There can be no reasonable doubt that the Levite here was member of a priestly tribe or order, and this view is confirmed by the discovery of what is really the same word in south Arabian inscriptions.
J 1 as well as E), makes reference to a Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, expressly stated in xvii.
Nevertheless even such a writer as D could not escape the influence of the age and atmosphere in which he lived; and despite the spirit of love which breathes so strongly throughout the book, especially for the poor, the widow and the fatherless, the stranger and the homeless Levite (xxiv.
Even the name Levite itself is of uncertain origin.
The older parts are preserved in xix.: the account of the Levite of Mt Ephraim whose concubine from Bethlehem in Judah was outraged, not by the non-Israelite Jebusites of Jerusalem, but by the Benjamites of Gibeah; there are traces of another source in vv.
It even seems possible from a close attention to descriptions of sacred ordinances to conclude that his special: interests are those of a common Levite rather than of a priest,, and that of all Levitical functions he is most partial to those of the singers, a member of whose guild he may have been.
Again, in the story of Micah's shrine and the removal of the sacred objects and the Levite priest by the Danites, parallel narratives have been used: the graven and molten images of Judg.
The history of the Levite and the Benjamites is of quite another character, and presupposes a degree of unity of feeling and action among the tribes of Israel which it is not easy to reconcile with the rest of the book.
Of his earlier life it was said that he was born in Egypt of Levite parents, and when the Pharaoh commanded that every new-born male child of the Hebrews should be killed, he was put into a chest and cast upon the Nile.
A Levite probably had a hand in the work, and this, with the evidence for the Levitical Psalms (see Psalms), gives the caste an interesting place in the study of the transmission of the biblical records.