Levites

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

Descendants of Levi
(Ex. 6:16-2516And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years. 17The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families. 18And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years. 19And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations. 20And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years. 21And the sons of Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri. 22And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Zithri. 23And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24And the sons of Korah; Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these are the families of the Korhites. 25And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families. (Exodus 6:16‑25); Lev. 25:3232Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. (Leviticus 25:32); Num. 35:2-8; Josh. 21:33And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the Lord, these cities and their suburbs. (Joshua 21:3)). In above, the tribe is meant. But Levites came to mean the priestly branch, that is, descendants of Aaron (Josh. 3:33And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. (Joshua 3:3); 1 Kings 8:44And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. (1 Kings 8:4); Ezra 2:7070So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. (Ezra 2:70); John 1:1919And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? (John 1:19)). Three Levitical lines, Kohathite, Gershonite, Merarite (Num. 3:1717And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari. (Numbers 3:17)). Assigned 48 cities among the other tribes (Num. 35).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

The Levites were chosen by God as a redemption for all the firstborn of Israel, which God claimed for Himself. They thus became wholly His, and they were given to Aaron to minister in all that pertained to the service of the tabernacle, except the priesthood, which was restricted to Aaron and his descendants (Num. 3:5-515And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 6Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel. 10And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. 11And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; 13Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord. 14And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, 15Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. 16And Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded. 17And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari. 18And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei. 19And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers. 21Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the families of the Gershonites. 22Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred. 23The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward. 24And the chief of the house of the father of the Gershonites shall be Eliasaph the son of Lael. 25And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, 26And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof. 27And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites. 28In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary. 29The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward. 30And the chief of the house of the father of the families of the Kohathites shall be Elizaphan the son of Uzziel. 31And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof. 32And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. 33Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari. 34And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred. 35And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward. 36And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, 37And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords. 38But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. 39All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the Lord, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand. 40And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel. 42And Moses numbered, as the Lord commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel. 43And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen. 44And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 45Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. 46And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites; 47Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:) 48And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons. 49And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites: 50Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 51And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Numbers 3:5‑51)).
Of the Levites there were three main branches: the GERSHONITES, the KOHATHITES, and the MERABITES. Moses and Aaron were descendants of Kohath. When the camp of Israel rested, this tribe surrounded the tabernacle. When it moved they had to carry its various parts and the sacred things belonging thereto. According to Numbers 4:33From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 4:3), the Levites appear to have commenced their tabernacle service at the age of thirty; but in Numbers 8:24-2624This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: 25And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: 26But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge. (Numbers 8:24‑26) the age is given as twenty-five. It may be that they spent the first five years on probation, learning their duties. When Israel had settled in Canaan and the labor of carrying the tabernacle was over, they commenced their service at the age of twenty. They labored till they were fifty years of age (1 Chron. 23:24-2724These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the Lord, from the age of twenty years and upward. 25For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: 26And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof. 27For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above: (1 Chronicles 23:24‑27)).
Before the Levites entered upon any service they were thoroughly cleansed and consecrated. The children of Israel put their hands upon them, and Aaron offered them “before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel” that they might execute the service of the Lord. An atonement was made for them (Num. 8:5-265And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 6Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. 7And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. 8Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering. 9And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together: 10And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites: 11And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord. 12And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites. 13And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the Lord. 14Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine. 15And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering. 16For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me. 17For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself. 18And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel. 19And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary. 20And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them. 21And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the Lord; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them. 22And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them. 23And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 24This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: 25And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: 26But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge. (Numbers 8:5‑26)).
The Levites had no inheritance in the land, and in order that they might be free to serve the Lord, tithes were given them (Leviticus 18:1-32). Forty-eight cities were given to them as places to dwell in, and the suburbs thereof for their cattle. Six of these cities were to be CITIES OF REFUGE (Lev. 35:1-8). The names of the cities are given (Josh. 20:7-97And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. 8And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. 9These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation. (Joshua 20:7‑9); Josh. 21:1-421Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; 2And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle. 3And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the Lord, these cities and their suburbs. 4And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities. 5And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities. 6And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities. 7The children of Merari by their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities. 8And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. 9And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name, 10Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot. 11And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it. 12But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession. 13Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs, 14And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs, 15And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs, 16And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes. 17And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs, 18Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities. 19All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs. 20And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim. 21For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs, 22And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Beth-horon with her suburbs; four cities. 23And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs, 24Aijalon with her suburbs, Gath-rimmon with her suburbs; four cities. 25And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gath-rimmon with her suburbs; two cities. 26All the cities were ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained. 27And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beesh-terah with her suburbs; two cities. 28And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Dabareh with her suburbs, 29Jarmuth with her suburbs, En-gannim with her suburbs; four cities. 30And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs, 31Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs; four cities. 32And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammoth-dor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities. 33All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs. 34And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs, 35Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs; four cities. 36And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs, 37Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities. 38And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs, 39Heshbon with her suburbs, Jazer with her suburbs; four cities in all. 40So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, were by their lot twelve cities. 41All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs. 42These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities. (Joshua 21:1‑42)).
In the time of David the Levites were set over “the service of song”; others were door-keepers: some were singers and others played on various instruments (1 Chron. 6:3131And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after that the ark had rest. (1 Chronicles 6:31); 1 Chron. 15:16,2616And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy. (1 Chronicles 15:16)
26And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams. (1 Chronicles 15:26)
). In the days of Hezekiah, after the temple had been cleansed, the Levites apparently helped to flay the sacrifices, being found “more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests” (2 Chron. 29:3434But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. (2 Chronicles 29:34)). At the Passover that followed, the Levites had the charge of killing the passover lambs for the people who were unclean (2 Chron. 30:1717For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:17)). On the return from exile the Levites helped to explain the law to the people (Neh. 8:7-87Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. (Nehemiah 8:7‑8)). In the New Testament the Levites are mentioned only in Luke 10:3232And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32); John 1:1919And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? (John 1:19) and Acts 4:3636And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, (Acts 4:36).
The Levites are typical of Christians, who are redeemed, cleansed, and consecrated to the service of the Lord, and have no inheritance on earth.

Jackson’s Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names:

patronymic of Levi

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The family of Aaron were set apart especially to the duties of the priesthood. The rest of the tribe of Levi were consecrated to special services in connection with the worship of Jehovah. Each of the three families had its particular duties assigned. The Kohathites had charge of the sacred utensils of the Tabernacle. They saw that they were properly removed when on the march, and that they were put into their appropriate places when the encampment was again fixed (Num. 4:4-154This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things: 5And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: 6And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. 7And upon the table of showbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: 8And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. 9And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: 10And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put it upon a bar. 11And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: 12And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put them on a bar: 13And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon: 14And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it. 15And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 4:4‑15)). The Gershonites took care of the hangings and curtains of the Tabernacle (Num 4:21-2821And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 22Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families; 23From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. 24This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens: 25And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers' skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, 26And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve. 27At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens. 28This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. (Numbers 4:21‑28)). The Merarites were required to look after the boards, sockets, pillars, pins, and cords of the Tabernacle (Num. 4:29-3329As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers; 30From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation. 31And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof, 32And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden. 33This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. (Numbers 4:29‑33)). Moses also gave the Levites judicial authority (Deut. 17:8-128If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; 9And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment: 10And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: 11According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall show thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:8‑12)) and made them keepers of the book of the law (Deut. 31:9,25-269And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:9)
25That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 26Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. (Deuteronomy 31:25‑26)
). After the temple was built they acted as porters, musicians, and assistants to the priests.
The first Levites who were appointed began their service at thirty years of age (Num. 4:23,30,3523From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 4:23)
30From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 4:30)
35From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation: (Numbers 4:35)
), but it was ordered that after that the age for commencing should be twenty-five years (Num. 8:2424This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: (Numbers 8:24)). In David’s time they began serving at twenty (1 Chron. 23:24-2724These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work for the service of the house of the Lord, from the age of twenty years and upward. 25For David said, The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: 26And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof. 27For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above: (1 Chronicles 23:24‑27)). They were released from all obligation to serve when they became fifty years old (Num. 8:2525And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: (Numbers 8:25)).
Forty-eight cities were set apart for their residence in the Land of Promise. Six of these were also cities of refuge, and thirteen of them they shared with the priests (Num. 35:1-81And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, 2Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. 3And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. 4And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about. 5And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities. 6And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. 7So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. 8And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth. (Numbers 35:1‑8); Josh. 21:13-1913Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs, 14And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs, 15And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs, 16And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes. 17And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs, 18Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities. 19All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs. (Joshua 21:13‑19); 1 Chron. 6:54-6054Now these are their dwelling places throughout their castles in their coasts, of the sons of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites: for theirs was the lot. 55And they gave them Hebron in the land of Judah, and the suburbs thereof round about it. 56But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57And to the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of Judah, namely, Hebron, the city of refuge, and Libnah with her suburbs, and Jattir, and Eshtemoa, with their suburbs, 58And Hilen with her suburbs, Debir with her suburbs, 59And Ashan with her suburbs, and Beth-shemesh with her suburbs: 60And out of the tribe of Benjamin; Geba with her suburbs, and Alemeth with her suburbs, and Anathoth with her suburbs. All their cities throughout their families were thirteen cities. (1 Chronicles 6:54‑60)).