The Word Made Fresh
1The sons of Levi were Gershom, Kohath and Merari.
2Kohath’s sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3Amram’s children were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. Aaron’s sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 4Eleazar’s son was Phinehas. Phinehas’ son was Abishua. 5Abishua’s son was Bukki. Bukki’s son was Uzzi. 6Uzzi’s son was Zerahiah. Zerahiah’s son was Meraioth. 7Meraioth’s son was Amariah. Amariah’s son was Ahitub. 8Ahitub’s son was Zadok. Zadok’s son was Ahimaaz. 9Ahimaaz’ son was Azariah. Azariah’s son was Johanan. 10Johanan’s son was Azariah, who was priest in the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. 11Azariah’s son was Amariah. Amariah’s son was Ahitub. 12Ahitub’s son was Zadok. Zadok’s son was Shallum. 13Shallum’s son was Hilkiah. Hilkiah’s son was Azariah. 14Azariah’s son was Seraiah. Seraiah’s son was Jehozadak. 15When the LORD allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take Judah and Jerusalem into exile, Jehozadak was the priest who went with them.
16Again, the sons of Levi were Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 17Gershom’s sons were Libni and Shimei. 18Kohath’s sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 19Merari’s sons were Mahli and Mushi. These are the Levitical family groups based on their ancestry.
20Gershom’s sons were Libni, Jahath, Zimmah, 21Joah, Iddo, Zerah, and Jeatherai.
22Kohath’s sons were Amminadab, Korah, Assir, 23Elkanah, Ebiasaph, Assir, 24Tahath, Uriel, Uzziah, and Shaul. 25Elkanah’s sons were Amasai and Ahimoth. 26Ahimoth’s son was Elkanah. Elkanah’s son was Zophai. Zophai’s son was Nahath. 27Nahath’s son was Eliab. Eliab’s son was Jeroham. Jeroham’s son was Elkanah.
28Samuel’s sons were Joel and Abijah.
29Merari’s son was Mahli. Mahli’s son was Libni. Libni’s son was Shimei, Shimei’s son was Uzzah. 30Uzzah’s son was Shimea. Shimea’s son was Haggiah. Haggiah’s son was Asaiah.
31David put Levites in charge of the music to be used in the house of the LORD after the covenant chest was placed there. 32They provided appropriate music in the meeting tent until Solomon built the temple to the LORD in Jerusalem. 33Here are the men who served, and their fathers who served before them: the Kohathites were Heman the singer, son of Joel, son of Samuel, 34son of Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Eliel, son of Toah, 35son of Zuph, son of Elkanah, son of Mahath, son of Amasai, 36son of Elkanah, son of Joel, son of Azariah, son of Zephaniah, 37son of Tahath, son of Assir, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, 38son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Israel.
39Kohath’s brother was Asaph who stood at Kohath’s right side. Asaph was the son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, 40son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, 41son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, 42son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, 43son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi.
44On Kohath’s left side were their relatives, the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kish, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, 45son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, 46son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, 47son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi.
48The Levites and their relatives were in charge of caring for and serving in the inner sanctuary of the temple of the LORD, 49but only Aaron and his direct descendants made offerings on the altars of burnt offerings and incense. They were overseers of all the work in the temple to reconcile Israel to God, following the instructions of Moses, God’s servant. 50Aaron’s descendants were Eleazar, Phinehas, Abishua, 51Bukki, Uzzi, Zerahiah, 52Meraioth, Amariah, Ahitub, 53Zadok, and Ahimaaz.
54The Levites were given by lot places to live within the land. The allotments were as follows:
Aaron’s descendants in the family of Kohath (they were the first to receive allotments) 55were given Hebron and its surrounding pastures in the territory of Judah. 56But Caleb son of Jephunneh was awarded the fields and surrounding settlements of Hebron. 57Aaron’s sons were given refuge cities – Hebron, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, 58Hilen, Debir, 59Ashan, and Beth-Shemesh, each with its surrounding pastures. 60They were also given Geba, Alemeth, and Anathoth, each with its surrounding pastures, for the tribe of Benjamin. Altogether, thirteen towns were given to the Kohathite families. 61The other descendants of Kohath were allotted ten towns from within the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh.
62The Gershomites were allotted thirteen towns in Bashan, from the territories of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh.
63The Merarites were allotted twelve towns in the territories of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun. 64The people of Israel gave the Levites these towns with their surrounding pastures. 65They were also allotted other towns in the territories of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.
66Some of the families descended from Kohath were given towns in the territory of Ephraim as well. 67It included these refuge towns with their surrounding pastures: Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer, 68Jokmeam, Beth-Horon, 69Aijalon, Gath-Rimmon, 70along with Aner and Bileam from the half-tribe of Manasseh.
71The Gershomites were also given towns with their surrounding pastures. In the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh they were given Golan in Bashan, and Ashtaroth. 72From the tribe of Issachar they were given Kedesh, Dobrath, 73Ramoth, and Anem. 74From the tribe of Asher they were given Mashal, Abdon, 75Hukok, and Rehob. 76From the tribe of Naphtali they were given Kedesh in Galilee, Hammon, and Kiriathaim.
77The Merarites were also given towns with their surrounding pastures in the territory of Zebulun: Rimmono and Tabor. 78Across the Jordan River from Jericho they were also given, in the tribal lands of Reuben, Bezer on the plain, Jahzah, 79Kedemoth and Mephaath, each with its surrounding pastures. 80Finally, in the territory of the tribe of Gad they were given Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, 81Heshbon and Jazer, each with its surrounding pastures.
1-15: The Hebrew text has these 15 verses as part of chapter 5, and verse 16 then, which in the Hebrew begins chapter 6, is a little repetitious. A great deal of attention is given to the tribe of Levi, no doubt because they provided the scribes who kept the records, and also because those records are essential in reorganizing the temple when the people are allowed to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Levi is set apart from the other tribes to be in charge of the religious life of Israel. Out of their families come the priests who take care of every detail of everything that takes place in the temple. They are not given an allotment of territory with the other tribes (which is why Joseph is divided into the two half-tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim; so that there are still twelve territories) but are given cities and pasture lands within the tribal territories. Levi has three sons, you will recall; Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. These verses trace the lineage of Kohath in which there are a number of prominent names. Aaron, of course, is Moses’ brother, and his sister Miriam is the only woman included in this list. Chief priests of note include Eleazar, Phinehas, Zadok, Azariah (who served as the first head priest in the temple of Solomon), Hilkiah (who found the scroll of the Law and gave it to King Hezekiah), and Seraiah (who accompanied the exiles to Babylon – see 2 Kings 25:18). Jehozadak is not mentioned anywhere before verse 15.
16-30: Verses 16-18 repeat verses 1 & 2, but with the two sons of Gershom inserted. Verse 19 lists the sons of Merari. Verse 20 picks up the line of Gershom and continues through the eldest from Libni through Jeatherai. Verse 22 picks up the line of Kohath again and carries it through the eldest sons down to Shaul in verse 24, then backs up to Elkanah and carries his line through eight generations to another Elkanah.
Samuel suddenly appears in verse 28 without a connection to the names that came before, but we learn later that he is a descendant of Kohath and so this verse is a continuation of that line; perhaps a connecting verse has been lost. (It is a repeat from 1 Samuel 8:2). The chronicler then returns to the first generation of Levites to pick up the line of Merari down to the seventh generation.
31-48: Now we are given a list of the Levites appointed by David to be in charge of the “service of song” in the tabernacle before the temple is built. David, being a poet and musician, is interested especially in that aspect of worship. Three lines are listed, this time working backward; first, from Heman to Kohath, son of Levi; then from Asaph back to Gershom, son of Levi; then from Ethan back to Merari, son of Levi.
49-53: The chronicler now backs up all the way to Aaron and presents a list of his sons.
54-60: When the Israelites begin to conquer the land under Joshua’s leadership, allotments are made to the Levites of cities and pasturelands. Eventually the arrangement is that divisions of the Levites take turns serving in the temple in Jerusalem; so, we have in the Gospel of Luke an account of the priest Zechariah taking his turn serving in the temple (Luke 1:5-9). If you are really, really interested in this, you can go back and read about the allotments in Joshua 21. The Kohathites are given holdings within the territories of Judah and Benjamin.
61-65: The Kohathites are given additional holdings within the territory of Manasseh. The Gershomites are allotted land in Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Manasseh. The Merarites are given allotments in Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. The tribes of Simeon and Benjamin haven’t been mentioned yet, so they are tacked on in verse 65 with Judah (remember that the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into Judah early on). The only tribe not mentioned here is Ephraim.
66-70: So, we learn that the Kohathites who somehow got left out above were given holdings in Ephraim and Manasseh.
71-81: More listings are given for the Gershomites and Merarites within the tribal territories of Manasseh, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, Reuben, and Gad. So much for that.
I can trace my roots back to three generations, with a bit of information from a few generations before that, but with some gaps in the record. The faith of the people of Israel made these extensive centuries-long family records necessary. The genealogy is their proof of God’s presence with them throughout, from Egypt to the Babylonian exile and beyond. It is their faith, not their accomplishments, being recorded here.