Twenty-four priestly gifts

The twenty-four kohanic gifts are a description in the Gemara tradition of offerings given to the Jewish priests.[1] The adjective "kohanic" means "of a kohen", relating to a Jewish priest.

The Kohanim were compensated for their service in the temple in Jerusalem - and to the nation - through twenty-four "priestly gifts". The majority of these gifts were food items. Of these twenty-four gifts, ten gifts were given to the priests in the Temple, the "Holy House" (beyth ha-miqdash), four were to be consumed by the priests in Jerusalem, and ten are to be given to the priests even outside the land of Israel.

The gifts are usually not given today, when there is no temple in Jerusalem. For example, most practising Jews today do not give first-born of their animals to modern Kohanim. Other practices may be followed, such as selling the mother animal to a non-Jew before it gives birth to the firstborn, and then buy back both the animal and its firstborn.[2]


According to Tosefta Hallah, the ten gifts given in (or to be consumed in) the Temple area were portions of:

1. an animal brought as a sin offering
2. guilt offering
3. sacrifices of the communal peace offering
4. a bird brought in as a sin offering
5. the suspensive guilt offering[3]
6. the olive oil offering of a metzora.[4]
7. the two loaves of bread brought on First Fruits
8. the showbread
9. the left over portion of the meal offering
10. the left over portion of grain from the offering of the first sheaf, the omer offering

Gifts given (or to be consumed) within the walls of Jerusalem were:

11. firstborn of any domestic kosher animal
12. First Fruits
13. the inner organs of certain offerings, that which is removed from the Nazirite offering
14. the skins of certain offerings

Gifts which could be given (or consumed) outside Jerusalem were:

15. heave offering of a portion of the harvest
16. heave offering of the tithe - a tithe of the Levite's tithe
17. a portion of dough
18. the first shearing of the sheep
19. Foreleg, cheeks and maw of all non-sanctified, ritually slaughtered domestic animals
20. money given in exchange for redemption of a first-born son (Hebrew: pidyon haben פדיון הבן; redemption of the son) - in rabbinical practice five silver shekels for the redemption of a firstborn Israelite son.
21. money (or a sheep or goat) redeemed in place of a firstborn donkey
22. things declared herem, the hromim property or possession dedicated to the Temple without specifying to which use it is to be given
23. inherited fields that were dedicated to the Temple and not reclaimed in the Jubilee year.
24. that recovered which was stolen from a resident alien who has died, leaving no heirs.

Females, who did not serve in the Tabernacle or the Temple, were permitted to consume and/or derive benefit from some of the Twenty-Four Priestly Gifts. But if a Kohen's daughter married a man from outside the Kohanic line, she was no longer permitted to benefit from the priestly gifts. Conversely, the daughter of a non-priest who married a priest took on the same rights as an unmarried daughter of a priest.

See also


  1. Talmud Bavli: the Gemara: the classic Vilna edition Hersh Goldwurm - 2007 "A bechor is one of twenty-four "gifts" that the Torah awards to Kohanim (Rashi ; for a complete list of the twenty-four Kohanic gifts, see Gemara below, 110b)."
  2. Zeʾev Grinvald Shaarei Halachah: A Summary of Laws for Jewish Living 2001 Page 384 "Firstborn male animals are one of the twenty-four gifts which were given to Kohanim. Many halachos apply to firstborn animals (e.g. one may not slaughter them, eat their meat, etc.). Today, when there is no Temple, and we do not give first-born animals to Kohanim, it is customary to sell the mother cow, sheep, or goat to a non-Jew before she gives birth to her firstborn, and then buy back the mother and the firstborn."
  3. Neusner The Comparative Hermeneutics of Rabbinic Judaism: Why this, not that? p115
  4. Jacob Neusner Texts Without Boundaries: Sifra and Sifré to Numbers 2002 D. The sin offering, guilt offering, sacrifices of peace offerings of the community, the hide of the burnt offering, the excess of the log of oil presented by the metzora, the excess of the sheaf of first barley, the two loaves and the..

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