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1 Chronicles 6


(LXX versing)
LXX numbering different, 6:1 is 6:16 in LXX
Genealogy: The Priestly Line The Family of Levi The Lineage of the Levites The Family Line of the High Priest The Line of Levi
6:1-15 6:1-15 6:1-15 6:1-2 6:1-4a
6:4-15 6:4b
Other Descendants of Levi The Singers
6:16-30 6:16-30 6:16-30 6:16-19 6:16-17
6:29-30 6:29-32
Musicians in the House of the Lord The Temple Musicians
6:31-48 6:31-32 6:31-48 6:31-33a The Other Levites
6:33-43 6:33b-38 6:33-34
Towns of the Aaronites
6:39-43 6:39a
6:44-48 6:44-47 Towns of the Other Levites
The Family of Aaron Descendants of Aaron
6:49-53 6:49-53 6:49-53 6:49-53
Dwelling Places of the Levites Where the Levites Lived 6:51-55
6:54-60 6:54-60 6:54-60 6:54-61
6:61-65 6:61-65 6:61-65
6:62-65 6:62-66
6:66-70 6:66-70 6:66-70 6:66-70
6:71-76 6:71-76 6:71-81 6:71a
6:77-81 6:77-81 6:77a

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. The MT has 41 verses in 1 Chronicles 5. English translations break the chapter division at 5:26. The MT has 66 verses in 1 Chronicles 6. English translations have chapter 6 starting at 1 Chr. 5:27-6:81.

  2. This English division highlights the lineage of Levi. Israel's future is connected to
    1. the Davidic covenant (Judah)
    2. the Mosaic covenant (Levi)

  3. Basic outline:
    1. Notice how 1 Chr. 6:1-15 lists the line from Levi through Aaron, the first High Priest, to Seraiah, the last High Priest in Jerusalem at the Babylonian exile of 586 B.C.
    2. 1 Chronicles 6:16-30 contains the specific families of the tribe of Levi.
    3. 1 Chronicles 6:31-48 deals with the families of Levitical musicians and singers.
    4. 1 Chronicles 6:49-53 deals with the tabernacle/temple duties of the High Priest.
    5. 1 Chronicles 6:54-81 details the cities and adjacent small farm land of the tribe of Levi. They did not have any land allocation, just special cities (cf. Joshua 20-21).

  4. Why do the names in the lists of ancestors disagree?
    1. They are different persons by the same name. Often names recur in families and periods.
    2. There are two separate genealogies combined by an editor.
    3. The person went by two names.
    4. The person's name was changed.
    5. The term "son" can refer to a wide number of relatives.
    6. The first father died and the wife remarried or there was Levirate marriage involved.
    7. Ancient Jewish genealogies are often incomplete.


1The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 2The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 3The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 4Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, and Phinehas became the father of Abishua, 5and Abishua became the father of Bukki, and Bukki became the father of Uzzi, 6and Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah, and Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth, 7Meraioth became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub, 8and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz, 9and Ahimaaz became the father of Azariah, and Azariah became the father of Johanan, 10and Johanan became the father of Azariah (it was he who served as the priest in the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem), 11and Azariah became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub, 12and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Shallum, 13and Shallum became the father of Hilkiah, and Hilkiah became the father of Azariah, 14and Azariah became the father of Seraiah, and Seraiah became the father of Jehozadak; 15and Jehozadak went along when the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.

6:1 (MT 5:27) "The sons of Levi. . ." They are given specific tasks related to carrying the portable tent of meeting.

  1. Kohathites ‒ Num. 4:4-15
  2. Gershonites ‒ Num. 4:21-28
  3. Merarites ‒ Num. 4:29-33

The development of the concept and lineage of "levite" is spelled out clearly in G. B. Caird's, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, pp. 68-72. He introduces the summary by this interesting quote, "The history of the OT priesthood is a complex story in which many influences, social, ideological, and technological, combined to produce semantic change. It is not possible to document the whole process precisely, because many of the older sources were rewritten by later editors with a theological axe to grind" (pp. 69-70).

▣ "Gershon" In Exod. 2:22 and Jdgs. 18:30 it is spelled "Gershom" (cf. 1 Chr. 6:17,20,43,62,71), from the Hebrew "ger sham" (i.e., "a stranger there"). It is spelled with the final "m" in 1 Chr. 6:16. This shows that the Chronicler is using separate genealogical lists.

6:4 (MT 5:30) "Eleazar" This is the son of Aaron who became the future High Priest. This line is developed until the Babylonian exile of 586 B.C. (cf. 1 Chr. 6:15). Yet notice it is a selective, not exhaustive, list.

6:8 (MT 5:38) "Ahitub" This is not the "Ahitub" of the line of Eli (cf. 1 Sam. 14:3) at Shiloh, who later became a part of Abiathar's line (cf. 1 Sam. 22:20).

6:9-10 "Azariah" This name appears in 1 Chr. 6:9 and 10 and refers to different priests, both connected to Solomon's temple (cf. 1 Kgs. 4:2 and the one in 6:9 and the one in 6:10 is a grandson of Zadok). Young's Analytical Concordance lists 28 people by this name. It lists

  1. 1 Kgs. 4:2 as one priest
  2. 1 Chr. 6:9 as another
  3. 1 Chr. 6:10,11 as still another
  4. 1 Chr. 6:13,14; 9:11 as still another priest

Obviously names run through families, genealogies are not complete, and there is confusion!

6:10 "the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem" The word "house" (BDB 108), in this context, means "temple" (cf. 2 Kgs. 11:10,11,13; 2 Chr. 23:10; 35:20).

In the key theological text of YHWH's special covenant with David, there is a word play on house (i.e., 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17).

  1. David wants to build YHWH a house/temple.
  2. But YHWH will build David a "house," meaning dynasty.

6:12 (MT 5:38) "Zadok" This High Priest served along with Abiathar during David's reign and later Solomon's (cf. 1 Sam. 8:15; 1 Kings 1). He supported the reign of Solomon and was made the only functioning High Priest under Solomon.

6:13 (MT 5:39) "Hilkiah" This is the High Priest who found the "book of the law" during the remodeling of the temple in Joshua's day (cf. 2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34).

6:14 (MT 5:40) The line of the High Priest proceeded to "Seraiah," who was killed by Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. 2 Kgs. 25:18-21).

▣ "Jehozadak" This was the high priestly line exiled to Babylon. He is called "Jozadak" in Ezra and Nehemiah. His son, "Jeshua" or "Joshua," will partner with Zerubbabel, the prince of the line of David, to form the leadership of the post-exilic faith community in the restored Judah (see Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah).


6:15 (MT 5:41) "when the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile"" The centrality of "Judah" and "Jerusalem" (i.e., the temple) shows the seriousness of this divine act of judgment (cf. 1 Chr. 5:26; Jer. 29:4,7,14; Lam. 4:22; Ezek. 39:28; Amos 5:27).

The God who gave Israel the land (cf. Gen. 15:12-21) now takes it away. When Israel acts like Canaanites, they suffer the same judgment.

16The sons of Levi were Gershom, Kohath and Merari. 17These are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. 18The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 19The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers' households. 20Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, 21Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. 22The sons of Kohath were Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, 23Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son and Assir his son, 24Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son and Shaul his son. 25The sons of Elkanah were Amasai and Ahimoth. 26As for Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah were Zophai his son and Nahath his son, 27Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. 28The sons of Samuel were Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second. 29The sons of Merari were Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, 30Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.

6:16-19 These are the three sons of Levi mentioned in Gen. 46:11; Exod. 6:16-19; Num. 3:17-20; 26:57-58. The repetition shows their significance.

6:22 (MT 6:7) "sons" Since this differs from 1 Chr. 6:18, it may refer to descendants, not literally sons.

▣ "Korah" In 1 Chr. 6:22 "Korah," the Levite who rebelled and was swallowed by the earth (cf. Numbers 16), is said to be the son (Kohath) Amminadab, but in 1 Chr. 6:38 the same genealogy of Num. 16:1 appears "the son of Izhah, the son of Kohath." They may be

  1. two names for the same person
  2. the genealogies
  3. a different Korah

6:24 "Uriel" In 1 Chr. 15:5 there is a "Urial" who is a descendant of Kohath. These may be the same person.

6:25 "Elkanah" This is not the same Elkanah as 1 Chr. 6:35-36, but a later relative of Ebiasaph, Elkanah of 1 Chr. 6:25's brother.

6:27 Are the descendants of Elkanah listed in 1 Chr. 6:26,27 the same as the descendants of Elkanah of 1 Chr. 6:34-35? It is very hard to coordinate these lists because of

  1. the semantic field of "son"
  2. the partial nature of the lists themselves
  3. the merging of several lists
  4. the limited historical information of this period

6:28 (MT 6:13) "Samuel" This is the descendant of Levi who plays such a prominent role in 1 Samuel. He was priest, prophet, and judge. Apparently he was from the area of Ephraim (cf. 1 Sam. 1:1).

▣ "Joel" This name is not included here in the MT but it is found in 1 Chr. 6:33 and 1 Sam. 8:2.

▣ "the second" Since the name "Joel" fell out of the MT, later translators (i.e., the Masoretic scholars) made the numerical reference a name "Vashni."

31Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark rested there. 32They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order. 33These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, 34the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, 35the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, 36the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, 37the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, 38the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. 39Heman's brother Asaph stood at his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea, 40the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah, 41the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah, 42the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei, 43the son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi. 44On the left hand were their kinsmen the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch, 45the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, 46the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer, 47the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi. 48Their kinsmen the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.

6:31 (MT 6:16) "whom David appointed" This is recorded in 1 Chr. 15:16-22,27; 16:4-6.

▣ "the service of song in the house of the Lord" Literally the phrase starts out "at the hands of song." The word "song" can refer to

  1. a song
  2. a choir (cf. 1 Chr. 23:18; 29:28; Neh. 12:31)
  3. music of worship
  4. instruments which accompany worship music (cf. 2 Sam. 6:5; 1 Chr. 15:16; 25:6-7; Neh. 12:27; Amos 6:5)

Obviously the phrase refers to all aspects of music in worship. These Levitical families wrote, sang, played, trained, and organized the music of worship. It appears that music was part of the tabernacle worship as well as the temple of Solomon.


6:32 (MT 6:17) "the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. . .the house of the Lord in Jerusalem" The first authorized revelation/worship site was the portable tent of the exodus and wilderness wandering period (cf. Exodus 25-40). In 2 Samuel 7 David desired to build a "house/temple" for YHWH. YHWH would not let him because he was a man of war, but allowed his son, Solomon (cf. 1 Kings 6-7; see the wonderful dedication prayer in 1 Kings 8) to build it.


▣ "they served in their office according to their order" This is outlined in 1 Chr. 24:1-19; 28:13. These divisions were designed and implemented by David. Whether there was earlier division is uncertain.

6:33-47 There are three main singers from each of Levi's sons (1 Chr. 6:1; 15:17,19).

  1. Gershon, Gershom ‒ Asaph (1 Chr. 6:39-43)
  2. Kohath ‒ Heman (1 Chr. 6:33-38)
  3. Merari ‒ Ethan (1 Chr. 6:44-47)

There is an Ethan mentioned in 1 Chr. 6:42 who is of the line of Gershon and another by the same name in 6:44 of the line of Merari.

6:38 (MT 6:23) "Israel" This name is used three times in this chapter.

  1. here ‒ to refer to Jacob
  2. 1 Chr. 6:49 ‒ to refer to the collective nation
  3. 1 Chr. 6:64 ‒ to the descendants of Israel during Joshua's time


6:39 (MT 6:24) "stood at his right hand" Notice 1 Chr. 6:44 has "on the left hand." This is detailed eyewitness testimony of the staging of the Levite musicians.

6:40 (MT 6:24) "Baaseiah" The LXX and early Syriac have "Maaseiah" and the Peshitta has "Measiah."

6:48 (MT 6:32) This may refer to the Nethinim (BDB 682) of Jos. 9:27, cf. 1 Chr. 9:2; Ezra 2:43,70; 7:7,24; 8:20; Neh. 7:46-56.

However, it probably clarifies the menial tasks of the Levites versus the priests (1 Chr. 6:49). There was an institutional gradation in the family of Levi.

49But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. 50These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, 51Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, 52Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, 53Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.

6:49 (MT 6:33)
NASB, NKJV, NRSV  "offered"
TEV  "presented"
NJB  "burned"
LXX  "burning incense"
REB  "burnt"

This VERB (BDB 882, KB 1094, Hiphil ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) can mean

  1. make sacrifices smoke (i.e., place on the altar, cf. 1 Kgs. 12:33; 2 Chr. 29:1; both of which could fit #2)
  2. cause incense (1 Chr. 23:13; 2 Chr. 2:4; 26:18,19)

Here, as in several of the above references, it could refer to sacrifices on the altar of sacrifice or incense on the altar of incense.

1 Chronicles 6:49 gives a summary statement of the duties of the priests according to the Mosaic Covenant.

However, here sacrifice has priority but in Deut. 33:8-11, there are two other responsibilities mentioned.

  1. care of the oracle (i.e., Urim and Thummim)
  2. legal decisions




▣ "the most holy place" The central tent of the tabernacle was a rectangle divided into two-thirds of an outer court (i.e., the holy place, cf. Exod. 26:33) and a perfect cube at the far end called the "most holy place" or "Holy of Holies" (cf. Exod. 26:33-34), where only the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).


▣ "Moses the servant of God" See SPECIAL TOPIC: MY SERVANT.

6:50-53 This is a repeat of 1 Chr. 6:3-8. This shows that several genealogical lists are being merged in this chapter.

54Now these are their settlements according to their camps within their borders. To the sons of Aaron of the families of the Kohathites (for theirs was the first lot), 55to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its pasture lands around it; 56but the fields of the city and its villages, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57To the sons of Aaron they gave the following cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah also with its pasture lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands, 58Hilen with its pasture lands, Debir with its pasture lands, 59Ashan with its pasture lands and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands; 60and from the tribe of Benjamin: Geba with its pasture lands, Allemeth with its pasture lands, and Anathoth with its pasture lands. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities.

6:54 (MT 6:39) "the first lot" This refers to Joshua's use of the Urim and Thummim (cf. Jos. 21:4,10). The lot was Israel's way to know the will of God. These cities were not given by human reasoning but by God's choice and mercy.

The tribe of Aaron did not receive a land allocation but they did receive houses and small pieces of land for gardening around 48 geographically scattered cities (cf. 1 Chr. 6:57). The tribe of Levi was purposely spread throughout Israel. The Levites were not the only, or even majority, inhabitants of these 48 cities. This is clear from 1 Chr. 6:55-56 (i.e., Hebron, both a city of Levites and the inheritance of Caleb by Moses, cf. Jos. 14:6-15).



6:55 "Hebron" This is an important location for the Patriarchs in southern Canaan. It was first called Kiriath Arba, Gen. 23:2; Jos. 14:15; Jdgs. 1:10.

  1. Abraham built an altar there, Gen. 13:18
  2. Abraham purchased a burial cave, Genesis 23
  3. close to the "oaks of Mamre," Gen. 13:18; 18:1; 23:19; 35:27
  4. it was given as part of Judah's land allocation, Jos. 15:54
  5. it was given to Caleb as a special reward by Moses, Jos. 14:13-15; 15:13; Jdgs. 1:20
  6. it was a Levitical city, Jos. 21:11,13; 1 Chr. 6:55
  7. it was a city of refuge, Jos. 20:7; 1 Chr. 6:57

6:57 "cities of refuge" These are specialized Levitical cities. They become places for man-slayers to seek refuge and justice from kinsmen avengers (cf. Numbers 35; Deut. 19:1-10; Joshua 20).


6:58 (MT 6:43) "Hilen" In Jos. 21:15 it is called "Holon." The UBS Text Project suggests "Hilen" and gives it a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The MT has "Hilez."

6:59 (MT 6:44) "Ashan" In Jos. 21:16 it is called "Ain."

Also in Jos. 21:16 an added city is named "Juttah with its pasture lands." This same kind of addition occurs in 1 Chr. 6:60 (cf. Jos. 21:17).

61Then to the rest of the sons of Kohath were given by lot, from the family of the tribe, from the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities. 62To the sons of Gershom, according to their families, were given from the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher, the tribe of Naphtali, and the tribe of Manasseh, thirteen cities in Bashan. 63To the sons of Merari were given by lot, according to their families, from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. 64So the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities with their pasture lands. 65They gave by lot from the tribe of the sons of Judah, the tribe of the sons of Simeon and the tribe of the sons of Benjamin, these cities which are mentioned by name.

6:61 (MT 6:46) This verse states that the family of Kohalath received ten cities from the half-tribe of Manasseh. Joshua 21:5 says these cities were from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Dan. The land from Ephraim is dealt with in 1 Chr. 6:66-70. Dan is not mentioned at all.

66Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory from the tribe of Ephraim. 67They gave to them the following cities of refuge: Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim with its pasture lands, Gezer also with its pasture lands, 68Jokmeam with its pasture lands, Beth-horon with its pasture lands, 69Aijalon with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; 70and from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Aner with its pasture lands and Bileam with its pasture lands, for the rest of the family of the sons of Kohath.

6:68 "Jokmeam" In Joshua 21:22 he is named "Kibzaim."

6:70 (MT 6:55) "Bileam" The LXX and Targums have "Ieblaam" or "Ibleam." Apparently it was common to drop the yod in proper names (cf. AB, pp. 17,43).

71To the sons of Gershom were given, from the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasture lands and Ashtaroth with its pasture lands; 72and from the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands 73and Ramoth with its pasture lands, Anem with its pasture lands; 74and from the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands, 75Hukok with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands; 76and from the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasture lands, Hammon with its pasture lands and Kiriathaim with its pasture lands.

6:72 (MT 6:57) "Kedesh" In Joshua 19:20; 21:28, it is called "Kishion."

6:73 (MT 6:58) "Anem" In Joshua 19:21 it is called "En-gannim."

6:75 "Hukok" In Joshua 19:25; 21:31 he is named "Helkath."

77To the rest of the Levites, the sons of Merari, were given, from the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasture lands, Tabor with its pasture lands; 78and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, were given them, from the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasture lands, Jahzah with its pasture lands, 79Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands; 80and from the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, Mahanaim with its pasture lands, 81Heshbon with its pasture lands and Jazer with its pasture lands.

6:77 (MT 6:62) "Rimmono" In Joshua 19:13 it is called "Rimmon." The UBS Text Project thinks the original MT had "Rimmonah" ("B" rating, some doubt). This place is located close to Mt. Tabor (NE edge of the Valley of Jezreel).

As we have seen several times, the parallel in Joshua (cf. Jos. 21:34) has additional places added.

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