1 Chronicles 24 – The Sections of the Priesthood
A. The twenty-four divisions of the priesthood.
1. (1-6) The sons of Aaron and what became of them.
Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children; therefore Eleazar and Ithamar ministered as priests. Then David with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to the schedule of their service. There were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar, and thus they were divided. Among the sons of Eleazar were sixteen heads of their fathers’ houses, and eight heads of their fathers’ houses among the sons of Ithamar. Thus they were divided by lot, one group as another, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of the house of God, from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar. And the scribe, Shemaiah the son of Nethanel, one of the Levites, wrote them down before the king, the leaders, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and Levites, one father’s house taken for Eleazar and one for Ithamar.
a. Nadab and Abihu died before their father: God judged Nadab and Abihu because they dared to bring strange fire before the LORD, blaspheming God’s commandments for sacrifice (Leviticus 10:1-2).
b. Divided them according to the schedule of their service: David took the descendants of Aaron – the priestly family of Israel – and together with Zadok he divided them into 24 sections, to serve according to the schedule of their service.
i. “Two aspects of this service are emphasized – that it is to be regulated in an orderly system of twenty-four courses (vv. 1-19), and that it provides a pattern to be followed by the priests’ Levitical assistants (vv. 20-31).” (Selman)
2. (7-19) The priesthood is divided by lot into 24 sections.
Now the first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, the twenty-third to Delaiah, the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. This was the schedule of their service for coming into the house of the LORD according to their ordinance by the hand of Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.
a. This was the schedule of their service for coming into the house of the LORD: David knew that because there were so many descendants of Aaron by this time, the priests should be divided so they could be fairly assigned the privileged service of the temple.
i. “In later Jewish practice, the number of twenty-four courses was based on a lunar calendar of forty-eight weeks, with each course serving for a week at a time and thus twice in a year.” (Selman)
ii. “With the passage of time, some of the Davidic courses died out or had to be consolidated with others, and new ones were formed to take their places. At the first return from exile in 527 B.C., only four courses were registered…. By 520 twenty-two were again operative, (Nehemiah 12:1-7), but only half of them were the courses as originally organized by David.” (Payne)
B. The rest of the sons of Levi.
1. (20-30) A list of the remaining sons of Levi.
And the rest of the sons of Levi: of the sons of Amram, Shubael; of the sons of Shubael, Jehdeiah. Concerning Rehabiah, of the sons of Rehabiah, the first was Isshiah. Of the Izharites, Shelomoth; of the sons of Shelomoth, Jahath. Of the sons of Hebron, Jeriah was the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, and Jekameam the fourth. Of the sons of Uzziel, Michah; of the sons of Michah, Shamir. The brother of Michah, Isshiah; of the sons of Isshiah, Zechariah. The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi; the son of Jaaziah, Beno. The sons of Merari by Jaaziah were Beno, Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri. Of Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons. Of Kish: the son of Kish, Jerahmeel. Also the sons of Mushi were Mahli, Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the sons of the Levites according to their fathers’ houses.
a. And the rest of the sons of Levi: These were the descendants of Kohath’s son Amram who were not of the family of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:18-27).
2. (31) How their lots were chosen.
These also cast lots just as their brothers the sons of Aaron did, in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and Levites. The chief fathers did just as their younger brethren.
a. These also cast lots just as their brothers the sons of Aaron did: These other descendants of the family of Kohath were divided according to the schedule for their service, along the same pattern as the priests.
b. The chief fathers did just as their younger brethren: “The lots of the elder and younger brethren were promiscuously put together, and the order was settled as the lots came forth, without any regard to the age, or dignity, or number of the persons or families, the youngest family having the first course if they had the first lot.” (Poole)
i. “There was a tactful mingling in the arrangement of the older and the younger men, so that in this highest and holiest national service the experience of age and the enthusiasm of youth were naturally inspiring.” (Morgan)