I didnít think it could get worse than the Israelites having to support the priests by handing over all their best food in the form of sacrifices. Never have I been so wrong!
Numbers 18:20-32 begins rather optimistically. God speaks to Aaron and says that he shall have no inheritance! Am I reading that correctly? The priests donít get to own land or property through their generations? Are we actually heading toward the idea of a vow of poverty? I was almost ready to believe these priests arenít the most vile con men to ever exist, but then the other shoe dropped. Who needs possessions when the Israelites must now give 10% of everything they produce to feed the laziness of the entire Levite tribe?
Thatís right, God is giving an extended holiday to the Levites, who now donít even have to plant their own crops or raise their own livestock. This is the same tribe, by the way, that he condemned to die in the previous chapter! And with a third of their ranks now dead, there are even fewer people left to have to share in all the loot. Itís not often that mass-murder turns out to be serendipitous!
But this whole idea of priests not getting an inheritance is just a load of crap, isnít it? God doesnít just say that they wonít get an inheritance, but also that he will be their inheritance. What does that mean? It sounds like heís saying that everything given to God is also given to the priests. How else could you make sense of the land rights in Leviticus where land devoted to God remains the property of God forever?
But there is one down-side to being a Levite, if you can really call it a down-side: the Levites must tithe 10% of the 10% the other twelve tribes have to give to them. Of course, where do those tithes go? Thatís right, to the priests!
The chapter ends with God telling Aaron, again, that any non-priest who enters the tent will be killed, and then he repeats everything he just said to Moses, and then tells Moses to repeat everything to the Israelites, which Moses then repeats.
Three repeats in a single chapter. I canít wait for this book to be over!