Acts 4:36-37:

Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, Son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

How did Barnabas come to own land near Jerusalem that he could sell, if he was a both a Levite and a native of Cyprus? Levites had no inheritance and were to be supported by the other tribes for their priestly or temple service. Was he in disobedience to the Lord to own the land in the first place, according to Mosaic Law?

I posted this to Christianity.SE and it was suggested that it fit better here. I've been active there only for a week or so, and here only minutes. I did get good answers over there, but if anyone is interested, here is the link:


  • 1
    Zacharias was a Levite, and his wife, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron. He served in the temple and they lived in the hill country of Judeae, almost certainly in Hebron, the town set aside for Levites. So the Levites were, presumably, still being looked after properly within Israel. You raise an interesting question as to why Barnabas had the land. But the main point is that, whether his possession was legitimate or not, he laid the entire value of it at the Apostle's feet.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 16, 2017 at 12:22
  • This is a beautiful question. It never occurred to me just how awkward it was for Barnabas to have land that he could sell. He was from Cyprus so that may have been the place where he owned land.
    – user20490
    Nov 26, 2017 at 17:40
  • Jeremiah, also a priest, bought a field from his uncle Hanamel
    – b a
    Nov 28, 2017 at 22:06
  • What if the land was in Cyprus? Feb 24, 2023 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


Levites did not have an inheritance (1) BUT this did not prohibit them from owning land. During the Jubilee all land reverted to those who inheritance it was. (2)

They could own all the land they wanted, but had to return it.

Perhaps the loss of land owned by unrighteous priests was one of the motivators for not celebrating the Jubilee.

(1) Nu 18:23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: [it shall be] a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.

Nu 18:24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer [as] an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

Nu 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, [even] a tenth [part] of the tithe.

De 18:1 ¶ The priests the Levites, [and] all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance.

Jos 14:3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.

Jos 18:7 But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD [is] their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.

(2) Le 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

  • Some Scripture references to go with this answer would make it more useful. That is an interesting thought about the Jubilee that fits with the hardness of the priests hearts at the time of Jesus.
    – MutluAnne
    Nov 27, 2017 at 19:46

There is also the law conerning the dedication of land; "If a man dedicates to the Lord part of the land which is his by inheritance" (Leviticus ch27 v16).

The following verses appear to show that the land remains in his keeping for the time being. A valuation of the land is made, based on its productivity. He has the right to redeem it before the jubilee.

"But if he does not wish to redeem a field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed any more; but the land, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be holy to the Lord, as a field that has been devoted."

And what is the effect, in practical terms? "The priest shall be in possession of it" (Leviticus ch27 vv20-21).


The Mosaic law ended with Christ. They were Not under the mosaic law but under grace dispensation. It’s quite possible he purchased this land after came teaching and preaching this concept.

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