The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.—These, with the sons of Kish. make only four Merarite houses, whereas six are required to make up a total of twenty-four Levitical houses. But 1Chronicles 24:26-27 shows that the chronicler’s registers named a third son of Merari, viz., Jaaziah, whose descendents constituted the three houses of Shoham, Zaccur, and Ibri, in the time of David. Adding these, we get seven clans, one too many for our purpose.
Perhaps the Mahli of 1Chronicles 23:23 is a mistaken repetition from 1Chronicles 23:21, due to some ancient scribe. The word “three” at the end of the verse would be added after the mistake had become fixed. It is wanting in 1Chronicles 24:30, which otherwise repeats 1Chronicles 23:23. Excluding this second Mahli as spurious, we get six clans of Merarites; and thus, altogether, twenty-four classes of Levitical overseers of the work of the sanctuary (1Chronicles 23:4), consisting of nine Gershonite, nine Kohathite, and six Merarite houses. This number of classes or guilds tallies exactly with the total of 24,000 Levites (1Chronicles 23:4), for it allows a thousand to the class (or clan). See on 1Chronicles 13:1.
It is right to remark (1) that the passage 1Chronicles 24:26-27, itself needs emendation (see Notes there); (2) that the old versions—viz., the LXX., Vulg., Syriac, and Arabic—have the reading of our present text in 1Chronicles 23:21-23, so that the assumed omission of Jaaziah and his sons must be very ancient, and is probably due to an oversight of an early editor, if not of the chronicler himself; (3) in the two other passages of the Old Testament where the sons of Merari are named, only two—viz., Mahli and Mushi—appear; and (4) that the recurrence of the name Mahli in our 1Chronicles 23:23 as a son of Mushi is easily paralleled: e.g., in 1Chronicles 23:9-10 (“ Shimei” twice). But it is easier to suppose an omission here than an interpolation of unknown names at 1Chronicles 24:26-27. And the correspondence of the present list up to this point with that of 1 Chronicles 24 favours the assumption of an unintentional omission in 1Chronicles 23:21.1 Chronicles 23:28-32 give the most complete account in Scripture of the nature of the Levitical office.
21-23. The sons of Merari—They comprised six fathers' houses. Summing them together, Gershon founded nine fathers houses, Kohath nine, and Merari six: total, twenty-four.
Mahli; so called from his uncle, his father's brother:
and Eder and Jerimoth, three; mentioned again 1 Chronicles 24:30.The sons of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jeremoth, three.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. The sons of Mushi] Cp. 1 Chronicles 24:30.Verse 23. - The sons of Mushi (comp. 1 Chronicles 24:30). Exodus 2:22 and Exodus 18:3.) founded a father's-house; Gershon through his son Shebuel (שׁבוּאל, in 1 Chronicles 24:20 שׁוּבאל), Eliezer through Rehabiah. The plurals בני ג, בני א are used, although in both cases only one son, he who was head (הראשׁ) of the father's-house, is mentioned, either because they had other sons, or those named had in their turn sons, who together formed a father's-house. From the remark in 1 Chronicles 23:17, that Eliezer had no other sons than Rehabiah, while Rehabiah had very many, we may conclude that Gershon had other sons besides Shebuel, who are not mentioned because their descendants were numbered with Shebuel's father's-house.
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