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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 8:7

"Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Sprinkle water of purifying - חטאת מי mey chattath, water of sin, or water of the sin-offering. As this purifying water was made by the ashes of the red heifer, cedar-wood, hyssop, and scarlet; and the heifer herself was sacrificed, and her blood sprinkled seven times before the tabernacle, Numbers 19:3-6; she may be considered as a proper sacrifice for sin, and consequently the water thus prepared be termed the water of the sin-offering. As the ashes were kept ready at hand for purifying from all legal pollutions, the preparation might be considered as a concentration of the essential properties of the sin-offering, and might be resorted to at all times with comparatively little expense or trouble, and no loss of time. As there were so many things by which legal pollution might be contracted, it was necessary to have always at hand, in all their dwellings, a mode of purifying at once convenient and inexpensive.

As the water by which the Levites were here purified must have been the water prepared from the ashes of the red heifer, this ordinance was undoubtedly instituted before this time, though not described till Numbers 19:1-10; of this book; but that chapter might be in connection with any of the preceding ordinances, as well as where it is now found.

We see from Hebrews 9:13, Hebrews 9:14, that these ashes mingled with water, and sprinkled on the unclean, and which sanctified to the purification of the flesh, were intended to typify the blood of Christ, which purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God, Hebrews 9:15; for as without this sprinkling with the water of the sin-offering the Levites were not fit to serve God in the wilderness, so without this sprinkling of the blood of Christ no conscience can be purged from dead works to serve the living God. See the notes on Numbers 19:1-10; (note).


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-8.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And thus shall thou do unto them, to cleanse them,.... Or order Aaron to do unto them; the cleansing of the Levites was the work of Aaron, either by himself or by his order; in which he was a type of Christ, who is the refiner and purifier of the sons of Levi, Malachi 3:3,

sprinkle water of purifying upon them; or "water of sin"F14מי חטאת "aquas peccati", Montanus; "aquam peccati", Piscator, Drusius; "the sin water", Ainsworth. ; water which purifies from sin, in a ceremonial sense; and this was water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer, which was the purification of persons deified by the dead, as Jarchi observes; and though the law concerning the red heifer, and of making the water of purification, is not made mention of till afterwards, Numbers 19:1, yet it was very probably given before; and the Jews sayF15Seder Olam Rabba, c. 7. p. 22. , it was on the second of Nisan, or the first month, which was the day after the tabernacle was erected, that Eleazar the priest burnt the red heifer and sprinkled all Israel; this only "sanctified to the purifying of the flesh", Hebrews 9:13, in a ceremonial sense, but was typical of the blood of Christ, which "purges the conscience from dead works"; that so men may be fitted and qualified, as the Levites were, "to serve the living God", Hebrews 9:14,

and let them shave all their flesh; the hair of their bodies, in all parts thereof; even the beard, as Aben Ezra notes, some say; yet not the corners of it; but the whole hair of the body, everywhere, was to be shaved off; to denote the most perfect purity, and a removal of all superfluity of haughtiness and excrescences of the flesh from them: so the Egyptian priests used to shave their whole body every third day, lest there should be anything filthy in those that served the godsF16Herodot. Enterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37. : this cleansing of the Levites was after the same manner as lepers were cleansed: and Jarchi observes, from one of their writers, that because the Levites gave an atonement for the firstborn, who committed idolatry, which is called the sacrifices of the dead, and the leper is called a dead man, they were obliged to shaving as the lepers; but Ben Gersom gives a better reason for the shaving of them; that it was to put them in mind that they should forsake material (or corporeal) things, and employ themselves in the service of God; see Acts 6:2 2 Timothy 2:4,

and let them wash their clothes; and much more their bodies, as Chaskuni, after the manner of those who were polluted by touching a dead body; typical of the saints having their bodies washed with pure water, and their garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, Hebrews 10:22,

and so make themselves clean; the Targum of Jonathan adds, in forty seahs of water; and according to the sense of that paraphrase, both the bodies and clothes of the Levites were dipped in water.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-8.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle c water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and [so] make themselves clean.

(c) In Hebrew it is called the water of sin, because it is made to purge sin, as in (Numbers 19:9).

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/numbers-8.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.

Of purifying — Heb. of sin, that is, for the expiation of sin. This water was mixed with the ashes of a red heifer, Numbers 19:9, which therefore may seem to have been prescribed before, though it be mentioned after; such kind of transplacings of passages being frequent in scripture.

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.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-8.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

7.And thus shalt thou do unto them. Aaron is commanded first to sprinkle the water of purifying upon them, to cleanse them from their uncleanness; and not only so, but they are commanded to wash their clothes, that they may diligently beware of any impurity being anywhere about them, whereby their persons may be infected. Thirdly, they are commanded to shave their skin with a razor, that, putting off their flesh, they may begin to be new men. A sacrifice is afterwards added, and that twofold, to make an atonement for them. These things being completed, Aaron, in right and to the honor of the priesthood, is commanded to offer them just like the holy bread or incense. But the end of this was, that they might acknowledge that they were no longer their own masters, but devoted to God, that they might engage themselves in the service of the sanctuary. It was in testimony of alienation that some of the people were ordered at the same time to lay their hands upon them; as if by this ceremony all the tribes bore witness that with their consent the Levites passed over to be God’s peculiar property, that they might be a part or appendage of the sanctuary. For private individuals (as we shall see hereafter) were accustomed to lay their hands on their sacrifices, yet not with the same object as the priests. (177)


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-8.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 8:7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and [so] make themselves clean.

Ver. 7. Sprinkle water of purifying, &c.] This taught that none were meet for the holy ministry, but by the free favour of Christ, and by the sanctification of his Spirit. [2 Corinthians 2:16 Galatians 1:15] Ministers are fullones animarum, their office is to whiten others; themselves therefore should be as those Nazarites [Lamentations 4:7] "whiter than snow."

Shave all their flesh.] As the lepers did; Levites are by nature no better than lepers: ministers, men subject to like passions as others, and liable to more temptations.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-8.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 8:7. Sprinkle water of purifying In the Hebrew, as Dr. Beaumont observes, the sin-water, i.e. the water of purification from sin, is called the sin-offering. The manner of preparing this water is seen, chap. Numbers 19:17. Sprinkled with this water, the Levites were next to shave all their flesh; another sign of their entering into a state of purity, the study whereof is incumbent upon all, but especially on the ministers of religion; see Leviticus 14:8-9. Calmet thinks it probable, that the same ceremony was observed by the priests on the day of their consecration, though we have no precept concerning it. The priests of Egypt, in like manner, shaved their whole bodies every third day, as a mark of purity and cleanliness. Hence they are sometimes characterised by the name of the bald tribe; grege calvo. Juv. Sat. 6. And so the heathens had their water of lustration, (probably borrowed from the Mosaic law) wherewith they were accustomed to sprinkle themselves in token of purification, as in Virgil, AEneid vi. l. 229, 230.

Idem ter socios pura circumtulit unda, Spargens rore levi et ramo felicis olivae.

"A verdant branch of olive in his hands, He mov'd around, and purify'd the bands; Slow as he pass, the lustral waters shed," &c. PITT.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-8.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Of purifying, Heb. of sin, i.e. for the expiation of sin. This water was mixed with the ashes of a red heifer, Numbers 19:9, which therefore may seem to have been prescribed before, though it be mentioned after; such kind of transplacings of passages being frequent in Scripture.

Shave all their flesh; which external rite signified the cutting off their inordinate concupiscences of earthly things, and that singular purity of heart and life which is required in the ministers of God. See Isaiah 52:11 2 Timothy 2:21.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-8.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7. Water of purifying — Literally, sin-water, or water sin-purging. The Hebrew word for sin or sin offering is involved in this term. This water is nowhere explained. It must not be confounded with the water prescribed for the cleansing of the leper, (Leviticus 14:5;) and, also, it must be distinguished from the water of separation for purifying both persons and houses defiled by a corpse. Numbers 19:9. It cannot be simply clean water that is denominated “sin-water,” but water specially provided in the tabernacle for the cleansing of the priests for their duties.

Shave all their flesh — Literally, cause a razor to pass over all their flesh. Cutting the hair in the regular way of adorning the body is all that is enjoined. A different word is used for shaving to baldness.

Wash their clothes — This was generally enjoined as a preparation for worship, (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10,) but was not required of the priests, because they received holy vestments. The Levites were not commanded to wash their bodies, because they were not leprous nor corpse-defiled. The priests washed themselves often because they handled the most holy things. Since robes symbolize character, (Judges 1:23,) their cleansing is emblematic of heart-purification. See Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:14.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-8.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification. This was the holy water, mixed with the ashes of the red cow, (Numbers xix.) appointed for purifying all that were unclean. It was a figure of the blood of Christ, applied to our souls by his holy sacraments. (Challoner) --- Purification, (lustrationis) or "expiation." The water, mixed with ashes, was taken and sprinkled round about the houses, and upon those persons who wished either to be cleansed from some defilement, or to advance in virtue and purity. We use salt instead of ashes. Theocritus (Idyl. xxiv. 100,) puts these words in the mouth of Tiresias, "then mixt with salt, according to the law, with a green branch sprinkle the honoured and pure water, and sacrifice to the supreme Jupiter a hog, if you wish to gain the victory over your adversaries." --- Flesh, to remind them that they must cut off all superfluous thoughts, the roots of which they will however never be able to destroy entirely, as St. Gregory (Mor. v. 3,) says, "The flesh always produces superfluities, which the spirit must always cut away with the sword of solicitude." See Leviticus xiv. 8., and xxi. 5, 10. (Haydock) --- The priests serving in the temple were obliged to cut their hair every month; and the Levites probably observed the same regulation, to acknowledge, that they who approach God must be pure and detached from earthly cares, (Calmet) and particularly from the works of sin; to remind them of which, they were to be sprinkled with water, their garments washed, and they were to offer two oxen by the hands of Aaron, and to be lifted up or offered to God, to serve in his court. (Tirinus)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

water of purifying = sin water: i.e., water prepared as in Num 19.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-8.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(7) Water of purifying.—Literally, water of sin, or, of sin-offering (Hebrew, hattath). As in the case of the holy water, to which reference is made in Numbers 6:17, so here also there is no explanation given of the particular water which was to be used in cleansing the Levites. The bullock which was appointed to be offered as a sin-offering at the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 8:14) is described by the same word which is here employed (in the Authorised Version, sin-offering); and in Leviticus 4:14, the sacrifice which was appointed to be offered for the expiation of sin (in the Authorised Version, the sin) is also spoken of under the same name; so also is the sin-offering of the Levites in Numbers 8:8 of this chapter. The sin-water evidently denotes the water appointed to be used in the purification of sin; and the reference is probably (as in Numbers 6:17) to the water which was kept in the brazen laver in front of the Tabernacle. It is possible, however, that some direction which is not here recorded may have been given respecting putting the ashes of the sin-offering into water. (Comp. Numbers 19:9, where the water of purification is described under the same name: “it is a purification for sin.” Literally, it is hattath.) In this case, however, the sin-offering, which is not mentioned until Numbers 8:8, must have been sacrificed previously to the sprinkling.

Let them shave all their flesh.—Literally, cause the razor to pass over all their flesh. A different word is used in Leviticus 14:8-9 to denote the more complete removal of the hair which was enjoined at the cleansing of the leper.

And let them wash their clothes.—The bodies of the priests were washed at their consecration (Leviticus 14:8-9), and those of the lepers at their cleansing (Leviticus 8:6); but the Levites, who were not brought into such immediate contact with the holy things as the priests, were only required to wash their clothes, which was an ordinary preparation for Divine worship (Exodus 19:10; comp. Genesis 35:2).


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
Sprinkle
Leviticus 8:6; 14:7; Isaiah 52:15; Ezekiel 36:25; Hebrews 9:10
water
19:9,10,13,17-19; Psalms 51:7; Hebrews 9:13
let them shave
Heb. let them cause a razor to pass over, etc.
Leviticus 14:8,9
wash their
19:7,8,10,19; 31:20; Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10; Leviticus 15:6,10,11,27; 16:28; Psalms 51:2; Jeremiah 4:14; Matthew 23:25,26; James 4:8; 1 Peter 3:21; Revelation 7:14

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 8:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-8.html.


Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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