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TitleLevitical Priesthood
Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsBallantyne, Verdon W.
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
KeywordsAaronic Priesthood; Levi (Tribe); Levitical Priesthood
Citation Key9435

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Levitical Priesthood

Author: Ballantyne, Verdon W.

Levitical Priesthood is a rarely used term today, and it is sometimes applied to the Aaronic Priesthood (Heb. 7:11; D&C 107:1, 6, 10). Moses and his brother Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi. Latter-day revelation indicates that before Moses died, the Melchizedek Priesthood and the higher law of the gospel were withdrawn from the Israelites because of their disobedience. Aaron and his sons were then given a lesser priesthood to administer the lesser Law of Moses as priests in Israel (D&C 84:18-28; Ex. 28:1). To assist Aaron and his sons, other worthy male members of the tribe of Levi were also given authority in the lesser priesthood, although they could not be priests. The keys of that priesthood remained with Aaron and his direct posterity (MD, pp. 9-10; Widtsoe, pp. 12-17). Hence, the lesser priesthood was called the Aaronic Priesthood, after Aaron, but is sometimes referred to as the Levitical Priesthood because all those who possessed it in ancient times belonged to the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:12-13). In the strict sense the Levitical Priesthood is a lesser part of the Aaronic Priesthood, held among those who were Levites, but not of the family of Aaron. The Doctrine and Covenants states that "there are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood" (D&C 107:1). It is anticipated that in the restoration of all things, the sons of Levi will once again function in the Levitical Priesthood on the earth (Mal. 3:2-3).


Palmer, Lee A. Aaronic Priesthood Through the Centuries. Salt Lake City, 1964.

Widtsoe, John A. Priesthood and Church Government, rev. ed. Salt Lake City, 1954.