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The Duties of the Levites and Priests

18 Yahweh said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and your family will be responsible for any sins against the holy place. You and your sons will also be responsible for any sins you commit when you work as priests. Bring the other Levites from your ancestor’s tribe to join you and help you and your sons serve in front of the tent of the words of my promise. They will work for you, doing whatever work is necessary for the whole tent. But they must not come near the altar or the furnishings in the holy place, or they will die, and you will die, too. They will join you and do whatever work is necessary for the tent of meeting, including all the maintenance work for the tent. But no one else may come near you.

“You must be in charge of the work done at the holy place and at the altar. Then I won’t show my anger against the Israelites again. I have chosen the other Levites from among the Israelites to help you. They are a gift given to Yahweh to do whatever work is necessary at the tent of meeting. Only you and your sons may do the work of priests—everything done at the altar and under the canopy. This is my gift to you: You may serve me as priests. Anyone else who comes near the holy place to do this work must die.”

Contributions for the Levites and Priests

Yahweh said to Aaron, “I am putting you in charge of all the contributions given to me. I am giving you and your descendants all the holy gifts from the Israelites as your share. These contributions will always be yours. That part of the most holy offerings which is not burned belongs to you. It may come from a grain offering, an offering for sin, or a guilt offering. Whatever is brought to me as a most holy offering will belong to you and your sons. 10 Eat it in a most holy place. Any male may eat it. You must consider it holy.

11 “The contributions that come as gifts taken from the offerings presented by the Israelites are also yours. I am giving these to you, your sons, and your daughters. They will always be yours. Anyone in your household who is clean[a] may eat them.

12 “I am also giving you the first of the produce they give Yahweh: the best of all the olive oil and the best of the new wine and fresh grain. 13 The first of all produce harvested in their land that they bring to Yahweh is yours. Anyone in your household who is clean may eat it.

14 “Anything in Israel that is claimed by the Lord is yours. 15 Every firstborn male, human or animal, that is brought to Yahweh is yours. But you must buy back every firstborn son and the firstborn male of any unclean animal. 16 When they are one month old, you must buy them back at the fixed price of two ounces of silver, using the standard weight of the holy place.

17 “But you must never buy back a firstborn ox, sheep, or goat. They are holy. Throw the blood from these animals against the altar, and burn the fat as an offering by fire, a soothing aroma to Yahweh. 18 But the meat is yours, like the breast and the right thigh that are presented. 19 I am giving you, your sons, and your daughters all the holy contributions the Israelites bring to Yahweh. These contributions will always be yours. It is an everlasting promise of salt in Yahweh’s presence for you and your descendants.”

20 Yahweh said to Aaron, “You will have no land or property of your own as the other Israelites will have. I am your possession and your property among the Israelites.

21 “I am giving the Levites one-tenth of every Israelite’s income. This is in return for the work they do at the tent of meeting. 22 The other Israelites must never again come near the tent of meeting. Otherwise, they’ll suffer the consequences of their sin and die. 23 Only the Levites will do the work at the tent of meeting. They will be responsible for their own sins. This is a permanent law for future generations. They will own no property as the other Israelites will. 24 Instead, I will give the Levites what the Israelites contribute to Yahweh—one-tenth of the Israelites’ income. This is why I said about them, ‘They will own no property as the other Israelites do.’”

25 Yahweh said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: You will take one-tenth of the Israelites’ income which I’m giving you as your property. When you do, you must contribute one-tenth of that income as your contribution to Yahweh. 27 Your contribution will be considered to be grain from the threshing floor[b] or juice from the winepress. 28 So you, too, will contribute one-tenth of your income to Yahweh out of all that you receive from the Israelites’ income. You will give Yahweh’s contribution to the priest Aaron. 29 Out of all the gifts you receive, you must contribute the best and holiest parts to Yahweh.

30 “Also tell them: When you contribute the best part, your contribution will be considered to be produce from the threshing floor or winepress. 31 So you and your households may eat it anywhere, because it’s the wages you receive for your work at the tent of meeting. 32 When you contribute the best part, you won’t suffer the consequences of any sin. You won’t be dishonoring the holy offerings given by the Israelites, and you won’t die.”


  1. Numbers 18:11 “Clean” refers to anything that is presentable to God.
  2. Numbers 18:27 A threshing floor is an outdoor area where grain is separated from its husks.

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