Cohens and Levites. Biblical Tribal Prophecy in Action
This article is going to repeat a point already raised by us a few times already. Nevertheless it is worth repeating because a lot of people are not aware of it.
We hold that the Lost Ten Tribes are among Western Peoples. The different Tribes to some degree are still distinguishable. Each Tribe had its own characteristics. Tell me what your Tribe is then I may be able to say something about who you are!
There were Twelve Different Tribes. Actually there were 13 tribes since Joseph was divided into two. There were also additional groups such as the descendants of Jethro and the Rechabites who were of non-Israelite origin but attached themselves to Israel.
In addition, within the Tribes there were sub-tribes and extended families each with their own distinguishing qualities.
Descendants of Israelites NEED to strive to know who they are and to be proud of it.
Within the Tribe of Levi there were different groups.
1 The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 2 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3 The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Looking at the above verse please note:
The main families of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
From the family of Kohath came Amram.
From Amram came Aaron (also transliterated as "Aharon") and Moses.
Aaron became the ancestor of the Cohens i.e. the Priests. Any Jew with surnames suchÂ "Cohen," or "Katz" (and other specific names) is probably a descendant of Aharon.
There were also Descendants of Moses most of whom joined the Lost Ten Tribes in Exile. Jewish tradition traced them to France and Britain along with the Rechabites from Jethro.
Even though Descendants of Levites were to be found among the Ten Tribes MOST of them stayed with Judah.
After the 12 Tribes of Israel came out of Egypt they conquered the Land of Canaan. They divided the Land among the 12 Tribes. The Levites received cities of their own but not a separate territory (Joshua 14:4, 1-Chronicles 6:64). Their allotments were spread among the other Tribes.
In the time of Rehoboam son of Solomon son of David, the Ten Tribes led by Jeroboam from the Tribe of Ephraim separated. They created their own Kingdom. In the south the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained alone in the Kingdom of Judah.
Later most of the Levites from all over Israel also moved to Judah (2-Chronicles 11;13, 13:9). Minority elements who were members of the other Tribes over the generations also moved to Judah. The Tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Levi, and a few from each of the other Tribes came to populate the Land of Judah. These gave rise to the Jewish People as we now know them.
The Levites and Cohens had been responsible for the Temple Service. This included a sophisticated orchestra with many instruments and a choir of singers. Levi had musical talents. Levites had also been employed as Religious instructors and as governmental administrators and religious overseers.
One of the tasks associated with the Levites was that of being religious legal adjudicators.
Deuteronomy (NASB) 17:
8 If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the LORD chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
Note the verse:
Deuteronomy 17: 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days.
The verse in Hebrew says, "El Ha-Kohanim, Ha-Laviim, ve el-Ha-Shoftet," i.e. "to the Cohens, the Levites, and to the Judge." We have here three groups of officiates. In practice many of the Judges were also either Cohens or Levites. The same has applied throughout the ages including our own time. Many leading Rabbinical legal authorities belong to Cohen or Levite families. At all events there was to be an adjudicating authority, and there always has been through Rabbinical consensus. The decisions of this authority were binding. They were NOT left to the discretion of any single individual who wished to decide differently.
Levis and Cohens are both from the Tribe of Levi. Jews with the surname 'Cohen' or 'Levi' are usually descended from the Tribe of Levi. There are a few other surnames that are also associated with this Tribe. Out of the 1000s of Rabbis that exist a small handful in each generation end up formulating the law as it is to be applied in practice and having their opinion accepted. About 40% of this select minority in nearly every generation has belonged to the Tribe of Levi. No-body arranges this. Very few appear to have ever even noticed it . It is just something that happens all the time. Levis and Cohens are not dominant among Jews who become Rabbis. They are however disproportionately significant among the small minority of Rabbis who make decisions that are accepted as obligatory law and kept generation after generation. No-one says which Jews will became Rabbis. No-one says which Rabbis will be capable of making legal decisions. No-one says which legal decisions will endure and be considered binding by the Jewish community. It just happens, generation after generation, for century after century. In retrospect when we examine the names of they who merited to make the decisions we find an astonishing proportion of Levites and Cohens among them!
This is Divine Providence.
It shows that the Commandment in Deuteronomy 17:9 about going to the Cohens, Levis, and Judges who will be in that each generation had Prophetical Significance!
It helps prove that Tribal Accreditation is still important!
For another aspect concerning Levi and the Rabbinical Law see Issachar and the Rabbis and the commentary of Rabbi Mintsberg concenring the adjudication of levi as distinct from that of Judah and Issachar:
# Levi instinctively understands the essence of the Torah message, as it says (Deuteronomy 33:10), "They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, And Israel Your law." Issachar understands how people perceive things. They are able to present instruction in a manner amenable to the psychology of the recipient.
1-Chronicles (NKJV) 12:
32 of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do...
Levi. The Companion of God and his Tribe
Levi. Tribal Characteristics in a Nutshell