Numbers 8:11
And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering.—Literally, and Aaron shall wave the Levites as a wave-offering before the Lord. The manner in which the Levites were thus set apart to the Lord is not expressed. It may have been done by leading them backwards and forwards in front of the Tabernacle and in the presence of the people, or by the waving of Aaron’s hands. The same word is used elsewhere in reference to offerings of different kinds—as, e.g., of gold in Exodus 35:22. (Comp. Numbers 8:13; Numbers 8:15; Numbers 8:21 of this chapter.) The symbolical meaning of the ceremony is obvious from the concluding words of the verse, and is further explained in Numbers 8:13-14. (Comp. Leviticus 7:30 and Note.)

Numbers 8:11. Aaron shall offer — Hebrew, Shall wave the Levites for a wave- offering; not that Aaron did so wave them, which be could not do, but it is probable that he lifted up his hands, and turned to all quarters of the heavens, as he did when he offered a wave-offering; and that he caused them to imitate his motions, and to wave themselves toward the several parts of the world; in order that they might hereby signify their readiness to serve God, according to their capacity, wheresoever they should be.8:5-26 Here we have directions for the solemn ordination of the Levites. All Israel must know that they took not this honour to themselves, but were called of God to it; nor was it enough that they were distinguished from others. All who are employed for God, must be dedicated to him, according to the employment. Christians must be baptized, ministers must be ordained; we must first give ourselves unto the Lord, and then our services. The Levites must be cleansed. They must be clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Moses must sprinkle the water of purifying upon them. This signifies the application of the blood of Christ to our souls by faith, that we may be fit to serve the living God. God declares his acceptance of them. All who expect to share in the privileges of the tabernacle, must resolve to do the service of the tabernacle. As, on the one hand, none of God's creatures are his necessary servants, he needs not the service of any of them; so none are merely honorary servants, to do nothing. All whom God owns, he employs; angels themselves have their services.Offer ... offering - Compare the margin Aaron pointed to the Levites, and then waved his hands, indicating (compare Leviticus 7:30 note) that the offering was dedicated to God, and, again, by grant from Him, withdrawn for the use of the priests.11-13. And Aaron shall offer the Levites—Hebrew, "as a wave offering"; and it has been thought probable that the high priest, in bringing the Levites one by one to the altar, directed them to make some simple movements of their persons, analogous to what was done at the presentation of the wave offerings before the Lord. Thus were they first devoted as an offering to God, and by Him surrendered to the priests to be employed in His service. The consecration ceremonial was repeated in the case of every Levite who was taken (as was done at a later period) to assist the priests in the tabernacle and temple. (See on [66]2Ch 29:34). For an offering, Heb. for a wave-offering. Of which see Exodus 29:24. Not that Aaron did so wave them, which he could not do, but that he caused or commanded them to imitate that motion, and to wave themselves towards the several parts of the world; whereby they might signify their readiness to serve God according to their capacity wheresoever they should be; though the word may be taken more generally for any offering made to God, as Exodus 35:22. And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord,.... Or "wave" (r) them, as a wave offering, which was moved to and fro, backwards and forwards; not that they were actually so waved and moved to and fro by Aaron, which could not be done by him; though it is possible he might make such a motion himself, and they might do the like after him, thereby signifying that they belonged unto the Lord of the whole earth; and some think this testified their readiness to serve the Lord; to which may be added their constant employment in his service, being always in motion, doing one piece of service or another continually; as the people of God, and especially the ministers of the word, should be always abounding: in the work of the Lord. Ainsworth supposes that the troubles and afflictions of the ministers of God are figured hereby:

for an offering of the children of Israel; to the Lord, hereby devoting them to his service:

that they may execute the service of the Lord; for them, in their room and stead, do what otherwise they must have done; see Numbers 3:7; with this compare Isaiah 66:20.

(r) "et motabit", Tigurine version; "et faciet elevare", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "et agitabit", Drusius; "et agitato", Piscator.

And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. offer] wave, as R.V. marg.; see Numbers 8:13; Numbers 8:15; Numbers 8:21. The literal significance of the term (see on Numbers 5:25) is here lost, but the underlying thought remains that, having been given to Jehovah, the Levites were given back by Him for ritual service to the priests and the congregation.Verse 11. - And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering. Rather, "Aaron shall wave" them "for a wave offering" (Hebrew, nuph; see Exodus 29:24); and so in verses 13, 15, and 21. This injunction seems conclusive that the whole ceremonial was to be symbolically per. formed, for the Levites could not possibly be waved in any literal sense. Some have supposed that they were marched up and down before the altar, forgetting that the court would scarcely afford standing room for 1000 people, while the Levites between thirty and fifty numbered more than 8000. It is certain that the Levites could only be brought before the Lord, could only be waved (howsoever that was done), could only lay their hands upon the bullocks, by representation. If we suppose, e.g., that a hundred men of position and command among them entered the court as representatives of the tribe, then we can understand how the ceremonial here commanded might have been effectively carried out. That they may execute the service of the Lord. Literally, "that they may be to execute the service of the Lord." Their being waved made them over in a figure to the Lord to be wholly his, and to live only for his service, and at his command. But just as wave offerings were assigned by Divine permission to the use of the priests, so were the Levites given to Aaron and his sons for ever. Consecration of the Levites for their service in the sanctuary. - The choice of the Levites for service in the sanctuary, in the place of the first-born of the people generally, has been already noticed in Numbers 3:5., and the duties binding upon them in Numbers 4:4. But before entering upon their duties they were to be consecrated to the work, and then formally handed over to the priests. This consecration is commanded in Numbers 8:7., and is not called קדּשׁ, like the consecration of the priests (Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 8:11), but טהר to cleanse. It consisted in sprinkling them with sin-water, shaving off the whole of the hair from their bodies, and washing their clothes, accompanied by a sacrificial ceremony, by which they were presented symbolically to the Lord as a sacrifice for His service. The first part of this ceremony had reference to outward purification, and represented cleansing from the defilement of sin; hence the performance of it is called התחטּא (to cleanse from sin) in Numbers 8:21. "Sprinkle sin-water upon them." The words are addressed to Moses, who had to officiate at the inauguration of the Levites, as he had already done at that of the priests. "Water of sin" is water having reference to sin, designed to remove it, just as the sacrifice offered for the expiation of sin is called חטּאת (sin) in Leviticus 4:14, etc.; whilst the "water of uncleanness" in Numbers 19:9, Numbers 19:13, signifies water by which uncleanness was removed or wiped away. The nature of this purifying water is not explained, and cannot be determined with any certainty. We find directions for preparing sprinkling water in a peculiar manner, for the purpose of cleansing persons who were cured of leprosy, in Leviticus 14:5., 50ff.; and also for cleansing both persons and houses that had been defiled by a corpse, in Numbers 19:9. Neither of these, however, was applicable to the cleansing of the Levites, as they were both of them composed of significant ingredients, which stood in the closest relation to the special cleansing to be effected by them, and had evidently no adaptation to the purification of the Levites. At the same time, the expression "sin-water" precludes our understanding it to mean simply clean water. So that nothing remains but to regard it as referring to the water in the laver of the sanctuary, which was provided for the purpose of cleansing the priests for the performance of their duties (Exodus 30:18.), and might therefore be regarded by virtue of this as cleansing from sin, and be called "sin-water" in consequence. "And they shall cause the razor to pass over their whole body," i.e., shave off all the hair upon their body, "and wash their clothes, and so cleanse themselves." תּער העביר is to be distinguished from גּלּח. The latter signifies to make balk or shave the hair entirely off, which was required of the leper when he was cleansed (Leviticus 14:8-9); the former signifies merely cutting the hair, which was part of the regular mode of adorning the body. The Levites also were not required to bathe their bodies, as lepers were (Leviticus 13:8-9), and also the priests at their consecration (Leviticus 8:6), because they were not affected with any special uncleanness, and their duties did not require them to touch the most holy instruments of worship. The washing of the clothes, on the other hand, was a thing generally required as a preparation for acts of worship (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10), and was omitted in the case of the consecration of the priests, simply because they received a holy official dress. הטּהרוּ for הטּהרוּ, as in 2 Chronicles 30:18.
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