Numbers 3:9
And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given to him out of the children of Israel.
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(9) They are wholly given unto him.—Hebrew, Given, given are they to him. This repetition of the word nethunim (given) is emphatic. The same repetition occurs in Numbers 8:16, where the Levites are represented as “wholly given” to the Lord instead of the firstborn; and in Numbers 3:19 of that chapter, as in Numbers 3:12 of this chapter, they are represented as being given by Him to Aaron and his sons. The word nethunim must not be confounded with Nethinim, the name given at a later date (1Chronicles 9:2; Ezra 2:43; Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 3:31) to the Gibeonites, who were made “hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord” (Joshua 9:27). The tribe of Levi had proved themselves the most zealous for the honour of the Lord at the time of the worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-29), and it was then that Moses gave them the charge to consecrate themselves (literally, to fill their hands, comp. Numbers 3:3 of this chapter) to the Lord. There was, therefore, a special reason for the selection of this tribe, independently of the fact that Moses and Aaron (and consequently the priests, as the descendants of Aaron) belonged to it.

3:1-13 There was much work belonging to the priests' office, and there were now only Aaron and his two sons to do it; God appoints the Levites to attend them. Those whom God finds work for, he will find help for. The Levites were taken instead of the first-born. When He that made us, saves us, as the first-born of Israel were saved, we are laid under further obligations to serve him faithfully. God's right to us by redemption, confirms the right he has to us by creation.keep his charge - i. e. so assist him that the obligations incumbent on him and on the congregation may be fulfilled. 9. they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel, &c.—The priests hold the place of God, and the Levites are the servants of God in the obedience they render to the priests. Given unto him, to attend upon him and observe his orders, and ease him of part of his burden in things hereafter mentioned. And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons,.... To be their ministers and servants:

they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel: even all of them entirely, none excepted; the whole tribe which were not in the priestly office; those were separated from the rest of the tribes of Israel, and appointed for the service of the priests: or they were "given, given" (q); which is repeated not only to show that they were wholly given, as we render it, but to denote the certainty of it, that they were really given; and especially to declare the freeness of the gift; the priests had them as free gifts, nor did they pay them any thing for, their service; they were maintained another way, namely, by the tithes of the people; and indeed the priests received a tithe out of the tithe of the Levites; so far were they from contributing any thing to their support, or in consideration of the service they did them.

(q) "dati, dati", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius.

And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his {f} sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.

(f) Aaron's sons the priests served in the sanctuary in praying for the people and offering sacrifice: the Levites served for the inferior uses of the same.

9. wholly given unto him] i.e. to Aaron. In Numbers 8:16-19, it is explained that they are first given to Jehovah, and by Him given to the priests; cf. Numbers 18:6. In the present passage LXX. and Sam. read unto me, which is possibly correct. The Heb. rendered ‘wholly given’ is nethûnîm nethûnîm. i.e. ‘given, given.’ In the time of Ezra there was a class of temple slaves inferior to the Levites, and mostly foreigners, who were known as the Nethînîm, meaning ‘the given.’ It seems probable that at a later time these slaves rose in status and importance, and became identified with the Levites. And the passages which speak of the Levites as ‘given’ are an attempt to supply an origin for the name. See art. ‘Nethinim’ in Hastings’ DB. iii. 519. Ryle, Common Ezra and Neh., p. 28.

on the behalf of] Lit. as marg. ‘from.’ The Israelites handed over to the priests a whole tribe from among their number.Verse 9. They are wholly given unto him. The word nethunim (wholly given) is emphatic here, and in Numbers 8:16. As the whole house of Israel at large, so especially (for a reason which will presently appear) the tribe of Levi belonged absolutely to God; and he, as absolutely, made them over to Aaron and the priests for the service of his sanctuary. Cf. Ephesians 4:11, "gave some apostles," etc. The Levites, as gifts from God (nethunim) to their brethren the priests, must be distinguished from the nethinim or serfs of foreign extraction given by the congregation to the Levites to do their most menial work for them (Joshua 9:27). Names of the sons of Aaron, the "anointed priests (see Leviticus 8:12), whose hand they filled to be priests," i.e., who were appointed to the priesthood (see at Leviticus 7:37). On Nadab and Abihu, see Leviticus 10:1-2. As they had neither of them any children when they were put to death, Eleazar and Ithamar were the only priests "in the sight of Aaron their father," i.e., during his lifetime. "In the sight of:" as in Genesis 11:28.
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