Numbers 4:15
And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And all the vessels of the sanctuary.—No mention is here made of the laver (Exodus 30:18). The LXX. and the Samaritan text supply a statement respecting the covering and conveyance of the brazen laver. The clause in the LXX. is as follows :—“And they shall take a purple cloth, and cover the laver and its foot (or base), and they shall put it into a blue cover of skin, and put it on bars.” There is no sufficient ground. however, for supposing that the present Hebrew text is deficient in this place; and it seems more probable to suppose that the laver was not to be covered during its transport.

After that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it.—Better, to bear, or carry—viz., the whole of the vessels of ministry which had been previously enumerated. The distinction between the service of the priests and that of the Levites in regard to the removal of the Tabernacle and its furniture is here clearly marked.

But they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.—The word which is rendered “any holy thing” may here, as elsewhere, denote the sanctuary. This injunction is repeated in Numbers 18:3. We find in 2Samuel 6:6-7 an instance of the fatal result of the violation of this command by Uzzah, who being, as is most probable, a Levite, and of the family of Kohath, ought to have been acquainted with the law respecting the removal of the Ark. It is obvious that the Kohathites, as the immediate assistants of the priests, in regard to the vessels of the Sanctuary, were specially exposed to the risk of violating the law by touching the most holy things.

Numbers 4:15. Bear it — Upon their shoulders. Afterward the priests themselves, being multiplied, carried these things, though the Levites were not excluded. They shall not touch — Before they are covered.

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.

15. the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it, but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die—The mode of transport was upon the shoulders of the Levites (see on [60]Nu 7:9), although afterwards wheeled vehicles were employed (2Sa 6:3; 1Ch 15:12). And it was allowed to touch the covering, but not the things covered, on the penalty of death, which was inflicted more than once (1Sa 6:19; 2Sa 6:6, 7). This stern denunciation was designed to inspire a sentiment of deep and habitual reverence in the minds of those who were officially engaged about holy things. The sons of Kohath shall bear it, to wit upon their shoulders, not upon carts or waggons, as appears from Numbers 7:9, the neglect of which order did provoke the Lord, 2 Samuel 6:6,7 1 Chronicles 13:7 15:12, &c. Afterward the priests themselves, being multiplied, carried these things, as appears from Deu 31:9 Joshua 3:6 8:33 1 Samuel 4:4, though the Levites also were not excluded, 2 Chronicles 5:5. They shall not to any holy thing; immediately, or before they be covered. Lest they die, as some did for that sin. See 1 Samuel 6:19 2 Samuel 6:6,7.

And when Aaron and his sons had made an end of covering the sanctuary,.... Not the holy place, nor the most holy place, for these were not covered by them; but "the holy things" in them, as the Septuagint version, the ark, shewbread table, &c. and all "the vessels of the sanctuary"; all appertaining to those holy things, which are before mentioned. Jarchi interprets the "sanctuary", or the "holiness", of the ark and altar:

and all the vessels of the sanctuary; of the candlestick and the instruments of ministry:

as the camp is to set forward; which made the covering of them necessary, in order to their being carried as that moved:

after that the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it; or rather them, all the holy things, and their vessels, and that upon their shoulders:

but they shall not touch any holy thing; even in bearing them, neither the ark nor any other, only the staves and bar, on which they were carried: lest they die; by the immediate hand of God:

these things are the burden of the sons of Kohath, in the tabernacle of the congregation; the above things, the ark, &c. which they were to bear on their shoulders, and not make use of wagons to carry them.

And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the {h} sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not {i} touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.

(h) That is, in folding up the things of the sanctuary, as the ark, etc.

(i) Before it is covered.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. they shall not touch the sanctuary] Better the holy things, as in R.V. marg. The Heb. word is strictly a singular abstract substantive, ‘the sacredness,’ which is here employed to denote the whole collection of sacred objects.

Verse 15. - These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath. One thing which the Kohathites almost certainly had to carry is omitted here, possibly because it was carried without any cover at all, and was not regarded as of equal sanctity with the rest. Anyhow, the omission is very remarkable, and may have been accidental. It is supplied by the Septuagint and the Samaritan text in the following addition to verse 14: "And they shall take a purple cloth, and cover the laver and its foot, and they shall put it into a hyacinthine cover of skin, and put it on bars." The burdens of the Kohathites were six, not counting the laver and its foot:

(1) the ark;

(2) the table of shewbread;

(3) the candelabrum;

(4) the golden altar;

(5) "instruments of ministry;"

(6) the frame of the brazen altar. Numbers 4:15After the priests had completed the wrapping up of all these things, the Kohathites were to come up to carry them; but they were not to touch "the holy" (the holy things), lest they should die (see Numbers 1:53; Numbers 18:3, and comp. 2 Samuel 6:6-7).
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