This is it that belongs to the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait on the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)From twenty and five years old and upward.—This regulation may be understood as referring to the age at which the Levites were to enter upon their duties after the people had taken possession of the land of Canaan, and it appears to have remained in force until the time of David, who substituted the age of twenty for that of twenty-five, because the necessity of carrying the Tabernacle and its furniture from place to place, which arose but seldom after the entrance into Canaan, finally ceased after the removal of the ark to Mount Zion. The time of service during the wanderings in the wilderness was from thirty to fifty (Numbers 4:3; Numbers 4:23; Numbers 4:30), during which time the constant removal of the Tabernacle required the services of men in the full vigour of life. The chronological order of events is not always observed in this book, and the directions contained in Numbers 8:23-26 may have been given at a later period, but inserted here in connection with the account of the appointment of the Levites to their office. On the other hand, it is quite possible that from the first the Levites entered upon the lighter parts of their office at the age of twenty-five years, but were not employed before they were thirty years of age in the more onerous duties of removing the Tabernacle, or in bearing on their shoulders the sacred vessels, as in the case of the Kohathites.
To wait upon the service.—Literally, to war the warfare, or to serve the (military) service. Similarly, in the following verse, he shall return from the warfare of the service.Numbers 4:3, Numbers 4:23, Numbers 4:30, though David found it necessary to extend the period of the Levites' service by causing it to commence at 20 years of age 1 Chronicles 23:24-28. This rule continued in force from the time of David downward (compare on 2 Chronicles 31:17; Ezra 3:8). From twenty and five years old. See Poole "Numbers 4:3".
from twenty and five years old and upward, they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; in Numbers 4:3; the time for the Levites entering on the work of the tabernacle is fixed to thirty years and upward, which Jarchi reconciles thus; at twenty five years old the Levite goes in to learn the rites of service, and he learns five years, and when thirty years of age he services; the same is observed by others (w); but what Aben Ezra proposes seems much better; at thirty years of age a Levite entered into the service of bearing and carrying burdens; and at twenty five years of age he entered into the service of the tent or tabernacle, where he was employed in lighter service, such as opening and shutting the doors of the sanctuary, keeping out strangers and unclean persons, and singing the songs of the sanctuary; but was not concerned till thirty years of age in carrying the vessels of the sanctuary on the shoulders, as the Kohathites; or in taking down and setting up the tabernacle, loading and unloading the wagons, as the Gershonites and Merarites; which is the business assigned unto them, and spoken of in Numbers 4:22, where the age of thirty years, and upward, is mentioned, as the time of their entrance on it, Numbers 4:23.This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. that which belongeth unto the Levites] An elliptical expression: that which [thou shall do] With regard to the Levites.
from twenty and five years old] In Numbers 4:3 the age is from thirty years. See note there.
to wait upon the service] R.V. marg. ‘to war the warfare.’ See on Numbers 4:3.Verse 24. - From twenty and five years old and upward. A short time before the minimum age had been fixed at thirty (Numbers 4:3). That direction, however, concerned the transport of the tabernacle and its belongings; this was a permanent regulation designed for the ordinary labours of the sanctuary at a time when the Levites would be scattered throughout their cities, and could only serve by courses. For the latter purpose many more would be required; and indeed they were found insufficient as it was in the latter days of David, when the wealth and devotion of the kingdom were fast increasing (see on 1 Chronicles 23:24-27). To wait upon the service. Literally, "to war the warfare;" the idea of the militia sacra is kept up. Numbers 8:13-19. The meaning of Numbers 8:13. is this: According to the command already given (in Numbers 8:6-12), thou shalt place the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and wave them as a wave-offering before the Lord, and so separate them from the midst of the children of Israel, that they may be Mine. They shall then come to serve the tabernacle. So shalt thou cleanse them and wave them. The same reason is assigned for this in Numbers 8:16, Numbers 8:17, as in Numbers 3:11-13 (כּל בּכור for כּל־בּכור, cf. Numbers 3:13); and in Numbers 8:18 and Numbers 8:19, what was commanded in Numbers 3:6-9 is described as having been carried out. On Numbers 8:19 see Numbers 1:53.
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