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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 3

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-51

Numbers 3:9 . Thou shalt give the Levites to Aaron. God has a sovereign right to choose and call his own ministers. The service of the tabernacle would be better done by a separate tribe professionally trained, than by the firstborn of a whole nation. The strangers might err and die, like Nadab and Abihu: yet we have no complaint against the young men of all the tribes, who offered sacrifices in the old way. Exodus 19:22; Exodus 24:5.

Numbers 3:15 . Every male from a month old; the age when the firstborn were redeemed, and when their names were enrolled.

Numbers 3:32 . Eleazer chief of the Levites. For a prince to possess hereditary honours by birth is a natural right, and it prevents confusion in society.

Numbers 3:39 . Twenty and two thousand. Why are the three hundred omitted? Perhaps this is a round number; perhaps the three hundred were the firstborn, and therefore not redeemed.

Numbers 3:47 . Five shekels, nearly three ounces of silver, were required of the children of the levites, ten times more than the common people; and it would seem that some special provision was made for their education.


How pure, how disinterested does Moses appear! He was a father, he was king in Jeshurun; yet he leaves his sons undistinguished in the crowd of his brethren. He for a long time had declined accepting the mission into Egypt, and now he seeks nothing for his children. Perhaps he thought their salvation would be much easier in private life: it is better we should endeavour to make our children good than great.

Whilst we consider Jesus, our great High-priest, appointed of the Father, entrusted with the charge of the sanctuary and of the whole congregation, and keeping that charge with unremitting attention, entire faithfulness, love and power; we should recollect that his ministers, as presented to him and ministering before him, have under him a solemn charge committed to them also. They are called upon to wait in their office, to serve the Lord with reverence, to offer no strange fire, doing nothing of their own head, or in their own spirit; but with all diligence and fidelity to follow the instructions and copy the example of their Lord. But it is of the utmost importance that each should know his own post and duty, that no part of the work may be neglected, that there may be no interference, no occasion for envy, ambition, or discontent. No service required by such a master can either be mean or hard; for he will put honour upon the faithful in the lowest situation, and will provide assistance where the work is too laborious. They also who are not engaged in the ministry have a work to do, and a charge to keep; and must remember that all men are the Lord’s by creation, and all true christians are his by redemption. The ministry being appointed for their benefit, they are required to strengthen the hands and encourage the hearts of those who minister before the Lord in their behalf. Blessed be God, we may all now come even into the holiest without danger of death, nay with assurance of acceptance and life eternal, if we come by faith in Christ Jesus. Still however we must regret that the Lord’s people form so small a proportion of the whole multitude of mankind, and should be reminded to pray for the sending forth of more faithful ministers; for when they are increased, it is a hopeful sign that the Lord has much work to do in increasing his church. Nor let us forget that the children, though unfit for service, were numbered as part of this holy tribe; for of such is the kingdom of God. But whilst we desire that our offspring should be numbered among the Lord’s peculiar people, and excel in holiness; let us after the example of Moses be indifferent about every other distinction, either for them or for ourselves.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/numbers-3.html. 1835.
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