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was to attend upon the priests. They had forty-eight cities assigned them in different sections of the country, with the suburbs thereof for tillage, but they paid to the priests a portion of the increase of the fields adjoining those cities. The people supported them by tithes of their harvests and their flocks. Common Levites were often objects of charity. Moses said: "Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite, as long as thou livest upon the earth; for he hath no inheritance with thee. The Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come and eat and be satisfied.” Levites carried the Tabernacle and the Ark whenever they were removed, guarded the temple, took charge of ecclesiastical funds, and performed the sacred music. Persons not of the tribe of Levi, if they were remarkably skilful, were permitted to join the instrumental bands, but only Levites were allowed to unite their voices in religious service. In David's time, there were thirty-eight thousand of them. They came in and went out of the temple by set numbers, in twenty-four courses; thus each course served but one week in twenty-four, except on great festivals. When exempted from temple-service they were employed as lawyers and judges to decide controversies, as scribes, or writers, to copy the Sacred Books, and keep exact genealogies of the tribes, and as teachers to instruct the people in moral, ceremonial, and judicial portions of the Law. They were required to read the whole Law once in seven years to the people. Sometimes they were counsellors of state, and generals of armies. Schools of the prophets were generally established on hills or mountains; for there was such a fixed habit of worshipping on high places, that it was deemed judicious to have holy men stationed at such localities, to instruct the people, and bless their sacrifices. These seminaries were under the government of Levites. Some prophet, venerable for age or piety, presided. The pupils, who were called sons of the prophets, sat at his feet, listened to his instructions, and wrote down his prophecies. They were generally young Levites, of superior excellence and intelligence; but members of other tribes were sometimes admitted. If a Levite presumed to perform any of the functions appropriated to priests only, he was put to death. They were not allowed to enter the sanctuary, or touch the Ark, or handle any of the holy vessels. When such articles were removed, they were closely veiled by priests, and placed on poles; and Levites touched the poles only.
Priesthood conferred high rank, and was practically an order of nobility. During the reign of David, there are supposed to have been about six thousand priests. Four thousand two hundred and eighty-nine persons descended from Aaron were among those who returned from captivity. The slightest personal deformity excluded a man from the sacred office. Not only the blind and the lame were forbidden to minister at the altars, but even those who had one eye or ear larger than another, or the nose too much flattened, or the eyebrows meeting on the forehead. Any transient disease or blemish unfitted a man for the performance of sacerdotal duties, until it was cured. They wore mitres or bonnets made something in the fashion of a Turkish turban; white linen drawers, and a short linen robe, usually fastened by a girdle of divers colours; but on the holy Day of Expiation, the girdle also was of pure white linen. If there was the slightest impurity on the garments, even if an insect happened to get crushed in the folds, the priest was considered unclean, and his ministration was of no effect. If any one ventured to assist in divine service, knowing that he had in any respect neglected the purification required by law, the young priests thrust him out and killed him with billets of wood. They always bathed, and left their shoes behind them, when they entered the sanctuary; and they always retired from the apartment backward, that the face might never be turned away from the place where the Ark stood. Their clothes were never washed or mended, lest some pollution should be accidentally acquired in the process. When they became unfit to wear, they were ravelled to
make wicks for lamps in the temple. When a descendant of Aaron was consecrated, in order to enter upon the duties of his office, he sacrificed a ram, and priests put some of the blood upon the tip of his right ear, his right thumb, and great toe, upon his garments and upon the altar. During the time of their ministry, they were-forbidden to taste of wine, or any intoxicating drink. Their courses at the altar were fixed by lot. Some were to blow on the silver trumpets, some to wave incense, some to feed the sacred fire, others to carry out the ashes. This was done, because, as their numbers increased, they overthrew each other, and created confusion by scrambling for the same employment. Every morning trumpets sounded from the temple, to give the Levites notice to come to their appointed tasks. It was deemed sacrilege for any but priests to blow on those instruments, or to burn incense before the Lord. When king Uzziah presumed, in the pride of his heart, to offer incense with his own hands, we are told that he was instantly struck with leprosy, and remained a leper to the day of his death. The people appropriated all the first-born of their flocks and herds, and a tenth of all their produce, to religious purposes. The oblations of wheat, bread, fruit, wine, and oil, were waved before the Lord, or a portion poured out as libations, and then divided among the priesthood. Of the animals sacrificed, a small portion was consumed, and priests and their attendants feasted on the remainder. Any money found when the streets of Jerusalem were swept belonged to the priests. They derived considerable revenue from the practice of paying five shekels for every first-born son; a law instituted by Moses, in lieu of human sacrifice. Voluntary vows were another source of profit. When people were in great distress, or when they had received any unexpected blessing, they often made a vow to dedicate a piece of land, or a house, or money, or jewels, or a certain number of animals, to sacred uses. The priests had likewise thirteen cities near Jerusalem allotted
to them. The criminal law was the same for priests and people.
The first-born of the oldest branch of the family descended from Aaron, was High Priest by lineal succession, provided he was free from physical blemishes. Hence it sometimes happened that the Pontiff was not religiously inclined above other men, or otherwise remarkably qualified for his office. If the candidate was healthy, and perfectly formed, but poor, his priestly brethren must make him the richest among them by donations. He was consecrated by being invested with the sacred garments, and having his forehead anointed with holy oil, in the form of a letter, or a cross. All priests were forbidden to marry a prostitute, or a divorced woman; but the High Priest was not allowed to marry a widow, or even a maiden who had been betrothed to another. His wife must be nobly born, though not necessarily of his own tribe. If she died, he might marry again; but if he took a second wife while the first was living, he must give one of them a bill of divorce before the great Day of Expiation; otherwise he was incapable of performing the holy offices, which then devolved upon him. He was polluted by the presence of a dead body, and must not even enter the house where bis own father and mother lay dead. He had a dwelling within the precincts of the temple, called the High Priest's Parlour. He generally remained there during the day, and at night returned to the home of his family, which must be within the precincts of Jerusalem. Whenever he went abroad, or entered the temple, he was attended by other priests. It was deemed unsuitable for him to con. verse with the commonalty, or frequent public feasts or baths, where he could be too familiarly seen by the people. The holiest portions of divine worship were entrusted to him. He was considered the appointed mediator between God and man, to make atonement for the sins of the whole people. He alone was permitted to enter the holy of holies, to utter the name of Jehovah, and to ask counsel of God by Urim and Thummim. Nothing important, in peace or war, could be undertaken without bis sanction. Though the administration of justice was committed to particular judges, the last appeal was made to him in difficult cases, even in temporal affairs. His office continued for life; for the laws of Moses made no provision against a priest who should prove faithless to his trust. He was not obliged to testify in courts of justice, except in cases relating to the king; and even to that no one could compel him, except the Great Sanhedrim. In some respects he was on a level with other people. He might be witnessed against, and judged, as well as judge. If he committed an offence, which by law deserved whipping, the Sanhedrim whipped him, and then restored him to his dignity. The vestments of the High Priest were extremely rich. On his forehead was a golden semicircle, with “Holiness to the Lord" inscribed upon it in embossed characters. Over a tunic and loose trowsers of fine white linen, he wore a blue robe, woven in one piece, the edges richly embroidered with pomegranates, and the lower rim, which reached to his feet, hung with little bells of gold, which tinkled as he moved, and gave the people notice to fall to prayers, while he offered incense. Over the robe was a splendid garment, called the Ephod, which fell down the back, and in front, was fastened at the waist by a rich girdle. The Ephod was of blue, scarlet, and purple, interwoven with golden threads. It had two shoulder pieces, with large beryl-stones set in gold, on which were engraved the names of Jacob's sons, progenitors of the twelve tribes. From these, suspended by gold chains, hung a breastplate, formed of cloth of gold, in which twelve precious stones were set in rows, each stone engraved with the name of one of the tribes. In this breastplate were the images, or words, or symbols, called the Urim and Thummim. Moses, we are told, talked with God face to face, and received verbal instructions what the people were to do. But after his death, judges and kings were obliged to consult Deity through the agency of the High Priest. For this purpose,