The sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
Verse 1. - 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 (Numbers 3:14-20).
And the sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.
Verse 2. - The second son, Kohath, rather Kehath (קְהָת, Hebrew, and so Septuagint and Vulgate), is at once singled out, in order to get at the priest line. He was one of the travellers with Jacob into Egypt, was probably about twenty years the junior of Joseph, lived thirty years after his death, and attained the age of one hundred and thirty-three years, after a residence in Egypt of about one hundred and fifteen years in all. The Kohathites are expressly mentioned in their sacred duties in the time of David (1 Chronicles 15:5-8), and in the time of Hezekiah (2 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.
And the children of Amram; Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Verse 3. - Once more, Aaron is singled out, and Eleazar, the third of his four sons, fixes the exact channel of descent required.
Eleazar begat Phinehas, Phinehas begat Abishua,
Verse 4. - Eleazar. From this name inclusive follow the twenty-two, which terminate with Jehozadak, who indeed never attained him s elf 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 by Lord A. C. Hervey 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 Canaan. The two elder brothers of Eleazar, viz. Nadab and Abihu, died without issue (Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4, 32; Numbers 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 (1 Kings 2:26, 27; Josephus, 8:1, § 3), to be recovered again in the Zadok of our ver. 9 (1 Chronicles 24:3, 4). Phinehas; a memorable man (Numbers 25:7-13; Joshua 22:10-33; Judges 20:28; Psalm 106:30, 31; which Grove well compares 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).
And Abishua begat Bukki, and Bukki begat Uzzi,
Verses 5-7. - 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. Lightfoot ('Temple Service,' 4. § 1) supposes 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.
And Uzzi begat Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begat Meraioth,
Meraioth begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Ahimaaz,
Verse 8. - 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 1 Chronicles 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 (2 Chronicles 31:13). The recurrence of the two names Ahitub and Zadok in vers. 11 and 12 is very possibly the result of some error; and it is in favour 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 of some one hundred and eighty years, and filled in the list of Judah's kings 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 1 Chronicles 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 1 Chronicles 12:28, where he is introduced as "a young man mighty of valour," who now casts in his lot with David at Hebron, on Saul's death. In 2 Samuel 15:24, 29, 35, we find him and Abiathar the recognized priests. In 1 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 1 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 1 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 ver. 10 should follow the Azariah mentioned in the previous verse.
And Ahimaaz begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Johanan,
Verse 9. - Ahimaaz. The first important notice of him is found in 2 Samuel 15:36, and the last in 2 Samuel 19:29. He is not to be identified with Solomon's" officer" in Naphtali (1 Kings 4:15). Azariah. As above said, it is almost without a doubt after this Azariah (1 Kings 4:2) 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 (2 Chronicles 26:17, 20), who must have been nearly a century later, and was contemporary with Isaiah, Joel, and Amos.
And Johanan begat Azariah, (he it is that executed the priest's office in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem:)
Verse 10. - Of Johanan and Azariah, his son, nothing can be found with any certainty. It is presumable that they were priests in the reigns of Abijah and Asa.
And Azariah begat Amariah, and Amariah begat Ahitub,
Verse 11. - Amariah. High priest in the reign of Jehoshaphat (2 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.
And Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Shallum,
Verse 12. - (See above on ver. 8.)
And Shallum begat Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begat Azariah,
Verse 13. - Shallum, called in 1 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:
(1) for the finding of the "book of the Law in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:8);
(2) the zealous spirit with which he joined in the reformation under Josiah (2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Kings 23:4-27);
(3) the observance in his high priesthood of the Passover, in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign (2 Chronicles 35:1-19).
And Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat Jehozadak,
Verse 14. - Azariah. The third occurrence of this name in this list. This person is found again in Ezra 2:l, but is wanting in Nehemiah 11:11. Seraiah; found also in Nehemiah 11:11, 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 (2 Kings 25:18, 21), and (not the Seraiah, "the quiet prince," of Jeremiah 51:59-64) he is also spoken of in Jeremiah 52:24-27. He was high priest in the time of Zedekiah.
And Jehozadak went into captivity, when the LORD carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Verse 15. - Jehozadak. He did 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 ver. 4). Where this name occurs in Haggai and Zechariah, it is the same in the Hebrew as here, though Englished in the Authorized Version as Josedech. Where it occurs in Ezra and Nehemiah, the shorter form of Jozadak is found in the Hebrew as in the Authorized Version.
The sons of Levi; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.
Verse 16-19. - These verses have a re-enumeration of the three sons of Levi, and differ from the enumeration of ver. 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 (comp. also Numbers 3:21-36 with Numbers 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 ver. 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." Bertheau holds with the former of these views, Keil with the latter.
And these be the names of the sons of Gershom; Libni, and Shimei.
And the sons of Kohath were, Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel.
The sons of Merari; Mahli, and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers.
Of Gershom; Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son,
Verses 20, 21. - (A) These 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 (vers. 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, Keil and Zockler among them, 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 ver. 42 is omitted from ver. 20, and the Libni of ver. 20 from ver. 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 ver. 42, it is very remarkable that we find a Zimmah, also father of a Joah, in 2 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" (ver. 35); "Joel, son of Azariah" (ver. 36); "Kish, son of Abdi" (ver. 44). It seems as though the individual descendant was quoted in these instances by the name of the ancestor at a certain point.
Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeaterai his son.
The sons of Kohath; Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son,
Verses 22-28. - (B) These verses give descendants, probably twenty-one in number, from Levi, through his second son, Kohath, to Joel, eldest son of Samuel and (ver. 33) father of Heman. The descendants of Kohath through his eldest son, Amram, have been given from vers. 3-15. But the descendants now to he spoken of are through another son, here called Am-minadab, a name not appearing among the four of ver. 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 vers. 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. Verses 22, 23. - Korah (comp. Numbers 16:27, 32, 33, with Numbers 26:9-11). From Exodus 6:24 we also learn that the throe next in lineal succession to Korah, were Assir, Elkanah, and Ebiasaph, or Abiasaph; though Elkanah and Assir are omitted from ver. 37, in the ascending line.
Elkanah his son, and Ebiasaph his son, and Assir his son,
Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son.
Verses 24-28. - Tahath. From this name onwards to the end of ver. 28 we must have recourse to the reversed list of vers. 33 37, in order to make out our way. Even then we shall scarcely have a chain of all the licks; 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 (i.q. Azariah), Shaul (i.q. Joel), Elkanah, Amasai, Ahimoth (i.q. Mahath), Elkanah Zophai (i.q. Zuph), Nahath (i.q. Toah, Tohu, 1 Samuel 1:1), Eliab (i.q. Eliel, Elihu, 1 Samuel 1:1), Jeroham, Elkanah, Samuel (i.q. Shemuel), Joel (1 Samuel 8:2, which distinctly gives Joel as firstborn son, and supplies the explanation of the Vashni here by expressly mentioning Abish as "his second" son).
And the sons of Elkanah; Amasai, and Ahimoth.
As for Elkanah: the sons of Elkanah; Zophai his son, and Nahath his son,
Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.
And the sons of Samuel; the firstborn Vashni, and Abiah.
The sons of Merari; Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzza his son,
Verses 29, 30. - (C) In ver. 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 Numbers 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 vers. 44-47.
Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.
And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest.
Verses 31-48. - In the early verses of this section 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, 1 Samuel 4:11; 1 Samuel 5, 6.), and in especial its prolonged twenty years' sojourn at Kirjath-jearim (1 Samuel 7:1, 2; 2 Samuel 6:1-19; 1 Chronicles 13:3-14; 1 Chronicles 15:1-3; 1 Chronicles 17:5). It now had rest, though its place of rest was only within "curtains" (2 Samuel 7:2; 1 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 (2 Samuel 6:17-21; 1 Chronicles 16:1-3); but it appears also that it furnished the occasion of appointing fixed choir conductors, leaders of the service of song" (1 Chronicles 16:4-7, 37, 41, 42; 1 Chronicles 25:1-7).
And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem: and then they waited on their office according to their order.
Verse 32. Instances full of illustration of this ministering... with singing and waiting on their office are found in 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 29:26-31; 2 Chronicles 35:15, 16.
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,
Verse 33. - We have now the name and pedigree 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 ver. 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 centre, with Asaph on the right and Ethan on the left (vers. 39, 44). Heman is the twenty-first according to this list (vers. 33-38) after Levi, but the genealogy is indistinct (see above, vers. 22-28) between Shemuel and Assir, and according to Hervey ('Genealogies of our Lord,' p. 214), Heman comes fourteenth after Levi. This Heman is to be distinguished from Heman the "son of Zerah" (1 Chronicles 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 of Kohath.
The son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah,
The son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai,
The son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah,
The son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah,
The son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.
And his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berachiah, the son of Shimea,
Verse 39. - 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 (ver. 44) stands thirteenth. If the line of Heman (as given in vers. 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 vers. 20, 21. From 2 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.
The son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchiah,
The son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah,
The son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei,
The son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi.
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,
Verse 44. - Ethan. This passage and 1 Chronicles 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 2 Chronicles 35:15 the title of "king's seer" (חֶזֹה) is added to the name Jeduthun, which is variously spelt (יְדֻתוּן יתדוּתוּן ירְיִתוּן). This arrangement of chief singers, one from each of the three branches of Levi's family, lasted unbroken to Josiah's reign (2 Chronicles 35:13); 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 (קִישׁ, equivalent to the Vulgate Cis), if, indeed, the form of this verse and that of 1 Chronicles 15:17, Kushaiah (קוּשָׁיָהוּ), are not merely the fruit of a corrupt text.
The son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah,
The son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shamer,
The son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi.
Their brethren also the Levites were appointed unto all manner of service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
Verse 48. - The all manner of service, from that of the three "leaders of song" on their "cymbals of brass" (1 Chronicles 15:19) down through the other Levitical grades, is fully illustrated in many places (1 Chronicles 15:18-24; 1 Chronicles 16:37-42; 1 Chronicles 23:2-32; 1 Chronicles 25:1-8; 1 Chronicles 26:1-26).
But Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of the burnt offering, and on the altar of incense, and were appointed for all the work of the place most holy, and to make an atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.
Verses 49-53. - These verses allude to the more special functions of "Aaron and his sons," as they are here called, i.e., his lineal descendants (vers. 4-15; Ezra 7:2-5), whose names, stopping at Ahimaaz, the eleventh generation, are the same with those of vers. 3-8. The manifest inference is that the present enumeration, stopping with the name of one contemporary with David (2 Samuel 15:27), was borrowed from tables of the date of David, and not of the date of the Captivity (ver. 15). Verse 49. - The altar of the burnt offering (Leviticus 1:3-17). The altar of incense (Exodus 25:6; Exodus 30:1-7, 7-9, 34-38; Leviticus 16:12). Most holy (Leviticus 16:12, 14, 15, 17, 20). An atonement for Israel (Leviticus 16:3-19; Leviticus 23:26-32; Numbers 29:7-11).
And these are the sons of Aaron; Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son,
Verse 50. - Eleazar. The third son of Aaron (by Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, and descended from Judah through Pharez) is the sea whose 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 (Numbers 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 1 Samuel 2:30.
Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son,
Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son,
Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.
Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot.
Verses 54-81. - 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 (vers. 54-61), then taking those of the Gershomite (ver. 62) and Merarite lines (vers. 63-65) in order; and again in the same order disposing of the members not priestly (vers. 66-70; 71-76; 77-81) of the same three branches. Verses 54-61, 64-70. - And these are their dwellings according to their enclosures in their territories, טִירותָם means the settlements of whatever people in question, surrounded and protected by whatever fence or defence customary. For theirs was the lot is more intelligible with the addition of the word "first," supplied in Joshua 31:10, 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. Our ver. 55 is given somewhat more fully in Joshua 21:11; our ver. 56 is identical with Joshua 21:12; and our vers. 57-60 correspond substantially with Joshua 21:13-19, but from this latter source we are glad to supply the two names Juttah and Gibeon, without which we cannot add up correctly the thirteen cities of ver. 60. Also in Joshua, our Hilen, Ashan, and Alemsth appear as Holon, Ain, and 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 1 Chronicles 4:32, but we must admit an error involved. Ver. 56 (see Joshua 14:14; Joshua 21:12). Ver. 61 seems to be an anticipation of vers. 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 (ver. 61), the residue (Authorized Version, ver. 66), the remnant (ver. 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 Ko-hathite 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.
And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the suburbs thereof round about it.
But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah, namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs,
And Hilen with her suburbs, Debir with her suburbs,
And Ashan with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs:
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.
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.
And to the sons of Gershom throughout their families out of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.
Verse 62. - 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 vers. 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.
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.
Verse 63. - 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).
And the children of Israel gave to the Levites these cities with their suburbs.
And they gave by lot out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, and out of the tribe of the children of Benjamin, these cities, which are called by their names.
And the residue of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their coasts out of the tribe of Ephraim.
And they gave unto them, of the cities of refuge, Shechem in mount Ephraim with her suburbs; they gave also Gezer with her suburbs,
And Jokmeam with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs,
And Aijalon with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs:
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.
Unto the sons of Gershom were given out of the family of the half tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, and Ashtaroth with her suburbs:
Verse 71. - Golan was one of the three cities of refuge east of the Jordan (Joshua 20:8), the other two being Bezer, of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead, of the tribe of Gad. Ashtaroth, in its previous history, had been closely connected with Og King of Bashan (Deuteronomy 1:4; Joshua 9:9, 10; Joshua 12:4, 5; Joshua 13:12). It is called Beeshterah in Joshua 21:27.
And out of the tribe of Issachar; Kedesh with her suburbs, Daberath with her suburbs,
Verse 72. - Kedesh. There were three places of this name. 1. Kedesh, at the extreme south of Judah (Joshua 15:23; Joshua 19:20, 21), perhaps the same with Kadesh-barnea (Joshua 15:3). 2. The Kedesh of this verse, perhaps the same with the Kedesh of Joshua 13:22; it is called Kishon in Joshua 21:28. 3. The Kedesh of ver. 76, i.e. Kedesh in Galilee, one of the cities of refuge in the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 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 Joshua 19:12.
And Ramoth with her suburbs, and Anem with her suburbs:
Verse 73. - Ramoth; called in Joshua 21:28, 29, Jarmuth; a place of which nothing else is known, but possibly one with Remeth (Joshua 19:21). Ahem; probably the En-gannim of Joshua 19:21 and Joshua 21:29, and perhaps a contraction of the name.
And out of the tribe of Asher; Mashal with her suburbs, and Abdon with her suburbs,
Verses 74-76. - Mashal, Hukok, Hammon, Kirjathaim, are found as Mishal, Helkath, Hammoth-dor, Kartan, in Joshua 21:30, 31, 32; Joshua 19:35.
And Hukok with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs:
And out of the tribe of Naphtali; Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, and Hammon with her suburbs, and Kirjathaim with her suburbs.
Unto the rest of the children of Merari were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her suburbs:
Verse 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 (Joshua 21:34) need to be supplied, and Rimmon and Tabor here appear (Joshua 21:35), there as Dimnah and Nahalai.
And on the other side Jordan by Jericho, on the east side of Jordan, were given them out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer in the wilderness with her suburbs, and Jahzah with her suburbs,
Verse 78. - 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 Jordan. Jahzah (Authorized Version, Joshua 21:36, Jahazah).
Kedemoth also with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs:
Verse 79. - The two names of this verso, 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 Joshua 13:18.
And out of the tribe of Gad; Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, and Mahanaim with her suburbs,
And Heshbon with her suburbs, and Jazer with her suburbs.