Levi (Hebrew: לוי, Lēvî; "joining"), (2248 AM–2385 AM, or 1756-1620 BC), was the third son of Jacob and Leah. He is the ancestor of the Tribe of Levi, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The prophet Moses and his brother, Aaron, were descendants of Levi.
A Display of Anger
- Main Article: Dinah
In 2272 AM (1732 BC), his sister Dinah strayed from camp near the city of Shalem, in the region of Shechem.(Genesis 33:18 (KJV)) The local prince (also named Shechem) saw her and took her by force. Afterward, the prince was in love with Dinah and asked his father, King Hamor, to negotiate a marriage between him and Dinah.
Hamor approached Jacob and suggested a treaty involving mutual intermarriage. Jacob's sons said that they would accept this, on condition that all the men of the city circumcise themselves. King Hamor agreed to this.
Three days later, Simeon and Levi carried out their actual plan: they attacked the city by night, when the men of the city were still sore from the circumcisions, and killed the men, including Hamor and Shechem. They also took Dinah out of the prince's house and brought her back to camp. They returned with their brothers to plunder the city, capturing wealth, flocks, herds, women & children, and anything else of value.
The next morning, Jacob struck camp and left the region. He rebuked his sons sternly for an act that would risk retaliation and annihilation. Simeon and Levi, unrepentant and defiant, said that the only other choice they had would be to treat Dinah as if she were a harlot. (Genesis 34 )
Entry into EgyptJacob said this of Simeon and Levi both:
Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel. Genesis 49:5-7
This is a reference to the Shechem incident and might be one reason why the tribes of Simeon and Levi remained separated both during the wilderness journey and in the Promised Land. Simeon received a tribal territory and an assigned place to camp (the south side of the Tabernacle) and in the marching order (in the middle of the second rank). The Levites camped close to the Tabernacle on three sides and had the special duty to carry the Tabernacle furnishings, coverings, hangings, and structural elements. (Numbers 2-4 ) In the Promised Land, the Levites received no territory but were granted grazing rights in the environs of forty-eight cities.
Levi lived for eighty-seven more years in Egypt, and died in 2385 AM (1620 BC). He is assumed to have had one more child born to him in Egypt: a daughter, Jochebed.
Levi in fiction
Levi appears in multiple motion picture and television projects depicting the life and career of Joseph. He also appears in at least one project that described in detail the rape of Dinah and the revenge that Simeon and Levi took at Shechem.