And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,The actual lighting of the lamps (compare the marginal references) was to be done to set forth symbolically the special presence which God had now Numbers 7:89 actually established among His people.
Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.
And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,The Levites could only undertake their duties Numbers 3; 4 after the formal exchange of the Levites for the first-born Numbers 3:44-51.
The distinction between the "consecration" of the priests Leviticus 8 and the less solemn "purification" Numbers 8:21 of the Levites is marked. These rites of purification are similar to those incumbent on the priests of Egypt.
Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.Water of purifying - literally, "sin water:" i. e. water to cleanse from sin; no doubt taken from the laver of the sanctuary, which was used by the priests for purification before they went into the tabernacle to minister (compare Numbers 5:17; Exodus 30:18 ff).
The "sprinkling" of so large a body of men could have been only general, but tokens of individual purification are specified (compare also Leviticus 14:8).
Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.The two bullocks were "to make an atonement for the Levites," and therefore are presented in their name. These offerings are similar to those prescribed in Leviticus 8:14 ff at the consecration of the priests, except that the burnt-offering was on that occasion a ram. The larger victim corresponds to the larger number of the Levites.
And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:
And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:The children of Israel - i. e. through the heads of their tribes, who Numbers 7:2 no doubt acted for their tribesmen. This act, the distinguishing feature of the ceremony, represented the transfer to the Levites of the sacred duties originally incumbent on the whole people.
And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.Offer ... offering - Compare the margin Aaron pointed to the Levites, and then waved his hands, indicating (compare Leviticus 7:30 note) that the offering was dedicated to God, and, again, by grant from Him, withdrawn for the use of the priests.
And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.
And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.
Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.
And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.Make an atonement for the children of Israel - i. e. by performing those services which were due from the children of Israel; the omission of which by the children of Israel would, but for the interposition of the Levites, have called down "wrath" from God, or Numbers 1:53 "plague." The institution of the Levites was an extension of that mediatorial system which the people themselves, terrified at the direct manifestations to them of the divine presence, desired; see Deuteronomy 5:25. Further, it is suggested to us here as an act of mercy on the part of God; yet even the priests and Levites themselves were not always sufficiently heedful and reverent. Compare Numbers 17:10; Leviticus 10:1 ff; 2 Samuel 6:6 following.
And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.
And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.Were purified - Rather, purified themselves; as directed in Numbers 8:7.
And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:Twenty and five years old and upward - The permanent limit as distinguished from the temporary Numbers 4:3, Numbers 4:23, Numbers 4:30, though David found it necessary to extend the period of the Levites' service by causing it to commence at 20 years of age 1 Chronicles 23:24-28. This rule continued in force from the time of David downward (compare on 2 Chronicles 31:17; Ezra 3:8).
And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.