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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Chronicles 6

This chapter has four main topics:
1. the line of the high priests (1Chr 6:3-15; 49-53),
2. the three generations of Levi (1Chr 6:16-30),
3. the singers (1Chr 6:31-48) and
4. the cities where the Levites could live (1Chr 6:54-81).

In 1 Chronicles 23-26 the service of the Levites is further arranged. Today every believer is a priest (1Pet 2:5a; Rev 5:9-10), every believer is a Levite, that is, has a task, a gift (1Cor 12:11) and all believers are also singers (Heb 13:15).

Verses 1-15

High Priestly Lineage


First the high priestly lineage is described. The list begins with the sons of Levi (1Chr 6:1). They are mentioned in order of their birth (Gen 46:11; Exo 6:16; Num 3:17; Num 26:57). After having mentioned the three sons, the list continues with Kohath (1Chr 6:2), because from his family Aaron (1Chr 6:3), the first high priest, originates.

Of the sons of Aaron the first two, Nadab and Abihu, die by the judgment of the LORD. They entered the sanctuary with strange fire, which the LORD did not command them (Lev 10:1-2). That they, although they have no successors, are mentioned here anyway, will be to warn against a willful priestship. The line of the high priestly lineage is continued with Eleazar (1Chr 6:4).

Eli’s name does not appear in this list. Eli is a high priest in the time of the book of Judges (1Samuel 1-4), but that he is via the line of Aaron’s fourth son, Ithamar. It is not known how the high priesthood of the line from Eleazar to the line from Ithamar has changed. However, Ithamar does not represent the line of God.

The high priesthood, according to God’s thoughts, runs through Zadok (1Chr 6:8). Zadok is the faithful high priest whom God would raise up (1Sam 2:35; Eze 40:46; Eze 43:19; Eze 44:15; Eze 48:11). Zadok and David belong together (2Sam 8:17; 2Sam 15:24; 1Kgs 1:8). Together they are a picture of the Lord Jesus as King-Priest.

Jehozadak, the high priest mentioned last, is carried away into exile (1Chr 6:15). He is the father of Joshua, the high priest who returned from exile.

Verses 16-30

Descendants of Levi


The importance of the genealogy of Levi can be seen after the return of a remnant from the Babylonian exile in the land of Israel in the days of Ezra. Anyone who claims the priesthood, but whose name is not found in the genealogy, is barred from the priesthood as unclean (Ezra 2:61-62).

Korah (1Chr 6:22) is the leader who revolted against Moses and was swallowed up by the earth (Num 16:32).

Verses 31-47

The Singers


There seem to be three groups of singers. The main group is formed by Heman and his sons (1Chr 6:33), with to his right as a second group Asaph and his sons (1Chr 6:39), and to his left as a third group Ethan and his sons (1Chr 6:44). Each of these three groups comes from one of the sons of Levi. Heman belongs to the Kohathites, Asaph to the Gershonites and Ethan to the Merarites.

The singers are also important for the temple service. In 1 Chronicles 25 the singers are mentioned in more detail. Also in 1 Chronicles 15-16 we meet them. In the tabernacle service, when the people are in the wilderness, there are no singers. The three main singers appear in the book of Psalms, as do the sons of Korah mentioned in 1Chr 6:37.

The three sons of Levi each have a different service. Yet there is a service they have in common. Each of the sons has a family of singers (1Chr 6:33; 39; 44). After the song of Moses (Exo 15:1) we do not hear about singing. It is only here that we hear about it again. You can only sing when the ark – a type of the Lord Jesus – has found a resting place (1Chr 6:31). Where the Lord Jesus can live in the midst, there can be singing.

The “tent of meeting” (1Chr 6:32) is not important in the first place because the members of God’s people can meet there, but because God can meet with them there. Every singer performs his service by singing the praises of God. Thus, every service that takes place in the church may be done by singing, even if it concerns the service of admonishing (cf. Col 3:16). The Levites “they served in their office according to their order”, which for us corresponds to that all things are “done properly and in an orderly manner” (1Cor 14:40).

Heman (1Chr 6:33) is the grandson of Samuel. Heman does not walk in the way of his father (1Sam 8:2-3), but in that of his grandfather.

Verses 48-49

Service of Levites and Priests


In these two verses we see the distinction between the Levites and the priests. The different service of the Levites is a picture of what we find in the New Testament in the different gifts that all members of the church have (Rom 12:4-8; 1Cor 12:4; 11; Eph 4:7; 11). However, there is also a common service, and that is the priestly service. That service consists of singing, which is “a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15b). That is not left to special gifts, nor is it dependent on them.

Verses 50-53

Descendants of Aaron


These verses are a repetition of the priestly line from Aaron to Zadok and Ahimaaz (1Chr 6:4-8). This repetition confirms that the priests from the line of Zadok are the only ones among the Levitical divisions in the days of David who are authorized to make sacrifices.

At the same time, this section forms the transition to the priest cities mentioned in the section.

Verses 54-60

The Priest Cities


Among the priest cities are also the cities of refuge (1Chr 6:57). For the six cities of refuge see Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19; Joshua 20 (Num 35:6-34; Deu 19:1-10; Jos 20:1-9).

Verses 61-81

The Levite Cities


The Levite cities listed here can also be found in Joshua 21 (for further explanation see the comment Joshua Explained & Applied 06). There are forty-eight Levite cities. They are scattered throughout the land, as Jacob foresaw about Levi in his prophetic speech to his sons (Gen 49:7).

These cities are given to the Levites by the other tribes. That does not mean that they have actually taken possession of these cities. For example, we know from Judges 1 that the tribes did not succeed in conquering all cities. This may also explain some differences that exists between the list here and in Joshua 21 (Jos 21:1-40).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.