Reference: Merari, Merarites
1. The third son of Levi, to whom a division of the Levites traced their descent (Ge 46:11; Ex 6:16; Nu 3:17; 1Ch 6:1,16; 23:6. The title 'Merarites' is found only in Nu 26:57; elsewhere they are called 'sons of Merari' (Ex 6:19; Nu 3:20; 4:29,33,42,46; 7:8; 10:17; Jos 21:7,34,39; 1Ch 6:19,29,44,63,77; 9:14; 15:6,17; 23:21; 24:27; 26:19; 2Ch 29:12; Ezr 8:19). They were subdivided into two groups, the Mahlites and the Mushites (Nu 3:33; 26:58), each being traced to a 'son' of Merari (Ex 6:19; Nu 3:20; 1Ch 6:19,29,17; 23:21). From these families fragments of genealogies remain, some branches being traced through the daughters of Mahli (see 1Ch 23:2).
Very little is related of the Merarites after the Exile. Certain Merarites are mentioned in 1Ch 9:14,16-18 = Ne 11:15,17-19 as dwelling in Jerusalem immediately after the Return, and certain others as accompanying Ezra to the city in 454 b.c. (Ezr 8:18 f.). But Priestly Narrative and the Chronicler introduce the family into the earlier history. (1) During the desert wanderings the Merarites were on the north side of the Tent (Nu 3:35); their duty was to carry the less sacred parts of it, the 'boards' (or rather frames), pegs, cords, etc. (Nu 3:38 f., Nu 4:31 f., Nu 10:17), for which they were given four waggons and eight oxen (Nu 7:8); and they were superintended by Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron (Nu 4:33). (2) After the settlement in Palestine, twelve cities were assigned to them (Jos 21:7,34-40 = 1Ch 6:63,77-81). (3) In David's reign the Chronicler relates that the Temple music was superintended partly by Ethan, or Jeduthun, a Merarite, and his family (1Ch 6:44-47; 16:41 f., 1Ch 25:1,3,6,11,16,18,21 f.; and see 1Ch 15:6,17-19). David divided the Levites into courses 'according to the sons of Levi' (1Ch 23:8; Merarites, 1Ch 23:21-24,26-30), and particular offices of certain Merarites are detailed in 1Ch 26:10-13,16-18. (4) They took part in the cleansing of the Temple under Hezekiah (2Ch 29:12,14). Cf. also art. Kohath.
A. H. M'Neile.
(bitter, unhappy), third son of Levi and head of the third great division of the Levites, the Merarites.
At the time of the exodus and the numbering in the wilderness, the Merarites consisted of two families, the Mahlites and the Mushites, Mahli and Mushi being either the two sons of the son and grandson of Merari.
Their chief at that time was Zuriel. Their charge was the cords of the tabernacle and the court, and all the tools connected with setting them up. In the division of the land by Joshua, the merarites had twelve cities assigned to them, out of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.
In the days of Hezekiah the Merarites were still flourishing.