Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 6:1-15 The High Priests

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The verse numbers in Hebrew continue at this point from 5:27-41, so that in Hebrew, 6:1-66 equals English verses 6:16-81.

6:1 The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 2 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3 The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.

Here we take up the family of the Levites and most especially the line of the high priests of Israel. The list is not complete, but there are no errors. I give men with duplicate names among the high priests numerals (such as Ahitub I, Ahitub II) to help avoid confusion and to identify specific individuals in the list.

The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
4 Eleazar was the father of Phinehas,
Phinehas was the father of Abishua,
5 Abishua was the father of Bukki,
Bukki was the father of Uzzi,
6 Uzzi was the father of Zerahiah,
Zerahiah was the father of Meraioth,
7 Meraioth was the father of Amariah I,
Amariah I was the father of Ahitub I,
8 Ahitub I was the father of Zadok I,
Zadok I was the father of Ahimaaz,
9 Ahimaaz was the father of Azariah I,
Azariah I was the father of Johanan,
10 and Johanan was the father of Azariah II (it was he who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem).

Fourteen high priests are named who served as high priest in the days of the tabernacle, until the construction and dedication of Solomon’s temple. The temple took seven years to build, from the second month of his fourth year as king (April, 966 BC) to the eighth month of his eleventh year (October, 959 BC).

Zadok in verse 8 was one of King David’s two leading priests. The inspired writers carefully avoid using the term “high priest” during that time. It was confusing, and there were things happening in the worship life of Israel that should not have happened, beginning from the time the Ark of the Covenant was lost in battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:11) and then returned by Israel’s enemy (1 Samuel 6:11-12). After this, the Ark remained in Kiriath Jearim for more than twenty years (1 Samuel 7:1-2), was used from time to time by Saul (1 Samuel 14:18), but then brought by David to Jeruslaem. During that time, it seems as if Abiathar had possession of the high priestly ephod (1 Samuel 23:6, 30:7). Zadok was responsible for the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 15:25) aided by the musician Asaph (1 Chronicles 16:5-6),  but Abiathar was responsible for the daily sacrifices (2 Samuel 15:24). At some point, their positions may have been reversed (1 Chronicles 16:39-40). This clumsy arrangement had begun when the ark was separated from the tabernacle, and then it was extended when David failed to bring the ark back to the tabernacle, but instead pitched an ordinary tent for it near his home in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:1, 16:1). The rest of Moses’ original tabernacle remained for a while at Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:12), then it was taken to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1-9), and later on to Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39).

This double-priesthood (again, the Bible never speaks of two high priests) should not have happened in the first place, but it came to an end when Abiathar joined in Adonijah’s rebellion along with Joab the military commander, “and they gave him (Adonijah) their support” (1 Kings 1:7). For this Solomon condemned Abiathar the priest and said to him: “Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the Ark of the LORD God before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships” (1 Kings 2:26). Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood, ending Eli’s line of high priests. Zadok was anointed priest (high priest?) when Solomon was anointed king (1 Chronicles 29:22), but Zadok either died soon after or was too elderly to serve longer, so Solomon made Zadok’s son Azariah II the unified high priest when the tabernacle’s service officially ended and worship at the temple alone began.

11 Azariah II was the father of Amariah II,
Amariah II was the father of Ahitub II,
12 Ahitub II was the father of Zadok II,
Zadok II was the father of Shallum,
13 Shallum was the father of Hilkiah,
Hilkiah was the father of Azariah III,
14 Azariah III was the father of Seraiah,
Seraiah was the father of Jehozadak;
15 and Jehozadak went into exile when the LORD sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

Nine high priests are named following the dedication of the temple until its destruction at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Several names are missing here, but no explanation is given. Some of these include Jehoiada (2 Kings 11:12), Uriah (2 Kings 16:11), and Azariah IV (2 Chronicles 31:10). In the apocryphal 1 Esdras, the genealogy of Ezra is similarly given with a jump in the list counting backward between this list’s Ahitub II (verse 12) and Ahitub I (verse 8) (1 Edras 8:1-2).

The Hilkiah in verse 13 was the priest who found the Book of the Law while they were repairing the temple during the reign of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 22:8).

As God’s people worshiped over the centuries, their leaders sometimes made mistakes, such as Aaron’s sons, who were put to death for burning unlawful incense. And again, when the Ark was carelessly lost in a battle, the worship center was never truly as God intended for more than a generation, until David came to the throne, and even then, not really until eleven years after David had died! Today we pray that God will bless our worship. No longer does he require the blood of animals to be shed, or offerings of grain, wine and salt to be brought. He wants us to worship with a clean heart and a clear conscience (Psalm 51:10), assured of the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus (John 8:11), who shed his blood for us all.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


Browse Devotion Archive