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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 8

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4


Verses 1-4:

"Candlestick," menorah, "place of light," or a lampstand. This was one of the articles of furniture in the holy place of the Tabernacle. For detailed description of the golden lampstand, see Ex 25:31-40; 37:17-24.

The general duties of lighting the lamps on the gold lampstand were assigned to the priests, Ex 25:37. This was a perpetual ordinance, attended to twice daily by them; Ex 27:20, 21. The present text specifically instructs Aaron as high priest to light the lamps.

Verses 4-9

Verses 4-9:

This is not the same as the ritual described in Ex 29:1-44. That was the occasion of the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests. The present text prescribes the public cleansing of all the Levites for the services they were to render about the Tabernacle.

"The water of purifying" is literally, "the water of offering for error or sin," from chattaah. This was not the same as the "water of separation," from the Red Heifer offering, Nu 19:9. It was likely water from the brazen Laver which stood before the Tabernacle door, see Nu 5:17.

All the male Levites were to be shaven completely, then they were to wash their clothes and completely bathe.

The next step was to offer sacrifices:

(1) A young bullock, with a food (bread) offering.

(2) A Sin Offering, consisting of a young bullock, Le 4:3-12.

Those charged with the Tabernacle service were subject to sin, the same as the rest of Israel. They must offer sacrifices for their guilt. This symbolizes the trait of God’s children today, who must daily seek cleansing from sin’s defilement, see 1Jo 1:7-2:2.

Verses 10-14

Verses 10-14:

The Lord commanded Moses to present the Levites before Him, likely at the entrance to the Tabernacle. There the "children of Israel" were to lay their hands upon them. This was probably done by the four princes of Israel’s tribes laying their hands upon the Levite leaders, possibly Kohath, Gershon, Merari, and Aaron.

The laying on of hands symbolized the transferring of the obligation of religious service, from the entire congregation to the Levites.

Aaron then presented the Levites as (literally) a "wave offering" unto Jehovah, see Ex 29:24. This was done symbolically, since it would be a literal impossibility to "wave" the Levites before the Lord.

The Levites then participated in the sacrifices of cleansing (verses 5-9), by placing their hands upon the heads of the sacrificial animals symbolizing their identification with the sacrifice.

Jehovah commanded that Moses then set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, in the same manner that the Levites were set before all Israel.

This entire ritual testified that all the Levites were set aside for specific service to Jehovah, on behalf of all Israel.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

This is confirmation and implementation of prior instructions,

Nu 3:5-13. Jehovah designated the Levites as the redemptive surety for the firstborn of Israel. For the law of the firstborn, see Ex 13:1, 11-16; Le 27:26-29.

Proper fulfillment of the firstborn law meant that there would be no plague of Divine judgment upon Israel when the Levites ministered in the Tabernacle service.

Verses 20-22

Verses 20-22:

Moses, Aaron, and all Israel carried out Jehovah’s instructions regarding the Levites precisely as He gave them.

"Were purified," is literally, "purified themselves." This does not refer to the ceremonial sprinkling of consecration. It refers to personal purification as God commanded, see Ps 24:3-5.

Verses 23-26

Verses 23-26:

Chapter 4:3 sets the age at which the Tabernacle service was to begin at thirty, while the present text specifies twenty-five. There is no conflict. The reference in chapter 4:3 is to the carrying of the Tabernacle furniture as Israel traveled. This would require men of maturity and strength. The present text refers to the ordinary ministry of the Tabernacle. It was designed for the time when Israel would settle in the Land of Promise. At that time the Levites would be assigned forty-eight cities throughout the Land, and would serve by courses in the Tabernacle ministry. There would be a need for many more to serve at that time. In David’s time, the need became so acute that the age was lowered to twenty, 1Ch 23:24-27.

The Levites were to "wait upon the service," literally "to war the warfare." This typifies the Christian warfare, 2Ti 2:2; Eph 6:11-17; 1Ti 6:12.

"Charge," mishmereth, "a thing to be watched." This appears to refer to the service of the Tabernacle furniture and appurtenances.

"Service," adobah, refering to the preparation of the various sacrifices, and to the transporting of the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

These were important to the Tabernacle ministry. Without them the office and ministry of the priesthood would be ineffective. This illustrates the importance of every member of the Lord’s churches today, in their specific area of ministry. Without them, the work of pastor would be ineffective.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 8". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-8.html. 1985.
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