Deuteronomy 18:6-9 reads (NIV),

If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the LORD will choose, 7 he may minister in the name of the LORD his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the LORD. 8 He is to share equally in their benefits, even though he has received money from the sale of family possessions.

What is the meaning of verse 8 though he has received money from his family's sales. Why would that be a deciding factor in whether he should get an equal share in the offerings divided among the priests?

2 Answers 2


The Levites had no portion in the land promise, only in the tithes of the tabernacle in service of the Lord. They were to share portion for portion with the other Levites from the tithes and animal sacrifices, but whatever he had from the sale of his father's personal property when coming into the promised land was his to keep.

Excerpt from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown:

"6-8. if a Levite … come with all the desire of his mind—It appears that the Levites served in rotation from the earliest times; but, from their great numbers, it was only at infrequent intervals they could be called into actual service. Should any Levite, however, under the influence of eminent piety, resolve to devote himself wholly and continually to the sacred duties of the sanctuary, he was allowed to realize his ardent wishes; and as he was admitted to a share of the work, so also to a share of the remuneration. Though he might have private property, that was to form no ground for withholding or even diminishing his claim to maintenance like the other ministering priests. The reason or principle of the enactment is obvious (1Co 9:13). At the same time, while every facility was afforded for the admission of such a zealous and self-denying officer, this admission was to be in an orderly manner: he was to minister "as all his brethren"—that is, a Gershonite with Gershonites; a Merarite with Merarites; so that there might be no derangement of the established courses." Source:BibleHub

  • "but whatever he had from the sale of his father's personal property when coming into the promised land was his to keep." What do you mean by that? How can his father (also a Levite) own property when coming into the promised land if the Levites did not get a portion in the land? Can you clarify?
    – Bach
    Aug 31, 2017 at 0:21
  • They brought a great deal of wealth out of Egypt when they left (Ex. 11:2; 12:35-38). They were able to buy houses or other property with the wealth and spoils they had. When the Levites were not serving in their assigned courses in the temple, they returned to their homes. See Zacharias & Elisabeth - Luke 1:23. Whatever family property they had was still theirs to keep or sell as needed.
    – Gina
    Aug 31, 2017 at 3:40
  • They could also lease land to be forfeited in the year of Jubilee. The value diminished with time because of the required forfeiture. They could sell the remaining lease. All other personal property, like cattle, could also be owned, bought and sold. Though there is no such record of such forfeitures... one of the many laws they 'rewrote' to their advantage.
    – Bob Jones
    Sep 3, 2017 at 22:51
  • This seems to me a Teapublican eisegetical interpretation. The teaching is not that there should always be a right granted regardless of need but rather that the right is forfeited if it had already been traded. No one sees that?
    – Ruminator
    Dec 14, 2020 at 14:47

Equal portions is the rule, what was previously traded is the exception. Rashi explains:

  • They shall eat equal portions

: This teaches that they [the kohanim present as pilgrims on the Festivals] receive a portion of the hides [of the Festival burnt-offerings] and the flesh of the he-goats of sin-offerings [of the Festival]. Now one might think that [these kohanim may participate] also in sacrifices which are brought unrelated to the Festival, such as the תָּמִיד, the daily burnt-offerings, מוּסְפֵי שַׁבָּת, additional offerings of the Sabbath [on which a Festival may coincide] and sacrificial vows and donations. Therefore, it says:

  • except what was sold by the forefathers:

Except what his ancestors sold [to one another] in the days of David and Samuel when the system of shifts was established, trading with each other thus, “You take your week, and I will take my week.” - [Sifrei ; Sukk. 56a]

In other words, if there were already an in-place contractual agreement on who serves what week (and benefits therefrom) then that needs to stand and the one serving ad hoc does so without intruding on that standing agreement.

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