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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
David divides the families of Eleazar and Ithamar, by lot, into twenty-four courses, vv. 1-19. How the rest of the sons of Levi were disposed of, 1 Chronicles 24:20-31.
1Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
2But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest's office.
Nadab and Abihu died before their father - That is, during his lifetime.
Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest's office - These two served the office during the life of their father Aaron; after his death Eleazar succeeded in the high priesthood. And under Eli the high priest, the family of Ithamar re-entered into that office.
3And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service.
And Ahimelech - Ahimelech is put here for Abiathar, who was high priest in the days of David. Abiathar had also the name of Ahimelech, as well as his father. See Calmet.
4And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar; and thus were they divided. Among the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the house of their fathers.
5Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God, were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar.
They divided by lot - This prevented jealousies: for, as all the families were equally noble, they had equal right to all ecclesiastical and civil distinctions.
6And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar.
And Shemaiah - "Moses the great scribe, who is called Shemaiah, the son of Nethaneel, of the tribe of Levi, wrote them down." - T.
One principal household - for Eleazar - The family of Eleazar was the most illustrious of the sacerdotal families, because Eleazar was the first-born of Aaron, Ithamar's family was the second in order and dignity; therefore one of the principal families of Eleazar was first taken, and then one of Ithamar's, and thus alternately till the whole was finished.
7Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,
8The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,
9The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,
10The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,
11The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah,
12The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,
13The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,
14The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,
15The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses,
16The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,
17The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,
18The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah.
19These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.
Under Aaron their father - That is, they followed the order and plans laid down by Aaron during his lifetime.
20And the rest of the sons of Levi were these: Of the sons of Amram; Shubael: of the sons of Shubael; Jehdeiah.
21Concerning Rehabiah: of the sons of Rehabiah, the first was Isshiah.
22Of the Izharites; Shelomoth: of the sons of Shelomoth; Jahath.
23And the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth.
24Of the sons of Uzziel; Michah: of the sons of Michah; Shamir.
25The brother of Michah was Isshiah: of the sons of Isshiah; Zechariah.
26The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi: the sons of Jaaziah; Beno.
The sons of Merari - It is remarkable that not a word is here spoken of the family of Gershom.
27The sons of Merari by Jaaziah; Beno, and Shoham, and Zaccur, and Ibri.
28Of Mahli came Eleazar, who had no sons.
29Concerning Kish: the son of Kish was Jerahmeel.
30The sons also of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the sons of the Levites after the house of their fathers.
31These likewise cast lots over against their brethren the sons of Aaron in the presence of David the king, and Zadok, and Ahimelech, and the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites, even the principal fathers over against their younger brethren.
These likewise cast lots - The Levites were divided into twenty-four orders; and these were appointed by lot to serve under the twenty-four orders of the priests: the first order of Levities under the first order of priests, and so on. The meaning is not very clear: "both elder and younger," says Bishop Patrick, "had their places by lot, not by seniority of houses. They who were of greater dignity drew lots against those who were of less; and were to take their courses according to the lot they drew." This may have been the case; but we are very little interested in the subject.