Sanctuary and Altar Duties. 1 The Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons and your family with you will bear guilt for offenses against the sanctuary, while you and your sons will bear guilt for offenses against your priesthood. 2 Bring your brothers from the Levites, your ancestral tribe, with you. Let them join with you and serve you when you and your sons are before the tent of Testimony. 3 They will attend to your duties and all the duties of the tent, but they must not come near the vessels of the sanctuary or the altar, lest they die and you also die. 4 They will join you and attend to the duties of the tent of meeting, for every service in the tabernacle. Let no one else approach you.
5 “You will attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar so that no wrath come upon the people of Israel. 6 It is I, myself, who have selected your brothers, the Levites, from among the people of Israel as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord, to serve in the tent of meeting. 7 Only you and your sons can serve as priests for everything concerning the altar and whatever is inside the veil, and you will serve. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near will be put to death.”[a]
Priests’ Share of Offerings. 8 The Lord spoke to Aaron: “I have given you responsibility over all my offerings, over all the sacred things of the people of Israel. I have given these things to you and your sons as a portion, a perpetual allotment. 9 This shall be yours from among the most holy things dedicated by fire: all of their oblations, all of their cereal offerings, all of their sin offerings and all of their guilt offerings. These things that they offer to me will be most holy to you and your sons. 10 You will eat it in a Most Holy Place. Every male will eat it. It will be holy for you.
11 “This also is yours: the offering of their gifts along with the wave offerings of the people of Israel. I have given them to you and your sons and daughters as your portion forever. Everyone who is pure in your household can eat it. 12 I have given to you all of the best of the oil and the best of the wine and of the wheat and their firstfruits that they offer to the Lord. 13 The first ripe fruits of all that is in the land that they bring to the Lord shall be yours. Everyone who is pure in your household can eat it.
14 “Everything that is dedicated[b] to the Lord will be yours. 15 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh that they bring to the Lord, whether man or beast, shall be yours. Nevertheless, you will redeem the firstborn son and you will redeem the firstborn male of impure animals. 16 When they are a month old, you shall redeem them at the redemption price of five shekels of silver, calculated according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which weighs twenty gerahs. 17 You are not to redeem the firstborn of the cattle or the firstborn of the sheep or the firstborn of the goats, for they are holy. Sprinkle their blood upon the altar and burn their fat as an offering made by fire, a pleasing fragrance to the Lord. 18 Their meat shall be yours, as well as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh. These are yours. 19 All of the offerings of the holy things that the people of Israel bring to the Lord, I have given them to you and your sons and your daughters with you as an ordinance forever. This is a covenant of salt forever between the Lord and you and your descendants with you.”[c]
20 The Lord spoke to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
21 Tithes Owed to the Levites.“I give the Levites all the tithes in Israel, an inheritance for the work that they perform in serving in the tent of meeting. 22 From now on the people of Israel must not approach the tent of meeting lest they sin and die. 23 The Levites will do the work of the tent of meeting. They will bear responsibility for offenses against it. This is an everlasting ordinance for all your generations. They will receive no inheritance from among the people of Israel. 24 I have given the Levites an inheritance of the tithes that the people of Israel present as an offering to the Lord. This is why I have said to them, ‘They will have no inheritance among the people of Israel.’ ”
25 Tithes Paid by the Levites.[d] The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them, ‘When you receive a tithe from the people of Israel which I give you as an inheritance, you are to present a tithe of the tithe as the Lord’s offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or as produce from the winepress. 28 You shall present an offering to the Lord from all your tithes that you receive from the people of Israel; you will give the Lord’s offering to Aaron the priest from them. 29 The Lord’s offering will come from the best and the holiest portion of all the gifts that you offer up.’ 30 Therefore, you will say to them, ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, the rest will be apportioned to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and the produce of the winepress. 31 You can eat it anywhere, you and your households, as your reward for your service in the tent of meeting. 32 You will bear no guilt in this when you offer up the best of it, nor will you defile the holy gifts of Israel, lest you die.’ ”
- Numbers 18:7 The Lord is very clear concerning who may and may not serve at the altar and required death for any impostors and for the priests they served.
- Numbers 18:14 Dedicated: refers to a vow to destroy something as a way of consecrating objects and persons to God, while the destroyer derives no advantage from them.
- Numbers 18:19 The choicest meat and produce offered to the Lord belonged to the priests and their families. The covenant of salt refers to the unbreakable contract that accompanies a covenant promise.
- Numbers 18:25 As recipients of the Lord’s tithe, the Levites were responsible to tithe the best part of theirs to Aaron as an offering to the Lord along with a tenth of their income.