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1 Chronicles 6:50-56 Hebron and trumpets

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, October 30, 2023

50 These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, 51 Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, 52 Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, 53 Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son. 54 These are their dwelling places according to their territory, assigned to the descendants of Aaron, of the family of the Kohathites, for theirs was the first lot— 55 They were given Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasture lands. 56 But the fields and villages around the city were given to Caleb the son of Jephunneh.

The list in verse 50-53 is the same as earlier in the chapter (6:4-8). The lots (verse 54) were cast by Joshua at Shiloh for each of the tribes after the defeat and burning of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon (Joshua 10). That was the battle when Joshua prayed to the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still, and they did not move for “about a full day” (Joshua 10:12-13). Hail fell from the sky, and more enemies died from the hailstones “than were killed by the swords of the Israelites” (Joshua 10:11).

Hebron was given to the Levites. Hebron’s former name was Kiriath-Arba, named for Arba the giant, one of the giant Anakites, and “who was the greatest man among the Anakites” in ancient times (Joshua 14:15). It was one of the great ancient cities of Canaan, rivaling Damascus for the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Hebron sits on a hill surrounded by many hills in southern Judah, about twenty miles south or south-southwest of Jerusalem. It was the location of “the great trees of Mamre” in Abraham’s time (Genesis 13:18, 18:1), and is the location of the Cave of Machpelah which even today can be found there (indeed, the shrine over the cave is the chief structure and attraction of the city). Each Patriarch—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—lived there at one time or another. Luther says of the prisoner Joseph in Egypt: “How often Joseph must have looked with tearful eyes in the direction of Hebron, where his father lived when he was taken away!”

Hebron was also one of the cities of refuge for someone accused of murder, but since it was a Levitical city, it was also a center of learning, education, music, and other things. In some ways, it must have been something like a university city or a college town. The Levites specialized in music, and there was often a separation between military music and religious music. Instruments were often inscribed to keep their use distinct. An interesting example of this comes to us from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls known as the War Scroll. Professor Menahem Monsoor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison made these observations:

  • Different trumpets and signals were used for different operations.
  • The trumpets (at least those in the War Scroll) were divided into two groups—ceremonial trumpets and fighting trumpets.
  • In the group of ceremonial trumpets were those:
      A, For the calling of the congregation
      B, For the calling of the commanders
      C, “Trumpets of the Levites”
      D, “Trumpets of the camps”
      E, And “Trumpets of the expedition of the camps”
  • There were also War Trumpets.
  • War Trumpets were classified according to the tactical stages of the fighting and the order of battle:
      A, Trumpets of the battle arrays (Arrays of God’s Battalions)
      B, Trumpets for the skirmishes (literally, “the men who fight between the lines”
      C, The trumpet for beginning a battle or operation was given the inscription “the trumpet of killing” (the sound of which was said to be “high-pitched and intermittent”).
      D, Trumpets for ambush
      E, Trumpets to signal pursuit of the enemy
      F, Trumpets for withdrawing the armed force
  • Other horns, not strictly trumpets, were also used to frighten the enemy.

Such things had to be taught and practiced. Levites also preserved writing, making copies of the Books of Moses and other documents including the later books of the Bible. The Levites helped the people in worship by playing the music of the songs for worship, as we see many of the Psalms inscribed “for the director of music” in 55 of the Psalms (see the titles of Psalms 4,5,6, etc.) and similar words. Certainly they were careful of too much innovation of styles, for the Psalms of David were still in use a thousand years later when Christ and his disciples sang them at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26) and are encouraged for use in worship by Paul (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Luther shared the same hesitancy about too much innovation. He said: “I have been hesitant and fearful, partly because of the weak in faith, who cannot suddenly exchange an old and accustomed order of worship for a new and unusual one, and more so because of the fickle and fastidious spirits who rush in like unclean swine without faith or reason, and who delight only in novelty and tire of it as quickly, when it has worn off. Such people are nuisances even in other affairs, but in spiritual matters, they are absolutely unbearable. Nonetheless, at the risk of bursting with anger, I must bear with them, unless I want to let the gospel itself be denied to the people” (“An Order of Mass and Communion for the Church at Wittenberg,” LW 53:19).

Although Wittenberg and our present churches are a long way from Hebron, the same care and concern sits on our shoulders: The main thing in all our worship is the forgiveness of sins through Christ. This is what Abraham believed and which God credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6). This is the faith of all the Patriarchs, and of David who occupied Hebron during the first seven years of his reign as king. The Levites in the ancient service of the tabernacle did their quiet, behind-the-scenes work and worship leading to promote and support the same faith. In all our work and service, this is the very same faith we still believe and teach. “Our churches also teach that the Son of God… true God and true man, was born of the virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried that he might reconcile the Father to us and be a sacrifice not only for original guilt (that is, original sin) but also for all actual sins of men” (Augsburg Confession). Surely this is the true way we should understand the title of the Ninth Psalm, written “For the director music” and to the tune of a song called “The Death of the Son” (Psalm 9, title).

For “Those who know your name will trust in you, Lord” (Psalm 9:10).

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.


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