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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Numbers

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FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 8: Setting Apart the Levites

 

Part 1.3: A Holy Camp

Ch.5: Working for a Pure Camp

Ch. 6: Nazarites

Ch.7: Offerings at the Dedication of the Tabernacle

Ch. 8: Setting Apart the Levites

Ch. 9: Passover & Presence

  

FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 8: Setting Apart the Levites

 

v.1-4 Setting Up the Lamps

v.5-19 Instructions for Setting Apart the Levites

v.20-22 The Levites are set apart

v.23-26 General Instructions as which Levites will serve

 

[Preliminary Comments: In chapter 3 the Levites were counted. In chapter 4 their roles were designated. In chapter 7 carts had been presented for them to use. Now in this chapter they are set apart and consecrated for what is seen as holy work, in preparation for the nation to leave Sinai on their journey to the Promised Land.]

 

 

v.1-4 Setting Up the Lamps

 

v.1 The Lord said to Moses,

v.2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.'”

v.3 Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord commanded Moses.

v.4 This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the Lord had shown Moses.

 

[Notes: In order for the Tabernacle Holy Place to be used – for presenting bread and twice-daily incense – the lampstand had to be set up and lit.]

 

 

v.5-19 Instructions for Setting Apart the Levites

 

v.5   The Lord said to Moses:

v.6,7 The Levites are first to be washed and cleansed

v.6 “Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean.

v.7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves.

v.8 Then comes the burnt offering & sin offering on their behalf

v.8 Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering.

v.9 They are to stand between the Tabernacle and the people

v.9 Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community.

v.10 The people are to identify with them by laying on of hands

v.10 You are to bring the Levites before the Lord , and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them.

v.11 They are then to be presented to God

v.11 Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.

v.12 Representatives (presumably) identify with the offerings

v.12 “Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the Lord and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites.

v.13,14 Again they are to be presented to God

v.13   Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the Lord .

v.14   In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.

v.15 They are then ready, when needed, to do their work

v.15 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting.

v.16-18 They are the tokens of the first-born belonging to God

v.16 They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman.

v.17   Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself.

v.18   And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel.

v.19 They are God's representatives to serve at the Tabernacle

v.19 From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”

 

[Notes: The whole ceremony emphasizes that this is no casual labour force but a people specifically dedicated to moving the dwelling place of God throughout their travels.]

 

 

v.20-22 The Levites are set apart

 

v.20 Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.

v.21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the Lord and made atonement for them to purify them.

v.22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

[Notes: The ceremony is carried out and the Levites are now ready for service.]

 

 

v.23-26 General Instructions as which Levites will serve

 

v.23 The Lord said to Moses,

v.24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting,

v.25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.

v.26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”

 

[Notes: In chapter 4, numbers of the Levites counted were between age 30 and 50. Jewish commentators suggest that for the first five years they served as helper-apprentices only. Fifty is retirement age although they are still allowed to feel part of the work by giving support help. These final verses summarize what had gone before and the Levites and the people, will know they have a special task to perform that no other may have a part in.]

      

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 9