Numbers 8:2
Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
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(2) When thou lightest the lamps.—Better, When thou settest up the lamps. (Comp. Exodus 25:37.) The golden candlestick was placed against the south wall of the Tabernacle, opposite to the table of shewbread, so that its seven branches were parallel to that wall, with its branches east and west, and consequently the seven lamps, one of which rested upon each of the seven branches, threw their light in front of the candlestick, i.e., towards the north wall, by which arrangement the furniture of the holy place was more effectually lighted than it would have been had the candlestick been placed facing the entrance, with its branches north and south.

Over against.—Or, in front of.

Numbers 8:2. When thou lightest the lamps — The priests lighted the middle lamp from the fire of the altar, and the rest one from another. Thus, all light and knowledge comes from Christ, who has the seven spirits of God, signified by these seven lamps of fire. Shall give light over against the candlestick — On that part which is before the candlestick. Hebrew, over against the face; or, before the face of the candlestick. That is, in that place toward which the candlestick looked, or where it stood in full view. Or rather, the meaning of the order is, that the whole seven lamps should be lighted, which branched out from all sides of the shaft, called the candlestick, (Exodus 25:35,) in order that the sanctuary might be all enlightened, there being no windows in it, so that all the light it had came from the candlestick.

8:1-4 Aaron himself lighted the lamps, thus representing his Divine Master. The Scripture is a light shining in a dark place,The actual lighting of the lamps (compare the marginal references) was to be done to set forth symbolically the special presence which God had now Numbers 7:89 actually established among His people. 2. Speak unto Aaron, &c.—The candlestick, which was made of one solid, massive piece of pure gold, with six lamps supported on as many branches, a seventh in the center surmounting the shaft itself (Ex 25:31; 37:17), and completed according to the pattern shown in the mount, was now to be lighted, when the other things in the sanctuary began to be applied to religious service. It was Aaron's personal duty, as the servant of God, to light His house, which, being without windows, required the aid of lights (2Pe 1:19). And the course he was ordered to follow was first to light the middle lamp from the altar-fire, and then the other lamps from each other—a course symbolical of all the light of heavenly truth being derived from Christ, and diffused by His ministers throughout the world (Re 4:5).

the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick—The candlestick stood close to the boards of the sanctuary, on the south side, in full view of the table of showbread on the north (Ex 26:35), having one set of its lamps turned towards the east, and another towards the west; so that all parts of the tabernacle were thus lighted up.

i.e. Either,

1. On every side of the candlestick. So the candlestick is here put for the bulk or shaft of the candlestick, as Exodus 25:31,35, and the lamps, when they were lighted, were put into the branches of the candlestick, and take it out upon occasion. Thus the meaning is, that all the lamps were to be lighted on that part which was towards the middle, looking that way whence they had their light; for the middle lamp was lighted with the fire of the altar, and from that the other lamps received light. But against this sense it is objected, that the lamps could not be otherwise ordered, but that they must give light round about the candlestick, and therefore that sense seems to make this direction idle and frivolous. Or,

2. On that part which is before the candlestick, Heb. over against the face of the candlestick, i.e. in that place towards which the candlestick looked, or where the candlestick stood in full view, i.e. upon the north side, where the table of shewbread stood, as appears from hence, because the candlestick stood close to the boards of the sanctuary on the south side, Exodus 26:35. And thus the lights were on both sides of the sanctuary, which was fit and necessary, because it was wholly dark in itself, and had no window in it.

Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him,.... It being his work to light the lamps, though, as Ben Gersom observes, it was not incumbent on an high priest alone to do this, for it also belonged to the sons of Aaron, who were common priests, Exodus 27:21; though it is probable that as this was the first time of lighting them, it might be done by Aaron himself, his sons attending and assisting him; in which he was an eminent type of Christ, the great High Priest, who lights the lamps in all his golden candlesticks, the churches, Revelation 1:20, and from whom they have all their light and all the supplies of it:

when thou lightest the lamps; which was done at evening, Exodus 30:8; pointing at the great light set up by Christ, the light of the world, in the evening of it, in the last days:

the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick; the Targum of Jonathan is,"at the same time of thy lighting the lamps over against the candlestick, there shall be seven lamps giving light: three on the west side and three on the east side, and the seventh in the middle:''and in the like order Jarchi places them, who observes, that the three eastward looked over against the middlemost, the wicks that were in them; and so the three westward, the tops of the wicks were over against the middlemost: and he also observes, that the middlemost lamp was no other than the body of the candlestick, and so all the rest of the lamps were over against and looked to that; and this is the sense of Maimonides (m), and other Jewish writers; but the truer meaning of the phrase is, that the seven lamps gave light, as they were to do, to that part of the holy place that was opposite to the candlestick, the north part of it, where stood the shewbread table, the candlestick being in the south, Exodus 40:22; that the table of the Lord might have light, as it was proper it should; and the priests might see to set on and take off the bread, which otherwise they could not, there being no window in the place; See Gill on Exodus 25:37.

(m) Hilchot Beth Hacbehirah, c. 3. sect. 8.

Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light {a} over against the candlestick.

(a) To that part which is in the forefront of the candlestick, Ex 25:37.

2. When thou settest up] So R.V. marg. correctly. The lamps were small bowls of oil with wicks. They stood on the top of the central stem and of the three branching arms or shafts on either side. The verb describes Aaron as reaching up to put them in their place after the wicks have been lighted.

in front of the lampstand] i.e. towards the opposite (north) side, where the table of the Presence-bread stood.

Verse 2. - When thou lightest the lamps. The command to light the lamps had been given generally ("they shall light the lamps thereof") in Exodus 25:37, and the care of them had been specially confided to Aaron and his sons ("from evening to morning") in Exodus 27:21. The actual lighting of the lamps for the first time by Moses is recorded in Exodus 40:25. In the face of these passages it is incredible that the lamps had not been regularly lighted by Aaron for more than a month before the offering of the princes. The seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick. It is somewhat uncertain what this expression, here repeated from Exodus 25:37, means. The Targums give no explanation of it; the Septuagint merely renders verbally, κατὰ πρόσωπον τῆς λυχνίας φωτιοῦσιν; the Jewish expositors seem to have thought that the light was to be thrown inward towards the central shaft; most modern commentators, with more probability, understand it to mean that the lamps were to be so placed as to throw their light across the tabernacle towards the north side. Numbers 8:2Consecration of the Levites. - The command of God to consecrate the Levites for their service, is introduced in Numbers 8:1-4 by directions issued to Aaron with regard to the lighting of the candlestick in the dwelling of the tabernacle. Aaron was to place the seven lamps upon the candlestick in such a manner that they would shine פּניו אל־מוּל. These directions are not a mere repetition, but also a more precise definition, of the general instructions given in Exodus 25:37, when the candlestick was made, to place the seven lamps upon the candlestick in such a manner that each should give light over against its front, i.e., should throw its light upon the side opposite to the front of the candlestick. In itself, therefore, there is nothing at all striking in the renewal and explanation of those directions, which committed the task of lighting the lamps to Aaron; for this had not been done before, as Exodus 27:21 merely assigns the daily preparation of the candlestick to Aaron and his sons; and their being placed in the connection in which we find them may be explained from the signification of the seven lamps in relation to the dwelling of God, viz., as indicating that Israel was thereby to be represented perpetually before the Lord as a people causing its light to shine in the darkness of this world. And when Aaron is commanded to attend to the lighting of the candlestick, so that it may light up the dwelling, in these special instructions the entire fulfilment of his service in the dwelling is enforced upon him as a duty. In this respect the instructions themselves, coupled with the statement of the fact that Aaron had fulfilled them, stand quite appropriately between the account of what the tribe-princes had done for the consecration of the altar service as representatives of the congregation, and the account of the solemn inauguration of the Levites in their service in the sanctuary. The repetition on this occasion (Exodus 27:4) of an allusion to the artistic character of the candlestick, which had been made according to the pattern seen by Moses in the mount (Exodus 25:31.), is quite in keeping with the antiquated style of narrative adopted in these books.
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