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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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The tribe that descended from Levi, son of Jacob. When Moses came down from the mount and saw the golden calf which the people had made, he asked, "Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." He bade them gird on their swords and slay every man his brother, his companion, and his neighbour. And there fell of the people that day about three thousand. Moses spoke of it as consecrating themselves to the Lord, every man upon his son, and upon his brother, that God might bestow a blessing upon them. Exodus 32:26-29 .

The Levites were chosen by God as a redemption for all the firstborn of Israel, which God claimed for Himself. They thus became wholly His, and they were given to Aaron to minister in all that pertained to the service of the tabernacle, except the priesthood, which was restricted to Aaron and his descendants. Numbers 3:5-51 .

Of the Levites there were three main branches: the GERSHONITES, the KOHATHITES, and the MERARITES. Moses and Aaron were descendants of Kohath. When the camp of Israel rested, this tribe surrounded the tabernacle. When it moved they had to carry its various parts and the sacred things belonging thereto. According to Numbers 4:3 , etc., the Levites appear to have commenced their tabernacle service at the age of thirty; but in Numbers 8:24-26 the age is given as twenty-five. It may be that they spent the first five years on probation, learning their duties. When Israel had settled in Canaan and the labour of carrying the tabernacle was over, they commenced their service at the age of twenty. They laboured till they were fifty years of age. 1 Chronicles 23:24-27 .

Before the Levites entered upon any service they were thoroughly cleansed and consecrated. The children of Israel put their hands upon them, and Aaron offered them "before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel" that they might execute the service of the Lord. An atonement was made for them. Numbers 8:5-26 .

The Levites had no inheritance in the land, and in order that they might be free to serve the Lord, tithes were given them. Numbers 18:1-32 . Forty-eight cities were given to them as places to dwell in, and the suburbs thereof for their cattle. Six of these cities were to be CITIES OF REFUGE. Numbers 35:1-8 . The names of the cities are given in Joshua 20:7-9 ; Joshua 21:1-42 .

In the time of David the Levites were set over 'the service of song;' others were door-keepers: some were singers and others played on various instruments. 1 Chronicles 6:31 ; 1 Chronicles 15:16,26 . In the days of Hezekiah after the temple had been cleansed, the Levites apparently helped to flay the sacrifices, being found "more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests." 2 Chronicles 29:34 . At the Passover that followed, the Levites had the charge of killing the passover lambs for the people who were unclean. 2 Chronicles 30:17 . On the return from exile the Levites helped to explain the law to the people. Nehemiah 8:7,8 . In the N.T. the Levites are mentioned only in Luke 10:32 ; John 1:19 ; Acts 4:36 .

The Levites are typical of Christians, who are redeemed, cleansed, and consecrated to the service of the Lord, and have no inheritance on earth.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Levites'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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Leviticus, Book of
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