Numbers 18 lists the entitlements allotted to the Aaronid priesthood—that is what Yahweh, according to this Aaronid written text, allots as “eternal law” to Aaron and his sons only, no exceptions. These are:
- All portions from the sacrificial offerings (Num 18:8-11; cf. Lev 6:1-7:10). Remember, minus the burnt-offering which was a whole animal sacrifice burnt on the altar to Yahweh (Lev 1), all other sacrifices—peace-offering, sin-offering, guilt-offering (Lev 3-7)—were partially offered up to Yahweh, and the remaining portion—the meat—reserved for the Aaronid priests only. I have already noted this contradiction rather sparingly in #177.
- All offerings of first fruits, first grains, first wine and oil which the Israelites brought to Yahweh were allocated to the Aaronid priesthood alone (Num 18:12-13)—the only new contradiction here.
- All things prescribed as herem—consecrated war spoil as Yahweh’s—went to the Aaronid priests alone (Num 18:14).
- All firstborns that “are Yahweh’s” went exclusively to Aaron and his sons. However, all firstborn males must be redeemed (see #145). Yet there does seem to be some disagreement regarding the redemption of an impure animal (#212). See also Lev 27:26-27 (#211; #213).
- One tenth of the best portion of the tithes went to Aaron and his sons! But see #214-216.
Nothing like writing a text and having its deity decree under penalty of death (Num 18:22, 32), all the best of the best to you and your priestly guild! But bingo—that’s what the Aaronid priests did here. One has to wonder if there were any leftovers or was the Aaronid priesthood that numerous!?
Obviously, as we’ve already seen in numerous other contradictions, this Aaronid-alone legislation contradicts the pan-Levite legislation and pan-Levite Yahweh of Deuteronomy, which, not surprisingly, was written by Levite scribes. And these Levite scribes have Yahweh decree all Levites as priests—not just the Aaronids (#152)—and therefore all Levites eligible to receive portions from the sacrificial and first-fruit offerings (Deut 18:1-4).
But according to the pro-Aaronid Yahweh of Leviticus and Numbers, the sole allotment of the Levites were the tithes minus a tenth—the best tenth—which went not surprisingly to the Aaronids.
As I’ve mentioned before, these competing texts, competing legislations, and competing Yahwehs bear witness to an internecine rivalry that existed among the priestly houses of ancient Israel. Other texts often used by scholars in an attempt to understand these priestly rivalries are Malachi and Ezekiel, the latter of which also condemns the Levites and blames the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians on their corrupted practices and idolatry. The priestly guild that received Malachi’s criticism and condemnation is more difficult to discern.
At any event, even though the book of Deuteronomy is placed after Leviticus-Numbers and therefore is presented as a later event in the narrative chronology from Exodus to Deuteronomy, it was nonetheless written about a century earlier than Leviticus-Numbers and by a Levite guild. When the Aaronid priesthood came to power during the Persian period in the post-exile, they had to rewrite “Israel’s history” only now from the viewpoint and ideology of these Aaronid priests. One of their agendas in retelling Israel’s past was to present a Yahweh who selected only the Aaronids as his priests while relegating the rest of the Levites to servants of the Aaronids (Num 3-4; 18). This composition, the Priestly scroll, now comes before the book of Deuteronomy in this redacted narrative. Thus, in the multi-source narrative of the Torah as it now stands, Yahweh selects and consecrates only Aaron and his sons as his priests at Sinai (Ex 40; Lev 8-9), then confirms the Aaronid priesthood as an eternal covenant (Num 25:10-13) sometime in the 30th-40th year in the wilderness after the previous generation had been exterminated as Yahweh promised (Num 26:63-65), and then on the 40th year on the plains of Moab Yahweh now selects all the Levites as his priests (Deut 18)!??!!!
Obviously there are two different and competing priestly traditions here, each one vied for control and each one wrote a text that used Yahweh as a mouthpiece to legitimate their own beliefs and positions!
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