The Levitical Priesthood (The Old Testament Priesthood)


1). Priesthood is commissioned by God. The Priesthood began with Aaron and was to be carried on by his natural sons (Exodus 28:1).

2). The priest was to be separated unto God (Numbers 18:1-8).

3). Only the High Priest was allowed to come into the Holy of Holies (come near to God).

General Function of the Priesthood:

1). Taught the Law to the people in their geographical territory (Leviticus 10:1). Administered justice (as a judge in our courts today), and judged controversies (Deuteronomy 17:8-13). 

2). Offered sacrifices (Leviticus 9).

3). Maintained the Tabernacle and the inner temple (Numbers 18:3).

4). Functioned in the Holy Place (Exodus 30:7-10).

5). Collected taxes from the people (Numbers 18:21,26; Hebrews 7:5).

Please note: The financial support of the priesthood was a portion of the sacrificial offering (Numbers 18:8-14); one regular tithe (Numbers 18:21-24; compare Leviticus 27:30-33), of which a tenth part went to priests (Numbers 18:26-28; Joshua 21:13-19); a special tithe every third year (Deuteronomy 14:27-29; 26:12); the redemption money for the firstborn of Israel (Leviticus 27); a percentage of the booty of war (Numbers 31:25-27); and the shewbread (Leviticus 24:5-9).


1). The tribe of the Levites assisted and served the the priests (Numbers 18:4; 2 Chronicles 29:34). The Assistants were chosen by God to assist in sacrifices and care of holy things (Numbers 3:5, 8:14-19).

2). They preserved and transmitted the Law (Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:18; 33:10; Nehemiah 8:9; Ezekiel 44:23).

3). Assisted the priests with teaching the Law and the administration of justice (Deuteronomy 33:10a). Assistants were not of the Line of Aaron, but were chosen from the three branches of Levi. They served a term of twenty-five years, from age 25 to age 50 (Numbers 8:24,25).

There were three branches of the tribe of Levi and each had certain responsibilities in the Temple:

A). The KOHATHITES took care of furniture, vessels and the veil.

B). The GERSHONITES took care of the coverings, hangings and door.

C). The MERARITES took care of the planks, bars and cords.


God had originally chosen the entire nation to be His priests (Exodus 19:5,6). But because of continued national disobedience (Exodus 32:7-1), God commissioned the Levites who had rallied around Moses (Exodus 26-28; Numbers 3:5-9).    


They dressed the same as common people except on ceremonial occasions. During ceremonies the high priests uniform consisted of: white linen shorts, a white linen coat, a belt in the same colors as the curtains, which was white, blue, scarlet, and purple. They wore a turban cap with a golden crown, inscribed: “Holy to Jehovah,” which was a badge of the high priests rank. He wore an ephod of blue lavishly embroidered in colors. He wore a breastplate of gold with Urim and Thummim on the shoulders, and twelve stones representing the twelve tribes, engraved with each tribe name and then fastened with a gold clasp.


On this most sacred of all Jewish holidays, the high priest wore his ceremonial robe (described above) and entered the Tabernacle, where he sprinkled blood of the bullock of the sin offering for himself over the top of the mercy seat (Exodus 29:6,14). If the sacrifice was accepted by God, he emerged from the Holy of Holies, and his priesthood was assured for another year. He then reentered a second time with a different animal blood (the blood of the goat) as a sin offering for the Hebrew people. His return back outside signified to the people that national pardon had been granted  (Exodus 29:30).

The Levitical Offerings were a shadow of the Savior Lamb who would save the people from their sins. This entire system was set aside once the shadows became reality in Christ (Hebrews 10:1,2). The lamb was the center of the Levitical Offerings and portrayed Christ (the Lamb of God) who would take away the sins of the human race (Hebrews 10:11,12). You will recall in this series of studies on the Levitical Offerings that the original priesthood was a family priesthood which had to step aside for the Levitical Priesthood, which eventually (after the cross of the Lamb) had to step aside for the Royal Priesthood of the Church Age (1 Peter 2:5,9).

Apparently the Levitical Priesthood will be restored immediately after the second advent of Christ, during the Millennial (Ezekiel chapters 40-46). However, during the Church Age, Jesus Christ is the born again believer’s High Priest.

If you have accepted God’s Sacrificial Lamb (Christ), you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and you are in full-time Christian service. You have the right and privilege, because of the Cross Work of Christ, to represent yourself before the throne of Grace because Christ sits at the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings we cannot even utter (Hebrews 3:14; 4:6, 6:4).

Your true attitude toward Christ is expressed best by your attitude toward God’s Word — it is impossible to separate the Living Word (Christ) from the written word (the Bible). Start your morning with Christ in the Truths of God’s Word.  

Happy Studying!   

This study is produced primarily from “The Levitical Offerings, published by RBT Ministries, 1973, pages 100-104, with permission.


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