Numbers 4:11
And on the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
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(11) And shall put to the staves thereof.—Better, And shall put in the staves thereof, as in Numbers 4:6; Numbers 4:8; so also in Numbers 4:14.

Numbers 4:11-12. The golden altar — All covered with plates of gold. The instruments of ministry — The sacred garments used by the priests in their holy ministrations. Cover them — All these coverings were designed, 1st, For safety, that these holy things might not be sullied by rain, or tarnished by the sun. 2d, For decency, most of them had a cloth of blue, or purple, or scarlet over them; the ark, a cloth wholly of blue, perhaps an emblem of the azure skies, which are spread between us and the Majesty on high. 3d, For concealment. It was a fit sign of the darkness of that dispensation. The holy things were then covered. But Christ hath now destroyed the face of the covering.4:4-20 The Kohathites were to carry the holy things of the tabernacle. All the holy things were to be covered; not only for security and respect, but to keep them from being seen. This not only marked the reverence due to holy things, but the mystery of the things signified by those types, and the darkness of the dispensation. But now, through Christ, the case is altered, and we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace.wholly of blue - Compare Exodus 25:4 note. The third and external covering of the ark only was to be of this color. The table of showbread had Numbers 4:8 an outer wrapping of scarlet; the altar Numbers 4:13 one of purple.

Put in the staves - Probably, "put the staves in order." These were never taken out of the golden rings by which the ark was to be borne (see Exodus 25:14-15), but would need adjustment.

10. a bar—or bier, formed of two poles fastened by two cross pieces and borne by two men, after the fashion of a sedan chair. The golden altar; all covered with plates of gold. And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue,.... The altar of incense, which was overlaid with gold, and therefore called a golden one, to which the allusion is in Revelation 8:3,

and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins; after the cloth of blue was spread upon it:

and shall put to the staves thereof; into the rings, both made to bear and carry it, upon occasion, from place to place.

And upon the golden {f} altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:

(f) Which was to burn incense, read Ex 30:1.

The service of the Kohathites at the tabernacle is (relates to) "the most holy" (see at Exodus 30:10). This term includes, as is afterwards explained, the most holy things in the tabernacle, viz., the ark of the covenant, the table of shew-bread, the candlestick, the altar of incense and altar of burnt-offering, together with all the other things belonging to these. When the camp was broken up, the priests were to roll them up in wrappers, and hand them over in this state to the Kohathites, for them to carry (Numbers 4:5-15). First of all (Numbers 4:5, Numbers 4:6), Aaron and his sons were to take down the curtain between the holy place and the most holy (see Exodus 26:31), and to cover the ark of testimony with it (Exodus 25:10). Over this they were to place a wrapper of sea-cow skin (tachash, see Exodus 25:5), and over this again another covering of cloth made entirely of hyacinth-coloured purple (as in Exodus 28:31). The sea-cow skin as to protect the inner curtain, which was covered over the ark, from storm and rain; the hyacinth purple, to distinguish the ark of the covenant as the throne of the glory of Jehovah. Lastly, they were to place the staves into the rings again, that is to say, the bearing poles, which were always left in their places on the ark (Exodus 25:15), but had necessarily to be taken out while it was being covered and wrapped up.
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