Numbers 18

Listen to Numbers 18

Duties of Priests and Levites

1 So the LORD said to Aaron, "You and your sons and your father's house with you shall 1bear iniquity connected with the sanctuary, 2and you and your sons with you shall bear iniquity connected with your priesthood.
2 And with you bring your brothers also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may 3join you and 4minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony.
3 They shall keep guard over you and 5over the whole tent, 6but shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary or to the altar 7lest they, and you, die.
4 They shall join you and keep guard over the tent of meeting for all the service of the tent, 8and no outsider shall come near you.
5 And you shall 9keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, 10that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel.
6 11And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel. 12They are a gift to you, given to the LORD, to do the service of the tent of meeting.
7 And 13you and your sons with you shall guard your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and 14that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift,[a] and 15any outsider who comes near shall be put to death."
8 Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, "Behold, 16I have given you charge of the contributions made to me, all the consecrated things of the people of Israel. I have given them to you 17as a portion and to your sons as a perpetual due.
9 This shall be yours of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every offering of theirs, every grain offering of theirs and every 18sin offering of theirs and every 19guilt offering of theirs, which they render to me, shall be most holy to you and to your sons.
10 In a most holy place shall you eat it. Every male may eat it; it is holy to you.
11 This also is yours: the contribution of their gift, all the 20wave offerings of the people of Israel. I have given them to 21you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. 22Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it.
12 23All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, 24the firstfruits of what they give to the LORD, I give to you.
13 The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, 25which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours. 26Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it.
14 27Every devoted thing in Israel shall be yours.
15 28Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, 29the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem.
16 And their redemption price 30(at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels[b] in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, 31which is twenty gerahs.
17 32But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall burn their fat as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
18 But their flesh shall be yours, as 33the breast that is waved and as the right thigh are yours.
19 34All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. 35It is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and for your offspring with you."
20 And the LORD said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. 36I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
21 37"To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,
22 38so that the people of Israel do not come near the tent of meeting, 39lest they bear sin and die.
23 But 40the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, 41and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the people of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
24 For the tithe of the people of Israel, which 42they present as a contribution to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance 43among the people of Israel."
25 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
26 "Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, 'When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the LORD, 44a tithe of the tithe.
27 45And your contribution shall be counted to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress.
28 So you shall also present a contribution to the LORD from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the LORD's contribution to Aaron the priest.
29 Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the LORD; from each its best part is to be dedicated.'
30 Therefore you shall say to them, 'When you have offered from it the best of it, 46then the rest shall be counted to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the winepress.
31 And you may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is 47your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting.
32 And you shall 48bear no sin by reason of it, when you have contributed the best of it. But you shall not 49profane the holy things of the people of Israel, lest you die.'"

Numbers 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

The charge of the priests and Levites. (1-7) The priests' portion. (8-19) The Levites' portion. (20-32)

Verses 1-7 The people complained of their difficulty and peril in drawing near to God. God here gives them to understand, that the priests should come near for them. Aaron would see reason not to be proud of his preferment, when he considered the great care and charge upon him. Be not high-minded, but fear. The greater the trust of work and power that is committed to us, the greater danger there is of betraying that trust. This is a good reason why we should neither envy others' honours, nor desire high places.

Verses 8-19 All believers are spiritual priests, and God has promised to take care of them. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is. And from the provision here made for the priests, the apostle shows that it is the duty of christian churches to maintain their ministers. Scandalous maintenance makes scandalous ministers. The priests were to be wholly devoted to their ministry, not diverted from it, or disturbed in it, by worldly care or business. Also, that they might be examples of living by faith, not only in God's providence, but in his ordinances. The best should be offered for the first-fruits unto the Lord. Those who think to save, by putting God off with the refuse, deceive themselves, for God is not mocked.

Verses 20-32 As Israel was a people not to be numbered among the nations, so Levi was a tribe to be distinguished from the rest. Those who have God for their Inheritance and their Portion for ever, ought to look with holy contempt and indifference upon the possessions of this world. The Levites were to give God his dues out of their tithes, as well as the Israelites out of their increase. See, in ver. ( 31 ) , the way to have comfort in all our worldly possessions, so as to bear no sin by reason of them. 1. We must be sure that what we have is got honestly and in the service of God. That meat is best eaten which is first earned; ( 2 Thessalonians. 3:10 ) We must be sure that God has his dues out of it. We have the comfort of our substance, when we have honoured the Lord with it. Ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved the best from it. We should give alms of such things as we have, that all may be holy and comfortable to us.

Cross References 49

  • 1. ver. 23; See Exodus 28:38
  • 2. ver. 23
  • 3. [Genesis 29:34]
  • 4. See Numbers 3:6-10
  • 5. Numbers 3:25, 31, 36
  • 6. Numbers 16:40
  • 7. Numbers 4:15
  • 8. See Numbers 17:13
  • 9. Numbers 3:38; Exodus 27:21; Exodus 30:7; Leviticus 24:3
  • 10. See Leviticus 10:6
  • 11. Numbers 3:12, 45
  • 12. Numbers 3:9; Numbers 8:19
  • 13. Numbers 3:10
  • 14. Hebrews 9:3, 6
  • 15. See Numbers 1:51
  • 16. Numbers 5:9; Leviticus 7:32
  • 17. Exodus 29:29; Exodus 40:13, 15
  • 18. Leviticus 4:22, 27; Leviticus 6:25, 26
  • 19. Leviticus 7:7; Leviticus 14:13
  • 20. Exodus 29:27, 28; Leviticus 7:30, 34
  • 21. Leviticus 10:14; [Deuteronomy 18:3]
  • 22. [Lev. 22:2, 3, 11-13]
  • 23. Deuteronomy 18:4
  • 24. Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Nehemiah 10:35, 36
  • 25. Exodus 22:29; Leviticus 2:14; Deuteronomy 26:2
  • 26. [See ver. 11 above]
  • 27. Leviticus 27:28
  • 28. See Exodus 13:2
  • 29. Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20
  • 30. Numbers 3:47; Leviticus 27:2, 6
  • 31. See Exodus 30:13
  • 32. Deuteronomy 15:19
  • 33. Exodus 29:26, 28; Lev. 7:31, 32, 34
  • 34. ver. 11
  • 35. Leviticus 2:13; 2 Chronicles 13:5
  • 36. ver. 23, 24; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 18:1, 2; Joshua 13:33; Joshua 14:3; Joshua 18:7; Ezekiel 44:28
  • 37. ver. 24, 26; Leviticus 27:30, 32; Deuteronomy 14:22; Nehemiah 10:37; Nehemiah 12:44; Heb. 7:5, 8, 9; [Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22]
  • 38. See Numbers 1:51
  • 39. Leviticus 22:9
  • 40. Numbers 3:7
  • 41. ver. 1
  • 42. ver. 19, 26, 29
  • 43. ver. 20, 21, 26
  • 44. Nehemiah 10:38
  • 45. ver. 30
  • 46. ver. 27
  • 47. [Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18]; See 1 Corinthians 9:4-14
  • 48. Leviticus 19:8; Leviticus 22:16
  • 49. Leviticus 22:2, 15

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew service of gift
  • [b]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of the distinct work and service of the priests and Levites, Nu 18:1-7; and of several things given to the priests for their maintenance, Nu 18:8-19; and of the tithes the Levites should have to live upon, since they were to have no inheritance in the land of Israel, Nu 18:20-24; and of the tenth out of those tithes they were to give to the high priest, Nu 18:25-32.

Numbers 18 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.