Priests and Levites: Duties and Gifts

Numbers 18:1-32

God reiterates to Aaron the role he and his descendants will play in the Tabernacle for all time. They are to perform the rites of atonement, and while the Levites are to offer support to the priests, it is the responsibility of Aaron and his descendants to ensure they do not come in contact with the holy vessels directly, lest they be killed.


God also designates certain gifts to be dedicated to the priests and the Levites. A portion of every heave offering, meal offering, sin offering and guilt offering are to be given to the priests. Other gifts, such as the first fruits of a farmer’s field, are also for the use of the priests. All of these are considered holy and may be consumed in holiness by members of the priest’s household. Additionally, God dedicates the firstborns, either their rate of redemption or the animal itself, depending on the status of the firstborn, to the priests.


God then tells Aaron that he and his tribe will have no share in the Land of Israel as an inheritance. Instead, the Children of Israel will be required to give a tenth of their produce to the Levites, as payment for their service in the Tabernacle. The Levites in turn are to give a tithe on the tithe they receive, turning it over to the priests. These tithes should be chosen from the best of the crop. As the Israel Bible points out, tithes are another example of a commandment that applies only to the Land of Israel. Like the commandment to take challah (Numbers 15:17-21), these physical gifts provide sustenance to the spiritual leaders of Israel in exchange for the provision of spiritual sustenance. The work of the priests and Levites elevated everyone’s existence in the Land.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the Levites must also tithe the portions they receive? What can we learn from this law?

Comments ( 7 )

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  • Kim

    The levites also performed certain government duties for the upkeep of Israel. The tribe accounted for roughly 10% of the entire population of Israel. I think it was pretty smart on God's part, as paying out a tenth to them allowed them to remain at the same median income level as those they served.

  • Damian Sco

    I would guess for the same reason God commands us to keep the Sabbath. No man can accomplish unless God allows it. We do not enjoy our blessings because of the works of our hands and the sweat of our brow but because of our dependency upon God. All men, including those who are tasked with being our spiritual leaders. It's a thank you, a joy to tithe, not a lessening of ones own material goods but a recognition that God is within our house leading us step by step for which we are forever thankful, in perpetuity. How could you leave the Priests out of the blessed event of giving thanks unto the Lord? If they were not allowed to do this , I would think their spritual connection with God would dry up and they would be useless to themselves and to God. It is the way into His family!

  • Levi McDowall

    My name is Levi McDowall and I agree with giving also shows love and to tithe is to pray for being given blessing must be resounded

  • Shandon Ellis

    Firstly to support the priest and the tabernacle.Secondly to show that they was thankful for GOD provisions.Thirdly to lead by example by giving themselves as the people gave.Fourthly because GOD told them so.Lol.Fifthly it taught them to be givers like GOD and to have his heart a gives heart.Giving shows us that its not just about us but about others also.GOD BLESS.

  • Herman Arentsen

    By making the servants of G-d dependent on gifts of the people and obligating the people to provide for them G-d provides a strong bond between the one's that devoted themselves to Torah-study and service in the Mishkan and the prosperous people. Even they had to learn to be dependent and gratefull for the gifts HaShem bestowed on all. They also had to learn to experience what it meant to make others happy by obeying the Word of HaShem and getting a gratefull heart.

  • lj

    Because giving, as also does love, reflects the very heart (lev) of Heavenly Father. When one only takes without giving back, a spirit of entitlement is born in the the evil inclination and produces much sour, rotting fruit

  • Diana Brown

    Levites tithed for the upkeep of the Temple and the Priests as ordered by the Lord God I think. The Lord God doesn’t need our tithes but we need to give it to show our honor to HIm. Is that correct?

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