|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:20-32 As Israel was a people not to be numbered among the nations, so Levi was a tribe to be distinguished from the rest. Those who have God for their Inheritance and their Portion for ever, ought to look with holy contempt and indifference upon the possessions of this world. The Levites were to give God his dues out of their tithes, as well as the Israelites out of their increase. See, in ver. 31, the way to have comfort in all our worldly possessions, so as to bear no sin by reason of them. 1. We must be sure that what we have is got honestly and in the service of God. That meat is best eaten which is first earned; but if any will not work, neither shall he eat, 2Th 3:10. 2. We must be sure that God has his dues out of it. We have the comfort of our substance, when we have honoured the Lord with it. Ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved the best from it. We should give alms of such things as we have, that all may be holy and comfortable to us.
Verse 20. - Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land. The priests had of necessity homes wherein to live when not on duty, but they had no territory of their own in the same sense as Jews of other tribes. I am thy part and thine inheritance. Septuagint, ἐγὼ μερίς σου καὶ κληρονομία σου. This is not to be explained away, as if it meant only that they were to live "of the altar." Just as the priests (and in a lesser sense all the Levites) were the special possession of the Lord, so the Lord was the special possession of the priests; and inasmuch as all the whole earth belonged to him, the portion of the priests was, potentially in all cases, actually for those who were capable of realizing it, infinitely more desirable than any other portion. The spiritual meaning of the promise was so clearly felt that it was constantly claimed by the devout in Israel, irrespective of their ecclesiastical status (cf. Psalm 16:5; Lamentations 3:24, &c.).
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And the Lord spake unto Aaron,.... What is said, being what concerned the tribe of Levi, at the head of which Aaron was, even concerning the maintenance of the Levites:
thou shalt have no inheritance in their land; in the land of Israel when they come to possess it, as the rest of the tribes had:
neither shalt thou have any part among them; any part of the land when it is divided by lot, as it was in the times of Joshua, when taken from the Canaanites; no tract of land was peculiarly assigned to them as were to the other tribes, as fields, nor vineyards; they had cities appointed them, and they had houses and fields devoted to the Lord which fell to them, and others they had by gift or legacy, or by purchase, as had Jeremiah the priest and Barnabas the Levite, Jeremiah 32:9 Acts 4:36; but they had no share in the distribution of the land of Canaan at the time of the division of it among the tribes; no, not even in the spoil of the cities of the land of Canaan, when they were conquered; this Maimonides (n) says they were warned not to take; and a son of Levi that took any part of the spoil was to be beaten; but the spoil of other lands, subdued by the kings of Israel, they might take, as other Israelites did: the reason of all this was, because they had a sufficient provision made for them in another way, and that they might not be entangled in worldly affairs, or spend their time in the culture of fields and vineyards, but wholly give themselves to the service of God in his house:
I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel; in things temporal, the offerings, tithes, firstfruits, &c. which were given to the Lord, being bestowed upon them; and in things spiritual, they being employed in the work and service of God, and having a peculiar nearness to him, and communion with him: so all that are made priests unto God, as all believers in Christ are, 1 Peter 2:5, have God for their portion and inheritance; God, in his persons and in all his perfections, and under every character, as the God of nature, providence, and grace, is the portion of his people; and a rich, large, and satisfying portion he is, and which is inexhaustible, and will endure for ever; he is their portion in life and at death, in time and to all eternity; see Psalm 73:26.
(n) Hilchot Shemittah Veyobel, c. 13. sect. 10, 11.
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