From Royal Tribe to Landless Tribe: Royal Line of Levi (Moses) Broken through Young Aide

  • Hulisani Ramantswana Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa


The Hexateuch projects the shifting social status of the Levites from that of a royal tribe, with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam playing leadership roles within the Israelite community as it makes its exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, to a tribe with no land inheritance, a tribe whose social status became lower than that of servants and in close affinity to the status of aliens, fatherless, and widows. This study examines the motivating factors behind the shift in social status of the Levites and argues that the Levites’ loss of land was a result of a shift of power to Joshua, an Ephraimite, thereby privileging the Joseph tribes. Thus, in the final form of the Hexateuch, the loss of land is legitimised through the Joseph story, which ultimately privileges the Joseph tribes. The Hexateuch in this study is read through the hermeneutic of suspicion, considering the apologetic nature of the narrative in its legitimation of the Joseph tribes.