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Privileges of Priests and Levites


The levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no allotment or inheritance within Israel. They may eat the sacrifices that are the L ord’s portion 2but they shall have no inheritance among the other members of the community; the L ord is their inheritance, as he promised them.

3 This shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder, the two jowls, and the stomach. 4The first fruits of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. 5For the L ord your God has chosen Levi out of all your tribes, to stand and minister in the name of the L ord, him and his sons for all time.

6 If a Levite leaves any of your towns, from wherever he has been residing in Israel, and comes to the place that the L ord will choose (and he may come whenever he wishes), 7then he may minister in the name of the L ord his God, like all his fellow-Levites who stand to minister there before the L ord. 8They shall have equal portions to eat, even though they have income from the sale of family possessions.

Child-Sacrifice, Divination, and Magic Prohibited

9 When you come into the land that the L ord your God is giving you, you must not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations. 10No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11or one who casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead. 12For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the L ord; it is because of such abhorrent practices that the L ord your God is driving them out before you. 13You must remain completely loyal to the L ord your God. 14Although these nations that you are about to dispossess do give heed to soothsayers and diviners, as for you, the L ord your God does not permit you to do so.

A New Prophet Like Moses

15 The L ord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16This is what you requested of the L ord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the L ord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17Then the L ord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.” 21You may say to yourself, “How can we recognize a word that the L ord has not spoken?” 22If a prophet speaks in the name of the L ord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the L ord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.

6. And if a Levite come. This third head more clearly explains what is elsewhere more obscurely declared; for God seemed to curtail from the Levites whatever He gave to the priests. But He now more distinctly places the priests in the first rank, yet so that they should admit the Levites on the score of their labor’s to a share of the oblations. This is the sum of the law, that the Levites who remained at home, should be content with the tithes, and touch nothing of the other offerings; but that from whithersoever they should come to the sanctuary, they were to be accounted as ministers and take their proper place. By this law then, it was provided that none should be excluded on the ground of the intermission of their duties; and that the condition of those that dwelt elsewhere should not be worse than of those who lived at Jerusalem. For although they might reside in other cities, they did not altogether cease from their ministry, since they had other duties to perform besides that of sacrificing the victims. Yet those who entirely devoted themselves to the work of the sanctuary, were endowed by God with double honor; since it was by no means just that they should be defrauded of their maintenance, who bade adieu to domestic cares and labors, and occupied themselves totally in holy offices. That this distribution was not superfluous, will best appear from the narrative of Josephus, who relates that the 226226     About this time King Agrippa gave the high priesthood to Ismael, who was the son of Fabi. And such was the impudence and boldness that had seized on the high priests, that they had the hardiness to send their servants into the threshing-floors, to take away those tithes that were due to the priests; insomuch that it so fell out that the poorer sort of the priests died for want.” — Whiston’s Josephus. Antiq. 20 ch. 8, sec. 8. See also ch. 9, sec. 2. priests seized on the tithes by violence, and deprived the Levites of their subsistence by hostile measures.

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