Gershonite

Gershonite

The Gershonites were one of the four main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times. The Bible claims that the Gershonites were all descended from the eponymous "Gershon", a son of Levi [] . This differentiation of religious activity between the Gershonites and other Levites, in particular the Aaronids, is found only in the Priestly Code, and not in passages that textual scholars attribute to other authors ["Peake's commentary on the Bible"] [Cheyne and Black, "Encyclopedia Biblica"] .

According to the Book of Joshua, rather than possessing a continuous territory, the Gershonites possessed several cities scattered throughout the geographic regions of Galilee and Bashan [] :
*in the territory of Manasseh: Golan, and Beeshterah
*in the territory of Issachar: Kishon, Dabareh, Jarmuth, and En-gannim
*in the territory of Asher: Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob
*in the territory of Naphtali: Kedesh, Hammoth-dor, and Kartan

The narrative in Joshua argues that the territory was taken by the Levites right after Joshua's conquest of Canaan, but this cannot be correct ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] , as it is contradicted not only by archaeological evidence, but also by narratives in the Book of Judges, Books of Samuel, and Books of Kings [ibid] [Israel Finkelstein, "The Bible Unearthed"] ; Kedesh, for example, appears to have actually remained as a shrine to deities other than Yahweh ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] . The conclusion of most biblical scholars is thus that the whole system of Levite cities, in the Torah and deuteronomic history, is an attempt to explain the fact that important early sanctuaries existed at these locations, and thus were places where members of the priesthood naturally came to reside in large numbers ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] ; scholars believe that the priesthood was originally open to any tribe, but gradually became seen as a distinct tribe to themselves - the Levites ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] ["Peake's commentary on the bible"] .

ee also

*Kohathite
*Merarite
*Aaronid

Notes and citations


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