Numbers 18:7
Therefore you and your sons with you shall keep your priest's office for everything of the altar, and within the veil; and you shall serve: I have given your priest's office to you as a service of gift: and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death.
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(7) And within the vail.—i.e., the vail which separated the holy place from the most holy. The word which is employed in this place (parocheth) is used only of the second vail. (See Leviticus 16:12.) When the outer vail or hanging is designed to be understood, the word used is masak. The reference appears to be to the whole of the priestly duties which were discharged by Aaron and his sons, from those connected with the altar of burnt offering to those which were performed in the most holy place.



Numbers 18:7

All Christians are priests-to offer sacrifices, alms, especially prayers; to make God known to men.

I. Our priesthood is a gift of God’s love.

We are apt to think of our duties as burdensome. They are an honour and a mark of God’s grace.

1. They are His gift-

{a} The power to do. All capacities and possessions from Him.

{b} The wish to do. ‘Worketh in you to will.’

{c} The right to do, through Christ.

2. They are a blessing.

{a} Note the good effects on ourselves-the increase of fellowship with Him, the strengthening of all holy desires.

{b} The future benefits. Apply this to prayer and to effort on behalf of our fellow-men.

II. Our priesthood is to be done as a service-under a sense of obligation to a master, with diligence {an [Greek: ergon], not a [Greek: parergon]}.

III. Our priesthood is to be done as a gift to God-to be done joyfully, giving ourselves back to Him: ‘Yield yourselves unto God’-’your reasonable service.’

Then only do we really possess ourselves, and ‘all things are ours, for we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’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.The Lord instructs here the priests that the office which they fill, and the help which they enjoy, are gifts from Him, and are to be viewed as such. 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. The altar, to wit, of burnt-offering, as appears from the following words.

Within the veil. This phrase elsewhere signifies the inward or second veil, but here it signifies either the outward veil only, or rather both the veils, the singular number being put for the plural, as when the altar is put for both the altars, as hath been noted; and so this phrase comprehends both the holy and the most holy place.

As a service of gift; as a gift which I have freely conferred upon you, and upon you alone; and therefore let no man henceforth dare either to charge you with arrogance and usurpation in appropriating this to yourselves, or to invade your office. Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office,.... Observe all the duties of it, and keep out others from intruding into it:

for everything of the altar: both of incense and of burnt offering with respect to burning incense on the one, and offering sacrifices on the other; both were to be done by priests, and by no other:

and within the vail; in the most holy place, where the high priest entered but once a year, and he only with incense, and the blood of sacrifices, see Hebrews 9:7,

and ye shall serve; do all the business that is to be done at either altar, whether in the court, or in the holy place, and whatsoever is to be done in the most holy place within the vail:

I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift; it was not what they had taken to themselves of their own will, or had thrust themselves into, but what the Lord had called them to, and had freely invested them with, see Hebrews 5:4,

and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death; any common person, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; any Israelite, one that is a stranger from the priests, though a Levite, as Aben Ezra; such an one might not come either to the altar of burnt offering to offer any sacrifice upon it, or the altar of incense, to burn incense on that, or trim the lamps, or put the shewbread in order, or to do anything peculiar to the priest's office.

Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for everything of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
7. shall keep your priesthood] i.e. perform its distinctive duties.

within the veil] viz. the first hanging, at the entrance to the Holy Place. The Levites were debarred from entering any part of the tent, and from contact with the altar of burnt-offering in the court.

as a service of gift] The expression (if the text be correct) emphasizes the fact that the priests had done nothing to deserve these privileges; they were a free gift. The LXX. suggest a different reading—‘Ye shall perform the acts of service (as a) gift of your priesthood’; but the meaning is substantially the same. S. Paul gives similar teaching with regard to Christian privileges, 1 Corinthians 4:7.Verse 7. - Shall keep your priests' office for everything of the altar, and within the vail. That the Levites were made over to Aaron and his sons to relieve them of a great part of the mere routine and drudgery of their service was to be with them an additional and powerful motive for doing their priestly work so reverently and watchfully as to leave no excuse for sacrilegious intrusion. The altar (of burnt offering) and "that within the vail (cf. Hebrews 6:19) were the two points between which the exclusive duties of the priesthood lay, including the service of the holy place. A service of gift. A service which was not to be regarded as a burden, or a misfortune, or as a natural heritage and accident of birth, but to be received and cherished as a favour accorded to them by the goodness of God. The Official Duties and Rights of the Priests and Levites. - Numbers 18:1. To impress upon the minds of the priests and Levites the holiness and responsibility of their office, the service of Aaron, of his sons, and of his father's house, i.e., of the family of the Kohathites, is described as "bearing the iniquity of the sanctuary," and the service which was peculiar to the Aaronides, as "bearing the iniquity of their priesthood." "To bear the iniquity of the sanctuary" signifies not only "to have to make expiation for all that offended against the laws of the priests and the holy things, i.e., the desecration of these" (Knobel), but "iniquity or transgression at the sanctuary," i.e., the defilement of it by the sin of those who drew near to the sanctuary; not only of the priests and Levites, but of the whole people who defiled the sanctuary in the midst of them with its holy vessels, not only by their sins (Leviticus 16:6), but even by their holy gifts (Exodus 28:38), and thus brought guilt upon the whole congregation, which the priests were to bear, i.e., to take upon themselves and expunge, by virtue of the holiness and sanctifying power communicated to their office (see at Exodus 28:38). The "iniquity of the priesthood," however, not only embraced every offence against the priesthood, every neglect of the most scrupulous and conscientious fulfilment of duty in connection with their office, but extended to all the sin which attached to the official acts of the priests, on account of the sinfulness of their nature. It was to wipe out these sins and defilements, that the annual expiation of the holy things on the day of atonement had been appointed (Leviticus 16:16.). The father's house of Aaron, i.e., the Levitical family of Kohath, was also to join in bearing the iniquity of the sanctuary, because the oversight of the holy vessels of the sanctuary devolved upon it (Numbers 4:4.).
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