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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 8

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2514. B.C. 1490.

Directions concerning the lamps, Numbers 8:1-4 . Concerning cleansing the Levite, Numbers 8:5-8 . Concerning the presenting them to God, Numbers 8:9-22 . Concerning their age and service, Numbers 8:23-26 .

Verse 1

Numbers 8:1. This and what follows concerning the Levites, seems to have been delivered after the order for giving them to the priests, and settling their several charges, Numbers 3:4.

Verse 2

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.

Verse 4

Numbers 8:4. Of beaten gold Not hollow, but solid gold, beaten out of one piece, not of several pieces joined or soldered together.

Verse 7

Numbers 8:7. Sprinkle water of purifying Hebrew, water of sin, or sin-water; that is, water of purification from sin. Thus the sacrifice of atonement from sin is termed the sin-offering. This water was prepared with the ashes of a red heifer which had been offered for a burnt-offering, Numbers 19:17. Shave all their flesh This external rite signified the cutting off their inordinate desire of earthly things, and that singular purity of heart and life which is required in the ministers of God. And wash their clothes Another rite expressive of moral purity.

Verse 8

Numbers 8:8. A young bullock The same sacrifice which was offered for a sin-offering for the whole congregation, because the Levites came in the stead of all the firstborn, who did, in a manner, represent the whole congregation.

Verse 10

Numbers 8:10. The children of Israel Not all of them, which was impossible, but some in the name of all the princes or chiefs of each tribe, who used to transact things in the name of their tribes. Put their hands Whereby they signified their transferring that right of ministering to God from the firstborn, in whose hands it formerly was, to the Levites, and their entire resignation and dedication of them to God’s service.

Verse 11

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.

Verses 12-15

Numbers 8:12-15. Lay their hands To signify that they were offered by them and for them. Set the Levites before Aaron and his sons Give the Levites to them, or to their service. Unto the Lord For to him they were first properly offered, and by him given to the priests in order to his service. The Levites shall go in Into the court, where they were to wait upon the priests at the altar of burnt-offering; and, at present, into the tabernacle, to take it down and set it up.

Verse 19

Numbers 8:19. To do the service of Israel To serve God in their stead; to do what otherwise they would have been obliged to do in their own persons. To make an atonement Not by offering sacrifices, which the priests alone might do, but by assisting the priest in that expiatory work, and by a diligent performance of all the parts of their office, whereby God was pleased both with them and with the people. That there be no plague This is added as a reason why God appointed them to serve in the tabernacle, that they might guard it, and not suffer any of the people to come near it, or meddle with holy things; which if they did, it would certainly bring a plague upon them.

Verses 25-26

Numbers 8:25-26. From the age of fifty they shall cease waiting Shall be excused from carrying the parts and vessels of the tabernacle, and all the toilsome duties of the service, and shall only give advice and direction, and assist in lesser and easier works. How merciful and full of compassion are the laws of God! When his servants became advanced in years in his service, they were not required to do the same work which they did when younger. But doubtless many of them, who were of age to take the benefit of this kind provision made for them, would show their love to God by still exerting in some way their last remains of strength in his service. And surely happy are they who, by the blessing of God on a temperate life, are preserved to old age, with strength to labour in His service who gave them being, and died to redeem them.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 8". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/numbers-8.html. 1857.
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