Job’s Eighth Answer, Part 5 of 5 & The Levites and the Priests

Job isn’t the first person to yell at You, or maybe he was since we don’t know for certain when the Book of Job was written. 

I know You ignore people when they cry out to You for help when they really aren’t with You (Is 59:1-2), but if they are, like Job is, I don’t know why You have ignored him, but I know You have Your reasons.  I’m certainly not arguing with You.

The Levitical Priesthood
The Levitical Priesthood traces through the three sons of Levi, through the Sadducees until it went extinct at the death of Christ, when it was replaced with the Priesthood of Christians which endures until the second coming.

Introduction:
1. The Levitical Priesthood traces through the three sons of Levi whose names are Gershon/Gershom (Gershonites/Gershomites), Kohath (Kohathites) and Merari (Merarites).

Note: The Pentateuch spells Levi’s firstborn “Gershon”, but the book of Chronicles spells him “Gershom”. Variations in name spelling are common in the Bible.

2. A special place for the sons of Aaron: The Tabernacle began at Mt. Sinai in 1446 B.C. and it was at that time that special duties were given to each of the three lines of priests but only the sons of Aaron could offer animal sacrifices or incense.

3. Levites seem to be assigned and located in every city, not just the 48 Levitical cities.

This would indicate that each city, whether large or small, had a recognized Levite in charge of that city: “Now if a Levite comes from any of your towns throughout Israel where he resides, and comes whenever he desires to the place which the LORD chooses, then he shall serve in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand there before the LORD” (Deut 18:6-7).

4. High priests were appointed for life by Moses, but at the time of Jesus were appointed annually by the Romans.

This is why we have multiple high priests at the trial of Jesus (Annas and Caiaphas).

Annas was High Priest from 6-15 A.D.

Then from 16-30 A.D. Caiaphas was High Priest.

In 60-63 A.D, Annanias was the high priest who tried Paul in Acts 23:2.

5. The priesthood continued down to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when it became physically extinct, but it was rendered spiritually extinct at the death of Christ being replaced by the priesthood of believers in Christ.

6. Today, every Christian is a priest (ambassadors) and Christ is our high priest.

But, that must be tough on You, to sit and watch one of Your children in pain and do nothing.

What Job is going through is nothing compared to what Jesus went through for us.

Job’s Eighth Answer, Part 5 of 5

The climatic section of Job’s three-part summation is negative in the sense that Job denies all the sins listed, but it has the positive purpose of attesting loyalty to God as his sovereign Lord.  In the strongest legal terms, using a series of self-maledictory oaths, Job completes his defense. 

No more can be said (v. 40).  He now affixes his signature to the document (v 35), and the burden of proof that he is a wretched sinner rests with God.  Job’s call for vindication had reached a climax in 27:2-6.  Now he amplifies that statement with the details of his godly life. 

Each disavowal (vv 5-7, 9, 13, 16-21, 24-27, 29-34, 38-39) is accompanied by an oath that calls for the punishment the offense deserves (vv 8, 10-12, 14-15, 22-23, 28, 40).  The principle at work is the so-called law of retaliation (see Ex 21:23-25).  Sixteen verses in this chapter begin with if, raising a series of hypothetical questions.

I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?

Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.

If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;

Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase” (Job 31:1-12).

Job begins with sins of the heart, especially sexual lust (vv 1-4), cheating in business (vv 5-8) and marital infidelity (vv 9-12).

Shechem
Also known as Nablus, Tel/Tell Balatah, Nabulus, Neapolis, Shakim, Shekhem, Sichem, Sychar, Sychem

(Where Simeon and Levi were seen as traitors due to them murdering their sisters rapist and everyone else – Gen 34).

Mounts Gerizim and Ebal
Located between Mt. Gerizim (left) and Mt. Ebal (right) Shechem is preeminent in the biblical record, beginning with God’s promise of the land to Abraham.

Later Jacob would return here with his family and settle shortly.

During the Conquest, the twelve tribes gathered on these two hills to recite God’s Law and the blessings and curses that accompanied obedience and disobedience.

“If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;

What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;

(For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;)

If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;

If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;

If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:

Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.

For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure” (Job 31:13-23).

Job reveals genuine understanding concerning matters of social justice: Human equality is based on creation (vv 13-15),compassion toward those in need is essential (vv 16-20), and power and influence must not be abused (vv 21-23).

“If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;

If I rejoice because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much;

If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;

Middle Bronze Wall
Vulnerable by location, Shechem was strongly fortified from its earliest history.

This wall was built of Cyclopean stones and continued in use through the Late Bronze Age without significant changes.

In the background, Mount Gerizim was the location of the Samaritan temple in the 4th-2nd centuries B.C.

And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand:

This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above” (Job 31:24-28).

Covetous greed (vv 24-25) and idolatry (vv 26-27) are equally reprehensible in the eyes of God (v 28; Matt :19-24; Col 3:5).

The sun and moon are not objects to be worshipped (31:26-28; see Deut 4:19; 17:3; Ez 8:16-17).

If I rejoice at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:

Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.

Middle Bronze Gate
Part of the city’s fortifications throughout the second millennium, this gate is typical for the Middle Bronze period with three piers and two chambers.

Only the stone foundations remain.  This gate most likely was in use in the time of Jacob and certainly was the main gate of the city in the days of Abimelech (Judges 9).

“If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.

The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller” (Job 31:29-32).

The sin of gloating over one’s enemy was condemned by Moses (Ex 23:4-5) and by Christ (Matt 5:43-47).

“If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:

Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?

Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me.

I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him” (Job 31:33-37).

Biblical Shechem
1. Abraham promised the land.

2. Jacob buys a plot of land; Dinah is raped.

3. Jacob’s sons are tending the sheep here before Joseph finds them in Dothan.

4. The covenant is confirmed during the Conquest.

5. The city is set aside as a levitical city and a city of refuge.

6. Joseph is buried here.

7. The ten tribes reject Rehoboam.

Job’s final call for justice.  His signature endorses every word of the oaths he has just taken.

“If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;

If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:

Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended” (Job 31:38-40). 

A climatic oath that completes an earlier theme and creates a unique emphasis.  Job calls for a curse on his land if he had not been fully committed to social justice.

The words of Job are now over.  He will only make brief statements of contrition (40:4-5; 42:2-6) following the divine discourses.

1 Many people think it was no big thing to Jesus to die for us, they are incorrect.  Jesus was a man just like us and has emotional feelings just like us.  The physical pain he went through, before and during the crucifixion, were bad enough. 

But His greatest pain was in His heart because He knew that once He was crucified and resurrected Satan would increase his wicked ways on the world, and many would be fooled and end up spending eternity in Hell. 

Don’t think for a second that Jesus didn’t dread being beaten and crucified, but His love for us is greater than the anguish He had to go through.  Without the crucifixion and resurrection we would all be going to Hell.

Temple of Baal Berith
This fortified temple dates to the MB and LB periods and has walls 17 feet thick.

The excavators identified this building with the Temple of Baal Berith mentioned in Judges 9.

From this building funds were taken to finance Abimelech’s kingship and here the citizens of the city took refuge against Abimelech’s attack.

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified (Matt 26:1-2).

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?  And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:14).

Now when the even was come, he [Jesus] sat down with the twelve.

And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I?  He said unto him, Thou hast said (Matt 26:20-21, 25).

Then Said Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” (Matt 26:31-32).

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began  to be sorrowful and very heavy

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt 26:36-39).

“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done”  (Matt 26:42).

To read it all go to Matthew chapters 26-28.

Prior to the crucifixion Jesus had also prayed to God for not only his disciples, but for all of us:

Shechem — in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

The sacred standing stone at Shechem
Robert J. Bull, in a 1960 article in Biblical Archaeologist, tells the story of the earlier discovery of the sacred standing stone that still stands in the courtyard of the temple of Baal-Berith at Shechem.

The broken sacred standing stone (massebah) stands in the courtyard in front of the entrance to the Temple of Baal-Berith. The near-barren Mount Ebal, where the curses of the law were read (Deuteronomy 27); Joshua 8:30-33), is visible to the north.

Dr. Bryant Wood says,
Since the temple existed in Joshua’s day, it is possible this was the “large stone” he set up “under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord” at Shechem (Josh. 24:26). The stela is undoubtedly the “pillar” where Abimelech was made king (v. 6)” (Bryant Wood. “From Ramesses to Shiloh.” Giving the Sense. Kregel, 2003).

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

SHECHEM: The Second “City of Refuge”
we-who-have-fled-for-refugeSechem was situated at the extremity of a valley among the hills of Ephraim. The famous mountains of Ebal and Gerizim rose on either side, from the slopes of which the blessings and the curses of the law were proclaimed in the ears of assembled Israel.

If Jerusalem was the greatest and the grandest of the cities of Palestine, Shechem was perhaps the most beautiful. It is still spoken of by travelers as one of the loveliest spots all the Holy Land, with its orchards of olive, fig, and pomegranate, and its flocks of singing-birds, which have made the inhabitants give to the graceful slope on which it looks down, the name of the “Musical Valley.”

As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Twenty Seven Foot High Cyclopean Foundation for City Wall at Shechem—1600 B.C.
Shechem is mentioned close to 60 times in the Bible. It was an important non-Israelite center that figured prominently in the stories of Abraham, Jacob, and later Abimelech (Judges 9). During the days of Joshua it seems to have served as an Israelite tribal and religious center.

Shechem was located on the boundary between Manasseh and Ephraim (Josh 17:2, 7) and was designated as a Levitical city as well as a city of refuge (Josh 20:7; 21:21; 1 Chron 6:66, 67). It served briefly as the first capital of the N kingdom but was replaced by Tirzah and then Samaria.

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:1-26).

The Levites and the Priests

The descendants of Simeon and Levi appear to have lost their right to a separate inheritance because of their treachery at Shechem (Gen 34:30; 49:5-7).

The Simeonites, absorbed into Judah, all but disappeared from history, but Levi emerged as the priestly tribe. The Levites did not receive an allotment of the Promised Land but were said to have the Lord as their inheritance (Deut 18:1-2).

The elevation of Levi to the status of priestly tribe is often explained by the golden calf incident. God had claimed all of Israel’s firstborn to serve as priests (Ex 12:29-30).

But in the aftermath of the golden calf episode the Levites’ faithfulness and zeal for the purity of the priesthood led to their divine election to service in place of Israel’s firstborn (Ex 32:26-29; Num 3:11-13,41).

A priest, high priest, and Levite of the Hebrews of Torah times.
A priest (kohen) had to descend from Aaron.

The first high priest was Aaron, after which the position was to pass to his eldest son, then to his eldest son, ad infinitum (this practice was followed in early Judaism, but altered during later years as the Israelites came to be ruled by foreign powers).

Once in Israel, the Levites (the tribe of Levi, to which Moses and Aaron belonged) were not given land, as they were to perform religious functions for Hebrews throughout Israel (in exchange for which, members of this tribe were paid a tithe; this tithing is still observed among many Orthodox and Hasidic Jews).

If I’m correct, and I think I am, Aaron was a Jew.

Therefore, all Jtrue priests, i.e., God’s priests, were also Jews before Jesus was born.

Today, it does not matter what you are, as long as you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then basically you are a priest, or in Paul’s words, “ambassadors for Christ” (23 Cor 5:20).

Aaron had been the High Priest, but now only Jesus is the High Priest (Heb 4:14-16).

If so then we know that all Catholics Priests, including the Pope, are the same as the Jews that Jesus talked about, that they were of the Synagogue of Satan (Rev 3:9).

On another note, we have to look at Israel today.

We can’t assume thatthe Jewish Priests in Israel are God’s because most of the Jews there has been found out not to be real Jews, i.e., Abraham’s children.

To learn more go here.

Yet 1 Sam 2:27-28 indicates that the Levites had functioned in a priestly role already in Egypt. This premise appears to be supported by other texts:

In Ex 4:14 Aaron is called “the Levite”—a more official designation than the more typical “son of Levi.”

Ex 28-29 describes the priestly vestments and the consecration of Aaron and his sons with no explanation as to why they were to hold this office, suggesting that everyone already knew Aaron as priest.

At the beginning of the golden calf episode (Ex 32:1-3) the people turned to Aaron to perform a priestly act—the cre­ation and consecration of an image.

In the rebellion against the authority of Moses and Aaron led by Korah (a Levite), Dathan and Abiram, both sides acknowl­edged that the sanctuary prerogatives be­longed to the Levites (Num 16-17).

The Bible distinguishes between priests and Levites in terms of function. The duties of the Levites were theoretically apportioned according to the descendants of Levi’s three sons (Num 3:15-17):

The Gershonites were entrusted with the tabernacle curtains, coverings and cords (Num 3:21-26).

The Kohathites were to care for the sanc­tuary vessels, including the ark, table, lamp- stand and altars once they had been prepared by the priests (Num 3:27-32).

The Merarites were responsible for the outer structures of the tabernacle enclosure (Num 3:33-37).

The Levites in general, then, were com­missioned with the care, transportation and protection of the sanctuary. They were specif­ically commanded to encamp around the tabernacle, guarding it from ritual pollution and defending it from those who might have approached the sacred precinct while ritually unclean (Num 1:50—53).

The duties of the priestly descendants of Aaron consisted of the actual performance of the temple liturgy:

Only Aaron’s sons could minister at the altar of the Lord, offering incense and sacri­fices there (Deut 33:10).

The priests represented Israel before the Lord (Lev 1:1-9) and were alone empower­ed to bless the people (Num 6:23—27).

Priests accompanied the people during war, sounding trumpets and bearing sacred vessels (Num 10:9; 31:6).

Priests were entrusted with teaching and interpreting the laws given by Moses (Lev 10:11; cf. Mal 2:7).

A further distinction of holiness was made with regard to the high priest. He alone could enter the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the nation once each year, symbolically bearing the sins of Israel (Lev 16).

Deuteronomy, in using the term “the priests, who are Levites”(lit.,”the priests, the Levites,” e.g., Deut 17:9,18), appears to regard all Levites as priests. In contrast, in much of Exodus-Numbers only Aaronites are referred to as priests, with other Levites viewed as minor clergy.

The most plausible solution is that Exodus-Numbers are primarily con­cerned with the central sanctuary. By con­trast, Deuteronomy envisioned the dispersal of the Levites to shrines scattered across Israel, where all would serve as priests.

Only when the Levites came to the central shrine did they serve in a subordinate role.