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The Levite Immigration

When the Israelites took possession of their physical promised land, the territory was divided according to tribal ancestry (see Children of Jacob and Jacob's Family), on both sides of The Jordan River (the 2½ tribes of Reuben, Gad, and part of Manasseh were given territory east of the Jordan River, the rest of the 9½ tribes west of the Jordan - see the map below):

"13:7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 13:8 With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] gave them" (Joshua 13:7-8 KJV)

"14:3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them. 14:4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim [see Why Did Jacob Adopt Ephraim And Manasseh?]: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their Suburbs for their cattle and for their substance." (Joshua 14:3-4 KJV)

"The Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office"

The tribe of Levi was assigned the priesthood and service to the LORD (see Levites); as such, since they were to serve throughout Israel, they were not given "political" territory of their own, as was the case for all of the other tribes, but rather were given towns and lands throughout the territory of all of the other tribes.

Israelite Tribal Territories

"21:1 Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; 21:2 And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle. 21:3 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs." (Joshua 21:1-3 KJV)

"21:41 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs. 21:42 These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities." (Joshua 21:41-42)

When The United Kingdom of Israel divided into two independent kingdoms, Israel and Judah, after the death of Solomon (see The Division Of Israel), the Levites, who remained united in their service to the LORD, found themselves divided into two because they had been given towns and pasturelands throughout all of the other tribes. Their "political" choice was later forced upon them when the king of the northern ten tribes (see The Northern Kingdom and The Galilee Captivity) became so religiously corrupt (the southern tribes did also, but it took them another 130 years to become as defiled; see Why Babylon?) that the northern Levites immigrated to join the southern Levites who had lands in Judah (see The Southern Kingdom) i.e. "the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD." The result is that the "lost ten tribes" generally did not, and do not, have Levites among them, while Judah ("Jew" is an abbreviation of Judah) does.

"11:13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. 11:14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam [see Kings of Israel and Judah and Israelite Dynasties] and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD: 11:15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. 11:16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers. 11:17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon." (2 Chronicles 11:13-17 KJV)

"19:8 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem. 19:9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart." (2 Chronicles 19:8-9 KJV)

Fact Finder: How and when was the Levitical high priesthood divided?
See The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar

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