And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Numbers 8:1. This and what follows concerning the Levites, seems to have been delivered after the order for giving them to the priests, and settling their several charges, Numbers 3:4.
Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.Numbers 8:2. When thou lightest the lamps — The priests lighted the middle lamp from the fire of the altar, and the rest one from another. Thus, all light and knowledge comes from Christ, who has the seven spirits of God, signified by these seven lamps of fire. Shall give light over against the candlestick — On that part which is before the candlestick. Hebrew, over against the face; or, before the face of the candlestick. That is, in that place toward which the candlestick looked, or where it stood in full view. Or rather, the meaning of the order is, that the whole seven lamps should be lighted, which branched out from all sides of the shaft, called the candlestick, (Exodus 25:35,) in order that the sanctuary might be all enlightened, there being no windows in it, so that all the light it had came from 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.Numbers 8:4. Of beaten gold — Not hollow, but solid gold, beaten out of one piece, not of several pieces joined or soldered together.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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.Numbers 8:7. Sprinkle water of purifying — Hebrew, water of sin, or sin-water; that is, water of purification from sin. Thus the sacrifice of atonement from sin is termed the sin-offering. This water was prepared with the ashes of a red heifer which had been offered for a burnt-offering, Numbers 19:17. Shave all their flesh — This external rite signified the cutting off their inordinate desire of earthly things, and that singular purity of heart and life which is required in the ministers of God. And wash their clothes — Another rite expressive of moral purity.
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.Numbers 8:8. A young bullock — The same sacrifice which was offered for a sin-offering for the whole congregation, because the Levites came in the stead of all the firstborn, who did, in a manner, represent the whole congregation.
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:Numbers 8:10. The children of Israel — Not all of them, which was impossible, but some in the name of all the princes or chiefs of each tribe, who used to transact things in the name of their tribes. Put their hands — Whereby they signified their transferring that right of ministering to God from the firstborn, in whose hands it formerly was, to the Levites, and their entire resignation and dedication of them to God’s service.
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.Numbers 8:11. Aaron shall offer — Hebrew, Shall wave the Levites for a wave- offering; not that Aaron did so wave them, which be could not do, but it is probable that he lifted up his hands, and turned to all quarters of the heavens, as he did when he offered a wave-offering; and that he caused them to imitate his motions, and to wave themselves toward the several parts of the world; in order that they might hereby signify their readiness to serve God, according to their capacity, wheresoever they should be.
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.Numbers 8:12-15. Lay their hands — To signify that they were offered by them and for them. Set the Levites before Aaron and his sons — Give the Levites to them, or to their service. Unto the Lord — For to him they were first properly offered, and by him given to the priests in order to his service. The Levites shall go in — Into the court, where they were to wait upon the priests at the altar of burnt-offering; and, at present, into the tabernacle, to take it down and set it up.
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.Numbers 8:19. To do the service of Israel — To serve God in their stead; to do what otherwise they would have been obliged to do in their own persons. To make an atonement — Not by offering sacrifices, which the priests alone might do, but by assisting the priest in that expiatory work, and by a diligent performance of all the parts of their office, whereby God was pleased both with them and with the people. That there be no plague — This is added as a reason why God appointed them to serve in the tabernacle, that they might guard it, and not suffer any of the people to come near it, or meddle with holy things; which if they did, it would certainly bring a plague upon them.
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.
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:
And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:Numbers 8:25-26. From the age of fifty — they shall cease waiting — Shall be excused from carrying the parts and vessels of the tabernacle, and all the toilsome duties of the service, and shall only give advice and direction, and assist in lesser and easier works. How merciful and full of compassion are the laws of God! When his servants became advanced in years in his service, they were not required to do the same work which they did when younger. But doubtless many of them, who were of age to take the benefit of this kind provision made for them, would show their love to God by still exerting in some way their last remains of strength in his service. And surely happy are they who, by the blessing of God on a temperate life, are preserved to old age, with strength to labour in His service who gave them being, and died to redeem them.
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.