God provided protection for His people. But the people could not go near to the God’s Tent even by accident. The tribe of Levi was to guard God’s Tent so that the people should not go near God’s Tent. (Numbers 8:19)
God spoke to Aaron and told him these things. It was unusual for God to speak to Aaron alone. It was the custom that Moses gave Aaron God’s instruction. But it was Aaron who had the special responsibilities as the High Priest. So God reminded Aaron of the special duties of the priest and also the duties of the Levite tribe. They belonged to God and this was their gift.
Levi’s tribe was not allowed to do any of the priestly duties and if they came near to the sacred objects God would punish them and the priest and the people of Levies’ tribe. It would be the fault of the priest if this happened. The Priest had to make sure that Levis tribe did only their own jobs.
The priest were not allowed to own any property or land as God would provide for all their needs through the gifts of the people. These passages describe which parts of the sacrifices and offerings belonged to the priest and which parts belonged to God. There are two types of offerings.
There were the most holy things from verses 8-9. These were the sin offering, the guilt offering and the grain offering. From these offerings only the priest were allowed to eat. Then there were the holy things from verse 11-18. From these offerings the priest could share with their families. But anyone who ate of these offerings had to be clean. This was because the people had offered these offerings to God first. If the Israelites had taken spoils from war a portion was to be given unto God. (Leviticus 27:28-29; Joshua 6:18-19; 1 Samuel 15:21)
The priest also received money from the payments of the first born sons and also the first born male animals that were unclean. (Numbers 3:41) The people did not give their first born sons to the priest but paid 5 pieces of silver to redeem them. This was the amount of money that a person could earn in six months of labor. Unclean first born animals could not be sacrificed and so the priest would receive payment for these animals.
It was in this way that God provided everything that the priest and their families needed. By this means, God promised to provide everything that the priests and their families needed.
The work that the Levi tribe did was important work and at times was dangerous. They looked after the sacred objects of God’s Tent. When the Israelite people moved the Levites carried all the parts of God’s Tent. They also guarded God’s Tent so that other Israelites did not come near. If this happened the Levites were responsible and would be punished too.
God did not allow the priest to own property and neither did He allow the Levite tribe to own property. Instead God gave them part of what was given to Him by the Israelite people.
In ancient Israel the people gave one tenth of their crops and animals to God. Both Abraham and Jacob had done this for God. (Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22)
Levis tribe was busy helping the priest in their God’s Tent duties and they also were not allowed to have property. Their income was one tenth of the other Israelites food and drink. The other Israelites had to give the best part of their food and drink. Then the Levites had to give one tenth of what they received to God and the rest belonged to them.