Certain priests of idolatrous Judean shrines (distinguished by him as " Levites ") he deprives of priestly functions, degrading them to the rank of temple menials; and he takes from the civil ruler all authority over public religion, permitting him merely to furnish material for sacrifices.
LEVITES, or sons of Levi (son of Jacob by Leah), a sacred caste in ancient Israel, the guardians of the temple service at Jerusalem.'
All are "Levites" by descent, and are thus correlated in the genealogical and other lists, but the true priesthood is confined to the sons of Aaron, while the mass of the Levites are subordinate servants who are not entitled to approach the altar or to perform any strictly priestly function.
First (a), in the earlier biblical writings which describe the state of affairs under the Hebrew monarchy there is not this fundamental distinction among the Levites, and, although a list of Aaronite high-priests is preserved in a late source, internal details and the evidence of the historical books render its value extremely doubtful (1 Chron.
5); and the present book of Deuteronomy, in promulgating the reform, represents the Levites as poor scattered "sojourners" and recommends them to the charity of the people (Deut.
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