Numbers 18

The work of the priests and the Levites

1 The Lord said to Aaron, ‘You and your sons and your family will be guilty for any wrong thing that happens in my Holy Tent. You and your sons will be guilty for any wrong thing that a priest does. 2 Bring the people of your tribe, the Levites, to the Tent of Meeting. 3 They must take care of the Tent of Meeting on your behalf. You must tell them what they should do. They must not go near anything that is inside God's Holy Place or the altar. If they do, they will die, and you will die too. 4 The Levites must work with you as they take care of the Tent of Meeting. No other people have authority to come near you as you work there.

5 You must take care of God's Holy place and the altar. Then I will not be angry with the Israelites again. 6 I have chosen your family, the Levites, from among the other Israelite tribes. They are the Lord's gift to you, to help you take care of the Tent of Meeting. 7 But only you, Aaron, and your sons will serve me as priests. You will work at the altar and in the Holy Place behind the curtain. I have chosen you to serve me as my priests. That is my gift to you. Any other person who comes near the Holy Place must die.’

Gifts for priests and for Levites

8 The Lord said to Aaron, ‘I give you authority over the things that people offer to me. As priests, part of the gifts that people bring will belong to you and your sons. This rule will always be true for you and your descendants. 9 I am giving to you the parts that do not burn on the altar. A part of all these gifts will belong to you: grain offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings. These are holy gifts and they belong to you and to your sons. 10 All the men in your family may eat these gifts. Remember that they are holy gifts.

11 Also, you will receive part of the special gifts that the Israelites lift up in front of me. I have given it to you and to your sons and daughters, for all time. Every person who lives in your house may eat it. But they must be clean at the time.

12 I will give to you the best olive oil, the best wine and the best grain. The people give to the Lord the first part of these that they get. 13 I also give to you the best parts of the food that people bring to the Lord. Any person who lives in your house may eat them, if they are clean.

14 Everything in Israel that should belong to me is now yours. 15 I give to you every firstborn animal and male child that people offer to the Lord. But you must pay the price for every firstborn son and for every firstborn male animal that is not clean. 16 When they are one month old, you must buy them from me for 5 shekels of silver each. The shekel must have the same weight as the shekel that the Levites use in God's Holy Tent. There are 20 gerahs in one shekel.

17 You must not pay for the firstborn of a cow, a sheep or a goat. Those animals are holy. Splash the blood from those animals on the altar and burn the fat from them. The smell will make the Lord happy. 18 And the meat of those animals belongs to you. In the same way, the breast and the right back leg of the special gifts that you lift up to me also belong to you.

18:18See Numbers 6:20.

19 I have given all the gifts that the Israelites offer to the Lord to you, your sons and your daughters. That is a rule for all time. That is the Lord's special promise to you and to your descendants for all time.’

20 Then the Lord said to Aaron, ‘You priests and your descendants will have no land, like the other tribes do. You will not share in the things that they receive. I myself am the gift that you receive.

21 The Israelites give to me one tenth of everything that they receive. I will give it to the Levites because they serve me in the Tent of Meeting. 22 The other Israelites must not come near the Tent of Meeting again. If they do come near it, they will be guilty and then they will die. 23 Only the Levites must do the work in the Tent of Meeting. And if they do anything wrong there, they will be guilty. That will be a rule for you and for all your descendants. The Levites will not receive any land like the other Israelites do. 24 That is because I have given to the Levites the tithes that the Israelites offer to the Lord. I have told them, “You will not receive any land, like the other Israelites do.” I have given the tithes to them instead.’

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 ‘You must say to the Levites, “You will receive from the Israelites the tithe that I have given to you from them. I have not given any land to you. I have given the tithes to you instead. When you receive those tithes, you must offer one tenth of it to the Lord. That will be a tithe of the tithe. 27 This gift will be the same as when a farmer is giving grain or wine to me. It will be special. 28 So you will give something to the Lord from the tithes that you receive from the Israelites. You must give that part to Aaron the priest. 29 From all the gifts that the people give to you, you must make separate every offering that the Lord should have. The best part of each gift is the part that you must make separate for the Lord.”

30 You must say to the Levites, “After you have made the best part of the gift separate for the priests, the other part will belong to the Levites. That will be the grain and the wine that you receive for your food. 31 That is what you receive because you take care of the Tent of Meeting. You and your family may eat it anywhere that you choose. 32 You will not be guilty when you eat it. That is because you have offered the best part of it to God. But you must do that in the right way. The gifts that you receive from the Israelites are holy. If you do not do the right things with them, you will die.” ’