Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions

By Roland De Vaux ; John McHugh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
THE LEVITES
THERE are many texts in the Bible which refer to the clergy as 'Levites' or 'sons of Levi', and which state or imply that only those men who were descended from Levi could undertake sacred functions. These texts raise a number of difficult problems which must be examined, though we shall not be able to give a satisfactory solution to all of them.
1. Etymology
The etymology of the word lewy is not known for certain, in Hebrew, the root lwh has three meanings, each of which has been attributed to the noun, lewy:
1. lwh can mean 'to turn around, to whirl around', and one suggestion is that the Levites were men who performed ecstatic dances, rather like the whirling dervishes and prophets;
2. another meaning of lwh is 'to accompany someone, to be attached to someone', and this is the etymology put forward in the Bible itself. Leah called her new-born child Levi because, she said, 'This time my husband will cling to me' ( Gn 29: 34); similarly, the members of the tribe of Levi were 'attached' to Aaron ( NB 18:2 and 4). The corresponding root in Arabic is wly (with inversion), from which is derived the noun wely, meaning, 'one who is attached to God, a holy person';
3. (3) lwh can also mean 'to lend, to give as pledge or surety'. Although the Bible never uses the verb lwh in this sense when it is referring to the Levites, it does contain some very similar expressions: the Levites were 'given' to Yahweh instead of the first-born ( Nb 3: 12; 8: 16), and Samuel was 'given over' to Yahweh as a boy ( 1 S 1: 28). Again, several Minaean inscriptions in Arabia use the word lw' of things and persons consecrated or vowed to a divinity.

The first derivation can be rejected as quite arbitrary. The second can claim the support of biblical texts, but we know that the etymologies advanced in the Bible do not always give the true meaning of a word. The third raises the whole problem of how the Levites originated, which we shall examine at the end of the chapter. All three hypotheses try to explain lewy as if it denoted a function, but according to the Bible the word

-358-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 594

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.