1 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 23
Division and Office of the Levites.
THE LEVITES DIVIDED INTO THREE COURSES. — V. 1. So when David was old and full of days, weary of his strenuous life, 1 Kings 1, 32-48, he made Solomon, his son, king over Israel. V. 2. And he gathered together all the princes of Israel with the priests and the Levites, the princes acting as the representatives of the tribes in taking the census of the Levites as now described. V. 3. Now, the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward, this being the age at which they did the work of their ministry according to the precept of Moses, Num. 4; and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand, v. 4. of which twenty and four thousand were to set forward, that is, oversee, the work of the house of the Lord, the more menial tasks being assigned to the Nethinim and other servants; and six thousand were officers and judges, occupying civil and judicial offices in the nation. V. 5. Moreover, four thousand were porters, in charge of the entrance gates, both as to opening and closing them and as to maintaining order; and four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith, which were used to accompany the liturgical singing in the divine worship. V. 6. And David divided them into courses, large divisions, among the sons of Levi, namely, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. V. 7. Of the Gershonites were Laadan and Shimei. V. 8. The sons of Laadan: the chief was Jehiel and Zetham and Joel, three. V. 9. The sons of Shimei: Shelomith and Haziel and Haran, three. These were the chief of the fathers of Laadan. V. 10. And the sons of Shimei were Jahath, Zina (or Zizah), and Jeush, and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei. V. 11. And Jahath was the chief and Zizah the second. But Jeush and Beriah had not many sons, their descendants being numerically weak; therefore they were in one reckoning, considered as one division, according to their father's house. The total number of father-houses among the Gershonites, therefore, was nine, six descended from Laadan and three from Shimei. V. 12. The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, four, Ex. 6, 18. V. 13. The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was separated that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons forever, to burn incense before the Lord, Ex. 30, 7, to minister unto Him, Deut. 21, 5, and to bless in His name forever, Num. 6, 23. These were exclusively priestly functions. V. 14. Now, concerning Moses, the man of God, his sons were named of the tribe of Levi, being reckoned among the simple Levites and not among the priests. V. 15. The sons of Moses were Gershom and Eliezer. V. 16. Of the sons of Gershom, Shebuel (or Shubael) was the chief. V. 17. And the sons of Eliezer were Rehabiah, the chief, the first and only one. And Eliezer had none other sons; but the sons of Rehabiah were very many, he had a very numerous posterity. V. 18. Of the sons of Izhar: Shelomith, the chief. V. 19. Of the sons of Hebron: Jeriah, the first; Amariah, the second; Jahaziel, the third; and Jekameam, the fourth. V. 20. Of the sons of Uzziel: Micah, the first, and Jesiah, the second. So the total number of father-houses among the descendants of Kohath was nine. V. 21. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli: Eleazar and Kish. V. 22. And Eleazar died and had no sons, but daughters; and their brethren, that is, cousins, the sons of Kish. took them. V. 23. The sons of Mushi: Mahli and Eder and Jeremoth, three. So the number of father houses among the descendants of Merari was six and the total number among the Levites twenty-four. They were selected, and their families were increased, by the blessing of God.
THE MINISTRY OF THE LEVITES. — V. 24. These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the Lord, from the age of twenty years and upward, the lower age here referred to being explained in the following words. V. 25. For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto His people that they may dwell, or, "and He dwells," in Jerusalem forever, this city having now been chosen by God for the central Sanctuary; v. 26. and also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the Tabernacle nor any vessels of it for the service thereof, and the work thus being lighter, the age at which the Levites could enter upon their work was placed lower. V. 27. For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above, v. 28. because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, in assisting the priests, in the courts, and in the chambers, in keeping every part of the Temple clean, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God, attending to all the external features of the service; v. 29. both for the showbread, in helping to prepare it, and for the fine flour for meat-offering, and for the unleavened cakes, Lev. 2,4, and for that which is baked in the pan, Lev. 2,5, and for that which is fried, Lev. 6, 14, and for all manner of measure and size, the measures of capacity and length, principally for measuring flour, oil, and wine; v. 30. and to stand every morning, namely, the four thousand detailed for this liturgical service, to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even; v. 31. and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, for they had to provide the necessary number of sacrificial animals, examine their fitness, attend to their slaughtering and flaying, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the Lord; v. 32. and that they should keep the charge of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, Num. 18, 4, and the charge of the Holy Place, of all the holy things connected with the worship, Num. 18, 5, and the charge of the sons of Aaron, their brethren, the care of all the things commanded them by the priests, in the service of the house of the Lord. Our God is a God of order, and it pleases Him if all the matters pertaining to external worship also are regulated properly, given into charge of certain people, to avoid all clashing.