1. Judges 17:7 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is important to know about the Levites for this passage?

Judges 17:7 (ESV)

7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.

The Levites did not have their own tribal inheritance. They were to live among the people and teach them the ways of the Lord. They were assigned forty-eight cities within the various tribes (Numbers 35:1–8; Joshua 21:1–42). Bethlehem of Judah, however, was not one of the Levitical cities. Now we are not told why the Levite had been sojourning there, or why he then left. The Levites were to be taken care of by the tithes of the tribe where they were living (Numbers 18:21). Maybe he was having a hard time financially; maybe the tribe where he was staying did not tithe regularly during this lawless time. But is it not interesting that throughout the judge narratives, where we do hear about all the tribes, mention of the Levites is absent? They only show up now, and not in a positive way. Why doesn’t he go to one of the Levitical cities? According to Deuteronomy 18:6–8, Levites were allowed to leave their homes and go to the place the Lord had chosen to join in his service there. This Levite, however, was seeking any place he could find, where there was an opportunity for him to receive money and work. Could it be that he is looking for a place that suits him, his preferences, his gifts? Are we not getting a hint of another instance of self-designed worship, self-serving religion, each man doing whatever seemed right?