|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 6. - The covering of badgers' skins. Probably of sea-cow skins (tachash), but see Exodus 25:5. The Targum of Palestine, and the Septuagint, both render it "a covering of hyacinthine skin." The later Jews would have no knowledge of the marine animals common on the shores of the Red Sea. A cloth wholly of blue. This was the distinctive outer, and therefore Visible, covering of the most sacred thing, the ark.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins,.... Not that which covered the tabernacle, for that was committed to the Gershonites, Numbers 4:25; but a covering made of these on purpose for the present use, to preserve the ark from rain and dust; and this covering was put not immediately upon the ark, but upon the other coverings that were over the ark, and so preserved the vail as well as the ark:
and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue; it is a matter of question, whether this was over the covering of badgers' skins also; if over the latter, as one would think it should be, by the order of the text, how could that be a shelter from the rain and dust, which seems to be the use of it, and therefore should be the outermost, as one of the same kind was the outermost covering of the tabernacle? Aben Ezra observes, there were some that say it was over the covering of badger's skin, but it is right in mine eyes, says he, that it was spread over the covering vail; if indeed it was for the sake of honour and dignity, the first is right, but the badger's skin was on account of rain and dust:
and shall put in the staves thereof: having been removed while the ark was covering, as Aben Ezra observes, or otherwise they always remained in their rings, and were never taken out, Exodus 25:14; but on this occasion they might, and then be put in again for the carrying of the ark, which was the use of them; though he also remarks, that there are some that say the sense is, they put the staves on the shoulders of them that carried it, which is not a despicable sense; unless rather it is to be understood of putting the staves through holes made in the coverings of the ark, and disposing and fitting them in them, for the better carriage of it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. covering of badgers' skins—(See on Ex 25:5). The covering, however, referred to was not that of the tabernacle, but one made for the special purpose of protecting the ark.
put in the staves—These golden staves were now taken out. (See on Ex 25:15, compared with 1Ki 8:8). The Hebrew word rendered "put in," signifies also "dispose," and probably refers here to their insertion through the openings in the coverings made for receiving them, to preserve them from the touch of the carriers as well as from the influence of the weather. It is worthy of notice that the coverings did not consist of canvas or coarse tarpaulin, but of a kind which united beauty with decency.
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