gur'-shon, gur'-shon-its (gereshon, written also gereshom): Firstborn of the 3 sons of Levi (Ex 6:16; Nu 3:17; 1Ch 6:1,16 m; 1Ch 23:6). He had two sons, Libni, also known as Ladan (1Ch 23:7; 26:21), and Shimei (Ex 6:17; Nu 3:18; 1Ch 6:17,20), and consequently two groups of descendants, enumerated in the census taken in the Wilderness of Sinai (Nu 3:21 ff) and that in the Plains of Moab (Nu 26:57). In the distribution of functions among the Levites, the Gershonites were charged with the carrying of the curtains, coverings, screens, hangings, cords and instruments of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting on the journeys in the wilderness, under the supervision of Ithamar the son of Aaron. Their function was thus more exalted than that of the Merarites, who carried the boards, and less so than that of the Kohathites, who carried the most holy utensils and symbols. The Gershonites were given two wagons with four oxen--half as many as the Merarites, according to their service (Nu 7:7). Thirteen cities were assigned to the Gershonites in Northern Palestine by Eleazar and Joshua (Jos 21:6,27-33 parallel 1Ch 6:62,71-76).
Among the Gershonites who achieved distinction in later Biblical times was the family of Asaph, the singers from the time of David to the days of the Second Temple (1Ch 6:31-47; 25:1-7; 15:7,17,19; 16:5,7; 2Ch 25:15; Ezr 2:41; 3:10; Ne 11:17,22; 12:35; 1Ch 9:15). Other Gershonites named are the heads of the fathers' houses in the days of David in connection with the dividing of the Levites into courses (1Ch 23:7-11); the superintendents of the treasuries of the house of the Lord of the same time (1Ch 26:21-22; 29:8); and, finally, Gershonites are mentioned among those who cleansed the house of the Lord in the days of Hezekiah (2Ch 29:12-13).
Ella Davis Isaacs