For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.
1 Kings 4:31 NASB
The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol and Dara; five of them in all.
1 Chronicles 2:6 NASB
These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, …
1 Chronicles 6:33 NASB
A suspicious guy
Who was Heman and what’s the problem with him? He must be a suspicious person as now – four thousand years later – he is still a compromised person. Let’s have a look.
In the book of 1 Kings 4:31 the wisdom of king Solomon is compared with four well known wise men: Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, followed by the remark “the sons of Mahol”. A first glance might permit us to suppose that Mahol is the father of these four individuals.
In the book of 1 Chronicles 2:6 we read about five children of Zerah, grand children of the patriarch Judah: Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol and Dara. Apart from Zimri we see four names nearly the same as in 1 Kings, but the name of their father is Zerah and not Mahol. We might suppose that Zerah and Mahol are two names for the same person, but that doesn’t seem to solve the problem.
Judah (c. 1675 BC) ► Zerah ► Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol and Dara (c.1550 BC)
(► biological son)
The same Ethan in 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles?
The name Ethan the Ezrahite brings a different trail. This Ethan was the composer of Psalm 89 where we read: A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite. This Psalm was written at the end of David’s kingship as is clear from verse 49: Where are Your former lovingkindnesses, O Lord? Which You swore to David in Your faithfulness? (see also verse 20 and 35). This Ethan the Ezrahite was certainly no grandson of Judah the Patriarch who lived about six centuries earlier. Inevitably the group of 1 Kings is certainly different from that of 1 Chronicles.
Levi (c. 1675 BC) ► Merari – – – – – – Kishi ► Ethan (the Ezrahite, c. 970 BC)
(- – – – many generations)
Heman the Ezrahite
Most interesting is that in Psalm 88, mention is made of Heman the Ezrahite as the composer. That can’t be a coincidence. Ethan and Heman lived in the time of David and they were wise men as they were chosen by king David as lead singers for the tabernacle together with Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:31, 33, 39, 44). Ezrahite means “inhabitant, planted, rooted”. The vocabulary of Gesenius has “Patron”, indeed they were planted as leaders (patrons) in the service of musicians in front of the tabernacle. Mistakes were not allowed by men in their important position. Certainly David chose the best, these wise men of Levi’s tribe. This Heman was a son of Joel with a lineage to Levi and not to Judah (1 Chronicles 6:33; 15:17). Similarly, this Ethan’s lineage was to Levi, but he was a son of Kishi or Kushaiah (1 Chronicles 6:44; 15:17).
Levi (c. 1675 BC) ► Kohath – – – – – – Joel ► Heman (the Ezrahite, c. 970 BC)
The sons of Mahol?
For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; …Translating word-by-word we get: … , than Ethan the Ezrahite and Heman and Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; …How did the readers in Solomon’s time read these names? One immediately connected Ethan and Heman with the famous Levite leaders, the sons of Kishi and Joel. The clause “the sons of Mahol” was automatically left for only Calcol and Darda and it didn’t refer in any way to Ethan and Heman. Why? Prophetical texts are not scientific texts with detailed descriptions to rule out misunderstandings. Prophetical texts require spiritual listeners, who know that explanatory details will often cause more misunderstandings concerning the spiritual message. It was and is not difficult to find that message, as prophetical writers were very concise and by that very precise.
Mahol (c. 1000 BC) ► Calcol and Darda (c. 970 BC)
No Bible Contradiction.