Posts Tagged 'Priesthood Duties'

1 Chronicles Chapter 26

The Levites were give specific duties within the tribes of Israel, most of which pertained to service in the temple. Some were set apart as musicians. Some were the sons of Aaron and were set apart as priests who served with the sacred priesthood responsibilities of the temple. This chapter begins with those who were set apart as porters and goes on to explain those in charge of the treasures and other business in Israel.

1 Concerning the divisions of the porters: Of the Korhites was Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph.
2 And the sons of Meshelemiah were, Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth,
3 Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh.
4 Moreover the sons of Obed-edom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth,
5 Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him.
6 Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born, that ruled throughout the house of their father: for they were mighty men of valour.
7 The sons of Shemaiah; Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah.
8 All these of the sons of Obed-edom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two of Obed-edom.
9 And Meshelemiah had sons and brethren, strong men, eighteen.
10 Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons; Simri the chief, (for though he was not the firstborn, yet his father made him the chief;)
11 Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brethren of Hosah were thirteen.
12 Among these were the divisions of the porters, even among the chief men, having wards one against another, to minister in the house of the Lord.

Porters were doorkeepers in charge of the gates, or the entrances of the temple. There were divided in their duties of the temple. There were porters of the Korhites and children of Merari. In the family of Korhites, and the line of Asaph and Kore, there was Meshelemiah. He was the father of Zechariah, Jediael, Zebadiah, Jathniel, Elam, Jehohanan, and Elioenai. Of their family, there were 18 men for service. There was also Obed-edom, the father of Shemaiah, Jehozabad, Joah, Sacar, Nethaneel, Ammiel, Issachar, and Peulthai. (Obed-edom had been the man who housed the ark before it was returned to its proper place in Israel.) Shemaiah was the father of men of valour, including Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, along with Elihu and Semachiah. The sons of Obed-edom were 62 in total and were capable men for the service they were given. Of the children of Merari, there was Hosah, the father of Simri, Hilkiah, Tebaliah, an Zechariah. The sons of Hosah were thirteen in number, with Simri as the leader. Simri was not the firstborn, but he was given the role as their leader.

13 And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to the house of their fathers, for every gate.
14 And the lot eastward fell to Shelemiah. Then for Zechariah his son, a wise counsellor, they cast lots; and his lot came out northward.
15 To Obed-edom southward; and to his sons the house of Asuppim.
16 To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came forth westward, with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the going up, ward against ward.
17 Eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and toward Asuppim two and two.
18 At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.
19 These are the divisions of the porters among the sons of Kore, and among the sons of Merari.

Lots were cast among the sons of Kore and Merari, to determine the gate responsibility each group would have. If this is understood correctly, the east gate was assigned to Shelemiah, and there was to be six men serving there at a time. The north gate was assigned to Zechariah, the wise cousellor and son of Shelemiah, and there was to be four men serving there each day. The south gate was assigned to Obed-edom and the house of Asuppim, and there were to be four men serving there each day as well. The west gate was assigned to Shuppim and Hosah, along with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway (a separate raised path), and there were to be four serving there each day. Two served at Parbar, which may have been a suburb of the temple.

20 And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things.
21 As concerning the sons of Laadan; the sons of the Gershonite Laadan, chief fathers, even of Laadan the Gershonite, were Jehieli.
22 The sons of Jehieli; Zetham, and Joel his brother, which were over the treasures of the house of the Lord.
23 Of the Amramites, and the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites:
24 And Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.
25 And his brethren by Eliezer; Rehabiah his son, and Jeshaiah his son, and Joram his son, and Zichri his son, and Shelomith his son.
26 Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated.
27 Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord.
28 And all that Samuel the seer, and Saul the son of Kish, and Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah, had dedicated; and whosoever had dedicated any thing, it was under the hand of Shelomith, and of his brethren.

Ahijah was assigned to be over the treasures of the temple, as well as those treasures that had been dedicated. Those serving with him included Zetham and Joel, who were sons of Jehieli of the sons of the Gershonite Laadan. Also over treasures was Shebuel, the son of Gershom, who was the son of Moses. The sons of Eliezer, including Rehabiah, Jeshaiah, Joram, Zichri, and Shelomith, were responsible for the dedicated treasures. These treasures were dedicated from the spoils of battles by King David, the chief fathers, and the captains of the host. They were also dedicated by Samuel the seer, King Saul, Abner the captain of Saul’s armies, and Joab, among others.

29 Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were for the outward business over Israel, for officers and judges.
30 And of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brethren, men of valour, a thousand and seven hundred, were officers among them of Israel on this side Jordan westward in all the business of the Lord, and in the service of the king.
31 Among the Hebronites was Jerijah the chief, even among the Hebronites, according to the generations of his fathers. In the fortieth year of the reign of David they were sought for, and there were found among them mighty men of valour at Jazer of Gilead.
32 And his brethren, men of valour, were two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers, whom king David made rulers over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king.

The outward business of the Israelites, of officers and judges, was the responsibility of the Izharites, the family of Chenaniah. Hashabiah and his family of the Hebronites, 1,700 men of valour, became officers in the business of the Lord and in service of the king, on the west side of the Jordan. Jerijah was their chief leader. During the fortieth year of David’s reign, there was a search for mighty men of valor, and they were found at Jazer and Gilead. 2,700 of his brethren were assigned to take care of the business of the Lord and service of the king, on the east side of the Jordan, among the Reubenites, Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh.

The responsibility of porters was important, though it may seem a bit strange. It can sound like they were a type of ancient-day bouncer, guarding the doors of the temple, but its not quite that. The holy house of the Lord should have been kept holy by allowing only those who were worthy to enter there. In modern temples, there are priesthood holders who are called and set apart to welcome patrons to the temple, as well as to verify that they are indeed worthy to enter the house of the Lord. Worthiness to worship in the temple is important for both the maintaining of a sacred edifice for the Lord, and for the patrons, who are to be held to a standard of worthiness for the covenants made there. I am grateful for the expectations of worthiness on my part as well as others who enter the temple, because it means that I can depend on the blessings of the spirit of the Lord in that space, when the world is becoming increasingly confusing and dark around me.

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Deuteronomy Chapter 10

This portion of Deuteronomy, is the second to last sermon from Moses recorded in the books of Moses. In this sermon, the Israelites were reminded of the ten commandments, blessings that would come from God for the righteous, the importance of teaching the younger generations of the laws and blessings, the consequences of disobedience, the role of Moses as their mediator when they have rebelled, and more. This teaching continues as follows:

1 At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.
2 And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.
3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand.
4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me.
5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me.

Moses reminds the Israelites, that the Lord commanded him to prepare two new tablets after he had broken the first. After the Lord wrote on the tablets for the second time, though the second set were the lesser law (the ten commandments), they were to be placed in the ark, which contained the most sacred things of the Lord. The Joseph Smith translation of verse 2, reads, “And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest, save the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood, and thou shalt put them in the ark.”. (see also JST, Exodus 34) The everlasting covenant, was then reserved for a later time of restoration of the priesthood.

There is great value in keeping a physical record of sacred things. Only so many things recorded, will remain through great amounts of time, but I believe that as these sacred things are recorded on earth, the angels can record them in heaven, where they will be eternally. It is important for us to record sacred feelings and learning that we gain in this life, for our remembrance, and to be able to pass that learning on to our posterity.

6 And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead.
7 From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.

They are reminded of Aaron’s death and how his son Eleazar became the priest who served them in the tabernacle, in his place. Perhaps part of the reason that this needed remembering, was that the people needed to know that the Lord would not cause the priesthood go from among them as long as they were a righteous and God-fearing people. I think that they needed the rituals of worship in their lives, and seeing that God had caused that the ordinances could continue without interruption, meant they did not need to turn to another form of worship to fill that need.

8 At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him.
10 And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also, and the Lord would not destroy thee.
11 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them.

The tribe of Levi were set apart to carry the ark of the covenant, and to serve with regard to the attending to the tabernacle. I love the reminder here, that they were also called to bless in the name of the Lord. Part of the duties of the Levitical Priesthood today, is to share the blessings of God with the people. I think that this is done by sharing the gospel and more so by physically laying their hands on individuals and blessing them. In this thing, men of the priesthood, are serving as the hands of the Lord on the earth today. This is such a beautiful honor and worthy of sacrificing to live a righteous life.

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
15 Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
20 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21 He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
22 Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Moses taught the Israelites, that all the Lord required of them, was to love and serve Him. As a people, they had been chosen from all the nations, because their ancestors had been chosen. To show their love, the Israelites needed to be committed to the Lord by keeping the commandments and ordinances. They needed to keep them physically as well as in their hearts, purifying themselves and showing that they followed God. Moses taught them that God was not a respecter of persons, but had a love of all men. God had done many great things for them, including causing that they should multiply and become a great nation of people.

This is all the Lord asks of us as well. We are still commanded to love the Lord, with all our hearts, and to serve him all our days. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 we read, “Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” The Savior taught us that we show our love, by following His laws, when he said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). We have been taught that we need to write these things in our hearts, or make them part of our very beings and character. In all this, we are not above any other when it comes to the love of God, and we are also commanded to love others as God loves them. The Savior taught us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” God will love those who follow him and is still no respecter of persons. He does not withhold his love, but He will not look upon sin with the least bit of allowance whether committed by those in His church, or the stranger. In Mosiah 2:24 we read, “…he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you…”. He has blessed us, and will continue to bless the righteous people today.

Numbers Chapter 18

In the previous writings of Moses, we learned that Aaron and his sons were called to bear the priesthood and do the service of the Lord in his holy tabernacle. The remaining Israelites had not been wholly accepting of the words of Moses and had sought after the priesthood. Again, there was a need to teach some things about the priesthood duties. This begins here as follows:

1 And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.
2 And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of thy father, bring thou with thee, that they may be joined unto thee, and minister unto thee: but thou and thy sons with thee shall minister before the tabernacle of witness.
3 And they shall keep thy charge, and the charge of all the tabernacle: only they shall not come nigh the vessels of the sanctuary and the altar, that neither they, nor ye also, die.
4 And they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a stranger shall not come nigh unto you.
5 And ye shall keep the charge of the sanctuary, and the charge of the altar: that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.
6 And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are given as a gift for the Lord, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the veil; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

The sons of Aaron would have the responsibility of bearing the priesthood and doing the work of the sanctuary. In the footnote of verse 1 we read, “bear any guilt incurred in failure to bear the full responsibility thereof.” It was their duty and none else. The tribe of Levi, were given to them, to assist them in their callings, by physically bearing and caring for the tabernacle. The Levites were not allowed to touch the things that belonged with the inner sanctuary. Only those worthy, who had been prepared by their ordination in the priesthood, were to be near the items in the sanctuary. No one else, of any of the tribes of Israel or any unauthorized person, was to try to do the work of the tabernacle. If they did, they would die. In order to keep the wrath of the Lord from destroying the people, as he was doing with the plague in Numbers 16, only those who had been called of God, were to take care of these sacred things.

8 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.
9 This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons.
10 In the most holy place shalt thou eat it; every male shall eat it: it shall be holy unto thee.
11 And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it.
12 All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee.
13 And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the Lord, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thine house shall eat of it.
14 Every thing devoted in Israel shall be thine.
15 Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the Lord, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem.
16 And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
17 But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy: thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savour unto the Lord.
18 And the flesh of them shall be thine, as the wave breast and as the right shoulder are thine.
19 All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the Lord, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord unto thee and to thy seed with thee.

Aaron and his sons had the duty to take care of the heave offerings and other hallowed things of the Israelites. This is referring to the offerings of the Israelites given to the sons of Aaron for their service. Anything that was not used up in the offerings, was holy and for them to have. The offerings of food, were made holy to them by the Lord and they were to eat it. It had been a commandment that the sons of Aaron and his family were to partake of these things. For their service, they were given those things that were the first and best of flock and crop. They were also to receive the tithes for the redemption of all the firstborn.

I was pondering on this responsibility and blessing of being sustained by the offerings given, and I find it a good example that the blessings come after the service we give. They could not take of the offerings and partake, until after they had performed the rites and rituals with them to the standard which the Lord held. Once they had done their duty, the blessings were great and were completely theirs. I think that one of the false teachings of the world today, is that blessings should come before the work has been done. People want to be given things for nothing. My daughters often ask for a reward that has been promised, before they have done what was asked of them. This is not the way it should work. With the things that God asks of us, we are meant to learn and grow. We do not grow when we are given things we have not done the work for. We do not grow when we are removed from difficulty without having to struggle. Part of the purpose for this life, is to learn eternally lasting lessons that build our character and shape us into better people than we were before. With God, the promised blessings are the greatest. It will be the first and best of the flock and crop, which we are given for our faithful obedience.

20 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.
21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.
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.
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.

The sons of Aaron were not to have an inheritance of land among the people, but instead would receive the Lord and his blessings. The Levites were given to them as an inheritance. The Levites would not have an inheritance of land, but would receive the tithes of the people in order to support them.

25 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
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.
27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the Lord of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord’s heave offering to Aaron the priest.
29 Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the Lord, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it.
30 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress.
31 And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.
32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.

The Levites were to take the tithing of the people, and then they in turn were to give a tenth of that offering, which would go to Aaron who had been given all the heave offerings. The offerings were to be accepted as holy, and none of them were to be polluted or they were to die. To be polluted would have been to do anything with them which was against the commandment of the Lord.

I wonder if this was a area that required more of the faith of those who were not of the Levites or sons of Aaron. To give of the best of what they had, as an offering to the Lord they worshipped, knowing that all of it was going to be given as a gift to others. I know that there is a certain amount of faith required to be willing to pay tithes today. Many struggle financially and giving ten percent of what they have is hard. It takes faith that the Lord will do his will with it, to willingly give it for others to use. There is a hope that the blessings will come to us for being willing to give of what we have worked for. I have great faith in the paying and distributing of tithes and offerings. I believe that the Lord watches over these offerings and makes them holy as he did the offerings of old. I believe that they are then used in His way, because they are His to give. I know that these offerings must have been a huge blessing to the Levites and the sons of Aaron. I know that tithes and offerings given today, have and will continue to bless my life in many ways.

Numbers Chapter 8

When the tribes of Israel were organized as the camps of Israel, the Levites were set apart to serve with the tabernacle. They were to be given to Aaron and his sons, to assist them in their priesthood duties, attend to the physical needs of the tabernacle, and to carry the burden of the tabernacle through the wilderness. This chapter gets into further details regarding the duties in the tabernacle and the Levites, beginning with the following:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
3 And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the Lord commanded Moses.
4 And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the Lord had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.

The lamps of the tabernacle were lit according to the direction of the Lord. And the candlestick itself, had been created and designed according to the instruction given by the Lord.

5 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
8 Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.
9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:
10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:
11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord.
12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.
13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the Lord.
14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
17 For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.
18 And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
20 And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.
21 And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the Lord; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.
22 And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.

The Levites were separated from the tribes of Israel, and Moses was instructed to have them washed or purified. They were first sprinkled and dedicated for cleansing, then they were to shave, and wash all their clothing. Then the Levites were to prepare an offering for the Lord, and to be set apart by the laying on of hands, while in front of the host of Israel. Through the laying on of hands, they were ordained to their priesthood office, by the proper authority of God. After they were set apart, they were to give an atonement sacrifice for the Levites. With this, they would be dedicated to the work of the Lord. They were to be serving in the tabernacle in place of all the firstborn of the families of Israel. They were belonging to the Lord, and He gave them to Aaron and his sons, or to the Aaronic priesthood, in order to fulfill the commandments of service in the tabernacle.

23 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
24 This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
25 And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
26 But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.

The Levites were to be in the service of the Lord in the tabernacle of the congregation, from the age of 25 to 50. After that, they were to continue to minister in the tabernacle of the congregation, without the same service duties of the priesthood.

The service in the tabernacle was necessary for the work of the Lord to be whole. There needed to be a way, for the people of God, to make covenants and perform necessary rituals to make themselves clean and righteous. It is a blessing for individuals to be able to serve, so that others may be saved by God. The Levites were called to help the work of God continue on this earth. We have the same blessings on earth today. The work of God goes forward, through the sacred ordinances and covenants of the priesthood. Through this work, individuals may receive salvation and families can be made eternal. Most of that work is performed in the temples of the Lord. There is a need for able and willing individuals to answer the call to serve in the temples, as temple workers, so that others can make these covenants and be sanctified through their own personal service. I have been blessed by my own family members, who have been able to fulfill callings in the temple. I am sure that the Levites who served, and their families, were greatly blessed for answering the call of the Lord and performing their priesthood duties.

Numbers Chapter 4

At this point in the Bible, the Lord has been instructing Moses and the Israelites how they were to be organized into camps and tribes for their journey to the promised land. The majority of the men were called to be part of the army of Israel, while the tribe of Levi was called to serve with the tabernacle. The the three tribes within the Levites, were given specific charges, as well as Aaron and his sons. This instruction continues in this chapter as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
3 From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
4 This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:

The sons of Kohath, which is the family of Moses and Aaron, who were between 30 and 50 years old, were to be counted by families. These men were to be given the responsibility of caring for sacred things in the tabernacle of the congregation, or the meeting house of their time. The age of 30, was the age that Jesus would enter his ministry as well.

5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.
7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:
8 And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.
9 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:
10 And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar.
11 And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
12 And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar:
13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:
14 And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it.
15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.

The ark of the covenant was to be covered with the veil, the badger skins and then the blue cloth, by Aaron and his sons. Then they were to prepare it to be carried by placing the staves (poles) into it. They were instructed to use blue cloth to cover all the sacred items in the sanctuary, including the candlestick, lamps, tongs, snuff dishes, and containers of oil. They were to cover those with badger skins and add the poles for carrying. Again, the golden altar was to be covered with a blue cloth, badgers skin and the poles added to it. All the accessories of the sanctuary were to be covered in blue and badgers skin, with a pole for carrying. They were to remove the ashes on the altar and cover it with purple cloth. Then all the tools used for the altar, were to be covered with badgers skins and prepared for carrying with the poles. When everything was prepared with coverings and staves, in order for the camp to move, the sons of Kohath were to carry them. An important part of the instruction given, was that they were not to touch any of these sacred things. The footnote for ‘not touch any holy thing’, says that they were specifically not to touch the ark. If they touched it or any of the holy things, they would die. I think that this was probably because the glory of the Lord was there. Only those who are prepared by God to witness His glory, may even see it without dying. This is because our mortal and impure natures do not allow us to experience it without a great change.

This reminds me of the administration of the sacrament. In the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), young men of the Aaronic priesthood administer the sacred emblems of the sacrament. Those who are ordained to the office of a priest, bless, brake, and distribute the sacrament to those in the office of a deacon. A deacon does not have the proper priesthood authority to bless the sacrament. The priests are also given the sacred responsibility of setting all the items on the sacrament table, much like the sons of Aaron were in those days. I think it is a good reminder to me of the sacred nature of the responsibilities of the young men of the priesthood.

16 And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.

Eleazar, Aaron’s son, was responsible for overseeing the movement and care of all of these sacred items.

17 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
18 Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:
19 But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:
20 But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.

There was not to be a separation of the sons of Kohath and their families, from the rest of the Levites, even though they had such a sacred duty. I think this means that they were not to be given the higher authority of the priesthood. They were instead, to be set apart to a very specific duty by Aaron and his sons, within the priesthood they held, and were not to look upon any of these sacred items before they were covered. If they saw any of these items, they would die.

21 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
22 Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families;
23 From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
24 This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:
25 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
26 And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.
27 At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens.
28 This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

The total number of the family of Gerson, was taken for those between 30 and 50 years old. The Gershonites were instructed to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the curtains of the tabernacle of the congregation, the covering of the tabernacle of the congregation, as well as all the hangings for the court, and all the items that went along with that. They were to be set apart for this specific service by the sons of Aaron, and Ithamar would watch over them in it.

29 As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;
30 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.
31 And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,
32 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.
33 This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

Instruction was given regarding the family of Merair. Those between 30 and 50 years old, were to be numbered and called to serve. They were to carry the boards, bars, pillars, bases, cords and all that went with these items. They were to be watched over by Ithamar as well.

34 And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,
35 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation:
36 And those that were numbered of them by their families were two thousand seven hundred and fifty.
37 These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
38 And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, and by the house of their fathers,
39 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,
40 Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers, were two thousand and six hundred and thirty.
41 These are they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon, of all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, whom Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the Lord.

The Kohathites were totaled at 2,750 who were do service in the tabernacle of the congregation. The Gershonites were 2,630 in number who would serve in the tabernacle of the congregation.

42 And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers,
43 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,
44 Even those that were numbered of them after their families, were three thousand and two hundred.
45 These be those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
46 All those that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered, after their families, and after the house of their fathers,
47 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation,
48 Even those that were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore.
49 According to the commandment of the Lord they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the Lord commanded Moses.

The family of Merari were numbered as Moses had been commanded, and they totaled 3,200 who would serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. In total there were 8,580 Levites, who would carry the burden of the tabernacle.

It is important for us to treat sacred things as sacred. God has given commandments in latter days on how His holy things should be managed and maintained. When we do not listen, we are not promised physical death, but our spirits will be separated from the spirit of God, which is a far greater consequence. I am glad to have studied this chapter on the Sabbath, when I can experience the blessings of the sacrament. I know that the men and men of the priesthood, young and old, are given specific responsibilities in taking care of our meeting house. Some have the duty of preparing the sacrament, while others are asked to prepare other rooms. I am often grateful for the men setting up chairs each week, so that we can enjoy our meetings. However, I don’t think I have thought of just how righteous that responsibility is. Our meeting house is the house of the Lord, just as much as the tabernacle of the congregation was in that day. The duties of the priesthood, are given all ultimately under the direction of the Lord. I hope that I will do my part to help sustain and support them in their responsibilities and callings, whatever that may be, so that I may be worthy of the blessings provided through the priesthood.

Numbers Chapter 3

The Lord instructed the ancient Israelites in many things before they left their Sinai encampment. He organized them into their family tribes and camps of the army of Israel, with the Levites set apart to do the work of moving the tabernacle. This chapter includes further instruction for the Levites. It begins:

1 These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the Lord spake with Moses in mount Sinai.
2 And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.
4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.

We read of the sons of Aaron, earlier in the bible. The firstborn was Nadab, with Abihu next in line. They had both died because they offered a sacrifice which was not acceptable to the Lord. Neither of them had children. The eldest of the remaining sons, was Eleazar, and then came Ithamar. Aaron and his sons had been set apart, anointed and ordained to perform the duties of the priesthood, to serve in the tabernacle.

5 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
6 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.
8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.
9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;
13 Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.

Moses was commanded to call the tribe of Levi, or the Levites, to him. They were to be presented to Aaron, who was the high priest, because they had been chosen to serve the Lord by having charge over the tabernacle, all the furniture and other accessories within it, and helping the sons of Aaron. The Levites were to be given to Aaron and his sons for this service, which I think means, they were to be set apart within the priesthood of Aaron, to perform these duties. Only they were allowed to do this service. Anyone else who attempted to do the service, or perform these duties of the priesthood which the Levites were called and set apart for, would be put to death. The Levites replaced all the firstborn of each family in the host of Israel. With the protection of the passover, the Lord had commanded all the firstborn of Israel should be his, or should be set apart to do his work. Now the Levites were chosen to take this role upon themselves.

14 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying,
15 Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.
16 And Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded.
17 And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.
18 And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei.
19 And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
20 And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers.
21 Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the families of the Gershonites.
22 Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.
23 The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward.
24 And the chief of the house of the father of the Gershonites shall be Eliasaph the son of Lael.
25 And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
26 And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof.

The Levites were to be numbered, or another census was to be taken, of every male older then one month, from every Levite family. Moses had the census taken. The families of the tribe of Levi included Gershon (Gershonites) and his sons, Libni (Libnites) and Shemei (Shimites) who numbered 7,500; Kohath and his sons Amram, Izehar, Hebron and Uzziel; and Merari and his sons Mahli and Mushi. According to the footnote for the word Levi in verse 15, Moses and Aaron were sons of Amram, from the family of Kohath. The Gershonites were instructed to dwell to the west side of the tabernacle with Eliasaph as their chief. They were given the specific charge was to carry and attend to the tabernacle, the tent, the tent covering, the door hangings of the tabernacle of the congregation, the hangings of the court, the court door curtain and its cords.

27 And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites.
28 In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.
29 The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward.
30 And the chief of the house of the father of the families of the Kohathites shall be Elizaphan the son of Uzziel.
31 And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof.
32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.

Kohath (Kohathites) and his sons Amram (Amramites), Izehar (Izeharites), Hebron (Hebronites) and Uzziel (Uzzielites) were in number, 8,600. They were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, with Elizaphan as their chief. Their specific charge, was to carry the ark of the covenant, table, candlestick, altars, all the vessels for the sanctuary, and the hanging for the sanctuary. We read later in the book of Numbers (chapter 18), that they were not called to do anything with the items of the sanctuary until they were covered and prepared for carrying. Only Aaron and his sons were to prepare these sacred items for their travels. Eleazar was then called to be over the chief, Elizaphan, and all that was done with the items of the sanctuary, much like a counselor of any presidency in the church, is called to be over a specific group of saints today.

33 Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari.
34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.
35 And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward.
36 And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto,
37 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords.

Merari (Merarites) and his sons Mahli (Mahlites) and Mushi (Mushites) totaled 6,200. They were to dwell on the north side of the tabernacle and their chief was Zuriel. They were given specific charge over the boards, bars, pillars, sockets and vessels of the tabernacle, including all that had to do with the pillars in the court.

38 But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
39 All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the Lord, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.

To the east of the tabernacle, was where Moses, Aaron and his sons were to dwell. No one who was not authorized was allowed to be there. If anyone else came near to their camp, they were to be put to death. The total of the men of the Levites was just about 22,000.

40 And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.
41 And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.
42 And Moses numbered, as the Lord commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel.
43 And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.

All of the firstborn Israelite boys and men older than a month, were numbered. The Levites were to be serve in proxy of the firstborn males of Israel. Likewise, the firstling of the cattle of the Levites was to stand in place of all the firstling cattle of the Israelites. The number of males that Moses counted, was 22,273.

44 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.
46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;
47 Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
48 And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons.
49 And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites:
50 Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
51 And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses.

The Levites and their cattle were to be given to the Lord for service. A redemption money was to be given for those who were redeemed since the Levites had fewer than they. In the Bible Dictionary we read the following under ‘Firstborn’, “Under the law of Moses, the firstborn son was regarded as belonging to God, and special ordinances were provided for his redemption.” The description of the Levites in the Bible Dictionary helps to gain a better understanding. It reads, “The work of ministering in the sanctuary was assigned to this tribe. The Levites are sometimes spoken of as distinct from the priests; sometimes as though all Levites were also priests, “the priests, the Levites”. The work of the Levites was to assist the priests. They acted as musicians; slaughtered the sacrifices; and generally assisted in the temple. The Levites were themselves offered as a wave-offering on behalf of the children of Israel; they thus became God’s peculiar property, given to Him in place of the firstborn. They were cleansed for their office. They had no inheritance in Canaan; but they had the tithe, 48 cities, and a claim on the alms of the people at feast times.”
The Israelites paid redemption money for all of the firstborn males. Some (or maybe all, I’m not sure) of this money was then given to the Levites by Moses, because they were those serving in proxy for all the Israelite firstborn males and had no other inheritance to provide for them. (If I am remembering correctly, the inheritance of Levi and his family was taken because of his act anger, when his sister was defiled.) Even in ancient times, the Lord provided temporally for those who are called into His service.

This chapter is focused on the calling of the men who would serve the Lord in His holy tabernacle (other than Aaron and his sons). I learn from this, more of the importance that the Lord places on the work of the tabernacle, which was the temple of their day. Those who were to serve there in any capacity, were called to the priesthood of Aaron. There was a sacred responsibility in the placement, use, and movement of all the physical pieces belonging to the tabernacle. Likewise, all the parts of the temples today, are sacred. Those who serve in the temple today have a sacred responsibility to their duties. Everything there deserves to be treated, used, and handled with the most reverence and respect that man can give, because the temple and all items in it, belong to the Lord. Those who serve in the temples today, give themselves to the Lord for His service at that time. I am grateful for the service which others give to be temple workers, because it gives me the opportunity to serve in the temple as well. I know that great blessings come to their lives when they serve in this capacity.

Leviticus Chapter 13

In the book of Leviticus, the Lord reveals details to those things that are clean or unclean. He gave commandments in the law of Moses, with regard to the foods that should be eaten and avoided, as well as the purification of women after childbirth. The laws regarding those thing that are unclean continue in this chapter as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
3 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
4 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days:
5 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more:
6 And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
7 But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again:
8 And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.

Anyone who was thought to have leprosy, was brought to the priest, Aaron. This was a duty of the priesthood at that time. Aaron was to look at it and determine if it was in fact leprosy, and if it was, the person was pronounced unclean. If they could not tell if it was in deed leprosy, then they were to hide the person away, or quarantine them, for seven days and then check again. If they did not know again, they were to hide the person again for another seven days. If the mark on the skin looked like a dark scab, after fourteen days of hiding away, they would be pronounced clean and simply need to wash their clothes. If it had spread, it was leprosy and he was pronounced by the priest, unclean.

9 When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest;
10 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising;
11 It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean.
12 And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh;
13 Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.
14 But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean.
15 And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy.
16 Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;
17 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the plague be turned into white; then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: he is clean.

When a person had leprosy, he was to be brought to the priest to be pronounced as leprosy and not quarantined, but he was to be pronounced unclean. If it had spread all over the body and had all turned white, he was pronounced clean. If it was raw, he was pronounced unclean. If it turned white after becoming raw, he could be brought to the priest and pronounced clean.

18 The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is healed,
19 And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, and it be shewed to the priest;
20 And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil.
21 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
22 And if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague.
23 But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

If a person had a healed boil, with a rising white or bright spot of white or red, it was to be shown to the priest. The priest would determine if it was leprosy and if the person was to be pronounced unclean. If it was unknown, the priest would quarantine them for seven day and look again. If it had spread, they would be pronounced unclean. If it had not spread, they would be pronounced clean.

24 Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white;
25 Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin; it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
26 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
27 And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
28 And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin, but it be somewhat dark; it is a rising of the burning, and the priest shall pronounce him clean: for it is an inflammation of the burning.

If the person had hot skin where there were spots, they were brought to the priest to determine if it was leprosy. If it was, they were pronounced unclean with leprosy. If the priest could not tell, the person was quarantined for 7 days and then the priest would see if it had spread. If it spread, the person was pronounced unclean with leprosy. If not, the person was pronounced clean.

29 If a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;
30 Then the priest shall see the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.
31 And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black hair in it; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days:
32 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague: and, behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin;
33 He shall be shaven, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more:
34 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; then the priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
35 But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing;
36 Then the priest shall look on him: and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin, the priest shall not seek for yellow hair; he is unclean.
37 But if the scall be in his sight at a stay, and that there is black hair grown up therein; the scall is healed, he is clean: and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

If a person had possibly leprosy where their hair was, they were brought to the priest to determine if it was leprosy. If he did determine it was, by the way it looked and possibly yellow thin hair, they were pronounced unclean due to leprosy. If unknown, they were quarantined for seven days and checked again. If it had not spread and showed no sign of yellowed hair, then they were to be shaved on all their hair but where the mark was. Then they were quarantined for seven days again and if it had not spread, then the person was pronounced clean. They were to wash their clothes and be clean. If it had spread after being shaved, the priest was to check again and the person was pronounced unclean. If the mark had black hair growing, it was healed and the person was pronounced clean.

38 If a man also or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots;
39 Then the priest shall look: and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean.
40 And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.
41 And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean.
42 And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead.
43 Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh;
44 He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head.
45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

If a person had bright white spots on their skin, they were shown to the priest. If the spots were dark white, it was just a growth and the person was pronounced clean. If it was a bald man, he was clean. If it was a balding man, with a bald forehead, he was clean. If it was a bald or balding man with a sore, it was leprosy and he was shown to the priest. If it was a reddish-white sore, he was pronounced unclean by leprosy. The person with leprosy, had his clothes rent. The lepers were to be without a covering on their head and had a covering over his mouth. Then they were to declare they were unclean around others. While suffering from leprosy, they were to be sent out of the encampment, unclean and alone.

The act of clothes being rent was used as a sign of mourning, I think because it is designed to take a person’s status and bring them low, humbling them. I am sure there was a great deal of mourning when one was found to be leprous. It was also a outward expression of being unworthy and accounted as unacceptable to participate in the ordinances of the gospel. The lepers were not able to participate, until they could be pronounced clean again. This is so sad to me and I am glad that there are few contagious diseases that we have to deal with today, which would make people unable to worship and serve God as they desire.

47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;
48 Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen; whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin;
49 And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:
50 And the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague seven days:
51 And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.
52 He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is: for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.
53 And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin;
54 Then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more:
55 And the priest shall look on the plague, after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his colour, and the plague be not spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without.
56 And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:
57 And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.
58 And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.
59 This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or any thing of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.

Any clothing worn by one with leprosy, which showed the signs of the disease, was unclean. It was to be burnt. If it did not show signs of the leprosy, it was to be washed and put away for seven days. If, at this point, it looked the same, it was unclean and was to be burnt. If it had darkened, then it was torn out of the clothes. If it still was in the clothes, it was spreading and the garment was to be burnt. If after being removed, the garment looked fine, it was to be washed again and pronounced clean.

I think that there is a lot to the idea of leprosy and what it should remind us of, but I’ll save some of that for another time (I think the next chapter continues on this). At this point, I think that we can learn that the Lord is aware of us. Our health is known to the Lord, just as our spirit is known to Him. The health of our bodies is of great importance to our spiritual health, because they together make up a living soul. When our bodies are not well, we tend to focus on that and it becomes difficult to be edified in the spirit. It was a sad thing for people to be cast out for this plaque. It does not mean, however, that they were all deserving of it due to some type of sin. In some cases, though, it was a way that the Lord chastened individuals because of their sins.

On the other hand, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. They had been promised the blessings of Abraham, which meant they were promised to be a people of great number. If a plaque, such as this, was allowed to spread among the people, it would have meant a significant number of the host of Israel would have been lost. In order to protect the host of Israel, these individuals had to be declared unclean and separated from the whole of society. It was the responsibility of the priesthood, to protect the Lord’s people in order to further the work of the Lord. I think of the many destructive, physical plaques that people have had to deal with throughout time. I have read of entire groups of people dying because of a plaque. I cannot imagine living at a time like this and I am so grateful that we have the medical advancements which allow us to be protected from many of these types of things. I am grateful for the loving hand of God, and to know that we can be protected according to His will for His people. Moreover, the understanding, that the Lord’s work will not be stopped because of something such as this, gives me hope in the outcome of this mortal sphere.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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