Numbers 4:5
And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Aaron shall come, and his sons . . . —Under ordinary circumstances the high priest himself might only enter the most holy place on one day in the year. At the time of the moving of the camp, however, the Divine Presence seems to have departed from the Holy of Holies, and to have ascended in the cloud which gave the signal for the removal.

The covering vail.—Better, the vail of the hanging or curtain—viz., that which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. (Comp. Numbers 3:31.)

Numbers 4:5-6. They shall take down — For upon this necessary occasion the inferior priests were allowed to come into the holy of holies, which otherwise was peculiar to the high-priest. The covering veil — The second veil, wherewith the ark was covered while the tabernacle stood, Exodus 40:3. Cover the ark — Because the Levites, who were to carry the ark, might neither see, nor immediately touch it. Badgers’ skins — Whereby the ark was secured from the injuries of the weather.

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.About the most holy things - Omit "about." The sense is, "this is the charge of the sons of Kohath, the most holy things:" i. e. the ark of the covenant, the table of showbread, the candlestick, and the golden altar, together with the furniture pertaining thereto. It appears, from a comparison of Numbers 4:16, Numbers 4:28, Numbers 4:33, that the ministry of the Kohathites was superintended by Eleazar, the older of the two surviving sons of Aaron; and that of the two other families by Ithamar. 5. covering veil—the inner veil, which separated the holy from the most holy place. (See on [57]Ex 36:35). For upon this necessary occasion the inferior priests are allowed to come into the holy of holies, which otherwise was peculiar to the high priest, Hebrews 9:7.

The covering veil; the second veil; of which see Exodus 26:31, &c. Leviticus 4:6 Hebrews 9:3; where, with the ark was covered while the tabernacle stood, Exodus 40:3. And

cover the ark; because the Levites, who were to carry the ark, might neither see nor immediately touch it.

And when the camp setteth forward,.... Upon the cloud's removing and the trumpets blowing:

Aaron shall come, and his sons; into the holy place:

and they shall take down the covering vail: the vail that divided between the holy and the most holy place, which covered all in the holy of holies out of sight:

and cover the ark of testimony with it; together with the mercy seat and cherubim on it, that they might not be seen nor touched by the Levites when they carried them. Now though the high priest himself might not go into the most holy place but once a year, on the day of atonement, yet on this occasion, when the tabernacle was to be taken down, and the things in it to be removed, both he and his sons might enter without danger; since, as Bishop Patrick observes, the divine Majesty was gone from thence in the cloud which gave the signal for the motion of the camp, and the taking down of the tabernacle.

And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the {b} covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:

(b) Which divided the sanctuary from the holiest of holies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5–14. When finally ready for the march the burden of the Kohathites would be seen simply as six large packages as follows.—(i) The Ark (Numbers 4:5 f.), covered with the ‘veil of the screen’ (see on Numbers 3:31), and a water-proof covering of dugong skin, and over this a violet cloth. It was carried by the staves, or poles, with which it was furnished for the purpose of transport (Exodus 25:14). The Ark is the only piece of furniture that has a coloured cloth over the water-proof covering; this would make it a conspicuous object on the march, (ii) The Table of the Presence Bread (Numbers 4:7 f., see note), covered with a violet cloth upon which all the utensils and the loaves are placed, and the whole covered with a scarlet cloth, and that with the dugong skin; like the Ark it was carried by poles, (iii) The Lampstand and all its utensils (Numbers 4:9 f.), covered with violet cloth and dugong skin, and carried by means of a bar. (iv) The Golden Altar of Incense (Numbers 4:11), covered with violet cloth and dugong skin and carried by its poles. (v) The miscellaneous utensils (Numbers 4:12) not actually belonging to any piece of furniture, covered with violet cloth and dugong skin and carried by means of a bar. (vi) The Altar of Burnt-offering (Numbers 4:13 f.), covered with a crimson cloth upon which all the utensils belonging to it are placed, and the whole covered with dugong skin and carried by its poles.

The reason for the additional scarlet cloth over the Table is unknown. The use of cloth of a different colour in the case of the Altar of Burnt-offering may have been because the Altar belonged to a lower grade of sanctity since it stood outside the Dwelling. For a description of the various articles see notes on Exodus 25:1-40; Exodus 27:1-8; Exodus 30:1-5.

Verse 5. - The covering veil. The curtain which hung before the holy of holies, afterwards known as "the veil of the temple" (Luke 23:45). Numbers 4:5The 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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