What is the "covenant of Levi" referred to at Malachi 2:8?


But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts.


וְאַתֶּם֙ סַרְתֶּ֣ם מִן־הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ הִכְשַׁלְתֶּ֥ם רַבִּ֖ים בַּתּוֹרָ֑ה שִֽׁחַתֶּם֙ בְּרִ֣ית הַלֵּוִ֔י אָמַ֖ר יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֹֽות ׃

5 Answers 5


As Levi was the priestly tribe, this covenant must have had something to do with priesthood, but nowhere in the Bible is the inauguration of such a covenant found. We are merely told that it existed. (Neh. 13:29; Jer. 33:20-21) Historically, the man Levi was the third son of Jacob by his first wife Leah. (Gen. 29:31-34) There was no covenant concluded with this Levi, however, as he behaved disgracefully when, together with his brother Simeon, he slew all the men of Shechem to avenge the rape of their sister Dinah. (Gen. 34:1-31) On his deathbed, Jacob foretold that the descendants of these sons would be 'scattered in Israel.' (Gen. 49:5-7) Moses came from the tribe of Levi, and although his brother Aaron - Israel's first high priest - was complicit in the incident of the golden calf (Ex. 32:1-6, 17-24), it was the Levites as a tribe who gathered to Moses and followed his orders to slay the idolaters. (Ex. 32:25-29) It was probably at that time, or later when Aaron's grandson - Phinehas the priest - took action to stop the plague which ensued when the Israelites joined the women of Moab in worshiping the Baal of Peor, that a covenant was concluded with the Levites. (Num. 25:1-9) At that time, God said: "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel." (Num. 25:10-13, ESV, emphasis added) Under the Sinai covenant, the immediate male offspring of Aaron were made priests, and the other Levites their subordinate ministers.

The priesthood, while being a feature of the Sinaitic covenant, had its own covenant as well. But this covenant was not with the ancestor Levi, but with his descendants. This is "another example of the Heb. concept of 'corporate personality'; Levi represents the 'tribe of Levi' of the Levites . . ." (New International Bible Commentary. Zondervan. page 992) The descendants had acted so as to cancel out Jacob's curse upon Levi. While they would still be 'scattered in Israel,' they would be the priestly tribe. In Malachi's time, the questions arose: Would the covenant with Levi continue?


I just completed preparation of a bible class on the book of Malachi which I am currently teaching to my men's group. So your question has perfect timing.

The covenant with Levi is just a reference to the covenant of the law which God made with Moses and the Israelites. If you look at the next few verses, we see that the description sounds exactly like Jesus; ie, My covenant was with Him for life and peace, He respected God, the law of truth in His mouth and iniquity was not found on His lips and He did turn many away from iniquity; the priest's lips should keep knowledge because He is the Lord's messenger.

The "messenger" shows up again in Chapter 3 with the prophesy of the Messiah.

The Book of Malachi is the perfect book to conclude the Old Testament. God states that Israel has not kept the law from the time that He gave it to Moses (Chapter 3:7). God is so disgusted by Israel's lack of regard for the Lord and His commands (especially their offerings of diseased and lame sacrifices) that He states that He will no longer accept any more sacrifices from them (Chapter 1:11). God is in effect shutting down the covenant of the Law, again perfect contextual sense since this is the last written communication of the OT.

God then states that only the coming of Messiah will "fix" the relationship with God and only then will sacrifices (now in New Testament context) will be acceptable (Chapter 3:3).

God then tells Israel to retun to Him. This "return" is the same "return" spoken of in Deuteronomy Chapter 30, where God tells Israel that He will "return" Israel to Him and He will circumcise their heart. According to Dr. Charles P. Bayliss of Dallas Theological, this is a unilateral action by God and which refers back to the promise that God made to Abraham, ie I will bless you just because I love you. No action was required on Abraham's part, he just believed God and God accounted that as righteousness.

The "return" (which is the actual definition of biblical repentance) is highlighted in the persons of Elijah and John the Baptist. Elijah was the prophet in 1 Kings 18 that "returned" the heart of Israel after the incident with the 450 prophets of Baal. In verse 37, right before God send the fire down from heaven, Elijah says, "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned (returned) their heart back again."

This is the same "return" that Jesus and John the Baptist were speaking about, ie return to the promise of Abraham; leave the covenant of the Law and return to the covenant of the promise. For God always intended that salvation would be by His grace and NEVER by the efforts of man.

This "return" is exemplified in the book of Acts where the Jews were told by Peter to "repent and return", while the Gentiles were never told this but only to believe in Jesus for the Gentiles had nothing to "return" to. That is, they never had the law from which to return to the promise.

So as you can see, the Book of Malachi is tremendously fascinating and so much more than a few verses that promise material prosperity if you just tithe properly. When you study the book for yourself, you will see that those tithing verses in Chapter 3 are not a promise by God of material blessing but a scathing reminder of Israel's failure to keep the whole law as they are a reference back to Deuteronomy 26-30 which outlines the blessing and the curse. God bless. al


The Covenant of the Levites

To serve as priests:

Exodus 40:12-16 verse 15 reads:

15" And anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests: and their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout all generations to come."

Take care of the tabernacle.

From the verses below we note that the Levi's were also assigned to take care of the tabernacle and later at the temple. They had the great privileged of being entrusted with God's word and which they were to spiritually teach and nourish his people, the Israelite.

Numbers 3:5-8 (NRSV)

5 "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:"

6 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, so that they may assist him.

7 They shall perform duties for him and for the whole congregation in front of the tent of meeting, doing service at the tabernacle;

8 they shall be in charge of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and attend to the duties for the Israelites as they do service at the tabernacle.

Keeping God's commandments would have meant the well being for them as well as the nation, however they corrupted the covenant of by deviating away from it.

Malachi 2:7-8 (NRSV)

7 "For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts,"


This is awesome. I do Love The Word of God. If you will, consider this word from the Word. I was deeply compelled to study the meaning (s) of names, after starting into Numbers early spring last year. Levi: joined, Levite: Jointed, Covenant is an agreement, or pact; if you will. The bond, of the true covenant is obtained through the promise made to His Levites. I have sworn once to my servant David, I shall not break my oath, nor alter that which has gone out of my lips. If we look at Dueteronomy we should take notice, it begins. These be the words. The same as the original heading of what we now call the ten commandments. The next few chapters reveal that Moses was given the commandment (s) and he gave the people commands. Chapter 6: That God commanded to teach you.. 6:5 I believe is the first great commandment. And thou shalt love the LORD the God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. :6) and the these words which I command you this day, shall call be in thine heart. The 2nd command, thou shalt teach them diligently to thine children. Now we have been given the New command by Jesus, thou shalt Love The LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve, again "no new command do I give, but that which you have heard from the beginning." Jeremiah 31:31-34, is the promise of the new covenant, I shall give them one heart and one way. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Abraham believed the promise given to him. He "took hold of the covenant", I receive this as, He believed the Father's word. And was blessed because of his faithful heart. Now moving to the covenant made with David, or the sure mercies of David my servant. I have chosen him to walk before me, a man after His own heart. Wow, new revelation just now, David Loved God and wanted to be loved by Him. Now in 1Chronicles 28: 1--3, -29:; ... I had in my heart to build a house of rest...and made ready for the building. Proverbs not sure of the number of verse can for it is in my heart, it goes, The preparation of the heart is of man, but the LORD guides his steps.. So to receive the promises, notice plural. To be Joined, by the Spirit a faithful servant who walks in His presence, ministering unto him, communing with Him. You only need to believe, to ask, and be willing to receive. The Lord Jesus Christ will complete his perfect work, and he will complete that which he began. James tells us, we have not, because we ask not. The book of Isiah 61:... And I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Now He brings the wisdom of this world to nothing, and makes wise the simple. Back to Jer. 31:34, and they shall no more teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying know the LORD, for I Will Teach Them. God s Word cannot be broken, I will write it in their hearts and on their minds. And they shall be my people, and I Will Be There GOD. . I stand at the door and knock, if any man comes unto me and opens the door, I will come unto him and reveal myself unto him. The door is our heart. Jesus says, Jn: if a man loves me, then the Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make our abode with him. . When that which is whole has come. That which is in part, will be done away. My sheep know my voice and they follow me. The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

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    Please restructure this answer into several separate paragraphs, each paragraph having a main sentence and subordinate sentences. As it is, this post looks more like a reverence than a direct answer to the OP question. Please try to trim your post down to a straight answer to the question. Thanks and best wishes.
    – user17080
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 7:51

There's a book that was recently published by the name of Levi, when I did some looking into it, it appears that this is the missing covenant. The book is called Finding Jehovah: The Path to Life by Azrael Levi, who claims he wrote the book through the Holy Spirit. It was a good read, explained who we are in relationship to God and His Son and it guides us to find what our individual purpose is in alignment with God's Will. It speaks of peace and unity, the brotherhood and our oneness as mankind in the cosmos. The teachings in this book have personally helped me better my life and my relationships with the people around me. I appreciate life more and I feel closer to God than I ever have before. I really do believe this is the covenant the Lord was speaking of.

Edit: Its all biblically based and has Bible references in every paragraph.


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