D'varim/Deuteronomy 18:1 There will not be to the priests, the Levites - all the tribe of Levi - a portion and an inheritance with Israel
Our Sages tell us that when the Torah uses more words than are strictly necessary, there is always a good reason. Moshe is explaining why the Levites do not have a physical inheritance in the Land like the other tribes. He goes on in the following verses to demonstrate that the Levite portion comes both from the L-rd's portion - they share the sacrifices from the altar - and from the people by way of the tithes; and in turn the Levites live among and teach the other tribes. So why does the text include the triplet , to the priests, , the Levites, , all the tribe of Levi? Everyone knows that the priests are Levites, since they are the sons of Aharon; and it cannot mean that the whole tribe of Levi are priests, for that is only the family of Aharon.Rashi comes to the rescue with the comment: "The entire tribe of Levi - whether those who are blemish-free or whether those who have blemishes." Rashi says this lest we should think that if a priest has a blemish and is therefore disqualified from actual service in the Temple, he would be granted a physical inheritance instead.
Rashi's focus on the issue of physical inheritance - that the whole tribe of Levi have their inheritance from the L-rd rather than in the physical land - is important, because it demonstrates that G-d does not cease to provide for a priest or a Levite simply because they have a skin-blemish or a birth-mark. While they may not serve specifically in the Temple service, they can still serve by taking their place in teaching the other tribes about Torah, in manning the cities of refuge and passing on the heritage of the covenant. After all, a Levite with a large birth-mark is still likely to have children who do not, so continuity of calling and family is preserved.
Yeshua chides the disciples for their lack of faith in G-d's provision for them, comparing them to the grass or the lilies in the fields, and encouraging them that if G-d provides such glory in nature, He will certainly provide food and drink for the disciples (Luke 12:27-30). Yeshua concludes, "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven ... for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:33-34, NASB). Yeshua is not saying that we shouldn't have houses to live in, beds to sleep in and food to eat; the Levites owned houses, grazing land around the cities of refuge where they lived and herds of cattle. He is saying that our inheritance - that which is of real value, that we pass on, that we work for - is not a physical issue but a kingdom issue. More, just as no Levite is disenfranchised from the tithe provision because of physical appearance, Yeshua does not discriminate between people of different backgrounds, abilities and skills, skin colour, race or earning power. The kingdom of G-d is open to all, without fee and without price, so that all may come in and share G-d's provision and inheritance. "If you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29, CJB).
Further Study: Isaiah 55:1-7; Galatians 2:7-10
Application: Do you feel excluded from G-d's plans because of some physical disability or challenge? Know that whoever you are and no matter what you can or cannot do, regardless of physical or emotional limitations, G-d has a plan and a purpose for you in His kingdom and will include you in all the blessings and benefits He has promised to His people.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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