Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.1 Chronicles 24:1-2. These are the divisions of the sons of Aaron — The several branches into which that family was divided. Therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office — Their brethren being dead, and leaving no issue, they and their sons were the only persons to whom the execution of that office could be committed according to the law.
But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest's office.
And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service.1 Chronicles 24:3. And David distributed them, &c. — To avoid all confusion, now that they were much increased, he distributed the priests, as he had done the Levites, into several courses, allotting to each of them the times wherein they should by turns have the government of holy ministrations.
And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar; and thus were they divided. Among the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the house of their fathers.1 Chronicles 24:4. Among the sons of Eleazar were sixteen chief men, &c. — He appointed, therefore, sixteen courses of the sons of Eleazar, under as many heads of their families, and half as many of the posterity of Ithamar.
Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God, were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar.1 Chronicles 24:5. Thus were they divided by lot — That the business being committed, in this way, to the Divine disposal, there might be no occasion for complaint, and so all contentions might be prevented, as no man could be charged with partiality, nor could any say they had wrong done them. Solomon says, the lot causes contention to cease. It is evident from the Scriptures, that it was a very ancient custom to refer matters of a doubtful nature to the decision of the lot; and, in particular, persons were often chosen in this way to sacred offices. But, as it is an appeal to God, it ought to be managed with a proper reverence and sincerity. Thus Matthias was chosen to the apostleship by lot with solemn prayer. “And I know not,” says Henry, “but it might still be used, in faith, in parallel cases, as an instituted ordinance.” One sort with another — Both the sons of Eleazar and those of Ithamar were thus chosen, who should wait together. Governors of the house of God — Hebrew, governors of God; that is, the judges, says Houbigant. The ministers of religion are expressed in the foregoing words, the governors of the sanctuary. It is very justly observed by Grotius, that governors of God never signify, in the sacred writings, those that minister to God, but governors in the commonwealth, chiefs, or judges. Were of the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Ithamar — These two families had obtained the chief functions, both in the temple and in the magistracy; which could not be distributed so well any way as by lot, without danger of envy among themselves.
And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar.1 Chronicles 24:6. Shemaiah, the scribe, wrote them before the king — Their names were written and put into an urn, out of which the lots were to be drawn: which, that there might be no suspicion of fraud, were drawn before the king, the princes, the high-priest and his assistant, and before the several families of priests and Levites. One principal household being taken for Eleazar, &c. — That is, one of the principal families of Eleazar was first taken, and then one of Ithamar’s, and thus alternately, till all the families of Ithamar had received their lot. And afterward all the lots came forth to the rest of Eleazar’s families, which were double in number to those of Ithamar.
Now the first lot came forth 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 Aphses,
The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,
The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,
The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah.
These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.1 Chronicles 24:19. These were the orderings of them — In this order and method they were to come to perform the offices of the temple. To come into the house — To come into the temple every sabbath day, and to continue there till the next sabbath, when they were relieved by others. Under Aaron — Under the direction of the high-priest, whom he calls Aaron, because he represented Aaron’s person, and executed his office; and their father — Because of the authority which, by God’s appointment, he had over them.
And the rest of the sons of Levi were these: Of the sons of Amram; Shubael: of the sons of Shubael; Jehdeiah.1 Chronicles 24:20. The rest of the sons of Levi — Either such as were only Levites, and not priests, or such as were not named or numbered before, in this or the former chapter. The sons of Shubael, Jehdeiah — Who being, as it seems, an eminent person, or having a very numerous family, was not reckoned with or under his father’s family, but was accounted as a distinct head of another family.
Concerning Rehabiah: of the sons of Rehabiah, the first was Isshiah.
Of the Izharites; Shelomoth: of the sons of Shelomoth; Jahath.
And the sons of Hebron; Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third, Jekameam the fourth.
Of the sons of Uzziel; Michah: of the sons of Michah; Shamir.
The brother of Michah was Isshiah: of the sons of Isshiah; Zechariah.
The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi: the sons of Jaaziah; Beno.
The sons of Merari by Jaaziah; Beno, and Shoham, and Zaccur, and Ibri.
Of Mahli came Eleazar, who had no sons.
Concerning Kish: the son of Kish was Jerahmeel.
The sons also of Mushi; Mahli, and Eder, and Jerimoth. These were the sons of the Levites after the house of their fathers.
These likewise cast lots over against their brethren the sons of Aaron in the presence of David the king, and Zadok, and Ahimelech, and the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites, even the principal fathers over against their younger brethren.1 Chronicles 24:31. These likewise cast lots — There was the like solemnity used in their distribution as there was in that of the priests, by casting lots; whereby they knew what Levites should wait in every course with the sons of Aaron. Even the principal fathers over against their younger brethren — These words are somewhat obscure, but the meaning, says Bishop Patrick, is, that both elder and younger had their places by lot, not by seniority of houses: they who were of greater dignity drew lots against those who were of less: and they were to take their courses as they fell either to the elder or the younger family.