Numbers 18 The Voice (VOICE)
18 Eternal One (to Aaron): It’s on you and your sons and your extended family that the responsibility for this sanctuary lies. Any offense against the sacred meeting place, whether the sanctuary or the priesthood, is to be born by the members of your ancestral house. 2 So gather your extended family, your immediate family and those belonging to your staff, the tribe of Levi, so that they understand you’re all in this together. Your brothers from the greater Levi family will assist you while you and your sons come up to the tent holding the covenant. 3-5 Those Levites will answer to you and help out with the tent as a whole, but they absolutely may not touch the vessels of the sacred place or approach its altar. If they do, they and you will die. Also, an outsider may not approach you. This way, the whole congregation will be forever spared My destructive fury. 6 So I hereby appoint, as your assistants, your fellow Levites out of all of the Israelites. I give them to you as persons set apart for Me to do what is necessary for the maintenance of this congregation tent. 7 That way, you and your sons will be free to carefully attend the altar and My dwelling place behind the veil, which is forbidden to everyone else. Think of it as a kind of gift for the whole people, since it is fatal for anyone else to approach My sacred space.
Since the Levitical tribe inherits God Himself rather than a territory of land that they can farm and have for livestock, they are given a portion of the meat, grain, and drink offerings offered up by the people.
Eternal One (continuing to Aaron): 8 As for you in particular, everything people give to Me for all time, I put you in charge of and give to you and your sons as a priestly portion as a perpetual decree. 9 When anything the people give as an offering to Me isn’t burnt in its entirety, you will keep it—as the most holy items from the grain offerings, the sin or guilt offerings. All of this is most sacred to you and your sons. 10 While recognizing its holiness, you and every Levite male should go ahead and eat it in the most holy place. 11 Also, I am giving as a perpetual decree to you, your sons and daughters, too, whatever people raise up in offering to Me. Whoever is ritually pure from your house may eat from those offerings. 12 That includes, of course, the very best items—oil, wine, grain, and produce. Whatever people bring by way of offerings to Me, I give to you. 13-14 The first of the harvest and anything which is set aside for Me shall be yours; any in your family can eat from it, so long as he or she is ritually pure. 15-16 Likewise, the firstborn of men or animals, which are of course Mine, I hereby pass on to you. For the firstborn sons and ritually unclean animals should not be sacrificed; rather the people should simply pay five coins (calculated as the value of a one-month-old), each worth the two ounces (according to the sanctuary standard). 17 As for the other animals, the firstborn of a cow, a sheep, or a goat, you shall carry through on their sacrifice. They are indeed holy to Me. Make sure to throw some of their blood on the altar and incinerate their fat because it is to Me a soothing aroma. 18 You can have the meat itself, though, just as you get to have the breast of an uplifted offering and the right thigh too. 19 Everything sanctified and offered by the Israelites to Me, I am giving to you and your sons and your daughters as a perpetual decree. This is a binding agreement for all time—a covenant of salt, made in the presence of Me and preserved for you and your descendants after you.
20 (continuing to Aaron) And you’ll need these things because you are not allowed to own land or any part of it in the place I’ve promised. Rather, I am your portion and possession among the Israelites. 21-24 Your family, the Levites, shall not have any property, but they shall have what the Israelites bring to My tent as a tenth portion. Because the Levites alone can approach the congregation tent without dying and must do so to perform the necessary maintenance, but have no land of their own, they get to keep a tenth of the Israelites’ offerings.
25 (to Moses) 26 Tell the Levites that they should set aside a tenth portion of what they get from the Israelites’ sacrifices to give back to Me. In other words, they must give a tenth offering of the tenth offering given to them from the people of Israel. 27 Tell them, “This portion will be counted as your gift to Me, as if it is all the grain harvested and threshed and all the wine pressed and decanted. 28 In this way, you will be making an offering to Me from what you received from the Israelites (though you’ll do so by entrusting this tenth portion to the priest Aaron). 29 Out of everything you get, you should set aside the very best as a holy portion to Me. 30 After this, what’s left is absolutely yours, as if it is all the grain harvested and threshed and all the wine pressed and decanted. 31 You can eat and drink it anywhere—you and your whole household—because it’s what you’ve earned by working on behalf of the congregation tent. 32 After you’ve given up that superior portion, you may do with the rest as you wish. Just be careful that you treat the holy portion, what was set aside for Me by the Israelites, with utmost respect; or else you’ll die.”
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