|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:47-54 Care is here taken to distinguish the tribe of Levi, which, in the matter of the golden calf, had distinguished itself. Singular services shall be recompensed by singular honours. It was to the honour of the Levites, that to them was committed the care of the tabernacle and its treasures, in their camps and in their marches. It was for the honour of the holy things that none should see them, or touch them, but those who were called of God to the service. We all are unfit and unworthy to have fellowship with God, till called by his grace into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and so, being the spiritual seed of that great High Priest, we are made priests to our God. Great care must be taken to prevent sin, for preventing sin is preventing wrath. Being a holy tribe, they were not reckoned among other Israelites. They that minister about holy things, should neither entangle themselves, nor be entangled, in worldly affairs. And let every believer seek to do what the Lord has commanded.
Verse 48. - Had spoken. Rather, "spake," and so Septuagint. This was the formal command to separate, although it had been anticipated to a considerable extent. The Levites had been marked out from the others
(1) as the tribesmen of Moses and Aaron,
(2) as the champions of Jehovah in the matter of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26, sq.); they had been already employed, or at least designated, for religious services; and the peculiarity of their future position in Israel had been recognized in the Divine legislation (Leviticus 25:32, sq.), and in their not being called upon to contribute to the capitation for the sanctuary. In a word, this ordinance, like so many others, did little more than give a formal and direct sanction to a state of things which had already come into play, partly through natural causes, partly through providential directions.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the Lord had spoken unto Moses,.... Not to number the Levites, when he gave him the orders to number the rest of the tribes: this is observed, lest it should be thought that this was what Moses did of himself, out of affection to the tribe he was of, and to spare it, that it might not be obliged to go forth to war when others did; not that they were forbid to engage in war, or that it was unlawful for them so to do, for when necessity required, and they were of themselves willing to engage in it, they might, as appears in the case of the Maccabees, but they might not be forced into it; they were, as Josephus (e) says, exempted from it; and so all concerned in religious service, both among Heathens and Christians, have always been excused bearing arms:
saying; as follows.
(e) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 12. sect. 4.
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