed with
peculiar glory. As the religious representative of the nation, Azariah had
sacred functions to discharge, especially on the day of atonement, when the
sins belonging to the people’s prosperity were brought and confessed
before the Lord, and favor shown to the sacrificing and repentant nation.
Jehozadak, as in the succession, nominally filled the same office when the
Jews were carried into captivity. He shared the lot, the exile, of his
countrymen. It was well that he should go with the others and rather share
the fate of the nation, than remain in
office. Where the nation was, it became its religious head to be also.
TEACHES A VALUABLE LESSON. Ministers of religion should dwell
among the people, partake their lot, interest themselves in their concerns,
and be their leaders in praise, in obedience, in submission. Touched, like
their Master, with the feeling of the people’s infirmities (Hebrews 4:14-15),
they are thus able to “rejoice with those who do rejoice, and weep with
those who weep” (Romans 12:15). In such sympathy lies their true, their
spiritual and legitimate, strength. Not as lords over God’s heritage, but as
shepherds, sharing the lot of their flock, may they follow Christ, serve the
people, and do the will of God.
16 “The sons of Levi; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 17 And these be the
names of the sons of Gershom; Libni, and Shimei. 18 And the sons of
Kohath were, Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel. 19 The sons of
Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites
according to their fathers.” These verses have a reenumeration of the three
sons of Levi, and differ from the enumeration of v.1, in being followed by the
sons of each of these three, and afterwards by the line of descendants from
each, instead of by the sons of only one, Kohath, and his descendant in
only one stem, the high priest stem, and with only one object. All these
names agree with Exodus 6:17-19 and Numbers 3:17-20 (compare also
Numbers 3:21-36 with 26:57-60), with the trifling exceptions already alluded to,
in the Hebrew spelling of Gershom and the Authorized Version spelling of Shimei
and the Authorized Version Mahali of Exodus 6:19. The latter half of v. 19,
according to the Hebrew, should rather refer to what has preceded, and be a
“subscription,” though it might best suit the connection to regard it as introducing
what was to follow, and as being a “superscription.”
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.”
These two verses apparently give seven lineal descendants of Gershom, through
his eldest son Libni. The question is whether this list of seven is part of the longer
list of thirteen from Gershom (vs. 39-43). terminating with Asaph; and it seems
impossible to decide the question satisfactorily. From the occurrence of the name
Shimei in this latter, though in the wrong place, viz. after Jahath in the descending
order, instead of before him, some think that it is a line from Shimei, the brother
of Libni, and second son of Gershom. If this be so, the occurrence of three names,
the same and in the same order, is a thing to be remarked, though possible enough
in itself. But if not, then either the names Joah, Iddo, Jeaterai, in the former list,
must be interchangeable with Ethan, Adaiah, Ethni, respectively in the latter
(a thing which the similarity of the Hebrew letters might render credible), while
the Shimei of v. 42 is omitted from v. 20, and the Libni of v. 20 from v. 43; or
the one list must pick up some links and leave others, and the other do
likewise, whilst those taken the same by both are in the minority. This last
supposition may be the more probable, though not free from difficulty.
Zimmah. Beside the uncertainty of the identity of this Zimmah with the
same name in v. 42, it is very remarkable that we find a Zimmah, also
father of a Joah, in II Chronicles 29:12; also in this same passage we
find three other reproductions of a similar kind — father and son-of what
have first been found in this sixth chapter, viz. “Mahath, son of Amasai”
(v. 35); “Joel, son of Azariah” (v. 36); “Kishi, son of Abdi” (v. 44). It
seems as though the individual descendant was quoted in these instances by
the name of the ancestor at a certain point.
These next seven verses (22-28) give descendants, probably twenty-one in
number, from Levi, through his second son, Kohath, to Joel, eldest son of
Samuel and (v. 33) father of Heman. The descendants of Kohath through
his eldest son, Amram, have been given from vs. 3-15. But the descendants
now to he spoken of are through another son, here called Amminadab,
a name not appearing among the four of v. 2, but apparently standing for the
Izhar of that verse. For he is said to have a son Korah, by whom, indeed,
the genealogy moves on, while in vs. 37-38 and Numbers 16:1, Korah is said
to be the son of Izhar. Without the occurrence of this clue, we should have
been at a loss to tell who Amminadab was, as we are now at a loss to explain
the unexplained substitution of this new name. The Vatican Septuagint has
Amminadab, while the Alexandrine has altered to Izhar, probably deeming the
other name a mere error.
22 “The sons of Kohath; Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his
son, 23 Elkanah his son, and Ebiasaph his son, and Assir his son,”
Korah (compare Numbers 16:27, 32-33, with 26:9-11). From Exodus 6:24 we
also learn that the three next in lineal succession to Korah, were Assir, Elkanah,
and Ebiasaph, or Abiasaph; though Elkanah and Assir are omitted from v. 37,
in the ascending line.
24 “Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son.
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.” Tahath. From this name onwards to the end of v. 28 we
must have recourse to the reversed list of vs. 33 -37, in order to make out
our way. Even then we shall scarcely have a chain of all the links; e.g. there
is no evidence here (as there is in the case of Amminadab above) that Uriel
and Zephaniah designate the same person. The lists may be brought,
however, into pretty close harmony without any violent suppositions or
substitutions, thus: Tahath, Uriel, = Zephaniah; Uzziah =Azariah;
Shaul = Joel; Elkanah, Amasai, Ahimoth = Mahath; Elkanah
Zophai = Zuph; Nahath = Toah, Tohu, (I Samuel 1:1), Eliab =Eliel,
Elihu (Ibid); Jeroham, Elkanah, Samuel = Shemuel; Joel (I Samuel 8:2),
which distinctly gives Joel as firstborn son, and supplies the explanation of
the Vashni here by expressly mentioning Abiah as “his second” son).
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.” In v.19 the two
sons of Merari, viz. Mahli and Mushi, are given. Here one of them, Mahli, is
repeated, with six descendants, of no one of whom have we any other information.
From comparison of Numbers 3:20 and 26:58 there can be no doubt that
Mahli and Mushi were brothers, each of whom founded a family. The descending
line of Mushi, unalluded to here, comes to the surface in vs. 44-47.
Lessons from Lists; or, a Sermon in Names (vs. 1-30)
Here is a number of names; they belong to men of varied characters and different
careers, though all of them were children of privilege, most of them in a high degree.
CHARACTER OF PRIVILEGED MEN. We might suppose that men
who have come under the same class of influences would be much like one
another in spirit and behavior. But such a supposition would be a great
mistake. It is true that there is much of human nature in us all, and that the
best men have their failings while the worst have their redeeming points;
but it remains true that between man and man, having the same advantages,
there is often a great gulf found. In the same list of names of the sons of
Levi we have Moses and Samuel, who were holy among the holy, and also
the sons of Samuel, who accepted bribes and perverted judgment
(vs. 3, 28). It is painful to think that, while among the children of privilege
may be found some that are like God Himself in, their spirit and their life,
there are others in whose heart the basest passions dwell, and whoso
lives are pestilent and shameful. It is sadly possible for those that are
“exalted to heaven” in privilege to be “cast down to hell” (Matthew
11:23) in guilt and condemnation.
BAD UPON THE EARTH. This is a list of men belonging to different
generations, but we are reminded by contrast of the truth that good and
bad are contemporaneous and closely intermingled. Here the wheat and the
tares grow together (Matthew 13:24-30). Dwelling beneath the same roof,
sitting down to the same hearth and table, working in the same shop, writing
at the same desk, walking the same street, are the holy and the profane, the
pure and the unclean, the generous and the selfish, the wise and the foolish.
Ø What a reason for watchfulness and prayer!
Ø What opportunity for usefulness!
· THAT OUR RECORD WILL BE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF
GOD AS WELL AS IN THE LIVES OF MEN. Not much is written in
the Book of God respecting most of these; we know nothing of them but
their names. A deeper obscurity than this will be our portion; not even our
names will go down one century, certainly they will not descend to thirty
centuries. We need not regret that; but we shall do well to remember:
Ø That not only our NAMES BUT OUR ACTIONS are written
in some IMPERISHABLE RECORD in GOD’S
Ø That our lives are written and are repeated in the hearts and
lives of men whom we have influenced. Fame is rare enough and
vain enough. Lasting work, abiding influence, is common enough
and serious enough.
In the early verses of this section (vs. 31-48) we may notice, if not the first
beginning, yet some of the earliest crystallization of the forms of religious
services. It was given to David to settle the ark after its travels through the
wilderness, its sojourn in various places since then, doubtless always within the
care of some Levitical family (except when taken by enemies, I Samuel 4:11;
5., 6.), and especially in its prolonged twenty years’ sojourn at Kirjath-jearim
(Ibid. ch. 7:1-2; II Samuel 6:1-19; ch.13:3-14; 15:1-3; 17:5). It now
had rest, though its place of rest was only within “curtains” (II Samuel 7:2;
I Chronicles 17:1), i.e. in a special separate tent prepared for it by David, which
tent was probably the suggestion, and as it were the nucleus, of the coming
grand temple itself — the house of God. The event was naturally one of
great joy and thanksgiving, of which David himself was the chief leader
(II Samuel 6:17-21; I Chronicles 16:1-3); but it appears also that it
furnished the occasion of appointing fixed choir conductors, leaders of the
service of song” (I Chronicles 16:4-7, 37, 41-42; 25:1-7).
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.”
The Service of Song (v.31)
The ministry of psalmody, in its definite organization, was instituted by David. The
occasion of this was when the ark was placed, as in a resting place, in the tabernacle
of the congregation. The arrangements then made were the germ of the more elaborate
temple service under Solomon. From the time of David, “the sweet singer of
“the service of song in the house of the Lord” occupied an important position in
religious observances of
outburst of joy, the fervor and rapture of love, the pathos of sorrow, find
their form and utterance in song.
OF RELIGIOUS FEELING. The highest form of human feeling impels to
the expression vocally appropriate. Psalmody, especially choral and
congregational psalmody, forms the most inspiriting vehicle of religious
gratitude, adoration, and praise.
OF PSALMODY. The lyric outbursts of joy which took place when the
Lord confounded Pharaoh and delivered His chosen people, were the first
recorded instances. But David himself was the true leader of psalmody,
both Hebrew and Christian. Christ and His disciples “sang an hymn”
(Mark 14:26), and Paul and Silas sang praises at midnight in the jail of
God’s praises in their social assemblies.
ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. Presuming that the service, the homage, the
love, are sincere, the inspired writers summon all God’s people to join in
thus celebrating His praises. “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing
praises unto the King, sing praises” (Psalm 47), this the admonition
of the psalmist; and the apostle thus directs us: “Is any merry? let him
sing psalms.” (James 5:13)
PSALMODY OF LABOR, ART, AND DEVOTION. We find that,
under the old dispensation, there was a regular ministry consecrated to “the
service of song.” It would be strange if it were lawful to spend time,
money, strength, skill, upon exercises intended to give pleasure to men,
and at the same time unlawful to offer aught to God save that which cost
us nothing (II Samuel 24:24). God will have our best; and when we have
offered this, of His own have we given Him. (ch. 29:14)
ACCEPTABLENESS OF THE SERVICE OF SONG DEPEND UPON
THE WORSHIPPER’S SPIRITUALITY AND SINCERITY. The form
without the substance, the art without the spirit, the song without the love
and faith it should express, — these are vain and worthless. Let us offer
acceptable sacrifices, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks unto His Name
of song will be only a hollow sound, unmusical in the Master’s ear, if we
rise no higher than the harmony of blending voices. There must be LIVING
SPIRITUAL SYMPATHY. All souls must join together as well as all
this great matter of the service of song, as in all other things, “the Lord
looketh upon the heart.” We must “make melody in our hearts” unto him,
or the sound of our song will rise no higher than the roof of our building; it
will not reach his throne.
the new dispensation as it did in the old; but it must take the “lower room.”
Congregational psalmody is the desideratum, the perfect thing, the
standard at which to aim. “Every creature in heaven and on the earth”
did John hear saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power,
be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for
ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13); “A great multitude, which no
man could number... stood.., and cried with a loud voice, saying,
Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto
the Lamb…..Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and
thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our
God for ever and ever ” (Revelation 7:10,12). Let the Church on
earth anticipate the Church in heaven, by every voice, the voice of a
great multitude, being heard in the accents of praise, participating in
“the service of song in the house of the Lord.” This will be:
Ø A source of joy to each participant.
Ø A service to fellow-worshippers.
Ø An acceptable offering to the Saviour.
32 “And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle
of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had built the house of the
their order.” Instances full of illustration of this ministering… with singing
and waiting on their office are found in II Chronicles 5:12; 29:26-31; 35:15-16.
Waiting on Their Office (v. 32)
The Levites were the ministers of the tabernacle and the temple, whose
business it was, in subordination to the priests, to attend to the appointed
services, sacrifices, ceremonies, and festivals. Of these, certain families
were selected for the conduct of the musical part of the religious services.
David, himself a poet and a musician, set apart these families; the members
of which, from his time forward, were trained for “the service of song in
the house of the Lord.” Clothed in white garments, some performed upon
cymbals, psalteries, harps, and other instruments of music; whilst others
lifted up their voices, and sang the praises of Him who is “GOOD AND
HIS MERCY ENDURETH FOR EVER!” (Psalm 107:1; 136:1-26)
It is recorded that, upon certain great occasions in Jewish history, as, for example,
when Solomon dedicated the temple, when Hezekiah cleansed the same building
and restored the dignity of its services, and when Josiah observed a solemn Passover,
these musical attendants took a prominent part and rendered an effective service in
the sacred solemnities that were observed (II Chronicles 5:12; 29:27-30; 35:15).
Perhaps nothing at once more simple and more significant can be said of any men
or any class of men than is here said in description and to the credit of the families
of Heman, Asaph, and Jeduthun: “They waited on their office according to their
order.” The language may fairly be taken as applicable to all true servants of God,
to all true friends and followers of Christ.
TO FILL, A SERVICE TO RENDER.
Ø Mark the divinity apparent in every human life. It is only within
limits that we choose or that others choose for us. “The steps of a
good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). “My times
are in thy hand.” (Ibid. ch. 31:15)
Ø Mark the individuality of every man’s vocation. The Levites did
not perform the priests’ service; and amongst the Levites all were not
appointed to “the service of song.” So is it with us and our several
positions in the Church and in the world. Nothing is weaker and more
foolish than to say, “How well I could fill the position and do the work
of my neighbor!” It is your duty to which you must look, that there may
be no lack of service through your failure.
UPON A PROPER SYSTEM AND IN AN
Levites had their regulations to which they were obedient. And the same is
true of us all. “Order is Heaven’s first law.” We have not only a duty to
fulfill — we have to fulfill it at the right time and place. Qualities necessary
for efficiency in ordinary business or professional life are requisite in the
service of God. Take these three:
Without these it is scarcely possible to glorify God in a practical and active
life. Without these we shall lose our self-respect, and we shall lose our
influence over our fellow-men.
LORD AND JUDGE.
Ø The watchful eye of God is always upon us.
Ø By providential appointment, careful fidelity makes its mark upon
Ø “We must all of us appear before the judgment-seat of
Christ” (II Corinthians 5:10). “The fire shall try every man’s
work, of what sort it is.” (I Corinthians 3:13)
A MODEL AND A MOTIVE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Ø Consider how Christ “waited upon his office.” He came to do the
will of God. (Psalm 40:7-8; John 4:34) “He took upon Him the
form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:7). He was found faithful. It
was only when He could say, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) THAT
HE CONSENTED TO DIE. “I lay down my life, that I might
take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of
myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take
it again” (John 10:17-18). In life and in death it was His meat
and drink to do His Father’s will (John 4:34). Thus HE LEFT
US AN EXAMPLE that we should follow His steps. (I Peter 2:21)
Ø Consider that His humiliation, His cross, are the inspiration of the
service and obedience of His people. It is the love of Christ which
constraineth us. (II Corinthians 5:14) Do not suppose that Divine
love cannot work according to the principles of human order and
system; these are the machinery, but that is the motive.
We have here a rebuke to the irreligious, and a summons to a better life. We have also
an admonition and encouragement to those who are endeavoring to serve their
Saviour, and glorify their God.
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 of Shemuel,
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
each of the three chief singers or musicians (their duty was both vocal and
instrumental) of David’s appointment, beginning, according to the analogy of
v. 2, supra, with Heman, the descendant of Kohath, instead of Asaph from
Gershom. So the place of Heman was still the place of honor, in the center,
with Asaph on the right and Ethan on the left (vs. 39, 44). Heman is the
twenty-first according to this list (vs. 33-38) after Levi, but the genealogy is
indistinct (see above, vs. 22-28) between Shemuel (Samuel) and Assir. Heman
comes fourteenth after Levi. This Heman is to be distinguished from Heman the
“son of Zerah” (ch. 2:6), and with but little doubt, therefore, from Heman
the Ezrahite (Zerahite) of Psalm 88. On the other hand, a theory has been
suggested by Lord Arthur C. Hervey which might reconcile the two. He supposes
that if Heman the Kohathite (or his father) had married an heiress of the house
of Zerah, he might have become reckoned in the line of Zerah as well as in that
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 Malchiah, 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.” Asaph is called
brother of Heman, either as brother in office or generally as relative in the degree
of cousin by many removes. He stands fourteenth in line of descent after Levi,
while Ethan (v. 44) stands thirteenth. If the line of Heman (as given in vs. 33-38)
were correct it would force on us the conviction that there are several omissions
in these two lines; but if these are correct, we must conclude that there are
unwarranted additions in the other. On the names of Asaph’s ancestors, see
notes on vs. 20-21. From II Chronicles 29:30 it seems plain that Asaph was
himself a composer of psalms, and not simply either the musician or rehearser
of those of David.
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 Malluch, 45 The son of
Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, 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.” Ethan. This passage and ch.15:19 are the
leading passages for this name Ethan. But in succeeding references (and they
are not a few) to the three chief leaders of song, the name appears as
Jeduthun; unless, as seems scarcely credible, two different persons are
designated. The occasion and significance of the alteration of the name are
not stated, however, and elude detection so far. In II Chronicles 35:15
the title of “king’s seer” (hzO,j) is added to the name Jeduthun, which is
variously spelt (ˆWtyir]y ˆWtWdty ˆWtduy]). This arrangement of chief
singers, one from each of the three branches of Levi’s family, lasted
unbroken to Josiah’s reign (Ibid.); and the representatives of Jeduthun, at all
events, are mentioned in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:17-18). Kishi.
The most frequent form of this name is Kish (vyqi, equivalent to the Vulgate
Cis), if, indeed, the form of this verse and that of ch. 15:17, Kushaiah
(Why;v;Wq), are not merely the fruit of a corrupt text.
48 “Their brethren also the Levites were appointed unto all manner of
service of the tabernacle of the house of God.” The all manner of service,
from that of the three “leaders of song” on their “cymbals of brass” (ch.15:19)
down through the other Levitical grades, is fully illustrated in many places
(Ibid. vs.18-24; 16:37-42; 23:2-32; 25:1-8; 26:1-26).
The Honorableness of Lesser Service (v. 48)
It is a familiar thought to the Christian that what is done to others is really done unto
Christ. Upon it rests our Divine Master’s observation, and to it He gives His Divine
approval. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). And we are permitted
even to consider that such approval may rest upon so small and so simple a thing
as the offering of “a cup of water” (Mark 9:41). We have the corresponding
teaching from the older dispensation suggested in this verse. What was done in the
old tabernacle service was done unto God, and was accepted of Him. Common
work, porters’ work, scavengers’ work, all the wide circle of commonplace
Levites’ work, servants’ work, was as truly service to God as the offerings
of priests and the chantings of the singers. Two things may be fully opened
great is that which makes a large figure to the eye, and man has in every
age a set of arbitrary standards by which he judges the great and small.
little significance. Things are judged according to their capacity for
expressing character, quality, principle, virtue. To God a thing is miserably
small that can offer no sphere for the utterance of a soul’s love, and
loyalty, and obedience, and unselfishness, and trust. So often to God man’s
high things are low, man’s first things are last. Nothing has character
in itself. It gains character only by the spirit in which it is done. Then we ask
what spirit is it which can give greatness or littleness to our human actions.
There are certainly these two:
Ø loyalty to God and the right; and
Ø service to others.
Paul argues that the “lesser services” (I Corinthians 12:23) have the honorable
stamp of superior necessity and usefulness. Porters’ work in the temple bore
directly on decency and cleanliness, and cultivated the idea of the pure and
the orderly in God’s worship. As well do without priests as without Levites.
“Careful less to please thee much than to serve thee perfectly.”
These next five verses allude to the more special functions of “Aaron and his
sons,” as they are here called, i.e., his lineal descendants (vs. 4-15; Ezra 7:2-5),
whose names, stopping at Ahimaaz, the eleventh generation, are the same with
those of vs. 3-8. The manifest inference is that the present enumeration, stopping
with the name of one contemporary with David (II Samuel 15:27), was borrowed
from tables of the date of David, and not of the date of the Captivity (v. 15).
49 “But Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of the burnt offering,” -
(Leviticus 1:3-17) - “and on the altar of incense,” – (Exodus 25:6; 30:1-9,
34-38; Leviticus 16:12) - “and were appointed for all the work of
the place most holy,” – (Leviticus 16:12,14-15,17,20) -“and to make an
“according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.”
The Constant Work of Atonement (v. 49)
It is only to the atonements of the Mosaic system and the general truths
which they suggest that we propose here to direct attention. The subject of
the Divine atonement for sin is too large and many-sided for efficient
treatment in any one homily or sermon; and yet there is the danger of
producing an imperfect or erroneous impression when any piece or portion
of the great subject is isolated for consideration. The word “atonement” in
the Old Testament means a “covering over,” and “hiding from view;” and it
is applied to some sacrifice whose acceptableness covers over and hides
from view the unworthiness and transgression of him who brings it, or to some
act, such as that of Phinehas (Numbers 25:1-13), which, because it vindicates the
Divine honor, Law, and righteousness, is regarded as covering over iniquity, and
making possible the pardon of the transgressors. But some changes passed
in the connotation of the term, so that the New Testament Greek
equivalent became the word “reconciliation,” which appears to regard the
word as at-one-ment, but does not carry over the idea of covering
transgression by a sacrifice or a loyal act. The appointment of Aaron and
his sons for this particular work emphasizes the fact that, under the older
dispensation, THERE WAS CONSTANT NEED FOR ATONEMENT!
(Hebrews 9:25) Every individual needed that it should be made for him again
and again, and every year a great public atonement was made for the sins of
the people. (But not so with Christ’s atonement – “Christ was ONCE
OFFERED to bear the sins of many” (Ibid. vs. 22-28). The reason
appears to be this: every fresh act of willfulness and sin imperiled the
standing of the individual and the nation as within the Divine covenant, and
brought down upon them all the penalties of the broken covenant —
penalties involving even the surrender of life. It would help greatly to
clearness of view if we recognized that atonement always bears relation to
man’s standing before God, and not to man’s personal cleanness or
cleansing. The constant atonement covered the sin which broke the
covenant-relations, and restored, for the individual and the nation, the old
covenant-conditions. The daily burnt offering was a daily atonement, or
vindicatory act, which covered the people’s sin and set them again in full
covenant-standing. The private burnt offerings did the same thing for the
individual. And the “DAY OF ATONEMENT” did it, in a sublime way, as
a grand national spectacle, for the due impression of the entire nation. As
carried over into Christianity, and gaining its moral and spiritual aspects, we
must duly conserve the features illustrated in the Old Testament atonements.
fully argued by Paul in the earlier chapters of the Epistle to the Romans.
Beyond and besides other effects of human sin, this must be fully
recognized — it sets us all out of our true standing with God, out of the
covenant-relation which is conditioned by our obedience and faithfulness.
that is infinitely acceptable to Him. In Judaic symbol, the spotlessly pure
and absolutely complete animal presented entire. In Christian history, the
offering of the person of THE SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN,
THE LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH OR SPOT, on the altar of the
Divine will. (I Peter 1:19-20)
representation to God of his own will and purpose. This declared the
sincerity of a Mosaic atonement; this makes Christ’s offering to be for US!
There is, however, for us no need of a constantly renewed atonement.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews argues this from the surpassing dignity
and worth of the atonement offered by Christ, and from the relation in
which He, the Divine Son and Divine man, stands both to God and to us.
But that one sacrifice is our constant daily pledge to God that we will
keep in the covenant of holy service to Him. Every morning to name
Christ’s Name is to do, in effect, what the Jew did every morning by
sharing in the burnt offering. It is to declare our standing within the
NEW COVENANT and to pledge ourselves afresh that we will be true
and faithful to all its responsibilities and claims
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.” Eleazar. The third son of Aaron (by Elisheba, daughter of
Amminadab, and descended from
descendants are given here, inasmuch as he was appointed chief of the
Levites (Numbers 3:32); ministered as a priest with his brother Ithamar,
even before the death of Aaron; and succeeded him as high priest
(Ibid. ch.20:28). It was in Eleazar’s family that the high priesthood
remained (as above) till the time of Eli, who was descended from Ithamar,
and it returned again to the line of Eleazar in Zadok, fulfilling the intimation of
I Samuel 2:30.
The writer returns upon his steps to give the cities and dwelling-places of the Levites,
beginning with the priestly members of the Kohathite line (vs. 54-61), then taking
those of the Gershomite (v. 62) and Merarite lines (vs. 63-65) in order; and again
in the same order disposing of the members not priestly (vs. 66-70; 71-76; 77-81)
of the same three branches.
54 “Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their
coasts,” - μt;wOryfi means the settlements of whatever people in question,
surrounded and protected by whatever fence or defense customary - “of the
sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot.”
For theirs was the lot is more intelligible with the addition of the word “first,”
supplied in Joshua 21:10, i.e. theirs was the first lot. The whole drift of the
present passage, with the remainder of the chapter, is made entirely plain by
Numbers 35:1-8 and Joshua 21:1- 10. But the omission and the alteration of
individual names of places occasion some delay.
they gave them
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
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 Bethshemesh with her suburbs: 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.” Our v. 55 is given somewhat more fully in Joshua 21:11;
our v. 56 is identical with Ibid. v.12; and our vs. 57-60 correspond substantially
with Ibid. vs.13-19, but from this latter source we are glad to supply the two names
of v. 60.
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 cities.”
Also in Joshua, our Hilen, Ashan, and Alemeth appear as
Almon respectively, although in regard to the intermediate name of these
three the places cannot be accepted as identical, for they are mentioned
side by side in Joshua 19:7 and in ch. 4:32, but we must admit an error involved.
V. 56 (see Joshua 14:14; 21:12). V. 61 seems to be an anticipation of vs. 66-70,
with which verses, if we incorporate it, we shall obtain substantially the same results
as are found in Joshua 21:5, 20-26; but again we are glad of the latter source to
supply for us the two places, Eltekeh and Gibbethon, necessary to enable us to
count up the ten cities of our ver. 61, while our Jokmeam, Aner, and
Bileam appear as probably the corrected readings of Kibzaim, Tanach, and
Gath-rimmon respectively in Joshua. The sons of Kohath.., left (v. 61),
the residue (Authorized Version, v. 66), the remnant (v. 70), point (as
above) to the non-priestly descendants in the Kohath line. Summing up, we
see that the Kohathite priests had thirteen cities from the allotments of
Judah and Simeon and Benjamin, and the Kohathite non-priests had ten,
from Ephraim, Dan, and West Manasseh. One might detect in all this some
germ of the more modern parochial system, so far at least as regards the
distributed residence of a clerical and ministerial order, though not with
sacred buildings similarly distributed.
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
cities.” The twenty-three cities that belonged to the sons of Kohath
are now followed by the thirteen due to the sons of Gershom, taken from
the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and half Manasseh. The fact only is
stated here, the details being supplied in vs. 71-76. And it is easily to be
seen that, as from the most important tribes were levied the cities for
Levites first in precedence, so the same principle is observed to the end.
The distribution of cities to the third branch of Levi’s family, that of Merari, now
follows. They are selected, four from each of the tribes of Reuben, Gad,
Zebulun (Joshua 21:7, 34-40).
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
they gave by lot out of the tribe of the children of
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
they gave also
suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs, 69 And Aijalon with her
suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs: 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
suburbs:” Golan was one of the three cities of refuge east of the
(Joshua 20:8), the other two being Bezer, of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in
connected with Og King of
13:12). It is called Beeshterah in Joshua 21:27.
72 “And out of the tribe of Issachar; Kedesh with her suburbs, Daberath
with her suburbs,” Kedesh. There were three places of this name.
the same with Kadesh-barnea (Ibid. 15:3).
ch.12:22; it is called Kishon in Ibid. ch.21:28.
in the tribe of Naphtali (Ibid. ch. 19:37; 20:7; 21:32; Judges 4:6-10).
Daberath (Authorized Version, Dabaroh, Joshua 21:28); mentioned as on the
boundary of Zebulun in Ibid. ch.19:12.
73 “And Ramoth with her suburbs, and Anem with her suburbs:”
Ramoth; called in Joshua 21:28-29, Jarmuth; a place of which nothing else is
known, but possibly one with Remeth (Ibid. ch.19:21). Anem; probably the
En-gannim of Ibid. vs. 21, 29, and perhaps a contraction of the name.
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
suburbs, and Hammon with her suburbs, and Kirjathaim with her suburbs.”
Mashal, Hukok, Hammon, Kirjathaim, are found as Mishal, Helkath,
Hammoth-dor, Kartan, in Joshua 21:30-32; 19:35.
77 “Unto the rest of the children of Merari” - Since none have yet
been spoken of as having received their cities, we find the explanation of
these words in their order in Joshua 21:34, “Unto the families of the
children of Merari, the rest of the Levites.” To our list here, Jokneam and
Kartah (Ibid.) need to be supplied, and Rimmon and Tabor here appear
(Ibid. v.35), there as Dimnah and Nahalai - “were given out of the tribe
of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her suburbs:”
78 “And on
the other side Jordan by
were given them out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer in the wilderness with
her suburbs, and Jahzah with her suburbs,” Bezer. The full description of the
place is “Bezer in the wilderness, in the land of the Mishor” (Deuteronomy 4:43),
and “Bezer in the wilderness, in the Mishor,” i.e. “the plain,” or as some, “the
downs” (Joshua 20:8). This, as mentioned above, was one of the three cities of
refuge east of the
79 “Kedemoth also with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs:” –
The two names of this verse, with the two of the preceding, i.e. all the four names
of the cities of Reuben, are absent from their proper place in the list in Joshua 21,
in the Hebrew Textus Receptus and the Vulgate, though found in Ibid. ch.13:18.
80 And out
of the tribe of Gad; Ramoth in
and Mahanaim with her suburbs, 81 And Heshbon with her suburbs,
and Jazer with her suburbs.”
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.