The Work of the Priests and Levites
1 The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and all the people in your father’s family must bear the responsibility for any wrong that is done against the holy place or against the priests. 2 To prevent that from happening, you must bring the rest of the men from the tribe of Levi to join you. These Levites will help you and your sons do your work in the Tent of the Agreement. 3 These Levites will be under your control. They will do all the work that needs to be done in the Tent. But they must not go near the things in the Holy Place or the altar. If they do, they will die—and you also will die. 4 They will join you and work with you. They will be responsible for caring for the Meeting Tent. All the work that must be done in the Tent will be done by them. No one else may come near the place where you are.
5 “You are responsible for caring for the holy place and the altar. I don’t want to become angry with the Israelites again. 6 I myself chose the Levites from among all the Israelites. They are as a gift to you. I gave them to you to serve the LORD and work in the Meeting Tent. 7 But, Aaron, only you and your sons may serve as priests. You are the only ones who can go near the altar or behind the curtain into the Most Holy Place. I am giving you a gift—your service as a priest. Anyone else who tries to come too close must be killed.”
8 Then the LORD said to Aaron, “I myself gave you responsibility over all the special gifts people give to me. All the holy gifts that the Israelites give to me, I give to you. You and your sons can share in these gifts. They will always belong to you. 9 The people will bring gifts, grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. These offerings are most holy. Your share in the most holy offerings will come from the parts that are not burned. All these things will be for you and your sons. 10 Eat these things only in a very holy place. Every male in your family may eat them, but you must remember that these offerings are holy.
11 “The Israelites will bring special gifts that you will lift up to me. I give these gifts to you and your sons and daughters. That is your share. Everyone in your family who is clean will be able to eat it.
12 “And I give you all the best olive oil and all the best new wine and grain. These are the things that the Israelites give to me, the LORD. These are the first things that they gather in their harvest. 13 When the people gather a harvest, they bring all the first things to the LORD. So these things I will give to you. And everyone in your family who is clean may eat it.
14 “Anything in Israel that is a special gift to God* special gift to God Anything offered to God that could not be bought back. See Leviticus 27:28-29. is yours.
15 “A woman’s first baby and an animal’s first baby must be given to the LORD. That baby will belong to you. If the firstborn animal is unclean, then it must be bought back. If the baby is a child, that child must be bought back. 16 They must make the payment when the baby is one month old. The cost will be 5 shekels† 5 shekels 2 ounces (57.5 g). of silver. You must use the official measure to weigh this silver. A shekel by the official measure is 20 gerahs.‡ 20 gerahs 2/5 of an ounce (11.5 g).
17 “But you must not make a payment for the firstborn cow, sheep, or goat. These animals are holy. Sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as a sweet-smelling gift to the LORD. 18 But the meat from these animals will be yours. And also the breast that was lifted up to the Lord will be yours. And the right thigh from other offerings will be yours. 19 I, the LORD, give you everything that the people offer as holy gifts. This is your share. I give it to you and your sons and daughters. This law will continue forever. It is an agreement with the LORD that cannot be broken.§ It is an agreement … broken Literally, “It is an eternal, salt agreement before the LORD.” I make this promise to you and to your descendants.”
20 The LORD also said to Aaron, “You will not get any of the land. And you will not own anything that the other people own. I myself will be yours. The Israelites will get the land that I promised, but I am my gift to you.
21 “The Israelites will give one-tenth of everything they have. So I give that one-tenth to the Levites. This is their payment for the work that they do while they serve at the Meeting Tent. 22 But the other Israelites must never go near that Meeting Tent. If they do, they must be put to death! 23 The Levites will do the work of caring for the Meeting Tent. They must bear the responsibility for anything done against it. This is a law that will continue forever. The Levites will not get any of the land that I promised to the other Israelites. 24 But the Israelites will give one-tenth of everything they have to the LORD, and I will give that one-tenth to the Levites. That is why I said these words about the Levites: They will not get the land that I promised the Israelites.”
25 The LORD said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and tell them: The Israelites will give one-tenth of everything they own to the LORD. That one-tenth will belong to the Levites. But you must give one-tenth of that to the Lord as your offering. 27 That tenth will be your offering to the Lord. It will be like grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress. 28 In this way you will also give an offering to the LORD just as the other Israelites do. You will get the one-tenth that the Israelites give to the LORD, and then you will give one-tenth of that to Aaron the priest. 29 When the Israelites give you one-tenth of everything that they own, then you must give the best and the holiest part of these things as your gift to the LORD.
30 “Moses, tell this to the Levites: When you give the best part of what you receive to the Lord, it will be the same as grain from your own threshing floor and wine from your own winepress. 31 You and your families can eat all that is left. This is your payment for the work you do in the Meeting Tent. 32 And if you always give the best part of it to the Lord, you will never be guilty. You will always remember that these gifts are the holy offerings from the Israelites. And you will not die.”
†18:16 5 shekels 2 ounces (57.5 g).
‡18:16 20 gerahs 2/5 of an ounce (11.5 g).
§18:19 It is an agreement … broken Literally, “It is an eternal, salt agreement before the LORD.”