Numbers 18 (The Message)

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1 God said to Aaron, "You and your sons, along with your father's family, are responsible for taking care of sins having to do with the Sanctuary; you and your sons are also responsible for sins involving the priesthood. 2 So enlist your brothers of the tribe of Levi to join you and assist you and your sons in your duties in the Tent of Testimony. 3 They will report to you as they go about their duties related to the Tent, but they must not have anything to do with the holy things of the Altar under penalty of death - both they and you will die! 4 They are to work with you in taking care of the Tent of Meeting, whatever work is involved in the Tent. Outsiders are not allowed to help you. 5 "Your job is to take care of the Sanctuary and the Altar so that there will be no more outbreaks of anger on the People of Israel. 6 I personally have picked your brothers, the Levites, from Israel as a whole. I'm giving them to you as a gift, a gift of God, to help with the work of the Tent of Meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests, working around the Altar and inside the curtain. The work of the priesthood is my exclusive gift to you; it cannot be delegated - anyone else who invades the Sanctuary will be executed." 8 God spoke to Aaron, "I am personally putting you in charge of my contributions, all the holy gifts I get from the People of Israel. I am turning them over to you and your children for your personal use. This is the standing rule. 9 You and your sons get what's left from the offerings, whatever hasn't been totally burned up on the Altar - the leftovers from Grain-Offerings, Absolution-Offerings, and Compensation-Offerings. 10 Eat it reverently; it is most holy; every male may eat it. Treat it as holy. 11 "You also get the Wave-Offerings from the People of Israel. I present them to you and your sons and daughters as a gift. This is the standing rule. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it. 12 I also give you all the best olive oil, the best new wine, and the grain that is offered to God as the firstfruits of their harvest - 13 all the firstfruits they offer to God are yours. Anyone in your household who is ritually clean may eat it. 14 "You get every Totally-Devoted gift. 15 Every firstborn that is offered to God, whether animal or person, is yours. Except you don't get the firstborn itself, but its redemption price; firstborn humans and ritually clean animals are bought back and you get the redemption price. 16 When the firstborn is a month old it must be redeemed at the redemption price of five shekels of silver, using the standard of the Sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 17 "On the other hand, you don't redeem a firstborn ox, sheep, or goat - they are holy. Instead splash their blood on the Altar and burn their fat as a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God. 18 But you get the meat, just as you get the breast from the Wave-Offering and the right thigh. 19 All the holy offerings that the People of Israel set aside for God, I'm turning over to you and your children. That's the standard rule and includes both you and your children - a Covenant-of-Salt, eternal and unchangeable before God." 20 God said to Aaron, "You won't get any inheritance in land, not so much as a small plot of ground: I am your plot of ground, I am your inheritance among the People of Israel. 21 "I'm giving the Levites all the tithes of Israel as their pay for the work they do in the Tent of Meeting. 22 Starting now, the rest of the People of Israel cannot wander in and out of the Tent of Meeting; they'll be penalized for their sin and the penalty is death. 23 It's the Levites and only the Levites who are to work in the Tent of Meeting and they are responsible for anything that goes wrong. This is the regular rule for all time. They get no inheritance among the People of Israel; 24 instead I turn over to them the tithes that the People of Israel present as an offering to God. That's why I give the ruling: They are to receive no land-inheritance among the People of Israel." 25 God spoke to Moses: 26 "Speak to the Levites. Tell them, When you get the tithe from the People of Israel, the inheritance that I have assigned to you, you must tithe that tithe and present it as an offering to God. 27 Your offerings will be treated the same as other people's gifts of grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat. 28 This is your procedure for making offerings to God from all the tithes you get from the People of Israel: give God's portion from these tithes to Aaron the priest. 29 Make sure that God's portion is the best and holiest of everything you get. 30 "Tell the Levites, When you offer the best part, the rest will be treated the same as grain from the threshing floor or wine from the wine vat that others give. 31 You and your households are free to eat the rest of it anytime and anyplace - it's your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting. 32 By offering the best part, you'll avoid guilt, you won't desecrate the holy offerings of the People of Israel, and you won't die."
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