priests and Levites
- In the OT the priests were intermediaries between the people and their all-powerful God. Their main function was to offer sacrifices, with a subsidiary duty until the Exile [[➝ Exile, the]], of teaching the Law. They were also in charge of Urim and Thummim, the sacred lots, carried by the priests in a front pocket (Exod. 28:30). During the period of the Judges, priests of the tribe of Levi were particularly valued (Judg. 17:10). When worship was centralized at Jerusalem, local shrines were closed and many Levites who were not descendants of Aaron had no employment (Deut. 12:12 f.), and were not accepted at Jerusalem as true priests. They were suspected of having become tainted with Canaanite practices in their rural shrines, and so in the Temple were relegated to an inferior status (Ezek. 44:10–14). Priests were superior as being descendants of Zadok (Ezek. 48:11). Post-exilic literature (Mal. 2:4–7) suggests that both priests and Levites were accorded a common descent from Levi and as such the Levites, though distinct from priests, had important duties at the services (1 Chron. 16:4–27) and in teaching (2 Chron. 17:7–9). In the NT the distinction between priests and Levites is maintained (Luke 10:31, 32).Chief priests, together with elders and scribes, comprised the Jerusalem Sanhedrin (Mark 14:55) before whom Jesus appeared before being sent for trial by Pilate. The ‘chief priests’ were members of priestly families from whom the ‘high priest’ (Caiaphas, Matt. 26:3) was chosen. In the NT Church the whole body of Christians were regarded as a ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Pet. 2:9) not in the sense of a ruling or tyrannical priesthood but as a body charged, like a king, to mediate blessings to the world and to offer spiritual sacrifices.
Dictionary of the Bible.
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Levites — • The subordinate ministers appointed in the Mosaic Law for the service of the Tabernacle and of the Temple Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Levites Levites … Catholic encyclopedia
LEVITES IN THE HALAKHAH — The levite has no privileges, neither through personal or family status nor any special sanctity, and it was ruled that the levite is equivalent to the Israelite in all things, including ritual defilement through contact with a corpse, which is… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Levites — According to Deuteronomy the Levites were priests who offered sacrifices and passed on the teachings of the law (Deut. 17:18; 33:10). They are scattered round the towns, but in view of the centralization of worship in Jerusalem Levites were… … Dictionary of the Bible
LEVITES — a body of men divided into courses, the servants of the priests in the worship of the Temple of Jerusalem; they were not permitted to enter the sanctuary or serve at the altar, their duties being limited to keeping watch over the Temple,… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
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MISHMAROT AND MA'AMADOT — MISHMAROT AND MA AMADOT, priestly and levitical divisions. Historical According to I Chronicles 24–26 and rabbinic tradition, the priests and the Levites were organized into courses or divisions. According to post biblical evidence, these… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
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