Levi

Levi

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Levi/Levy was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 and Leah
Leah
Leah , as described in the Hebrew Bible, is the first of the two concurrent wives of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob and mother of six of sons whose descendants became the Twelve Tribes of Israel, along with at least one daughter, Dinah. She is the daughter of Laban and the older sister of Rachel, whom...

, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi (the levites); however Peake's commentary
Peake's commentary on the Bible
Peake's Commentary on the Bible is a one-volume commentary on the Bible that gives special attention to Biblical archaeology and the then-recent discoveries of biblical manuscripts.-First edition:...

 suggests this as postdiction
Postdiction
According to critics of paranormal beliefs, postdiction is an effect of hindsight bias that explains claimed predictions of significant events, such as plane crashes and natural disasters...

, an eponym
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. Certain religious and political functions were reserved for the Levites, and, according to some textual scholars
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

, the early sources of
Documentary hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis , holds that the Pentateuch was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors...

 the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

—the Jahwist
Jahwist
The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the sources of the Torah. It gets its name from the fact that it characteristically uses the term Yahweh for God in the book of Genesis...

 and Elohist
Elohist
The Elohist is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis. Its name comes from the term it uses for God: Elohim; it is characterised by, among other things, an abstract view of God, using "Horeb" instead of "Sinai" for the mountain where Moses received the laws of...

—appear to treat the term Levi as just being a word meaning priest; some scholars suspect that "levi" was originally a general term for a priest, and had no connection to ancestry, and that it was only later, for example in the priestly source
Priestly source
The Priestly Source is one of the sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the bible. Primarily a product of the post-Exilic period when Judah was a province of the Persian empire , P was written to show that even when all seemed lost, God remained present with Israel...

 and Blessing of Moses
Blessing of Moses
The Blessing of Moses is the name sometimes given to a poem that appears in Deuteronomy . The poem presents an opinion of the merits and attributes of each of the Tribes of Israel, and so can be compared with the Blessing of Jacob, which has the same theme...

, that the existence of a tribe named Levi became assumed, in order to explain the origin of the priestly caste.

Origins


The text of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 argues that the name of Levi refers to Leah's hope for Jacob to join with her, implying a derivation from yillaweh, meaning he will join, but Biblical scholars
Biblical criticism
Biblical criticism is the scholarly "study and investigation of Biblical writings that seeks to make discerning judgments about these writings." It asks when and where a particular text originated; how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced; what influences were at work...

 have proposed quite different origins of the name. Many scholars suspect that it simply means priest, either by being a loan word originating from the Minaean
Minaeans
The Minaeans from Arabic or were an ancient Arab group in Yemen during the 1st millennium BC. Their Minaean Kingdom was one of important kingdoms in ancient Yemen and Southwestern Arabia...

 word lawi'u, meaning priest, or by referring to those people who were joined to the ark of the covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

. Some scholars believe that the Levites were not originally Israelite, instead originating as migrants, and consequently consider the name to refer to the Levites joining with either the Israelites in general, or the earlier Israelite priesthood in particular.

The family of Levi


In the Book of Genesis, Levi is described as having fathered three sons—Gershon
Gershon
According to the Torah, Gershon was the eldest of the sons of Levi, and the patriarchal founder of the Gershonites, one of the four main divisions among the Levites in biblical times. The Gershonites were charged with the care of the outer tabernacle including components such as the tent and its...

, Kohath
Kohath
According to the Torah, Kohath was one of the sons of Levi, and the patriarchal founder of the Kohathites, one of the four main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times; in some apocryphal texts such as the Testament of Levi, and the Book of Jubilees, Levi's wife, Kohath's mother, is named as...

, and Merari
Merari
According to the Torah, Merari was one of the sons of Levi, and the patriarchal founder of the Merarites, one of the four main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times; the Hebrew word Merari means sad/bitter...

. A similar genealogy is given in the Book of Exodus, where it is added that among Kohath's sons was one—Amram
Amram
In the Book of Exodus, Amram Arabic عمران Imran, is the father of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam and the husband of Jochebed.-In the Bible:In addition to being married to Jochebed, Amram is also described in the Bible as having been related to Jochebed prior to the marriage, although the exact...

—who married a woman named Jochebed
Jochebed
According to the Torah, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Aaron, Miriam and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, Jochebed is buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs, in Tiberias.-Birth of Moses:The...

, who was closely related to his father, and they were the biological parents of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

, and Miriam; though some Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Torah state that Jochebed was Amram's father's cousin, the masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 states that she was his father's sister
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

, and the Septuagint mentions that she was one of his father's sisters. The masoretic text's version of Levi's genealogy thus implies (but doesn't state) that Levi also had a daughter (Jochebed), and the Septuagint implies further daughters. The names of Levi's sons, and possible daughter, are interpreted in classical rabbinical literature as being reflections on their future destiny. In some apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l texts such as the Testament of Levi, and the Book of Jubilees, Levi's wife, his children's mother, is named as Milkah, a daughter of Aram
Aram
-Bible:* Aram, son of Shem, according to the "Table of Nations" in Genesis 10* Aram-Naharaim , the land in which the city of Haran lay* Aram , an ancient region containing the state of Aram Damascus...

.

Textual scholars attribute the genealogy to the Book of Generations
Book of generations
The Book of generations is an hypothesized text that the modern documentary hypothesis claims was used by the redactor of the torah to connect up parts of the priestly source and the JE source. The text is no longer extant, but in the hypothesis, portions of the text survive as part of the torah...

, a document originating from a similar religiopolitical group and date to the priestly source
Priestly source
The Priestly Source is one of the sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the bible. Primarily a product of the post-Exilic period when Judah was a province of the Persian empire , P was written to show that even when all seemed lost, God remained present with Israel...

. According to some Biblical scholars, the Torah's genealogy for Levi's descendants, is actually an aetiological myth reflecting the fact that there were four different groups among the levites - the Gershonite
Gershonite
The Gershonites were one of the four main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times. The Bible claims that the Gershonites were all descended from the eponymous Gershon, a son of Levi, although biblical scholars regard this as a postdictional metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness...

s, Kohathites, Merarite
Merarite
The Merarites were one of the four main divisions among the Levites in Biblical times. The Bible claims that the Merarites were all descended from the eponymous Merari, a son of Levi, although some biblical scholars regard this as a postdictional metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness...

s, and Aaronids; Aaron—the eponymous ancestor of the Aaronids—couldn't be portrayed as a brother to Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, as the narrative about the birth of Moses (brother of Aaron), which textual scholars attribute to the earlier Elohist
Elohist
The Elohist is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis. Its name comes from the term it uses for God: Elohim; it is characterised by, among other things, an abstract view of God, using "Horeb" instead of "Sinai" for the mountain where Moses received the laws of...

 source, mentions only that both his parents were Levites (without identifying their names). Some Biblical scholars suspect that the Elohist account offers both matrilinial and patrilinial descent from Levites in order to magnify the religious credentials of Moses.

The masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

/Septuagint family tree of Levi's immediate descendants is as follows:

In post-Torah tradition


In accordance with his role as founder of the Levites, Levi is referred to as being particularly pious
Piety
In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue that can mean religious devotion, spirituality, or a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.- Etymology :...

. The Blessing of Moses
Blessing of Moses
The Blessing of Moses is the name sometimes given to a poem that appears in Deuteronomy . The poem presents an opinion of the merits and attributes of each of the Tribes of Israel, and so can be compared with the Blessing of Jacob, which has the same theme...

, which textual scholars attribute to period just before the deuteronomist
Deuteronomist
The Deuteronomist, or simply D, is one of the sources underlying the Hebrew bible . It is found in the book of Deuteronomy, in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings and also in the book of Jeremiah...

, speaks about Levi via an allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 comparison to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 himself, which hagaddah take to support the characterisation of Levi (and his progeny) as being by far the greatest of his brothers in respect to piety. The apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l Prayer of Asenath
Joseph and Aseneth
Joseph and Aseneth is an ancient apocryphal expansion of the Book of Genesis's account of the patriarch Joseph's marriage to Aseneth....

, which textual scholars believe dates from some time after the first century AD (scholarship in regards to the dating is currently quite contentious, with dates ranging from near the first century, to the fourth or fifth centuries), describes Levi as a prophet and saint, able to forecast the future, understand heavenly writings (astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

? weather
Weather
Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate...

 trends?), and someone who admonishes the people to be forgiving, as well as in awe of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. The Book of Malachi
Book of Malachi
Malachi is a book of the Hebrew Bible, the last of the twelve minor prophets and the final book of the Neviim...

 argues that the Levites were chosen by Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 to be the priests, because Levi was always accurate, having never lied, specified only the true religious regulations, was reverent, revered Yahweh, was in awe of the Tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

, upheld peace
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

, was a model of good morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, and turned many people from sin.

In the Testament of Levi, Levi is described as having had two visions. The first vision covered eschatological
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

 issues, portraying the seven heavens, the Jewish Messiah
Jewish Messiah
Messiah, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25...

, and Judgement Day
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

. The second vision portrays seven angels bringing Levi seven insignia signifying priesthood, prophecy, and judgement; in the vision, after the angels anoint Levi, and initiate him as a priest, they tell him of the future of his descendants, mentioning Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, the Aaronid priesthood, and a time when there would be priest-kings; this latter point was of particular interest to the Maccabean
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

 period of John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

, who was both a high priest, and warrior-king, though according to textual scholars this is to be expected, since the Testament of Levi was written during Maccabean rule, between 153BC and 107BC, and closer to the latter date. The Book of Jubilees similarly has Isaac telling Levi of the future of his descendants, again predicting priesthood, prophets, and political power, and additionally describes Jacob as entrusting Levi with the secrets of the ancients, so that they would be known only to the Levites; however, like the Testament of Levi, the Book of Jubilees is regarded as a Maccabean document by scholars.

Levi and the "Blessing of Jacob"


Levi and Simeon
Simeon (Hebrew Bible)
According to the Book of Genesis, Simeon was, the second son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Simeon. However, some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an etiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite...

 destroy the city of Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

 in revenge for the rape of Dinah, seizing the wealth of the city, and killing the men; the narrative also mentions that the brothers had earlier misled the denizens of Shechem, by consenting to Dinah's rapist marrying her, and when Jacob hears about the destruction of Shechem by Simeon and Levi, he castigates them for it. In the Blessing of Jacob
Blessing of Jacob
The Blessing of Jacob is a poem that appears in Genesis at . Jacob had twelve sons, each of whom is mentioned.The poem presents an opinion of the merits and attributes of each of the Tribes of Israel, and so can be compared with the Blessing of Moses, which has the same theme...

, Jacob is described as imposing a curse on the Levites, by which they would be scattered, in punishment for Levi's actions in Shechem; textual scholars date the Blessing of Jacob to a period between just one and two centuries prior to the Babylonian captivity, and some Biblical scholars regard this curse, and Dinah herself as an aetiological postdiction to explain the fates of the tribe of Simeon and the Levites, the simpler explanation of the Levites' scattered nature being that the priesthood was originally open to any tribe, but gradually became seen as a distinct tribe itself (the Levites).

Levi's Relationationship with Joseph (The little brother)


Levi was influenced by his older brothers to hate Joseph. However, since Levi was sensitive, he told his brothers that they were being nonsensical in hating Joseph for nonsense reasons. For example, Judah always argued that their father (Jacob) always paid more attention to Joseph by putting him on his knees and cuddling him. However, Levi told him "That is how our father used to treat us when we were little children." This shows Levi's sensitivity and intelligence above the other brothers.
Many scholars believe that when Simeon and Judah decided to kill Joseph, it was Levi who made the better decision of not killing Joseph, but rather to throw him into the well, so that the caravans would come and pick him up. All the brothers beat and injured Joseph badly, but it was Levi who was not in an agreement with the other brothers. Levi hated Judah for his cruel actions, and they had a very bad fight after which they didn't speak to each other for years. This is because it was Judah who planned the killing of Joseph. Simeon and the other brothers were in agreement with Judah.

See also

  • Levite
    Levite
    In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

  • Testament of Levi
  • Levi (disambiguation)
    Levi (disambiguation)
    Levi was, according to the Book of Genesis, the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi.Levi may also refer to:* Levente , Hungarian given name with diminutive Levi* Saint Matthew, referred to as Levi in the other Gospels....

  • Miscegenation

External links