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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

1 Chronicles 6

 

 

Verses 1-81

2. The Descendants of Gershom, Kohath, and Merari, in a Double Series: 1 Chronicles 6:1-15

1 Chronicles 6:1-2.The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. And these are the 3 names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimi. And the sons of Kohath: 4Amram and Izhar, and Hebron and Uzziel. The sons of Merari: Mahli and 5 Mushi. And these are the families after their fathers.

6To Gershom: Libni his Song of Solomon, Jahath his Song of Solomon, Zimmah his son. Joah his Song of Solomon, Iddo his Song of Solomon, Zerah his Song of Solomon, Jeatherai his son.

7The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his Song of Solomon, Korah his Song of Solomon, Assir his Song of Solomon 8, 9, Elkanah his Song of Solomon, and Ebiasaph his Song of Solomon, and Assir his son. Tahath his Song of Solomon, 10Uriel his Song of Solomon, Uzziah his Song of Solomon, and Shaul his son. And the sons of Elkanah: 11Amasai and Ahimoth. Elkanah his Song of Solomon, 1Elkanah of Zoph his Song of Solomon, and Nahath12, 13his son. Eliab his Song of Solomon, Jeroham his Song of Solomon, Elkanah his son. And the sons of Samuel: the first-born[FN2] Vashni, and Abiah.

14The sons of Merari: Mahli, Libni his Song of Solomon, Shimi his Song of Solomon, Uzzah his Song of Solomon 15Shima his Song of Solomon, Haggiah his Song of Solomon, Asaiah his son.

3. The Ancestors of the Levitical Songmasters Heman, Asaph, and Ethan: 1 Chronicles 6:16-34

16And these are they whom David set over the singing in the house of the 17 Lord, after the resting of the ark. And they ministered before the dwelling of the tent of meeting with singing, until Solomon built the house of the Lord 18 in Jerusalem, and they attended in their order to their service. And these are they who attended, and their sons: of the sons of Kohath: Heman the 19 singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel. The son of Elkanah, the son of 20 Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah. The son of Zuph,[FN3] the son of 21 Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai. The son of Elkanah, the 22 son of Joel, the son of Prayer of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah. The son of Tahath, 23the 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.

24And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, Asaph the son of 25 Berechiah, the son of Shima. The son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the 26 son of Malchiah. The son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah27, 28The son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimi. The son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi.

29And the sons of Merari, their brethren on the left hand : Ethan the son of 30 Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch. The son of Hashabiah, the Song of Solomon 31of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah. The son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of 32 Shamer. The son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi.

33And their brethren the Levites, given for all service of the tabernacle of 34 the house of God. And Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt-offering, and on the altar of ineense, for all the work of the holy of holies, and to atone for Israel, in all that Moses, the servant of God, had commanded.

4. The Series of High Priests from Eleazar to Ahimaaz (in the time of Solomon) : 1 Chronicles 6:35-38

35And these are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his Song of Solomon, Phinehas his Song of Solomon, 36, 37Abishua his son. Bukki his Song of Solomon, Uzzi his Song of Solomon, Zerahiah his son. Meraioth 38 his Song of Solomon, Amariah his Song of Solomon, Ahitub his son. Zadok his Song of Solomon, Ahimaaz his son.

5. The Towns of the Levites: 1 Chronicles 6:39-66

39And these are their dwellings, by their districts, in their border, of the sons of Aaron: of the family of the Kohathites, for to them was the lot 40 And they gave them Hebron, in the land of Judah, and its suburbs round 41 about it. And the field of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the 42 son of Jephunneh. And to the sons of Aaron they gave the free towns,[FN4]Hebron and Libnah and its suburbs, and Jattir and Eshtemoa and its suburbs43, 44And Hilen[FN5] and its suburbs, Debir and its suburbs. And Ashan and its 45 suburbs, and Bethshemesh and its suburbs. And out of the tribe of Benjamin: Geba and its suburbs, and Allemeth and its suburbs, and Anathoth and its suburbs; all their cities were thirteen cities in their families.

46And to the sons of Kohath that remained of the family of the tribe, were 47 from the half-tribe, the half of Prayer of Manasseh, by lot, ten cities. And to the sons of Gershom for their families, of the tribe of Issachar, and of the tribe of Asher, and of the tribe of Naphtali, and of the tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, in Bashan, 48thirteen cities. To the sons of Merari for their families, of the tribe of Reuben, and of the tribe of Gad, and of the tribe of Zebulun, by lot twelve cities.

49And the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities and their suburbs 50 And they gave by lot out of the tribe of the sons of Judah, and the tribe of the sons of Simeon, and the tribe of the sons of Benjamin, these cities which they called by names.

51And of the families of the sons of Kohath, some had the cities of their 52 border out of the tribe of Ephraim. And they gave them the free towns, Shechem and its suburbs in Mount Ephraim, and Gezer and its suburbs53, 54And Jokmeam and its suburbs, and Beth-horon and its suburbs. And 55 Aijalon and its suburbs, and Gathrimmon and its suburbs. And out of the half-tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, Aner and its suburbs, and Bilam and its suburbs, to the family of the remaining sons of Kohath.

56To the sons of Gershom, out of the family of the half-tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, 57Golan in Bashan and its suburbs, and Ashtaroth and its suburbs. And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kedesh and its suburbs, Daberath and its suburbs58, 59And Ramoth and its suburbs, and Anem and its suburbs. And out of the 60 tribe of Asher, Mashal and its suburbs, and Abdon and its suburbs. And 61 Hukok and its suburbs, and Rehob and its suburbs. And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee and its suburbs, and Hammon and its suburbs, and Kiriathaim and its suburbs.

62To the sons of Merari that remained, out of the tribe of Zebulun, 63Rimmono and its suburbs, Tabor and its suburbs. And beyond Jordan by Jericho, east of Jordan, out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer in the wilderness 64 and its suburbs, and Jahzah and its suburbs. And Kedemoth and its 65 suburbs, and Mephaath and its suburbs. And out of the tribe of Gad, 66Ramoth in Gilead and its suburbs, and Mahanaim and its suburbs. And Heshbon and its suburbs, and Jazer and its suburbs.

EXEGETICAL

Preliminary Remark.—Of the five subdivisions into which this section falls, the first ( 1 Chronicles 6:27-41) is a list of the high priests from Aaron to the exile, which appears to be taken from a peculiar older source, partly because one portion of the high priests is enumerated again ( 1 Chronicles 6:35-38) under a different genealogical form (instead of הוֹליד before the name, בְּנוֹ comes after it), partly because Gershon ( 1 Chronicles 6:27) appears instead of “Gershom,” which is used throughout 1 Chronicles6 But the four divisions also in 1 Chronicles6 bear a more or less fragmentary character; only the genealogies of the three Davidic songmasters Heman, Asaph, and Ethan ( 1 Chronicles 6:16-34), appear to be complete in themselves, and without delect. In the register of the three Levitical families Gershom, Kohath, and Merari ( 1 Chronicles 6:1-15), many names are obviously wanting, and some parts, especially in the series of the Kohathites, 1 Chronicles 6:7-13, appear to have come down in a state of some confusion. The list of the Levitical cities, 1 Chronicles 6:39-66, presents great corruptions of the text in considerable number, with many inaccuracies, and a notorious perversion of the original order (see on 1 Chronicles 6:49-50), as a cursory comparison of it with that drawn from other sources in the book of Joshua, 21, will show. And lastly, the short list of the high priests appears clearly to be a fragment from its breaking off with Ahimaaz; Isaiah, moreover, closely connected with the preceding remarks in 1 Chronicles 6:33-34, on the ministry of the Aaronites in the temple, and might be fitly formed with these two verses into a special section referring to the ἀρχιερατικὸν γένος of the house of Levi and its functions. Comp. moreover, H. Graf, Zur Gesch. d. St. Levi, in A. Merx’s Archiv. f. Wissenschaftliehe Mrforsclmng des A. T. vol. i1870 (hypercritical on the content of our chapter, and throughout).

1. The Family of Aaron, or the High-priestly Line to the Exile: v27–41. a. Aaron’s descent from Levi : 1 Chronicles 6:27-29.—Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. So run the names of the three sons of Aaron in the Pentateuch, Genesis 46:11, Exodus 6:18. The form גֶּרְשׁוֹן is there constant, while for קְהָת is occasionally קֳהָת.

1 Chronicles 6:28. The names of the four sons of Kohath (the father of the chief Levitical line) are literally the same in Exodus 6:18. Likewise the names of the three children of Amram, and those of the four sons of Aaron, 1 Chronicles 6:29, agree literally with Exodus 6:20; Exodus 6:23; comp. Numbers 3:2-4, and in 1 Chronicles 24:2, the account of the premature death of Nadab and Abihu by a divine judgment, reminding us of Leviticus 10:1 ff.—b. The descendants and successors of Eleazar ( Numbers 20:28; Joshua 14:1) in the office of high priest: 1 Chronicles 6:30-41. Only this series of high priests from Eleazar is given here, as in 1 Chronicles 6:35 ff, not that from Ithamar, as the former only is strictly legitimate. That the line from Ithamar, to which Eli belonged ( 1 Samuel 2:30),—whose son was Phinehas, and grandson, Ahitub ( 1 Samuel 4:11; 1 Samuel 14:3), further, Ahitub’s son Ahijah or Ahimelech (comp. 1 Samuel 14:3 with 1 Chronicles 22:9 ff.), lastly, this Ahimelech’s son Abiathar (from whom Solomon took the high-priesthood to give it to Zadok, 1 Samuel 22:20; 1 Kings 2:26-35),—was not unknown to our author, is shown by his account in 1 Chronicles 24:3 ff. But the line of Eleazar only must have passed with him as really legitimate; for here, and in 1 Chronicles 6:35 ff, he ignores the line of Ithamar running parallel with it for several generations (from Uzzi, 1 Chronicles 6:31, the contemporary of Eli, to Zadok, the contemporary and rival of Abiathar, 1 Chronicles 6:34). On the relation existing between those collateral lines in the times of Saul and David we find nothing certain, either in our books or in those of Samuel or Kings. So much appears certain, however, from various intimations in the latter books, that the statement of Josephus (Antiq. Jud. viii13; comp. 1 Chronicles 5:12), that the descendants of Eleazar kept quiet, and lived as private persons during the supremacy of Eli, Phinehas, Ahitub, and Ahimelech, is incorrect, and rests on mere conjecture. Rather, from 1 Kings 3:4 ff. (comp. 1 Chronicles 16:39), Zadok appears to have presided at Gibeon, contemporary with Abiathar (the constant companion of David, 1 Samuel 22:20-23) at Jerusalem over the service of the sanctuary; and even before David, there seems to have been a certain co-existence of different sanctuaries with different high priests in different places,—an assumption that is at least better supported than the conjecture proposed by Thenius on 2 Samuel 8:17, that, in David’s time, the two high priests of the collateral houses might have held office in alternate years.

1 Chronicles 6:35. And Ahimaaz begat Azariah. As Ahimaaz ( 1 Chronicles 6:38) is son of Zadok, he belongs to the reign of Song of Solomon, within which also his son Azariah may have been high priest. Without doubt, the notice standing in 1 Chronicles 6:36, beside a younger Azariah (grandson of the other), “he that served as priest (כִּהֵן, Exodus 40:13; Leviticus 16:32) in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem,” only suits the present Prayer of Azariah, the grandson of Zadok. For in 1 Kings 4:2, also, Azariah the son (more exactly grandson) of Zadok is named as priestly prince under Solomon; his grandson of the same name in 1 Chronicles 6:36 cannot have lived before the time of Rehoboam, or even Asa or Jehoshaphat. We must therefore assume, with Bertheau, that the words quoted from 1 Chronicles 6:36 b originally stood after the name עֲזַרְיָה, 1 Chronicles 6:35 a,—an assumption which, from the second occurrence of the same name shortly after, and from the notorious occurrence of such erroneous transpositions in our section (see on 1 Chronicles 6:49 f.), involves no difficulty, and at least commends itself more than the attempt of Keil to identify the Azariah of 1 Chronicles 6:36 with the high priest of this name under king Uzziah (who, 2 Chronicles 26:17, boldly resisted the attempt of this king to burn incense in the sanctuary).[FN6] The name Azariah appears to have often recurred in the family of the high priest in the time of the kings; for as our series contains this name no less than three times ( 1 Chronicles 6:35-36; 1 Chronicles 6:40), we know from other accounts several other high priests of the name before the exile; thus, besides the one in Uzziah’s time, another in the time of Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 21:10, who cannot possibly be identical with those here mentioned. For the one named in 1 Chronicles 6:40 as the son of Hilkiah ( 2 Kings 22) may have lived under Josiah, nearly a century after Hezekiah; of all the three Azariahs of our section, therefore, only the first ( 1 Chronicles 6:35) can coincide with one of the elsewhere mentioned high priests of this name, and this can have been no other than that contemporary of Solomon named in 1 Kings 4:2.[FN7]

1 Chronicles 6:37. And Azariah begat Amariah. This is the Amariah mentioned, 2 Chronicles 19:11, in the history of Jehoshaphat. Here Oehler, Art. “Hoherpriester” in Herzog’s Real-Encycl. vi205, is certainly right, though opposed by Keil; in the sixty-one years between Solomon’s death and Jehoshaphat’s accession, the four high priests named between Zadok and Amariah may very well have followed in succession.

1 Chronicles 6:38. And Ahitub begat Zadok. In the neighbourhood of this second Ahitub, whom we must place at the beginning or middle of the ninth century b.c, we miss the Jehoiada who dethroned Athaliah, and governed some time for the young king Joash (who was perhaps, however, not properly high priest, but only “chief of the priesthood of his time,” that Isaiah, a very influential priest; see on 2 Chronicles 23:8). Even so somewhat later in the vicinity of Shallum is wanting the Uriah, known from 2 Kings 16:10 ff, who was high priest under king Ahaz. The list from 1 Chronicles 6:37-40, or for the last period of the kings (ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries), appears very defective and concise, like the New Testament genealogies of Jesus ( Matthew 1:8-10; Luke 3:28-31), which make the longest leaps in this very epoch. The number of the links omitted in our list between the high priests for the time of Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 6:36) and Seraiah must be at least seven; for with the ten generations of high priests enumerated 1 Chronicles 6:36-40, correspond seventeen generations of the house of David, from Solomon to Zedekiah (comp. 1 Chronicles 3:10-24); and there is no reason why the line of priests should have a less rapid succession of generations than that of kings.

1 Chronicles 6:41. And Jehozadak went away, to captivity in Babylon. הָלַךְ stands here for the usual more definite הָלַךְ בַּגּוֹלָה, Jeremiah 49:3. The carrying away of this Jehozadak must have taken place before the destruction of Jerusalem (perhaps599); for at the destruction of Jerusalem (588), not Hebrews, but his aged father Seraiah, grandson of Hilkiah, was high priest, as appears from the account in 2 Kings 25:18; 2 Kings 25:21, of his capture by Nebuchadnezzar and execution at Riblah. Jehozadak, in exile, became father of that Joshua who returned536 b.c. with Zerubbabel at the head of the exiles, Ezra 3:2; Ezra 5:2, Haggai 1:1.

With the series here given of the high priests from Aaron to the exile, agrees that in Ezra 7:1-5, which is more summary, and makes even greater omissions. If we compare the sixteen names there given, from Seraiah to Aaron, with twenty-two of our list, the shorter list of Ezra appears to be an abbreviated extract of the present longer one. But the author of the latter cannot have aimed at absolute completeness. The הוֹלִיד used by him to denote the descent is quite as much a mere phrase of indefinite and elastic meaning as the בֶּן of Ezra. Moreover, the argument of Gramberg, p55, from the repeated occurrence of the same names in our list, for the assumption of an arbitrary process of compiling by the Chronist, has been long refuted by Movers, Keil, and others. On the extra-biblical traditions concerning the series of high priests before the exile, in Josephus, in the Seder Olam, etc, comp. Lightfoot, Ministerium templi, Opp. t. i. p 682 sqq.; Selden, De successione in pontif. l. i; and Reland, Antiq. ii. c2. So far as these accounts supplement the statements of our text, they are almost devoid of any historical authority. [The line from Aaron is not said to be a list of actual high priests. External influence seems to have often determined who should be the actual high priest.—J. G. M.]

2. The Descendants of Gershom, Kohath, and Merari: 1 Chronicles 6:1-15.—These are first given alone with their sons ( 1 Chronicles 6:1-4); then follow further genealogical statements regarding the descendants of the most important of these sons, who became the ancestors of the three chief families of the Levites. That in the Kohathite family the line of Amram, the father of Aaron, is not given again, as in 1 Chronicles 6:27 ff, is explained by this, that the families of the Levites, not that of the high priest, are here to be registered. For the form “Gershom,” comp. on 1 Chronicles 6:27. The two sons each of Gershom and Merari, and the four sons of Kohath, bear the same names as in the Pentateuch, Exodus 6:16-19, Numbers 3:17-20; Numbers 26:57 ff.

1 Chronicles 6:4 b. And these are the families of Levi, after their fathers. This formula, found by the author in his source, seems rather to be the superscription for the following special genealogy of the Levites, than the subscription to what precedes; but comp. Exodus 6:19, where the same words serve clearly as the subscription to the list of the sons and grandsons of Levi.

1 Chronicles 6:5-6. Descendants of Gershom.—To Gershom: Libni his son, etc. The לְ before גֵּרְשׁוֹם serves for introduction, and therefore stands in another sense than in Ezra 2:6; Ezra 2:16, where it is nota genitivi; comp. rather Psalm 16:3; Isaiah 32:1.—Jeatherai, the last in this eightlink chain of the descendants of Gershom, may have lived in the times of Saul and David, but is not otherwise known. That some of the names in this series, Jahath, Zimmah, and Zerah, occur also among the ancestors of Asaph, who springs from the line of Shimi ( 1 Chronicles 6:24-28), does not warrant the identification of the two series, nor (as Bertheau affirms) the assumption that “these are inserted, not because they lead to Jeatherai, but because they belong to the ancestors of Asaph.” As if the recurrence of the same names in different lines were not usual in our genealogical sections!

1 Chronicles 6:7-13. Descendants of Kohath. Three series of names, each beginning with a new בְּנֵי or וּבְנֵי ( 1 Chronicles 6:7; 1 Chronicles 6:10; 1 Chronicles 6:13), without exhibiting their genealogical connection. The very beginning: “The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his Song of Solomon,” involves a surprising deviation both from 1 Chronicles 6:3 and from Exodus 6:18 ff, where no Amminadab occurs among the sons of Kohath. As the latter parallels, as 1 Chronicles 6:23, agree in naming an Izhar as the link between Kohath and Korah, with Keil and the majority of older expositors, Amminadab is to be regarded as a by-name of Izhar; for to regard Amminadab, with Bertheau, as a descendant of Izhar, and suppose an omission of the latter by some oversight, is less probable. Why should not the name Amminadab, otherwise occurring among the descendants of Judah as father of Nahshon and father-in-law of Aaron ( Exodus 6:23; Numbers 6:23; Ruth 1:19; comp. 1 Chronicles 2:10), by some no longer discoverable cause, serve as a by-name to Izhar, the second son Kohath ?—Korah his Song of Solomon, Assir his Song of Solomon, Elkanah his non, and Ebiasaph his son. If we compare the series in 1 Chronicles 6:18-23 of the ancestors of Heman, which presents so many points of contact with the present, that it may and must be used for the elucidation of several of its obscurities, it appears that Ebiasaph also (the father of that second Assir who is named 1 Chronicles 6:8) is a son of Korah, and a brother of that first Assir; and in fact Assir, Elkanah, and Ebiasaph appear in Exodus 6:24 as sons of Korah. Thus these three, not withstanding the inexact phraseology of our list, which seems to exhibit them as father, Song of Solomon, and grandson, are rather to be taken for brothers. That Ebiasaph, the third of these Korahites, had a son Assir, and this a son Tahath, is recorded also in the genealogy of Heman, 1 Chronicles 6:22. On the contrary, the names of the three following members, Uriel, Uzziah, and Shaul, vary from the parallel names Zephaniah,, Prayer of Azariah, and Joel, in the line of Heman, 1 Chronicles 6:21; whence it would appear natural to assume a double name (favoured by the known identity of the king’s name, Uzziah-Azariah) for these three members; but this is liable to grave doubts.

1 Chronicles 6:10. And the sons of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth. Among the ancestors of Heman also, 1 Chronicles 6:20, an Amasai is named as son of an Elkanah. It is natural to identify that Elkanah with the present, to take him for a son of Joel, son of Prayer of Azariah, and so supply the severed connection between Shaul, 1 Chronicles 6:9, and Elkanah. The present Elkanah might also, indeed, be the son of Korah mentioned 1 Chronicles 6:8, and brother of Ebiasaph. It is impossible, however, to decide absolutely.

1 Chronicles 6:11. Elkanah his Song of Solomon, Elkanah of Zoph his son, or “Elkanah Zophai.” As the text is here notoriously corrupt, and an Elkanah, be it the first or the second, is redundant (see Crit. Note), it should perhaps be emended, with Bertheau, “Elkanah his Song of Solomon, Zophai his Song of Solomon,” etc. In this case, a desirable agreement with 1 Chronicles 6:20 is gained, where Elkanah appears, not indeed as Song of Solomon, but as grandson of Amasai (through a certain Mahath omitted in our text), and where, further, Zuph is named as son of this Elkanah, a name that is obviously identical with Zophai (comp. Kelubai, 1 Chronicles 2:9, with Kelub, 1 Chronicles 4:11).

1 Chronicles 6:12. Eliab his Song of Solomon, Jeroham his Song of Solomon, Elkanah his son. As “Nahath,” the father of Eliab, bears a name that is closely allied in etymology to Toah, the son of Zuph (or Zophai), in the series of the ancestors of Heman, 1 Chronicles 6:19, and so may pass for a by-form of this name, אֱלִיאָב also appears to be a collateral form of אֱלִיאֵל, 1 Chronicles 6:19; but Jeroham and Elkanah coincide exactly with the two there named predecessors (or rather descendants) of Eliab. Hence the two parallel series actually agree out and out, from Zuph to the last Elkanah. So much the more certainly is a שְׁמוּאֵל בְּנוֹ (comp. 1 Chronicles 6:18), forming the transition to 1 Chronicles 6:13, to be supposed omitted at the end of our verse, or the assumption at least to be made that the author (as follows at once from 1 Chronicles 6:13) meant by the last Elkanah no other than the father of Samuel.

1 Chronicles 6:13. And the sons of Samuel: the first-born Vashni, and Abiah. That here the name of Joel, who was actually the first-born of Samuel, and is named, 1 Chronicles 6:18, as his proper scion, has fallen out, appears indubitable from 1 Samuel 8:2; comp. Crit. Note. On the whole, the present genealogy of Kohath coincides with that of the ancestors of Heman in 1 Chronicles 6:18-23, though the text of our list appears the more defective, inaccurate, and partly corrupt.

1 Chronicles 6:14-15. Descendants of Merari, of the line of Mahli, from whom six generations of direct descendants are given. Against Bertheau’s attempt to identify the names Mahli, Libni, Shimi, Uzzah, Shema, Haggiah, Asaiah with those of the ancestors of Ethan in 1 Chronicles 6:29-32 (Mushi, Mahli, Shamer, Bani, Amzi, Hilkiah, Amaziah), in order to represent the three series of our section as mere parallels to the three series of the following section, see the remarks of Keil (p89). The latter justly asserts, in reference to 1 Chronicles 6:4 a: “The 1 Chronicles 6:14-15 furnish a list of the family of Mahli, whereas the ancestors of Ethan, 1 Chronicles 6:29-32, belong to the family of Mushi. Accordingly, our series cannot be designed to introduce Ethan or Ethan’s ancestors. This hypothesis is altogether a castle in the air.”

3. The Ancestors of the Levitical Songmasters Heman, Asaph, and Ethan: 1 Chronicles 6:16-34.—And these are they whom David set over the singing in the house of the Lord; comp. 1 Chronicles 15:17 ff. and 2 Chronicles 29:27.—עַל־יְדֵי־שִׁיר, properly: “to the hands of Song of Solomon,” that Isaiah, for the singing, for the purpose of leading and executing it.—After the resting of the ark; from the time when the ark (אֲרֹן הַבְּרִית = אָרוֹן), instead of its previous wandering, had a permanent abode on Mount Zion, 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Samuel 6:17.

1 Chronicles 6:17. And they ministered before the dwelling of the tent of meeting with singing. “Before the dwelling;” for in the court, before the holy tent, or before the temple, took place the public worship, consisting of sacrifice and singing. The genitive, “of the tent of meeting” (institution), is explicative of the dwelling, that Isaiah, the dwelling of God among His people. This means, in the first place, the tent of institution or meeting (אֹהֶל־מוֹעֵד), which David erected on Zion, as the immediate predecessor of the stone temple ( 2 Samuel 6:17 ff.; 1 Chronicles 21:28 ff.; 2 Chronicles 1:3), and along with which the old Mosaic tent of meeting continued a long time in Gibeon, with a separate service ( 1 Chronicles 1:29; 2 Chronicles 1:3; 1 Kings 3:4). That this Davidic tent on Zion is intended in the first place, is shown partly by the following reference to the building of Solomon’s temple, and partly by the circumstance that the following genealogy takes its start from the three songmasters of David.—And they attended in their order to their service. “In their order” (כְּמִשְׁפָּטָם), that Isaiah, according to the order prescribed by David,— Song of Solomon, namely, that ( 1 Chronicles 6:18 ff.) Heman the Kohathite, as chief leader of the whole choir, should stand in the middle, Asaph the Gershonite, with his choir, on his right, and Ethan the Merarite on his left, in conducting the sacred singing of the temple (comp. 1 Chronicles 16:37 ff, 1 Chronicles 24:1 : 2 Chronicles 30:16).

1 Chronicles 6:18. And these (the following) are they who attended, and their sons, with the choirs formed of their sons and their families. The names of their sons, see in 1 Chronicles 25:2-4. Here it is intended to trace, not so much the descendants of these songmasters from David’s time down, as rather their ancestors up to Levi.—Of the sons of Kohath: Heman the singer. He stands before the rest, and is distinguished from them by the mere predicate, “the singer” (חַֽמְשׁוֹרֵר Sept. ψαλτῳδός), because the chief leading of the temple singing belonged to him. He appears here as the grandson of Samuel, which is chronologically and genealogically admissible, and is needlessly questioned by Hitzig (Gesch. d. Isr. p125 f.), who denies that Samuel belonged to the house of Levi. On the series of Kohathites now following to 1 Chronicles 6:23, consisting of twenty-two generations, and its relation to that in 1 Chronicles 6:7-13, see above.

1 Chronicles 6:23. The son of Levi, the son of Israel. Only here is this ascent beyond Levi to the patriarch of all Israel; comp. Luke 3:38 : τοῦ ’Αδὰμ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

1 Chronicles 6:24-28. The ancestors of Asaph the Gershonite.—And his brother Asaph. “Brother,” obviously in a wider sense, as relative and fellow-officer in the sacred service. On the relation of his genealogy, including fifteen members to the earlier series of Gershonites, see on 1 Chronicles 6:5-6.

1 Chronicles 6:29-32. The ancestors of Ethan the Merarite.—And the sons of Merari, their brethren on the left, forming the choir standing on the left. For the name Jeduthun (יְדוּתוּן, “praiseman”), otherwise occurring for Ethan, perhaps an honorary surname, comp. 1 Chronicles 16:41, 1 Chronicles 25:1; 2 Chronicles 35:15; Nehemiah 11:17. The series of Ethan’s ancestors must be greatly abbreviated, as it contains only twelve names up to Merari.

1 Chronicles 6:32. The son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari. If Mahli and Mushi, 1 Chronicles 6:4, be named together as sons of Merari (as also Numbers 3:20), this does not contradict our passage, as Mahli is plainly enough designated, not as Song of Solomon, but as grandson of Merari, therefore as nephew or perhaps grand-nephew of Mushi the younger son of Merari. On the diversity of the whole series, 1 Chronicles 6:29-32, from that in 1 Chronicles 6:14-15, see on these verses.

1 Chronicles 6:33 f. And their brethren the Levites, given for all service, etc. “Their brethren the Levites” are other Levites beside the singers already mentioned. A general notice of the ministry of the Levites not belonging to the families of the singers thus closes our section, as the like notice of the liturgical functions of the singers themselves ( 1 Chronicles 6:16-17) opened it. נְתוּנִים, “given to all service,” that Isaiah, given to Aaron and his descendants, to the priestly family appointed for service in the performance of worship; comp. Numbers 3:9; Numbers 8:16-19; Numbers 18:6; also Samuel’s consecration or dedication to the temple service, 1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:28, and the oblati of monkery in the middle ages, for example, Bernard, etc.

1 Chronicles 6:34. And Aaron and his sons offered. There are three functions of the priestly portion of the Levites:—1. Sacrifice (on the altars of burnt-offering and incense), Numbers 18:1-7; Numbers 2. Ministration in the holy of holies, 1 Chronicles 28:13; 1 Chronicles 3. Propitiation or expiation for Israel, Leviticus 16:32.—In all that Moses, the servant of God, had commanded. For this honourable designation of Moses, comp. Numbers 12:7; Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:1; Joshua 1:13; Hebrews 3:2 ff.

4. The Series of High Priests from Eleazar to Ahimaaz: 1 Chronicles 6:35-38.—This section is closely connected with the two preceding verses; for it states who were “the sons of Aaron” named, 1 Chronicles 6:34, as the conductors of the priestly service in the temple. This series (which agrees essentially with 1 Chronicles 6:30-34; comp. Ezra 7:1-5) is brought down only to Ahimaaz, the contemporary of Solomon (comp. 2 Samuel 15:27), because in the whole section, from 1 Chronicles 6:16, a “source is used in which the prominent families of Levi in the time of David (and Solomon) were described, and along with the genealogies of Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, that of Ahimaaz also stood, which the author of Chronicles was induced to insert for the sake of completeness and confirmation of the former series” (Bertheau). This series of high priests, breaking off with the time of Song of Solomon, does not form a specially suitable transition to the following list of the Levitical cities (against Keil), although by its introductory words (especially by the suffix in מוֹשְׁבוֹתָם, 1 Chronicles 6:38, that points to וְאֵ֖לֶּה בְּנֵי אַֽהֲרוֹן, 1 Chronicles 6:35) it appears closely connected with the foregoing section.

5. The Cities of the Levites: 1 Chronicles 6:39-66.—And these are their dwellings, by their districts in their border—the border which was then assigned to the several Levitical families. The superscription may have stood in the document which the Chronist here follows; it is wanting in the list of the dwellings of the Levites, Joshua 21, which runs in the main parallel to this, but deviates in form and in many details. For טִירָה (from טוּרcircumdare), in early times, village of nomades, of tents ( Genesis 25:16; Numbers 21:10), here district, circuit of dwellings, comp. Psalm 69:26.—Of the sons of Aaron, of the family of the Kohathites; for to them was the lot. These words form the special superscription to 1 Chronicles 6:40-45. After הַגּוֹרָל, perhaps רִאישֹׁנָה has fallen out; comp. Joshua 21:10. At all events, the first lot is here in question.

1 Chronicles 6:40-41 agree almost literally with Joshua 21:11-12, only Hebron has there its old name Kiriath Arba; and for “in the land of Judah,” stands “on the mountains of Judah.”—And its suburbs round about it.מִגְרָשִׁים is the standing phrase for the pastures (Kamph.) or commons belonging to the cities, as distinguished from the field שָׂדֶה, or arable land, 1 Chronicles 6:41. For the historical contents of 1 Chronicles 6:41, comp. also Joshua 14:14; Joshua 15:13.

1 Chronicles 6:42. And to the sons of Aaron they gave the free towns Hebron and Libnah. As Hebron only was a free town (עִיר מִקְלַט הָרוֹצֵחַ, place of refuge for the manslayer), the plural appears at least inexact. The parallel, Joshua 21:13, has the correct form עִיר. The same occurs with respect to Shechem, 1 Chronicles 6:52.—And Jattir, and Eshtemoa, and its suburbs. After יַתִּיר, the standing addition וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁיהָ, which is found in Joshua 21:13 as always.

1 Chronicles 6:43. And Hilen and its suburbs. Instead of חִילֵן, Joshua 21:15 has the more correct חֹלֹן (comp. Joshua 15:51).

1 Chronicles 6:44. And Ashan and its suburbs. The name עָשָׁן in this place appears more correct than עַיִן in Joshua 21:16. Immediately after this Ashan the name of Juttah must have fallen out, as appears from Joshua 21; as in 1 Chronicles 6:45 the name of Gibeon before Geba. This twofold omission is indirectly confirmed by the closing notice in 1 Chronicles 6:45 : “all their cities were thirteen cities in their families;” for at present, the list referring to the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, 1 Chronicles 6:42-45, contains only eleven cities. Besides, the third of the Levitical cities in Benjamin is called, Joshua 21:18, not Allemeth (עַלֶּמֶת), but Almon (עַלְמוֹן). It is impossible to decide which is the original form.

1 Chronicles 6:46-48 give summarily only the number, not the names, of the cities of the remaining Levites of the families of Kohath, Gershom, and Merari (parallel to 1 Chronicles 6:5-7 in Joshua 21); the enumeration by name follows 1 Chronicles 6:51 ff.—Of the family of the tribe, from the half-tribe. Between these words of 1 Chronicles 6:46 (הַמַּטֶּה and הַמַּֽחֲצִית) there is an obvious gap; according to Joshua 21:5, the words “Ephraim, and of the tribe of Dan and” have here fallen out.

1 Chronicles 6:47. And of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. More exactly, Joshua 21:6, “and of the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan,” though we may do without the missing חֲצִי. 1 Chronicles 6:49-50 disturb the progress of the enumeration, which, after the summary statements of the foregoing three verses, raises the expectation of a specification of the cities of the other Kohathites in a way so surprising, that their original occupation of another place, and that before 1 Chronicles 6:39 b (“of the sons of Aaron,” etc.), admits of no doubt; comp. Joshua 21, where they stand in 1 Chronicles 6:8-9 as superscription of the list of cities assigned to the priests. As they are there annexed to the summary statement, 1 Chronicles 6:5-7, which forms here 1 Chronicles 6:46-48, a mechanically proceeding compiler takes them over with these at once, and the Chronist, who followed this compiler, neglects to repair his negligence.—These cities which they called by names. The plurals שֵׁמוֹת and יִקְרְאוּ are suitable explanations, instead of the corresponding singulars in Joshua 21:9, as the subject, “the sons of Israel,” is easily supplied to the verb from 1 Chronicles 6:48, and several names of cities are given. The masc. אֶתְהֶם, instead of אֶתְהֶן, may be only an oversight (Berth, Keil).

1 Chronicles 6:51-55. The cities of the remaining Kohathites; comp. Joshua 21:20-26. And of the families of the sons of Kohath.—Instead, of וּמִמּשְׁפְּחוֹת, is perhaps to be read וּלְמִשְׁפְּחוֹת, “and with respect to the families,” etc.

1 Chronicles 6:52. For the pl. “free towns,” comp. on 1 Chronicles 6:42.

1 Chronicles 6:53. And Jokmeam. Joshua 21:22 gives for this יָקְמְעָם an otherwise unknown קִבְצַיִם; but the Sept. confirms the former reading by its ’Ιεκμαάν.

1 Chronicles 6:54. And Aijalon and its suburbs, and Gath-rimmon and its suburbs. In Joshua 21:23-24, these two Levitical cities, with two others here omitted, Eltekeh and Gibbethon, belong to the tribe of Dan. According to this, before these words a whole verse has fallen out: “and of the tribe of Daniel, Eltekeh and its suburbs, Gibbethon and its suburbs.” That the mention of the tribe of Dan is here for the second time avoided (comp. 1 Chronicles 6:46), can scarcely be called accidental; comp. on 1 Chronicles 7:12.

1 Chronicles 6:55. Aner and its suburbs, and Bilam and its suburbs. Joshua 21:25 calls the two Levitical cities in West Manasseh rather Tanach and Gathrimmon; but these names appear to be errors of transcription originating in the foregoing verse. In this case, our text should be the more correct, only that בִּלְעָם ( Joshua 17:11) should perhaps be changed into יִבְלְעָם.—To the family of the remaining sons of Kohath. These words, formally annexed to “they gave,” etc, 1 Chronicles 6:52 a, form a kind of subscription, in which, perhaps, the singular “family” should be changed into the plural; comp. לְמִשְׁפְּחוֹת, Joshua 21:26.

1 Chronicles 6:56-61. The cities of the Gershonites; comp. Joshua 21:27-33.—Golan in Bashan. That Golan is one of the six cities of refuge, like Hebron, Shechem, etc, is not mentioned; this again is one of the omissions in which our text abounds. For the name Ashtaroth, Joshua 21:27 substitutes Beeshterah (בְּעֶשְׁתְּרָה), perhaps compounded of בֵּית־עֶשְתְּרָה.This city ( Deuteronomy 1:4, Joshua 13:12, once the seat of king Og) was perhaps formerly called Ashteroth-karnaim, Genesis 14:5, now Tell Ashteroth, some hours north-west of Edrei.

1 Chronicles 6:57. Kedesh and its suburbs. For קֶדֶשׁ, Joshua 21:28 has more correctly קִשְׁיוֹן, as in 1 Chronicles 6:58 the reading יַרִמוּת, Joshua 21:29, is perhaps more correct than רָאמוֹת, and עֵין גַּנִּים than עָנֵם.

1 Chronicles 6:59. Mashal (מָשָׁל) is contracted for מִשְׁאָל, Joshua 19:26. On the contrary, חוּקֹק, 1 Chronicles 6:60, appears to be wrongly transcribed for חֶלְקָה, which Joshua has in our passage and Joshua 19:25 (חֻקֹּק in Naphtali, Joshua 19:24, cannot be here intended),

1 Chronicles 6:61. Kedesh in Galilee. Of this city, also, it is not noted that it belonged to the six free towns, Joshua 21:32. On its site, west of the lake Merom, where Kedes now lies, see Rob3:682, Raumer, Palœst, p116.—The following Hammon corresponds to Hammoth-dor, Joshua 21:32, and to Hammath, Joshua 19:35, which three forms appear all to point to hot springs in the vicinity of the place. In Joseph. Antiq. xviii23, the name is ’Αμμαοῦς. For Klriathaim, Joshua 21:32 has the contracted form Kartan (קַרְתָּן), that stands to the present full form as דּוֹתָן, 2 Kings 6:13, to דּוֹתַיִן, Genesis 37:17. 1 Chronicles 6:62-66. The cities of the Merarites; comp. Joshua 21:34-37.—To the sons of Merari that remained, namely, the Levites, as the fuller form הַֽלְוִיִּם הַנִּוֹתָרִים, Joshua 21:34, shows, which may mean, “those of the Levites still to he mentioned.” —Rimmono and its suburbs, Tabor and its suburbs. Here the names of two other cities of Zebulun have fallen out, Jokneam and Kartah. But even the two here named have other names there, where, for רִמּוֹנוֹ, the probably less correct דִּמְנָה appears (comp. the repeated mention of a city רִמּוֹן in Zebulun, Joshua 19:13), and where, in place of our תָּבוֹר, stands the name נַֽהֲלָל, which is certainly identical with Nahalol, Judges 1:30, and is perhaps found in the present Nalul, south-west of Nazareth. It is hard to say how our תָּבוֹר came into the text instead of the undoubtedly original נהלל; possibly the author meant, instead of the city, only the region where it lay—Mount Tabor (Movers); possibly the name of the city fell out, and of the determination of its site, that was perhaps included in the words עַל גְּבוּל כִּסְלֹת תָּבוֹר, only the last word remains (Berth.); or possibly the place bore two quite different names.

1 Chronicles 6:63-64 are wanting in some editions of the books of Joshua, where they are Joshua 19:36-37. But the most and best mss. contain them, and there is no decisive reason for their condemnation as spurious; see the particulars in Fay on the passage.—And beyond Jordan by Jericho, east of Jordan. This determination of place (which is often found in like terms, Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3; Numbers 34:15; comp. on 2 Chronicles 8:3) is wanting in the book of Joshua, which in other respects agrees with our verse, only that it omits not to mark Bezer as a free town.

1 Chronicles 6:65. And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead. Here also is wanting the mention of its being a city of refuge; comp. Joshua 21:36, where also the name is written, not as here, רָאמוֹת, but רָמוֹת, as, of the two places mentioned in the following verse, the latter is there not Jaazer but Jazer; comp. Numbers 21:32. The situation of these towns is wholly unknown.

Moreover, let us compare, with respect to the Levitical cities in general, the not unimportant remark of Hengstenberg, Gesch. d. Reichs Gottes unter dem A. B. ii. i, p 1 Chr 259: the number of the cities in all amounted to forty-eight. At first sight, for a comparatively small tribe, this appears to be too great. But this appearance vanishes, when we consider that in these cities, not the Levites alone, but, along with them, craftsmen and others from the other tribes dwelt, who made often the greater part of the population; comp. Leviticus 25:33; 1 Chronicles 6:40-41 (Caleb as inhabitant of the lands of Hebron), etc.” There is weight also in his remark, p260, on the many differences between our list and Joshua 21; these “are most easily explained by the fact that some of the cities assigned to the Levites were at the time (when the land was divided among the twelve tribes) in possession of the Canaanites, and as the hope of their immediate conquest failed, were first recovered from them by others, in whose possession they remained, on account of the inconvenience of the change.” In many cases this assumption may be correct, and serve to explain the double names, as Ashan and Ain, Allemeth and Almon, Kedesh and Kishion, Anem and Engannim, Tabor and Nahalal, etc. (See on 1 Chronicles 6:44-45; 1 Chronicles 6:57-58; 1 Chronicles 6:62.) But that, besides numerous corruptions of the text, errors in transcription, and omissions of names, sentences, and clauses, took place not merely in our text, but also in that of Joshua, must have been abundantly evident from our exegetical and critical remarks.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - The Kethib is אֶלְקָנָה בְנוֹ; the Keri puts בְּנֵי for בְּנוֹ, and places אֵלְקָנָה (with Athnach) as a separate superscription. The text Isaiah, at all events, corrupt (see Exeg. Expl.), whether the first אֶלְקָנָה is to be erased, and בְּנֵי to be read, or the second אלקנה removed, and the sing. בְּנוֹ to be retained.

FN#2 - After הַבְּכוֹר, the name יוֹאֵל must have fallen out, as the comparsion of 1 Samuel 8:2 shows (comp. also 1 Chronicles 6:18).

FN#3 - The Kethib has בֶּן־צִיף; the Keri, more correctly, בֶּן־צוּף.

FN#4 - For אֶת־עָרֵי הַמִּקְלָט, some old prints, after the Bibl. Veneta Rabb. 1525, have אֶת־עָרֵי יְהוּדָה הַמִּ׳. The mss. (see de Rossi, Var. Lect) do not show this addition, which appears to have come into the text from the margin.

FN#5 - For חִילֵן (in Joshua 21:16, חֹלֹן), the more accurate mss. have, according to R. Norzi and Ed. Neapolit, חילן.

FN#6 - It is only an insipid rabbinical conceit, which Keil should not have reproduced, of Rashi and Kimchi to apply the words ver36b, “he that served as priest in the house that Solomon built,” to the bold stand of the Prayer of Azariah, under Uzziah, against this king recorded in 2 Chronicles 26:17. But no less untenable is Neteler’s assertion (Chron. pp58240), that Azariah was the son of Jehoiada, the husband of Jehoshabath, and effecter of that revolution which raised Joash to the throne ( 2 Kings 11; 2 Chronicles 23:1 ff.); see on 2 Chronicles 23:8.

FN#7 - With Keil’s and Bähr’s attempt (Bibelw. part vii. p25 ff.) to regard the “Azariah son of Zadok” of this passage, not as priest or high priest, but as the first of the great civil functionaries of Song of Solomon, we cannot agree, because הַבֹּהֵן is thereby taken in too abnormal a sense. Comp. Gesen-Dietrich on the word בהן.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 6:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-chronicles-6.html. 1857-84.

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