Why did the tribe of Levi receive no land inheritance?

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When we read of the apportionment of the land in Joshua, we find that the tribe of Levi was not given an apportionment of the land. And this is because the tribe of Levi belonged peculiarly, especially, to the Lord. Going back to Exodus 12 where the firstborn of every Israelite household was redeemed by the substitute of the Passover lamb, every firstborn of every Israelite household belonged to the Lord. But instead of taking the firstborn of every Israelite household into his tribal service, God gathered, as a substitute for the firstborn, the whole tribe of Levi. So, the whole tribe of Levi belongs peculiarly and especially to God in the service of the tabernacle and all of the worship that went with it. And you even see in the book of Numbers how the counting of the firstborn is calculated in relation to the number of the tribe of Levi so that there is to be a specific one-to-one correspondence. But it would be remiss to say that Levi had no inheritance. Even though they didn't have land given to them specifically, they had the land of the tabernacle, they had the vicinity of the tabernacle. In fact, they had God himself as their inheritance, as they belonged to him as the tribe set apart for priestly service.

Answer by Rev. Michael J. Glodo

Rev. Michael J. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.