Numbers 4:7
And on the table of show bread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover with: and the continual bread shall be thereon:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) And covers to cover withal.—Better, and the cups for the drink-offering (or libation).

And the continual bread.—The shew-bread is so called because it was renewed every Sabbath day, and was continually before the face of the Lord even (as it appears from this verse) during the marches of the Israelites through the desert (Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5).

Numbers 4:7. The dishes — Upon which the show-bread was put. Continual bread — So called because it was continually to be there, even in the wilderness; where, though they had only manna for themselves, yet they reserved corn for the weekly making of these loaves.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.

7. continual showbread—Though the people were in the wilderness fed upon manna, the sacred loaves were constantly made of corn, which was probably raised in small quantities from the verdant patches of the desert. Of shew-bread, Heb. of faces or presence, for of the bread of faces or presence, i.e. of the bread which was continually standing in the presence of the Lord.

The dishes, upon which the shew-bread was put.

The continual bread, i.e. shew-bread; so called because it was continually to be there, even in the wilderness; where though they had only manna for themselves, yet they reserved corn for the weekly making of these loaves, which they might with no great difficulty procure from some of the people bordering upon the wilderness in the innermost parts whereof they were. And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue,.... That that also might not be seen nor touched by the Levites:

and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and the covers to cover withal: all which belonged to the shewbread table; the use of which; see Gill on Exodus 25:29; these seem to be put not immediately upon the table, but upon the blue cloth spread over the table:

and the continual bread shall be thereon: the shewbread is called "continual", because it was always on the table; for while the one was removing by a set of priests, which had stood a week, new loaves were placed by another set of priests: this bread seems at this time to be placed also upon the table, spread with the blue cloth; and from hence it appears, that the Israelites had the shewbread in the wilderness; for the making of which they might be supplied with corn from the neighbouring countries, though they themselves needed not any, being daily fed with manna.

And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover {d} withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:

(d) Meaning, to cover the bread.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. shewbread] Presence-bread, i.e. bread that is placed in the divine Presence. 1 Samuel 21:6 is evidence that the practice was observed in early times. It was probably a relic of the primitive heathen notion that gods actually partook of bread that was offered to them.

the continual bread] The expression is not found elsewhere. Cf. ‘continual meal-offering’ (Numbers 4:16, Nehemiah 10:33 only), ‘continual [R.V. perpetual] incense’ (Exodus 30:8 (P )), and frequently ‘continual burnt-offering’ (Numbers 28, 29). It connotes the regularity with which a ritual act is performed at stated intervals.

The bread also came to be known as pile bread (R.V. ‘shewbread,’ 1 Chronicles 9:32; 1 Chronicles 23:29, Nehemiah 10:33) owing to the arrangement of the loaves in two piles (Leviticus 24:6, R.V. marg.). And since the root of the word מֲערֶכֶת (‘pile’) denotes to ‘set out’ or ‘arrange’ [a meal], the name appears in the N.T. as ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως (lit. ‘bread of the setting out,’ Matthew 12:4, Mark 2:26, Luke 6:4) and ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων (lit. ‘the setting out of the loaves,’ Hebrews 9:2).Verse 7. - The dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal. Rather, "the plates, the bowls, the wine pitchers, and the chalices for pouring out," i.e., the drink offerings. The two first seem to have been used in the meat offering, the two last in the drink offering. Rules of Service, and Numbering of the Levites Qualified for Service. - After the adoption of the Levites for service at the sanctuary, in the place of the first-born of Israel, Moses and Aaron mustered the three families of the Levites by the command of God for the service to be performed by those who were between the ages of 30 and 50. The particulars of the service are first of all described in detail (vv. 4-33); and then the men in each family are taken, of the specified age for service (vv. 34-49). The three families are not arranged according to the relative ages of their founders, but according to the importance or sacredness of their service. The Kohathites take the lead, because the holiest parts of the tabernacle were to be carried and kept by this family, which included the priests, Aaron and his sons. The service to be performed by each of the three Levitical families is introduced in every case by a command from God to take the sum of the men from 30 years old to 50 (see Numbers 4:1-3, Numbers 4:21-23, Numbers 4:29 and Numbers 4:30).
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