|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:4-20 The Kohathites were to carry the holy things of the tabernacle. All the holy things were to be covered; not only for security and respect, but to keep them from being seen. This not only marked the reverence due to holy things, but the mystery of the things signified by those types, and the darkness of the dispensation. But now, through Christ, the case is altered, and we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace.
Verse 18. - Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites. The word tribe (shebet) is used in an unusual way here, not in the sense of tribus, but of stirps. Perhaps as Levi was himself a microcosm of all Israel, so his families ranked as tribes; and no doubt they remained more distinct than the families of any other tribe. The meaning of the command is plainly this, "Take care that the Kohathites are not cut off through any negligence or want of consideration on your part; and the form of the command, "cut ye not off," conveyed most emphatically the warning, that if any mischief befell the Kohathites which the priests could have prevented, they would be responsible for it in the sight of God. No doubt, as a fact, the Kohathites would take their cue from the conduct of the priests: if they were irreverent and careless, the Levites would be the same, and would sooner or later presume, and, presuming, would die.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites. Or give no occasion, as the Targum of Jonathan; or be not the cause of their cutting off, as Jarchi, through negligence or inadvertency of theirs, in packing up the above things, and delivering them to them.
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