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Numbers: Chapter 18

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1The LORD said to Aaron: You and your sons and your ancestral house with you shall bear responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, while you and your sons alone shall bear responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. 2So bring with you also your brothers of the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, in order that they may be joined to you, and serve you while you and your sons with you are in front of the tent of the covenant. b Heb it 3They shall perform duties for you and for the whole tent. But they must not approach either the utensils of the sanctuary or the altar, otherwise both they and you will die. 4They are attached to you in order to perform the duties of the tent of meeting, for all the service of the tent; no outsider shall approach you. 5You yourselves shall perform the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, so that wrath may never again come upon the Israelites. 6It is I who now take your brother Levites from among the Israelites; they are now yours as a gift, dedicated to the LORD, to perform the service of the tent of meeting. 7But you and your sons with you shall diligently perform your priestly duties in all that concerns the altar and the area behind the curtain. I give your priesthood as a gift; c Heb lacks naturally any outsider who approaches shall be put to death.

8The LORD spoke to Aaron: I have given you charge of the offerings made to me, all the holy gifts of the Israelites; I have given them to you and your sons as a priestly portion due you in perpetuity. 9This shall be yours from the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every offering of theirs that they render to me as a most holy thing, whether grain offering, sin offering, or guilt offering, shall belong to you and your sons. 10As a most holy thing you shall eat it; every male may eat it; it shall be holy to you. 11This also is yours: I have given to you, together with your sons and daughters, as a perpetual due, whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the elevation offerings of the Israelites; everyone who is clean in your house may eat them. 12All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the choice produce that they give to the LORD, I have given to you. 13The first fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours; everyone who is clean in your house may eat of it. 14Every devoted thing in Israel shall be yours. 15The first issue of the womb of all creatures, human and animal, which is offered to the LORD, shall be yours; but the firstborn of human beings you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. 16Their redemption price, reckoned from one month of age, you shall fix at five shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary (that is, twenty gerahs). 17But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall dash their blood on the altar, and shall turn their fat into smoke as an offering by fire for a pleasing odor to the LORD; 18but their flesh shall be yours, just as the breast that is elevated and as the right thigh are yours. 19All the holy offerings that the Israelites present to the LORD I have given to you, together with your sons and daughters, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and your descendants as well. 20Then the LORD said to Aaron: You shall have no allotment in their land, nor shall you have any share among them; I am your share and your possession among the Israelites.

21To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for a possession in return for the service that they perform, the service in the tent of meeting. 22From now on the Israelites shall no longer approach the tent of meeting, or else they will incur guilt and die. 23But the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear responsibility for their own offenses; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations. But among the Israelites they shall have no allotment, 24because I have given to the Levites as their portion the tithe of the Israelites, which they set apart as an offering to the LORD. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no allotment among the Israelites.

25Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 26You shall speak to the Levites, saying: When you receive from the Israelites the tithe that I have given you from them for your portion, you shall set apart an offering from it to the LORD, a tithe of the tithe. 27It shall be reckoned to you as your gift, the same as the grain of the threshing floor and the fullness of the wine press. 28Thus you also shall set apart an offering to the LORD from all the tithes that you receive from the Israelites; and from them you shall give the LORD's offering to the priest Aaron. 29Out of all the gifts to you, you shall set apart every offering due to the LORD; the best of all of them is the part to be consecrated. 30Say also to them: When you have set apart the best of it, then the rest shall be reckoned to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the wine press. 31You may eat it in any place, you and your households; for it is your payment for your service in the tent of meeting. 32You shall incur no guilt by reason of it, when you have offered the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the Israelites, on pain of death.

Notes:

a Heb it

a Heb lacks naturally

Text Commentary view alone

18.1–32 : Priesthood and Levitical duties and dues.

This builds on chs 16–17 .

1–7 :

For the duties outlined here, see 3.5–10,14–39; 4.1–49 .

3,4,5 :

Perform duties, perform guard duty.

6 :

Perform service, do the work of transporting the tabernacle (also vv. 21,23,31 ).

8–20 :

The priests receive offerings (pre‐bends) for their work.

8–10 :

The priests eat the portions of the most holy offerings (see Lev 2.3n. ) in the sanctuary court (Lev 6.16,26; 7.6; 10.13,17; 24.9 ).

11–20 :

The whole priestly family, including females, may eat of lesser holy offerings 10.14–15; 22.10–14 ). This may be done outside the sanctuary, but must be done in a state of ritual purity.

11 :

Gifts of all the elevation offerings, rather, “gifts including all the elevation offerings.” Elevation, done in the sanctuary, specially consecrates portions of offerings (Ex 29.27–28; Lev 7.30; 10.14–15; 23.17–20; Num 6.19–20 ). Gifts include these and other items dedicated outside the sanctuary.

12–13 :

For first produce and first fruits, cf. Ex 23.19; Lev 2.12; 19.24; Num 15.17–20; Deut 18.4 .

14 :

Devoted thing, see Lev 27.28n.

15–18 :

Firstborn animals, cf. Lev 27.26; Num 1.11–13 .

16 :

Shekel, see 3.47n.

17 :

Pleasing odor, see 15.3n.

19 :

Covenant of salt, see Lev 2.13n.

21–32 :

The Levites receive the produce tithe (cf. vv. 27,30; cf. Neh 10.38–39 ). This amends Lev 27.30–33 , where produce and animal tithes appear to go to the priests.

25–32 :

Even Levites are not exempt from supporting the priests. The tenth of the Levitical tithe that goes to the priests is holy (vv. 28–29 ) while the remaining nine‐tenths is not (vv. 31–32 ).

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