The LORD now said to Aaron: "You, your sons, and your relatives from the tribe of Levi will be held responsible for any offenses related to the sanctuary. But you and your sons alone will be held liable for violations connected with the priesthood.
"Bring your relatives of the tribe of Levi to assist you and your sons as you perform the sacred duties in front of the Tabernacle of the Covenant. a3
But as the Levites go about their duties under your supervision, they must be careful not to touch any of the sacred objects or the altar. If they do, both you and they will die.
The Levites must join with you to fulfill their responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the Tabernacle, b but no one who is not a Levite may officiate with you.
"You yourselves must perform the sacred duties within the sanctuary and at the altar. If you follow these instructions, the LORD's anger will never again blaze against the people of Israel.
I myself have chosen your fellow Levites from among the Israelites to be your special assistants. They are dedicated to the LORD for service in the Tabernacle.
But you and your sons, the priests, must personally handle all the sacred service associated with the altar and everything within the inner curtain. I am giving you the priesthood as your special gift of service. Any other person who comes too near the sanctuary will be put to death."
The LORD gave these further instructions to Aaron: "I have put the priests in charge of all the holy gifts that are brought to me by the people of Israel. I have given these offerings to you and your sons as your regular share.
You are allotted the portion of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the most holy offerings -- including the grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings -- that portion belongs to you and your sons.
You must eat it as a most holy offering. All the males may eat of it, and you must treat it as most holy.
"All the other offerings presented to me by the Israelites by lifting them up before the altar also belong to you as your regular share. Any member of your family who is ceremonially clean, male and female alike, may eat of these offerings.
"I also give you the harvest gifts brought by the people as offerings to the LORD -- the best of the olive oil, wine, and grain.
All the firstfruits of the land that the people present to the LORD belong to you. Any member of your family who is ceremonially clean may eat this food.
"Whatever is specially set apart for the LORD c also belongs to you.
"The firstborn of every mother, whether human or animal, that is offered to the LORD will be yours. But you must always redeem your firstborn sons and the firstborn males of ritually unclean animals.
Redeem them when they are one month old. The redemption price is five pieces of silver, each piece weighing the same as the standard sanctuary shekel. d17
"However, you may not redeem the firstborn of cattle, sheep, or goats. They are holy and have been set apart for the LORD. Sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat as an offering given by fire, very pleasing to the LORD.
The meat of these animals will be yours, just like the breast and right thigh that are presented by lifting them up before the altar.
Yes, I am giving you all these holy offerings that the people of Israel bring to the LORD. They are for you and your sons and daughters, to be eaten as your regular share. This is an unbreakable covenant e between the LORD and you and your descendants."
And the LORD said to Aaron, "You priests will receive no inheritance of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your inheritance and your share.
As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will pay them for their service in the Tabernacle with the tithes from the entire land of Israel.
"From now on, Israelites other than the priests and Levites are to stay away from the Tabernacle. If they come too near, they will be judged guilty and die.
The Levites must serve at the Tabernacle, and they will be held responsible for any offenses against it. This is a permanent law among you. But the Levites will receive no inheritance of land among the Israelites,
because I have given them the Israelites' tithes, which have been set apart as offerings to the LORD. This will be the Levites' share. That is why I said they would receive no inheritance of land among the Israelites."
The LORD also told Moses,
"Say this to the Levites: 'When you receive the tithes from the Israelites, give a tenth of the tithes you receive -- a tithe of the tithe -- to the LORD as a gift.
The LORD will consider this to be your harvest offering, as though it were the first grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress.
You must present one-tenth of the tithe received from the Israelites as a gift to the LORD. From this you must present the LORD's portion to Aaron the priest.
Be sure to set aside the best portions of the gifts given to you as your gifts to the LORD.'
"Also say to the Levites: 'When you present the best part, it will be considered as though it came from your own threshing floor or winepress.
You Levites and your families may eat this food anywhere you wish, for it is your compensation for serving in the Tabernacle.
You will not be considered guilty for accepting the LORD's tithes if you give the best portion to the priests. But be careful not to treat the holy gifts of the people of Israel as though they were common. If you do, you will die.'"
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)