LEVITES, or sons of Levi (son of Jacob by Leah), a sacred caste in ancient Israel, the guardians of the temple service at Jerusalem.'
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.
In the last stage (c) the exclusion of the ordinary Levites from all share in the priesthood of the sons of Aaron is looked upon as a matter of course, dating from the institution of priestly worship by Moses.
Some of the latter were either not conquered by the Israelites until long after the invasion, or, if conquered, were not held by Levites; and names are wanting of places in which priests are actually known to have lived.
Further, instead of holding cities and pasture-grounds, the Levites are sometimes described as scattered and divided (Gen.