The exact meaning of these features is not clear, but if it be remembered (a) that the Levites of post-exilic literature represent only the result of a long and intricate development, (b) that the name "Levite," in the later stages at least, was extended to include all priestly servants, and (c) that the priesthoods, in tending to become hereditary, included priests who were Levites by adoption and not by descent, it will be recognized that the examination of the evidence for the earlier stages cannot confine itself to those narratives where the specific term alone occurs.
The priesthoods of Shiloh and Dan could boast of an illustrious origin (I Sam.
This spirit of do ut des will be found to go closely with the gift-theory of sacrifice, and to be especially characteristic of those religions of middle grade that are given over to sacrificial worship as conducted in temples and by means of organized priesthoods.
As certain sanctuaries, Shiloh, Shechem, Bethel, &c., grew in importance, the priesthoods that officiated at them would acquire special prestige.
Priesthoods, whose traditions connect them with the south, are subordinated; the ecclesiastical records are re-shaped or re-adjusted; and a picture is presented of hierarchical jealousies and rivalries which (it was thought) were settled once and for all in the days of the exodus from Egypt.