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Levites


inquiringmind

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Jethro, Moses’ father in law who was not even an Israelite, let alone a Levite, sacrificed animals "And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God" Exodus 18:12.

Gideon, who was of the tribe of Manasseh also offered sacrifices.

" my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house....Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.

25 ¶ And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:

26 And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down." Judges 6:15, 24-26

Manoah, of the tribe of Dan

(Judges 13:2) did offer to (Judges 13:16-19).

"And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah...So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.

20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.

21 But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

23 But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these." Judges 13:2, 19-23And Elkanah, of the tribe of Ephraim, in 1 Sam

1:1-3, says his sacrifices were accepted by the Lord. Therefore, you don’t have to be of a certain

tribe to have the Lord accept your sacrifices. The Lord wasn’t going to separate them from all

Levites and not provide a way to obtain forgiveness and thankfulness according to the law.

Michael Hickenbotham writes “As pertaining to the problem of Nephites and Lamanites officiating in the priesthood (Mosiah 2:3), it is clear that the authority by which sacrifices were offered was the Melchizedek and not the Levitical priesthood (Alma 4:16-20; 13:1-14; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:124-126; Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 410-412). That there are two priesthoods is clear in Hebrews 5:1-10 and 7:5-28. Both the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood and the higher Melchizedek priesthood were exercised in Old Testament times and the higher priesthood was used to offer sacrifice (Heb. 7:27). Five Old Testament prophets who were not Levites are mentioned in connection with the offering of sacrifices:

1. Joshua (Ephraimite) - Josh. 8:30-31; 24:30

2. Samuel (Ephraimite) - 1 Sam. 1:1-2, 20; 2:18; 7:9-19; 11:14-15

3. Elijah (Gad or Manassah) - 1 Kings 18:31-38; 17:1

4. David (Judah) - 1 Chron. 16:2; Matt. 1:2-6

5. Solomon (Judah) - 1 Kings 3:2-3; Matt. 1:2-6

The Cambridge Bible Dictionary affirms the fact that although Samuel was "not a priest he performed priestly functions and constantly offered sacrifice at various places" (Cambridge Bible Dictionary - Samuel, p. 90; see also LDS Bible Dictionary, pp. 599-600, 768). Latter-day Saints believe that all prophets from Adam to Moses held the higher or Melchizedek priesthood (Teachings, pp. 180-181). Until Moses, no other priesthood existed and all sacrifices offered prior to that time were done by the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood (Gen. 4:4; 8:20-21; 31:54; 46:1; Ex. 5:3, 8, 17). Since the Nephites held this priesthood, they also were empowered to offer sacrifices just as Old Testament prophets had. See also A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 132-134; March 1994 Ensign, p. 54"

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Michael Hickenbotham writes “As pertaining to the problem of Nephites and Lamanites officiating in the priesthood (Mosiah 2:3), it is clear that the authority by which sacrifices were offered was the Melchizedek and not the Levitical priesthood (Alma 4:16-20; 13:1-14; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:124-126; Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 410-412). That there are two priesthoods is clear in Hebrews 5:1-10 and 7:5-28. Both the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood and the higher Melchizedek priesthood were exercised in Old Testament times and the higher priesthood was used to offer sacrifice (Heb. 7:27).

A very nice and relevant summary, except for Hickenbotham's claim here.

Under the Mosaic law, the firstborn males of Israel were owned by God (because he had saved them from death at the last plague in Egypt). All of them, unless redeemed, had to serve God as priests (like Samuel). Following the Exodus, Levi (the tribe of Moses & Aaron) was chosen as the priestly tribe as a substitute for all the firstborn. From that time forth, the sons of Levi served all of the 12 tribes as priests, as they still do for the tribe of Judah. Thus, soon after the birth of a firstborn male of those 12 tribes, the parents would bring that firstborn male to an Aaronic priest and hand him to the priest (as Jesus' parents did with him, and as Jewish parents still do to this day), then hand the priest 5 shekels, and receive the infant back in exchange. This is the rite of the Redemption of the Firstborn (pidyon haben).

Formal sacrificial rites in ancient Israel were conducted at temples and shrines under the direct control of the descendants of Aaron. The sacrifices on behalf of the entire people of Israel, under the law of carnal commandments, were not conducted by priests of Melchizedek. Indeed, that very sacrificial system was a precursor to the great vicarious, atoning sacrifice of Jesus as the Paschal "Lamb of God" (i.e., as God's offering of his own son at Passover as an atonement for all mankind), in which the chief Aaronic priest (Caiaphas) even demanded Jesus' death, saying

"that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation. And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" (John 11:50-52; cf. 18:14).

In other words, this was a formal, official sacrifice ordered by the Aaronic chief priest himself on behalf of the entire people, even though he did not actually understand the implications of his role and his prophetic words. John the Baptizer, also an Aaronic priest, likewise did not fully comprehend his official role, except that he had to perform the rite assigned to him in order to fulfill all righteousness.

The sons of Levi will again one day offer an offering in righteousness (blood sacrifice) at a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Meantime, wIth his Resurrection, Jesus has successfully gathered all priestly power unto himself as the great high priest of the order of Melchizedek. The letter to the Hebrews sums it up well, and I recommend it to any who don't quite get it.

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Thus, soon after the birth of a firstborn male of those 12 tribes, the parents would bring that firstborn male to an Aaronic priest and hand him to the priest (as Jesus' parents did with him, and as Jewish parents still do to this day), then hand the priest 5 shekels, and receive the infant back in exchange. This is the rite of the Redemption of the Firstborn (pidyon haben).

Our Moroccan neighbours actually had my father do that for me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

No, none of the original party were....

I know Lehi was of the tribe of Joseph (don't remember if it was the sub-tribe of Ephriam or Mannasah), but what if Sariah, or some of her daughter in-laws were Levites?

Do we know that they weren't?

If they were, would their sons be eligible for the priesthood (even though their fathers were of the tribe of Joseph)?

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what if Sariah, or some of her daughter in-laws were Levites?

Leviticism (if it wasn't a word a minute ago, it is now) is inherited solely through the male line.

If her sons-in-law had been Levites, then we might have something. but ther is no evidence of this being hte case. Surely, had there been a Levite among their numbers, Nephi would have told us, and we would have seen this hypothetical Priest would have been the one to have offered sacrifices on arrival in the Promised Land (inter alia).

Lehi

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The need for Levites to be available to perform sacrifices is also based on our current - post Deuteronomic Reformation understanding of the Mosaic law. I've often wondered if maybe Lehi had an alternate understanding of Priesthood requirements and this was part of the apostasy of the Jews he was warning against.

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