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 blood line. This is explained in these articles: Why are there two different genealogies for Jesus? and and The Blood Curse of Jeconaiah. 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 alll Levitical priests who served in the Temple to marry within their tribe, the tribe of Levi (Leviticus 21). 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 affilliation 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.
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 possiblity 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.
Will You Find Rest This Advent Season?
Advent Candle 1 – HOPE: Prophecy Gives Hope
Advent Candle 2 – LOVE: Promise Reveals Love
Advent Candle 3 – JOY: Jesus Is Our Joy
Advent Candle 4 – PEACE: Pause to Find Peace
Christmas-themed GOT QUESTIONS?
- Does “Xmas” Cross Jesus Out of Christmas?
- The Most Important Lesson for YOU in the Nativity Story?
- Misconceptions about the Journey to Bethlehem
- How did the Wise Men know to follow His star?
- What is the significance of the Three Kings' gifts?
- Who were the Three Wise Men? Fact or legend?
- Was Jesus born in a stable, a cave or a house?
- Was Mary a Levite, making Jesus both King and Priest?
- Was Jesus born in September (not December?)
- Should we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in September?
- How did Jesus become a man?
- A Boastful Christmas Letter
- Peace Delivers Hope
- Promise Ignites Hope
- Preparation Produces Hope
- Prophesy Reveals Hope
- Alone at Christmas? Feeling lonely?
- Another reason God came to dwell with man.
- How can you have a white Christmas without snow?
- Christmas, abortion and Joseph, the forgotten man of Christmas
- Remember the Wonder of Christmas
- Will you find rest, peace and joy this advent season?
- A Christmas Morning Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
The Top Ten Power of Hope Articles from 2018
- JESUS WEPT. Why? And…it’s not the shortest verse in the Bible!
- The GATE OF THE YEAR: A Message to a Troubled Nation
- TWO WOMEN—Two Stories—Two Songs
- “LAUGHTER is the Best Medicine” Who Said That?
- The WIZARD OF OZ and God
- Following the Good, Great, and Chief SHEPHERD
- The best EULOGY to remember a father!
- ISRAEL Celebrates 70 YEARS As A Nation & the Significance for Christians
- HELLO DARKNESS, My Old Friend: The Sounds of Silence
- CHARLIE BROWN THEOLOGY
Our Ministry’s Two Favorite Articles from 2018:
Facing Terminal Cancer with Hope & Joy
When the Battle is Lost but the Victory is Won — Saying Goodbye to a Friend
The Top Ten Got Questions? Articles from 2018
- The Meaning of NUMBERS in the Bible?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- Is my TATTOO a sin?
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the JORDAN River mean? (Joshua 4)
- What Does It Mean to TASTE & SEE That God Is Good? (Psalm 34)
- Where did OT Saints go at death?ABRAHAM'S BOSOM? Where was that?
- Why Does the LGBT Use God’s Rainbow For Its Flag?
- Should we call HIS NAME Jesus? Or Yahweh?Or Yeshua?
- Jesus said, I NEVER KNEW YOU. Why?
- CanJEWS go to HEAVEN without knowing Jesus?
Other Popular Questions:
- Something ALL Christians must know: IVDARR
- Is Satan’s Real Name LUCIFER? Or Should We Call Him Satan?
- If BAPTIZED as an Infant, Do I Need to Be Baptized Again?
- Was Jesus CRUCIFIED on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
- Why Is PRAYER Important?
- Is There a Hidden Message in Revelation 7?
- What is the Significance of the Wise Men's THREE GIFTS?
- Is It a Sin to Drink ALCOHOL?
- What Did Jesus Say About HEAVEN (and HELL)?
- Is SUICIDE an Unforgivable Sin?
Top Three Videos from Reasons for Hope* Jesus
- Christian Version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah
- Memorial Day Bagpipes Tribute: Amazing Grace
- Psalm 34 – Taste and See That the Lord is Good
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