|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:5-26 Here we have directions for the solemn ordination of the Levites. All Israel must know that they took not this honour to themselves, but were called of God to it; nor was it enough that they were distinguished from others. All who are employed for God, must be dedicated to him, according to the employment. Christians must be baptized, ministers must be ordained; we must first give ourselves unto the Lord, and then our services. The Levites must be cleansed. They must be clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Moses must sprinkle the water of purifying upon them. This signifies the application of the blood of Christ to our souls by faith, that we may be fit to serve the living God. God declares his acceptance of them. All who expect to share in the privileges of the tabernacle, must resolve to do the service of the tabernacle. As, on the one hand, none of God's creatures are his necessary servants, he needs not the service of any of them; so none are merely honorary servants, to do nothing. All whom God owns, he employs; angels themselves have their services.
Verse 10. - Before the Lord. As in chapter Numbers 5:16, either near the brazen altar, or more probably before the entrance of the tabernacle. And the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites. Presumably by means of their representatives, probably the tribe princes. This laying on of hands signified that the obligation to assist personally in the service of the sanctuary was transferred from the whole congregation to the Levites.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord,.... From the door of the tabernacle, to the altar of burnt offering, where the Lord was in some sense present to accept the sacrifices offered to him:
and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites; as were used to be put upon sacrifices, for the Levites were themselves offered for an offering of the children of Israel, as is expressed in Numbers 8:11; by which rite they signified that they voluntarily parted with them, and gave them up to the Lord, and transferred their service to them, in which they were to serve in their room and stead; these, according to some Jewish writers, were the firstborn of Israel that laid their hands on the Levites, a type of the general assembly and church of the firstborn; or rather the princes and heads of the tribes, who represented the whole body. Some think by this rite is signified the consent of the people in the designation and appointment of the ministers of the word to their work and office; but what in the New Testament seems to answer to this is, the laying of the hands of the presbytery on ministers of the word, 1 Timothy 4:14.
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