I am in a debate regarding Kohens and Levites.

My friend says that Kohens are descended from Levites. I say that the three "levels" are Kohens, Levites and Israelites. Who is correct?


You are both right. Kohanim (that's plural for Kohen) do indeed stem from the tribe of Levi. And yes, there are indeed three groups of Jews: Kohen (Priests), Levi (Levites) and Yisrael (Israelites).

Here's how it works: Jacob's third son's name was Levi. Levi had three sons: Gershon, Kehot and Merari. Kehot's firstborn, Amram, had three children: Miriam, Aaron and Moses.

Aaron was designated as the Kohen Gadol, the high priest; male descendants of Aaron are Kohanim. The rest of the tribe, are the Levites.

Best wishes,

Chani Benjaminson