Numbers 18:4
And they shall be joined to you, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a stranger shall not come near to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) And keep the charge . . . —See Numbers 1:53; Numbers 3:7.

18:1-7 The people complained of their difficulty and peril in drawing near to God. God here gives them to understand, that the priests should come near for them. Aaron would see reason not to be proud of his preferment, when he considered the great care and charge upon him. Be not high-minded, but fear. The greater the trust of work and power that is committed to us, the greater danger there is of betraying that trust. This is a good reason why we should neither envy others' honours, nor desire high places.A stranger - i. e. every one not a Levite. So in Numbers 18:7, it denotes each one who was not a priest: compare Numbers 3:10; Numbers 16:40. 2-7. thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi—The departments of the sacred office, to be filled respectively by the priests and Levites, are here assigned to each. To the priests was committed the charge of the sanctuary and the altar, while the Levites were to take care of everything else about the tabernacle. The Levites were to attend the priests as servants—bestowed on them as "gifts" to aid in the service of the tabernacle—while the high and dignified office of the priesthood was a "service of gift." "A stranger," that is, one, neither a priest nor a Levite, who should intrude into any departments of the sacred office, should incur the penalty of death. No text from Poole on this verse. And they shall be joined unto thee,.... As assistants in the sacred service:

and keep the charge of tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle; See Gill on Numbers 3:7 and See Gill on Numbers 3:8,

and a stranger shall not come nigh unto you; not any of the other tribes, only such as were of the tribe of Levi; they only were to be brought with them, and joined unto them, and assist them, and minister to them, as in Numbers 18:2; though the Jews (h) understand by a stranger anyone that was not a priest.

(h) Maimon. in Misn. Zebachim, c. 2. sect. 1.

And they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a {c} stranger shall not come nigh unto you.

(c) Which was not of the tribe of Levi.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. a stranger] Heb. zâr; anyone who is not a priest. See on Numbers 1:51.Verse 4. - A stranger. וֶר, i.e., one not a Levite, as in Numbers 1:51. Moses carried out this command. And when he went into the tabernacle the following morning, behold Aaron's rod of the house of Levi had sprouted, and put forth shoots, and had borne blossoms and matured almonds. And Moses brought all the rods out of the sanctuary, and gave every man his own; the rest, as we may gather from the context, being all unchanged, so that the whole nation could satisfy itself that God had chosen Aaron. Thus was the word fulfilled which Moses had spoken at the commencement of the rebellion of the company of Korah (Numbers 16:5), and that in a way which could not fail to accredit him before the whole congregation as sent of God.

So far as the occurrence itself is concerned, there can hardly be any need to remark, that the natural interpretation which has lately been attempted by Ewald, viz., that Moses had laid several almond rods in the holy place, which had just been freshly cut off, that he might see the next day which of them would flower the best during the night, is directly at variance with the words of the text, and also with the fact, that a rod even freshly cut off, when laid in a dry place, would not bear ripe fruit in a single night. The miracle which God wrought here as the Creator of nature, was at the same time a significant symbol of the nature and meaning of the priesthood. The choice of the rods had also a bearing upon the object in question. A man's rod was the sign of his position as ruler in the house and congregation; with a prince the rod becomes a sceptre, the insignia of rule (Genesis 49:10). As a severed branch, the rod could not put forth shoots and blossom in a natural way. But God could impart new vital powers even to the dry rod. And so Aaron had naturally no pre-eminence above the heads of the other tribes. But the priesthood was founded not upon natural qualifications and gifts, but upon the power of the Spirit, which God communicates according to the choice of His wisdom, and which He had imparted to Aaron through his consecration with holy anointing oil. It was this which the Lord intended to show to the people, by causing Aaron's rod to put forth branches, blossom, and fruit, through a miracle of His omnipotence; whereas the rods of the other heads of the tribes remained as barren as before. In this way, therefore, it was not without deep significance that Aaron's rod not only put forth shoots, by which the divine election might be recognised, but bore even blossom and ripe fruit. This showed that Aaron was not only qualified for his calling, but administered his office in the full power of the Spirit, and bore the fruit expected of him. The almond rod was especially adapted to exhibit this, as an almond-tree flowers and bears fruit the earliest of all the trees, and has received its name of שׁקד, "awake," from this very fact (cf. Jeremiah 1:11).

God then commanded (Numbers 17:10, Numbers 17:11) that Aaron's rod should be taken back into the sanctuary, and preserved before the testimony, "for a sign for the rebellious, that thou puttest an end to their murmuring, and they die not." The preservation of the rod before the ark of the covenant, in the immediate presence of the Lord, was a pledge to Aaron of the continuance of his election, and the permanent duration of his priesthood; though we have no need to assume, that through a perpetual miracle the staff continued green and blossoming. In this way the staff became a sign to the rebellious, which could not fail to stop their murmuring.

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