The Temple and its Workers
by Ronald W Robey
(written June 18, 2019)

The Bible reveals that there were thirty-eight thousand Levites that worked at the Temple in Jerusalem. But they worked in courses. For instance, there were four thousand Levites assigned to be musicians and four thousand Levites that were assigned to be porters. (door keepers)

1 Chronicles 23:3-5 Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand. Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges: Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.

Thirty-eight thousand men working at the Temple at the same time would be impossible, as the dimensions of the Temple (90’x30’x45′; see 1 Kings 6:2) were not big enough to house that great number. Even 200 at one time would have been too much. There were many more Levites (thirty thousand) that had other jobs on the Temple grounds beside musician and porter.

The fact that they worked in courses (shifts) and there was such a vast number of Levites, reveals that the Levite, when not on duty, stayed at home in the forty-eight cities assigned to them by the remaining eleven tribes.

Some scholars agree that the non Aaronic Levite spent, at the most, two weeks a year at the Temple.

If they were to be paid for their work at the Temple, what of the eleven and a half months that they were at home? No food?

The answer is revealed in Nehemiah 10:37-38. Tithes were not taken to the Temple by the eleven tribes…they were given to the Levites. The Levites would then take enough to the Temple for their sustenance while performing their duties at the Temple…a tithe of the tithe. (the full tithe could not have been stored at the House of God, as the dimensions of the storehouse were far smaller than the dimensions of the House of God itself. 7.5′ broad/9′ broad/10.5 foot broad from bottom to top; see 1 Kings 6:6)

The remaining ninety percent of the tithe they received, they obviously took home to their families. The Levites had fields (see Nehemiah 13:10) in their cities where they could plant seed that they received as tithe and harvest food to sustain their families.