What is a…

Hebrew: לֵוִיִּי —transliteration: Leviyyi or Levi

also known as: Tribe of Levi

The name “Levite” fundamentally refers to any descendant of the tribe of Levi (Exodus 6:25; Lev. 25:32; Num. 35:2; Josh. 21:3; 21:41). However, it is 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.

Moses and Aaron

Moses and Aaron are Levites, descendants of Levi and set apart.

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 (Exodus 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 (Exodus 32).

The religious responsibilities were then conferred to 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 (Exodus 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

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 qualifications 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; Deuteronomy 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.

Levite cities

48 cities also were assigned to them, 13 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 (Numbers 35:2-5).

9 of these cities were in Judah, 3 in Naphtali, and 4 in each of the other tribes (Josh. 21).

6 of the Levitical cities were set apart as “cities of refuge”. One of these was the ancient city of Shechem.

Thus the Levites were scattered among the tribes to keep alive among them the knowledge and service of God.

List of Levitical cities

  1. Ain
  2. Anathoth
  3. Anem
  4. Ayalon Valley (Ajalon, Aijalon , Aij'alon, Ayyalon)
  5. Beth-Shemesh
  6. Bethoron (Beth-Horon)
  7. Bezer
  8. Bosor
  9. Daberath
  10. Eshtemoa
  11. Geba
  12. Gezer
  13. Golan
  14. Heshbon
  15. Jarmuth
  16. Jazer (Numbers 32:1; 32:3; Joshua 13:25)
  17. Kartah
  18. Kedesh
  19. Kibzaim
  20. Mahanaim
  21. Nahalal (Nahalal)
  22. Ramoth-Gilead
  23. Shechem
  24. Taanach (Ta'anakh, Ti'inik, or Ti’innik)
  25. Jokneam (aka Jokneam Illit, Yokneam Illit, and Yokneam

Prophecy in the book of Revelation

Revelation 7:4–8 mentions that people from the 12 tribes of Israel will be sealed by an angel of God. Levites will be a part of the 144-thousand Israelite evangelists for Christ during The Great Tribulation.

And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
of tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

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Article Version: July 11, 2021