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When we read of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, one would have naturally expected the line of priesthood to continue down to Joseph (being the favorite of his father and for all that he went through) and down to Ephraim -- and down that pedigree.

Surprisingly, the reading of the Scripture clearly shows that our Lord God would not move in that direction, when Psalm 78:67 says,

Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim.

I am still pondering over why the priesthood was shifted to the tribe of Levi. Why was the tabernacle of Joseph rejected?

  • I came to see Japheth and Joseph as 'not of this world' so they could not hold land. Japheth was under the tent of Shem; Joseph was 'overseer' in the land of Ham/Cham (Egypt). I don't see it as Joseph being 'rejected' - more like 'not a viable option'. The Levites were not the 'children of Levi' - but a result of the firstborn children of Egypt/Ham being killed. Num. 3:13, et al. – tblue Nov 17 '18 at 4:12
  • This is a thoughtful comment, tblue. But I also observed that the 12 of them all had no land as of the time Joseph reigned in Egypt. Still wondering why all the blessings Jacob bestowed on Joseph could not afford him the privilege of divine selection. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 17 '18 at 19:46
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    It was not a matter of Joseph vs Levi. The Bible verse in question states that Judah, not Levi, was favoured: "Then he rejected the tents of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim; but he chose the tribe of Judah" !! – Constantthin Jan 11 at 12:07
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The birthright privileges in Jacob's family would have involved three aspects: (a) becoming a family leader (and later, king) and progenitor of Christ, (b) priesthood, (c) a double portion of land inheritance. See Deut 21:15-17, Gen 21:9-13, Judg 11:1, 2. Reuben, as the first-born, would have normally inherited all this but was disqualified (Gen 49:4) because of his incestuous sin. Therefore, the birthright was split between three other brothers.

Judah became family leader and progenitor of Christ. King David and his heirs were from Judah.

Levi inherited the priesthood (not Judah). Ex 40:15. The high priest had to be from the tribe of Levi.

Joseph inherited the double portion of land and had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were named half-tribes but their land was as large as any other tribe.

Lastly, Psalm 78:67 reads, "he rejected the tent of Joseph..." In Hebrew idiom, "tent" or "tabernacle" simply means home or dwelling place. Thus the Psalm simply says that God chose the land of Judah for the site of the temple, as opposed to the land of Joseph/Ephraim.

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In spite of this favored start the tribe of Ephraim produced a notoriously bad record. It grumbled against its inheritance in the land; it “vehemently tried to pick a quarrel with” Gideon; it fought against Jephthah; and concerning it we further read: “The sons of Ephraim, though armed shooters of the bow, retreated in the day of fight.” No wonder that Jehovah “proceeded to reject the tent of Joseph, and the tribe of Ephraim he did not choose. But he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved.”—See the following texts Josh. 17:14, 15; Judg. 8:1; 12:1-6; Ps. 78:9, 67, 68.

ethos

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May this help?

Aaron was of the tribe of Levi.

Exodus 6:16-20 These are the names of the sons of Leʹvi, according to their family descents: Gerʹshon, Koʹhath, and Me·rarʹi. The length of Leʹvi’s life was 137 years. 17 The sons of Gerʹshon were Libʹni and Shimʹe·i, according to their families. 18 The sons of Koʹhath were Amʹram, Izʹhar, Hebʹron, and Uzʹzi·el. The length of Koʹhath’s life was 133 years. 19 The sons of Me·rarʹi were Mahʹli and Muʹshi. These were the families of the Levites, according to their family descents. 20 Now Amʹram took Jochʹe·bed, his father’s sister, as his wife. She bore him Aaron and Moses. The length of Amʹram’s life was 137 years.

1 Chronicles 23:27, 28 For according to the last instructions of David, the Levites from 20 years old and up were numbered. 28 Their function was to assist the sons of Aaron for the service of the house . . .

Exodus 4:14 “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother?. . .

1 Chronicles 24:1, 2 Now the divisions of the descendants of Aaron were these: The sons of Aaron were Naʹdab, A·biʹhu, El·e·aʹzar, and Ithʹa·mar. 2 However, Naʹdab and A·biʹhu died before their father, and they did not have any sons; but El·e·aʹzar and Ithʹa·mar continued to serve as priests.

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  • You have stated a series of correct fact. But what is you conclusion and answer to the question? – user25930 Jul 23 '19 at 21:51
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I would like to add something beautiful I realised a short while ago.

Simeon and Levi, were cursed.(it will turn beautiful later on, just be patient) Their sister, Dinah, was raped by Sichem, the son of Hemor, the lord of that land(genesis 34). Hemor wanted to make amends, and let his son marry her.(that's how things were done then).
The sons of Jacob agreed, on the condition that all the men of his city would be circumcised. Hemor agreed to that. when they were all circumcised and weak from the bloodloss, Simeon and Levi came in and murdered all the men in that city.

Jacob cursed them for that, and later on his deathbed when he blesses all his sons(genesis 49). Simeon and Levi are cursed by Jacob, they will be scattered among the other tribes.

Now we go a few centuries later, and at Sinai all tribes, but the tribe of Levi, bow for the golden calf. For this they get the blessing that they will be the priests of Israel.

How are these related? The curse came true. They never got their own plot of land, but where scattered in priest cities, throughout all of Israel. I think this is a beautiful story which shows that even a curse can turn into a blessing, you won't be punished for the deeds of someone long ago, your destiny in this sense is your own.

About Simeon: his tribe was merged with the tribe of Judah, I don't really know why exactly.

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The tabernacle of Joseph seems to refer to the tabernacle of Shiloh, Ephraim mentioned earlier in the Psalm (v. 60). According to Jer. 7:12, this is the place where God originally caused his name to dwell, lit. "to tabernacle" (cf. Deut. 12:5, 11; 14:23; 16:2,6, 11; 26:2). Indeed, the structure in Shiloh is referred to as "the temple (הֵיכַל, hêḵal) of the LORD" (1 Sam. 1:9; 3:3) as well as "the house of the LORD" (e.g., 1 Sam. 1:7, 24; 3:15). According to Ps. 78:56–60 and to Jer. 7:12, the reason God forsook and rejected the tabernacle of Shiloh/Joseph was due to (Northern) Israel's idolatry and wickedness. Based on this context, it seems that what the Psalmist means by "He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim" is that He did not choose Ephraim again after their rebellion and the destruction of Shiloh but that he instead chose the tribe of Judah to house his sanctuary.

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