The Irrevocable Covenant of Salt with the Levites
Little is known that YHVH’s covenant with the Levites is called Covenant of Salt. “Covenant of salt” comes from YHVH’s command that everything brought on the altar must be seasoned with salt; salt is not be lacking from any blood or bloodless sacrifices for the purpose of giving greater intensity to the force of these sacrifices (Lev 2:13).
And if salt is so important to YHVH, then we understand that the salt of the sacrifice is also called the salt of the covenant, as a “covenant of salt” is equivalent to an unbreakable covenant, so the salt added to the sacrifice is designated as salt of the covenant of YHVH, because of its imparting strength and purity to the sacrifice.
This study is dedicated to the true Levites subject to the Covenant of Salt of YHVH.
In Num 18:19, we read that all the contributions of the set-apart gifts, which the Israelites present to YHVH, He has given to the Levites and the priests as a law forever. It is a covenant of salt forever before YHVH with them and their seed forever. YHVH gives these gifts to them as an eternal claim which He calls “an eternal covenant of salt” for Aharon and his descendants.
Why salt of the Covenant?
But, why would YHVH make this choice of word to describe His covenant with the Levites?
Salt has specific and unique properties which the society today, lost in its own wisdom, has missed to see. Since ancient times and even today, salt has been used as a food preservative that prevents and stops further corruption, because salt as a preservative never decays; salt is a cleanser and disinfectant. Salt is also a healer of open wounds, although with a great deal of pain. The prophet Elisha healed the waters of Jericho with salt (2Ki 2:19-22).
As salt cannot be turned or changed into something else, salt can change though, the “covenant of salt” is eternal, irrevocable, and inviolable contract between YHVH and His servants, hence YHVH calls it “covenant of salt”.
Salt, however, can be dissolved and thus becomes weaker and less valuable. Yeshua the Messiah said,
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men. (Mat 5:13)
What Yeshua teaches us is that we set apart to YHVH ought to act as salt to stop and prevent further corruption in us and in the world. But, the Messiah further warns that it is very easy to lose our saltness, if salt is watered down, as did Lot in Sodom and the five churches of Asia.
YHVH as the inheritance of the Covenant of Salt
And YHVH said to Aharon,
You are not to have an inheritance in their land, nor have any portion in their midst. I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. (Num 18:20)
YHVH has made it very clear that the tribe of Levi is to have no inheritance in the land given to the nation of Israel. And since Levi is to remain without inheritance, He has also made it very clear that He Himself is their inheritance. The Levites are to rely solely on Him
Therefore, the possession of the priests and Levites did not consist in the revenues assigned to them by YHVH, but in the possession of YHVH. In the same sense in which the whole nation was the peculiar possession out of the whole world of YHVH, and the tribe of Levi was the peculiar possession out of the whole nation, YHVH was also the peculiar possession of Levi, as strange as it may sound.
And just as the other tribes were to live upon what was afforded by the land assigned to them as a possession, Levi was to live on what YHVH bestowed on the tribe. Hence, we understand that to have YHVH for a portion and possession is the greatest privilege and highest honor.
Revenues of the Levites
And see, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the service which they are serving, the service of the Tent of Meeting. (Num 18:21)
And since the Levites were to have no substantial material possessions as the other tribes, i.e. land, YHVH gave all the tithes of Israel as an inheritance, and we should note here, in return for their service in the Tabernacle.
Without land on which they should rely on for earning their own living, the Levites were to live on only what YHVH bestowed on them: the tithes. And the tithes were given in return for their service in the Tabernacle.
Therefore, we may say that that provision was conditional: tithes for the service; otherwise, why should it have been said “in return for” and not simply “I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance“, if no condition was meant.
In other words, if they serve YHVH faithfully, the tithes come as an inheritance; if they go astray or the Temple is no more, as it happened to be the case in two occasions in the history of Israel, then the tribe is not entitled for the tithes; otherwise why should it have been said “the service of the Tent of Meeting” but to point to the reason why the tithes of Israel are given to them.
But, this conditional clause comes with responsibility. YHVH continues, the Levites should do the service in the Tabernacle and bear their iniquity and guilt based on how they do their obligation to serve Him. And to make it even more apparent that the Levites were to rely solely on Him, YHVH reiterated it again: this is a law forever throughout your generations that among the children of Israel they are to have no inheritance. (see Num 18:23) For their service in the tabernacle YHVH assigned them “every tenth in Israel as an inheritance”.
Types of tithes
There are two tithes in the Torah. The first tithe was given to the Levites for their service in the Temple who then gave a tenth of the tithe to the High Priest to be distributed to the priests (Num 18:23-32). The second one was tied to the seven year cycle of the Land.
There is another tithe that was converted to money and used to make a personal pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the appointed times of YHVH three times in the year: the festivals of the Unleavened Bread, the Weeks, and the Tabernacles. (See the series of article dedicated to the appointed times of YHVH).
The pilgrim could spend this money however he liked on the pilgrimage but was expected to treat the Levites as well (Deu 14:22-27). Every third year however the tithe stayed home and was to feed the poor, the widow, and the orphans, and the local Levites (Deu 14:28-29).
How rich were the Levites?
Now, the tribe of Levi had only 22,000 males and could hardly have numbered more than 12,000 twenty years and older. These 12,000 males should receive the tithes of 600,000 Israelites (per the census) and consequently one Levite should receive the tithes of five Israelites.
For example, an Israelite has ten lambs. He gives one lamb (a tenth) to the Levite; and so do the other four Israelites. Thus, the Levite will receive five lambs, while the Israelite will have nine lambs remaining.
Furthermore, YHVH speaking to Mosheh obliged the Levite to return a tenth of what they had received to Him, because He was the provide,
When you (the Levite) take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution of it to YHVH, a tenth of the tithe. (Num 18:26)
In other words, the Levites were to present their contribution to YHVH which was one hundredth (a tenth of the tenth) of what the ordinary Israelites had contributed. And since the actual provider is YHVH, He obliged the Levites to give up furthermore a tenth of the one hundredth to the priests and Aharon, the High Priest,
Thus you also present a contribution unto Yehovah from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel. And you shall give from it the contribution to Yehovah to Aharon the priest. (Num 18:28)
Therefore, the priests would receive one thousandth of the contribution of the Israelites (a tenth of the tenth of the tenth). We should note again that whenever YHVH speaks of the tithes, He makes it very clear that these tithes are His; they do not belong to the Levites, nor to the priests, but to Him (a contribution to Yehovah). And when the priests would receive the tenth of the contribution, they were to offer to YHVH upon the altar a tenth of what was assigned to them.
So, we see here that all three groups of people (the ordinary Israelites, the Levites, and the priests) were to give up the tithes to the next group. Also, we need to note that besides what the Levites were to give to the priests, they were obliged to give up a tenth as their personal contribution.
Therefore, the Levites, by their payment of the tenth to the priests, and the priests, by presenting a portion of their revenues upon the altar, were to make a practical confession that they had received their portion from YHVH, because in actuality it belonged to Him.
And Mosheh was further instructed to say to the Levites that when they had presented the best of the contribution to the priests, then the rest should be reckoned to them “as the yield of the threshing-floor and as the yield of the winepress”. (See Num 18:27)
This means that whatever was left after they had given the tenth to the priests, it should be considered as if they had worked for it on the field (see also Num 18:30), and they had the full right to eat from it, because it was their reward for the service in the Tabernacle (see Num 18:31).
To go back to our example, after the Levite has completed his obligations towards the Lord by giving a tenth to the priests and his personal tenth to YHVH, he will have four lambs in his possession and the priest will have even less. At the end, the Levite will be no wealthier and even less wealthy than the ordinary Israelite; and so will the priest, we should note here.
Therefore, we see that the Levites were indeed rich people, rich in YHVH, because He was their inheritance; but they were not wealthy.
The Covenant of Salt comes with responsibilities
And this is the obligation which both the Levites and the priests were obliged to: to bear no sin because of the tithe, when they had offered the best of it, so that they would not profane the gifts of Israel,
and bear no sin because of it, when you have presented the best of it, and do not profane the set-apart gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die. (Num 18:32)
What sin did YHVH have in mind when He said that?
In the phrase “bear no sin because of it”, it is the portion, the tithe, the Levites and the priests had received from Israel. The charge of YHVH to the them was not to profane the tithe they would receive and not to sin when they would offer the best of it in their order: the Levites to the priests and the priests to YHVH.
How would one profane the tithe and what sin would he commit when he offers it? This is how.
To whom the tithes are due?
The present author is in a very strong opinion (defended in the articles “Is There Any Place for “Professional Priesthood” Today?“, “‘Do not Muzzle an Ox!’ Did Paul Claim the Tithes?“, and “Do Not Sell Wisdom, Instruction, and Understanding!“) that the Levites and Aharonic priests (the physical descendants of Levi) are the only ones entitled to the tithes. Nowhere in the Tanak and in the Apostolic writings will we find any reference to tithes other than the tithes commanded in the Torah. This must be stated very clearly.
There are three precepts in Torah: (1) Lev 27:30 recognizes that the tithe belongs to YHVH, while (2) Num 18:21 states that the Levites were to be paid out of that tithe, for their service in the Tabernacle. We should note that the tithe was not directly paid to the Levites, it was paid to YHVH and from Him the Levites were paid. (3) Deu 26:12 states that the tithe is also for the poor (to the Levite, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow); it is to be given in the third [of the seven-year Shemittah cycle], which is the year of tithing. And when the Israelite has completed all the tithe of his increase, then he shall say before YHVH,
I have put away the set-apart portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite, and to the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your command which You have commanded me. I have not transgressed Your commands, nor have I forgotten. (Deu 26:13) See also Deu 14:28-29.
With that being said, we see that (1) the tithe is clearly agricultural; nowhere it is said to pay the tithes in money to anyone. (2) Nowhere are we told to give up the tithe to the Levitical priesthood. (3) We are told only that the tithe in produce of the land is paid to YHVH and YHVH gave the Levites for their service. (4) The tithe is the tithe of the increase, i.e. not on the whole possession of the Israelite, but only a tenth of his increase during the year. (5) The tithe is for the Levite, the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow. Note that the Levites are reckoned along with the poor.
And indeed, Apostle Ya’akov (James) teaches us directly from Torah, “Clean and undefiled service before the Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (Jas 1:27)
And speaking of staining of the world, we come to the next talking point.
The corruption of the world
If a Levite or a priest does not present the best of the tithe, i.e. he gives less quantitively and/or qualitatively, he will profane the gift he has received, that is the will of the giver, and on the other hand he will profane the charge of YHVH to present the best of it. If he does this, it will be reckoned to him as a sin which he is to bear before the Lord.
And in fact, this will be a breaking of the Covenant of Salt, the eternal Covenant of Salt.
What do we see today [in the West]?
Pastors, TV evangelists, prosperity gospel teachers, preachers, and all kind of “ear-itchers” are the self-proclaimed “new Levites”. Every Sunday morning, they require the churchgoers to give up their tithes “to the Lord”, while the TV religious personalities do this virtually every day from the screen.
Their claim is that they are the “New Levites” and therefore the churchgoers are to “support them in their ministry for the Lord” by giving them their “tithes”.
Ironically, the same people, who reject the Torah of YHVH and teach others to do so, very conveniently “keep” only one law of the Torah: the law of the tithes.
But, are they at all entitled to the tithes?
What the so-called “New Levites” claim is nothing less than a religious scam, as harsh as it may sound. They have no right whatsoever to claim something that does not belong to them. And they do not have the right to claim the tithes, because (1) they do believe in the Torah, the Word of YHVH, in the first place, and they are not Levites at all. Even the true Levites cannot and do not claim the tithes, because they know very well that would be violation of the law of the same tithes.
The “New Levites” do not believe that the set-apart Torah of YHVH (literally Instruction of YHVH) is for them. They reject His Instruction and go after the instruction of Constantine doing this for the lack of knowledge of the whole Scripture.
They believe His set-apart Word is “done away with”, “nailed on the cross”, and “Christ is the end of the Law” doing this, because they misunderstand Paul, and contrary to what Yeshua the Messiah teaches us in His sermon on the mount in Mat 5:17-20.
And they misunderstand the teachings of Paul and do not believe in the words of the Messiah, because they have chosen to believe Constantine’s invented “messiah”, not the true one. (Read more in the article “Has the Messiah abolished the Law of God?“)
However, there is nothing wrong to give money to someone in exchange for good teachings. Nothing wrong! But, how much better it is not to sell wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Read more. How much better it is to serve the Lord out of love for Him and provide teaching freely.
Yeshua, as His brother Ya’akov, teaches us directly from the Spirit of Torah,
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Do not take wages. Without cost you received, without cost you give. (Mat 10:8) Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995
Why is it so hard to understand Messiah’s words?
Also, there is nothing wrong to pay for buildings where the believers gather and for all expenses concerning them. Nothing wrong! But, these are not our tithes for the Lord; these are just that: expenses.
The tithes to YHVH are in His set-apart Torah; they are His. They are to be given to those to whom they belong: the true Levites and priests. As the Covenant of Salt is everlasting, unchanged, incorruptible, as salt is, so are the laws of tithes. No one has the right to alter them as it fits to him.
Today, we do not have our Temple (also called the House of all nations). And if we do not have the temple, we cannot bring our sacrifices and tithes to the Lord with love for His provision.
But one day, on the day of the Lord, Yeshua the Messiah of YHVH will come and will build the Third temple in its magnificence, and then, only then, the Torah will be reenacted to the fullest details, as it is prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel from chapters 40 to 48. (Read more about the building of the Third Temple)
Living in mansions and some of them even possessing fleet of luxury jets as the same size as Donald Trump’s private jet fleet, the “New Levites” justify their claims of hundreds of millions of dollars to live a luxury life by the pretext to “share the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Read more.
In conclusion, the “New Levites”, by claiming that they are entitled to the tithes, have profaned the Covenant of Salt, if they have ever been in the Covenant of Salt. But, if they make such claims, it may be granted to them as they wish, as far as they understand that the Covenant of Salt comes with the warning: and bear no sin because of it, when you have presented the best of it, and do not profane the set-apart gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die. (Num 18:32)
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.