Numbers - 18:1-32

      1 Yahweh said to Aaron, "You and your sons and your fathers' house with you shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary; and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood. 2 Your brothers also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, bring near with you, that they may be joined to you, and minister to you: but you and your sons with you shall be before the tent of the testimony. 3 They shall keep your commands, and the duty of all the Tent: only they shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary and to the altar, that they not die, neither they, nor you. 4 They shall be joined to you, and keep the responsibility of the Tent of Meeting, for all the service of the Tent: and a stranger shall not come near to you. 5 "You shall perform the duty of the sanctuary, and the duty of the altar; that there be wrath no more on the children of Israel. 6 I, behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are a gift, given to Yahweh, to do the service of the Tent of Meeting. 7 You and your sons with you shall keep your priesthood for everything of the altar, and for that within the veil; and you shall serve: I give you the priesthood as a service of gift: and the stranger who comes near shall be put to death." 8 Yahweh spoke to Aaron, "I, behold, I have given you the command of my wave offerings, even all the holy things of the children of Israel; to you have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to your sons, as a portion forever. 9 This shall be yours of the most holy things, (reserved) from the fire: every offering of theirs, even every meal offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render to me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons. 10 You shall eat of it like the most holy things. Every male shall eat of it. It shall be holy to you. 11 "This is yours, too: the wave offering of their gift, even all the wave offerings of the children of Israel. I have given them to you, and to your sons and to your daughters with you, as a portion forever. Everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it. 12 "All the best of the oil, and all the best of the vintage, and of the grain, the first fruits of them which they give to Yahweh, to you have I given them. 13 The first-ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to Yahweh, shall be yours; everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it. 14 "Everything devoted in Israel shall be yours. 15 Everything that opens the womb, of all flesh which they offer to Yahweh, both of man and animal shall be yours: nevertheless you shall surely redeem the firstborn of man, and you shall redeem the firstborn of unclean animals. 16 You shall redeem those who are to be redeemed of them from a month old, according to your estimation, for five shekels of money, after the shekel of the sanctuary (the same is twenty gerahs). 17 "But you shall not redeem the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat. They are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and shall burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma to Yahweh. 18 Their flesh shall be yours, as the wave offering breast and as the right thigh, it shall be yours. 19 All the wave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to Yahweh, have I given you, and your sons and your daughters with you, as a portion forever: it is a covenant of salt forever before Yahweh to you and to your seed with you." 20 Yahweh said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 "To the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the Tent of Meeting. 22 Henceforth the children of Israel shall not come near the Tent of Meeting, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the Tent of Meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations; and among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they offer as a wave offering to Yahweh, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance: therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'" 25 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 26 "Moreover you shall speak to the Levites, and tell them, 'When you take of the children of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up a wave offering of it for Yahweh, a tithe of the tithe. 27 Your wave offering shall be reckoned to you, as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 Thus you also shall offer a wave offering to Yahweh of all your tithes, which you receive of the children of Israel; and of it you shall give Yahweh's wave offering to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts you shall offer every wave offering of Yahweh, of all its best, even the holy part of it out of it.' 30 "Therefore you shall tell them, 'When you heave its best from it, then it shall be reckoned to the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31 You shall eat it in every place, you and your households: for it is your reward in return for your service in the Tent of Meeting. 32 You shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved from it its best: and you shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, that you not die.'"

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Numbers 18.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

The priests are to bear the iniquity of the sanctuary, Numbers 18:1. The Levites to minister to the priests, and have charge of the tabernacle, Numbers 18:2-4. The priests alone to have the charge of the sanctuary, etc., no stranger to come nigh on pain of death, Numbers 18:5-7 The portion allowed for their maintenance, Numbers 18:8. They shall have every meat-offering; and they shall eat them in the holy place, Numbers 18:9, Numbers 18:10. The wave-offerings, Numbers 18:11. The first-fruits of the oil, wine, and wheat, and whatever is first ripe, and every devoted thing, Numbers 18:12-14; also, all the first-born of men and beasts, Numbers 18:15-18; and heave-offerings, Numbers 18:19. The priests shall have no inheritance, Numbers 18:20. The Levites shall have no inheritance, but shall have the tenth of the produce in Israel, Numbers 18:21-24, of which they are to give a tenth to the priests, taken from the best parts, Numbers 18:25-30.

This chapter gives an account of the distinct work and service of the priests and Levites, Numbers 18:1; and of several things given to the priests for their maintenance, Numbers 18:8; and of the tithes the Levites should have to live upon, since they were to have no inheritance in the land of Israel, Numbers 18:20; and of the tenth out of those tithes they were to give to the high priest, Numbers 18:25.

(Numbers 18:1-7) The charge of the priests and Levites.
(Numbers 18:8-19) The priests' portion.
(Numbers 18:20-32) The Levites' portion.

Service and Revenues of the Priests and Levites - Numbers 18
The practical confirmation of the priesthood of Aaron and his family, on the part of God, is very appropriately followed by the legal regulations concerning the official duties of the priest and Levites (Numbers 18:1-7), and the revenues to be assigned them for their services (vv. 8-32), as the laws hitherto given upon this subject, although they contain many isolated stipulations, have not laid down any complete and comprehensive arrangement. The instructions relating to this subject were addressed by Jehovah directly to Aaron (see Numbers 18:1 and Numbers 18:8), up to the law, that out of the tenths which the Levites were to collect from the people, they were to pay a tenth again to the priests; and this was addressed to Moses (Numbers 18:25), as the head of all Israel.

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