Difference Between Priest and Levite (With Table)

Many people can be confused about Priest and Levite as they both acquire high status in religious activities and are devotees of god from the Israel temple in one way or the other. Both of these are mostly men according to ancient Israel culture and are related to religious activities performed in the temple.

Priest vs Levite 

The difference between a priest and a Levite ­­­­­­is that a priest is an educated religious man of the Israel community who is selected to perform religious holy functionaries whereas all educated Israel men who have descended as a family of the third son of Jacob forming a tribe.

A priest is a special man chosen among all the Levites to perform temple-related preaching and duties. According to ancient Israel culture, the priest helps people connect to god and acts as a messenger between people on earth and god in heaven. For a Levite to become a priest requires more skills, purity, and devotedness towards the god. 

Levite is a tribe of the community of men who are educated and devotees of God. Levite is usually a man according to the ancient Israel culture. They perform different duties in the service of God. Any work related to the temple, singing Psalms, teaching people about God, and maintenance of the temple is performed by the Levite.

Comparison Table Between Priest and Levite

Parameters of ComparisonPriestLevite
PositionHe occupies a higher position than the Levite. He occupies a lower position than the priest.
PermissionHe has the permission of entering any holy place without any restriction. He does not have the permission of entering a holy place.
Sacrifices He is one responsible for making sacrifices for all the people and himself.He does not perform any such sacrifice on behalf of the people.
CriteriaCertain criteria need to be fulfilled in order to become a priest.It is more of an inborn status one can possess.
Religious Activities He performs all the activities inside the temple.They are responsible for the functioning of the temple

What is Priest?

A priest is a man who helps people reach and contact god. A priest existed and played a role in god’s worship since ancient times. The priesthood was practised for a long time, which is quiet before the Levi tribe ever existed. According to ancient Israel culture, the Law of Moses, given by the lord, stated of an official priesthood in Israel, and since then, priests have been an important, respected holy people at the temple.

The priest is chosen from all the Levite men existing in the tribe. According to the ancient laws, men were only given the authority of being priests. Further, for a Levite to be a priest requires perfection in all criteria such as physical features, qualification, age, etc.

He must also be able to perform all the religious duties so as to connect people to the mighty lord. Priest among all the Levite is considered to be the purest and is only permitted to enter the holy place. He performs duties like animal sacrifice, serving at the tabernacle, etc.

There also exists a high priest under whom all the other priests work. However, after the death of Crist, many people asked for stopping the priesthood of Levi as they believe no other sacrifices were needed after that of Christ.

Also, the practice of priesthood gained a lot of controversies as people believed one could directly contact god, and no Levi messenger was needed for that.

What is Levite?

Levites are generally men who have descended from the Levi tribe. It was an official tribe chosen for serving the god by the laws itself. The Levi tribe is responsible for all duties needed to be performed in God’s temple of Israel.

They also perform teachings to all other tribes about the principles of god. Before Levite started serving the god, the elder sons of all twelve tribes were responsible for the duty at the tabernacle.

However, later according to the law, they asked for the tribe Levi to perform all godly related activities. But, the first son of all the other tribes helped in the execution of the tabernacle financially as they provided money for any practice to be undertaken at the temple.

The Levites also help with construction, maintenance, and execution at the tabernacle. Choosing a priest among themselves who is the best devotee of God comes under one of their important duties.

Main Differences Between Priest and Levite

  1. A priest acquires more upper positions than a Levite.
  2. A priest can enter any holy place and is only the one in the tribe allowed to do so. However, a Levite does not have this permission.
  3. The priest performs more religious activities than a Levite.
  4. These are many skills, qualifications, age resistance, physical purity needed to be regarded as a priest than that of a Levite.
  5. Anyone who is a man and comes under the Levi tribe can be a Levite, whereas being chosen as a priest requires much more than that.
  6. A priest performs sacrifices on behalf of the people, whereas a Levite is not permitted to do that.

Conclusion

One can say that both priests and Levites are responsible for religious activities. However, it is important to know that a priest always comes from a Levi community, but not every Levite gets an opportunity to become a priest. Priests are responsible for all the holy activities that take place inside a temple; they also have a high priest whose orders are obeyed by them, whereas Levites help in the functioning of the temple. Their duties include construction, cleaning, teaching, and praying. Overall, both of these have different positions and perform very dissimilar duties.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0HWtAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=priesthood+of+israel&ots=cBhyrlsWCs&sig=S00LOF7clUhdJUhtn-AfecqPH2Y
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146107909354705
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