“I gathered them by the river that runs to Ahava. There we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the descendents of Levi. Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were wise. I sent them to Iddo, the leader at the place called Casiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his colleagues the temple servants at Casiphia. He should send us ministers for the house of our God. Since the gracious hand of our God was upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the descendents of Mahli son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen. Also they brought Hashabiah and with him Jeshaiah of the descendents of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty. Besides two hundred twenty of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites, also came. These were all mentioned by name.”
Once again, we have the use of the personal pronoun singular, “I gathered them.” Over and over again “I” appears. This is a personal first person account of what happened. The Ahava River is not known, but probably a tributary of the Euphrates River in Babylon. Ezra realized that he had no Levites. So he sent a group of people to Iddo who was the leader at Casiphia. There 4 or 5 different people with the name of Iddo, including Levites, and prophets. This one was a temple slave leader at Casiphia, which must have been an important place for a group of Israelite exiles because they had so many temple slaves. They may have had their own house of God there in northern Babylon. Interesting enough this Iddo sent 2 Levite families of 19 and 20 people from the Mahli and Merari branch of Levites. He also sent 220 Temple servants who were to help the Levites. There must have been a lot of them there.
“The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. The sons of Mahli were Eleazar and Kish. Eleazar died having no sons, but only daughters. Their kindred, the sons of Kish, married them. The three sons of Mushi were Mahli, Eder, and Jeremoth.”
This section is loosely based on Numbers, chapter 4. Merari was the 3rd and youngest son of Levi as mentioned in chapter 6 of this book. Merari had 2 sons named (1) Mahli and (2) Mushi. Mahli’s family becomes known as the Mahlites. Mahli is both the name of the son of Merari and the son of his brother Mushi, or his nephew, who had the same name. Mushi’s sons were called Mushites. Here there is a mention of Eleazar. There were 8 people with his name in the biblical literature with the most famous, the son of Aaron. Kish was also the name of the father of Saul. Eder was the name of a town also. This is the only mention of this Jeremoth, but 6 other people have the same name.
“On the left hand were their kindred the sons of Merari, Ethan son of Kishi, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi. Their kindred the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.”
To balance the singers, (15) Ethan a Merari Levite was on the left. Thus all 3 clans of the Levites were represented as cantors or singers, during the time of David with Heman from Kohath in the center and Asaph from Gershom on the right. This genealogy goes back 15 generations. The names of (4) Mahli, (3) Mushi, (2) Merari, and (1) Levi are the classical patriarchs of this clan of Merarites. (5) Shemer may be the same as Shimei. (6) Bani appears as the name for 11 different people. The name (7) Amzi only appears once elsewhere. There were 7 people with the name of (8) Hilkiah, the most famous being the priest at the time of Josiah who found the lost book of the Law, in 2 Kings, chapter 22. There were 3 others with the name of (9) Amaziah, with the most famous of these the 8th king of Judah, King Amaziah (796-781 BCE) in 2 Kings, chapter 14. There were 5 other people with the name of (11) Malluch and 11 with the name of (10) Hashabiah. There were 2 other people with the name of (12) Abdi. There was a group called the “Kishaiah” of the Merari branch of the Levites, although this is the only mention of (13) Kishi. This (14) Ethan was not a Gershonite as in the preceding verses. Only the Levites could perform the service at the tabernacle in the temple, the house of Yahweh.
“The sons of Merari were Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.”
This genealogy of (1) Merari only goes 8 deep, much shorter compared to the other 2 sons of Levi. This lineage follows (2) Mahli and not Mushi. (3) Libni is the same name as son of Gershom. There are 16 biblical persons named (4) Shimei. There 3 people with the name of (5) Uzzah. The most famous Uzzah is the one who died while transporting the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel, chapter 6. There also was a garden in Jerusalem, where King Manasseh was buried in 2 Kings, chapter 21. There were 4 people with the name of (6) Shimea in the biblical literature and it is very close to Shimei. This is the only mention of (7) Haggiah, while 4 people have the name (8) Asaiah. There is less emphasis on this clan of Levites. Their official functional roles were laid out in Numbers, chapter 4.
“The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their fathers.”
Merari was the 3rd and youngest son of Levi. In the journey through the wilderness in Numbers, chapter 3, his family, the Merarites were charged with the framework of the tabernacle. 12 cities were assigned to them beyond the Jordan River in Joshua, chapter 21. Merari had two sons named (1) Mahli and (2) Mushi. Mahli’s family becomes known as the Mahlites. Mahli is both the name of the son of Merari and the son of his brother Mushi, or his nephew, who had the same name. Mushi’s sons were called Mushites.