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Levites

The Bible

Bible Usage:

Dictionaries:

  • Included in Eastons: No
  • Included in Hitchcocks: No
  • Included in Naves: Yes
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: No
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: Yes
  • Included in BDB: Yes

Strongs Concordance:

Naves Topical Index
Levites

The descendants of Levi.

Set apart as ministers of religion
Numbers 1:47-54; Numbers 3:6-16; Numbers 16:9; Numbers 26:57-62; Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Chronicles 15:2

Substituted in the place of the firstborn
Numbers 3:12; Numbers 3:41-45; Numbers 8:14; Numbers 8:16-18; Numbers 18:6

Religious zeal of
Exodus 32:26-28; Deuteronomy 33:9-10; Malachi 2:4-5

Consecration of
Numbers 8:6-21

Sedition among, led by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, on account of jealousy toward Moses and Aaron
Numbers 4:16; Numbers 4:19-20

Three divisions of:

Each having the name of one of its progenitors, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari
Numbers 3:17

Gershonites:

Gershonites and their duties
Numbers 3:18-26; Numbers 4:23-26; Numbers 10:17


Ruling chief over the Gershonites was the second son of the ruling high priest
Numbers 4:28


Kohathites:

The families of the Amramites, Izeharites, Hebronites, Uzzielites
Numbers 3:27; Numbers 4:18-20


Of the Amramites, Aaron and his family were set apart as priests
Exodus 28:1; Exodus 29:9; Numbers 3:38; Numbers 17:1-13; Numbers 8:1-14; Numbers 18:1


The remaining families appointed to take charge of the ark, table, candlestick, altars, and vessels of the sanctuary, the hangings, and all the service
Numbers 3:27-32; Numbers 4:2-15


The chief over the Kohathites was the oldest son of the ruling high priest
Numbers 3:32; 1 Chronicles 9:20


Merarites:

General references
Numbers 3:20; Numbers 3:33-37; Numbers 4:31-33; Numbers 7:8; Numbers 10:17; 1 Chronicles 6:19; 1 Chronicles 6:29-30; 1 Chronicles 23:21-23


The chief over the Merarites was the second son of the ruling high priest
Numbers 4:33


Place of, in camp and march
Numbers 1:50-53; Numbers 2:17; Numbers 3:23-35

Cities assigned to, in the land of Canaan
Numbers 6:21

Lodged in the chambers of the temple
1 Chronicles 9:27; 1 Chronicles 9:33; Ezekiel 40:44

Resided also in villages outside of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 12:29

Age of:

When inducted into office
Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:30; Numbers 4:47; Numbers 8:23-26; 1 Chronicles 23:3; 1 Chronicles 23:24; 1 Chronicles 23:27; Ezra 3:8

When retired from office
Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:47

Functions of:

Had charge of the tabernacle in camp and on the march
Numbers 1:50-53; Numbers 3:6-9; Numbers 3:21-37; Numbers 4:1-15; Numbers 4:17-49; Numbers 8:19; Numbers 18:3-6

Had charge of the temple
1 Chronicles 9:27-29; 1 Chronicles 23:2-32; Ezra 8:24-34

Bore the ark of the covenant
Deuteronomy 10:8; 1 Chronicles 15:2; 1 Chronicles 15:26-27

Ministered before the ark
1 Chronicles 16:4

Custodians and administrators of the tithes and other offerings
1 Chronicles 9:26-29; 1 Chronicles 26:28; 1 Chronicles 29:8; 2 Chronicles 24:5; 2 Chronicles 24:11; 2 Chronicles 31:11-19; 2 Chronicles 34:9; Ezra 8:29-30; Ezra 8:33; Nehemiah 12:44

Prepared the shewbread
1 Chronicles 23:28-29

Assisted the priests in preparing the sacrifice
2 Chronicles 29:12-36; 2 Chronicles 35:1-18

Killed the Passover for the children of the captivity
Ezra 6:20-21

Teachers of the law
Deuteronomy 33:10; 2 Chronicles 17:8-9; 2 Chronicles 30:22; 2 Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 8:7-13; Malachi 2:6-7

Were judges

General references
Deuteronomy 17:9; 1 Chronicles 23:4; 1 Chronicles 26:29; 2 Chronicles 19:8-11; Nehemiah 11:16
Judge


Reference book of Judges
Jude 1:1-21


Were scribes of the sacred books
Scribe

Pronounced the blessings of the law in the responsive service at Mount Gerizim
Deuteronomy 27:12; Joshua 8:33

Were porters of the doors
Porters

Were overseers in building and the repairs of the temple
1 Chronicles 23:2-4; Ezra 3:8-9

Were musicians of the temple service
Music

Supervised weights and measures
1 Chronicles 23:29

List of those who returned from captivity
Ezra 2:40-63; Ezra 7:7; Ezra 8:16-20; Nehemiah 7:43-73; Nehemiah 16:12

Sealed the covenant with Nehemiah
Nehemiah 10:9-28

Emoluments (compensations) of:

In lieu of landed inheritance, forty-eight cities with suburbs were assigned to them
Numbers 35:2-8; Numbers 18:24; Numbers 26:62; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18-19; Deuteronomy 14:27-29; Deuteronomy 18:1-8; Joshua 13:14; Joshua 14:3; Joshua 18:7; 1 Chronicles 6:54-81; 1 Chronicles 13:2; 2 Chronicles 23:2; Ezekiel 34:1-5

Assigned to, by families
Joshua 21:4-40

Suburbs of their cities were inalienable for debt
Leviticus 25:32-34

Tithes and other offerings
Numbers 18:24; Numbers 18:26-32; Deuteronomy 18:1-8; Deuteronomy 26:11-13; Joshua 13:14; Nehemiah 10:38-39; Nehemiah 12:44; Nehemiah 12:47

First fruits
Nehemiah 12:44; Nehemiah 12:47

Spoils of war, including captives
Numbers 31:30; Numbers 31:42-47
Tithes

Tithes withheld from
Nehemiah 13:10-13; Malachi 3:10

Pensioned
2 Chronicles 31:16-18

Owned lands
Deuteronomy 18:8; 1 Kings 2:26

Land allotted to, by Ezekiel
Ezekiel 48:13-14

Enrollment of, at Sinai
Numbers 1:47-49; Numbers 2:33; Numbers 3:14-39; Numbers 4:2-3; Numbers 26:57-62; 1 Chronicles 23:3-5

Degraded from the Levitical office by Jeroboam
2 Chronicles 11:13-17; 2 Chronicles 13:9-11

Loyal to the ruler
2 Kings 11:7-11; 2 Chronicles 23:7

Intermarry with Canaanites
Ezra 9:1-2; Ezra 10:23-24

Exempt from enrollment for military duty
Numbers 1:47-54; 1 Chronicles 12:26

Subordinate to the sons of Aaron
Numbers 3:9; Numbers 8:19; Numbers 18:6

Prophecies concerning:

General references
Jeremiah 33:18; Ezekiel 44:10-14; Malachi 3:3

Of their repentance of the crucifixion of the Messiah
Zech 12:10-13

John's vision concerning
Revelation 7:7


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Levites

(descendants of Levi). Sometimes the name extends to the whole tribe, the priests included, (Exodus 6:25; Leviticus 25:32; Numbers 35:2; Joshua 21:3,41) etc; sometimes only to those members of the tribe who were not priests, and as distinguished from them. Sometimes again it is added as an epithet of the smaller portion of the tribe, and we read of "the priests the Levites." (Joshua 3:3; Ezekiel 44:15) The history of the tribe and of the functions attached to its several orders is essential to any right apprehension of the history of Isr'l as a people. It will fall naturally into four great periods-

I. The time of the exodus .

There is no trace of the consecrated character of the Levites till the institution of a hereditary priesthood in the family of Aaron, during the first withdrawal of Moses to the solitude of Sinai. (Exodus 24:1) The next extension of the idea of the priesthood grew out of the terrible crisis of Exod 32. The tribe stood forth separate and apart, recognizing even in this stern work the spiritual as higher than the natural. From this time they occupied a distinct position. The tribe of Levi was to take the place of that earlier priesthood of the first-born as representatives of the holiness of the people. At the time of their first consecration there were 22,000 of them, almost exactly the number of the first-born males in the whole nation. As the tabernacle was the sign of the presence among the people of their unseen King, so the Levites were, among the other tribes of Isr'l, as the royal guard that waited exclusively on him. It was obviously essential for their work as the bearers and guardians of the sacred tent that there should be a fixed assignment of duties; and now accordingly we meet with the first outlines of the organization which afterward became permanent. The division of the tribe into the three sections that traced their descent from the sons of Levi formed the groundwork of it. The work which they all had to do required a man's full strength, and therefore, though twenty was the starting-point for military service, Numbers 1, they were not to enter on their active service till they were thirty. (Numbers 4:23,30,35) At fifty they were to be free from all duties but those of superintendence. (Numbers 8:25,26) (1) The Kohathites, as nearest of kin to the priests, held from the first the highest offices. They were to bear all the vessels of the sanctuary, the ark itself included. (Numbers 3:31; 4:15; 31:35) (2) the Gershonites had to carry the tent-hangings and curtains. (Numbers 4:22-26) (3) The heavier burden of the boards, bars and pillars of the tabernacle fell on the sons of Merari. The Levites were to have no territorial possessions. In place of them they were to receive from the others the tithes of the produce of the land, from which they, in their turn, offered a tithe to the priests, as a recognition of their higher consecration. (Numbers 18:21,24,26; Nehemiah 10:37) Distinctness and diffusion were both to be secured by the assignment to the whole tribe of forty-eight cities, with an outlying "suburb," (Numbers 35:2) of meadowland for the pasturage of their flocks and herds. The reverence of the people for them was to be heightened by the selection of six of these as cities of refuge. Through the whole land the Levites were to take the place of the old household priests, sharing in all festivals and rejoicings. (12:19; 14:26,27; 26:11) Every third year they were to have an additional share in the produce of the land. (14:28; 26:12) To "the priests the Levites" was to belong the office of preserving, transcribing and interpreting the law. (17:9-12; 31:26) II. The period of the judges.

The successor of Moses, though belonging to another tribe, did all that could be done to make the duty above named a reality. The submission of the Gibeonites enabled him to relieve the tribe-divisions of Gershon and Merari of the most burdensome of their duties. The conquered Hivites became "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for the house of Jehovah and for the congregation. (Joshua 9:27) As soon as the conquerors had advanced far enough to proceed to a partition of the country, the forty-eight cities were assigned to them. III. The monarchy.

When David's kingdom was established, there came a fuller organization of the whole tribe. Their position in relation to the priesthood was once again definitely recognized. In the worship of the tabernacle under David, as afterward in that of the temple, the Levites were the gatekeepers, vergers, sacristans, choristers, of the central sanctuary of the nation. They were, in the language of (1 Chronicles 23:24-32) to which we may refer as almost the locus classicus on this subject, "to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of Jehovah, in the courts, and the chambers, and the purifying of all holy things." They were, besides this, "to stand every morning to thank and praise Jehovah, and likewise at even." They were, lastly, "to offer"

i.e. to assist the priest in offering

"all burnt sacrifices to Jehovah in the sabbaths and on the set feasts." They lived for the greater part of the year in their own cities, and came up at fixed periods to take their turn of work. (1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 26:1) ... The educational work which the Levites received for their peculiar duties, no less than their connection, more or less intimate, with the schools of the prophets, would tend to make them the teachers of the others, the transcribers and interpreters of the law, the chroniclers of the times in which they lived. (Thus they became to the Isr'lites what ministers and teachers are to the people now, and this teaching and training the people in morality and religion was no doubt one of the chief reasons why they were set apart by God from the people, and yet among the people.

ED.) The revolt of the ten tribes, and the policy pursued by Jeroboam, who wished to make the priests the creatures and instruments of the king, and to establish a provincial and divided worship, caused them to leave the cities assigned to them in the territory of Isr'l, and gather round the metropolis of Judah. (2 Chronicles 11:13,14) In the kingdom of Judah they were, from this time forward, a powerful body, politically as well as ecclesiastically. IV. After the captivity.

During the period that followed the captivity of the Levites contributed to the formation of the so-called Great Synagogue. They, with the priests, formed the majority of the permanent Sanhedrin, and as such had a large share in the administration of justice even in capital cases. They appear but seldom in the history of the New Testament.