Of two instances where the Torah talks about the land allotment to kohanim, the first discusses one that happened in the past, while the second talks about the future.
The first is in the Book of Joshua, (21:13-21), therein is listed thirteen cities that were drawn in the divine lot (גורל אל פי השם) cast by Elazar HaKohen (Elazar the high priest) and Yehoushua bin-nun at the shilo mishkan (tabernacle). The drawing occurred in the Hebrew calendar year 2503 (1257 BCE).
The said cities all come along with the biblical detail of ואת מגרשה – their peripheral land – around the city (presumably, this amount is 2000 amah – cubits – in each direction). These thirteen cities are the primary land allotments for the Jewish priesthood in the Land of Israel and were in use from the period of initial entry of the Jewish nation into the land of Israel up until the cities where forcefully depopulated by Nebuchadnezzar.
According to the books of Ezra & Nechemia (malbim commentary), these thirteen cities were re-inhabited by the kohanim upon their return from the seventy-year term of the Babylonian exile.
This sets a precedent for these cities and peripheries to be inhabited again today by kohanim & their families. The land-list in book of Joshua is as follows;
- אֶת חֶבְרוֹן וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Hebron & its periphery
- וְאֶת לִבְנָה וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Livna & its periphery
- וְאֶת יַתִּר וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Yatir & its periphery
- וְאֶת אֶשְׁתְּמֹעַ וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Eshtemoa & its periphery
- וְאֶת חֹלֹן (או חִילֵז בתנ”ך קורן) וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Holon (or Hilez in the Koren Tanach) & its periphery
- וְאֶת דְּבִר וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Devir & its periphery
- וְאֶת עַיִן וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Ayin & its periphery
- וְאֶת יֻטָּה וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Yutah & its periphery
- אֶת בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Bet Shemesh & its periphery
- אֶת גִּבְעוֹן וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Giv’on & its periphery
- אֶת גֶּבַע וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Geva & its periphery
- אֶת עֲנָתוֹת וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Anatot & its periphery
- וְאֶת עַלְמוֹן וְאֶת מִגְרָשֶׁהָ Almon & its periphery
Ezekiel’s land allotment
The second instance of land allotment to the Jewish priesthood is prophecized by Yechezkel (“Ezekiel”) – himself a kohen, and prophet of the G-d of Israel.