Numbers 4:18
Cut you not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Cut ye not off the tribe . . . —The word shebet (tribe) is here used in a very peculiar sense, and denotes one division only of the tribe of Levi. In this and the following verses the injunction already given (Numbers 5:15) is renewed, and Moses and Aaron are charged not to be guilty of such negligence in respect of it as might expose the Kohathites to death in consequence of their unlawful treatment of the holy things. Moses and Aaron might be said to do that which would be the result of their negligence. In like manner St. Paul enjoins the Roman Christians in these words: “Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15).

Numbers 4:18-19. Cut not off — Do not by your neglect, provoke God to cut them off for touching the holy things. Every one to his service — To that which is peculiarly allotted to him, the services and burdens being equally distributed among them.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.

17-20. Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites, &c.—a solemn admonition to Moses and Aaron to beware, lest, by any negligence on their part, disorder and improprieties should creep in, and to take the greatest care that all the parts of this important service be apportioned to the proper parties, lest the Kohathites should be disqualified for their high and honorable duties. The guilt of their death would be incurred by the superintending priest, if he failed to give proper directions or allowed any irreverent familiarity with sacred things. i.e. Do not by your neglect provoke God to cut them off for touching the holy things. Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites. Or give no occasion, as the Targum of Jonathan; or be not the cause of their cutting off, as Jarchi, through negligence or inadvertency of theirs, in packing up the above things, and delivering them to them. {l} Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:

(l) Committing by your negligence that the holy things are not well wrapped, causing them to perish by touching it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 18. - Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites. The word tribe (shebet) is used in an unusual way here, not in the sense of tribus, but of stirps. Perhaps as Levi was himself a microcosm of all Israel, so his families ranked as tribes; and no doubt they remained more distinct than the families of any other tribe. The meaning of the command is plainly this, "Take care that the Kohathites are not cut off through any negligence or want of consideration on your part; and the form of the command, "cut ye not off," conveyed most emphatically the warning, that if any mischief befell the Kohathites which the priests could have prevented, they would be responsible for it in the sight of God. No doubt, as a fact, the Kohathites would take their cue from the conduct of the priests: if they were irreverent and careless, the Levites would be the same, and would sooner or later presume, and, presuming, would die. So again they were to wrap up the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1), to adjust its bearing poles; and having wrapped it up in such coverings, along with the vessels belonging to it, to lay it upon the frame.
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