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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 24

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-19

Priests’ Courses, 1 Chronicles 24:1-19

In his preparation for the temple and its worship David had also reorganized the families of the priests. The chief families of Aaron’s descendants were mentioned first. Aaron had had four sons, but the two older, Nadab and Abihu, had been slain. by the Lord because they offered strange fire at the dedication of the tabernacle (Leviticus 10:1-5). their infraction against the Lord’s holiness, in seeking to fire His altar by their own fire, was never forgotten in Israel. It had already remained as a negative lesson for many generations, and it stands as a warning today to those who would prefer their own methods over those of the Lord.

Nadab and Abihu died childless, so the lineage of the priests came through Aaron’s younger sons, Eleazar and Ithamar Eleazar had succeeded to the high priesthood following the death of Aaron, and Eleazar’s son, Phinehas, had followed him (Numbers 25:10-13). Some think the Lord’s words to Phinehas on that occasion meant that the high priesthood should continue in the descent of Phinehas perpetually. This did not occur, however, for Eli was of the family of Ithamar This is apparent from verse 3, where it is said that Ahimelech was of the family of Ithamar Ahimelech was the son of Abiathar, the priest who had escaped Saul’s slaughter (1 Samuel 22:20-23) and become a fugitive from Saul with David. Abiathar was the son of an older Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli.

David had appointed a chief priest from each of the two Aaronic families, Zadok for Eleazar and Ahimelech for Ithamar There were twenty-four other chief priests, though inferior in office to Zadok and Ahimelech. Each of these headed a course of priests, but there were sixteen from the family of Eleazar, which was the more numerous, to eight from the family of Ithamar Their order of service was determined by lot. They were called governors (or princes) of the sanctuary and governors (or princes) of the house of God. It is uncertain whether these designations are synonymous or were separate appointments. It has been suggested that the princes of the sanctuary served in the most sacred precincts, whereas the princes of the house of God served in the outer precincts of the temple.

The scribe, Shemaiah, who was a Levite, recorded the twenty-four orders and the name of the chief priest of each, whose name continued to be called on that particular order throughout Israel’s history. It was witnessed by the high priests Zadok and Ahimelech. The orders are enumerated and named in verses 7 through 18. None of these men are otherwise notable in the Scriptures. It is interesting, however, to note that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was of the order of Abijah (Lu 1:5), the eighth course of the priests.

Verses 20-31

More Levites, Verses 20-31

The purpose of casting lots for the men named here is not clear. They were ordinary Levites, the families of whom are first named in chapter 23. None of these is prominently mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures. They may have served a specific function on behalf of the priests as may be suggested by verse 31. That it was very important is implied by the presence of the chief priests, the high priests, the chief of the Levitical families, and even King David, when the lot was cast.

Some lessons to note: 1) One awful mistake may result in lingering effect, though it may also serve as a long-time warning; 2) the testimony of a good man will also abide through the generations after him; 3) God has His purposes in deeds and events which may not always be clear to us.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 24". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-chronicles-24.html. 1985.
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