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Deuteronomy 18:1-8

Context
Provision for Priests and Levites

18:1 The Levitical priests 1  – indeed, the entire tribe of Levi – will have no allotment or inheritance with Israel; they may eat the burnt offerings of the Lord and of his inheritance. 2  18:2 They 3  will have no inheritance in the midst of their fellow Israelites; 4  the Lord alone is their inheritance, just as he had told them. 18:3 This shall be the priests’ fair allotment 5  from the people who offer sacrifices, whether bull or sheep – they must give to the priest the shoulder, the jowls, and the stomach. 18:4 You must give them the best of your 6  grain, new wine, and olive oil, as well as the best of your wool when you shear your flocks. 18:5 For the Lord your God has chosen them and their sons from all your tribes to stand 7  and serve in his name 8  permanently. 18:6 Suppose a Levite comes by his own free will 9  from one of your villages, from any part of Israel where he is living, 10  to the place the Lord chooses 18:7 and serves in the name of the Lord his God like his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. 18:8 He must eat the same share they do, despite any profits he may gain from the sale of his family’s inheritance. 11 

1 tn The MT places the terms “priests” and “Levites” in apposition, thus creating an epexegetical construction in which the second term qualifies the first, i.e., “Levitical priests.” This is a way of asserting their legitimacy as true priests. The Syriac renders “to the priest and to the Levite,” making a distinction between the two, but one that is out of place here.

2 sn Of his inheritance. This is a figurative way of speaking of the produce of the land the Lord will give to his people. It is the Lord’s inheritance, but the Levites are allowed to eat it since they themselves have no inheritance among the other tribes of Israel.

3 tn Heb “he” (and throughout the verse).

4 tn Heb “brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NASB “their countrymen”; NRSV “the other members of the community.”

5 tn Heb “judgment”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “the priest’s due.”

6 tn Heb “the firstfruits of your…” (so NIV).

7 tc Smr and some Greek texts add “before the Lord your God” to bring the language into line with a formula found elsewhere (Deut 10:8; 2 Chr 29:11). This reading is not likely to be original, however.

8 tn Heb “the name of the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

9 tn Heb “according to all the desire of his soul.”

10 tn Or “sojourning.” The verb used here refers to living temporarily in a place, not settling down.

11 tn Presumably this would not refer to a land inheritance, since that was forbidden to the descendants of Levi (v. 1). More likely it referred to some family possessions (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV) or other private property (cf. NLT “a private source of income”), or even support sent by relatives (cf. TEV “whatever his family sends him”).



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