Duties of Priests and Levites

18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary,(A) and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister(B) before the tent of the covenant law. They are to be responsible to you(C) and are to perform all the duties of the tent,(D) but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die.(E) They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.(F)

“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar,(G) so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you,(H) dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting.(I) But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain.(J) I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift.(K) Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.(L)

Offerings for Priests and Levites

Then the Lord said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion,(M) your perpetual share.(N) You are to have the part of the most holy offerings(O) that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain(P) or sin[a](Q) or guilt offerings,(R) that part belongs to you and your sons. 10 Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it.(S) You must regard it as holy.(T)

11 “This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings(U) of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share.(V) Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean(W) may eat it.

12 “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain(X) they give the Lord(Y) as the firstfruits of their harvest.(Z) 13 All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the Lord will be yours.(AA) Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.(AB)

14 “Everything in Israel that is devoted[b] to the Lord(AC) is yours. 15 The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours.(AD) But you must redeem(AE) every firstborn(AF) son and every firstborn male of unclean animals.(AG) 16 When they are a month old,(AH) you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels[c](AI) of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel,(AJ) which weighs twenty gerahs.(AK)

17 “But you must not redeem the firstborn of a cow, a sheep or a goat; they are holy.(AL) Splash their blood(AM) against the altar and burn their fat(AN) as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.(AO) 18 Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offering(AP) and the right thigh are yours.(AQ) 19 Whatever is set aside from the holy(AR) offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt(AS) before the Lord for both you and your offspring.”

20 The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them;(AT) I am your share and your inheritance(AU) among the Israelites.

21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes(AV) in Israel as their inheritance(AW) in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.(AX) 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die.(AY) 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance(AZ) for the generations to come.(BA) They will receive no inheritance(BB) among the Israelites.(BC) 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord.(BD) That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you(BE) as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.(BF) 27 Your offering will be reckoned(BG) to you as grain from the threshing floor(BH) or juice from the winepress.(BI) 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes(BJ) you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress.(BK) 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting.(BL) 32 By presenting the best part(BM) of it you will not be guilty in this matter;(BN) then you will not defile the holy offerings(BO) of the Israelites, and you will not die.’”

The Water of Cleansing

19 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer(BP) without defect or blemish(BQ) and that has never been under a yoke.(BR) Give it to Eleazar(BS) the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp(BT) and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle(BU) it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines.(BV) The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop(BW) and scarlet wool(BX) and throw them onto the burning heifer. After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water.(BY) He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer(BZ) and put them in a ceremonially clean place(CA) outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing;(CB) it is for purification from sin.(CC) 10 The man who gathers up(CD) the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening.(CE) This will be a lasting ordinance(CF) both for the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them.(CG)

11 “Whoever touches a human corpse(CH) will be unclean for seven days.(CI) 12 They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day;(CJ) then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean.(CK) 13 If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse,(CL) they defile the Lord’s tabernacle.(CM) They must be cut off from Israel.(CN) Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, they are unclean;(CO) their uncleanness remains on them.

14 “This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, 15 and every open container(CP) without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.

16 “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death,(CQ) or anyone who touches a human bone(CR) or a grave,(CS) will be unclean for seven days.(CT)

17 “For the unclean person, put some ashes(CU) from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water(CV) over them. 18 Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop,(CW) dip it in the water and sprinkle(CX) the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave(CY) or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle(CZ) those who are unclean on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify them.(DA) Those who are being cleansed must wash their clothes(DB) and bathe with water, and that evening they will be clean. 20 But if those who are unclean do not purify themselves, they must be cut off from the community, because they have defiled(DC) the sanctuary of the Lord.(DD) The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, and they are unclean.(DE) 21 This is a lasting ordinance(DF) for them.

“The man who sprinkles the water of cleansing must also wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water of cleansing will be unclean till evening. 22 Anything that an unclean(DG) person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.”


  1. Numbers 18:9 Or purification
  2. Numbers 18:14 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord.
  3. Numbers 18:16 That is, about 2 ounces or about 58 grams

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