World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
The Seven Lamps
1Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.” 3And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the Lord commanded Moses. 4And this was the workmanship of the lampstand, hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.
Cleansing of the Levites
5And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6“Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. 7Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. 8Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. 9And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. 10When you bring the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, 11and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the Lord. 12Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites. 13And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as a wave offering to the Lord.
14“Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. 15And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. 16For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. 19And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.”
20Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. 21And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.
Retirement of the Levites
23And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24“This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they11Hebrew he; also verses 25, 26 shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26They minister22Hebrew He ministers to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
Nu 8:1-4. How the Lamps Are to Be Lighted.
1. the Lord spake unto Moses—The order of this chapter suggests the idea that the following instructions were given to Moses while he was within the tabernacle of the congregation, after the princes had completed their offering. But from the tenor of the instructions, it is more likely that they were given immediately after the Levites had been given to the priests (see on Nu 3:1-4:49), and that the record of these instructions had been postponed till the narrative of other transactions in the camp had been made [Patrick].
2. Speak unto Aaron, &c.—The candlestick, which was made of one solid, massive piece of pure gold, with six lamps supported on as many branches, a seventh in the center surmounting the shaft itself (Ex 25:31; 37:17), and completed according to the pattern shown in the mount, was now to be lighted, when the other things in the sanctuary began to be applied to religious service. It was Aaron's personal duty, as the servant of God, to light His house, which, being without windows, required the aid of lights (2Pe 1:19). And the course he was ordered to follow was first to light the middle lamp from the altar-fire, and then the other lamps from each other—a course symbolical of all the light of heavenly truth being derived from Christ, and diffused by His ministers throughout the world (Re 4:5).
the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick—The candlestick stood close to the boards of the sanctuary, on the south side, in full view of the table of showbread on the north (Ex 26:35), having one set of its lamps turned towards the east, and another towards the west; so that all parts of the tabernacle were thus lighted up.
Nu 8:5-22. The Consecration of the Levites.
6, 7. Take the Levites … and cleanse them—This passage describes the consecration of the Levites. Although the tribe was to be devoted to the divine service, their hereditary descent alone was not a sufficient qualification for entering on the duties of the sacred office. They were to be set apart by a special ceremony, which, however, was much simpler than that appointed for the priests; neither washing nor anointing, nor investiture with official robes, was necessary. Their purification consisted, along with the offering of the requisite sacrifices (Le 1:4; 3:2; 4:4), in being sprinkled by water mixed with the ashes of a red heifer (Nu 19:9), and shaved all over, and their clothes washed—a combination of symbolical acts which was intended to remind them of the mortification of carnal and worldly desires, and the maintenance of that purity in heart and life which became the servants of God.
9, 10. thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together, &c.—As it was plainly impossible that the whole multitude of the Israelites could do this, a select portion of them must be meant. This party, who laid their hands upon the Levites, are supposed by some to have been the first-born, who by that act, transferred their peculiar privilege of acting as God's ministers to the Levitical tribe; and by others, to have been the princes, who thus blessed them. It appears, from this passage, that the imposition of hands was a ceremony used in consecrating persons to holy offices in the ancient, as, from the example of our Lord and His apostles, it has been perpetuated in the Christian Church.
11-13. And Aaron shall offer the Levites—Hebrew, "as a wave offering"; and it has been thought probable that the high priest, in bringing the Levites one by one to the altar, directed them to make some simple movements of their persons, analogous to what was done at the presentation of the wave offerings before the Lord. Thus were they first devoted as an offering to God, and by Him surrendered to the priests to be employed in His service. The consecration ceremonial was repeated in the case of every Levite who was taken (as was done at a later period) to assist the priests in the tabernacle and temple. (See on 2Ch 29:34).
14. and the Levites shall be mine—that is, exempt from all military duty or secular work—free from all pecuniary imposition and wholly devoted to the custody and service of the sanctuary.
15. after that, shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation—into the court, to assist the priests; and at removal into the tabernacle—that is, into the door of it—to receive the covered furniture.
19. to make an atonement for the children of Israel, &c.—to aid the priests in that expiatory work; or, as the words may be rendered, "to make redemption for" the Levites being exchanged or substituted for the first-born for this important end, that there might be a sanctified body of men appointed to guard the sanctuary, and the people not allowed to approach or presumptuously meddle with holy things, which would expose them to the angry judgments of Heaven.
24. from twenty and five years old, &c.—(Compare Nu 4:3). They entered on their work in their twenty-fifth year, as pupils and probationers, under the superintendence and direction of their senior brethren; and at thirty they were admitted to the full discharge of their official functions.
25. from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, &c.—that is, on the laborious and exhausting parts of their work.
26. But shall minister with their brethren—in the performance of easier and higher duties, instructing and directing the young, or superintending important trusts. "They also serve who only wait" [Milton].