Levitical/Aaronic Priesthood

By: Guy Templeton
December 6, 2012

man dressed as Levitical priest

I’d like to start a new series on the Bible Dictionary.  Of course you could look up the answer, but I want to see how many get it right without looking.  See how well you do on the quiz before I give you the answer.

The Levitical Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood are often used interchangeably. Are they the same?

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10 Responses to Levitical/Aaronic Priesthood

  1. Paul 2 on December 6, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    He’s got a white shirt. The thing he is wearing over it could kind of be considered to be a suit jacket. And the breastplate would only be considered to be an acceptable approximation to a tie in liberal big city wards. So I guess he could but shouldn’t be encouraged to pass the sacrament. Is that what you are asking? Are there other criteria?

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  2. mh on December 6, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    Paul, don’t forget the crown and beard. How do we tie that in?

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  3. Paul 2 on December 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    mh, you got me there. I bet he doesn’t have dress shoes either.

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  4. MH on December 6, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    I’ll bet he has sandals. So are flip-flops ok? I do remember seeing a hawaiian fellow wearing a lava-lava, white shirt, tie, and sandals while passing the sacrament in a Salt Lake ward….

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  5. Molly on December 7, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    This is why the YW and YM should have the same curriculum. I have no idea, but my husband has at least heard about this stuff before. Me? No idea.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on December 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Molly, I don’t think it’s just me, but I really find that I zone out whenever they talk about priesthood at church. There are lessons on these topics, but since it’s a men-only club, it kind of feels like listening to two men talking about the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo. Snooze fest. I’m sure that’s a wrong attitude, but I just can’t get that excited about it.

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  7. Guy T on December 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Ok, I guess it’s time for the answer.

    The terms Aaronic and Levitical are sometimes used synonymously (D&C 107:1, 6, 10), although there are some specific differences in the offices existing within the Levitical Priesthood. For example, the lesser priesthood was conferred only upon men of the tribe of Levi. However, within the tribe, only Aaron and his sons could hold the office of priest. And, still further, from the firstborn of Aaron’s sons (after Aaron) was selected the high priest (or president of the priests). Thus Aaron and his sons after him had greater offices in the Levitical Priesthood than did the other Levites.

    The privileges of the priests were greater than those who functioned in the other Levitical offices, and a distinction between the two is evident when the scripture speaks of them as “the priests and the Levites” (1 Kgs. 8:4; Ezra 2:70; John 1:19). The priests could offer sacrifices for the people, burn incense on the altar, and teach the law, whereas the other Levites were employed in more menial tasks, such as the housekeeping of the tabernacle, keeping oil in the lamps, transporting the Ark of the Covenant, taking down and setting up the tabernacle when moving, and related tasks in assisting the priests (Num. 3:5–10; 18:1–7; 1 Chr. 23:27–32)….

    The Aaronic (or Levitical) Priesthood thus functioned only within the tribe of Levi, and the right to have it conferred upon one was determined by lineage and worthiness. As part of his rationale that the law of Moses was fulfilled, Paul makes a point of the contrast between the lineal requirement of the lesser priesthood and the nonlineal Melchizedek Priesthood, which was not confined to those of one tribe (see JST Heb. 7:1–3; Heb. 7:11–14). The lineal restrictions of that Aaronic (Levitical) Priesthood were lifted when the law of Moses was fulfilled, and thereafter the offices of the priesthood were conferred upon worthy men without limitation to the tribe of Levi. This appears to be the case in the Church as recorded in the New Testament and in the Book of Mormon (where there were no Levites), and is presently operative in the Church as it has been restored in the latter days.

    As of this moment, there were 21 voters, and we can see that anybody who voted “Yes” would be incorrect.

    11 people picked “firstborn sons of Aaron”, so that is correct.

    7 people chose “Levites do menial tasks”, so that is correct.

    5 people chose “Aaronic for Aaron descendants, and Levitical for Levites” so that is correct.

    3 people chose “Yes, but the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods are lineal, while the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred to any person.” Well, that was kind of a trick answer, because it should have been “NO, but the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods are lineal, while the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred to any person.”

    2 people chose “the Aaronic Priesthood is a subset of the Levitical Priesthood.” The Bible Dictionary doesn’t state this, but I suppose it is true. The Aaronic priests were fewer in number, got the better (non-menial) positions. Is it a coincidence that Moses and Aaron (of the Levite tribe) seemed to favor direct descendants for the better positions?

    I probably shouldn’t have started with such a hard quiz, but I hope it was fun!

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  8. JR on December 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    Isn’t the “breastplate” the man in the photo is wearing a replica of the Urim and Thumim?

    That is what it looks like.

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  9. JR on December 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    I forgot to add that each stone represents one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Each Tribe has their own specific type/color of stone, like a birthstone. For example a ruby, diamond, emerald etc.

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  10. MH on December 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    It could be. It also look like he has an apron on backwards.

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