|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 6. - And cleanse them. Before they actually entered upon their new duties they were to be solemnly hallowed. This hallowing, however, is not called קַדֵּשׁ, as is that of the priests (Exodus 29:1), but טַהֵר, cleansing. There was in their case no ceremonial washing, no vesting in sacred garments, no anointing with holy oil, or sprinkling with the blood of sacrifices. The Levites, in fact, remained simply representatives of the congregation, whereas the priests were representatives also of Christ.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Take the Levites from among the children of Israel,.... Among whom they were mixed, as were all the tribes mixed together as Aben Ezra says, before they took their journey from Mount Sinai; however, from hence forward, they were distinguished from Israelites, as they are both in Scripture and in Jewish writings; see 1 Chronicles 9:2; though this seems to design no other but their appointment and separation to their work and service, as ministers to the priests of the Lord; and so as Aaron did not assume the honour of priesthood to himself but was called of God, the Levites did not take the honour of their office to themselves but had it by the appointment and call of God:
and cleanse them; with water, by sprinkling the water of purification on them, and by washing their bodies and clothes with water; which outward washing was a sign of moral purity, which was necessary to their employment in the service of the sanctuary; for though there was no particular uncleanness on them, either ceremonial or moral, but what was common to men; yet it was proper, by such outward rites, to put them and others in mind, that they which are employed about holy things should be eminently pure and holy; and as their business was to carry holy things, to bear the sacred vessels of the sanctuary from place to place when needful, they ought of all men to be clean, Isaiah 52:11, and in this they were emblems of the ministers of the word, who ought to be pure, as in heart, so in life and conversation, and be examples of purity to others, 2 Corinthians 6:6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6, 7. Take the Levites … and cleanse them—This passage describes the consecration of the Levites. Although the tribe was to be devoted to the divine service, their hereditary descent alone was not a sufficient qualification for entering on the duties of the sacred office. They were to be set apart by a special ceremony, which, however, was much simpler than that appointed for the priests; neither washing nor anointing, nor investiture with official robes, was necessary. Their purification consisted, along with the offering of the requisite sacrifices (Le 1:4; 3:2; 4:4), in being sprinkled by water mixed with the ashes of a red heifer (Nu 19:9), and shaved all over, and their clothes washed—a combination of symbolical acts which was intended to remind them of the mortification of carnal and worldly desires, and the maintenance of that purity in heart and life which became the servants of God.
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