|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-3 The middle-aged men of the tribe of Levi, all from thirty years old to fifty, were to be employed in the service of the tabernacle. The service of God requires the best of our strength, and the prime portion of our time, which cannot be better spent than to the honour of Him who is the First and Best. And the service of God should be done when we are most lively and active. Those do not consider this who put off repentance to old age, and so leave the best work to be done in the worst time.
Verse 3. - From thirty years old and upward. The age at which they became liable for service was shortly after reduced to twenty-five (Numbers 8:24), and at a later period to twenty (1 Chronicles 23:27). In the wilderness a larger number of the men might be required to attend to their own camps, and their own families; but the explanation may probably be found in the unusually large proportion who were at this time between the ages of thirty and fifty. The Septuagint has altered thirty into twenty-five to make it agree with Numbers 8:24. Thirty years became among the Jews the perfect age at which a man attained to full maturity, and entered upon all his fights and duties (cf. Luke 3:23). Into the host. Not the military ranks, but the militia sacra of the Lord. To do the work. Literally, "to war the warfare."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old,.... This is the full time of the Levites service, and the prime season of man's life for business; at thirty years of age he is at his full strength, and when fifty it begins to decline: it is said in the Misnah (x),"a son of thirty years for strength,''upon which one of the commentators (y) makes this remark, that the Levites set up the tabernacle and took it down, and loaded the wagons, and carried on their shoulders from thirty years and upwards: thus both John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, and Christ himself, entered into their ministry at this age:
all that enter into the host; army or warfare; for though the Levites were exempted from going forth to war, yet their service was a sort of warfare; they were a camp of themselves about the tabernacle, and part of their work was to watch and guard it, that it was neither defiled nor robbed; in allusion to this, the ministry of the word is called a warfare, and ministers of the Gospel good soldiers of Christ, and their doctrines weapons of warfare, 1 Timothy 1:18; some interpret this of the troop, company, or congregation of the Levites, which a man of thirty years of age was admitted into for business:
to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation; not in the sanctuary, either in the holy place or in the most holy place, where they were never allowed to enter, or do any business in, such as sacrificing, burning incense, &c. but in that part of it which was called "the tabernacle of the congregation", or where the people assembled on occasion, and that was the court, which was so called, as Jarchi observes on Exodus 29:32.
(x) Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. (y) Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.
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