King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Numbers 8

The lamps of the sanctuary. (1-4) Consecration of the Levites, and their service. (5-26)

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The lamps of the sanctuary

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto Aaron and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.

3 And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.

4 And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.

Consecration of the Levites, and their service

5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.

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.

8 Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.

9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:

10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:

11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.

12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.

13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.

14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.

15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.

16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.

17 For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.

18 And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.

19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.

20 And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.

21 And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.

22 And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

24 This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:

25 And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:

26 But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Looketh. This candlestick stood on the south side, with one branch extending towards the altar of incense, on the east; and the other to the west, so as to give light to the loaves of proposition, on the north. Ex. xxv. 31. C. — It was intended to illumine the holy of holies, where a sort of feast was prepared for God, and where no windows were found. M. — Heb. simply, “When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against,” upon, or near to “the candlestick.” H. — The lamps might be separated from the branches and stem of the candlestick. D.

Ver. 7. Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification. This was the holy water, mixed with the ashes of the red cow, (Num. 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. Ch. — 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 S. Greg. (Mor. v. 23,) says, “The flesh always produces superfluities, which the spirit must always cut away with the sword of solicitude.” See Lev. xiv. 8. xxi. 5. 10. H. — 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, (C.) 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. T.

Ver. 10. Upon them. Some of the princes performed this ceremony, to testify that they gave up the Levites to serve God, (v. 15,) and would not be answerable, if they were guilty of any irreverence or neglect. C. — They offered them as a sort of sacrifice for the people, (M.) and gave their approbation to them, setting them at liberty. D. v. 14. 20.

Ver. 11. A gift. Heb. “he shall heave them as a heave-offering before the Lord.” Some assert, that Aaron lifted each of them towards the four quarters of the world; (v. 21,) or he made them go up towards the altar, and on each side. This ceremony was performed whenever a Levite was taken into the ministry. 2 Par. xxix. 34.

Ver. 12. Thou, Moses, though the Heb. here seems to refer it to Aaron, “he shall.” But the Sept. and Arab. agree with the Vulg. and the context shews that Moses is the person (C.) who had chiefly to officiate. Aaron also performed his part, v. 11. H.

Ver. 14. Mine. Free from the burdens of the state, and employed in singing and keeping the doors of the sanctuary. M.

Ver. 15. Into, or “towards, about;” for the priests alone could enter in. Heb. “the Levites shall go in (or be admitted) to do the service of the tabernacle,” and to remove it, &c. H. v. 19.

Ver. 21. Lifted. Hebrew tenupha, Ex. xxix. 24. Perhaps only a few were received at once. M. — Prayed. Hebr. means also “to expiate, or redeem,” as v. 19.

Ver. 25. Serve, in any laborious functions, as the original imports.

Ver. 26. Ministers. Heb. “to watch over,” (C.) direct, and “train up their brethren.” Sam. Grotius.