Ezra is chronicling the genealogies of the twelve tribes and we are at #6, Levi.
Genesis 49:5-7 (Background info)
The Genesis reference for Jacob's blessing/prediction for Levi was inextricably tied to Simeon and their cruel violence on the people who attacked their sister. Jacob noted their hot-tempers and that they cut the oxen tendons, which was wanton destruction of animals.
Jacob said, "Let not my soul enter into their council." He cursed their anger and wrath and predicted: "I will disperse them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel."
For Simeon, the future played out in the full negative value. The tribe of Simeon received a plot totally surrounded by the tribe of Judah.
But things take a turn for the better when the Levites stepped in during the golden calf incident and opposed idolatry. They became the priestly tribe. So although they were scattered among Israel. It was in the cities God gave to them to minister to the people.
It's a clear illustration of God using all things for good for those who love Him. Simeon's tribe eventually absorbs into Judah; but the Levites are central to the daily lives of the followers of God. They are walking demonstrations of God's mercy. He may not always remove consequences; but He can transform them for His bigger purpose and our good.
Back to I Chronicles 6
High Priestly Line
Ryrie says that Ezra is from this tribe.
Verse 1 lists the sons of Levi.
Verse two lists the gransons of Levi by Levi's son, Kohath. One of these grandsons is Amram. Who is the father of Moses. Amram also married a Levite.
Verse 3: So, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses are direct great-grand children of Levi. It's surprising their connection is so close. I know it's partially due to the long lives; but I had it in my head that they were in Egypt a long time. Longer than four generations.
A Ryrie footnote describes verses 3-15 as an incomplete listing of the high priestly line and then continued in verses 49-53.
Ryrie also notes that the Zadok mentioned in verse 8 is the Zadok who was high priest under David and Solomon.
He takes this lineage through the final generation when Nebuchadnezzar was used by God to carry Judah and Jerusalem into exile.
Three Levite Clans
So far, Ezra, the author, has only been listing the line of one son of Levi's, Kohath. Starting in verse 16, he starts over and outlines all three clans of Levi, based on each of his three sons.
Ministered with Song
One of the functions of the priestly line was to minister with Song. (Remember Miriam!)
In this sub-section, starting in verse 31, the author describes those appointed to serve with song once the Ark came to rest.
What an amazing example of worship. I just read a book on worship by Louie Giglio (The Air I Breathe) and he talks about worship is the response we have when we see God. It's the words and deeds that flow from us, through Jesus, when we glimpse who God is. If we only throw $5 in the tithe box and sing a few songs half-heartedly before the "real part of church" starts, then that's a reflection of how we see God- small and half-heartedly.
How did David see God? Hey everyone. The Ark has arrived. Priests, your job is to sing over it CONTINUALLY.
He gets it. He sees God and realizes sacrifices aren't enough. God deserves to be acknowledged continually until the temple was complete.
Settlements in the Promise Land
Starting in verse 54, Ezra describes the settlements of the various Levites when they arrived in the Promise Land, starting with the line of Aaron.
Verse 64 summarizes it this way, "So the sons of Israel gave to the Levites the cities with their pasture land.
This included cities of refuge.
My only personal insight on this section is that, while the Levite tribes were given what they needed, they were fully embedded with whichever tribe they were allotted from. I thought of this because the priests who were assigned to the two and a half tribes on the other side of the Jordan River carried with them the same struggles faced by the choices made to stay on the outside of the Promise Land.
We teach our kids in Geography class that your geography has a huge effect on the culture of a people. Some even say that, "geography is destiny". While I know that God is bigger than geography; He has shown us that it has an effect on the people. Some tribes simply received better plots, a better inheritance, and with those blessings or losses- the Levite tribe assigned to bore the same.
We are now the His priestly nation, the Body of Christ. Adn we've all been assigned within worldly settlements. To share the name of the one true God and salvation by His Son. Our settlements vary as much as theirs did.
You can either look at that as unfair and judge God for being unfair. or you can bloom where you are planted and trust God that He knows things we do not and there is an eternity that matters much more than our temporary assignment here.
To God be the Glory.