Numbers 18:21
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) All the tenth in Israel.—The reference here is to the first tithe, or tenth of the whole of the produce of the land.

Numbers 18:21-22. The tenth — For the tithes were all given to the Levites, and out of their tithes the tenth was given to the priests. Come nigh the tabernacle — So nigh as to do any proper act to the priests or Levites.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.Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek: Jacob had promised the tithe of all wherewith God blessed him if he should return in peace to his father's house. But now first the Lord's tithes are assigned to the Levites for their support (compare Leviticus 27:30). The payment of tithes to them is recognized in Nehemiah 10:37; Nehemiah 12:44; Tobit 1:7. Nu 18:21-32. The Levites' Portion.

21, 22. I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve—Neither the priests nor the Levites were to possess any allotments of land but to depend entirely upon Him who liberally provided for them out of His own portion; and this law was subservient to many important purposes—such as that, being exempted from the cares and labors of worldly business, they might be exclusively devoted to His service; that a bond of mutual love and attachment might be formed between the people and the Levites, who, as performing religious services for the people, derived their subsistence from them; and further, that being the more easily dispersed among the different tribes, they might be more useful in instructing and directing the people.

For the tithes were all given to the Levites, and out of their tithes the tenth was given to the priests, here Numbers 18:26, & C, and Nehemiah 10:37,38. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance,.... The tenth part of the produce of the land; of the wheat, barley, oil, and wine; the tenth part of their harvest and vintage; so that though they were the least of the tribes, they had the greatest share of the increase of the land, and that without any labour or expense; the other having but nine parts among them all, and at the charge and labour of manuring, cultivating, &c. and this they were to have

for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; see Numbers 18:3.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21–24. The Levites’ dues. These consisted in tithe levied on agricultural produce only (cf. Numbers 18:27; Numbers 18:30).

This was similarly assigned to the Levitical priests in the earlier law contained in Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Deuteronomy 26:12-15. But the present regulation is in advance of that in Dt. in that it assigns the tithe to the Levites absolutely. According to Dt. the Levite shared it, in two years out of three, with the offerer and his household, and in the third year with the poor—‘sojourners, widows, and orphans.’ This variety led in post-Biblical times to the imposition of two tithes (cf. Tob 1:7 ff.). In Leviticus 27:30-33, 2 Chronicles 31:6 (which are probably later than the present passage) mention is made of a fresh demand, viz. a tithe on cattle, which is found nowhere else in the O.T. In early days the ‘clergy’ were poor and humble persons who needed support from the charity of the rich. The contributions paid to them were at first small, and probably variable; the officials at the important sanctuaries, for example, would receive larger dues than those in country villages. But when, after the Exile, the priests and Levites advanced to a high position in the community, their demands gradually increased, until they became the grasping and avaricious rulers that we see in the Ḥasmoneans and the Sadducees.

In Hebrews 7:5 the payment of tithes by Israel is part of the argument that the Aaronic priesthood is inferior to that of Christ.Verse 21. - All the tenth. The tithe of all fruits and flocks had been already claimed absolutely by the Lord (Leviticus 27:30, 32). It is probable indeed that the giving of tithes had been more or less a matter of obligation from time immemorial. Abraham had paid them on one memorable occasion (Genesis 14:20), and Jacob had vowed them on another (Genesis 28:22). From this time forth, however, the tithes were formally assigned to the maintenance of the Levites, in return for their service. The Revenues of the Priests. - These are summed up in Numbers 18:8 in these words, "I give thee the keeping of My heave-offerings in all holy gifts for a portion, as an eternal statute." The notion of משׁמרת, keeping, as in Exodus 12:6; Exodus 16:23, Exodus 16:32, is defined in the second parallel clause as משׁחה, a portion (see at Leviticus 7:35). The priests were to keep all the heave-offerings, as the portion which belonged to them, out of the sacrificial gifts that the children of Israel offered to the Lord. תּרוּמת, heave-offerings (see at Exodus 25:2, and Leviticus 2:9), is used here in the broadest sense, as including all the holy gifts (kodashim, see Leviticus 21:22) which the Israelites lifted off from their possessions and presented to the Lord (as in Numbers 5:9). Among these, for example, were, first of all, the most holy gifts in the meat-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings (Numbers 18:9, Numbers 18:10; see at Leviticus 2:3). The burnt-offerings are not mentioned, because the whole of the flesh of these was burned upon the altar, and the skin alone fell to the portion of the priest (Leviticus 7:8). "From the fire," sc., of the altar. אשׁ, fire, is equivalent to אשּׁה ot , firing (see Leviticus 1:9). These gifts they were to eat, as most holy, in a most holy place, i.e., in the court of the tabernacle (see Leviticus 6:9, Leviticus 6:19; Leviticus 7:6), which is called "most holy" here, to lay a stronger emphasis upon the precept. In the second place, these gifts included also "the holy gifts;" viz., (a) (Numbers 18:11) the heave-offering of their gifts in all wave-offerings (tenuphoth), i.e., the wave-breast and heave-leg of the peace-offerings, and whatever else was waved in connection with the sacrifices (see at Leviticus 7:33): these might be eaten by both the male and female members of the priestly families, provided they were legally clean (Leviticus 22:3.); (b) (Numbers 18:12) the gifts of first-fruits: "all the fat (i.e., the best, as in Genesis 45:18) of oil, new wine, and corn," viz., ראשׁיתם, "the first of them," the בּכּוּרים, "the first-grown fruits" of the land, and that of all the fruit of the ground (Deuteronomy 26:2, Deuteronomy 26:10; Proverbs 3:9; Ezekiel 44:30), corn, wine, oil, honey, and tree-fruit (Deuteronomy 8:8, compared with Leviticus 19:23-24), which were offered, according to 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 10:36, Nehemiah 10:38, Tob. 1:6, as first-fruits every year (see Mishnah, Bikkur, i. 3, 10, where the first-fruits are specified according to the productions mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8; the law prescribed nothing in relation to the quantity of the different first-fruits, but left this entirely to the offerer himself); (c) (Numbers 18:14) everything placed under a ban (see at Leviticus 27:28); and (d) (Numbers 18:15-18) the first-born of man and beast. The first-born of men and of unclean beasts were redeemed according to Numbers 3:47; Exodus 13:12-13, and Leviticus 27:6, Leviticus 27:27; but such as were fit for sacrifice were actually offered, the blood being swung against the altar, and the fat portions burned upon it, whilst the whole of the flesh fell to the portion of the priests. So far as the redemption of human beings was concerned (Numbers 18:16), they were "to redeem from the monthly child," i.e., the first-born child as soon as it was a month old.
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