Numbers 18

1 And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, Thou and thy sons and thy father's house shall bear the sins of the holy things, and thou and thy sons shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.
2 And take to thyself thy brethren the tribe of Levi, the family of thy father, and let them be joined to thee, and let them minister to thee; and thou and thy sons with thee before the tabernacle of witness.
3 And they shall keep thy charges, and the charges of the tabernacle; only they shall not approach the holy vessels and the altar, so both they and you shall not die.
4 And they shall be joined to thee, and shall keep the charges of the tabernacle of witness, in all the services of the tabernacle; and a stranger shall not approach to thee.
5 And ye shall keep the charges of the holy things, and the charges of the altar, and there shall not be anger among the children of Israel.
6 And I have taken your brethren the Levites out of the midst of the children of Israel, a present given to the Lord, to minister in the services of the tabernacle of witness.
7 And thou and thy sons after thee shall keep up your priestly ministration, according to the whole manner of the altar, and that which is within the veil; and ye shall minister in the services as the office of your priesthood; and the stranger that comes near shall die.
8 And the Lord said to Aaron, And, behold, I have given you the charge of the first-fruits of all things consecrated to me by the children of Israel; and I have given them to thee as an honour, and to thy sons after thee for a perpetual ordinance.
9 And let this be to you from all the holy things that are consecrated the burnt-offerings, from all their gifts, and from all their sacrifices, and from every trespass-offering of theirs, and from all their sin-offerings, whatever things they give to me of all their holy things, they shall be thine and thy sons'.
10 In the most holy place shall ye eat them; every male shall eat them, thou and thy sons: they shall be holy to thee.
11 And this shall be to you of the first-fruits of their gifts, of all the wave-offerings of the children of Israel; to thee have I given them and to thy sons and thy daughters with thee, a perpetual ordinance; every clean person in thy house shall eat them.
12 Every first-offering of oil, and every first-offering of wine, their first-fruits of corn, whatsoever they may give to the Lord, to thee have I given them.
13 All the first-fruits that are in their land, whatsoever they shall offer to the Lord, shall be thine: every clean person in thy house shall eat them.
14 Every devoted thing among the children of Israel shall be thine.
15 And every thing that opens the womb of all flesh, whatsoever they bring to the Lord, whether man or beast, shall be thine: only the first-born of men shall be surely redeemed, and thou shalt redeem the first-born of unclean cattle.
16 And the redemption of them from a month old; their valuation of five shekels—it is twenty oboli according to the holy shekel.
17 But thou shalt not redeem the first-born of calves and the first-born of sheep and the first-born of goats; they are holy: and thou shalt pour their blood upon the altar, and thou shalt offer the fat as a burnt-offering for a smell of sweet savour to the Lord.
18 And the flesh shall be thine, as also the breast of the wave-offering and as the right shoulder, it shall be thine.
19 Every special offering of the holy things, whatsoever the children of Israel shall specially offer to the Lord, I have given to thee and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, a perpetual ordinance: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord, for thee and thy seed after thee.
20 And the Lord said to Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any portion among them; for I thy portion and thine inheritance in the midst of the children of Israel.
21 And, behold, I have given to the sons of Levi every tithe in Israel for an inheritance for their services, whereinsoever they perform ministry in the tabernacle of witness.
22 And the children of Israel shall no more draw nigh to the tabernacle of witness to incur fatal guilt.
23 And the Levite himself shall perform the service of the tabernacle of witness; and they shall bear their iniquities, it is a perpetual statute throughout their generations; and in the midst of the children of Israel they shall not receive an inheritance.
24 Because I have given as a distinct portion to the Levites for an inheritance the tithes of the children of Israel, whatsoever they shall offer to the Lord; therefore I said to them, In the midst of the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
25 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
26 Thou shalt also speak to the Levites, and shalt say to them, If ye take the tithe from the children of Israel, which I have given you from them for an inheritance, then shall ye separate from it a heave-offering to the Lord, a tenth of the tenth.
27 And your heave-offerings shall be reckoned to you as corn from the floor, and an offering from the wine-press.
28 So shall ye also separate them from all the offerings of the Lord out of all your tithes, whatsoever ye shall receive from the children of Israel; and ye shall give of them an offering to the Lord to Aaron the priest.
29 Of all your gifts ye shall offer an offering to the Lord, and of every first-fruit the consecrated part from it.
30 And thou shalt say to them, When ye shall offer the first-fruits from it, then shall it be reckoned to the Levites as produce from the threshing-floor, and as produce from the wine-press.
31 And ye shall eat it in any place, ye and your families; for this is your reward for your services in the tabernacle of witness.
32 And ye shall not bear sin by reason of it, for ye shall have offered an offering of first-fruits from it, and ye shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, that ye die not.

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.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. in.
  • [b]. 18.11
  • [c]. among. But µ?s??? is used elsewhere in the LXX. for horned cattle old enough to breed.
  • [d]. of perpetual salt.
  • [e]. because ye shall

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 Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.