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In Bible versions:

Levites(s): AVS TEV
levitical: NRSV
the priestly tribe of Israel descended from Levi, son of Jacob
a man who was one of the twelve apostles
two different men listed as ancestors of Jesus
son of Jacob and Leah; the tribe descended from Levi
the tribe descended from Levi son of Israel
member of the tribe of Levi
members of the tribe of Levi
men of the lowest of the three orders in Israel's priesthood
relating to Levi and the priesthood given to him
a tribal name describing people and ceremonies as sacred

associated with him
Arts Topics: The Levite


Strongs #3018: leuiv Leuis

Levi = "joined"

1) the son of Alphaeus, a collector of customs

3018 Leuis lyoo-is'

a form of 3017; Lewis (i.e. Levi), a Christian:-Levi.
see GREEK for 3017

Strongs #3017: leui Leui

Levi = "joined"

1) the third son of the patriarch Jacob by his wife Leah, the founder
of the tribe of Israelites which bears his name
2) the son of Melchi, one of Christ's ancestors
3) the son of Simeon, an ancestor of Christ

3017 Leui lyoo'-ee

of Hebrew origin (3878); Levi, the name of three Israelites:-Levi.
Compare 3018.
see GREEK for 3018
see HEBREW for 03878

Strongs #3019: leuithv Leuites

1) one of the tribe of Levi
2) in a narrower sense those were called Levites who, not being of
the family of Aaron, for whom alone the priesthood was reserved,
served as assistants to the priests. It was their duty to keep the
sacred utensils and the temple clean, to provide the sacred
loaves, to open and shut the gates of the temple, to sing the
sacred hymns in the temple, and to do many other things.

3019 Leuites lyoo-ee'-tace

from 3017; a Levite, i.e. descendant of Levi:-Levite.
see GREEK for 3017

Strongs #3020: leuitikov Leuitikos

1) Levitical, pertaining to the Levites

3020 Leuitikos lyoo-it'-ee-kos

from 3019; Levitic, i.e. relating to the Levites:-Levitical.
see GREEK for 3019


Strongs #03878: ywl Leviy

Levi = "joined to"

1) the 3rd son of Jacob by Leah and progenitor of tribe of Levites

3878 Leviy lay-vee'

from 3867; attached; Levi, a son of Jacob:-Levi. See also
3879, 3881.
see HEBREW for 03867
see HEBREW for 03879
see HEBREW for 03881

Strongs #03881: yywl Leviyiy or ywl Leviy

Levite = see Levi "joined to"

1) the descendants of Levi, the 3rd son of Jacob by Leah
1a) the tribe descended from Levi specially set aside by God for
His service

3881 Leviyiy lay-vee-ee'

or Leviy {lay-vee'}; patronymically from 3878; a Levite or
descendant of Levi:-Leviite.
see HEBREW for 03878

Strongs #03879: ywl Leviy (Aramaic)

Levite = see Levi "joined to"

1) the descendants of Levi, the 3rd son of Jacob by Leah
1a) the tribe descended from Levi specially set aside by God for
His service

3879 Leviy lay-vee'

(Aramaic) corresponding to 3880:-Levite.
see HEBREW for 03880

Levi [EBD]

adhesion. (1.) The third son of Jacob by Leah. The origin of the name is found in Leah's words (Gen. 29:34), "This time will my husband be joined [Heb. yillaveh] unto me." He is mentioned as taking a prominent part in avenging his sister Dinah (Gen. 34:25-31). He and his three sons went down with Jacob (46:11) into Egypt, where he died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven years (Ex. 6:16).

(2.) The father of Matthat, and son of Simeon, of the ancestors of Christ (Luke 3:29).

(3.) Luke 3:24.

(4.) One of the apostles, the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27, 29), called also Matthew (Matt. 9:9).

Levite [EBD]

a descendant of the tribe of Levi (Ex. 6:25; Lev. 25:32; Num. 35:2; Josh. 21:3, 41). This name is, however, generally used as the title of that portion of the tribe which was set apart for the subordinate offices of the sanctuary service (1 Kings 8:4; Ezra 2:70), as assistants to the priests.

When the Israelites left Egypt, the ancient manner of worship was still observed by them, the eldest son of each house inheriting the priest's office. At Sinai the first change in this ancient practice was made. A hereditary priesthood in the family of Aaron was then instituted (Ex. 28:1). But it was not till that terrible scene in connection with the sin of the golden calf that the tribe of Levi stood apart and began to occupy a distinct position (Ex. 32). The religious primogeniture was then conferred on this tribe, which henceforth was devoted to the service of the sanctuary (Num. 3:11-13). They were selected for this purpose because of their zeal for the glory of God (Ex. 32:26), and because, as the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged, they would naturally stand by the lawgiver in his work.

The Levitical order consisted of all the descendants of Levi's three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; whilst Aaron, Amram's son (Amram, son of Kohat), and his issue constituted the priestly order.

The age and qualification for Levitical service are specified in Num. 4:3, 23, 30, 39, 43, 47.

They were not included among the armies of Israel (Num. 1:47; 2:33; 26:62), but were reckoned by themselves. They were the special guardians of the tabernacle (Num. 1:51; 18:22-24). The Gershonites pitched their tents on the west of the tabernacle (3:23), the Kohathites on the south (3:29), the Merarites on the north (3:35), and the priests on the east (3:38). It was their duty to move the tent and carry the parts of the sacred structure from place to place. They were given to Aaron and his sons the priests to wait upon them and do work for them at the sanctuary services (Num. 8:19; 18:2-6).

As being wholly consecrated to the service of the Lord, they had no territorial possessions. Jehovah was their inheritance (Num. 18:20; 26:62; Deut. 10:9; 18:1, 2), and for their support it was ordained that they should receive from the other tribes the tithes of the produce of the land. Forty-eight cities also were assigned to them, thirteen of which were for the priests "to dwell in", i.e., along with their other inhabitants. Along with their dwellings they had "suburbs", i.e., "commons", for their herds and flocks, and also fields and vineyards (Num. 35:2-5). Nine of these cities were in Judah, three in Naphtali, and four in each of the other tribes (Josh. 21). Six of the Levitical cities were set apart as "cities of refuge" (q.v.). Thus the Levites were scattered among the tribes to keep alive among them the knowledge and service of God. (See PRIEST.)

Levi [NAVE]

Son of Jacob, Gen. 29:34; 35:23; 1 Chr. 2:1.
Avenges the seduction of Dinah, Gen. 34; 49:5-7.
Jacob's prophecy regarding, Gen. 49:5-7.
His age at death, Ex. 6:16.
Descendants of, made ministers of religion. See: Levites.

Levites [NAVE]

The descendants of Levi. Set apart as ministers of religion, Num. 1:47-54; 3:6-16; 16:9; 26:57-62; Deut. 10:8; 1 Chr. 15:2.
Substituted in the place of the firstborn, Num. 3:12, 41-45; 8:14, 16-18; 18:6.
Religious zeal of, Ex. 32:26-28; Deut. 33:9, 10; Mal. 2:4, 5.
Consecration of, Num. 8:6-21.
Sedition among, led by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, on account of jealousy toward Moses and Aaron, Num. 16, with 4:19,20. Three divisions of, each having the name of one of its progenitors, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, Num. 3:17.
Gershonites and their duties, Num. 3:18-26; 4:23-26; 10:17.
Ruling chief over the Gershonites was the second son of the ruling high priest, Num. 4:28.
Kohathites, consisting of the families of the Amramites, Izeharites, Hebronites, Uzzielites, Num. 3:27; 4:18-20.
Of the Amramites, Aaron and his family were set apart as priests, Ex. 28:1; 29:9; Num. 3:38; 8:1-14; 17; 18:1; the remaining families appointed to take charge of the ark, table, lampstand, altars, and vessels of the sanctuary, the hangings, and all the service, Num. 3:27-32; 4:2-15.
The chief over the Kohathites was the oldest son of the ruling high priest, Num. 3:32; 1 Chr. 9:20.
Merarites, Num. 3:20, 33-37; 4:31-33; 7:8; 10:17; 1 Chr. 6:19, 29, 30; 23:21-23.
The chief over the Merarites was the second son of the ruling high priest, Num. 4:33.
Place of, in camp and march, Num. 1:50-53; 2:17; 3:23-35.
Cities assigned to, in the land of Canaan, Josh. 21.
Lodged in the chambers of the temple, 1 Chr. 9:27, 33; Ezek. 40:44.
Resided also in villages outside of Jerusalem, Neh. 12:29.
Age of, when inducted into office, Num. 4:3, 30, 47; 8:23-26; 1 Chr. 23:3, 24, 27; Ezra 3:8; when retired from office, Num. 4:3, 47; 8:25, 26.
Functions of: Had charge of the tabernacle in camp and on the march, Num. 1:50-53; 3:6-9, 21-37; 4:1-15, 17-49; 8:19, 22; 18:3-6; and of the temple, 1 Chr. 9:27-29; 23:2-32; Ezra 8:24-34.
Bore the ark of the covenant, Deut. 10:8; 1 Chr. 15:2, 26, 27.
Ministered before the ark, 1 Chr. 16:4.
Custodians and administrators of the tithes and other offerings, 1 Chr. 9:26-29; 26:28; 29:8; 2 Chr. 24:5, 11; 31:11-19; 34:9; Ezra 8:29, 30, 33; Neh. 12:44.
Prepared the consecrated bread, 1 Chr. 23:28, 29.
Assisted the priests in preparing the sacrifice, 2 Chr. 29:12-36; 2 Chr. 35:1-18.
Killed the passover for the children of the captivity, Ezra 6:20, 21.
Teachers of the law, Deut. 33:10; 2 Chr. 17:8, 9; 30:22; 35:3; Neh. 8:7-13; Mal. 2:6, 7.
Were judges, Deut. 17:9; 1 Chr. 23:4; 26:29; 2 Chr. 19:8-11; Neh. 11:16.
See: Judges.
Were scribes of the sacred books. See: Scribes.
Pronounced the blessings of the law in the responsive service at Mount Gerizim, Deut. 27:12; Josh. 8:33.
Were doorkeepers. See: Gatekeepers.
Were overseers in building and the repairs of the temple, 1 Chr. 23:2-4; Ezra 3:8, 9.
Were musicians of the temple service. See: Music.
Supervised weights and measures, 1 Chr. 23:29.
List of those who returned from captivity, Ezra 2:40-63; 7:7; 8:16-20; Neh. 7:43-73; 12.
Sealed the covenant with Nehemiah, Neh. 10:9-28.
Emoluments of: In lieu of landed inheritance, forty-eight cities with suburbs were assigned to them, Num. 35:2-8, with Num. 18:24; 26:62; Deut. 10:9; 12:12, 18, 19; 14:27-29; 18:1-8; Josh. 13:14; 14:3; 18:7; 1 Chr. 6:54-81; 13:2; 2 Chr. 23:2; Ezek. 34:1-5.
Assigned to, by families, Josh. 21:4-40.
Suburbs of their cities were inalienable for debt, Lev. 25:32-34.
Tithes and other offerings, Num. 18:24, 26-32; Deut. 18:1-8; 26:11-13; Josh. 13:14; Neh. 10:38, 39; 12:44, 47.
Firstfruits, Neh. 12:44, 47.
Spoils of war, including captives, Num. 31:30, 42-47.
See: Tithes.
Tithes withheld from, Neh. 13:10-13; Mal. 3:10.
Pensioned, 2 Chr. 31:16-18.
Owned lands, Deut. 18:8, with 1 Kin. 2:26.
Land allotted to, by Ezekiel, Ezek. 48:13, 14.
Enrollment of, at Sinai, Num. 1:47-49; 2:33; 3:14-39; 4:2, 3; 26:57-62; 1 Chr. 23:3-5.
Degraded from the Levitical office by Jeroboam, 2 Chr. 11:13-17; 13:9-11.
Loyal to the ruler, 2 Kin. 11:7-11; 2 Chr. 23:7.
Intermarry with Canaanites, Ezra 9:1, 2; 10:23, 24.
Exempt from enrollment for military duty, Num. 1:47-54, with 1 Chr. 12:26.
Subordinate to the sons of Aaron, Num. 3:9; 8:19; 18:6.
Prophecies concerning, Jer. 33:18; Ezek. 44:10-14; Mal. 3:3; of their repentance of the crucifixion of the Messiah, Zech. 12:10-13.
John's vision concerning, Rev. 7:7.


  1. The name of the third son of Jacob by his wife Leah. (B.C. about 1753.) The name, derived from lavah , "to adhere," gave utterance to the hope of the mother that the affections of her husband, which had hitherto rested on the favored Rachel, would at last be drawn to her: "This time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons." (Genesis 29:34) Levi, with his brother Simeon, avenged with a cruel slaughter the outrage of their sister Dinah. [DINAH] Levi, with his three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari, went down to Egypt with his father Jacob. (Genesis 47:11) When Jacob?s death draws near, and the sons are gathered round him, Levi and Simeon hear the old crime brought up again to receive its sentence. They no less than Reuben, the incestuous firstborn, had forfeited the privileges of their birthright. (Genesis 49:5-7) [LEVITES]
  2. Two of the ancestors of Jesus. (Luke 3:24,29)
  3. Son of Alphaeus or Matthew; one of the apostles. (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27,29) [See MATTHEW]


(descendants of Levi). Sometimes the name extends to the whole tribe, the priests included, (Exodus 6:25; Leviticus 25:32; Numbers 35:2; Joshua 21:3,41) etc; sometimes only to those members of the tribe who were not priests, and as distinguished from them. Sometimes again it is added as an epithet of the smaller portion of the tribe, and we read of "the priests the Levites." (Joshua 3:3; Ezekiel 44:15) The history of the tribe and of the functions attached to its several orders is essential to any right apprehension of the history of Israel as a people. It will fall naturally into four great periods:-- I. The time of the exodus . --There is no trace of the consecrated character of the Levites till the institution of a hereditary priesthood in the family of Aaron, during the first withdrawal of Moses to the solitude of Sinai. (Exodus 24:1) The next extension of the idea of the priesthood grew out of the terrible crisis of Exod 32. The tribe stood forth separate and apart, recognizing even in this stern work the spiritual as higher than the natural. From this time they occupied a distinct position. The tribe of Levi was to take the place of that earlier priesthood of the first-born as representatives of the holiness of the people. At the time of their first consecration there were 22,000 of them, almost exactly the number of the first-born males in the whole nation. As the tabernacle was the sign of the presence among the people of their unseen King, so the Levites were, among the other tribes of Israel, as the royal guard that waited exclusively on him. It was obviously essential for their work as the bearers and guardians of the sacred tent that there should be a fixed assignment of duties; and now accordingly we meet with the first outlines of the organization which afterward became permanent. The division of the tribe into the three sections that traced their descent from the sons of Levi formed the groundwork of it. The work which they all had to do required a man?s full strength, and therefore, though twenty was the starting-point for military service, Numb 1, they were not to enter on their active service till they were thirty. (Numbers 4:23,30,35) At fifty they were to be free from all duties but those of superintendence. (Numbers 8:25,26) (1) The Kohathites, as nearest of kin to the priests, held from the first the highest offices. They were to bear all the vessels of the sanctuary, the ark itself included. (Numbers 3:31; 4:15; 31:35) (2) the Gershonites had to carry the tent-hangings and curtains. (Numbers 4:22-26) (3) The heavier burden of the boards, bars and pillars of the tabernacle fell on the sons of Merari. The Levites were to have no territorial possessions. In place of them they were to receive from the others the tithes of the produce of the land, from which they, in their turn, offered a tithe to the priests, as a recognition of their higher consecration. (Numbers 18:21,24,26; Nehemiah 10:37) Distinctness and diffusion were both to be secured by the assignment to the whole tribe of forty-eight cities, with an outlying "suburb," (Numbers 35:2) of meadowland for the pasturage of their flocks and herds. The reverence of the people for them was to be heightened by the selection of six of these as cities of refuge. Through the whole land the Levites were to take the place of the old household priests, sharing in all festivals and rejoicings. (12:19; 14:26,27; 26:11) Every third year they were to have an additional share in the produce of the land. (14:28; 26:12) To "the priests the Levites" was to belong the office of preserving, transcribing and interpreting the law. (17:9-12; 31:26) II. The period of the judges. --The successor of Moses, though belonging to another tribe, did all that could be done to make the duty above named a reality. The submission of the Gibeonites enabled him to relieve the tribe-divisions of Gershon and Merari of the most burdensome of their duties. The conquered Hivites became "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for the house of Jehovah and for the congregation. (Joshua 9:27) As soon as the conquerors had advanced far enough to proceed to a partition of the country, the forty-eight cities were assigned to them. III. The monarchy. --When David?s kingdom was established, there came a fuller organization of the whole tribe. Their position in relation to the priesthood was once again definitely recognized. In the worship of the tabernacle under David, as afterward in that of the temple, the Levites were the gatekeepers, vergers, sacristans, choristers, of the central sanctuary of the nation. They were, in the language of (1 Chronicles 23:24-32) to which we may refer as almost the locus classicus on this subject, "to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of Jehovah, in the courts, and the chambers, and the purifying of all holy things." They were, besides this, "to stand every morning to thank and praise Jehovah, and likewise at even." They were, lastly, "to offer" --i.e. to assist the priest in offering-- "all burnt sacrifices to Jehovah in the sabbaths and on the set feasts." They lived for the greater part of the year in their own cities, and came up at fixed periods to take their turn of work. (1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 26:1) ... The educational work which the Levites received for their peculiar duties, no less than their connection, more or less intimate, with the schools of the prophets, would tend to make them the teachers of the others, the transcribers and interpreters of the law, the chroniclers of the times in which they lived. (Thus they became to the Israelites what ministers and teachers are to the people now, and this teaching and training the people in morality and religion was no doubt one of the chief reasons why they were set apart by God from the people, and yet among the people. --ED.) The revolt of the ten tribes, and the policy pursued by Jeroboam, who wished to make the priests the creatures and instruments of the king, and to establish a provincial and divided worship, caused them to leave the cities assigned to them in the territory of Israel, and gather round the metropolis of Judah. (2 Chronicles 11:13,14) In the kingdom of Judah they were, from this time forward, a powerful body, politically as well as ecclesiastically. IV. After the captivity. --During the period that followed the captivity of the Levites contributed to the formation of the so-called Great Synagogue. They, with the priests, formed the majority of the permanent Sanhedrin, and as such had a large share in the administration of justice even in capital cases. They appear but seldom in the history of the New Testament.


LEVI (1) - le'-vi (Lewi; Leui; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek Leuei):

(1) The 3rd son of Jacob by Leah. See separate article.

(2) (3) Two ancestors of Jesus in Luke's genealogy (Lk 3:24,29).

(4) The apostle Matthew.



LEVI (2) - (Lewi; Leuei): The third of Leah's sons born to Jacob in Paddan-aram (Gen 29:34). In this passage the name is connected with the verb lawah, "to adhere," or "be joined to," Leah expressing assurance that with the birth of this third son, her husband might be drawn closer to her in the bonds of conjugal affection. There is a play upon the name in Nu 18:2,4, where direction is given that the tribe of Levi be "joined unto" Aaron in the ministries of the sanctuary. The etymology here suggested is simple and reasonable. The grounds on which some modern scholars reject it are purely conjectural. It is asserted, e.g., that the name is adjectival, not nominal, describing one who attaches himself; and this is used to support theory that the Levites were those who joined the Semitic people when they left Egypt to return to Palestine, who therefore were probably Egyptians. Others think it may be a gentilic form le'ah, "wild cow" (Wellhausen, Prolegomena, 146; Stade, Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, 152); and this is held to be the more probable, as pointing to early totem worship!

Levi shared with Simeon the infamy incurred at Shechem by the treacherous slaughter of the Shechemites (Gen 34). Jacob's displeasure was expressed at the time (Gen 34:3), and the memory was still bitter to him in his last days (Gen 49:5 f). The fate predicted for the descendants of Simeon and Levi (Gen 49:7), in the case of the latter on account of the tribe's stedfast loyalty in a period of stern testing, was changed to a blessing (Ex 32:26). In later literature the action condemned by Jacob is mentioned with approval (Judith 9:2 ff). Levi was involved in his brothers' guilt with regard to Joseph (Gen 37), and shared their experiences in Egypt before Joseph made himself known (Gen 42 through 45). Three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, were born to him in Canaan, and went down with the caravan to Egypt (Gen 46:11). Nothing further is known of the personal history of this patriarch. He died and found sepulture in Egypt. For the tribal history and possessions, see PRIESTS AND LEVITES.

W. Ewing


LEVITES - le'-vits.


Also see definition of "Levi" in Word Study

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