Was Mary a Levite-2

Let’s start with what we know.  The Bible clearly tells that Mary was the cousin of Elizabeth.

Luke 1:36  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

The Bible also records Mary’s genealogy.  In Luke 3:23-31 a genealogy is given from Adam to Joseph.  While Joseph is listed, this is actually Mary’s bloodline.  This is explained in these articles:  Why are there two different genealogies for Jesus? and The Blood Curse of Jeconiah.  This genealogy indicates that Mary is from the tribe of Judah, tracing back from father Heli, through King David, back to Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.

We can also discern that Elizabeth was a Levite.  It was required of all Levitical priests who served in the Temple to marry within their tribe, the tribe of Levi (Lev 21:14).  Since we know Zechariah served as a priest in the Temple (Luke 1:5,8), and it would have been required that he marry a Levite to be in right standing, we know that Elizabeth was Levite and so also her father (tribal affiliation was through the father).  However, if Elizabeth’s father had not been a priest who served in the Temple there would not have been any restriction on him regarding marrying outside his tribe.  So Elizabeth’s mother could have been a Levite or a non-Levite.

Mary’s Mother?

We know Mary’s father, Heli (Luke 2), was from the tribe of Judah (Read:  Why are there two different genealogies for Jesus?).  Let’s consider Mary’s mother’s lineage.  There are several possibilities.

If Mary’s mother was the sister of Elizabeth’s father, a Levite, then Mary’s mother would have been a Levite.

If Mary’s mother was the sister of Elizabeth’s mother, and Elizabeth’s mother was a Levite, then Mary’s mother would have been a Levite.

If Mary’s mother was the sister of Elizabeth’s mother, but she was not from a tribe of Levi (we don’t know her tribal heritage), then Mary could not have been part Levite.

While there is a higher probability that Mary’s mother may have been a Levite through being the sister of either Elizabeth’s mother or father, we simply cannot know for certain. There remains the possibility of Elizabeth’s mother not being a Levite and Mary’s mother having been her sister.  But even if  Elizabeth’s mother was a Levite, making Mary’s mother a Levite (whether sister of Elizabeth’s father or mother), and thereby making Mary part Levite on her mother’s side…it wouldn’t matter.

Mary Was Not a Levite

Tribal affiliation in ancient Israel was through the male line.  Since Mary’s father was of the tribe of Judah, Mary would have been from the tribe of Judah and so also Jesus, fulfilling many prophecies. 

What About Jesus Being Both King and Priest

People like to claim the levitical tribal heritage as support that Jesus was (and is) both King and Priest.  However, even if there was a familial connection to the tribe of Levite, it does not fit with Scripture.

1) Jesus could not have been a priest because He is clearly from the Tribe of Judah on both His earthly father’s side and His mother’s side (remember Mary’s father, Heli, was of the Tribe of Judah).

2) In his incarnation, Jesus did not come to be King or Priest. He came in the office of Prophet, as prophecied (Deut 18:15, Acts 3:22).  He came to preach “the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19) and, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), to fulfill God’s purpose and plan of redemption that was first prophesied in the Garden (Genesis 3:15). 

3) Most significantly, Jesus’ priesthood is not of the Levitical priesthood (of Aaron). It is of the priesthood of Melchizadek (Hebrews 5:8-10).  Jesus fulfills this office now, as our High Priest, at the right hand of the Father in Heaven (Hebrews 1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2), interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25).

In conclusion:  We do not know the relationship that made Elizabeth and Mary cousins.  What we do know is that Jesus was of the Tribe of Judah.  In His humble incarnation, He came to earth and lived and taught as the Prophet of prophets (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, Matthew 13:57, Luke 24:19). In offering Himself as the perfect Lamb of God for the sins of mankind and now reigning in Heaven and interceding as our High Priest (Hebrews 5:5-10, Hebrews 7), He is the Priest above all priests.  And, one day Jesus will come again in all His glory to live and reign as the King of kings.  He will sit on the throne of David and all the earth will know of His righteousness.

Revelation 11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. 

Psalm 72:19  And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

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