1 Chronicles
Introduction 1-15 High Priestly Lineage 16-30 Descendants of Levi 31-47 The Singers 48-49 Service of Levites and Priests 50-53 Descendants of Aaron 54-60 The Priest Cities 61-81 The Levite Cities
Introduction

This chapter has four main topics:
1. the line of the high priests (verses 3-15,49-533The children of Amram [were] Aaron, Moses and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron [were] Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.4Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, [and] Phinehas became the father of Abishua,5and Abishua became the father of Bukki, and Bukki became the father of Uzzi,6and Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah, and Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth,7Meraioth became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub,8and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz,9and Ahimaaz became the father of Azariah, and Azariah became the father of Johanan,10and Johanan became the father of Azariah (it was he who served as the priest in the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem),11and Azariah became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub,12and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Shallum,13and Shallum became the father of Hilkiah, and Hilkiah became the father of Azariah,14and Azariah became the father of Seraiah, and Seraiah became the father of Jehozadak;15and Jehozadak went [along] when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.49But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.50These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son,51Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son,52Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son,53Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.),
2. the three generations of Levi (verses 16-3016The sons of Levi [were] Gershom, Kohath and Merari.17These are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei.18The sons of Kohath [were] Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.19The sons of Merari [were] Mahli and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers’ [households].20Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son,21Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son.22The sons of Kohath [were] Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son,23Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son and Assir his son,24Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son and Shaul his son.25The sons of Elkanah [were] Amasai and Ahimoth.26[As for] Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah [were] Zophai his son and Nahath his son,27Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.28The sons of Samuel [were] Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second.29The sons of Merari [were] Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son,30Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.),
3. the singers (verses 31-4831Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark rested [there].32They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order.33These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel,34the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah,35the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai,36the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah,37the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah,38the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.39[Heman’s] brother Asaph stood at his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea,40the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah,41the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah,42the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei,43the son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi.44On the left hand [were] their kinsmen the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch,45the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah,46the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer,47the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi.48Their kinsmen the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.) and
4. the cities where the Levites could live (verses 54-8154Now these are their settlements according to their camps within their borders. To the sons of Aaron of the families of the Kohathites (for theirs was the [first] lot),55to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its pasture lands around it;56but the fields of the city and its villages, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh.57To the sons of Aaron they gave the [following] cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah also with its pasture lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands,58Hilen with its pasture lands, Debir with its pasture lands,59Ashan with its pasture lands and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands;60and from the tribe of Benjamin: Geba with its pasture lands, Allemeth with its pasture lands, and Anathoth with its pasture lands. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities.61Then to the rest of the sons of Kohath [were given] by lot, from the family of the tribe, from the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities.62To the sons of Gershom, according to their families, [were given] from the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher, the tribe of Naphtali, and the tribe of Manasseh, thirteen cities in Bashan.63To the sons of Merari [were given] by lot, according to their families, from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.64So the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities with their pasture lands.65They gave by lot from the tribe of the sons of Judah, the tribe of the sons of Simeon and the tribe of the sons of Benjamin, these cities which are mentioned by name.66Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory from the tribe of Ephraim.67They gave to them the [following] cities of refuge: Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim with its pasture lands, Gezer also with its pasture lands,68Jokmeam with its pasture lands, Beth-horon with its pasture lands,69Aijalon with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands;70and from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Aner with its pasture lands and Bileam with its pasture lands, for the rest of the family of the sons of Kohath.71To the sons of Gershom [were given], from the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasture lands and Ashtaroth with its pasture lands;72and from the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands73and Ramoth with its pasture lands, Anem with its pasture lands;74and from the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands,75Hukok with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands;76and from the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasture lands, Hammon with its pasture lands and Kiriathaim with its pasture lands.77To the rest of [the Levites], the sons of Merari, [were given], from the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasture lands, Tabor with its pasture lands;78and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, [were given them], from the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasture lands, Jahzah with its pasture lands,79Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands;80and from the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, Mahanaim with its pasture lands,81Heshbon with its pasture lands and Jazer with its pasture lands.).

In 1 Chronicles 23-26 the service of the Levites is further arranged. Today every believer is a priest (1Pet 2:5a5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.; Rev 5:9-109And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood [men] from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.10“You have made them [to be] a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”), every believer is a Levite, that is, has a task, a gift (1Cor 12:1111But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.) and all believers are also singers (Heb 13:1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.).


High Priestly Lineage

1The sons of Levi [were] Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 2The sons of Kohath [were] Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 3The children of Amram [were] Aaron, Moses and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron [were] Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 4Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, [and] Phinehas became the father of Abishua, 5and Abishua became the father of Bukki, and Bukki became the father of Uzzi, 6and Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah, and Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth, 7Meraioth became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub, 8and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz, 9and Ahimaaz became the father of Azariah, and Azariah became the father of Johanan, 10and Johanan became the father of Azariah (it was he who served as the priest in the house which Solomon built in Jerusalem), 11and Azariah became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub, 12and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Shallum, 13and Shallum became the father of Hilkiah, and Hilkiah became the father of Azariah, 14and Azariah became the father of Seraiah, and Seraiah became the father of Jehozadak; 15and Jehozadak went [along] when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.

First the high priestly lineage is described. The list begins with the sons of Levi (verse 11The sons of Levi [were] Gershon, Kohath and Merari.). They are mentioned in order of their birth (Gen 46:1111The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.; Exo 6:1515The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon.; Num 3:1717These then are the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon and Kohath and Merari.; 26:5757These are those who were numbered of the Levites according to their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites; of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites; of Merari, the family of the Merarites.). After having mentioned the three sons, the list continues with Kohath (verse 22The sons of Kohath [were] Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.), because from his family Aaron (verse 33The children of Amram [were] Aaron, Moses and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron [were] Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.), 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 10:1-21Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.). 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 (verse 44Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, [and] Phinehas became the father of Abishua,).

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 (verse 88and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz,). Zadok is the faithful high priest whom God would raise up (1Sam 2:3535But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.; Eze 40:4646but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near to the LORD to minister to Him.”; 43:1919You shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘a young bull for a sin offering.; 44:1515“But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood,” declares the Lord GOD.; 48:1111[It shall be] for the priests who are sanctified of the sons of Zadok, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the sons of Israel went astray as the Levites went astray.). Zadok and David belong together (2Sam 8:1717Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar [were] priests, and Seraiah [was] secretary.; 15:2424Now behold, Zadok also [came], and all the Levites with him carrying the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar came up until all the people had finished passing from the city.; 1Kgs 1:88But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.). Together they are a picture of the Lord Jesus as King-Priest.

Jehozadak, the last mentioned high priest, is carried away into exile (verse 1515and Jehozadak went [along] when the LORD carried Judah and Jerusalem away into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.). He is the father of Joshua, the high priest who returned from exile.


Descendants of Levi

16The sons of Levi [were] Gershom, Kohath and Merari. 17These are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. 18The sons of Kohath [were] Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 19The sons of Merari [were] Mahli and Mushi. And these are the families of the Levites according to their fathers’ [households]. 20Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, 21Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. 22The sons of Kohath [were] Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, 23Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son and Assir his son, 24Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son and Shaul his son. 25The sons of Elkanah [were] Amasai and Ahimoth. 26[As for] Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah [were] Zophai his son and Nahath his son, 27Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. 28The sons of Samuel [were] Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second. 29The sons of Merari [were] Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, 30Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, Asaiah his son.

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 2:61-6261Of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and he was called by their name.62These searched [among] their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [and excluded] from the priesthood.).

Korah (verse 2222The sons of Kohath [were] Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son,) is the leader who revolted against Moses and was swallowed up by the earth (Num 16:3232and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with [their] possessions.).


The Singers

31Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark rested [there]. 32They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order. 33These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, 34the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, 35the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, 36the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, 37the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, 38the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel. 39[Heman’s] brother Asaph stood at his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea, 40the son of Michael, the son of Baaseiah, the son of Malchijah, 41the son of Ethni, the son of Zerah, the son of Adaiah, 42the son of Ethan, the son of Zimmah, the son of Shimei, 43the son of Jahath, the son of Gershom, the son of Levi. 44On the left hand [were] their kinsmen the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch, 45the son of Hashabiah, the son of Amaziah, the son of Hilkiah, 46the son of Amzi, the son of Bani, the son of Shemer, 47the son of Mahli, the son of Mushi, the son of Merari, the son of Levi.

There seem to be three groups of singers. The main group is formed by Heman and his sons (verse 3333These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel,), with to his right as a second group Asaph and his sons (verse 3939[Heman’s] brother Asaph stood at his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea,), and to his left as a third group Ethan and his sons (verse 4444On the left hand [were] their kinsmen the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch,). 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 verse 3737the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah,.

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 (verses 33,39,4433These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel,39[Heman’s] brother Asaph stood at his right hand, even Asaph the son of Berechiah, the son of Shimea,44On the left hand [were] their kinsmen the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, the son of Abdi, the son of Malluch,). After the song of Moses (Exo 15:11Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,
“I will sing to the LORD,
For He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider
He has hurled into the sea.
) 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 (verse 3131Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark rested [there].). Where the Lord Jesus can live in the midst, there can be sung.

The “tent of meeting” (verse 3232They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order.) 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 3:1616Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.). 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 14:4040But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.).

Heman (verse 3333These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel,) is the grandson of Samuel. Heman does not walk in the way of his father (1Sam 8:2-32Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; [they] were judging in Beersheba.3His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.), but in that of his grandfather.


Service of Levites and Priests

48Their kinsmen the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God. 49But Aaron and his sons offered on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense, for all the work of the most holy place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.

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 12:4-84For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, [each of us is to exercise them accordingly]: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.; 1Cor 12:4,114Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.; Eph 4:7,117But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.11And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,). 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 13:15b15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.). That is not left to special gifts, nor is it dependent on them.


Descendants of Aaron

50These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, 51Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, 52Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, 53Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.

These verses are a repetition of the priestly line from Aaron to Zadok and Ahimaaz (verses 4-84Eleazar became the father of Phinehas, [and] Phinehas became the father of Abishua,5and Abishua became the father of Bukki, and Bukki became the father of Uzzi,6and Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah, and Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth,7Meraioth became the father of Amariah, and Amariah became the father of Ahitub,8and Ahitub became the father of Zadok, and Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz,). 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.


The Priest Cities

54Now these are their settlements according to their camps within their borders. To the sons of Aaron of the families of the Kohathites (for theirs was the [first] lot), 55to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its pasture lands around it; 56but the fields of the city and its villages, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57To the sons of Aaron they gave the [following] cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah also with its pasture lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands, 58Hilen with its pasture lands, Debir with its pasture lands, 59Ashan with its pasture lands and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands; 60and from the tribe of Benjamin: Geba with its pasture lands, Allemeth with its pasture lands, and Anathoth with its pasture lands. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities.

Among the priest cities are also the cities of refuge (verse 5757To the sons of Aaron they gave the [following] cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah also with its pasture lands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands,). For the six cities of refuge see Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19; Joshua 20 (Num 35:6-346The cities which you shall give to the Levites [shall be] the six cities of refuge, which you shall give for the manslayer to flee to; and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities.7All the cities which you shall give to the Levites [shall be] forty-eight cities, together with their pasture lands.8As for the cities which you shall give from the possession of the sons of Israel, you shall take more from the larger and you shall take less from the smaller; each shall give some of his cities to the Levites in proportion to his possession which he inherits.”9Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,10“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan,11then you shall select for yourselves cities to be your cities of refuge, that the manslayer who has killed any person unintentionally may flee there.12The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.13The cities which you are to give shall be your six cities of refuge.14You shall give three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge.15These six cities shall be for refuge for the sons of Israel, and for the alien and for the sojourner among them; that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.16‘But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.17If he struck him down with a stone in the hand, by which he will die, and [as a result] he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.18Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he might die, and [as a result] he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.19The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him.20If he pushed him of hatred, or threw something at him lying in wait and [as a result] he died,21or if he struck him down with his hand in enmity, and [as a result] he died, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer; the blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.22‘But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait,23or with any deadly object of stone, and without seeing it dropped on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor seeking his injury,24then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the blood avenger according to these ordinances.25The congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.26But if the manslayer at any time goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he may flee,27and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills the manslayer, he will not be guilty of blood28because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.29‘These things shall be for a statutory ordinance to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.30‘If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.31Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.32You shall not take ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest.33So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.34You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’”; Deu 19:1-101“When the LORD your God cuts off the nations, whose land the LORD your God gives you, and you dispossess them and settle in their cities and in their houses,2you shall set aside three cities for yourself in the midst of your land, which the LORD your God gives you to possess.3You shall prepare the roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the LORD your God will give you as a possession, so that any manslayer may flee there.4“Now this is the case of the manslayer who may flee there and live: when he kills his friend unintentionally, not hating him previously—5as when [a man] goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron [head] slips off the handle and strikes his friend so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live;6otherwise the avenger of blood might pursue the manslayer in the heat of his anger, and overtake him, because the way is long, and take his life, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously.7Therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall set aside three cities for yourself.’8“If the LORD your God enlarges your territory, just as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which He promised to give your fathers—9if you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in His ways always—then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three.10So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and bloodguiltiness be on you.; Jos 20:1-91Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses,3that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood.4He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them.5Now if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not deliver the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand.6He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”7So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.8Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh.9These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever kills any person unintentionally may flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.).


The Levite Cities

61Then to the rest of the sons of Kohath [were given] by lot, from the family of the tribe, from the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities. 62To the sons of Gershom, according to their families, [were given] from the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher, the tribe of Naphtali, and the tribe of Manasseh, thirteen cities in Bashan. 63To the sons of Merari [were given] by lot, according to their families, from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. 64So the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities with their pasture lands. 65They gave by lot from the tribe of the sons of Judah, the tribe of the sons of Simeon and the tribe of the sons of Benjamin, these cities which are mentioned by name. 66Now some of the families of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory from the tribe of Ephraim. 67They gave to them the [following] cities of refuge: Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim with its pasture lands, Gezer also with its pasture lands, 68Jokmeam with its pasture lands, Beth-horon with its pasture lands, 69Aijalon with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; 70and from the half-tribe of Manasseh: Aner with its pasture lands and Bileam with its pasture lands, for the rest of the family of the sons of Kohath. 71To the sons of Gershom [were given], from the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasture lands and Ashtaroth with its pasture lands; 72and from the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands 73and Ramoth with its pasture lands, Anem with its pasture lands; 74and from the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands, 75Hukok with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands; 76and from the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasture lands, Hammon with its pasture lands and Kiriathaim with its pasture lands. 77To the rest of [the Levites], the sons of Merari, [were given], from the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasture lands, Tabor with its pasture lands; 78and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, [were given them], from the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasture lands, Jahzah with its pasture lands, 79Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands; 80and from the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, Mahanaim with its pasture lands, 81Heshbon with its pasture lands and Jazer with its pasture lands.

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 49:77“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.
).

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 21:1-401Then the heads of households of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of households of the tribes of the sons of Israel.2They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The LORD commanded through Moses to give us cities to live in, with their pasture lands for our cattle.”3So the sons of Israel gave the Levites from their inheritance these cities with their pasture lands, according to the command of the LORD.4Then the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. And the sons of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, received thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of the Simeonites and from the tribe of Benjamin.5The rest of the sons of Kohath received ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim and from the tribe of Dan and from the half-tribe of Manasseh.6The sons of Gershon received thirteen cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher and from the tribe of Naphtali and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.7The sons of Merari according to their families received twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben and from the tribe of Gad and from the tribe of Zebulun.8Now the sons of Israel gave by lot to the Levites these cities with their pasture lands, as the LORD had commanded through Moses.9They gave these cities which are [here] mentioned by name from the tribe of the sons of Judah and from the tribe of the sons of Simeon;10and they were for the sons of Aaron, one of the families of the Kohathites, of the sons of Levi, for the lot was theirs first.11Thus they gave them Kiriath-arba, [Arba being] the father of Anak (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands.12But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession.13So to the sons of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, and Libnah with its pasture lands,14and Jattir with its pasture lands and Eshtemoa with its pasture lands,15and Holon with its pasture lands and Debir with its pasture lands,16and Ain with its pasture lands and Juttah with its pasture lands [and] Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands; nine cities from these two tribes.17From the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its pasture lands, Geba with its pasture lands,18Anathoth with its pasture lands and Almon with its pasture lands; four cities.19All the cities of the sons of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their pasture lands.20Then the cities from the tribe of Ephraim were allotted to the families of the sons of Kohath, the Levites, [even to] the rest of the sons of Kohath.21They gave them Shechem, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, in the hill country of Ephraim, and Gezer with its pasture lands,22and Kibzaim with its pasture lands and Beth-horon with its pasture lands; four cities.23From the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its pasture lands, Gibbethon with its pasture lands,24Aijalon with its pasture lands, Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; four cities.25From the half-tribe of Manasseh, [they allotted] Taanach with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; two cities.26All the cities with their pasture lands for the families of the rest of the sons of Kohath were ten.27To the sons of Gershon, one of the families of the Levites, from the half-tribe of Manasseh, [they gave] Golan in Bashan, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands, and Be-eshterah with its pasture lands; two cities.28From the tribe of Issachar, [they gave] Kishion with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands,29Jarmuth with its pasture lands, En-gannim with its pasture lands; four cities.30From the tribe of Asher, [they gave] Mishal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands,31Helkath with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands; four cities.32From the tribe of Naphtali, [they gave] Kedesh in Galilee, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands and Hammoth-dor with its pasture lands and Kartan with its pasture lands; three cities.33All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their pasture lands.34To the families of the sons of Merari, the rest of the Levites, [they gave] from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasture lands and Kartah with its pasture lands.35Dimnah with its pasture lands, Nahalal with its pasture lands; four cities.36From the tribe of Reuben, [they gave] Bezer with its pasture lands and Jahaz with its pasture lands,37Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands; four cities.38From the tribe of Gad, [they gave] Ramoth in Gilead, the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasture lands and Mahanaim with its pasture lands,39Heshbon with its pasture lands, Jazer with its pasture lands; four cities in all.40All [these were] the cities of the sons of Merari according to their families, the rest of the families of the Levites; and their lot was twelve cities.).


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