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The Levites and the Kohens: The Patriarchal High Priests of Judaism

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The Levites are members of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. They, and their tribe, are named after Levi, the third son of Jacob, and Leah. In the past, the Levites were entrusted with religious responsibilities at the Temple of Jerusalem. They were selected for the job, partly due to their lineage, and partly due to an incident that occurred shortly after the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. A subset of the Levites, the Kohanim (or Kohens), served as the priests of the Tabernacle. Normally, the Levites assisted and cooperated with the Kohanim in a range of religious duties. After the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, the role and responsibilities of the Levites were greatly reduced. Nevertheless, many Jews today still identify themselves as Levites, which is often revealed in their surnames.

The Origins Of The Levites: Patriarchal Lineage

According to the Book of Genesis, Levi was the third son of the Jacob, one of the Patriarchs (narrowly defined as Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestors of the Israelites) and his first wife, Leah. The Book of Genesis also recounts the story of how Levi, along with his brother Simeon, avenged the rape of their sister, Dinah. – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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