Fulfillment of Prophecy by Levites who are ALSO Rabbis!
(31 July, 2018, 19 Av, 5778)
1. The Oral Law
2. Levi as Lawmaker
3. Maimonides on Levi and ALL who Follow his Lead
1. The Oral Law
Judaism believes in the Bible. The most important section of the Bible according to Judaism is the Pentateuch meaning the First Five Books. These were written by Moses. In Hebrew this section is known as the Chumash meaning "Five," or simply as the "Torah." This term "Torah" means Law or Teaching and the term is also applied for all Religious Teaching and Tradition in general. Usually according to the context one can tell what the intention is.
Alongside the Written Law there also existed an Oral Tradition that explained how the Written Law was to be carried out.
Moses had set up a system of jurisdiction with local judges in a hierarchy for every 10, 50, 100, and 1000 men (Exodus 18:24-26). Over them were 70 elders (Numbers 11:16-17) later known as the Sanhedrin. This body was the supreme legalitic authority over the People. In addition to
the 70 elders that were over all the people there also existed 12 smaller Sanhedrins of 23 members each over every one of the 12 Tribes.
Elders. Rabbinical Authority
The Sanhedrin was to be located in Jerusalem preferably on the Temple Mount. It was to have supreme authority concerning how the Law should be administered. Even if someone or other disagreed with their interpretation of the Law their decisions still had to be obeyed (Deuteronomy 17:8-13). In addition to the Judges and Sanhedrin Israel also had Prophets. The last of the Prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) were members of the Great Assembly. This had 120 members at the beginning and was a kind of super Sanhedrin. The Great Assembly was to decide what books would be included in the Bible and what would not and other important matters. The authority of the Sanhedrin is referred to in the Bible (Numbers 11:16-17, Deuteronomy 17:8-13).
2. Levi as Lawmaker
Even after the Jews were dispersed the Rabbis continued to make decisions according to the authority given to them. Throughout the centuries the Rabbis despite being scattered all over the world managed to maintain a consensus of agreement as to how the Law would be decided. This to my mind fulfills two important prophecies and is an additional proof of the veracity of Scripture.
The present-day Jews are descended from the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Levi, and minority representatives of the other Tribes.
Deuteronomy 17:10-13 in effect tells us that the Levites and the Judges (i.e. Sages) were in effect to be the authoritative body who would decide ALL religious questions.
Levi and Oral Law
The Levites were in effect divided into two sections, (1) The Priests (Cohens) and (2) the ordinary Levites. Now in Judaism any Jew can become a scholar and a Rabbi as long as they act correctly and learn enough of the sources. Decision on legal matters, etc, can be written up and accepted according to their intrinsic value. The Levites (i.e. Covens and Levis) today constitute about 10% of the Jewish People. A much great proportion (possibly more than 50%) of the Rabbinical Scholars whose decisions were accepted as authoritative throughout the generation have "Cohen" or "Levi" as their surnames. For example in recent times leading Halachic (Religious Legal) authorities who were also from the Tribe of Levi included Rabbi Avraham HaCohen Kook, the Soloveitchik Family of leading Rabbis, Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (author of the "Chofets Chaim" and the "Mishneh Brurah"), and numerous others.
This is what was indicated in Deuteronomy 17!
Levi. The Companion of God and his Tribe
Levi. Tribal Characteristics in a Nutshell
Concerning the Tribe of Levi it was said:
10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments,
And Israel Your law.
They shall put incense before You,
And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar.
11 Bless his substance, LORD,
And accept the work of his hands;
Strike the loins of those who rise against him,
And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.
# Why did Levi not merit a [Tribal] Inheritance in the Land of Israel and its spoils [at the time of conquest] together with his brothers? The reason is he had been separated out to serve the LORD, to work for HIM, and to teach His ways, His righteous paths and His just judgments to the multitude, as it says, "THEY SHALL TEACH JACOB THY JUDGMENTS, AND ISRAEL THY LAW" [Deuteronomy 33:10]. For this reason they [the Levites] are absolved from regular requirements: They do not have to fight in wars like the rest of Israel. They do not inherit or bequeath to others through the force of their arms, rather they are the Armies of the Almighty, as it says, "BLESS, LORD, HIS Prowess" [Deuteronomy 33:11, mistranslated as "substance" in some translations]. Levi was blessed and merited the offerings given to the Almighty, as it says, "I AM THY PART AND THINE INHERITANCE" [Numbers 18:20]. #
# Not only those from the Tribe of Levi, but [the same principle appllies to] every human being throughout the world whose spirit has made him willing, and whose intellect has guided him, to set himself apart before the LORD, to minister unto Him and to serve Him with the purpose of knowing the LORD -- to walk honestly as God intended when He created him and to remove from himself the yoke of the many earthly affairs that human beings pursue: Such a person is holy to the highest degree! The Almighty becomes his portion and his inheritance for all eternity, and will grant him in this world whatever will suffice for his needs, even as He has done for the Kohanim and the Levites. Thus David, peace be upon him, said, "The LORD is my allotted portion and my share, You guide my destiny" [Psalm 16:5]. #
Rambam (MAIMONIDES 1135 - 1204 CE) Mishneh Torah, Book 7, Zeraim, the Laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years 13:12-13.