Numbers 3:25
And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
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(25) In the tabernacle of the congregation.—Better, in the tent of meeting. It is important to distinguish between the ohel—i.e., the tent—and the mishkani.e., the tabernacle—which was the building of shittim wood with its curtains which was within the tent. The word ohel, where it occurs in the second place in this verse, evidently means the outer covering, as in Exodus 26:7, where the passage may be literally rendered thus :—“And thou shalt make curtains (or hangings) of goats’ (hair) for an ohel upon (or over) the mishkan.”

The covering thereof.—The mikseh (covering) appears to include the two coverings described in Exodus 26:14—viz., the covering of rams’ skins and that of badgers’ skins or seals’ skins.

The hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregationi.e., for the entrance or opening of the tent of meeting. This hanging was of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen, and was hung at the entrance—i.e., the eastern or open end of the tent (Exodus 26:36). The word rendered door (pethach, not deleth) means an opening. At a later period, when the Tabernacle was at Shiloh, it had doors (1Samuel 3:15). Both words occur in 1Kings 6:31 : “And for the entering (or at the opening) of the oracle he made doors.” &c.

Numbers 3:25-26. The tabernacle — Not the boards, which belonged to Merari, (Numbers 3:36,) but the ten curtains. The tent — The curtains of goats’ hair. The coverings — That is, the coverings of rams’ skins and badgers’ skins. The cords — By which the tabernacle was fastened to the pins, and stretched out, Exodus 35:18.

3:14-39 The Levites were in three classes, according to the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; and these were subdivided into families. The posterity of Moses were not at all honoured or privileged, but stood upon the level with other Levites; thus it was plain, that Moses did not seek the advancement of his own family, or to secure any honours to it. The tribe of Levi was by much the least of all the tribes. God's chosen are but a little flock in comparison with the world.The concluding words are better expressed thus: "Mine shall they be, Mine, the Lord's." On the subject of the firstborn see the notes at Numbers 3:43-51. 14-31. Number the children of Levi—They were numbered as well as the other tribes; but the enumeration was made on a different principle—for while in the other tribes the number of males was calculated from twenty years and upward [Nu 1:3], in that of Levi they were counted "from a month old and upward." The reason for the distinction is obvious. In the other tribes the survey was made for purposes of war [Nu 1:3], from which the Levites were totally exempt. But the Levites were appointed to a work on which they entered as soon as they were capable of instruction. They are mentioned under the names of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, sons of Levi, and chiefs or ancestral heads of three subdivisions into which this tribe was distributed. Their duties were to assist in the conveyance of the tabernacle when the people were removing the various encampments, and to form its guard while stationary—the Gershonites being stationed on the west, the Kohathites on the south, and the families of Merari on the north. The Kohathites had the principal place about the tabernacle, and charge of the most precious and sacred things—a distinction with which they were honored, probably, because the Aaronic family belonged to this division of the Levitical tribe. The Gershonites, being the oldest, had the next honorable post assigned them, while the burden of the drudgery was thrown on the division of Merari. The tabernacle; not the boards, which belonged to Merari, Numbers 3:36, but the ten curtains mentioned Exodus 26:1.

The tent, to wit, the curtains of goats’ hair.

The covering thereof, i.e. the coverings of rams’ skins and badgers’ skins. See Numbers 4:25.

And the charge of the sons of Gershom,.... The Libnites and Shimites:

in the tabernacle of the congregation; or with respect to the things of it, when it was taken down and committed to them; for otherwise they had no place in it, nor might they enter into it, or do any service therein:

shall be the tabernacle and the tent; the former intends not the boards of it, which were the charge of the Merarites, Numbers 3:36; but the curtains, as Aben Ezra, or the under curtains, as Jarchi calls them, which were made of fine twined linen, Exodus 26:1; and the latter is to be understood of the eleven curtains, as Aben Ezra, the curtains of goats hair, which were made for the roof of the tabernacle, as Jarchi observes, see Exodus 26:7,

the covering thereof: made of rams' skins, and badgers' skins, which were thrown over the tent, Exodus 26:14,

and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; the vail, as Jarchi calls it; not what divided the holy and most holy places, for that fell to the charge of the Kohathites, Numbers 3:31; but the vail or hanging which was at the door of the tent, or which led into the holy place, Exodus 26:36.

And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the {i} tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,

(i) Their charge was to carry the covering and hangings of the tabernacle.

25. the tabernacle; the Tent; the covering] Since the wooden framework is to be carried by the Merarites, these three expressions denote only the stuff hangings; cf. Numbers 4:25. An explanation of the terms is found in Exodus 26:1-14. As an ordinary tent consists mainly of the covering, the wood-work being only an accessory to support it, so (1) the tabernacle (or rather dwelling) proper consisted of ten strips of linen worked in three colours with figures of cherubim, and joined by hooks and loops into one whole (Numbers 3:1; Numbers 3:6 b). (2) The tent1 [Note: The spelling of the word in the R.V. with a capital T is misleading.] consisted of eleven strips of goats’ hair, joined together in the same way, and covering the ‘dwelling’ (Numbers 3:7; Numbers 3:11 b, 13b). (3) The covering was of rams’ skins dyed red (probably tanned) and of the water-tight skin of some marine animal such as the porpoise or dugong (Numbers 3:14).

Verse 25. - The charge of the sons of Gershon. See Numbers 4:24-26. Numbers 3:25The Gershonites were divided into two families, containing 7500 males. They were to encamp under their chief Eliasaph, behind the tabernacle, i.e., on the western side (Numbers 3:23, Numbers 3:24), and were to take charge of the dwelling-place and the tent, the covering, the curtain at the entrance, the hangings round the court with the curtains at the door, and the cords of the tent, "in relation to all the service thereof" (Numbers 3:25.); that is to say, according to the more precise injunctions in Numbers 4:25-27, they were to carry the tapestry of the dwelling (the inner covering, Exodus 26:1.), and of the tent (i.e., the covering made of goats' hair, Exodus 26:7.), the covering thereof (i.e., the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of sea-cow skin upon the top of it, Exodus 27:16), the hangings of the court and the curtain at the entrance (Exodus 27:9, Exodus 27:16), which surrounded the altar (of burnt-offering) and the dwelling round about, and their cords, i.e., the cords of the tapestry, coverings, and curtains (Exodus 27:14), and all the instruments of their service, i.e., the things used in connection with their service (Exodus 27:19), and were to attend to everything that had to be done to them; in other words, to perform whatever was usually done with those portions of the sanctuary that are mentioned here, especially in setting up the tabernacle or taking it down. The suffix in מיתריו (Numbers 3:26) does not refer to the court mentioned immediately before; for, according to Numbers 3:37, the Merarites were to carry the cords of the hangings of the court, but to the "dwelling and tent," which stand farther off. In the same way the words, "for all the service thereof," refer to all those portions of the sanctuary that are mentioned, and mean "everything that had to be done or attended to in connection with these things."
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