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Levites

Descendants of Levi. The work of ministering in the sanctuary was assigned to this tribe. The Levites are sometimes spoken of as distinct from the priests (1 Kgs. 8:4; Ezra 2:70; John 1:19); sometimes as though all Levites were also priests, “the priests, the Levites” (Deut. 18:1; Josh. 3:3). The work of the Levites was to assist the priests (Num. 3:5–10; 18:1–7). They acted as musicians (1 Chr. 6:16, 31; 15:16; Neh. 11:17, 22); slaughtered the sacrifices (2 Chr. 29:34; 35:11; Ezra 6:20); and generally assisted in the temple (Neh. 11:16, 19). The Levites were themselves offered as a wave-offering on behalf of the children of Israel (Num. 8:11–15); they thus became God’s peculiar property, given to Him in place of the firstborn (8:16). They were cleansed for their office (8:7–16). They had no inheritance in Canaan (18:23–24); but they had the tithe (18:21), 48 cities (35:6), and a claim on the alms of the people at feast times (Deut. 12:18–19; 14:27–29).