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Numbers Chapter 18
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Duties of Priests and Levites
18:1 God said to Aaron: You, along with your sons and your paternal tribe shall expiate any sin associated with the Sanctuary. You and your descendants will [also] expiate any sin associated with your priesthood.
18:2 Also bring close to you your brothers, the members of your father's tribe, Levi. Let them be your associates and minister to you and your descendants before the Testimony Tent.
18:3 [The Levites] shall thus be entrusted with their responsibilities toward you and the Tent, but they shall not approach the sacred furniture or the altar, so that you and they not die.
18:4 [The Levites] shall be your associates and they shall be entrusted with responsibility for the Communion Tent [and] all the Tent's service. Let no unauthorized person join them.
18:5 Let them be entrusted with responsibility for the sanctuary and the altar, so that there not be any more divine wrath directed at the Israelites.
18:6 I have thus taken your brethren the Levites from among the [other] Israelites as a gift to you. They are given over to God to perform the Communion Tent service.
18:7 You and your sons shall be entrusted with your priesthood, so that your service shall include everything that pertains to the altar and to anything inside the cloth partition. This is the gift of service that I have given you as your priesthood. Any unauthorized person who participates shall die.

The Priestly Share
18:8 God announced to Aaron: I have given you responsibility for My elevated gifts. I am thus giving you all the sacred gifts of the Israelites as part of your anointment. These shall be an eternal portion for your descendants.
18:9 Among the fire [offerings] that are holy of holies, the following shall be yours: All [the Israelites'] sacrifices, all their grain offerings, all their sin offerings, all their guilt offerings, [and] everything that they return to Me. These shall be holy of holies to you and your descendants.
18:10 Every male [priest] may eat [these offerings], but you must eat them in a most holy area, since they must remain holy to you.
18:11 This is what shall be bestowed as an elevated gift to you:

All the Israelites' wave offerings are given to you, along with your sons and daughters, as an everlasting portion. Everyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat them.

18:12 The dedicated portion of oil, wine and grain that must initially be presented to God is now given to you.
18:13 The first fruit of all that [grows] in your land, which is presented to God, shall be yours. Everyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it.
18:14 Everything that the Israelites declare taboo shall be yours.
18:15 The first fruits of the womb, that must be presented to God, among man and beast, shall be yours. However, you must redeem first-born humans, as well as the first-born of unclean animals.
18:16 The redemption [of a first-born human male] from one month old, shall be made with [the usual] endowment of 5 shekels by the sanctuary standard, where [the shekel] is 20 gerahs.
18:17 You must not, however, redeem the first-born of an ox, sheep or goat, since [such first-born] are sacred. You must therefore dash their blood on the altar, and burn their choice parts as an appeasing fragrance to God.
18:18 Their flesh shall then belong to you like the chest [presented as] a wave offering and the right thigh [of peace offerings].
18:19 I have thus given you, together with your sons and daughters, as an eternal portion, the elevated gifts from the sacred offerings that the Israelites present to God. For you and your descendants, this is a covenant that shall be preserved forever before God.
18:20 God [then] said to Aaron, 'You will not have any inheritance in the land [of the Israelites]. and you will not have a portion among them. I Myself shall be a portion and inheritance among the Israelites.'

The Levitical Share
18:21 To the descendants of Levi, I am now giving all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance. This is in exchange for their work, the service that they perform in the Communion Tent.
18:22 The [other] Israelites shall therefore no longer come forth to the Communion Tent, since they can then become guilty of sin and die.
18:23 Instead, the necessary service in the Communion Tent will be performed by the Levites, and they will expiate the sins [of the Israelites].

It shall be an eternal law for future generations that [the Levites] not have any [land] inheritance.

18:24 Instead, the inheritance that I am giving the Levites shall consist of the tithes of the Israelites, which they separate as an elevated gift. I have therefore told [the Levites] that they shall not have any [land] inheritance among the Israelites.

The Levites' Priestly Gifts
18:25 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
18:26 speak to the Levites and say to them:

When you take from the Israelites the tithe that I have given you as your inheritance from them, you must separate from it an elevated gift to God, a tithe of the tithe.

18:27 This [tithe given to you by the Israelites] is your own elevated gift. and it is exactly like grain from the threshing floor or wine from the vat.
18:28 You must therefore separate an elevated gift from all the tithes that you take from the Israelites, and you must give it as God's elevated gift to Aaron the priest.
18:29 Thus, from all that is given to you, you must separate God's elevated gift, [taking] a sanctified portion as its dedicated [tithe for the priest].
18:30 Say to [the Levites]: After you have separated out the dedicated [tithe for the priest, the rest] shall be for [all] the Levites exactly like [ordinary] produce from the threshing floor and wine vat.
18:31 You and your household can eat it anywhere [you desire], since it is your wage for your service in the Communion Tent.
18:32 Therefore, after you have separated out the dedicated [tithe], you will not bear any sin because of it. You will thus not profane the sacred offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.


  (Targum). Or, 'bear the sin' (Targum Yonathan; Rashi).

cloth partition
  See Leviticus 21:23.

  See Leviticus 7:35

holy of holies
  See Leviticus 2:3, 2:10, 6:10, 6:18, 6:22, 7:1, 7:6, 14:13, 24:9.

  Such as communal peace offerings (Rashi).

grain offerings
  See Leviticus 2:3,10, 6:10.

sin offerings
  Leviticus 6:18.

guilt offerings
  Leviticus 7:1

most holy area
  Within the enclosure; see Leviticus 6:19.

wave offerings
  See Leviticus 7:30, 14:12, 14:24, 23:17, 23:20, Numbers 6:20 (Rashi).

dedicated portion
  Chelev in Hebrew, which usually denotes 'fat,' or the portion dedicated to the altar (see Leviticus 3:9). Here it refers to the portion dedicated to the priest.

initially be presented...
  This is the terumah offering that must be given to the priest (Rashi).

  See Leviticus 27:21.

unclean animals
  Actually, only the donkey, as in Exodus 13:13 (Bekhoroth8b).

  See Leviticus 27:6

20 gerahs
  See Exodus 30:13, Leviticus 27:25.

choice parts
  See Leviticus 3:9.

chest...and the right thigh...
  See Exodus 29:27, Leviticus 7:31, 10:15.


elevated gifts
  Terumah in Hebrew.

covenant that shall be preserved
  (Saadia; cf. Rashi). Literally, 'covenant of salt.' See Leviticus 2:13; 2 Chronicles 13:5.

of the Israelites

a tithe of the tithe
  The Levites had to take a tenth of their tithe which in turn was one tenth of the Israelite's produce. Hence this 'terumath maaser' was 1% of the produce.

This tithe...
  Or, 'That which you give as an elevated gift [to the priest] shall be considered like [the elevated gift] taken from... (Rashi).

  Meleah in Hebrew, see Exodus 22:8. Or, 'best wine' (Saadia; cf. Targum Yonathan), or, 'offerings' (Septuagint).

dedicated tithe
  (cf. Ibn Ezra). See Numbers 18:12.

  (cf. Ralbag).

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