2 Samuel 8:18—How could David’s sons be priests when they were not Levites?

Problem: According to this verse, “David’s sons were chief ministers.” Yet Numbers 3:10 forbids anyone except the sons of Aaron from being priests (cf. Num. 16:40).

Solution: Some scholars believe that the priesthood was extended to include David’s sons, granting them a kind of honorary priesthood. However, since there is no indication of this in the text, it does not seem likely.

Probably a broader understanding of the word for priest is employed here. The Hebrew word for “priest” (kohen) is also used for servant, minister, or counselor. David’s sons did not offer sacrifices (only Aaron’s sons did), but they were domestic priests or spiritual advisors.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.