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Easton's Bible Dictionary


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        a descendant of the tribe of Levi (Ex. 6:25; Lev. 25:32; Num.
        35:2; Josh. 21:3, 41). This name is, however, generally used as
        the title of that portion of the tribe which was set apart for
        the subordinate offices of the sanctuary service (1 Kings 8:4;
        Ezra 2:70), as assistants to the priests.
        When the Israelites left Egypt, the ancient manner of worship
        was still observed by them, the eldest son of each house
        inheriting the priest's office. At Sinai the first change in
        this ancient practice was made. A hereditary priesthood in the
        family of Aaron was then instituted (Ex. 28:1). But it was not
        till that terrible scene in connection with the sin of the
        golden calf that the tribe of Levi stood apart and began to
        occupy a distinct position (Ex. 32). The religious primogeniture
        was then conferred on this tribe, which henceforth was devoted
        to the service of the sanctuary (Num. 3:11-13). They were
        selected for this purpose because of their zeal for the glory of
        God (Ex. 32:26), and because, as the tribe to which Moses and
        Aaron belonged, they would naturally stand by the lawgiver in
        his work.
        The Levitical order consisted of all the descendants of Levi's
        three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; whilst Aaron, Amram's
        son (Amram, son of Kohat), and his issue constituted the
        priestly order.
        The age and qualification for Levitical service are specified
        in Num. 4:3, 23, 30, 39, 43, 47.
        They were not included among the armies of Israel (Num. 1:47;
        2:33; 26:62), but were reckoned by themselves. They were the
        special guardians of the tabernacle (Num. 1:51; 18:22-24). The
        Gershonites pitched their tents on the west of the tabernacle
        (3:23), the Kohathites on the south (3:29), the Merarites on the
        north (3:35), and the priests on the east (3:38). It was their
        duty to move the tent and carry the parts of the sacred
        structure from place to place. They were given to Aaron and his
        sons the priests to wait upon them and do work for them at the
        sanctuary services (Num. 8:19; 18:2-6).
        As being wholly consecrated to the service of the Lord, they
        had no territorial possessions. Jehovah was their inheritance
        (Num. 18:20; 26:62; Deut. 10:9; 18:1, 2), and for their support
        it was ordained that they should receive from the other tribes
        the tithes of the produce of the land. Forty-eight cities also
        were assigned to them, thirteen of which were for the priests
        "to dwell in", i.e., along with their other inhabitants. Along
        with their dwellings they had "suburbs", i.e., "commons", for
        their herds and flocks, and also fields and vineyards (Num.
        35:2-5). Nine of these cities were in Judah, three in Naphtali,
        and four in each of the other tribes (Josh. 21). Six of the
        Levitical cities were set apart as "cities of refuge" (q.v.).
        Thus the Levites were scattered among the tribes to keep alive
        among them the knowledge and service of God. (See PRIEST

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Levite' Eastons Bible Dictionary". - Eastons; 1897.

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