Numbers 3:38
But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) Keeping the charge of the sanctuary . . . —The word mikdash (sanctuary) appears to be of a more comprehensive import than mishkan, the shittimwood building, or ohel, the tent which covered it, and it seems to include the court which surrounded the Tabernacle, as in Leviticus 12:4; Leviticus 21:12.

For the charge of the children of Israel—i.e., to attend to everything which was commanded the children of Israel.

Numbers 3:38. For the charge — Either in their stead, that charge which they were obliged to keep, if God had not committed it to those: or for their benefit; for their preservation, as the word may be rendered.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.Of the Levites, the Kohathites, the kinsmen of Moses and Aaron, and the most numerous, have the most important charge confided to them, namely, that of the ark, the altars, and the more especially sacred furniture generally. 38. those that encamp, &c.—That being the entrance side, it was the post of honor, and consequently reserved to Moses and the priestly family. But the sons of Moses had no station here. For the charge of the children of Israel; either in their stead. that charge which they were obliged to keep either by themselves. or by others appointed by them, if God had not committed it to those; or for their good, and service, and benefit; for their preservation, as the word may be rendered. And those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east,.... At which was the entrance into the tabernacle:

even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward; that is, before the court of the tabernacle, where the people assembled together:

shall be Moses, Aaron, and his sons; Moses the chief ruler, and Aaron the high priest, and his sons priests under him; these had the most honourable place of all, beings at the front of the tabernacle, between that and the camp of Judah. There is an extraordinary prick on the word Aaron, to show, as Jarchi says, that he was not in the number of Levites, though of the tribe of Levi, being high priest:

keeping the charge of the sanctuary, for the charge of the children of Israel; either in their room and stead, which otherwise they must have kept; or rather for their safety and security, keeping out all persons from entering into the sanctuary, who had no business there, that they died not, as it follows:

and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death; that is, whoever came nigh to enter into the holy place, and did, who was no priest, though an Israelite, and even a Levite, or into the most holy place, excepting the high priest, it was death unto him, either by the civil magistrate, or by the hand of heaven; so the Targum of Jonathan.

But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary {n} for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

(n) That no one should enter into the tabernacle contrary to God's appointment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. Moses] The mention of his name in a command given to him is strange. It would be still stranger if he were the writer of the passage.

the charge] i.e. that which has to be attended to.

for the charge of the children of Israel] An idiomatic use of ‘for’ confined to late writings. It is virtually equivalent to ‘and.’ (Cf. Numbers 3:26for all the service’ with Numbers 3:31; Numbers 3:36and all the service.’) That which had to be attended to for the laity was the offering of sacrifice on the altar in the court.Verse 38. - Before the tabernacle toward the east,... Moses, and Aaron and his sons. The most central and honourable place in the camp, and the most convenient for constant and direct access to the sanctuary. Moses held a wholly personal and exceptional position as king in Jeshurun (Deuteronomy 33:5); Aaron was hereditary high priest. Between them they represented the union of royal and sacerdotal authority, which had many partial continuations in Jewish history, but was fully realized in Christ. As the priests also formed part of the Kohathites, their chief is mentioned as well, viz., Eleazar the eldest son of Aaron the high priest, who was placed over the chiefs of the three Levitical families, and called פּקדּה, oversight of the keepers of the charge of the sanctuary," i.e., authority, superior, of the servants of the sanctuary.
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