Priests, sorcerers, and prophets
Levites get a cut of the tithe1 Israel’s tribe descended from Levi—the Levites—won’t get a piece of territory like the other tribes will. Instead, Levites will live off the animal sacrifices and offerings the other tribes bring to the LORD. 2 Levites won’t inherit any of the land. Instead, they’ll inherit the LORD. He promised to provide for them. 3 Here are the cuts of meat the priests will get when you sacrifice cattle and sheep at the worship center: shoulder, stomach, and both cheek muscles from the head. 4 When you harvest, bring priests an offering from the first of your grain, wine, and olive oil. Do the same with the first wool you shear from your sheep. 5 Do it because the LORD your God chose Levi’s tribe alone to serve him as priests. They minister to all the other tribes. That will always be their job.
It’s okay for Levites to move6 If a Levite wants to move to the place the LORD chooses as a worship center, that’s fine. He’s allowed to do that. 7 And after he moves, he’s allowed to serve the LORD his God there just like other Levites do. 8 He’s also entitled to an equal share of the offerings that worshipers bring there. It doesn’t matter if he has other sources of income, such as a family inheritance.
No sorcery allowed9 When you get to the land the LORD your God is giving you, don’t pick up any despicable customs from the locals. 10 Never sacrifice any of your children in a fire. Don’t practice sorcery, witchcraft, or telling people the future based on signs you interpret. 11 Don’t try to jinx people by casting a spell on them. And don’t try to get in touch with the dead. 12 All of this is despicable to God. It’s the reason he’s getting rid of the people who live there. 13 Make no mistake about this: devote yourself completely to the LORD your God. 14 The people you’re about to drive out of the land practice sorcery and fortunetelling. But the LORD your God says you’re not allowed to.
Get your advice from prophets15 You’ll get your direction from a prophet like me. The LORD your God will send the prophet to you. He’ll come from among your own people. Listen to him. Do what he says. 16 After all, this was your idea. When we were camped at Mount Sinai, you said, “Don’t make us listen to the voice of the LORD our God again and watch the raging fire. Next time it will kill us.”
17 The LORD heard you and said, “That’s good. 18 I’ll give them a prophet like you, from their own people. I’ll tell the prophet what to say, and he’ll say it. 19 Anyone who doesn’t listen to my prophet will answer to me. 20 But if prophets speak their own words instead of mine—presuming they know what I want them to say—their words will be the death of them. And if they speak on behalf of other gods, that would be another fatal mistake. They would have to die.” 21 So, you might ask, “How will we know when we’re hearing a message from the LORD?” 22 If a prophet speaks on behalf of the LORD, but the prophet’s prediction fails, then that wasn’t a message from the LORD. The prophet only presumed to speak for the LORD. No need to fear a person like that.
Instead of getting a tribal territory, Levites get 48 walled cities scattered throughout the nation of Israel. This put the priests and their helpers within reach of people who wanted to consult a priest for advice and to ask for direction from God.
The Hebrew word for “stomach” is qeba. It can also mean the internal organs. The priest’s cut of meat seemed to vary according to the type of offering. In a “peace offering,” priests got the breast and the right thigh (Leviticus 7:34).
King David selected Jerusalem as the worship center. His son, King Solomon, later built the Jewish Temple there (1 Kings 6).
The Hebrew words are more literally translated “divination” and “omens.” Royal advisors and others would try to tell the future by reading signs such as the flight pattern of birds or bumps on the liver of a sacrificed animal.
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