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I would conjecture that, even prior to the institution of the Levitical priesthood, the firstborn or heads among families exercised priestly functions. (That priests did in fact exist is indicated by the reference in Genesis 14:18 to Melchizedek, king of Salem (cited in Hebrews 5 as a prototype of Christ), who is referred to as priest of God Most High, and to whom Abram offered a tenth of all the spoil he had taken in rescuing Lot.)
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