From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

According to the Torah, Kohath was one of the sons of Levi[1] and the patriarchal founder of the Kohathites, one of the four main divisions of the Levites in biblical times. In some apocryphal texts, such as the Testament of Levi and the Book of Jubilees, Levi's wife, Kohath's mother, is Milkah, a daughter of Aram.[2][3]


In the Testament of Levi, Kohath's birth when his father Levi was 35 years old was accompanied by a vision of Kohath on high in the midst of all the congregation; in the vision, Kohath's name is given as meaning the beginning of majesty and instruction and prophesies his being raised above his siblings,[4] but according to biblical scholars, the meaning of Kohath's name is unknown, though it may derive from an Aramaic word meaning obey.[5]


In the Book of Exodus, Kohath has four sons, Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Amram marries Jochebed and sires Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.[6] Although some Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Septuagint version of the Torah state that Jochebed was Kohath's cousin,[7] the Hebrew masoretic text states that she was his sister[8] ---that is, Amram's aunt---although Jochebed's relationship to Levi is not otherwise described. According to the Book of Numbers, Kohath gained 8,600 descendants during the lifetime of his grandson.


Julius Wellhausen's documentary hypothesis asserts that the Torah was compiled in the fifth century BC from several independent, contradictory, hypothetical (nonextant) documents, including the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomic, and priestly sources and the Book of Generations. Advocates of this hypothesis, such as Richard Elliott Friedman, attribute Levi's biblical genealogy to the "Book of Generations".[9] Others attribute Moses's birth narrative, which also mentions Amram and Jochebed, to the earlier "Elohist source". According to this theory, the Levite genealogy is a myth to explain away the fact that four different groups claimed descent from Levi---the Gershonites, Kohathites, Merarites, and Aaronids. Since Aaron could not have been a brother to Gershon, Kohath, and Merari[further explanation needed], he had to belong to the following generation. The hypothetical reconstruction of the "Elohist source" mentions only that both parents were Levites without identifying their names (Exodus 2:1-2). Some scholars suspect that the "Elohist source" attributes to Moses both matrilineal and patrilineal descent from Levites in order to enhance his religious credentials.[citation needed]

Family tree[edit]

According to the masoretic text, Kohath's family tree would be as follows:


See also[edit]

Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ Numbers 3:17
  2. ^ Jubilees 34:20
  3. ^ Testament of Levi 11
  4. ^ Testament of Levi 3
  5. ^ Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  6. ^ Exodus 6:16-20
  7. ^ Exodus 6:16-20, LXX
  8. ^ New American Bible, footnote to Exodus 6:20
  9. ^ Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote The Bible?.