“No one who is not a cohen may eat anything holy, nor may a tenant or employee of a cohen eat anything holy. But if a cohen acquires a slave, either through purchase or through his being born in his household, he may share his food.”-Leviticus 22:10-11
Verse 10 tells us that NO OUTSIDER OR NON-PRIEST may partake of the holy sacrifices offered at the Tabernacle.
Then it goes on to clearly define who is to be considered an outsider and and who is an insider.
We’re going to go a little deep here because these two verses provide us a lot of insight into the inner workings of ancient Israelite society.
We get five categories of people who due to certain circumstances are living in the household of a priest and then we’re told one by one which classification of people were permitted to share the priests’ holy food offerings.
Here are the five categories:
-a lay person (or “outsider”)
-a bound or tenant laborer
-a hired laborer,
-a priest’s purchased slave
-a person born into the priest’s household
Again, as usual, depending on which Bible translation you use, the precise terms used will vary like crazy with some Bibles even combining the categories into one, thus blurring the distinctions properly made in the Hebrew.
That’s why we’re going to look at the original Hebrew for each of these terms.
Don’t dare think this is meaningless Bible trivia!
Grasping these distinctions and variations will help you greatly in understanding matters all the throughout the Old Testament into the New.
The truth is these classifications aren’t very well defined in Scripture.
The Scripture writers assumed that you would already be aware of the differences and subtleties for each category.
That’s why I’m going out of my way over a couple of cups of coffee to research this and provide you this information.
So pay attention as we carefully define each category from the original Hebrew.
The first category is…
This is the first classification spoken in verse 10 and is a common Hebrew term meaning just “stranger” or “foreigner”.
However, in this context, it carries the sense of “not belonging” or “out of place”.
Probably the easiest word for us moderns to understand is “lay person”.
The idea being communicated is that anybody who is NOT a priest is NOT allowed to eat the holy food sacrifices.
This can also include Levites who were at one time priests but are no longer practicing due to some infraction committed.
The basic idea is that those who are considered a “family member” of the priestly household can partake of the holy food the priest brings home after a long day of officiating over the sacrifices.
The remaining four categories we’re going to look at will be divided into the basically the following 2 categories: Family members or non-family members of the priestly household.
TOSHAV is the second category spoken of in verse 10.
This is somewhat of a broad term.
It can mean a “guest worker” (usually a non-Hebrew) like a gentile friend of the family who is just visiting.
Or it can be a person who is forced to live with priest’s family to pay off a debt as an indentured servant.
In some cases, a TOSHAV could be either a gentile or a Hebrew.
In general, TOSHAV refers to one who has no blood connection or in-law relationship to the priest’s family.
They are considered more like friends or acquaintances.
Conclusion: Per Hebrew thinking, a TOSHAV is NOT a family member and thus NOT eligible to partake of the HOLY food.
This 3rd category is usually mistakenly lumped together with TOSHAV (the 2nd category).
SAKIR and TOSHAV are NOT synonyms!
SAKIR means a “hired worker”, period!
It could be a day laborer or maybe a live-in maid but one thing it is not is a slave, of any kind.
Nor are they an indentured servant paying off some debt.
They’re folks who’ve simply been hired to do a job and receive a salary for their labor.
This term appears at the beginning of verse 11 where in our English Bibles it will say something like “priest’s property” or “slave”.
QANAH comes from the root word QINYAN which means something that was purchased.
NEPHESH means a “living being” or a “living soul”.
Therefore, literally this means “a purchased or bought living being“ acquired by the priest’s own money.
99% of the time this referred to a gentile slave purchased from a slave trader because according to Torah, it is forbidden for a Hebrew to own another Hebrew.
NOW THERE IS SOMETHING REALLY INTERESTING AND SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS 4TH CATEGORY THAT I WANT YOU TO PAY ATTENTION TO!
AGAINST ALL MODERN LOGIC ,THIS PURCHASED GENTILE SLAVE WAS CONSIDERED PART OF THE PRIEST’S FAMILY AND THUS WAS ALLOWED TO PARTAKE OF THE HOLY FOOD!!!
Ain’t that interesting?
A purchased gentile slave is considered the priest’s own property while an indentured servant or a bond servant is NOT!
Tuck this point away in your back pocket because this is going to be very important later on.
For this final category, the King James Bible says “and he that is born in his house”.
This is misleading.
While it is true that YELID BEITO literally means “born into the household”, it is NOT talking about the head of the household’s wife giving birth to his children.
This term is ONLY referring to the children born from purchased slaves.
It is referring to children born from the priest’s QANAH NEPHESH (the 4th category).
And we are told that these children born from purchased gentile slaves, since they belong to the slave owner, are considered part of the priest’s family, AND ARE THUS ALLOWED TO PARTAKE OF THE HOLY FOOD.
So that wraps up the five categories of potential folks who for one reason or another wound up living in the household of a priest.
Again, the whole objective of these classifications is to define which ones were eligible to eat of the HOLY food assigned to the priest under whose roof they were dwelling.
Before closing, a quick word about those categories that involved servitude or slavery.
Those slaves or servants who were NOT purchased and thus NOT allow to eat the HOLY food were not in any way mistreated or starved.
Their situation just meant that the food they ate had to be purchased by the priest.
So don’t think that a purchased slave was better off or better treated than a bond servant.
Per TORAH, all slaves, regardless of how they were acquired, whether gentile or Hebrew had to be treated fairly.
They could not be abused, starved, or overworked.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“A Canaanite woman
from that vicinity came to him,
“Lord, Son of David,have mercy on me!
My daughter is demon-possessed
and suffering terribly.”
Yeshua did not answer a word.
So his disciples came to him and urged him,
“Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him.
“Lord, help me!” she said.
“It is not right to take the children’s bread
and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said.
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs
that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Yeshua said to her,
“Woman, you have great faith!
Your request is granted.”
And her daughter was healed at that moment.”
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”