Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Before. Hebrew, "in the presence of." See Leviticus x. 2. --- Priesthood, under Aaron. Eleazar succeeded him, and the posterity of Ithamar obtained the dignity under Heli.
Ahimelech is styled also Achimelech and Abiathar, ver. 6, 21., and chap. xviii. 16. (Calmet) --- Courses, twenty-four, which were to serve by lot, that no one might complain, as they were equally princes, ver. 5. Hence St. Dionisius styles Zachary "prince of the priests." But the pontiff was over all. (Tirinus)
Houses. The descendants of Eleazar were far more numerous.
Of God, great. Elohim also signifies "judges," and we might translate, "princes of the judges." (Grotius) (Du Hamel) --- These men occupied the first dignities of the priesthood, and of the judicature, or they were princes in all sacred affairs. (Calmet) --- They were to offer sacrifice, and to enjoy spiritual jurisdiction, in the house of God. (Worthington) --- As their claims were therefore equal, the decision was left to lots. (Menochius) --- It would have been otherwise difficult for all to be satisfied. See Josue vii. 14. (Calmet)
Ithamar. All was done with the utmost order, and the priests took care to observe the regulation, till the end of the republic. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vii. 2., and contra Apion i., and ii., and Luke i. 5.) --- The family of Eleazar had many prerogatives over the rest, as it was longer in possession of the high priesthood, and more numerous; but that of Ithamar, gave pontiffs to the nation at the time of this regulation. The Hebrew is very obscure, and is deemed incorrect. (Cap.) (Grotius) (Calmet) --- Protestants, "one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar." --- The insertion of "one," which is in the Septuagint, removes the difficulty. (Haydock) --- The two families were enregistered alternately, (Menochius) till the eight families of Ithamar were done. (Haydock)
Abia, the progenitor of St. John the Baptist, Luke i. 5. Yet whether his father was "chief of the priests" of his course, as St. Dionisius asserts, or whether he sprung from Eleazar, or from Ithamar, is uncertain. (Tirinus)
Aaron, and his successors. The former might have given some directions, which tradition had preserved. (Calmet)
Subael, grandson of Moses, chap. xxiii. 16.
Rohobia was in the same degree, by Eliezer. (Menochius)
And his. Protestants, "the sons of Hebron, Jeriah, the first." The words underlined, shew what omissions are in the text, (Haydock) which is probably corrupted, as well as the Septuagint. Jeria and Amarias were sons of Hebron, chap. xxiii. 19., and xxvi. 31. Jahath may, therefore, be the same with Hebron. (Calmet)
The son. Hebrew, "the son of Jehasia, or of Oziau...." But the name of this son is lost. It is wonderful that the posterity of Gersom are passed over. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "the sons of Jaaziah; Beno. --- 27. The sons of Merari, by Jaaziah; Beno, and Shoam." (Haydock) --- Septuagint vary, and the original text is supposed to be changed by some transcriber, (Capel. &c.) as we read only of Moholi and Musi, ver. 26., and chap. xxiii. 21.
Over-against, in imitation of the priests, (Calmet) being likewise divided into twenty-four classes. (Tirinus) --- Both, &c. Hebrew, "the principal fathers over-against their younger brethren." All the rest is omitted. Lots decided the place and functions both of father and children. (Haydock)