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Numbers



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Introduction: Something went terribly wrong on the way to the Promised land. Why would it take the infant nation of Israel 38 years to travel a distance that should have only taken a few weeks at most? And yet that one month's travel turned into nearly four decades of travail. For the adults age 20 and over who left Egypt, it consumed the rest of their lives. They never made it to the Promised Land.


For many long periods the Israelites were in encampments, not wandering. Still, the reason for this seemingly interminable period forms the heart of this book: The Exodus generation adults had a spiritual crisis halfway from Sinai to Canaan. It was not a question of geography or topography; it was a question of faith. The trip from "prison land" to Promised Land was spiritual at its core. It was a test to see whether the Hebrews would trust Yahweh to meet their needs and deliver them safely to their new home in Canaan.


The Exodus generation failed the test and died on the threshold of blessing and promise. It would be their children, those under the age of 20 and those born in the wilderness years, who would lead the nation into Canaan.


The story of Numbers is so important from a spiritual perspective that two New Testament writers warn their readers about failing similar tests. The apostle Paul advised the church in Corinth about yielding to temptations to grumbling, immorality, and idol worship like the Hebrews did (1 Cor. 10:1-11). The author of Hebrews warned his readers about a failure to move in and claim the spiritual rest God had promised (Heb. 3:7 - 4:11). He draws from the story in the Book of Numbers to remind his readers that promises must be grasped and acted on before they can be realized.


Numbers is far more than Moses' travelogue or a record of Israel's population growth. It must be read with spiritual eyes wide open.


Title: The Hebrew title for this book is "In the Wilderness", which is quite descriptive of the contents. The English title has its origin in the Greek version of the Old Testament (Septuagint), where, by the way of the Latin Vulgate, we get the English name. Another Hebrew title, favored by some early church fathers, is based on the first word of the Hebrew text (of 1:1), "and He spoke". This designation emphasizes that the book records the Word of God to Israel.


Only a few chapters (1-4 and 26), are given over to numbering (census taking), while the major portion of the book deals with the laws,regulations and experiences of Israel in the wilderness. The two censuses break the book into its two logical divisions. Chapters (1-21), begin with a census and cover the years in the wilderness, while (chapters 26-36), begin with a census of the new generation and tell of the months before entrance into Canaan. The Balaam story separates these two sections and forms a literary hinge connecting them.


Exodus concentrates on the deliverance from Egypt, the covenant at Sinai, and the erection of the tabernacle. Leviticus highlights the nature of true worship and holiness. Numbers focuses on the Land of Promise and Israel's journey toward it. Leviticus emphasizes the importance of holiness and cleanness. Numbers reiterates the value of faith and obedience. Leviticus stresses the role of sacrifice in creating and maintaining right relations between God and man, whereas Numbers accentuates the indispensability of the priesthood for preserving the nation's spiritual health.


At least three theological strains run through the Book of Numbers:


1. The character of God, especially as He reveals Himself in punishing the wicked (11:25, 33; 12:5, 10; 14:10; 16:19, 42; 20:6);


2. The land as it had been given to Israel by the Lord (32:7, 9), to be a holy land (35:34), and Israel's permanent possession (36:9); and


3. Israel's being the people of God who reflect God's holiness and faithfulness in their lives.


Historical Setting: Numbers should be read in connection with Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. (Exodus 19:1), tells of Israel's arrival in the wilderness of Sinai in the third month after the Hebrews left the land of Egypt. From the third to the twelfth months they received the Decalogue, instructions for building the tabernacle, and directions concerning the many details of the sacrificial system set forth in Leviticus. Then in Numbers, the people of Israel are taught how to function as a camp. Their religious, civil and military economies are set in order in preparation for their journeying, worshiping, and conquering as a nation.


The sequence of events in the book is as follows. From Sinai, Israel journeyed north to the wilderness of Paran. There the spies who brought back an "evil report" instigated a rebellion, so the people refused to enter the land. Then, through foolish presumption, they suffered defeat at the hands of the heathen. They were turned back to wander in the wilderness 38 more years. At the end of this period, they traveled to the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan, and defeated and occupied all of Trans-Jordan north of the river Arnon. Here they fell into sin with the Moabite and Midianite women and worshiped their gods. A new generation of Israel was numbered, and at the command of God destroyed the Midianites who had so harassed them. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh were given possessions east of the Jordan, and Moses appointed Joshua as his successor. From chapter 20 through chapter 36, the book deals with events of the fortieth year (36:13). Numbers has much in common with Deuteronomy because of its many laws and regulations.


Authorship: The first 5 book of the Bible, called the Law, of which Numbers is the fourth, are ascribed to Moses throughout Scripture (Joshua 8:31; 2 Kings 14:6; Neh. 8:1; Mark 12:26; John 7:19). The book of Numbers itself refers to the writing of Moses (in 33:2 and 36:13).


Numbers was written in the final year of Moses' life. The events from 20:1 to the end occur in the 40th year after the Exodus. The account ends with Israel poised on the eastern side of the Jordan River across from Jericho (36:13), which is where the conquest of the land of Canaan began (Joshua chapters 3-6). The book of Numbers must be dated (ca. 1405 B.C.), since it is foundational to the book of Deuteronomy, and Deuteronomy is dated in the 11th month of the 40th year after the Exodus (Deut. 1:3).


Background and Setting: Most of the events of the book are set "in the wilderness". The word "wilderness" is used 48 times in Numbers. This term refers to land that contains little vegetation or trees, and because of a sparsity of rainfall, it cannot be cultivated. This land is best used for tending flocks of animals. In (1:1 - 10:10), Israel encamped in "the wilderness of Sinai". It was a Sinai that the Lord had entered into the Mosaic Covenant with them (Exodus 19-24). From (10:11 - 12:16), Israel traveled from Sinai to Kadesh. In (13:1 - 20:13), the events took place in and around Kadesh, which was located in "the wilderness of Paran" (12:16; 13:3, 26), "the wilderness of Zin" (13:21; 20:1). From (20:14 - 22:1), Israel traveled from Kadesh to the "plains of Moab". All the events of (22:2 - 36:13), occurred while Israel was encamped in the plain to the north of Moab. That plain was a flat and fertile piece of land in the middle of the wasteland (21:20; 23:28; 24:1).


The book of Numbers concentrates on events that take place in the second and fortieth years after the Exodus. All incidents recorded (in 1:1 - 14:45 occur in 1444 B.C.), the year after the Exodus. Everything referred to (after 20:1 is dated ca. 1406 / 1405 B.C.), the 40th year after the Exodus. The laws and events found (in 15:1 - 19:22), are undated, but probably all should be dated (ca. 1443 to 14:07 B.C.). The lack of material devoted to this 37-year period, in comparison with the other years of the journey from Egypt to Canaan, communicates how wasted these years were because of Israel's rebellion against the Lord and His consequent judgment.


Liberal scholars hold that much of what is related in the Book of Numbers is unhistorical. They may make some concessions that some of the material is factual, but they basically have proposed that the book is a composite of several documents. Such scholars designate most of the book as the "P" (Priestly), document, which they claim was written not earlier than the sixth or fifth century B.C., chiefly by priests of postexilic times. They do allow that some of Numbers is from "J" and "E," two documents not older that the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. Even these earlier documents, they say, were far separated from Moses' time, and their traditions are so confused that they tell us little about the Mosaic period.


The bible attest that Moses compiled the book during the wilderness wanderings (1447 - 1407 B.C.). The phrase "the Lord spake unto Moses" appears more than 80 times in the book, along with the statement "Moses wrote their goings out" (33:2). The chief arguments in favor of this view are statements within the Pentateuch that Moses did write some of it down (Exodus 24:4; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9, 22), the constant claim that the laws were revealed to him (Exodus 25:1; Lev. 1:1; Num. 1:1), and the New Testament record of Mosaic authorship (Matt. 8:4; 19:7; Luke 24:44; John 1:45). There are several indications of a second millennium B.C. dating for the book:


1. Parallels to the census lists (chapters 1 and 26), are found in the Mari tablets (eighteenth century B.C.), from Mesopotamia, and in Old Kingdom Egyptian documents.


2. The names of the tribal leaders (1:5-15), are characteristically second millennium in form.


3. So was their mode of encampment, the tribes of Israel camping in a square with the tent of their divine King at the center (chapter 2); this arrangement was followed by Rameses II (thirteenth century B.C.), on his campaigns, whereas first millennium Assyrian royal tent enclosures were circular.


4. The role of the priests and Levites in guarding the tabernacle (chapter 4), finds parallels in second millennium B.C. Hittite texts.


5. The design of the lampstand (chapter 8), shows that it comes from the Late Bronze Age (sixteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C.).


6. Trumpets were used during the Egyptian New Kingdom (1570 - 1585 B.C.), to summon to war and worship (chapter 10).


7. The tasseled garments (chapter 15), are attested among Israel's neighbors from the mid-second millennium onward.


8. In style and form, the letter to Edom (chapter 20), resembles second-millennium diplomatic notes.


9. A bronze serpent (chapter 21), and a tent shrine used by Midianites in the twelfth century B.C. have been found at Timna.


10. The laws on sacrifice (in chapters 28 and 29), resemble a fourteenth-century ritual calendar from Ugarit. And


11. The boundaries of Canaan as defined (in chapter 34), correspond to those of the Egyptian province of Canaan in texts of the fifteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C.


What it Says: For more than a year, the Hebrew slaves underwent a transformation. They shuffled into the shadow of Mount Sinai as an unorganized family, the descendants of Jacob. But they left in a wholly different manner. While at Sinai, Moses grouped them by tribes according to the 12 sons of Jacob. The tribes camped around the periphery of a square, three tribes to a side, with the tabernacle erected in the middle of the square. And each grouping of tribes had a lead tribe responsible for their group.


Once organized, it was possible for the new nation to meet their King, the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They entered into a covenantal agreement with Him to receive and to obey His laws, summarized in the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from the mountain. And they learned what it meant to be separate from the world, illustrated by their separation from the pagan ways of Egypt.


The difference between the Hebrews' arrival at Sinai and their departure could not have been more different! They arrived as refugees and left as a military nation. They were as organized in their march to Canaan as in their camp at Sinai. In a little over a year, the children of Israel had become a nation under the rule of God.


What it means: Numbers can be grouped into two movements based on the two censuses: (chapters 1-25 and chapters 26-36). The book is undergirded by four central themes:


Covenant: The Law of God, the covenant by which Israel was to be ruled, plays a critical role in Israel's history. The covenant was given by God at Mount Sinai beginning with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Throughout the rest of Exodus, all of Leviticus and Numbers (1:1 - 10:10), commandments, statutes, and judgments were added. These laws were focused particularly on worship, emphasizing instructions concerning the tabernacle and sacrifice. More laws were added at Kadesh (chapters 15; 18-19), and again in the plains of Moab (chapters 27-30; 35-36).


Land: The land that the Lord promised to Abraham and his descendants forever (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:7-21), was the land of Canaan, and the people were to possess what had been promised to them. But the land where they would finally dwell would involve many battles. The two descriptions of census and organization in Numbers (chapters 1-3; 26), were for preparing an army. Israel's battling to inherit their land is a type of the Christian's preparation for victory in spiritual warfare (1 Cor. 10:1-13; 2 Cor. 10:1-6; Eph. 6:10-17; Heb. 3:7 - 4:11).


Faith: Israel's crisis of faith came at Kadesh. That is when the people rebelled against Moses and the Lord upon hearing the evil report of the 10 faithless spies. A report of insurmountable problems in the land (chapters 13 and 14). Israel learned the lesson that faith is manifested by obedience to God's commands. As a result of their disobedience, the adult Israelites (except for Joshua and Caleb), were barred from entering the Promised Land (14:22-23).


Promises: The promises of God are not invalidated by the failures of humanity. People's actions can delay the realization of God's promised blessing but not cancel them. Just as God waited 38 years for a new generation of Israelites to inherit the land, so Israel has been waiting nearly 2,000 years to re-inhabit the land under God's blessing. The apostle Paul takes up the issue of Israel and God's promises (in Romans chapters 9-11).


What it Means to You: What happened one night at a crossroads called Kadesh changed the destiny of millions and erased the hopes of a whole generation. There is no way to overstate what a devastating effect the negative, faithless report of 10 men had on the nation. Israel was at a tipping point that night: the words of the returned spies would either tip the people toward the Promised Land, or toward death and futility.


Summation: People all around us in the course of our day may be, for one reason or another, at an intersection in their lives. Our attitude, our outlook, our faith, our words, our courage at their crossroads could actually lift their lives, sending them in a positive direction. Conversely, our negative, discouraging, cynical talk might easily nudge the confused or disheartened down a longer road into doubt or despair. Is it any wonder that the Lord spoke so soberly about the power of our words and our responsibility in speaking them? Jesus said, "I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment (Matt. 12:36).





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Numbers 1 Numbers 10 Numbers 19 Numbers 28
Numbers 2 Numbers 11 Numbers 20 Numbers 29
Numbers 3 Numbers 12 Numbers 21 Numbers 30
Numbers 4 Numbers 13 Numbers 22 Numbers 31
Numbers 5 Numbers 14 Numbers 23 Numbers 32
Numbers 6 Numbers 15 Numbers 24 Numbers 33
Numbers 7 Numbers 16 Numbers 25 Numbers 34
Numbers 8 Numbers 17 Numbers 26 Numbers 35
Numbers 9 Numbers 18 Numbers 27 Numbers 36

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Numbers 1



Numbers Chapter 1

The book of Numbers was penned by Moses. It is the fourth book of the Pentateuch. This book is set during the 40 years of the wilderness wanderings. The book was named Numbers, because the Israelites were numbered during this time period. Their unbelief stops them from entering the Promised Land, until the doubters die off. In this book, we see the miraculous feeding of the multitude. Water comes gushing from a Rock to quench their thirst. Many other miracles take place during this time period. We will see types of the Lord Jesus in the smitten Rock and in the brazen serpent which was lifted up. We see an army of people walking 40 years in the wilderness without their shoes wearing out. Egypt symbolizes the world. God was not only trying to get them out of the land of Egypt, but was in fact, trying to get their worldly ways out of them. Only the children who believed would enter the Promised Land.


Verses 1 - 10:36: The first 10 chapters of Numbers record the final preparations of Israel necessary for the conquest of the land of Canaan. In this section, the Lord spoke to Israel through Moses (1:1; 2:1; 3:1, 5, 11; 14:44; 4:1, 17, 21, 5:1, 5, 11; 6:1, 22; 7:4; 8:1, 5, 23; 9:1, 9; 10:1), and Moses and Israel responded with obedience (1:19, 54; 2:33-34; 3:16, 42, 51; 4:49; 7:2-3; 8:3; 9:5, 18:23; 10:13; 14-28 in accordance with 2:34). These chapters divide into two parts (1:1 - 6:27 and 7:1 - 10:36), which both end with an invocation of the Lord's blessing on Israel (6:22-27 and 10:35-36).


Numbers 1:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first [day] of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,"


"The Lord spake": A common phrase indicating that saving history begins with God speaking (Gen. 1:3; Lev. 11). Revelation is the foundation for a true belief. Here He speaks "In the tabernacle", as in Leviticus He spoke "out of the tabernacle".


The phrase "in the wilderness" constitutes the Hebrew title to the book ( bemidbar). Taken from the first few words, as was the custom in early writings (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy), this literary device indicates the antiquity of the works. The thought closely associated is the almost 40 years spent in the wilderness as a result of Israel's unbelief.


"On the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt": Indicates there is a break of just one month between the erecting of the tabernacle, at the end of Exodus, and the start of Numbers. It was one year and two weeks since the Exodus from Egypt, and 10-1/2 months since their arrival in Sinai.


"In the tabernacle of the congregation": The tabernacle, where the Lord's glory resided in the cloud, had been erected one month earlier (Exodus 40:17). This was God's dwelling place in the midst of his people. In (Num. 1:1 - 6:27), Israel was organized with the tabernacle as the central feature.


"The second year": Numbers begins in the 14th month (337 days), after the Exodus from Egypt.


We find that the children of Israel had already been in the wilderness of Sinai since the third month after they left Egypt.


Exodus 19:1 "In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they [into] the wilderness of Sinai."


In this tabernacle of the congregation, Moses had met with God.


Exodus 25:22 "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which [are] upon the ark of the testimony, of all [things] which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."


This message is given directly to Moses from God.


Verses 2-16: After making the covenant and giving the Law at Sinai, the Lord told Moses to "Take ye the sum": of all the tribes of Israel. Its purpose was not taxation or political control but preparation for military service, the next phase in Israel's development. This census began one month after the tabernacle was erected at Mount Sinai (Exodus 40:17). In the second year of Israel's history as a nation (1:1; 9:1).


Numbers 1:2 "Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of [their] names, every male by their polls;"


The command "Take ye the sum" was given one month after the tabernacle was set up (compare Exodus 40:2, 17), and is probably the same as the command mentioned (in Exodus 30:12 and 38:21). There the men were counted in connection with the atonement money, that is, from that day forward, to pay for the daily offerings of the community. Since Exodus 30 does not state that the census was carried out, it makes sense to assume this census is the implementation of the payment. Also, the figures mentioned (in Exodus 38:26 and in Numbers 1:46), are identical (603,550 males from 20 years old and upward). This is the first of five Israelite censuses taken in the Old Testament. For the others (see chapters 3, 4, 26 and 2 Sam. 24).


"Every male by their polls" in an expression indicating the "skull, head, or person". It is usually used for counting people (Exodus 46:16; 38:26; Num. 3:47; 1 Chron. 23:3-4).


There had been a tax levied in the tabernacle of a half-shekel of silver on each male, for the service in the tabernacle. The Jews kept accurate records, and that is why each family would be recorded separately. We will find they came up with the same numbers as found during the tax. It appears, they used round numbers, and not exact counting of each adult male. The "poll" is speaking of the tax records.


Numbers 1:3 "From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies."


"Able to go forth to war" is a phrase that occurs repeatedly in this chapter (verses 3, 20, 22, 24), and stresses that the nation was being organized to invade the Promised Land. To opt out through doubt or fear was a great sin (chapter 14; Deut. Chapter 20). "Twenty years old and upward" indicated the prime of life, for (Leviticus 27:3-4), gave the highest valuation of people at this bracket. (Deut. 20:7 and 24:5), provide that those recently engaged or married were exempt from duty.


Those younger than 20 years old were not required to go to war. Females were not required to go to war at all, so they were not numbered. The task of the numbering, and the accuracy of the count, would be left up to Moses and Aaron.


Numbers 1:4 "And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers."


"A man": One leader from each of the 12 tribes was to assist Moses and Aaron in the numbering of the men. These same leaders are mentioned (in Num. 2:1-34 and 10:14-28), as the heads of tribes and in (7:1-88), they bring gifts to the tabernacle.


There was one man from each tribe, and the tribe was numbered under his name. The tribes were comprised of the children of Jacob and his two wives, and their two maids. This numbering was for a totally different purpose. The one that was taken by the Levites for taxing the males. This is for military purposes. All of the men 20 years and older were soldiers in time of war.


Numbers 1:5 "And these [are] the names of the men that shall stand with you: of [the tribe of] Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur."


Be present with Moses and Aaron when numbering the people. Not merely as spectators of the affair, and inspectors of the accounts, but as assistants in the work. Each man in his tribe, being best acquainted with the families and houses in it. And these men were not pitched upon by Moses and Aaron, nor chosen by their respective tribes. But were appointed and named by the Lord himself, which was doing them great honor.


"Of the tribe of Reuben: or "for Reuben", for the taking the number of men in this tribe; and so of all the rest (see Numbers 1:44).


Elizur the son of Shedeur (from Numbers 1:5). The names of those several men are given, which were very proper for Moses and Aaron to know, though of little importance to us. Nor the signification of their several names, given by Ainsworth and others. Only, as Bishop Patrick observes, most of them show how much God was in the thoughts of those who, imposed these names on their children. Several of them having in them "El" or "Eli", "God" or "my God", and "Shaddai", "Almighty" or "all-sufficient". To which may be added, that in some of them they seem to respect the Messiah. As Elizur, signifying "my God the rock"; and Shelumiel may be rendered, "God my peace"; and Zurishaddai, "my rock the Almighty", or "all-sufficient"; and Pedahzur, "the rock redeemeth". Nor is there anything of any moment to be remarked, unless the order in which the several tribes are placed.


And first the children of Leah, beginning with Reuben, the firstborn. And the rest, Simeon and Judah, are ranked according to their birth. Levi being omitted, because that tribe was not now numbered, and besides, Moses and Aaron were of it. And then Issachar and Zebulun. After those the children of Rachel, because of her honor and glory above the handmaids, as Aben Ezra remarks. Who further observes, that it begins with Ephraim, following Jacob our father. That is, because of the blessing of Jacob, who preferred Ephraim the younger to Manasseh the elder. And here Ephraim and Manasseh are set before Benjamin, because they were in the place of Joseph. And after that the account goes on with Dan, because, he was the firstborn of the handmaids. And after him Asher, though the second son of Zilpah, is placed before Gad, the first son, because, says the same Aben Ezra, the Lord knew that he would be the head of those that encamped by the standard of Dan. And so is placed next to him. And after him Gad, who was the firstborn of Leah's handmaid. And Naphtali last of all, the second son of Bilhah. This order seems to be designed to suit with their encampments, and the form of them.


The princes of the tribes, selected (Num. 1:4) under divine direction, were for the most part the same persons as those chosen a few months previously at the counsel of Jethro (Exodus 18:21-26). Nahshon, prince of Judah, is mentioned in (Exodus 6:23), and Elishama, in (1 Chron. 7:26-27). The peers of men like these were no doubt entitled, among their fellows, to the epithet "renowned" (Num. 1:16).


Reuben was the firstborn son of Jacob and Leah. Reuben committed a terrible sin when he slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine. Reuben of course, is dead at this time, but this is his tribe. Elizur would be the prince of the tribe of Reuben.


Numbers 1:6 "Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai."


See notes on Numbers 1:5.


Simeon was the second son of Jacob by Leah. Shelumiel is the head of Simeon's tribe.


Numbers 1:7 "Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


The name "Judah" means God be praised. He is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. His brothers, who have the same mother he does, are Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. Nahshon is the leader of this tribe at the time of the census. Nahshon was the brother-in-law of Aaron. He is also, ancestor of David and Jesus Christ.


Numbers 1:8 "Of Issachar; Nethaneel the son of Zuar."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


The name "Issachar" means he will bring reward. Issachar is the 9th son of Jacob and the 5th of Leah. Issachar, Judah, and Zebulun, marched on the east of the tabernacle in the wilderness wanderings. Nethaneel was prince of this tribe at the time of the census.


Numbers 1:9 "Of Zebulun; Eliab the son of Helon."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Zebulun was the 10th son of Jacob and the 6th son of Leah. Eliab was prince of this tribe at census time.


Numbers 1:10 "Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim; Elishama the son of Ammihud: of Manasseh; Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


The name "Joseph" means may he, or Jehovah add. Joseph was the first son of Rachel and the eleventh son of Jacob. This is the same Joseph that went into Egypt, and then later saved his family from the famine. Ephraim and Manasseh were both his sons, born in Egypt. Manasseh was the firstborn, but Ephraim got the spiritual blessing of the right hand. Elishama, who was the prince of the tribe of Ephraim, was the grandfather of Joshua. Gamaliel was the prince of the tribe of Manasseh.


Numbers 1:11 "Of Benjamin; Abidan the son of Gideoni."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob and the second son of Rachel. Even though Rachel was the second wife of Jacob, she was his favorite. Rachel died soon after the birth of Benjamin. Abidan was the prince of the tribe of Benjamin. We notice that in all of the sons up to this time, were of the wives. The following sons will be from the maids of the two wives.


Numbers 1:12 "Of Dan; Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Dan was the first son of Bilhah and the fifth son of Jacob. Bilhah was not a wife. She was Rachel's handmaid. Dan, along with the other sons of the handmaids, would receive inheritance with the sons of the wives. Ahiezer was the prince of the tribe of Dan at the time of the numbering.


Numbers 1:13 "Of Asher; Pagiel the son of Ocran."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Asher was the eighth son of Jacob and the second son of Zilpah, the maid of Leah. Pagiel was the prince of the tribe of Asher at the time of the census.


Numbers 1:14 "Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of Deuel."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Gad was the first son of Zilpah and the seventh son of Jacob. Eliasaph was the head of the tribe at the time of the census.


Numbers 1:15 "Of Naphtali; Ahira the son of Enan."


See notes (on Numbers 1:5).


Naphtali was the sixth son of Jacob and the second son of Bilhah. Ahira was the prince of the tribe of Naphtali at the time of the census.


Numbers 1:16 "These [were] the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel."


The most famous and eminent among the people, for their birth and pedigree, or for their excellent qualities of wisdom, courage, and the like (Or captains, and governors). Or "the called of the congregation". Whom God had called by name and selected from the rest of the congregation to the above service. Whereby great honor was done them: Aben Ezra says. The sense is, that the congregation did nothing until they had called them. With which agrees the note of Jarchi, "who were called to every business of importance in the congregation."


"Princes of the tribes of their fathers": As Elizur was prince of the children of Reuben (Num. 7:30). The same is there said of the rest in their respective tribes.


"Heads of thousands in Israel": The congregation of Israel being divided into thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, by the advice of Jethro (Exodus 18:21). Each of these divisions had a ruler over them, and thousands being the highest number. These princes were chiliarche s, rulers or heads of thousands.


Jacob was the father of twelve sons, who made up the twelve tribes of Israel. Each one of the princes were over the thousands of members of his tribe.


Numbers Chapter 1 Questions


1. The book of Numbers was penned by __________.


2. It was the __________ book of the Pentateuch.


3. What time period does the book cover?


4. Why is it called Numbers?


5. What are some of the things revealed in this book?


6. What shows us types of the Lord Jesus in this book?


7. God was not only trying to get them out the land of Egypt, but was, in fact, trying to do what?


8. Where was Moses, when God spoke to him?


9. When did he speak to him?


10. When had they entered Sinai?


11. What did God tell Moses to do?


12. Who were they to count?


13. What is "polls" speaking of in verse 2?


14. Those younger than 20 years old were not required to go to _______.


15. Who was the accuracy of the count left up to?


16. Who were the parents of these families, that had turned into tribes?


17. Reuben was the _____________ son of Jacob and Leah.


18. What terrible sin had Reuben committed?


19. Who was the mother of Simeon?


20. What does the name "Judah" mean?


21. Who was Judah's mother?


22. Who was Nahshon related to?


23. Issachar was the _______ son of Jacob and the _______ of Leah.


24. What two tribes represented Joseph?


25. What does the name "Joseph" mean?


26. Joseph was the first son of __________.


27. Who was the firstborn of Joseph?


28. Which of Joseph's sons received the right hand blessing?


29. Who was the mother of Benjamin?


30. What happened to his mother soon after his birth?


31. Bilhah was not a wife, but what?


32. Who was Asher's mother?


33. Jacob was the father of __________ sons.


34. Who were the princes over?




Numbers Chapter 1 Continued

Verses 17-46: The numbers from the tribes were:


Reuben 46,500 (verse 21);


Simeon 59,300 (verse 23);


Gad 45,650 (verse 25);


Judah 74,600 (verse 27);


Issachar 54,400 (verse 29);


Zebulun 57,400 (verse 31);


Ephraim 40,500 (verse 33);


Manasseh 32,200 (verse 35);


Benjamin 35,400 (verse 37);


Dan 62,700 (verse 39);


Asher 41,500 (verse 41);


Naphtali 53,400 (verse 43);


Total 603,550 (verse 46).


The tribal order follows the pattern of Jacob's wives: First, the sons of Leah, second, the sons of Rachel; and third, the sons of the maids, except Gad (born of Leah's maid), who replaced Levi in the third-born position (compare Gen. 29:31 to 30:24, 35:16 to 20).


Numbers 1:17 "And Moses and Aaron took these men which are expressed by [their] names:"


They doubtless sent for them, and acquainted them with the nomination of them, by the Lord himself, for such a service. And they took them with them to the place where the number of the people was to be taken.


"Which are expressed by their names (in Num. 1:16), and that as declared by the mouth of God himself.


In the last lesson, we saw the names of the various tribes mentioned, and the princes who would be the leaders of each tribe. Moses and Aaron are in charge of this numbering. All the men 20 years and older, who could go to war are to be counted.


Numbers 1:18 "And they assembled all the congregation together on the first [day] of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls."


The month Iyar, as the Targum of Jonathan, answering to part of April and May. This was done on the selfsame day the Lord spake unto Moses about this affair (Num. 1:1). So expeditious were he and Aaron in doing the will of God.


"And they declared their pedigrees": Either Moses and Aaron, according to Aben Ezra, who inquired when they were born, because of the computation of twenty years. And then their birth was written down, as he says. Or rather the people declared their pedigrees, of what tribe, family, and house they were, who was their parents, when born, and so of course, how old they were. Jarchi interprets it, they brought the books of their genealogies, and witnesses to confirm the birth of every one of them, to show their genealogy according to their tribe. Nor is it at all unlikely that every family and house, or master thereof, kept a register of those born to him in it, whereby their age could be ascertained as well as pedigree.


"After their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of their names, "from twenty years old and upwards, by their polls": That is, every tribe gave an account of the families in it. Every family what houses were in it, and every house what number of males were in it, and of what age. And such were numbered who were twenty years old and upward.


The "pedigrees" are speaking of their right by birth to be of a certain tribe. They were separated into groups, who represented the families of the 12 tribes of Israel. In the group who were equipped for war, there was no mention of the Levitical tribe. That tribe is set aside for God's purposes. This number closely coincides with the number that had been polled for the tax in the tabernacle.


Numbers 1:19 "As the LORD commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai."


In this Moses and David differed in numbering the people of Israel. The one did it by an express command from God, and in obedience to it. The other without one, and against his will (1 Chron. 21:17).


Like Abram (Abraham, in Genesis 12:4), "Moses" obeyed "as the LORD commanded". The Book of Numbers, however, describes a litany of events in which the people did not heed the Lord (e.g., chapters 13-14), and even a sad occasion when Moses did not (20:1-13). Obedience has to be ongoing; occasional obedience is not enough for the children of God.


This command is no different than what we read about in Exodus. God gave the message to Moses, Moses gave the message to Aaron, and Aaron gave the message to the people. The numbering was done in the wilderness of Sinai.


Numbers 1:20 "And the children of Reuben, Israel's eldest son, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


Were numbered first, and next to them those of Simeon and Gad, for they were numbered according to the order in which they were to be encamped. For under Reuben's standard were Simeon and Gad, and under Judah's Issachar and Zebulun, and under Ephraim's Manasseh and Benjamin, and under Dan's Asher and Naphtali. And according to their order were the tribes numbered.


"By their generations": Or "their generations", the birth, descent, and pedigree of them.


"After their families, by the house of their fathers": According to the families and houses to which they belonged.


"According to the number of the names by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward": Their names were taken down, the number of them counted by their heads, even all the males that were above twenty years of age.


"All that were able to go forth to war": Which phrase, as it suggests that before this age they were not reckoned able bodied men for war, in common, though some might. So it seems to except all infirm persons, by reason of age and otherwise.


Now in all the other account of the numbering of the rest of the tribes, the same forms of expression are used as here. Only the tribe of Simeon, which is the next, these words are left out, "by their polls, every male", which being twice observed, need not be repeated. Since by these instances it might be sufficiently known that the number was taken by a poll, and only of males. So that in (Num. 1:23), there is nothing material to observe, or anything different from what is in this verse, but the particular sums of each tribe numbered.


Which stand thus: Of the tribe of Reuben 46,500; of the tribe of Simeon, 59,300; of the tribe of Gad, 45,650; of the tribe of Judah, 74,600; of the tribe of Issachar, 54,400; of the tribe of Zebulun, 57,400; of the tribe of Ephraim, 40,500; of the tribe of Manasseh, 32,200; of the tribe of Benjamin 35,400; of the tribe of Dan, 62,700; of the tribe of Asher 41,500; of the tribe of Naphtali, 53,400.


In which may be observed the various increase of the tribes, agreeably to divine predictions, and according to the sovereign will and infinite wisdom of God. Reuben, the firstborn, did not excel in number. Six of the tribes having more in number than he. Judah had by far the greatest increase of them all, from whom the chief ruler was to come, and even the King Messiah. And in process of time was to become a kingdom of itself. Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph, was much more fruitful than Manasseh, his elder. More than eight thousand being numbered of the former than of the latter, all which agree with Jacob's prophecies (Gen. 49:4). Nor had they always the greatest number who had the most sons at their going down into Egypt. For though Simeon, who had then more sons than Reuben, had at this time a larger posterity; yet Gad, who had more than Simeon, had now fewer descendants. And Dan, who had but one son at that time, had now almost double the number of Benjamin, who then had ten sons. And it may be observed of other tribes, that their increase was not in proportion to the number of the sons of the patriarchs then (see Gen. 46:8).


We discussed in lesson one, that Reuben was the first son of Jacob's wife, Leah.


Numbers 1:21 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Reuben, [were] forty and six thousand and five hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


We also discussed that the number is probably not accurate to the last man, but was very close. Perhaps that is why the number is rounded to 46,500.


Numbers 1:22 "Of the children of Simeon, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, those that were numbered of them, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:23 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Simeon, [were] fifty and nine thousand and three hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


All of the same things apply here, as in the verses before, but the number is different. There were 59,300. Simeon was Leah's second son.


Numbers 1:24 "Of the children of Gad, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:25 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Gad, [were] forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


The number of Gad's family was not rounded to the nearest hundred, but to the nearest fifty. There were 45,650 in Gad's tribe. You will notice, this is in a different order than the listings earlier. Gad was encamped with Reuben and Simeon, and perhaps that is the reason for this order here. Gad was from the handmaid Zilpah.


Numbers 1:26 "Of the children of Judah, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:27 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Judah, [were] threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


The tribe of Judah is the tribe that Jesus was born into. Judah is the fourth son of Leah. Those that were numbered of the tribe of Judah were 74,600.


Numbers 1:28 "Of the children of Issachar, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:29 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Issachar, [were] fifty and four thousand and four hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Issachar was the fifth son of Leah, Jacob's first wife. Those that were numbered of them are 54,400. We must remember all of these children are of Jacob. All 12 tribes stem from him. Jacob's name was changed to Israel by God.


Numbers 1:30 "Of the children of Zebulun, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:31 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Zebulun, [were] fifty and seven thousand and four hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Zebulun was the sixth and last of the sons of Leah. Those that were numbered of Zebulun's tribe were 57,400.


Numbers 1:32 "Of the children of Joseph, [namely], of the children of Ephraim, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:33 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Ephraim, [were] forty thousand and five hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


We find, in this, a separation of the tribe of Joseph. Of the tribe of Ephraim of the tribe of Joseph, they counted 40,500. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob.


Numbers 1:34 "Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:35 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Manasseh, [were] thirty and two thousand and two hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Manasseh is another son of Joseph. This tribe of Manasseh is also from the root tribe of Joseph. Those that were numbered of Manasseh's tribe were 32,200.


Numbers 1:36 "Of the children of Benjamin, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:37 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Benjamin, [were] thirty and five thousand and four hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Benjamin was the younger brother of Joseph. Rachel was their mother and Jacob their father. Those numbered of his tribe were 35,400.


Numbers 1:38 "Of the children of Dan, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:39 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Dan, [were] threescore and two thousand and seven hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


It is very strange that the tribe of Dan is not mentioned (in chapter 7 of Revelation), where they are sealed for protection. His tribe, above, numbers 62,700.


Numbers 1:40 "Of the children of Asher, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:41 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Asher, [were] forty and one thousand and five hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


The tribe of Asher numbered 41,500.


Numbers 1:42 "Of the children of Naphtali, throughout their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;"


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Numbers 1:43 "Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Naphtali, [were] fifty and three thousand and four hundred."


See notes (on Numbers 1:20).


Naphtali's tribe numbered 53,400.


Numbers 1:44 "These [are] those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, [being] twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers."


Or, as the Targum of Jonathan, these are the sums of the numbers. Namely, those before given of the several respective tribes.


"Which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men": For though the tribe of Levi was not numbered, yet Joseph having a double portion. His two sons are reckoned as distinct tribes. So that one out of each tribe made up the number twelve.


"Each one for the house of his fathers": For the tribe he belonged to, with which it might reasonably be supposed he was best acquainted, and could more readily take the number of them.


The princes mentioned here are 12. We know that this list does not exactly follow the list of the sons of Jacob, because Levi is left out. They were not to go to war. The sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), take up the space of the Levitical tribe.


Numbers 1:45 "So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;"


Of all the tribes, excepting Levi. That is, all the sums of the number of the children of Israel; all put together made the sum total given in the next verse.


"By the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel": All in every tribe, family, and house, that were above twenty years of age. Healthful and strong, and fit for war.


We must remember that the women and children, both male and female, were not numbered. They were not warriors. We may safely assume the really old men were not counted as well.


Numbers 1:46 "Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty."


"Six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty": This number, combined with the 22,000 Levite males a month old and above (3:39), allows for a total population of well over 2,000,000 Israelites. Since this number seems too high for the wilderness conditions and relatively few firstborn sons (3:43), some have reinterpreted the plain meaning of the text by:


(1) Saying "thousand" means "clan" or "chief" here; or


(2) Stating the numbers are symbolic.


However, if "thousand" is not the meaning in this chapter (1:46 would read 598 "clans" or "chiefs" with only 5,500 individuals). Thus, the meaning "thousand" must be retained. Further, there is no textual indication that these numbers are symbolic. The only conclusion is that God took care of well over 2,000,000 people in the wilderness during the period of 40 years (compare Deut. 8:3-4). Tampering with the number is tampering with God's purpose for these numbers, to show His power in behalf of Israel.


The total of all the young men counted from all of the tribes was counted 603,550. This number has increased about 13,000 people since the Exodus. We can safely assume from this, that the entire population count of all the Israelites would be somewhere between 2 and 3 million. From the spiritual standpoint, we can easily see that God's army is a large number of people. Every person who proclaims Christianity is in God's army.


Numbers 1:47 "But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them."


The nonmilitary tribe of Levi had a separate census and did not receive a tribal allotment of land. They were to transport, erect, and guard the tabernacle. They had to camp around it to prevent ordinary laymen from approaching it unprepared, so that "no wrath upon the congregation" (verse 53), from the Lord would come upon them. If someone approached wrongfully, he was to "be put to death". This drastic measure certainly would express the reality of God's presence with His people (Exodus 19:11-13, 21-24). Even today men must approach God with reverent fear (Matt. 5:23-26; Acts 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Heb. 12:18-29).


The Levites were to care for things of the tabernacle, and were not to be weighted down with serving in war. They were the spiritual leaders of their people.


Numbers 1:48 "For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying,"


Again, we see that every detail is given to Moses directly from God.


Not to number the Levites, when he gave him the orders to number the rest of the tribes. This is observed, lest it should be thought that this was what Moses did of himself, out of affection to the tribe he was of. And to spare it, that it might not be obliged to go forth to war when others did. Not that they were forbid to engage in war, or that it was unlawful for them so to do, for when necessity required, and they were of themselves willing to engage in it. They might, as appears in the case of the Maccabees, but they might not be forced into it. They were, as Josephus says, exempted from it. And so all concerned in religious service, both among Heathens and Christians, have always been excused bearing arms.


"Saying": As follows.


Numbers 1:49 "Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel:"


That is, along with the other tribes, for it might be numbered by itself, as it afterwards was (Num. 3:43).


"Neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel": Which confirms what is before observed. Now this being the declared will of God clears Moses from all partiality to his own tribe, he doing nothing but what he had a command of God for it.


God had strictly forbidden the numbering of the Levites with the warriors.


Numbers 1:50 "But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that [belong] to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle."


The tribe of Levi, including Moses and Aaron, was not included in this census because it was exempt from military service. The Levites were to serve the Lord by carrying and attending to the tabernacle (compare 3:5-13; 4:1-33, 46-49).


"Tabernacle" ("tent"), emphasizes the temporary nature of this house of God, and the "testimony" signifies God's covenantal relationship with Israel (see note on Exodus 25:10-22).


We see that special care is to be given to the tabernacle. God has chosen this tribe for the purpose of serving Him in and around the tabernacle. The presence of God was over the mercy seat. The tabernacle was to be kept holy inside, and was also to be protected from the entering of the worldly as well. They were anointed of God to serve Him and the people. They must not be mixed in with the world.


Numbers 1:51 "And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death."


"The stranger": This word often refers to the "alien" or "stranger". The non-Levite Israelite was like a "foreigner" to the transporting of the tabernacle and had to keep his distance lest he die.


"Stranger" here, means someone who has not been authorized of God to do this work. The Levites were set aside for this purpose, in the book of Leviticus. No one with unclean hands was to touch anything of the tabernacle. God had given specific instructions on how all of this was to be handled. Even the sons of Aaron, who brought strange fire into the tabernacle, were killed. All of the things of God are holy.


Numbers 1:52 "And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts."


There were four, unless every tribe was a camp. And so then there were twelve camps, besides the camp of the Levites. The Targum of Jonathan is, "by the house of his troop," the regiment to which he belonged, every tribe or camp having various troops or regiments in it.


"And every man by his own standard throughout their hosts": There were four standards, and three tribes to each standard, which were placed east, west, north, and south of the tabernacle. As is at large described in the following chapter.


Each tribe was assigned their place in the camp. They were assigned a place to march as well. Only the Levitical tribe was gathered around the tabernacle. The others were settled out in the east, west, north, or south. With close to 3 million people, you can see the necessity for order.


Numbers 1:53 "But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony."


"No wrath": The purpose of setting the Levites apart and arranging them around the tabernacles was to keep the wrath of the Lord from consuming Israel (compare Exodus 32:10, 25-29).


One of the things the Levites were to do, was to set up an area around the tabernacle, and keep all others out of that area. Someone might wander in this area and be killed, if it were not safely guarded.


Numbers 1:54 "And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they."


Pitched their tents by their own camps and standards. Did not come near the tabernacle but kept at a proper distance from it, and did not meddle with things they had no concern with, and which were peculiar to the Levites.


"So did they": Which is repeated to show how readily, punctually, and perfectly they observed the command of God with respect to this affair.


It is important for us, as well as for the tribes of Israel, to heed the wishes of the LORD. God had promised to bless them, if they obeyed His commandments.


Numbers Chapter 1 Continued Questions


1. Who was in charge of the numbering?


2. When did they assemble the people?


3. What are "pedigrees" speaking of?


4. Who were numbered?


5. God gave the message to Moses, and Moses gave it to whom?


6. Who was Israel's oldest son?


7. Who was his mother?


8. How many of the tribe of Reuben were numbered?


9. How many of Simeon's tribe were numbered?


10. Why is the order given here different from the order in the first lesson?


11. What tribe was Jesus birthed into?


12. Who was Jacob's first wife?


13. Who was the last son birthed to Leah?


14. What was different about the tribe of Joseph?


15. Who was the favorite son of Jacob?


16. ____________ was the younger brother of Joseph.


17. Who was their mother?


18. What is peculiar about the tribe of Dan?


19. How many princes were there?


20. Why was the tribe of Levi left out of this list?


21. How many men, over 20, of all the tribes were there?


22. Approximately how many Israelites all together were there including women and children?


23. The Levites were appointed over the __________ of _________.


24. What purpose had God chosen the Levites for?


25. "Stranger", in verse 51, means what?


26. Where were they to pitch their tents?


27. Where were the Levites to pitch their tents?


28. Did they obey God's wishes?





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Numbers 2



Numbers Chapter 2

Verses 1-31: It is repeatedly said the Israelites were to encamp "according to their armies" (verses 9-10, 16, 18, 24, 25, 32), and each company was the leader's "host" (verses 4, 6, 8, etc.). Host and company are the same Hebrew word (saba' compare Lord of Sabaoth), which could be rendered "army". The people were organized and marching to the Promised Land. The Egyptian army under Rameses II (thirteenth century B.C.), adopted this same type of formation in camp. "Standard": The Hebrew (degel, verses 2, 3, 10, 18, 25, 31, 34), refers to the group encamped around each standard. It would be more appropriately translated "company". The "ensign" (verse 2), by which each tribe camped was another piece of military equipment pictured in ancient inscriptions. "Far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch: Joshua 3:4 stipulates that a distance of two thousand cubits (one thousand yards), should separate the ark from the secular tribes. From (1:52-53; 2:17, and chapter 3), we learn that the Levities were to encamp between the secular tribes and the tent of meeting.


Numbers 2:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,"


Very probably after the number of the children of Israel was taken, of which in the preceding chapter. And when the congregation of Israel with the tabernacle were about to set forward on their journey. And therefore, directions are here given for their orderly and regular proceeding in it, in what form and manner they should both encamp and march.


"Saying": As follows.


In the last lesson, Moses and Aaron had numbered the young men of the tribe. They possibly took the results into the tabernacle, and God spoke to them there. In this lesson, we will see the order of God. Notice as we go through this lesson, that God is in the center of the encampment. Jesus must be the hub of the wheel, that all the spokes (denominations of Christians), attach to. Just as this encampment has order when it moves, the church must move in unison to be effective. Each must stay in his appointed place, for the wheel to turn correctly. If one pulls loose from the hub, you have a crooked wheel. Jesus must be the focal point of it all, or it will not succeed.


Numbers 2:2 "Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch."


"Standard ... ensign": The banners were flags identifying the individual tribes (probably with some sort of insignia). The standards were flags marking each of the 4 encampments of 3 tribes each.


"The tabernacle of the congregation": For details (see Exodus chapters 25-30).


"Standard" in this, possibly means flag or banner. "Ensign" means flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, mark, or miracle. There seems to have been a flag for each family that they would raise, and cause their people to gather around. They were to be careful not to pitch too close to the tabernacle.


Verses 3-9: The lead tribe on the "east side" of the tabernacle was "Judah", followed by the tribes of "Issachar" and "Zebulon". This group represented Leah's fourth, fifth, and sixth sons (Gen. 29:35; 30:17-20). Although he was the fourth-born of Jacob's sons, Judah is listed first and was honored above his older brothers because of their reprehensible actions (Gen. chapter 34; 35:22). The tribe of Judah had the largest army of the 12.


Numbers 2:3 "And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab [shall be] captain of the children of Judah."


"On the east side ... Judah": Judah occupied the place of honor to the east. (Gen. 49:8-12), highlights the role and centrality Judah would have in the defeat of Israel's enemies. Judah was the tribe through which the Messiah would be born.


"Nahshon": Nahshon appears in the later genealogies of the messianic line (compare Ruth 4:20; Matt. 1:4).


Jesus was to come through the tribe of Judah. The east is the direction of the rising sun. The eastern gate in the wall at Jerusalem is the gate that God entered and left by. It would be appropriate for the tribe of Judah to camp in the east.


2 Peter 1:19 "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:"


The day Star is Jesus.


Numbers 2:4 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred."


As they had been before. And, supposing these words to be the words of God, there is no necessity of rendering them in the future, as some have observed. Though they seem rather to be the words of Moses. Who under every tribe repeats the number, which is exactly the same as when taken. And though it was not till twenty days after that they set forward according to their order of encampment, not one of them died. Which Aben Ezra observes as a very wonderful thing.


"Were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred; the number of the tribe of Judah were 74,600 (see Num. 1:27).


Numbers 2:5 "And those that do pitch next unto him [shall be] the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar [shall be] captain of the children of Issachar."


Who with Zebulun, after mentioned, as placed with him under the same standard. Were the brethren of Judah, by the same mother Leah, and so fitly put together, as most likely to continue in harmony and love. And being the youngest sons of Leah, and brethren of Judah, would, without any reluctance or murmuring, pitch under their elder brother's standard.


"And Nethaneel, the son of Zuar, shall be captain of the children of Issachar (see Num. 1:8).


This is just saying that the tribe of Issachar, led by Nethaneel, is on the eastern side as well. They camp beside the tribe of Judah.


Numbers 2:6 "And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] fifty and four thousand and four hundred."


The host of Issachar.


"And those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred": 54,400 men. Which had been numbered, for it does not appear that there was a fresh account taken (see Num. 1:29).


The young men of the tribe of Issachar that were numbered were 54,400.


Numbers 2:7 "[Then] the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon [shall be] captain of the children of Zebulun."


He pitched next. Though the order of their encampment was not, as it may seem. First Judah, after him Issachar, and below him Zebulun. For Judah lay between these two, the one before him, and the other behind him. And it was Issachar that was behind, and Zebulun before, as Aben Ezra observes. They were pitched on each side of the standard of Judah, one on one side, and the other on the other side.


"And Eliab, the son of Helon, shall be, captain of the children of Zebulun" (see Num. 1:9). Each tribe had its own captain. Nor does it appear that there was a general over those captains, that had the command of the camp, consisting of three tribes. But Moses was the generalissimo of all the camps.


Numbers 2:8 "And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] fifty and seven thousand and four hundred."


That is, the host of Zebulun.


"And those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred": 57,400 men (see Num. 1:31).


Of the tribe of Zebulon, with Eliab as the prince, were numbered 57,400. The tribe of Zebulon was to camp next to the tribe of Issachar.


Numbers 2:9 "All that were numbered in the camp of Judah [were] a hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth."


186,400 men. The sum total of the three tribes, which formed that camp. This was the largest camp of them all, being near 30,000 more than Dan's (Num. 2:31). Which was the next in number unto it, and therefore placed foremost. And as the vanguard to the tabernacle.


"These shall first set forth": In a march, when about to journey. When they saw the cloud remove, the priests blew with the trumpets, and then the camp of Judah moved first, as Jarchi observes. And when they went out to fight, Judah went up first (Judges 1:1).


These three tribes were camped on the east side of the tabernacle. Their total number of men of the age to go to war, were 186,400. It appears Judah was the head of these three tribes. This will be the tribe to lead the way, when they do set forth. Each tribe had to stay in its place assigned, or there would have been total confusion.


Verses 10-16: The lead tribe on the tabernacle's "south side" was "Reuben", followed by the tribes of "Simeon" and "Gad". Reuben was Leah's firstborn (Gen. 29:32); Simeon, her second (Gen. 29:33); and Gad was Leah's son through her maid Zilpah (Gen. 30:11).


Numbers 2:10 "On the south side [shall be] the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben [shall be] Elizur the son of Shedeur."


This camp consisted of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, which was divided into lesser bodies, regiments, or companies, called armies. And this was placed to the south of the tabernacle, or to the right hand, as Aben Ezra interprets it. This was the right wing of the whole army. Reuben's stone, according to the Jewish writers, was the "sardius", and his flag was colored red, and there were figured upon it mandrakes. Simeon's stone was the topaz, and his flag was colored green, and on it was figured "Shechem". Gad's stone was the agate, and his flag was colored neither black nor white, but mixed, and there was figured upon it a camp or host, on account of what is said (Gen. 49:19).


"And the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur (see Num. 1:5).


Numbers 2:11 "And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] forty and six thousand and five hundred."


That is, the host of Reuben, as distinct from his camp, of which it was only a part, and of which Elizur was captain.


"And those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred": 46,500 men (see Num. 1:21).


We see Reuben's tribe led by Elizur, set up camp on the south side of the tabernacle. The number of their young men of the age to go to war, was 46,500.


Numbers 2:12 "And those which pitch by him [shall be] the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon [shall be] Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai."


Under his standard, and on one side of it. Reuben and Simeon being brothers by the mother as well as the father's side, might well be thought to agree together. And Reuben being the eldest brother, and the eldest of all Jacob's sons, Simeon would not grudge to pitch under him.


"And the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; of whom (see Num. 1:6).


Numbers 2:13 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] fifty and nine thousand and three hundred."


That is, the host of Simeon.


"And those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. 59,300 men; the same as in (Num. 1:23).


Reuben and Simeon were brothers. Their mother was Leah. It would be a natural thing for their tribes to be camped together. The tribe of Simeon's leader was Shelumiel. The young men of Simeon's tribe were numbered 59,300.


Numbers 2:14 "Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad [shall be] Eliasaph the son of Reuel."


"Reuel" and Deuel: The letters R and D are similar in Hebrew, and were easily confused by the scribes who coped the text.


Numbers 2:15 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty."


That is, the host of Gad, as distinct from those of Reuben and Simeon, which together formed the camp.


"And those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty. 45,650 men (see Num. 1:25).


Gad was from the handmaid Zilpah, and was a half-brother of Simeon and Reuben. The number of his young men numbered was 45,650. They too were camped on the south next to Simeon's tribe.


Numbers 2:16 "All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben [were] a hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank."


Throughout their armies, 151,450 men. Putting Reuben's host, and the hosts of Simeon and Gad together (Num. 2:13). Which was much lesser than the preceding camp, being 34,500 fewer in number.


"And they shall set forth in the second rank": They in journeying moving next to the camp of Judah, and before the tabernacle. For though, while encamped, the camp of Reuben lay on the south, or right side of it. Yet, when marching, went before it.


We see from this, Reuben's tribe led all three tribes. When they marched, they were the second, after Judah's three tribes. The total number of Gad's, Simeon's, and Reuben's tribes were 151,450.


Numbers 2:17 "Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards."


Once the first two triads of tribes were in motion, the Levites disassembled and packed elements of the "tabernacle of the congregation", a gracious expression for the tent that was the "meeting place" between Yahweh and His people. The Israelites headed out with the "camp of the Levites in the midst" so that God's presence was ever central for Israel's army and its people.


We mentioned before, that the church (tabernacle), would be in the middle of the camp. The tabernacle, where God dwelt with them, was surrounded by the Levitical tribe. It was the focal point of their lives. Notice also, that six tribes would march ahead of the tabernacle, and six behind it, when they were moving from place to place. The tabernacle with the Ark was to be protected at all times.


Verses 18-24: The lead tribe on the "west side" was "Ephraim", one of the Rachel Tribes. Ephraim and "Manasseh" were grandsons of her firstborn, Joseph (Gen. 30:22-24; chapter 48). "Benjamin" was her second son (Gen. 35:16-20).


Numbers 2:18 "On the west side [shall be] the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim [shall be] Elishama the son of Ammihud."


It was in the rear or behind, consisting of his tribe, and of the tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin. Divided into several companies, and extended four miles, as the above Targum. The Jewish writers say, that Joseph's stone is the onyx or sardonyx, and his flag was colored very black. And on it were figured for the two princes, Ephraim and Manasseh. Egypt, because they were born in Egypt; and upon the flag of Ephraim was figured an ox, because of what is said in (Deut. 33:17). And on the flag of the tribe of Manasseh was figured a unicorn. Because of what is said in the same place. Benjamin's stone was the jasper, and his flag was colored like to twelve colors, and on it was figured a wolf, because of what is said (Gen. 49:27).


"And the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud": Of whom (see Num. 1:10).


Numbers 2:19 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty thousand and five hundred."


That is, the host of Ephraim.


"And those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred. 40,500 men. Not his camp, but his host, or the army, which consisted only of his own tribe (see Num. 1:33).


Ephraim's tribe was the leader of the three tribes on the west side of the tabernacle. They were led by Elishama. They were numbered 40,500. It is very interesting, to me, that the tribe of Ephraim is not mentioned in the tribes that were sealed in Revelation chapter 7. My own thoughts on this are that they are the great multitude in verse 9 of chapter 7 of Revelation. They are spiritually the same as Abraham's seed.


Numbers 2:20 "And by him [shall be] the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh [shall be] Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur."


Who though the elder brother to Ephraim. Yet Ephraim was preferred to him, and had a standard given him, and his elder brother was directed to pitch by it. And this being agreeably to the prophecy of Jacob, could not well be objected to. And Benjamin, the younger brother of Joseph, being placed under the standard of a son of his, that stood in his father's room, could not be offended. And these all being the descendants of Rachel, might well be thought to agree together, and be very well pleased with their situation.


"And the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; the same as in (Num. 1:10).


Numbers 2:21 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] thirty and two thousand and two hundred."


That is, the host of Manasseh.


"And those that were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred. 32,200 men (see Num. 1:35).


We must remember in this, that Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers who were sons of Joseph. They made up two tribes, instead of one. They both camped on the west side of the tabernacle The young men of Manasseh were counted 32,200. Their leader was Gamaliel.


Numbers 2:22 "Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin [shall be] Abidan the son of Gideoni."


He was to pitch under the same standard of Ephraim, and the other side of it from that of Manasseh. The one being before, and the other behind, and the standard in the middle (see notes on Num. 2:7).


"And the captains of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni": Of whom (see Num. 1:11).


Numbers 2:23 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] thirty and five thousand and four hundred."


That is, the host of Benjamin.


"And those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred. 35,400 men. The least number of all the tribes, excepting the tribe of Manasseh (Num. 2:21; see Num. 1:37).


Benjamin was the younger brother of Joseph. His tribe camped in the west with Ephraim and Manasseh. They were led by Abidan, and were numbered 35,400.


Numbers 2:24 "All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim [were] a hundred thousand and eight thousand and a hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank."


108,100 men. Which was the smallest of all the camps, and near eighty thousand fewer than the camp of Judah (Num. 2:9).


"And they shall go forward in the third rank. And which was the first following the tabernacle.


The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin were all camped on the west side of the tabernacle. They represented the sons of Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. All three tribes together were numbered 108,100. They were the fewest numbered of any of the divisions. The tabernacle was in the middle of the march, after Judah's three tribes and Reuben's three tribes. Just after the tabernacle and the Levites, the tribes of Ephraim came. They were third in the sense of being after the East and the South.


Verses 25-31: The lead tribe on the "north side" of the tabernacle was "Dan", followed by "Asher" and "Naphtali". Dan and Naphtali were sons of Rachel through her maid Bilhah (Gen. 30:6-8), Asher was the son of Leah through her maid Zilpah (Gen. 30:13).


Numbers 2:25 "The standard of the camp of Dan [shall be] on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan [shall be] Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai."


To the left of the tabernacle as encamped, and so was the left wing of the grand army. It consisted of the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, in which were several divisions and companies, whose camp also the Targum of Jonathan says reached four miles. According to the Jewish writers, Dan's stone was the "ligure", and his flag was colored like to a sapphire. And there was figured upon it a serpent, on account of what is said (Gen. 49:17). Asher's stone was the "tarshish" or beryl, and his flag was colored like to a precious stone, with which women adorn themselves, and on it was figured an olive tree, on account of what is said (Gen. 49:20). Naphtali's stone was the amethyst, and his flag was colored like to clear wine, whose redness is not strong, and on it was figured a hind, on account of what is said of him (Gen. 49:21).


"And the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. Who made mention of in (Num. 1:10).


Numbers 2:26 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] threescore and two thousand and seven hundred."


That is, the host of Dan.


"And those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. 62,700 men. Which agrees with the account of this tribe in (Num. 1:39).


Dan's tribe was led by Ahiezer. They were numbered 62,700, and encamped on the north side. It is interesting that he would be so prominently mentioned here, and then be totally dropped from the list of the twelve tribes in Revelation. His tribe got into idolatry, even more than the others.


Numbers 2:27 "And those that encamp by him [shall be] the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher [shall be] Pagiel the son of Ocran."


Dan had a standard given him, though the son of a handmaid, being the firstborn of the sons of the handmaids. And his tribe being a warlike tribe, and very numerous. And Asher and Naphtali are placed by him, being the sons of handmaids also, and could not but contentedly pitch by him, who was the eldest of the sons of the handmaids. Naphtali being his younger brother by mother's as well as father's side, and Asher the second son of Zilpah, Leah's maid.


"And the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran. The same as in (Num. 1:13).


Numbers 2:28 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty and one thousand and five hundred."


That is, the host of Asher.


"And those that were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred. 41,500 men; as they were numbered (Num. 1:41).


The tribe of Asher was encamped by Dan in the north. Their leader was Pagiel. Their young men were numbered 41,500. Both Dan and Asher were sons of the handmaidens.


Numbers 2:29 "Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali [shall be] Ahira the son of Enan."


That was to pitch by the same standard of Dan, on the other side of it.


"And the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan": Who is mentioned in (Num. 1:15).


Numbers 2:30 "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] fifty and three thousand and four hundred."


That is, the host of Naphtali.


"And those that were numbered of them": Not that some part of the tribe of Naphtali was numbered, which made up the host Ahira was captain of, but the whole of it, who were all numbered that were of twenty years of age and upwards. And the same is to be observed in all the above places, where this phrase is used.


"Were fifty and three thousand and four hundred": 53,400 men. (see Num. 1:43).


The tribe of Naphtali was led by Ahira. The young men numbered were 53,400. Naphtali, along with Asher and Dan, were all sons of the handmaidens.


Numbers 2:31 "All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan [were] a hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards."


157,600 men. Consisting of his own tribe, and those of Asher and Naphtali, which make the largest camp next to Judah.


"They shall go hindmost with their standards": For though, while encamped, they lay to the north, or the left side of the tabernacle. Yet, when marching, they brought up the rear, and were the rear guard to the tabernacle. So that it had in its van and rear the two largest camps, which were wisely ordered for its safety. "Standards" is put for "standard", the plural for the singular. For there was but one standard to a camp, unless this takes in their ensigns, of which they had many.


The three tribes that Dan's tribe led were numbered 157,600 altogether. They were the last in the march.


Verses 32-33: According to Moses' account, the sum of the fighting men in Israel was 603,550. Counting women, children and males who were excluded from fighting, the total population could have been as high as two and a half million people, or significantly less, depending on how one interprets the text.


Numbers 2:32 "These [are] those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts [were] six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty."


As the number was taken by Moses and Aaron. Assisted by twelve princes of the tribe, who were now constituted captains over them, as so many hosts or armies.


"All those that were numbered of the camp throughout their hosts": Of the four camps, of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan, throughout the respective tribes or hosts that belonged to each of them.


"Were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty; 603,550 men. Which is exactly the sum total of them, as taken (Num. 1:46). It is a large number, considering in how short a time, and that great part of it a state of bondage, from seventy persons, they rose unto it. But the spiritual Israel of God, consisting of his people of all nations, is a number which no man can number (Rev. 7:9). Besides, the number of the sealed ones, of every tribe (Num. 2:4). Now this encampment of the people of Israel was an emblem of the form and order of the spiritual Israel or church of God, under the Gospel dispensation. Christ in human nature is the tabernacle, who is in the midst of his people by His gracious presence. As the heart and life of the congregation of his saints, in whom they all center and terminate, and where he sits enthroned as King of saints. And as the Levites encamped in four squadrons next unto the tabernacle, all around it. To these answer the living creatures in (Ezek. 1:5). Which design the ministers of the word, who are in the highest place in the church, between Christ and the congregation, and are near to him, to be supplied by him. Then encamped the whole body of the people of Israel by their standards, with their ensigns, to whom answer the wheels in (Ezek. 1:15). And the twenty four elders in (Rev. 4:4). All which show the church to be militant, and that there is an order in Gospel churches, which makes them both comely and terrible (SOS 6:4). And may teach every member to abide by his standard, and follow his ensign and ensign bearer (Isa. 11:10).


See note (on 1:46).


The total number given here of all the tribes is 603,550. You remember that including women and children the number could swell to close to 3,000,000. To have a place large enough for this many people to camp, you would need over 3 miles square.


Numbers 2:33 "But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses."


At this time, not among the Israelites, but by themselves, they being a camp of themselves.


"As the Lord commanded Moses (Num. 1:48).


The Levites did not go to war, and they would not have been numbered in this group, for that reason.


Numbers 2:34 "And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers."


Up to this time, "the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses," Contrasted to later events recorded in this book.


Most of the early Jewish writers thought the area they encamped in, to be twelve miles square. The three miles square used were estimates of Roman soldiers. The difference in the space could have been because they were not in army regiments, but individual tents. Two things to remember in all of this, is that God was at the center of their lives. We must also remember that they encamped in such a way to protect the tabernacle and the presence of God within. Many believe the tribes symbolize the Christians today, varied in details of belief enough to have different denominations, but headed for a common goal. The wilderness wanderings are much like the lives of the Christians on earth. They were not permitted to enter the Promised Land, until they had Egypt (world), out of them. With each new trial they faced, they discovered the only answers lay in God's hands.


Numbers Chapter 2 Questions


1. Where did Moses and Aaron, probably, take the results of the census?


2. Who was numbered?


3. What does the author ask that you notice about this lesson?


4. What are the spokes of the wheel, that Jesus is the hub for?


5. Every man shall pitch by his own __________.


6. What does "standard" mean in verse 2?


7. What does "ensign" mean.


8. What must they be careful not to do?


9. The east side was toward the _________ of the ______.


10. Which tribe was first on the east side?


11. Jesus came through the tribe of _________.


12. Who is the day Star?


13. Who pitched next to Judah?


14. Where did the tribe of Zebulon camp?


15. How many young men of war were camped on the east side?


16. Who camped on the south side?


17. Who was the mother of Reuben and Simeon?


18. Who was Gad's mother?


19. How many young men were counted all together in Reuben's three tribes?


20. Where will the Levites camp?


21. Where would the Levites and the tabernacle be in the march?


22. Whose tribe was the leader of the three tribes on the west?


23. Ephraim and Manasseh were sons of __________.


24. What did Benjamin and Joseph have in common?


25. What was the total number of the young men, who were counted on the west side?


26. The standard of the camp of Dan was on the ________ side.


27. What was the total number of young men camped on the north?


28. Why were the Levites not numbered?


29. How large would the area have to be, to accommodate this large a group of people?


30. What are two things we should remember in this lesson?


31. How are the wilderness wanderings like our lives on earth?





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Numbers 3



Numbers Chapter 3

Verses 1-51: Chapters 3 and 4 record two censuses of the Levites. In chapter 3 all male Levites more than a month old are counted, whereas chapter 4 numbers all male Levites between 30 and 50 years of age. The tribe of Levi took the place of all the firstborn men in Israel. The result of the census showed that the number of male Levites fell short of the number of firstborn Israelites. So, the extra Israelites had to be redeemed in a different way, by paying money.


Verses 1-4 "The sons of Aaron, the priests": The family of Aaron did belong to the tribe of Levi (1 Chron. 6:1-15), but in the capacity of priests they possessed superior status to the rest of the tribe. They alone could handle the sacrificial blood, touch the altar, and enter the tent of meeting. They were the authoritative teachers in Israel (Lev. 10:11; Deut. 24:8), and the official mediators between God and Israel. Along with such a great privilege came an immense responsibility, one that "Nadab and Abihu" did not meet. Therefore, they "died before the Lord", offering strange fire. They were not meticulous in obeying God's Word, as He had not commanded them to do what they did (Lev. 10:1). This reference explains why only Eleazar and Ithamar are mentioned as being in charge of the Levites (in 3:32; 4:16, 28, 33). Also, it sets forth the mortal danger men face in dealing with God, and thereby sets the tone for chapters 3 and 4 (verses 10, 13, 38, 4:15; 18-20; compare Acts 5:1-11; 12:22-23; 1 Cor. 10:6-11; 11:29-30).


Numbers 3:1 "These also [are] the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day [that] the LORD spake with Moses in mount Sinai."


"Aaron and Moses". Because Aaron and his sons are emphasized in this chapter, Aaron is named first.


"Mount Sinai": The Lord had first communicated to Moses His choice of Aaron and his sons as priests in (Exodus 28:1 - 29:46), while he was in the midst of the cloud on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:18).


Moses and Aaron were the beginning of separation from the twelve tribes. This would be setting the Levitical tribe aside to substitute for the firstborn of each family. Moses and Aaron were the beginning of the chosen tribe. This tribe was set aside to serve the Lord and His tabernacle. Moses was the first, and the nearest, to God. His was not a service in the temple, but was to oversee the spiritual beginning. He was in direct contact with God. In fact, Moses gave instructions to Aaron about his service as high priest. Aaron was the first of the high priests to serve in the tabernacle. Verse 1 has to do with their families and service. Moses communed with God on Mount Sinai.


Verses 2-4: The disobedience of Aaron's oldest sons, "Nadab" and "Abihu", is recalled here (Lev. 10:1-2). Their younger brothers "Eleazar" and "Ithamar" took their place and ministered alongside of their father. All future priests would be descendants of these two men.


Numbers 3:2 "And these [are] the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar."


The Targum of Jonathan adds, disciples of Moses, the master of the Israelites. None of the posterity of Moses being expressly named. Jarchi observes, that the sons of Aaron are called the generations of Moses, because he taught them the law. For whoever, he says, teaches his neighbor's son, the law, the Scripture accounts of him as if he procreated him (see 1 Cor. 4:15).


"Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar": As in (Exodus 6:23).


The high priest's sons were priests in the temple. They were trained to take over as high priest at their father's death. These 4 sons were in line for the priesthood.


Numbers 3:3 "These [are] the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office."


"The priests which were anointed": Of all the tribe of Levi, only the sons of Aaron were priests. Only priests could offer the sacrifices; the rest of the Levites aided them in the work of the tabernacle (compare 3:7-9).


"Consecrated": The setting apart of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood is recorded in (Lev. 8:1 - 9:24).


Not only was Aaron anointed as high priest, but his sons were anointed and set aside for God's work as well. The word "consecrated" means hand upon. This just means that they had been dedicated to the service of God by the laying on of hands. This was a very honored position, to serve the Lord in the priest's office.


Numbers 3:4 "And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the sight of Aaron their father."


"Eleazar and Ithamar": All of the future priests of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant were descendants of these two sons of Aaron. Eleazar and his descendants would later be singled out for great blessing (compare Num. 25:10-13).


Many believe the strange fire was speaking of them coming into the tabernacle drinking alcohol. Nadab and Abihu were the oldest, and had been set aside by God to work in the tabernacle. Fire came from the altar and killed them. They left no children.


Leviticus 10:1-2 "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not." " And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."


1 Chronicles 24:2 "But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest's office."


We see that the two younger brothers took their places, when they were killed.


Verses 5-13: The descendants of Levi were set apart to serve God because He declared, "The Levites shall be Mine" (Deut. 10:8). This whole tribe was selected rather than the "firstborn" of every family (3:40-51; 8:14).


Numbers 3:5 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


After he had given him the order for the numbering the children of Israel, and for the manner of their encampment and journeying.


"Saying": As follows.


This is said so many times, to show us the line of command. God spoke to Moses, and Moses to Aaron.


Numbers 3:6 "Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him."


"The tribe of Levi": The specific task of the Levites was to serve Aaron, his sons, and all of Israel by doing the work of the tabernacle, further defined in (3:25-26, 31, 36-37; 4:4-33).


The entire tribe of Levi was set aside to serve God. This would be the time for them to find out exactly what the Lord had for them to do. They would not be in the dark. God would specifically tell them what to do.


Numbers 3:7 "And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle."


The charge of Aaron and of all the people of Israel, which was to secure the sanctuary from being polluted or plundered. This the Levites were to be employed about, and thereby ease the high priest and the other priests, and the people, of what otherwise would have been incumbent on them.


"Before the tabernacle of the congregation": Not within it, neither in the holy place, nor in the most holy place, where they might not enter, to do any service peculiar thereunto. But at the door of the tabernacle, and in the court of it, and in the rooms and chambers in it. And do the service of the tabernacle. Not to offer sacrifices on the altar of the burnt offering, which stood in the court, and much less to burn incense on the altar of incense, and to him the lamps, and set on the showbread in the holy place. And still less to enter into the most holy place, and do there what was to be done on the day of atonement. But to do all that is before observed, and to bring the people's offerings to the priest, and to assist in slaying them. And to keep all profane and polluted persons out of it, the tabernacle, as we find in later times. They were porters at it, and some of them were singers in it, and had the care of various things belonging to it (see 1 Chron. 9:14).


This "charge" is like their service assignment. Each person would be told specifically what his duties would be.


Numbers 3:8 "And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle."


Take care of them that none be lost or come to any damage, especially while it was moving, and carried from place to place. Then the several parts of it, as well as the vessels in it, were committed to their care and charge, the particulars of which (see in Num. 3:25).


"And the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle (see notes on Num. 3:7).


The Levites were to care for even the tiniest things in the tabernacle. They were responsible for all the utensils and the furniture. This is not a request, but a command.


Numbers 3:9 "And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they [are] wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel."


To be their ministers and servants.


"They are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel": Even all of them entirely, none excepted. The whole tribe which were not in the priestly office. Those were separated from the rest of the tribes of Israel, and appointed for the service of the priests. Or they were "give, given"; which is repeated not only to show that they were wholly given, as we render it, but to denote the certainty of it, that they were really given. And specially to declare the freeness of the gift. The priests had them as free gifts, nor did they pay them any thing for, their service. They were maintained another way, namely, by the tithes of the people. And indeed, the priests received a tithe out of the tithe of the Levites. So far were they from contributing any thing to their support, or in consideration of the service they did them.


This is saying emphatically that no Levite is to be left out of this charge. Just as the firstborn of all the families had belonged to God, now the Levites, who took the firstborn's place, belong totally to God.


Numbers 3:10 "And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death."


"The stranger": Laymen or strangers (compare 1:51), would die if they participated in priestly activities (compare 3:38; 16:40).


The Levites were to help with the physical part of the ministry, but Aaron and his sons were to perform the services. They alone had been called to the priesthood. This honor would go from generation to generation of Aaron's family.


Numbers 3:11 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


Continued to speak unto him, and give him the reason of his appointing the Levites to minister to the priests and serve the tabernacle.


"Saying": As follows.


This again is reminding us that the message came from the LORD to Moses, and then down the chain of command.


Numbers 3:12 "And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;"


"Firstborn": At the Exodus, the Lord claimed for Himself the firstborn of Israel's males (Exodus 13:1-2). The firstborn was to act as the family priest. But when the full ministry of the Mosaic economy came in, God transferred the priestly duties to the Levites, perhaps partly because of their holy zeal in the golden calf incident (compare Exodus 32:29). The Levites substituted for the firstborn.


In Egypt, the last plague was the death of the firstborn of all the Egyptians. God spared the firstborn of the Hebrews, who had the blood over the doorpost of their houses. The firstborn of all Hebrews belonged to God. Rather than having one son of each family serve in the temple, God allowed them to buy their firstborn back with a silver shekel. "Silver" means redemption. God called the Levites to serve, instead of the firstborn son.


Numbers 3:13 "Because all the firstborn [are] mine; [for] on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I [am] the LORD."


Not merely in a general way, as all creatures are his, but in a special manner as his own, and that for the following reason.


"For on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast": That is, sanctified or set them apart as his own special property, or ordered the people of Israel so to do (Exodus 13:2). For as when he destroyed the firstborn of the Egyptians, he saved the firstborn of Israel. He had a special claim upon them as his. And though it was in the night when he destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, yet it was the night which preceded that day. And was a part of that day, even the fifteenth of Nisan, when the instructions were given to sanctify all the firstborn. Though, as Aben Ezra observes, "day" signifies "time". So that it was at or about the same time that the one and the other were done.


"Mine they shall be": This was declared when they were ordered to be sanctified to him, but now they were to be exchanged for the Levites.


"I am the Lord": Who have sovereign power to do as he would in claiming the firstborn. And then in exchanging them for the Levites, and appointing the Levites to minister to the priests, and serve in the tabernacle.


It was the firstborn of the people and the cattle that God took on that night in Egypt.


Exodus 12:29 "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that [was] in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle."


Verses 14-39: The Levites were also numbered, divided into three clans according to their relationship to Levi's three sons: "Gershon, Kohath", and Merari" (Exodus 6:16-22). The major duties of the clans are spelled out, as are their respective positions of encampment around the tabernacle. The Gershonites were "westward", the Kohathites on the "southward", and the Merarites on the "northward". On the east side were the encampments of Moses, Aaron, and his sons. "All the males" who were over one month numbered 22,000 (3:39).


Numbers 3:14 "And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying,"


At the same time, he gave the order, and made the declaration before mentioned. And in the place where now the children of Israel were, and from whence they shortly removed.


"Saying": As follows.


The message that came from God through Moses, to Aaron and the people, was absolute.


Numbers 3:15 "Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them."


"Number": Moses took a census of every Levite male who was at least one month old. This included Moses and Aaron and their sons, because they descended from Amram (3:19; compare Exodus 6:20).


The children of Levi were numbered from one month of age, instead of twenty years old. These were to be set aside for God, when they were babies.


2 Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."


They were to be raised from infancy to serve the LORD.


Numbers 3:16 "And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded."


Took the account of all of a month old in the several houses and families of the tribe of Levi. Though Moses is only here mentioned, yet it seems from (Num. 3:39); that Aaron was concerned with him in it. Yea, in an after numbering of the Levites who were fit for business from thirty to fifty years of age, the chief of the children of Israel were assisting to him and Aaron (Num. 4:46).


"As he commanded": He was obedient to the divine will in all things, and so in this. Though it was his own tribe and his own posterity, which in all successive ages were to be no other than ministering servants to the priests. And to have no inheritance in the land of Israel.


Moses did exactly as God had instructed him to do.


Numbers 3:17 "And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari."


The immediate offspring and descendants of that patriarch.


"Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari": These went down with him into Egypt (Gen. 46:11).


It is interesting that the number of sons he had were three. We will see their families become peoples, such as the Kohathites. Moses was actually from the tribe of Kohath.


Numbers 3:18 "And these [are] the names of the sons of Gershon by their families; Libni, and Shimei."


Or to Gershon belonged two families, called after the names of his sons, who were now numbered, namely.


"Libni and Shimei": And who are elsewhere mentioned as his sons (Exodus 6:17). And from hence were the families of the Libnites and Shimites (as in Num. 3:21).


The name "Libni" means white. "Shimei" means a renowned one.


Numbers 3:19 "And the sons of Kohath by their families; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel."


Who was the second son of Levi.


"Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and Uzziel": So in (Exodus 6:18); and from whom were named the family of the Amramites, to which Moses and Aaron belonged. And the families of the Izeharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites, as they are called (Num. 3:27).


We know from previous lessons, that Amram and Jochebed were the parents of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. "Izehar" means anointing. "Hebron" means community, and just such a city is to be found in the mountains of Judah. "Uzziel" means God is strength. We can see that even their names reveal their calling to serve God.


Numbers 3:20 "And the sons of Merari by their families; Mahli, and Mushi. These [are] the families of the Levites according to the house of their fathers."


The third son of Levi.


"Mahli and Mushi": The same as in (Exodus 6:19); from whom were denominated the families of the Mahlites and Mushites. Who, as the preceding families, were numbered at this time. These are the families of the Levites, according to the house of their fathers; in all eight families.


"Merari" means bitter, or sad. "Mahli" means weak and sickly. These were one group of those of Levi.


Verses 21-26: "Gershon": The Gershonites numbered 7500 males and were responsible for the coverings of the tabernacle. They were to camp west of the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:21 Of Gershon [was] the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these [are] the families of the Gershonites.


The first son of Levi.


"These are the family of the Gershonites; that were now, numbered.


They grew into tribes of people.


Numbers 3:22 "Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, [even] those that were numbered of them [were] seven thousand and five hundred."


Of the two families that sprung from Gershon.


"According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upwards": In the said families.


"Even those that were numbered of them, were seven thousand and five hundred": 7,500 men, which was neither the least nor the largest number of the sons of Levi.


Compared to the other tribes, we can see how small in number they were. From 1 month old upwards, there were 7,500 males of the tribe of Gershon.


Numbers 3:23 "The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward."


The two before mentioned, the Libnites and Shimites.


"Shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward": This was their situation when encamped. They were placed in the rear of the camp of the Levites. Between the tabernacle and the camp of Ephraim, which was westward also (Num. 1:18).


They pitched westward, but it was between the tabernacle and the tribes of Ephraim. The front of the tabernacle looked eastward, so they were just behind the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:24 "And the chief of the house of the father of the Gershonites [shall be] Eliasaph the son of Lael."


Who had the chief authority over them, and the chief direction of them in what they were to do.


"Shall be Eliasaph the son of Lael": But who he was, or of which family of the Gershonites, whether of the Libnites or Shimites, is not said here or elsewhere. Nor do the Jewish writers, who affect to know everything, pretend to tell us.


"Lael" means belonging to God. This is not the same Eliasaph, who was head of the tribe of Gad.


Numbers 3:25 "And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation [shall be] the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,"


The Libnites and Shimites.


"In the tabernacle of the congregation": Or with respect to the things of it, when it was taken down and committed to them. For otherwise they had no place in it, nor might they enter into it, or do any service therein.


"Shall be the tabernacle and the tent": The former intends not the boards of it, which were the charge of the Merarites (Num. 3:36). But the curtains, as Aben Ezra, or the under curtains, as Jarchi calls them, which were made of fine twined linen (Exodus 26:1). And the latter is to be understood of the eleven curtains, as Aben Ezra. The curtains of goat's hair, which were made for the roof of the tabernacle, as Jarchi observes (see Exodus 26:7).


"The covering thereof": Made of rams' skins, and badgers' skins, which were thrown over the tent (Exodus 26:14).


"And the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation": The vail, as Jarchi calls it. Not what divided the holy and most Holy Places, for that fell to the charge of the Kohathites (Num. 3:31). But the vail or hanging which was at the door of the tent, or which led into the Holy Place (Exodus 26:36).


Numbers 3:26 "And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which [is] by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof."


Which formed the great open court that encompassed the tabernacle, and was a hundred cubits long and fifty broad (Exodus 27:9).


"And the curtain for the door of the court": Which was a hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen (Exodus 27:16).


"Which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about": This refers to the court, the hangings, and curtains of the door of it, which are spoken of. And this court surrounded the tabernacle, and the altar which was without the tabernacle, as Aben Ezra observes. And which was the altar of burnt offering that stood within this court. For the particle sometimes signifies "about", and the word "around", being joined with it, requires this sense.


"And the cords of it": Which seem to be the cords of the court, which fastened the hangings and curtains to brass pins, or stakes fixed in the ground to keep them tight, that the wind might not move them to and fro. But Jarchi says, these were the cords of the tabernacle and tent, and not of the court. And indeed, the tabernacle had its cords as well as the court (Exodus 38:18). The cords of the court were in the charge of the Merarites (Num. 3:37).


"For all the service thereof": For that part of the tabernacle and court which the Gershonites had in their care and custody.


This family was to be in charge of the tabernacle itself. The tent was cared for by them. This would include all of the tapestry and the hides. This was the outward tabernacle. Inside it included the caring of the curtains at the door and the curtain at the altar. The physical tabernacle was their charge.


Verses 27-32: "Kohath": Some LXX manuscripts give the number of Kohathites as 8300, which is the preferred reading. (The addition of one Hebrew letter changes the "six" to a "three". This letter was dropped very early in the copying of the text). The Kohathites were responsible for the holy objects of the tabernacle (including transporting the ark), and were to camp south of the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:27 "And of Kohath [was] the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these [are] the families of the Kohathites."


So called from Amram, the first son of Kohath, and father of Aaron and Moses. So that Moses and Aaron, and their children, are included in this family.


"And the family of Izeharites": Of which family was Korah (Num. 16:1).


"And the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites": Which four families had their names from Kohath's four sons (Num. 3:19).


"These are the families of the Kohathites": Which were as many as both the other sons of Levi.


Amram was from the tribe of Kohath. The Amramites were a people founded upon him. Each of the leaders of the people used his name, and started a tribe.


Numbers 3:28 "In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, [were] eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary."


8,600 men, which was the largest number of any of the houses of the Levites. But considering it had double the number of families in it, the increase was not so large in proportion. At least to Gershon, whose two families wanted but 1,100 of these four.


"Keeping the charge of the sanctuary": Of the Holy and most Holy Places, and the vessels and instruments belonging thereunto. Not that the males of a month old were keeping them, but when they were grown up and were capable of it. They had the charge thereof, in which they were instructed and trained up from their youth.


This comes to 8,600 males from 1 month old upward, who were of the tribes of Kohath. They were in charge of the things of the sanctuary. From this tribe, came the high priest and the priests.


Numbers 3:29 "The families of the sons of Kohath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward."


Or to the right, which was the more honorable place. Excepting the east or front, which was reserved for Moses and Aaron, and his sons, and who were one of these families. And is the reason why this honor was conferred upon them. As well as they had the more honorable charge, having the holy places and holy things committed to their care. And one from among them was appointed over all the Levites, and the chief of them. As they had also, when they came into the land of Canaan. Almost as many cities of refuge as both their other brethren had. Their situation about the tabernacle was between that and the camp of Reuben. And this accounts for it, how Korah who was of one of the families of the Kohathites, became so intimately acquainted with, and joined in a conspiracy with Dathan and Abiram. Who were of the tribe of Reuben (Num. 16:1).


The tabernacle faces east. These of the tribe of Kohath needed ready access to the tabernacle. They were close to the tabernacle on the south side. They were between the tabernacle and the tribes of Reuben.


Numbers 3:30 "And the chief of the house of the father of the families of the Kohathites [shall be] Elizaphan the son of Uzziel."


The same man, who, with his brother Mishael, carried Nadab and Abihu out of the camp, and buried them (Lev. 10:4). He descended from the last and youngest of the families of the Kohathites. And some think this was one reason at least of Korah's dissatisfaction. And of his entering into a conspiracy against Moses and Aaron, because one of a younger family of his house was preferred to this dignity before him.


This leader, Elizaphan, was chosen of the younger branch.


Numbers 3:31 "And their charge [shall be] the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof."


That is, when the tabernacle was taken down, and carried from place to place. This, and the following things, were committed to their care and custody. The ark with the mercy seat, and all appertaining thereunto, which were in the holy of holies.


"And the table, and the candlestick, and the altars": The table of showbread, and the candlestick of pure gold, with its lamps, and the altar of incense. All which stood in the holy place, and the altar of burnt offering. Which was in the court, for both altars were their charge.


"And the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister": All the vessels which belonged to the above things. For the table, candlestick, and altars, all had vessels appertaining to them.


"And the hanging": That is, the vail, as Jarchi interprets it. Which divided between the, Holy and the most Holy Place. All the other hangings for the court, and the door of it, and for the door of the tabernacle, were the charge of the Gershonites (Num. 3:25).


"And all the service thereof": What belonged to the things in this part of the tabernacle.


They took care of the things in the Holy Place and the most Holy Place. The Ark, Candlestick, Table, and even the Altars symbolized Jesus in some way. This was a very favored task, to care for these holy things.


Numbers 3:32 "And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest [shall be] chief over the chief of the Levites, [and have] the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary."


Who was of the first of these families, the Amramites.


"Shall be chief over the chief of the Levites": Over the three chiefs of the three houses of the Levites. Who were Eliasaph the son of Lael, the chief of the Gershonites. And Elizaphan the son of Uzziel, the chief of the Kohathites. And Zuriel the son of Abihail, the chief of the Merarites.


"And have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary": The Kohathites, who had the care of the things belonging to the Holy and most Holy Places. And these were particularly under the inspection of Eleazar, because they were things the priests had a special concern in (see Num. 4:32).


The order in the sanctuary leadership was Aaron (high priest), Eleazar (his son), the priest, and then those who were in charge of the holy things. Everything the Levites did must meet with the approval of Eleazar.


Numbers Chapter 3 Questions


1. Moses and Aaron were the beginning of separation from the _______ _________.


2. What was the Levitical tribe a substitute for?


3. The Levitical tribe was set aside for what purpose?


4. What position did Moses have?


5. Who was the first of the high priests?


6. Moses communed with God on _________ ________.


7. Who were the sons of Aaron?


8. What were the sons of Aaron consecrated to do?


9. Which two sons of Aaron did God kill?


10. Why did He kill them?


11. Who took their places as priests?


12. What do many believe the strange fire to be speaking of?


13. What part of the tribe of Levi was dedicated to God's work?


14. What is the "charge" in verse 7 saying?


15. What was their charge?


16. What will happen to the stranger, who comes into the Holy Place?


17. Where would the next generation of priests come from?


18. What was the last plague in Egypt?


19. Why were the Hebrews spared?


20. How could the Hebrews purchase back their firstborn?


21. What was the age of the youngest male to be counted of the tribe of Levi?


22. Who were the sons of Levi?


23. Moses was actually from what tribe?


24. What does "Libni" mean?


25. Who were the parents of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam?


26. How many were numbered of the tribe of Gershon?


27. Which side of the tabernacle did the tribes of Gershon camp on?


28. What did the tribe of Gershon take care of?


29. What tribe was Amram from?


30. How many were numbered of the tribe of Kohath?


31. Where did the tribes of Kohath camp?


32. What were they in charge of?


33. What was the order of the leadership in the sanctuary?




Numbers Chapter 3 Continued

Verses 33-37: "Merari": The Merarites numbered 6200 males and were responsible for the wooden framework of the tabernacle. They were to camp north of the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:33 "Of Merari [was] the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these [are] the families of Merari."


So called from his two sons Mahli and Mushi (Num. 3:20).


"These are the families of Merari": The youngest son of Levi (Num. 3:17).


In the last lesson, we had begun the genealogy of the Levites. This is a continuation of that.


Numbers 3:34 "And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, [were] six thousand and two hundred."


Of the above two families.


"According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred. 6,200 men; the least number of them all.


Numbers 3:35 "And the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari [was] Zuriel the son of Abihail: [these] shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward."


I think it should rather be rendered, "and the chief of the house", that is, of the Merarites, "the father to the families of Merari". The common father to them all, having the chief authority and power over them, and so in (Num. 3:24).


"Was Zuriel the son of Abihail": Of whom we read nowhere else, nor is it certain of which family he was, whether of the Mahlites or Mushites.


"These shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward": To the left of it, between that and the camp of Dan.


This again is speaking just north of the tabernacle, and between the tabernacle and the tribe of Dan. Only the Levites were allowed to camp near the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:36 "And [under] the custody and charge of the sons of Merari [shall be] the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto,"


Both of the Holy and the most Holy Place, which were the walls of the tabernacle, and which were covered with curtains. These when taken down for journeying were committed to the care of the Merarites. And because these, with what follow, were a heavy carriage, they were allowed wagons to carry them. And who on this account had more wagons given them than to the Gershonites, for the Kohathites had none (Num. 7:6).


"And the bars thereof": Which kept the boards tight and close (see Exodus 26:26).


"And the pillars thereof": The pillars on which the vail was hung, that divided between the Holy and most Holy Place. And, on which the hanging was put for the door of the vail (Exodus 26:32).


"And the sockets thereof": In which both the boards and pillars were put (Exodus 26:19).


These were the boards that were used with the curtains. This tribe of Merari had nothing to do with the curtains. It was their duty to carry the boards. They also were in charge of the sockets, which held the curtains together. They not only carried the boards, but were responsible for them being erected, when they stopped and set up the tabernacle.


Numbers 3:37 "And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords."


Of the great court which went round the tabernacle, on which pillars the hangings were hung.


"And their sockets": Into which the pillars were put. Of both (see Exodus 27:9).


"And their pins, and their cords": The pins were fixed in the ground, and the cords fastened the hangings of the court to them. Whereby they were kept tight and unmoved by the winds (see Exodus 27:19).


This is speaking of the smaller items; they were responsible for. The tabernacle could not be put together without these items that connected them.


Numbers 3:38 "But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, [even] before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, [shall be] Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death."


"Moses ... Aaron": Moses and Aaron and his sons were given the place of honor on the east of the tabernacle and gave overall supervision to the Levites. Eleazar oversaw the Kohathites (3:32), and Ithamar oversaw the Gershonites and Merarites (4:28, 33).


The eastern gate was a place of prominence. This is where the entrance to the tabernacle was located. Moses, Aaron, and their families were responsible for the tabernacle and the people. Since Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons would be in the tabernacle often, it was necessary for them to be on this side. The tabernacle is like our church today. Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons are like the ministerial staff. This would even include the board of directors. Notice however, you could not have a church without those who took care of the physical preparation of the church for services.


Numbers 3:39 "All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, [were] twenty and two thousand."


Whence it appears, that Moses was not alone, but Aaron with him, in numbering the Levites, and that by the appointment of the Lord. The word "Aaron", in the Hebrew text, has a dot on every letter, for what reason it is not certain. The word itself is left out in the Samaritan and Syriac versions.


"All the males, from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand": 22,000 men. But by putting the sums together they amount to three hundred more. For of the Gershonites there were 7,500, and of the Kohathites 8,600, and of the Merarites 6,200; in all 22,300. Which difficulty some endeavor to remove by saying, as Aben Ezra observes, that the Scripture takes a short way, mentioning the thousands, and leaving out the hundreds.


We can easily see from the 22,000 males from 1 month old and upward, that the Levites were by far the smallest of the tribes. If we added the three groups together of the Levites who were counted, we would have 22,300. This is not a serious discrepancy. This is just an error in addition by someone. It is a possibility that the 300 were firstborn of the ministering staff, and were not counted.


Numbers 3:40 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names."


After he had taken the number of the Levites.


"Number all the firstborn of the children of Israel, from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names". That they might be compared with the number of the Levites, and the difference between them observed.


We remember the firstborn belong to God. They must be purchased back from God. This counting was to determine the tax of the silver shekel as redemption money.


Numbers 3:41 "And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I [am] the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel."


For his service, to minister to his priests, and serve in his tabernacle.


"I am the Lord": Who has a right to all, and can claim who he pleases for himself in a special manner, and therefore could and did take the Levites to himself.


"Instead of the firstborn among the children of Israel": These he had taken to him before, and ordered to be sanctified unto him. And for whom a redemption price was paid to his priests for the support of them, and the tabernacle service. And now it was his will to make an exchange of these for the Levites.


"And the cattle of the Levites, instead of all the firstling among the cattle of the children of Israel": Every firstling of clean cattle was the Lord's, and given to his priests. And the firstlings of unclean cattle were redeemed with a lamb, and which were given to the same. And now instead of these he requires the cattle of the Levites. Not that they should be deprived of their use of them, or that they should be taken and sacrificed, but that they should be with them devoted to him, and they should possess them in his right.


The Levites were not just in the service to the Lord, but belonged to Him in the fullest sense. Even their cattle were taken for the tabernacle instead of being their own private property. This paid for the firstborn cattle of the twelve tribes.


Numbers 3:42 "And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel."


No doubt assisted by others, though not mentioned.


"All the firstborn among the children of Israel": Which some think was only those that were born since they came out of Egypt, as Bonfrerius, Bishop Patrick, and others.


Since this was a matter of the tabernacle, Moses took care of the counting.


Numbers 3:43 "And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen."


"Twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen": This was the total number of Gershonite, Kohathite, and Merarite males born in the 12-1/2 months since the Exodus. The Levites took the place of the first 22,000 firstborns, and the rest (273), were redeemed with 1,365 silver shekels.


This is the firstborn of all of the tribes, and not just of the Levites. Those numbered were 22,273. This is a terribly short number for the firstborn of so large a group of people. Either this was for the babies who were firstborn, or there should be a larger number. If this were all the firstborn of all the Israelites, they would have to have an average of 70 people in one family. Possibly, this is speaking of the young males who are not fathers themselves. This is one of those mysteries of the Bible, that we will not know absolutely.


Numbers 3:44 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


After the number was taken, and gave him directions what to do upon it.


"Saying": As follows.


We see again, that The LORD is still speaking to Aaron and the people through Moses at this point.


Numbers 3:45 "Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I [am] the LORD."


The Lord had declared before that he had taken them, and now he bids Moses take them. Who had numbered them, and give them to Aaron, instead of the firstborn. Whose numbers were also taken for this purpose.


"And the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle": But not to be given to Aaron and his sons, or to the priests for their use, but to remain with the Levites for their use. Who were now separated from the other tribes, and taken into the service of God. And as they were dedicated to God, so their cattle likewise for their support as his ministers.


"And the Levites shall be mine": In a special manner his, being devoted to his service.


"I am the Lord": Who had a right to do this, and expected to be obeyed in it.


This is the law of substitution. Jesus became our substitute on the cross. We deserved the penalty of the cross, and Jesus paid the penalty in full for us. The Levites here, are the substitute for the firstborn males of Israel.


Numbers 3:46 "And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;"


With money, there being not Levites enough to answer to them, and exchange for them.


"Of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites": For the sum total of the Levites, as given, was but 22,000 (Num. 3:39). Whereas the sum total of the firstborn of Israel were 22,273 (Num. 3:43). So that there were, two hundred seventy-three more of the latter than of the former. And what was to be done with these next follows.


We see from this, that there was not an error in counting the firstborn. We just did not understand what age group were counted. The Levites were almost the same number as the firstborn of all Israel. This is saying there were 273 more than the Levites.


Numbers 3:47 "Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take [them]: (the shekel [is] twenty gerahs:)"


Or head; every firstborn, or his parent for him, was bound to pay five shekels. And which was afterwards settled as the price of such a redemption (Num. 18:16).


"After the shekel of the sanctuary shall thou take them": Being full weight according to the standard there kept.


"The shekel is twenty gerahs" (see notes on Lev. 27:25).


A shekel is 10 dwt (a pennyweight, abbreviated dwt). In this case, this is silver. Five shekels would be 50 dwt. of silver. The price of redemption of one male would be 50 dwt of silver. "Silver" means redemption. The number 50 is the number of jubilee, or set the captives free. You can see the spiritual significance of this. Each person redeemed had to pay 5 shekels of silver.


Numbers 3:48 "And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons."


Or the superfluous number, the number of them that exceeded the Levites, namely, two hundred seventy three. The price of their redemption is ordered to be given.


"Unto Aaron, and to his sons": Since the Levites were taken in lieu of the firstborn, whose redemption money belonged to the priests. And seeing the Levites were given to Aaron and his sons on that consideration, and there being a deficiency of them to answer to the firstborn, it was but right and just that the redemption price of the superfluous number should be paid to them.


This appears that the 50 dwt. of silver for each firstborn over the number of the Levites (273), should be given to Moses and Aaron personally.


Numbers 3:49 "And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites:"


Of five shekels per head.


"Of them that were over and above redeemed by the Levites": Or were more than those redeemed by them. A Levite redeemed a firstborn, or freed him from the redemption price, being taken in lieu of him. 22,000 Levites were answerable to 22,000 firstborn of Israel. But as there were no more Levites than the above number, there remained two hundred seventy three firstborn to be redeemed by money, and it was the redemption money of these Moses took.


This amounted to 13,650 dwt. of silver that was given to Moses and Aaron personally.


Numbers 3:50 "Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five [shekels], after the shekel of the sanctuary:"


This was paid in silver coins called shekels. They received 1,365 shekels for the redemption money.


Numbers 3:51 "And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses."


That were redeemed this way, and not by Levites, as in (Num. 3:49), but by money, paying five shekels a head.


"Unto Aaron and his sons": To whom the Levites were given. And this money, as a recompence for the deficiency of the number of them, to answer to the firstborn exchanged for them.


"According to the word of the Lord (Num. 3:48).


"As the Lord commanded Moses": So did he, being a faithful servant in all things in the house of God. He did not convert it to his own use, or to any other use than to what God had appointed it.


This again, does not specifically say what they did with this money they received from Moses. We can possibly safely assume this money was used in the service in the sanctuary. Moses we know, did not keep any for his own personal use out of this specific money. We do know, there were expenses incurred in operating the tabernacle. The families of the Levites were compensated by God for their service to Him. Aaron and his family lived off the offerings made in the tabernacle.


Numbers Chapter 3 Continued Questions


1. How many were numbered of the tribe of Merari?


2. Who was chief of the tribe of Merari?


3. Where was the tribe of Merari to camp?


4. What were they in charge of?


5. Who encamped at the east of the tabernacle?


6. How is the tabernacle like our church today?


7. What was the total number of Levites numbered?


8. The firstborn of Israel was to be numbered from what age?


9. Why were they numbering the firstborn?


10. The Levites were not just in the service of the LORD, but in fact, ____________ to Him.


11. Why did Moses do the counting?


12. How many firstborn were counted?


13. What size family would the Israelites have to have, for this to be an accurate accounting of all the firstborn of Israel?


14. What law is verse 45 speaking of?


15. What is the very best example of this law in the Bible?


16. How many more of the firstborn were there, than the Levites?


17. What was the price of redemption?


18. The shekel is ________ __________.


19. A shekel is _________ dwt.


20. How many dwt. of silver was the price of redemption?


21. "Silver" means _____________.


22. Who got the silver for the extra firstborn?


23. How many dwt. of silver was given to Moses and Aaron?


24. What did Moses do with the silver?


25. What can we safely assume the silver was used for?





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Numbers 4



Numbers Chapter 4

Verses 1-49: This chapter's census serves quite a different purpose from that in chapter 3. It is designed to distribute the work of dismantling, transporting, and erecting the tabernacle among the different Levitical clans. The work was dangerous, because it involved handling sacred equipment, which was heavy. Therefore, it was restricted to men who were of sober outlook and physically strong. Men between the ages of 30 and 50 were chosen. For a discussion of the tabernacle and contents (see notes on Exodus chapters 25-30).


Verses 1-20: The Kohathites were entrusted with the care of the "most holy things". These included the two altars (Exodus 29:37; 30:10), and the ark, the table, the lampstand, and all their utensils (Exodus 30:26-28). But they were not allowed to pack and unpack these items. Aaron and his sons had to do this, because if the Kohathites had looked upon these holy things or uncovered them, they would have died (verses 5-20; compare 1 Sam. 6:19-21; 2 Sam. 6:6-7). Implied in these two censuses are two principles:


(1) Every member of the people of God had his part to play (1 Cor. 12:4-6).


(2) Israel was a hierarchy and a theocracy with God at the top, followed by Moses and Aaron, who passed God's words on to the people.


The priests, Aaron's sons, obeyed their father and so on with the Levites on down. Note the New Testament exhortation (in Hebrews 13:17), to "obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves" (compare 1 Cor. 16:16; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; and 1 Peter 5:5). Then note the admonitions to leaders to "command" (1 Tim. 4:11), and "rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15), for by adhering to scriptural teaching "thou shalt save both thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:16).


Verses 1-3: Hebrew priests began leading worship in the tabernacle at age 30 and ministered until age 50. These requirements meant that of the 22,000 Levites, only about 8,600 were eligible for service, although the Levites did serve in various capacities at younger ages (8:24).


Numbers 4:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,"


After they had taken the number of the Levites, and made an exchange of the firstborn of Israel for them. And now they are ordered to number them a second time, and take out from them such as were fit for service.


This message is to Moses and Aaron, because this message speaks to them, as well as to the tribes.


Numbers 4:2 "Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,"


They were to begin with them first, and number them.


"After their families, by the house of their fathers": As many as were of the age after mentioned. And the reason why they began with Kohath, and not Gershon, the eldest son, as in the former numbering, was; not as Aben Ezra suggests. Because of Moses and Aaron, who sprung from him, for that, if it had any strength in it, would have held good before. But rather, as Chaskuni and others, because the Kohathites carried the ark and other holy things. Though the true reason seems to be, because of the order observed in taking down the tabernacle, and removing the parts of it, and the things in it. And it was most proper and reasonable, when they were about to take it down, first to take out the ark, table, etc. Which was the business of the Kohathites to carry. Next to take down the curtains, coverings, and hangings for the tabernacle and court, and the doors thereof, which were the charge of the Merarites. Wherefore, in this order the sum out of each of them fit the business, for which was the reason to be numbered.


We saw earlier God separating out the Levites from among the 12 tribes of Israel. Now, we see a further separation. The tribe of Kohath is separated out for an even more specific calling from God. The priests were Kohathites. Now we see this tribe honored more than the others in service to God.


Numbers 4:3 "From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation."


"Thirty ... until fifty": This second census of the Levites determined those who would carry the tabernacle on the coming journey to Canaan. Only those between the ages of 30 and 50 were called by the Lord for this task (see note on 8:24).


Those who ministered were to begin when they were 30 years old, and serve the LORD in the tabernacle 20 years. It is very interesting to me, that Jesus was 30 years old when He began His formal ministry. At the age of 30, the Hebrews felt that a man became fully mature and could handle authority.


Verses 4-15: God specifically instructed the sons of Kohath (3:27-31), on how to move the "ark of Testimony" and care for its sacred implements. They should first cover the ark with "badgers' skins" (to protect it from rain), and a "blue" covering (perhaps representing heaven), and then insert "poles into its rings so the ark would rest on them as the priests carried it on their shoulders (7:9; Exodus 25:13). The command, "They shall not touch any holy thing lest they die", was later violated with disastrous results (2 Sam. 6:6-8).


The Kohathites carried the furnishings of the tabernacle only after they had been covered by Aaron and his sons. If the Kohathites touched (4:15), or saw (4:20), any of the holy things, they would die.


Numbers 4:4 "This [shall be] the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, [about] the most holy things:"


As what follows.


"About the most holy things": Which Aben Ezra interprets only of the ark, which was indeed a most holy thing. And stood in the most Holy Place. But there were other holy things, in the care of which the service of the Kohathites lay. As the showbread table, the candlestick, and the altars of incense and burnt offering. And the vail, and the ministering: vessels, which Jarchi reckons with it, as more holy than all other things.


Only those who had been called of God for this purpose, could handle the most holy things. Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons were all from the tribe of Kohath.


Numbers 4:5 "And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of testimony with it:"


Upon the cloud's removing and the trumpets blowing.


"Aaron shall come, and his sons": Into the Holy Place.


"And they shall take down the covering vail": The vail that divided between the Holy and the most Holy Place, which covered all in the Holy of Holies out of sight.


"And cover the ark of testimony with it": Together with the mercy seat and cherubim on it, that they might not be seen nor touched by the Levites when they carried them. Now though the high priest himself might not go into the most Holy Place but once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Yet on this occasion, when the tabernacle was to be taken down, and the things in it to be removed, both he and his sons might enter without danger. Since, as Bishop Patrick observes, the divine Majesty was gone from thence in the cloud which gave the signal for the motion of the camp, and the taking down of the tabernacle.


It appears that even the veil, which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, could only be touched by Aaron and His sons who had been consecrated for this holy work. It appears the Ark must be covered with this veil, to keep it from view.


Numbers 4:6 "And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over [it] a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof."


Not that which covered the tabernacle, for that was committed to the Gershonites (Num. 4:25). But a covering made of these on purpose for the present use, to preserve the ark from rain and dust. And this covering was put not immediately upon the ark, but upon the other coverings that were over the ark, and so preserved the vail as well as the ark.


"And shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue": It is a matter of question, whether this was over the covering of badgers' skins also. If over the latter, as one would think it should be, by the order of the text, how could that be a shelter from the rain and dust, which seems to be the use of it? And therefore, should be the outermost, as one of the same kind was the outermost covering of the tabernacle. Aben Ezra observes, there were some that say it was over the covering of badger's skin. But it is right in mine eyes, says he, that it was spread over the covering vail. If indeed it was for the sake of honor and dignity, the first is right. But the badger's skin was on account of rain and dust:


"And shall put in the staves thereof": Having been removed while the ark was covering, as Aben Ezra observes. Or otherwise they always remained in their rings, and were never taken out (Exodus 25:14). But on this occasion they might, and then be put in again for the carrying of the ark, which was the use of them. Though he also remarks, that there are some that say the sense is, they put the staves on the shoulders of them that carried it, which is not a despicable sense. Unless rather it is to be understood of putting the staves through holes made in the coverings of the ark, and disposing and fitting them in them, for the better carriage of it.


The badgers' skins would keep it dry and protected from damage. It appears the blue cloth was to be the outer covering. The blue covering showed its heavenly origin.


Numbers 4:7 And upon the table of showbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:


That that also might not be seen nor touched by the Levites.


"And put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and the covers to cover withal": All which belonged to the showbread table. The use of which (see notes on Exodus 25:29). These seem to be put not immediately upon the table, but upon the blue cloth spread over the table.


"And the continual bread shall be thereon": The showbread is called "continual", because it was always on the table. For while the one was removing by a set of priests, which had stood a week, new loaves were placed by another set of priests. This bread seems at this time to be placed also upon the table, spread with the blue cloth. And from hence it appears, that the Israelites had the showbread in the wilderness. For the making of which they might be supplied with corn from the neighboring countries, though they themselves needed not any, being daily fed with manna.


The things in the Holy Place and the most Holy Place were not to be open to public view, even as they travelled. Again, the blue cloth let the world know these things were of a heavenly nature.


Numbers 4:8 "And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put in the staves thereof."


Upon the dishes and other vessels belonging to the showbread table, and on the showbread itself.


"And cover the same with a covering of badgers' skins": This was clearly the outward covering, and seems to confirm the observation made in (Num. 4:6). That the same sort of covering was the outermost covering of the ark.


"And shall put in the staves thereof": Which belonged to the table, and were made to carry it with on occasion, from place to place (see Exodus 25:27). And the same phrase being used as here of the staves of the ark in (Num. 4:6). Seems to confirm the sense of them there, that they were taken out and put in upon this occasion, though otherwise fixed.


"Scarlet" had to do with red, and showed the Bread provided life. The badger skins were to protect from the elements. The staves were put through rings, so the bearers would not touch the holy things. They just carried them by the staves.


Numbers 4:9 "And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:"


Which had lamps in it, and were continually lighted, and gave light in the Holy Place.


"And his tongs, and his snuff dishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it": By supplying the lamps with oil, and snuffing and trimming them.


These were all holy things. The "candlestick" and the "Light" therein symbolized the Light of Jesus. The blue was to keep the world away from the holy things.


Numbers 4:10 "And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put [it] upon a bar."


Which here also was the outermost covering. The ark and the showbread table had three coverings, but the candlestick only two. They being more sacred than that, especially the ark.


"And shall put it upon a bar": The word "mot" perhaps signifies a kind of mat or mattress, on which the candlestick and its vessels, bundled together in the covering of the badgers' skins, were laid and carried between men on staves. The Hebrew word signifies an instrument made of two staves or bars. And so, the Septuagint render the word "staves"; as does the Targum of Onkelos.


This is the same as the verses above. The badgers' skins were slick, and could turn water. They were placed on the bar for handling, so the bearer would not be in direct contact with the holy things.


Numbers 4:11 "And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:"


The altar of incense, which was overlaid with gold, and therefore called a golden one. To which the allusion is in (Rev. 8:3).


"And cover it with a covering of badgers' skins": After the cloth of blue was spread upon it.


"And shall put to the staves thereof": Into the rings, both made to bear and carry it, upon occasion, from place to place.


Numbers 4:12 "And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put [them] in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put [them] on a bar:"


The garments in which the priests, ministered in the sanctuary. Which were laid up in proper places, and which they only wore when in service.


"And put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins": All wrapped up in one bundle.


"And shall put them on a bar": The same sort of carriage on which the candlestick and its vessels were borne (see notes on Num. 4:10).


Again, the instruments of ministry and the golden altar must be treated with holy care. They again are covered in blue, and then covered with the slick skin to keep them dry.


Numbers 4:13 "And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:"


Having cleared the Holy of Holies, and the Holy Place, they were to come forth from thence into the court of the tabernacle. Where stood the altar of burnt offering, which is here meant, and on which sacrifices being daily burnt. There were always ashes to be removed. And which at this time was highly necessary to be done, when the tabernacle was taken down, and all belonging to it to be carried away. And though no mention is made of the fire, which was always burning on it, it was doubtless preserved. And care was taken for the carrying it along with the altar, or in a separate vessel from it. Bishop Patrick supposes it might be carried upon the grate.


This purple cloth speaks of royalty. This possibly, is speaking of separating the ashes from the live coals. The altar fire was never to be put out completely.


Leviticus 6:13 "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."


The altar covered with this purple cloth symbolizes the great sacrificial offering of Jesus for all of us.


John 19:2 "And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put [it] on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,"


Numbers 4:14 "And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, [even] the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it."


Upon the altar covered with a blue cloth. On that were to be put everything belonging to the altar.


"Wherewith they minister about it": The priests, when they offered sacrifice on it.


"Even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar": Of which see (Exodus 27:3).


"And they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins": To prevent the rains falling upon them, which being all of brass, would be apt to tarnish.


"And put to the staves of it": Which were made to bear and carry it on such an occasion as this (Exodus 27:6). No mention is made of the laver, though there is both in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions, which add, "and they shall take a purple cloth and cover the layer, and its base. And shall put it into a covering of skin of a blue color, and put it upon bearers. But perhaps the reason why this is not mentioned is, because it was carried uncovered. The mystery of which, Ainsworth conjectures, was this. That it might be a lively representation of the grace of God in Christ. Continuing and opened as an ever springing fountain, where always God's elect, having faith in him, may wash and purge themselves in the blood of Christ unto forgiveness of sin sanctification of the Spirit, and salvation (see Zech. 13:1).


These are the instruments used in conjunction with the altar. Not only is the altar holy, but everything that touches it as well.


Numbers 4:15 "And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear [it]: but they shall not touch [any] holy thing, lest they die. These [things are] the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation."


Not the Holy Place, nor the most Holy Place, for these were not covered by them. But "the holy things" in them, as the Septuagint version. The ark, showbread table, etc., and all "the vessels of the sanctuary". All appertaining to those holy things, which are before mentioned. Jarchi interprets the "sanctuary", or the "holiness", of the ark and altar.


"And all the vessels of the sanctuary": Of the candlestick and the instruments of ministry.


"As the camp is to set forward": Which made the covering of them necessary, in order to their being carried as that moved.


"After that the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it": Or rather them, all the holy things, and their vessels, and that upon their shoulders.


"But they shall not touch any holy thing": Even in bearing them. Neither the ark nor any other, only the staves and bar, on which they were carried.


"Lest they die": By the immediate hand of God.


"These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath, in the tabernacle of the congregation": The above things, the ark, etc., which they were to bear on their shoulders. And not make use of wagons to carry them.


We see from this, that only Aaron and his sons can touch these holy things, even to wrap them for travel. The actual carrying is done by other members of the tribe of Kohath. They just pick up the staves and carry it with the staves. If they touch any of the things other than the staves to carry it with, they will surely die.


Verses 16-20: Special instructions were given regarding Eleazar's duties and also the preservation of the "Kohathites".


Numbers 4:16 "And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest [pertaineth] the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, [and] the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein [is], in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof."


The following things, to bear them, according to some Jewish writers. But rather it was to give the oil for the light, that is, the vessels. And so, the vessels of the oil to the sons of the Kohathites. Agreeably to which are the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, who paraphrase the words, "and that which was delivered to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, the oil for the light, etc." And indeed the words, as they are in the Hebrew text, may be rendered, "and the oversight of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, shall be, or "let it be", the oil for the light, etc." He had the inspection of these, and on him lay to see to it, that these were carried by the Kohathites. The oil for the light of the lamps in the candlestick; see (Exodus 27:20).


"And the sweet incense": To burn on the altar of incense (Exodus 30:34).


"And the daily meat offering": Offered with the lambs morning and evening (Exodus 29:40).


"And the anointing oil": With which Aaron and his sons were anointed, the tabernacle and all its vessels (Exodus 30:23).


"And the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof": The former, the oil for the light, etc., were his immediate oversight and care. But the oversight of these by his brother Ithamar, according to the Jewish writers.


Eleazar had a very important calling, next to his father Aaron's calling. He was to fuel the light, to see that it never went out. Again, this light symbolizes the "Light" of the world (Jesus Christ). His power is never diminished. The "sweet incense" symbolizes the prayers of the saints that rise to heaven. The "anointing oil" symbolizes the Holy Spirit of God. Then we can safely say, that Eleazar cared for the spiritual things of the temple. Next to Aaron, he was the overseer.


Numbers 4:17 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,"


And gave them a very solemn and awful charge about this affair of the Kohathites, it being a very hazardous one they were employed in.


Numbers 4:18 "Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:"


Or give no occasion, as the Targum of Jonathan. Or be not the cause of their cutting off, as Jarchi. Through negligence or inadvertency of theirs, in packing up the above things, and delivering them to them.


Even though they were set aside for special service, the Kohathites were to still be part of the Levitical tribe. The tribe of Levi was small compared to the other tribes of Israel. The Kohathites were an even smaller group of the Levites.


Numbers 4:19 "But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:"


As after directed.


"That they may live and not die": Live long, and not die a sudden and violent death.


"When they approach unto the most holy things": The ark, the showbread table, etc. To take them up and carry them.


"Aaron and his sons shall go in": Into the Holy and most Holy Places.


"And appoint them in everyone to his service, and to his burden": What everyone shall do, and how they shall take them up, and bear them.


All of the Levitical tribe was chosen of God for work in the ministry. The only difference was that the High priest, Aaron, and his sons, the priests, were the only ones of the tribe to handle the holy and the most holy things. Even they could not touch them unless it was for the purpose of carrying out God's wishes pertaining to them. For a Levite, who was not a priest or the high priest to touch these holy things, would mean certain death. This must be seen from the spiritual standpoint as well. The high priest is like the great High Priest Jesus Christ. It also sometimes is speaking of the leader of the church. The "priests" symbolize all believers in Christ. The world, or worldly people, do not have that close association with the Lord that the Christians and their leaders do.


Numbers 4:20 "But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die."


They were not to be present while they were packing up, lest they should see any of them with their eyes. They were not to go in until they were quite covered out of sight. Which may signify the hiding of the mysteries of grace in those things under the former dispensation. When even the Levites themselves were not admitted to a sight of them (see Eph. 3:4).


"Lest they die": By the immediate hand of God.


The holy vessels and the Ark were hidden from public view at all times. Curiosity seekers could die looking at the most holy things. In the following Scriptures, you can see the seriousness of this type of breaking in to see God, or the Ark.


Exodus 19:21 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish."


1 Samuel 6:19 "And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter."


Numbers Chapter 4 Questions


1. God had separated the Levites from the other tribes of Israel, in this lesson He is separating the ____________ out of the Levites.


2. What were the ages of those separated out to work for God?


3. The author found that it was very interesting that Jesus was _______ years old, when He began His formal ministry.


4. Why was this age chosen for the time to begin to minister?


5. What tribe was Moses and Aaron from?


6. Who were the only ones who could touch the holy things?


7. Who took the veil down for traveling?


8. What was the Ark covered with for travel?


9. What kept the Ark dry?


10. Why did they use a blue cloth to cover it?


11. What did they put over the table of showbread?


12. The things from the Holy Place and the most Holy Place were not open to __________ ________.


13. What did the "scarlet" covering symbolize?


14. How were the bearers to carry these holy things?


15. What did the "candlestick" and the "light" symbolize?


16. The purple cloth speaks of ___________.


17. What will happen if some of the sons of Kohath, other than Aaron and his sons, touch the instruments directly?


18. What is under supervision of Eleazar?


19. What does this perpetual "Light" in verse 16 symbolize?


20. What does the "sweet incense" symbolize?


21. What does the "anointing oil" symbolize?


22. What did God tell Moses and Aaron not to do, in verses 17 and 18?


23. Who were the only ones allowed to touch the holy things?


24. Who do the "priests" symbolize?




Numbers Chapter 4 Continued

Verses 21-33: The "sons of Gershon" were responsible to carry the tabernacle's "curtains", coverings, and screens. The "sons of Merari" (3:33-37), carried the frame of the tabernacle "the boards ... and the pillars" (and their related attachments).


Verses 21-28: "Gershon": See (note on 3:21-26).


Numbers 4:21 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


Though Aaron is not mentioned here, he was concerned in taking the sum of the Gershonites, as well as of the Kohathites, as appears from (Num. 4:41).


In the last lesson and in this lesson, the message is for the Levitical tribe. We see again, the chain of Command of these messages from God. They go first to Moses.


Numbers 4:22 "Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families;"


As well as of the sons of Kohath. For though Gershon was Levi's eldest son, yet his posterity was not excused from the service of the tabernacle, and bearing things of it in journeying.


"Throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families": All in their several houses, and in the several families in those houses, that were of the age next mentioned, were to be numbered.


Gershon is a descendent of Levi. This is not speaking to the Kohathites now. God commanded Moses to count the tribe of Gershon.


Numbers 4:23 "From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation."


Take an account how many there are of that age, which were received into the company of those who ministered in the tabernacle of the congregation. And so fit for service (see notes on Num. 4:3).


"To do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation": As the rest of the Levites.


These again, are for service in the ministry, and their best years are from the time they are thirty to the age of fifty. A man's physical stamina is the greatest during these years.


Numbers 4:24 "This [is] the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:"


The former of these phrases Aben Ezra interprets of setting up the tabernacle, making the bread (the showbread), and slaying (the sacrifices). And keeping, that is watching and guarding the tabernacle. And the latter of what they did when journeying, bearing and carrying the things assigned to them, afterwards mentioned.


It appears they are to work as burden-bearers of the things of the sanctuary. The ministry consists of more than just the high priest. It takes a number of people working together, in the job God has called them to, to make the tabernacle or the church to work. Each call is different, and each call is important. Each person must seek to find God's will for his own life. Do not look at someone else's call, and wish it were yours. God knows what you can do the best. He has called you to service in a place where you can excel.


Numbers 4:25 "And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers' skins that [is] above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,"


The ten curtains of fine linen (Exodus 26:1).


"And the tabernacle of the congregation": The curtains of goats' hair made for a tent over it, as Jarchi (see Exodus 26:7).


"His covering": The covering of rams skins dyed red (Exodus 26:14).


"And the covering of the badgers' skins that is above upon it": Over all the rest.


"And the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation": The eastern veil, as Jarchi calls it. Which was for the door of the tent that led into the tabernacle, the Holy Place (Exodus 26:36).


This tribe does not carry the boards. They carry the curtains and various coverings. They are responsible to carry them, and even to hang them, when the tabernacle stops.


Numbers 4:26 "And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which [is] by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve."


Which made the great court that surrounded the tabernacle (Exodus 27:9).


"And the hanging for the door of the gate of the court": The eastern gate that led into the court, a hanging of twenty cubits (Exodus 27:16).


"Which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about": That is, which hangings that formed the court, and were round about the tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering (see notes on Exodus 26:36).


"And their cords": Which fastened the hangings to pins or stakes fixed in the ground to keep them tight, that they might not be moved to and fro with the wind.


"And all the instruments of their service": In the court, as the tables on which the sacrifices were laid. And the hooks, and cords, and pins, on which they were hung and fastened, as Aben Ezra (see Ezekiel 40:39).


"And all that is made for them": For the vessels of service, or for the tabernacle, or the altar, as the same writer intimates.


"So shall they serve": By bearing them and carrying them.


Again, we see things that are used with the curtains and the badger's skins. They keep all of this together, so it will be less difficult to set it up when the tabernacle stops.


Numbers 4:27 "At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens."


As they shall order and direct.


"Shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites": Every one of them was to take their share, as Aaron and his sons should appoint them.


"In all their burdens, and in all their service": What each of them should carry, and in what they should perform duty.


"And ye shall appoint to them in charge all their burdens": Charge them carefully to keep all that were committed to them to bear, that none be lost, not a pin nor a cord.


Aaron and his sons will appoint a job for each of them to do in service for the Lord.


Numbers 4:28 "This [is] the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge [shall be] under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest."


Which they should execute when the camp and tabernacle were in motion.


"In the tabernacle of the congregation": "In the court", where they should take up their burdens, or which lie in things respecting the tabernacle. This was the part they were to be employed in, namely, in taking care of the hangings of the tabernacle, etc.


"And their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest": The things committed to their care were delivered by him to them, and they were under his inspection and direction.


Ithamar, the son of Aaron, was in charge of this particular group and the particular jobs they were to care for. Ithamar was a priest. Ithamar had been involved in the construction of the tabernacle.


Exodus 38:21 "This is the sum of the tabernacle, [even] of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, [for] the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest."


Verses 29-33: "Merari": See note on 3:33-37.


Numbers 4:29 "As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;"


The third and youngest son of Levi.


"Thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers": Which is the form of expression used of them all (see notes on Num. 4:2).


Merari was the third of the Levitical tribes. They were chosen to serve the Lord, the same as the others. We have mentioned before, that God has a specific job for each of us to do.


I Corinthians 12:4 "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit."


Just because we have a different job than someone else, does not mean we are not called of God.


1 Corinthians 12:5 "And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord."


Numbers 4:30 "From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation."


The Septuagint version here, and in (Num. 4:3), renders it, from twenty-five years old and upward. Agreeable to (Num. 8:24). At the which age the Levites went into the tabernacle, to wait and to learn their business, but they did not enter upon it till thirty.


"Even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them": At which age they were discharged from business.


"Everyone that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation" (see notes on Num. 4:3).


The age is the same as for those who were priests and high priest. The caring for the church is just as sober a call, as being a minister.


Numbers 4:31 "And this [is] the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,"


What should be committed to their care and charge, and they should bear and carry.


"According to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation": Which was assigned to them as their part. And which was very heavy and cumbersome, and therefore they had wagons allowed them (Num. 7:8).


"The boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof": All these belonged to the Holy and to the most Holy Place (see Exodus 26:15).


Numbers 4:32 "And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden."


These belonged to the court of the tabernacle. The pillars were what the hangings were hung upon, and the sockets, into which the pillars were set. And the cords, with which the hangings were fastened (see Exodus 27:9).


"With all their instruments, and with all their service": Whatever else were used in, and served for the support of this part of the tabernacle.


"And by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden": Everything, even the least that were committed to their charge. And they were to bear and carry, either they themselves, or in wagons, were to be mentioned by name. And not only every board, pillar, and socket, were to be told out to them, and particularly named. How many they were, to what they belonged, from whence they were taken, and where to be replaced. But every pin, and cord, and the use of them. That so when they came to set up the tabernacle again, there might be nothing wanting in its place to secure it. And make it as firm as at first. Such particular notice and care does God take of all his people, and Christ of all committed to him. And so should ministers of the word of all that are their charge, who must one day give an account to God (Heb. 13:17).


This is stating again; the items they were responsible for. The boards were heavier, than the curtains the tribe of Gershon was responsible for. Everyone had to do their particular job, for the tabernacle to be set up, and function properly.


Numbers 4:33 "This [is] the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest."


The Mahlites and Mushites, namely, the service before observed, the particulars of which are given.


"According to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation": Agreeably to what was allotted to them in that part of the tabernacle they were concerned in.


"Under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest": Who had the oversight of these as well as of the Gershonites, as Eleazar had of the Kohathites. Though as Eleazar was the chief of the tribe of Levi, it is thought that Ithamar acted under him (Num. 3:32).


Each of the items had a specific place in the tabernacle, so they had different people to care for the same thing each time, so as to not get them mixed up.


Verses 34-49: "Numbered": The Kohathites totaled 2,750 (4:36), the Gershonites 2,630 (4:40), the Merarites 3,200 (4:44). All the Levites from 30-50 years old in service added up to 8,580 (4: 48).


Numbers 4:34 "And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites after their families, and after the house of their fathers,"


Perhaps these chiefs were the same with those who were concerned with Moses and Aaron in numbering all the tribes whose names were given (Num. 1:5). The Kohathites are begun with, according to the divine direction, and then the Gershonites and Merarites in their order. And in (Num. 4:34), is only an account of the numbering of each of them, as ordered by the Lord. And this account is expressed in the same terms in them all. There remains nothing to be observed but the particular sums of each of them.


"After their families, and after the house of their fathers" (see notes on Num. 4:2).


We see this numbering was done by Moses and Aaron, because of its importance in the tabernacle.


Numbers 4:35 "From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation:"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Again, they re-emphasize they must not be extremely young, or extremely old. They needed them to be old enough to be responsible, and young enough to be physically able to keep up the work.


Numbers 4:36 "And those that were numbered of them by their families were two thousand seven hundred and fifty."


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:37 "These [were] they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses."


God appointing Moses to be the minister and executor of it. See notes on (Num. 4:34).


The tribe of Kohath numbered 2,750. We remember these were like Moses, Aaron, Aaron's sons, and those in training to minister in the tabernacle. They handled the holy things.


Numbers 4:38 "And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon, throughout their families, and by the house of their fathers,"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:39 "From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:40 "Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers, were two thousand and six hundred and thirty."


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


The tribe of Gershon numbered 2,630. They handled the curtains, and the ties, and the veil.


Numbers 4:41 "These [are] they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon, of all that might do service in the tabernacle of the congregation, whom Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the LORD."


Which were of eligible age to serve in it, that is between 30 and 50. See notes on (Num. 4:34).


We must also notice; that God chose them to do the work they were doing. He sent His wishes through Moses to their leaders. They did just as they knew was the will of God.


Numbers 4:42 "And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers,"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:43 "From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:44 "Even those that were numbered of them after their families, were three thousand and two hundred."


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


We see that the tribe of Merari numbered 3,200. This tribe was in charge of the boards and the heavy framing for the tabernacle.


Numbers 4:45 "These [be] those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses."


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Even though the message came from God to each of these tribes, the message came through Moses and Aaron. The tribe accepted their call, as did the tribe of Gershon.


Numbers 4:46 "All those that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered, after their families, and after the house of their fathers,"


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:47 "From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation,"


Whoever of the Levites that had any charge in the tabernacle. See notes on (Num. 4:34).


Numbers 4:48 "Even those that were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore."


See notes on (Num. 4:34).


These are the same statements that have been made of these tribes individually. The difference, here, is they are spoken of as a unit. The total number of young men that were the age to serve was 8,580.


Numbers 4:49 "According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the LORD commanded Moses."


Aaron and the chief of the congregation of Israel assisting it.


"Everyone according to his service": Called in (Num. 4:47), "the service of the ministry", or "service of service". Which Jarchi interprets of that part of the service of the Levites, which lay in singing the song with cymbals and harps. Which, he says, was a service to another service. Though it seems to be better explained, by Chaskuni, of their taking down and setting up of the tabernacle, which was a service incumbent on all the Levites.


"And according to his burden": Called "the service of the burden" (Num. 4:47). Which the last mentioned writer restrains to the ark, table, candlestick, and altars, which the Kohathites carried on their shoulders. But may be extended to what each of them bore and carried when journeying.


"Thus were they numbered of him, as the Lord commanded Moses": From thirty years old to fifty, as Jarchi observes. For that was the order given to Moses by the Lord, which he punctually attended to. As a faithful servant in the house of God. So that Moses neither added, nor diminished from that which the Lord commanded him.


This again, explains that the numbering was by command of God. The message came through Moses. One of the reasons this is stressed over and over, is the fact that God gets angry when the numbering of the people without His permission. David found this out, when he numbered the people, and God greatly punished him for it.


2 Samuel 24:10 "And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly."


1 Chronicles 21:10-12 "Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three [things]: choose thee one of them, that I may do [it] unto thee." "So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee" "Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh [thee]; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me."


1 Chronicles 21:14 "So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men."


Numbers Chapter 4 Continued Questions


1. This lesson is to the ___________ tribe.


2. What age males were to be counted of the Gershon's?


3. The tribe of Gershon are to work as __________ ____________.


4. Who really makes a church, or a tabernacle, work?


5. Each person must seek to find ________ _______ for his life.


6. What is the tribe of Gershon to do?


7. Who tells them what their specific job is?


8. What specific person is their overseer?


9. There are diversities of ________, but the same Spirit.


10. What was the tribe of Merari responsible for?


11. Who numbered them?


12. How many were numbered of the tribe of Kohath?


13. How many were numbered of the tribe of Gershon?


14. How many were numbered of the tribe of Merari?


15. The numbering was by command of _____.


16. What had David done, that was so bad in God's sight?


17. What three choices of punishment did he have?


18. What punishment came?


19. How many were killed during the punishment?


20. Do you think we should number our people without God's permission?





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Numbers 5



Numbers Chapter 5

Verses 1-31: Chapters 5 and 6 describe the setting-apart of the people of God in certain areas:


(1) By separation from defiling things (chapter 5);


(2) In the taking of a Nazarite vow (chapter 6);


(3) By the offerings of the princes (chapter 7);


(4) By the setting apart of the Levites (chapter 8);


(5) By observing the first annual Passover (9:1-14); and


(6) By being led by God Himself (9:15 - 10:10).


Verses 1-4: Lepers, those with discharges, and those who had come in contact with the dead were to be "put out of the camp". These items were addressed (in Leviticus chapters 13, 15, and 21:2-3). The reason was that God dwelt there, in the midst of the camp (see 1 Cor. chapter 5; 2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:13; 2 Thess. 3:14; Titus 3:10-11; 2 John chapters 10 and 11; and Rev. 21:3-4, 27).


These verses deal with outward, visible defects.


Numbers 5:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


"Saying": As follows.


This is the beginning of another section.


Numbers 5:2 "Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:"


"Leper": One having an infectious skin disease (compare Lev. 13:1 - 14:57).


"An issue": A bodily emission indicative of disease, primarily from the sex organs (compare Lev. 15:1-33).


"The dead": Physical contact with a dead body (compare Lev. 21:11). All of these prohibitions had sensible health benefits as well as serving to illustrate the need for moral cleanliness when approaching God.


In our book on Leviticus, we dealt with this fully. Chapter 13 and 14 of Leviticus gives the law of the leper. Chapter 15 deals with those who have an issue. Being defiled by the dead is spoken of (in Leviticus chapter 11 verse 24 and chapter 21 verse 1). We should realize from the start, that this policy was carried out to keep down the spread of disease.


Leviticus 13:46 "All the days wherein the plague [shall be] in him he shall be defiled; he [is] unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp [shall] his habitation [be]."


In our land, today, there is a plague called A.I.D.S. If we do not somehow isolate this disease, it could wipe out our population. We noticed in those lessons in Leviticus, that "leprosy's" symbolic meaning was sin. We must consider A.I.D.S. in this spiritual sense as well, and repent of the sins associated with it. Then perhaps, God will stay this plague.


Numbers 5:3 "Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell."


"Without the camp ... in the midst whereof I dwell": God's holy presence in the cloud in the tabernacle demanded cleanness. Therefore, all the unclean were barred from the encampment of Israel.


There is no difference here, because a female can be just as contagious as a male. The removal of anything that might pollute their camp had to be because, in those days, they did not have disinfectants as we do today. The main reason they were to be physically and spiritually clean in every way, was because the presence of God was in the camp with them. You must study the book on Leviticus to realize the wholesomeness that God requires of each of us.


Numbers 5:4 "And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel."


Aben Ezra observes, that this was done immediately before they journeyed. And that those that were defiled journeyed between the standard of Ephraim and the standard of Dan. But this, he says, was by way of conjecture, since it is not expressed.


"As the Lord spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel": They were obedient in this particular.


This shows their obedience to the will of God. We do know that their condition must be examined by the priest, before they could re-enter the camp. This then, had a spiritual significance, as well as a physical.


Verses 5-10: There are three matters Israel must make right before they enter the Promised Land, so as not to squabble among themselves and neglect God's plan for them as a nation. The first two items are an invitation to all who had stolen things or otherwise defrauded their neighbors. These things must be made right (Lev. 6:1-5). Then, details are given in the event of that person's death. If he has died, restitution must be made to his near relatives; if they are all dead, restitution must be made to the priest. Sin must be paid for.


These verses deal with personal sins, which are not as outwardly visible as the uncleanness of 5:1-4.


Numbers 5:5 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


Or continued to speak to him at the same time.


Now we see a sudden break in the message from the LORD to Moses.


Numbers 5:6 "Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty;"


"Against the Lord": A sin committed against God's people was considered a sin committed against God Himself. There was a need for confession and restitution in addition to the trespass offering (compare Lev. 5:14 - 6:7).


In the 5th and 6th chapter of Leviticus, we see this very thing talked about. Jesus said it so well, when he spoke of putting God first and neighbor second, even before self. If we love God, we will keep His commandments. If we love our neighbor, we will not commit sin against him either. Actually, when we sin against our neighbor, we are sinning against God's law. Someone may accuse us of sin, but the sin is when we are not just accused, but guilty.


Numbers 5:7 "Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth [part] thereof, and give [it] unto [him] against whom he hath trespassed."


The form of which confession, according to Fagius, was. O Lord, I am guilty of death, I have deserved to be stoned for this sin. Or to be strangled for this trespass, or to be burnt for this crime, etc.


"And he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof": Paying the whole of whatsoever he had in any manner defrauded his neighbor of. To which he was to add a fifth part of that. That is, as Aben Ezra interprets it, it he confesses of himself. But if there are witnesses of it he must add two fifths, and some say a fifth of a fifth.


"And give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed": As a satisfaction for the injury done him.


This principal is paying the last cent you owe them from trespassing against them, and giving them 20% interest for the trouble you caused. Being truly sorry for the sin you have committed is more believable, when you compensate the person you sinned against. True repentance is a turn away from sin.


Numbers 5:8 "But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, [even] to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him."


"No kinsman": A supplement to (Lev. 6:1-7). If the injured party had died and there was no family member to receive the restitution called for (in verse 7), it was to go to the priest as the Lord's representative.


This is speaking of a time when the person has died that you sinned against, and you have no one left to pay. True repentance is shown when you take the same value you took, and add 20% to it, and take it to the church. You have removed the worth of the sin from yourself, and cleared your conscience. In this Scripture, we see a man who wants to do God's will at all cost to himself.


Luke 19:8 "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore [him] fourfold."


We see in the Scripture above, that the man who repents and restores what he has taken, will have an atonement provided for him. The ram was the sacrifice of atonement. Jesus is our atonement.


Numbers 5:9 "And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his."


Of the holy sacrifices brought by them to be offered up. That part of them which is elevated, heaved, or waved, as the heave shoulder and wave breast.


"Which they bring unto the priest, shall be his": What they bring to him to offer for them shall be his who performs the service. Even that part of them which is his due.


The high priest was to live off the gifts brought to the tabernacle. This shows that these payments belong to the priest.


Exodus 29:28 "And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it [is] a heave offering: and it shall be a heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, [even] their heave offering unto the LORD."


Numbers 5:10 "And every man's hallowed things shall be his: whatsoever any man giveth the priest, it shall be his."


Which he, by a vow or freewill offering, separates to holy uses. These are at his own dispose, to give to what priest he will, or they are the priest's. For what a man devotes to the Lord is to be given to them, or such things as God has hallowed, sanctified, and set apart for sacred uses. As the firstfruits and tithes, they were the priests'. The Jewish writers restrain it to tithes.


"Whatsoever any man giveth the priest, it shall be his": His personally, who officiates. Or to whom the gift is given, and is not to be divided among the other priests in the course.


This is pretty much a statement like unto the earlier statement.


1 Corinthians 9:13 "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?"


Verses 11-31: These verses deal with the most intimate of human relationships and the most secret of sins. Adultery was to be determined and dealt with to maintain the purity of the camp. To accomplish that purity, God called for a very elaborate and public trial. If adultery was proven, it was punished with death, and this ceremony made guilt or innocence very apparent. It was not a trail with normal judicial process, since such sins are secret and lack witnesses, but it was effective. The ceremony was designed to be so terrifying and convicting that the very tendencies of human nature would make it clear if the person was guilty.


Verses 11-14: Adulterous wives are picked out for special attention because this act pollutes those involved, making them unclean (verses 13, 19, 28; Lev. 18:20, 25, 27).


Numbers 5:11 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


This is a break in the last message, and is going to a new subject. We are reminded that these are not Moses' thoughts. They are the LORD's instruction.


At the same time, and delivered to him a new law.


Numbers 5:12 "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,"


It being an affair which concerned them.


"If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him": The sin of adultery, which is a going aside out of the way of virtue and chastity, and a trespass against a husband. A breach of the marriage covenant with him, a defiling of his bed, or doing an injury and dishonor to him. Bringing confusion into his family, and a spurious offspring to possess his substance. Though this is to be understood, not of certain adultery, of which there is plain and full proof. For then there would be no occasion of such a trial, as is afterwards directed to. Besides, her husband, in such a case, might put her away. And even, according to the law, she was to be put to death (Lev. 20:10). But of her having committed it in the opinion of her husband, he having some ground of suspicion, though he could not be certain of it. And therefore, by this law, was allowed to make trial, that he might find it out. It at present only a suspected case, and a doubtful one. And the Jews say, "they never gave the waters drink but in a doubtful case." And so this may interpreted of her declining and departing from her husband's house. Not keeping at home to mind the affairs of her family, but gadding abroad, and keeping company with another man, or other men. And that after she had been warned and charged by her husband to the contrary, and so had disobeyed him, and acted contrary to his will. And in that sense, had committed a trespass, and so had given him suspicion of her chastity, for which he might have some reason. If, as it is said in the Misnah, he gave her an admonition before two witnesses, saying, have no talk with such a man, and yet she talks with him. Or, as the commentators add, be not secretly or in private with such a one, and yet goes into a private place with him. And stays so long with him that she may be defiled. This with them rendered her suspected.


This "trespass" is speaking of her ruining the good name of her husband. The key word in this is "if". It would be embarrassing to the man for his wife to be thought of as a woman of sin.


Numbers 5:13 "And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and [there be] no witness against her, neither she be taken [with the manner];"


That is, is suspected that he has so done. Not that it is a clear case, for it follows:


"And it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close": So that it is not known by her husband, nor by any other. "She hath hid herself", so Ainsworth. Being in a private place with another man, though warned to the contrary by her husband.


"And she be defiled, and there be no witness against her. Of her being defiled, though there may be of her being in private with such a man.


"Neither she be taken with the manner": Or in the act of uncleanness.


"To lie carnally with her" is speaking of adultery. In this particular verse, they were not caught in the act, nor was there a witness to the sin.


Numbers 5:14 "And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:"


"The spirit of jealousy": A mood of suspicion came over the husband that his wife had defiled herself with another man. The accuracy of the suspicion was determined to be right or wrong.


This jealousy is caused, because the husband is suspicious that she has lain with another man. It is not proven, but he has become jealous, because he believes she has committed adultery.


Verses 15-18: She is to be brought "unto the priest", who in turn will "set her before the Lord". God will be the judge in this case, as the man has only suspicions, a "spirit of jealousy", by no witnesses (that is, earthly witnesses), are available. But an omniscient God saw it all. The last part of verse 15 could be rendered "a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt", indicating this offering will draw the Lord's attention (1 Kings 17:18; Ezek. 21:23-24; 29:16).


"Holy Water" appears only here in the Old Testament. Water symbolizes life and fertility (Psalm 1:3; Jer. 17:13), and occasionally is a figure of speech for male semen (Prov. 5:16; compare 9:17).


"Dust" refers to Abraham's seed, the food the serpent ate, and what man was created from.


"Bitter water" likely refers to the effect rather than the taste.


Numbers 5:15 "Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth [part] of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it [is] an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance."


"Bringing iniquity to remembrance": The purpose of the husband's offering was to bring the secret iniquity (if it was present), to light. How this was done is explained in 5:18, 25-26.


The man should not work on suspicion. He should not take it upon himself to decide whether she is guilty or not. They bring her to the priest, and he determines whether she is guilty or not. The priest is compensated for the time he spends on this, by the tenth part of an ephah of barley he brings to the priest. This offering is not accompanied with frankincense. This is a jealousy offering. God had given them this formula of determining whether she had sinned or not.


Numbers 5:16 "And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD:"


Or "offer it", as the Vulgate Latin version. That is, the offering of jealousy.


"And set her before the Lord": Or "it", the offering. For the setting of the woman before the Lord is spoken of in (Num. 5:18).


This is probably speaking of her being at the brazen altar. It certainly does not mean that she was in the very presence of God in the most Holy Place. This just means that the LORD will judge her.


Numbers 5:17 "And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put [it] into the water:"


Which also is called the water of purification of sprinkling (read Num. 19:9). Out of the laver, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra.


"In an earthen vessel": Which held half a log, and that was but a quarter of a pint, or three egg shells. For no more was assigned, to a suspected woman, according to the Misnah. Some say only a fourth part: an earthen vessel was made use of, as everything vile and mean was in this affair.


"And of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water": First the water was put in, and then the dust, as Ben Gersom observes. There was a place a cubit square, where was a marble table, and a ring fixed in it. And when he lifted it up he took dust from under it, and put it so as it might be upon the top of the water; which was used. Either, as the Targum of Jonathan suggests, because the end of all flesh is to come to dust, and so to put her in mind of her original and her end. And in like manner the earthen vessel might signify, that she would be broke to pieces as that vessel. As also it might direct her thoughts to the tempter, by the influence of whose temptation she had been drawn into this sin. Dust being the serpent's food. And this being taken off the floor of the tabernacle, might add to the veneration of it. And make it more solemn and awful to drink of it.


Holy water is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. I assume this is speaking of water that had been dedicated for use in the tabernacle. It could be water that was in the laver nearby. The fact that it was in an earthen vessel shows the association of the possible sin with worldliness. Again, the floor of the tabernacle is not mentioned elsewhere. This is not like any other offering in the tabernacle. This is to determine innocence or guilt.


Numbers 5:18 "And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which [is] the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:"


"Before the LORD": The woman was brought to a priest at the tabernacle. There she was in the presence of the Lord, who knew her guilt or innocence.


"Uncover the woman's head": Literally "unbind the head". (In Lev. 10:6; 13:45; 21:10), this phrase signifies mourning. This seems to signify the expectation of judgment and consequent mourning if the woman was proven to be guilty.


"Bitter water that causeth the curse": This water included dust from the tabernacle floor (5:17), and the ink used to write the curses (5:23). The woman was to drink the water (5:26). If the woman was guilty, the water would make her life bitter by carrying out the curse of making her thigh rot and her belly swell (5:21, 27). The public, frightening nature of this test could not fail to make guilt or innocence appear when the conscience was so assaulted.


Other Scriptures speak of the woman's hair as being her covering. This I do not believe means shaving of her head as an adulteress, but possibly means removing a veil, or hair covering. This shows, she has embarrassed her husband. She holds the water and dust in her hands in the earthen vessel. This bitter water is bitter in judgement.


Verses 19-28: This relates the decision. "Thy thigh to rot and thy belly to swell": In adultery, the woman sinned with her thigh and conceived in her belly. What it means medically is uncertain. But the contrast with the innocent wife indicates that she would be childless, and be "a curse among her people". (Genesis 20:17), mentions that Abimelech's wives became sterile as a result of his intention to commit adultery with Sarah, and (Lev. 20:20-21), predict the same will befall couples guilty of incestuous relationships. God would thus come to the aid of a "jealous" husband if he had no other proof. The importance of purity in marriage is also underscored, for marriage was a picture of the relationship between God and His people (compare Jer. 2:1 - 3:5).


Numbers 5:19 "And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness [with another] instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse:"


Or give her by an oath.


"And say unto the woman, if no man hath lain with thee": Besides her husband.


"And thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband": Which is but another phrase expressive of the same thing, the sin of adultery.


"Be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse": If this is the case, it shall produce no bitter effects, or bring any curse upon thee.


This oath speaks of her innocence, until proven guilty. Again "if" is the key word.


Numbers 5:20 "But if thou hast gone aside [to another] instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband:"


Gone aside from the paths of modesty and chastity, and betook herself to another man's bed instead of her husband's.


"And if thou be defiled": By committing adultery.


"And some man hath lain with thee beside thy husband": These phrases are all synonymous, and a heap of words are made use of to express the sin. And that there might be no evasion of it, and that it might be clear what was intended, this being said on oath.


This is a terrible sin in God's sight. This involves the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, if you are a Christian. This would be doubly sinful for someone proclaiming Christianity, because you would be trying to include the Holy Spirit in your sin.


Numbers 5:21 "Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;"


An oath which has a curse annexed to it, if taken falsely. Which was to be pronounced upon the woman if guilty.


"And the priest shall say unto the woman": Pronouncing the imprecation or curse upon her. She having taken the oath, should she be guilty of the crime suspected of, and she had sworn concerning:


"The Lord make thee a curse, and an oath among the people": Accursed according to the oath taken. Or let this be the form of an oath and imprecation used by the people, saying, if I have done so and so, let me be accursed as such a woman. Or let not that happen to me, as did to such a woman, so Jarchi.


"When the Lord doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell": Upon drinking the bitter waters. But though these things followed upon that, yet not as the natural cause of them. For they are ascribed to the Lord, and to a supernatural and miraculous power of his, which went along with the drinking of them.


The curse that comes with this type of, sin, is a curse upon her body. This seems as though the curse is just on the woman who committed adultery, but it is not. The priest is dealing with the jealous husband in this. The man involved in the adultery is not even present here. In God's sight, adultery is a terrible sin for the man and woman involved in the sin.


Numbers 5:22 "And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make [thy] belly to swell, and [thy] thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen."


Upon the drinking of which the curse follows, if guilty.


"Shall go into thy bowels": And there operate and produce the above effects, which are repeated again to inject terror.


"To make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot": Here ends the form of the oath, which begins (Num. 5:19).


"And the woman shall say": May it be as you wished (as in Psalm 41:13; Deut. 27:15).


"Amen, amen": so be it. Let it be as pronounced, if I am guilty. Which, as Aben Ezra observes, is repeated for the sake of confirmation. Though the Jewish writers commonly understand it as respecting various things. The oath and the curse, the thing charged with, and the persons suspected of.


The woman has agreed when she said amen. "Amen" means so be it. The priest speaks the curse on the woman, if she has sinned. The woman has not been proven guilty, so the curse is not in effect, until she is proven guilty.


Numbers 5:23 "And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot [them] out with the bitter water:"


The above curses imprecated on herself by an oath. The words and the letters of them were written at length, in a scroll of parchment. And, as some say, also her name, but not her double amen to them.


"And he shall blot them out with the bitter water": Wash them out with it, and into it, or scrape them off of the parchment into it.


The washing shows that this curse for this sin goes off into the water. The writing of the sin being washed into the water, along with the curses, would frighten a person who was guilty. The ink is now in the water, with the dirt and water. This water is getting more bitter all the time.


Numbers 5:24 "And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, [and become] bitter."


Having the curse imprecated upon herself, if guilty, scraped into it. And this she was obliged to drink, whether she would or not. So it is said, if the roll is blotted out, and she says I am defiled, the water is poured out, and her offering is scattered in the place of ashes. If the roll is blotted out, and she says I will not drink, then force her. And make her drink whether she will or not.


"And the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter": Produce the sad and bitter effects mentioned.


This is speaking of the curse going down into her innermost being.


Numbers 5:25 "Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD, and offer it upon the altar:"


Which she was obliged to hold in her hand while the above rites and ceremonies were performed. Which was very heavy, being an omer of barley flour. A measure about three quarts, which was put into an Egyptian basket made of small palm tree twigs. And this was put into her hands to weary her, as before observed. That, having her mind distressed, she might the sooner confess her crime.


"And shall wave the offering before the Lord": Backwards and forwards, upwards and downwards, as Jarchi. Who also observes, that the woman waved with him, for her hand was above the hand of the priest. So the tradition is, "he (her husband) took her offering out of the Egyptian basket, and put it into a ministering vessel. And gave it into her hand, and the priest put his hand under hers, and waved it".


"And offer it upon the altar": This was the bringing of it to the southwest corner of the altar, as Jarchi says, before he took a handful out of it, as in other meat offerings.


This just means that a very small portion was offered on the altar to burn. The rest of it, in the earthen vessel, is beside the altar.


Numbers 5:26 "And the priest shall take a handful of the offering, [even] the memorial thereof, and burn [it] upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water."


For good or evil, according as her works were, as Aben Ezra observes. A memorial for good, if innocent, and a memorial for evil, if guilty.


"And burn it upon the altar": As the handful of other meat offerings used to be (Lev. 1:2).


"And afterwards shall cause the woman to drink the water": Oblige her to it. Having proceeded thus far, and no confession made, namely, an oath taken. The curses of it written in a scroll and scraped into the waters, and the jealousy offering waved and offered.


The water the woman drinks will not hurt her, unless she is guilty of the sin she has been charged with.


Numbers 5:27 "And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, [that], if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, [and become] bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people."


For, as before observed, and here by Jarchi again. If she says I will not drink it, after the roll is blotted out, they oblige her, and make her drink it whether she will or not. Unless she says I am defiled.


"Then it shall come to pass, that if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband": Or has committed adultery.


"That the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter": The water drank by her, and having the curses scraped into it, shall enter into her, and operate and produce bitter and dreadful effects.


"And her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot": Not through any natural virtue in the water, or what is put into it. Either the dust of the floor of the tabernacle, or the scrapings of the parchment roll, these could have no physical influence to produce such effects. But they must be ascribed to a supernatural cause, the power and curse of God attending this draught.


"And the woman shall be a curse among her people": The time she lives. But then all this while she was looked upon as an accursed person, and despised and shunned by all.


The curse has no effect on her at all, if she is not guilty of this sin. If she has sinned, she is cursed and terrible punishment comes upon her body. This is a sin of the flesh, and it is the flesh that pays the penalty for this sin. It is interesting, to me, that many diseases that harm the body greatly are sexually transmitted diseases. Sin then, is sin now. Adultery and sodomy are sin.


Numbers 5:28 "And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed."


"Shall conceive seed": The penalty for the guilty wife was obvious, since the death penalty was called for. In contrast, the innocent wife was assured she would live to bring forth children.


This is a terrible thing to go through, if you are innocent. God blesses her with a child, if she has not committed this sin. This shows the world her innocence.


Numbers 5:29 "This [is] the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside [to another] instead of her husband, and is defiled;"


Which was appointed by God to deter wives from adultery, and preserve the people of Israel. The worshippers of him, from having a spurious brood among them. And to keep husbands from being cruel to their wives they might be jealous of. And to protect virtue and innocence, and to detect lewdness committed in the most secret manner. Whereby God gave proof of his omniscience, that he had knowledge of the most private acts of uncleanness, and was the avenger of all such. The reasons why such a law was not made equally in favor of women, as of men, are supposed to be these. Because of the greater authority of the man over the woman. Which would seem to be lessened, if such a power was granted her. Because marriage was not so much hurt, or so much damage came to families by the adultery of men, as of women. Because women are more apt to be suspicious than men. And in those times more prone to adultery. Through their eager desire of children, that they might not lie under reproach.


"When a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled": Is suspected of going aside to another man, and is supposed to be defiled by him.


The guilt or innocence, is verified by God in this ceremony. Women must set a high standard of conduct. The husband and wife are symbols of God and His church.


2 Corinthians 11:2 "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ."


Jesus is the Bridegroom, and all believers in Christ are His bride. The one thing He will not allow from us, is unfaithfulness. This practice ceased during the time of Jesus.


Numbers 5:30 "Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law."


See notes on (Num. 5:14).


"And shall set the woman before the Lord": Has carried the matter so far as to bring his wife to the priest or civil magistrate, and declare his suspicion, and the ground of it.


"And the priest shall execute upon her all this law": He shall proceed according to the law, and perform every rite and ceremony required. Nor could any stop be put to it, unless the woman owned she was defiled.


This is just stating that jealousy should not go on by the husband, but should be settled in the tabernacle before the priest. The LORD determines innocence or guilt.


Numbers 5:31 "Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity."


Which otherwise he would not, by conniving at her loose way of living. The man might accuse his wife on suspicion and not be reproved. And not reproving her for it, and bringing her either to repentance or punishment. And retaining and encouraging jealousy in his mind, without declaring it, and his reasons for it. The sense of the passage seems to be, that when a man had any ground for his suspicion and jealousy, and he proceeded according as this law directs. Whether his wife was guilty or not guilty, no sin was chargeable on him, or blame to be laid to him, or punishment inflicted on him.


"And the woman shall bear her iniquity": The punishment of it, through the effects of the bitter waters upon her, if guilty. Nor was her husband chargeable with her death, she justly brought it on herself. Or if not guilty, yet as she had by some unbecoming behavior raised such a suspicion in him, nor would she be reclaimed. Though warned to the contrary, she for it justly bore the infamy of such a process. Which was such, as Maimonides says, that innocent women would give all that they had to escape it. And reckoned death itself more agreeable than that, as to be served as such a woman was (see note on Num. 5:18).


Jealousy without a cause, is sin. The jealousy must be done away with. The best thing to do is let God settle it. The woman should be willing to pay for her own indiscretion. One way or the other, the matter is settled.


Numbers Chapter 5 Questions


1. Who were to be put out of the camp?


2. Where, in the Bible, do we find the law of the leper?


3. What is the plague in our land today?


4. "Leprosy" symbolically means _______.


5. Is there any difference in the law between male and female?


6. What was their main reason for being physically and spiritually clean in the camp?


7. What does verse 4 show?


8. What sin is verse 6 speaking of?


9. How did Jesus explain this very thing?


10. If we love our neighbor, we will not do what?


11. If we truly love God, we will keep His _________________.


12. What was required above the repaying of the amount you took?


13. When is it more believable, that you are truly sorry for sinning against someone?


14. What do you do with the money, if the people you owe are dead?


15. Who will the money belong to that you bring to the temple?


16. What is the "trespass" in verse 12?


17. "To lie with her carnally" is speaking of ____________.


18. What spirit came on the husband?


19. Who shall judge whether she is guilty, or not?


20. Where did they bring the woman?


21. What is the holy water, probably?


22. What is meant by putting it in an earthen vessel?


23. What does the uncovering of her head show?


24. What is the temple of the Holy Spirit?


25. What curse is spoken upon the woman, if she is guilty of adultery?


26. What happens, if she is not guilty?


27. Why is the guilty man not punished here?


28. "Amen" means what?


29. The washing of the book that was written on with the water shows what?


30. What does the priest burn in offering?


31. This is sin of the ________.


32. The author finds it very interesting, that many diseases that harm the body greatly are ____________ transmitted.





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Numbers 6



Numbers Chapter 6

Verses 1-21: Whereas (5:1-31), dealt with the cleansing of the camp by dealing with the unclean and sinful (6:1-21), showed how consecration to the Lord was possible for every Israelite. Although only the family of Aaron could be priests, any man or woman could be "priestly" (i.e., dedicated to God's service), for a time (from a month to a lifetime), by means of the vow of a Nazirite. Such a vow was made by people unusually devout toward God and dedicated to His service.


Verses 1-12: The "Nazirite" vow was somewhat similar to fasting today, as it involved pulling away from ordinary pleasures and being more fully devoted to God and His work (Amos 2:11-12).


Numbers 6:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


At the same time, or immediately after the law concerning the woman suspected of adultery was given. With which the following law concerning Nazarites may be thought to have a close connection, as some Jewish writers observe. Women being concerned in it as well as men. And as wine leads to adultery, as Jarchi observes. Abstinence from it, which the Nazarite's vow obliged to, and forbearance of trimming and dressing the hair, and a being more strictly and closely devoted to the service of God, were very likely means of preserving from unchastity, and any suspicion of it.


This is a new message. We are reminded again, that this message is from the LORD spoken to Moses.


Numbers 6:2 "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate [themselves] to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate [themselves] unto the LORD:"


"A vow of a Nazarite": The word "vow" here is related to the word "wonder", which signifies something out of the ordinary. "Nazirite" transliterates a Hebrew Term meaning "dedication by separation". The Nazirite separated himself to the Lord by separating himself from:


(1) Grape products (6:3-4);


(2) The cutting on one's hair (6:5; and


(3) Contact with a dead body (6:6-7).


The High-Priest was also forbidden:


(1) To drink wine while serving in the tabernacle (Lev. 10:9);


(2) To touch dead bodies (Lev. 21:11).


Further, both the High-Priest's crown (Exodus 29:6; 39:30; Lev. 8:9), and the Nazirite's head (6:9, 18), are referred to by the same Hebrew word. The Nazirite's hair was like the High-Priest's crown. Like the High-Priest, the Nazirite was holy to the Lord (6:8; compare Exodus 28:36), all the days (6:4-5, 6, 8 of his vow).


There is a great deal of difference in being a Nazarene and being a Nazarite. The Nazarene means he or she, is a native of Nazareth. The Nazarite, or better still, Nazir (meaning "consecrated" or "separated"), is a commitment to God for a particular time, for a particular purpose. When a person had taken a Nazarite vow, he was to totally separate himself from the world for that period of time. It is a remarkable thing that the woman, as well as the man, could take a Nazarite vow. This was such a spiritual vow to God, that it was out of the everyday realm of the law. In a sense, that is what Samson's mother did before his birth.


Judges 13:3-5 "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou [art] barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son." "Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean [thing]:" "For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."


Numbers 6:3 "He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried."


Old or new, as Ben Gersom. From drinking it, any of it. Not only from an immoderate and excessive drinking of it, which every man should abstain from, but from drinking of it at all, that he might be more free and fit for the service of God. For prayer, meditation, reading the Scriptures, and attendance on the worship of God in all its branches, and be less liable to temptations to sin. For, as Aben Ezra observes, many transgressions are occasioned by wine, which, if drank immoderately, intoxicates the mind, and unfits for religious duties, excites lust, and leads on to many vices.


"And strong drink": Any other intoxicating and inebriating liquor besides wine, or any other sort of wines besides such that is made of the fruit of the vine. As wines of pomegranates, dates, etc. Or such as are made of barley, as our ale, or of apples and pears, called cider and perry, respectively.


"And shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink": All the three Targums paraphrase it, vinegar of new wine, and vinegar of old wine. These operating in like manner as wine and strong drink themselves.


"Neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes": Any liquor in which grapes are macerated, as the Targum of Jonathan. Or water into which they are squeezed, or which is made of the lees of wine. Or is a second sort of wine made of the grapes after they have been pressed, which we call "tiff".


"Nor eat moist grapes or dried": Which have somewhat of the nature and taste of wine, and produce some of the like effects. And may lead to a desire after drinking it. Wherefore this, as other things mentioned, are, as Aben Ezra says, a kind of a hedge, to keep at a distance from drinking wine.


The strong drink was any intoxicating drink. The vinegar spoken of here, was alcoholic in nature. The liquor of grapes was made by soaking grape-hulls. All of these things were forbidden. Perhaps this was because a person loses control of his own will under the influence of alcohol. I am not sure what the eating of moist grapes or dried pertains to, unless it is the sugar in them. Fresh grapes can ferment in your stomach and cause light-headedness.


Numbers 6:4 "All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk."


Of its leaves, branches, and fruit, especially the latter. Out into any sort of food, or infused into any liquor, or mixed with any sauce for food. The days or time of separation were according as the vow was made, for a shorter or longer time. Though the Jews say, where the vow is, absolutely expressed, it is always to be understood of thirty days. During which time the Nazarite was not to eat or drink of any composition that had anything of the vine in it.


"From the kernels even to the husk": The Jews are divided about the two words here used, which of them signifies the outermost part of the grape, and which the innermost. Ben Gersom agrees with us, but it matters not much who are in the right, since both are forbidden. By this part of the law, the people of God, who are spiritual Nazarites, are taught to live temperately and soberly, and to abstain from all appearance of sin. It is pretty remarkable what the Jews say, that when the son of David comes, it will be free for a Nazarite to drink wine on Sabbath days and festivals. Though not on week days. From whence it appears, they seem to be conscious of a change of the ceremonial law in his days.


The "vine" is symbolic of an attachment to worldly things. The person who is moved by the Spirit to make this special vow to God, must separate himself for the length of the time of the vow, from all things connected to worldliness. This could be specifically speaking of grape vines, but it could also be speaking of all things that grow on the vine.


Numbers 6:5 "All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth [himself] unto the LORD, he shall be holy, [and] shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."


Be the time he has vowed to be a Nazarite a week, a, month, or more. Even a thousand days, but not less than thirty, as Ben Gersom observes.


"There shall no razor come upon his head": He might not shave his beard, nor cut off his locks, and shave his head. Nor cut short his locks with a pair of scissors, nor any with anything by which the hair may be removed, as Ben Gersom. Nor pluck off his hair with his hands, as Maimonides says; but let it grow as long as it would during the time of his separation, which is expressed in the latter part of the verse.


"Until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord": To his service, to which he wholly addicted himself as long as his vow continued.


"He shall be holy": Separate from other men, and their practices and customs, and spend his time in holy exercises, in a religious way. And abstain from what might be a temptation to sin, or in the least hinder him in his acts of devotion.


This is not saying, that a man should wear long hair. It is saying, if a man or a woman, has taken a Nazarite vow, they must not cut their hair during the period of the vow. This is the very reason that some people wear long hair now, but that is not correct. The long hair is to be worn with extreme holiness of character. Notice, the statement "he shall be holy." Jesus has been depicted as wearing long hair, because many people confuse the words Nazarite and Nazarene. Jesus was a Nazarene, not a Nazarite.


Numbers 6:6 "All the days that he separateth [himself] unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body."


This phrase is repeated at every new article and branch of the law of the Nazarites, of which what follows is the third. Showing that each part of it, during that time, was strictly to be observed.


"He shall come at no dead body": Not near to any. Not even to be in the same place where a dead body lay. Not to touch one, or to attend the funeral of any, nor be concerned at all about burying the dead. Now, as such so defiled were unclean seven days, and during that time might not go into the tabernacle. The Nazarites were strictly cautioned against such pollution, that they might not be detained from the service of God they had devoted themselves unto (see Num. 19:11).


The consecration of the Lord is upon him, during the Nazarite vow, and he should not come near a dead body in his consecration.


Luke 9:59-60 And he said unto another, Follow me. "But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." "Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."


Numbers 6:7 "He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God [is] upon his head."


Aben Ezra adds also, for his wife, and for his daughter, and for others. What even the priests of the Lord, the common priests might do, a Nazarite might not. Not come near any of his relations when dead, as to touch them, to close their eyes, or wash their bodies, and provide for their funeral. And attend that, or to be where they were. In this respect, they were upon a level with the high priest, who was forbid the same. Which shows how sacred these persons were (see Lev. 21:1). This may instruct spiritual Nazarites to abstain from the company and conversation of sinners. Dead in trespasses and sins, and from all dead works and sinful actions. Which, as they are deserving of death, are defiling.


"Because the consecration of his God is upon his head": Or that which shows him to be consecrated to God, and separated to his service, is upon his head. Namely, his long hair. The Targum of Jonathan renders it, "the crown of his God"; so Aben Ezra observes. That some say that the word "Nazarite" is derived from "Nezer", a crown, in proof of which this passage is produced. And in this respect the Nazarites were not only types of Christ our King and high priest, who is a priest on his throne, and has on his head many crowns. But of the saints who are freed from the power and dominion of sin, and are made kings and priests unto God.


This very same warning was given to the priest, when the anointing oil of God was upon them. During this time of consecration, he must not touch anything unclean, or become unclean by touching a dead body, even if it is one of his parents. For a person to be totally devoted to God, He or she must be totally separated from worldly things. His or her, feelings must glorify God and not man.


Numbers 6:8 "All the days of his separation he [is] holy unto the LORD."


Set apart for his service, separate from all others, especially the dead. And under obligation to abstain from the above things. From drinking wine, from shaving his hair, and from defiling himself for the dead. And to be employed in holy and religious exercises during the time his vow is upon him.


This time of separation is a time of perfect fellowship with God. He lives holy in the sight of God during this time. His mind, soul, and spirit are stayed upon God during this time.


Numbers 6:9 "And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it."


"Die ... suddenly": If the Nazirite inadvertently came in contact with a dead body, he was to shave his head, on the eighth day bring the prescribed offerings, and begin the days of his vow again. This is a good illustration of the fact that sin can become mingled with the best intentions, and is not always premediated. When sin is mixed with the holiest actions, it calls for a renewed cleansing.


This is an accidental close contact with a dead body. If this happens, then he must shave his head, and start all over again with the vow. "Seven" has to do with spiritually complete. The seventh day is possibly, when the consecration would have been over.


Numbers 6:10 "And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:"


Not a turtledove and a young pigeon, as Ben Gersom observes, but two of one of the sorts. Which was the offering of the poorer sort of childbearing women at their purification. And this case of the Nazarite's being unclean, could not be purged away but by sacrifice. Which was typical of the sacrifice of Christ, by which that unclean thing sin is put away for ever. Even the sins of holy things can be moved in no other way. These were to be brought to the priest to be offered by him.


"To the door of the tabernacle of the congregation": For being defiled, the Nazarite might not go into the tabernacle, and therefore was to bring his offering to the door of it, where the priest received it of him.


This offering was used for uncleanness of various kinds.


Numbers 6:11 "And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day."


That is, one of the turtles or young pigeons for the one kind of sacrifice, and one for the other sort; both being necessary. The one to expiate sin, and the other as a gift to God by way of thankfulness for acceptance of the former.


"And make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead": By being where the dead body was, which, though not sinful, in a moral sense, was, in a ceremonial one. And therefore, required a sacrifice to atone for it. And which atonement was made by the sin offering typical of Christ, who was made an offering for sin.


"And shall hallow his head the same day": Consecrate himself to God afresh, particularly the hair of his head. Let that grow again and begin his Nazariteship anew; so Jarchi interprets it, to return and begin the account of his Nazariteship.


This is to cleanse him, so he can begin the Nazarite vow again. It makes no difference that it was accidental, it is still sin. His becoming unclean must be treated as if it were on purpose, and not an accident. The offerings make an atonement for him.


Numbers 6:12 "And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled."


He was to begin his account again, from the time of his shaving his head, and devote as many days to the service of the Lord as what he had vowed before.


"And shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering": We see how much trouble and expense were brought by a single act of pollution, and that involuntary too. How much more need is there of an atoning sacrifice for the sins of men, even for all of them, and for which only the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient?


"But the days that were before shall be lost": Which were before the pollution. How near whatsoever the time of Nazariteship being at an end was. Whether his vow was for thirty days, or a hundred, or a whole year; be it what it will. And the pollution happened on the last of those days, all were lost. He was obliged to begin again, and go through the whole time he at first vowed. And this was the case if he drank the least quantity of wine. Or shaved ever so little of the hair of his head, or was any ways polluted by the dead. And this severity, as it may seem, was used to make him cautious that he broke not his vow by any means.


"Because his separation was defiled": In the case instanced in, by the dead, but it was the same if he broke the law of Nazariteship in any of the other articles of it.


A trespass offering is like paying for a guilt. Since he broke the vow, he is guilty of sin. The lamb is to reinstate him. The days he had already performed the Nazarite vow, cannot be used as credit for the keeping of the vow. He must begin all over again at the beginning. We mentioned before, that this is a time of total separation from the world.


Verses 13-17: When the time of consecration was over, the Nazirite was to present "a burnt offering", symbolizing complete surrender to Yahweh (Lev. 1:10-13), "a sin offering", to atone for any sins committed unwittingly during the time of the vow (Lev. Chapter 4), and "peace offerings", demonstrating that the person and the Lord were in harmony (Lev. 3:6-11; 7:11-14).


Numbers 6:13 "And this [is] the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:"


"Fulfilled": At the end of the determined time, the Nazirite was released from his vow though offerings and the shaving of his head. His hair was to be brought to the sanctuary at the time of those offerings (compare Acts 18:18).


This vow had been taken for a certain period of time. When that time is fulfilled, the person taking the vow comes to the temple or tabernacle, and comes before the priest.


Numbers 6:14 "And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,"


The Nazarite was to present his offering at the door of the tabernacle, to the priest, in order to be offered for him to the Lord.


"One he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering": According to the law, manner, and custom of a burnt offering, as Aben Ezra observes. Which, whether of the herd or of the flock, was to be a male and unblemished, and not more than a year old (Lev. 1:3).


"And one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering": As was the manner and custom of a sin offering, to be a female, as is remarked by the same writer (see Lev. 4:32).


"For peace-offerings": For thankfulness to God, who had given him grace to make and in some measure to keep such a vow. So he offered all the three sorts of offerings, that he might so far fulfil all righteousness, and profess his obligation to observe the will of God in all things.


This offering covers four types of offerings. The sin offering, the burnt offering, the peace offering and the meat offering. All of them in some way or other, symbolize the one great sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us.


Numbers 6:15 "And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings."


As at the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:2). Though for peace offerings for thanksgiving leavened bread was offered (Lev. 7:13).


"Cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil": Ten of each sort, as Jarchi says, ten cakes and ten wafers (see Exodus 29:9).


"And their meat offering, and their drink offerings": Which always used to attend every sacrifice.


The "meat offering" was the makings for bread. (Jesus is the Bread of Life). The Christian should give thanks for the great sacrifice Jesus made for all of us, when He fulfilled every one of these sacrifices. He fulfilled the law for you and me. He is our law.


Numbers 6:16 "And the priest shall bring [them] before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering:"


All the above offerings to the altar of burnt offering. And there present them to the Lord in the name of the Nazarite.


"And shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering": Here they stand in the proper order in which they were offered.


Any offering omitted during this time of separation, is covered in all of these offerings here.


Numbers 6:17 "And he shall offer the ram [for] a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering."


After he had offered the other two.


"With the basket of unleavened bread": Which went along with that.


"The priest shall also offer his meat offering, and his drink offering": Of which he had his part, and were the usual appendages of other sacrifices (see Num. 28:1).


Jesus is the unleavened (without sin), Bread. He is our peace. His flesh is our meat indeed, and His blood our drink.


John 6:53 "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."


Numbers 6:18 "And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put [it] in the fire which [is] under the sacrifice of the peace offerings."


As the Nazarite had during his vow worn his hair unshorn in honor of God. So when the time was complete it was natural that the hair, the symbol of his vow, should be cut off, in token that his vow is ended, and offered to God at the sanctuary. The burning of the hair "in the fire under the sacrifice of the peace offering "represented the Eucharistic communion with God obtained by those who realized the ideal which the Nazarite set forth. For the hair which was consecrated to the Lord, might not be cast into any profane place.


The hair of the Nazarite was holy unto the Lord, as long as the vow was in effect. The hair that had been dedicated to God, would be burned in dedication to God. This would be the last of the commitment.


Numbers 6:19 "And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put [them] upon the hands of the Nazarite, after [the hair of] his separation is shaven:"


The left shoulder, for the right shoulder, which is the heave shoulder of every peace offering, belonged to the priest by another law. And by this law of the Nazarite, he had also the other shoulder, and so had both, which was peculiar to this case. The vow of the Nazarite being a very sacred thing and he being enabled to perform it, a greater expression of gratitude for it was expected and required of him. This shoulder was taken out of the pot in which it was boiled.


"And one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer": One of the ten cakes, and one of the ten wafers, both are mentioned. And which appear by this to be together in the basket of unleavened bread. From whence they were now to be taken, the rest having been offered with the other sacrifices.


"And shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite; the boiled shoulder, and the cake and wafer upon it.


"After the hair of his separation is shaven": And cast into the fire. For the waving of these seems to be the last and finishing part of this whole affair.


This is showing that God has accepted his Nazarite vow. The shoulder of the ram and the unleavened cake were generally eaten of the priest. We see the dedication of the hands of the Nazarite here. This speaks of the Lord accepting his work as holy. The hands speak of work.


Numbers 6:20 "And the priest shall wave them [for] a wave offering before the LORD: this [is] holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine."


Putting his hands under the Nazarite's, as in other cases where this ceremony was used. And so moving them to and fro, backwards and forwards, upwards and downwards. Testifying hereby the goodness of God unto him, his sovereign dominion over him, that all he had depended on him, and was received from him. And that all he did, particularly in keeping his vow of Nazariteship, was through his assistance. And for which he made this grateful acknowledgment by delivering the above, together with what follows, to his priest.


"This is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder": Besides these which were given him by another law, the wave shoulder of the Nazarite's ram was given him to eat. It was holy, and set apart for his use, and his only. And it belonged not in common to the course of the priests then on duty, but to him only that officiated in this peculiar service. And so it is observed by the Jewish writers, that the Nazarite's ram and some other things were not given to every priest, but to him that offered the sacrifice. As it is said, "he shall wave this is holy to the priest"; upon which it is observed, that it follows from hence, that the priest that waves is he that eats the sacrifice.


"And after that the Nazarite may drink wine": And cut his hair, and shave his head, and be defiled for the dead as other persons. The vow of his Nazariteship being fulfilled.


They are waved before the Lord, offering them first to God. They may eat and drink wine now. The Nazarite vow is completed. Some people, like John the Baptist, were Nazarites all of their lives. John was, from his mother's womb. The person in the lesson today, was just for a short period of time.


Numbers 6:21 "This [is] the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, [and of] his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside [that] that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation."


The vow of a Nazarite; what he is obliged to do when his Nazariteship is up.


"And of his offering unto the Lord for his separation": Of the several offerings required of him, to offer to the Lord, for and upon his going through his Nazariteship. His burnt offering, sin offering, sacrifice of peace offerings, his meat offering and drink offering. Together with the basket of unleavened bread, cakes and wafers.


"Besides [that] that his hands shall get": The above offerings were what he was obliged unto by the law of God, even though a poor man. But, besides these, it was expected of a man of substance, that he would voluntarily of himself offer more. According to his ability and the length of the time of his Nazariteship.


"According to the vow which he hath vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation": There were some things he was obliged to do by his vow, and as he had vowed, there was a necessity upon him to fulfil it. As to abstain from the things he vowed so to do. And that as long a time as he fixed by his vow. And when finished to offer the sacrifices required of him.


This is explaining, that all we have read has to do with the taking of the Nazarite vow, and the seriousness of keeping it. We too must understand that promises and vows we make to God are serious. We must not take them too casually. God expects us to do what we promise to do, without exception.


Verses 22-27: Yahweh's gracious provision to Aaron and his sons for the blessing of the people of God is called "the Aaronic benediction". "Make His face shine upon thee" asks for God to delight in His people and show them favor. The favor results in "peace". More than the absence of war, this refers to someone's overall well-being, where everything is as it ought to be (Deut. 28:3-6).


Obedient Israel, organized before and consecrated to the Lord, was the recipient of God's blessing (i.e., His favor), pronounced by the priests.


Numbers 6:22 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


At the same time perhaps, that the above law was given concerning the Nazarites. Though why this should follow upon that, and what connection there is between the one and the other, it is not easy to say. The Nazarites were holy persons, and so were the priests. And therefore, according to Aben Ezra and others, the law of the one is joined to the law of the other.


Again, we see a separation from the previous verses.


Numbers 6:23 "Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,"


Aaron and his sons that succeeded him in all after generations. Being the persons that were in a public manner to bless the people of Israel, they are particularly addressed (see Deut. 10:8).


"Saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel": In such manner and with such words as after expressed. Standing upon an eminence, lifting up their hands on high, spreading out their fingers, and raising their voices. And pronouncing the blessing in the Hebrew language, in the name of Jehovah, with their face towards the people. All which, according to the Jewish writers, were to be strictly observed.


Aaron and his sons represented God to the people. It is interesting to notice, that Aaron and his sons were given the authority from God to speak a blessing upon the people. It is important to note here, that Aaron symbolizes the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who has all power and authority to bless. He also in a way, is speaking of the minister in the church who is subordinate to Jesus. The minister is given the authority to bless the people, in the name of Jesus. The priests, Aaron's sons, are symbolic of all believers in Christ. Then this is saying, that all believers can speak a blessing from God on the people of the world, if they do it in the name of Jesus. We are His hands on this earth. We are the mouthpiece that He speaks through on the earth.


Numbers 6:24 "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:"


"Bless": The Lord's blessing was described as His face (i.e., His presence), shining on His people (verse 25), and looking at them (verses 26). God shone forth in benevolence on Israel and looked on them for good.


"Keep": The results of the Lord's blessing were His preservation of Israel ("keep"), His kindness toward her ("be gracious", verse 25), and her total well-being ("peace", verse 26).


The priests or high priest, speak the blessing, but the blessing is from the LORD. This magnifies the great love that God has for each of us.


Numbers 6:25 "The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:"


Cause himself, the sun of righteousness, to rise and shine upon them, and give both spiritual light and heat unto them. Grant his gracious presence, the manifestations of himself. Communion with him, and clearer discoveries of his love, of interest in him. And an increase of spiritual light and knowledge of his Gospel, and the truths of it, and of his mind and will.


"And be gracious unto thee": By granting larger measures of grace out of his fullness. By leading more abundantly into it, and making fresh and frequent applications of it. Grace is often wished for from Christ as well as from the Father.


By grace are you saved, and not of yourself. God's graciousness toward us is the saving factor. He looks upon us with love and compassion, and saves even the unlovely.


John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."


Numbers 6:26 "The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."


Show his face and favor, look cheerfully on his people. Declare himself well pleased with them in Christ, and appear as smiling upon them through him. Indulging them with visits of love, restoring to them the joys of his salvation, and upholding them with his free Spirit. And so causing them to walk pleasantly and comfortably in the ways of God. Expecting eternal life and happiness, as God's free gift through Christ.


"And give thee peace": All outward needful prosperity, internal peace of mind, through the blood and righteousness of Christ, the peacemaker, and peace giver. And eternal peace in the world to come.


Jesus is our peace. He is King of Peace.


Romans 5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"


Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."


Numbers 6:27 "And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."


"Put my name": The name of the Lord represented His person and character. The priests were to call for God to dwell among His people and meet all their needs.


To put the covenant name of God upon the people, was like a seal of approval. God claimed them for His own. The Christian bears the name of Christ.


Hebrews 8:10 "For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"


Numbers Chapter 6 Questions


1. Who could take a Nazarite vow?


2. Tell the difference between a Nazarite and a Nazarene.


3. What is a better word for Nazarite?


4. Why could the woman, as well as the man, take this vow?


5. He shall separate himself from wine and _________ _________.


6. What, that was non-alcoholic was he to separate himself from?


7. A person loses control of his own ________ under the influence of alcohol.


8. What was forbidden for him to eat, during his entire time of separation?


9. What is the "vine" symbolic of?


10. All the days of his separation there shall no ________ come upon his head.


11. Is this saying a man should wear long hair? Explain.


12. Why has Jesus been depicted as wearing long hair?


13. Why should a Nazarite not come near a dead body?


14. Is it different, if the body is his father, or mother?


15. All the days of his separation he is _______ unto the LORD.


16. What happens, if someone dies suddenly by him?


17. What does "seven" mean?


18. What shall he bring to the priest on the 8th day?


19. The offerings in verse 11, make an ______________ for him.


20. Where does his next vow start?


21. When he has fulfilled his vow, what does he do?


22. In verse 14, how many sacrifices are covered?


23. The "meat offerings" were the makings for _________.


24. Why was this so?


25. Jesus is our unleavened Bread. He is also, our ________.


26. What does he do with his hair?


27. What does the unleavened bread in his hand show?


28. What lesson can the Christian get out of this message of the vow?


29. What is the blessing Aaron is to speak on the people?


30. By _________ ye are saved.





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Numbers 7



Numbers Chapter 7

Verses 7:1 - 10:36: These 4 chapters show how the Lord spoke to Moses (7:89), and led Israel (9:22; 10:11-12), from the tabernacle. As Israel was properly oriented toward the Lord and obeyed His word, God gave them victory over their enemies (10:35).


Verses 1-89: Numbers (chapters 7-9), records events whose beginning and end are marked by the inclusion of "on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle" (7:1; 9:15). Chapter 7 records the "princes of Israel" and their gifts for the altar. It serves a theological purpose in that it follows the Aaronic blessing (in 6:22-27), and associates the priesthood and the altar, since they belong together. The princes ("leaders"), are depicted as responding to the grace of God shown in the establishment of the tabernacle and priesthood. Their generous response in giving, leads to a greater blessing. God's continued presence among them as God spoke to Moses "from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim" (verse 89). The tabernacle was no empty shrine but was the palace of the living God. This chapter emphasizes that sacrifice and ministry are essential to the life of God's people.


As the people of Israel had been generous in giving to the construction of the tabernacle (see Exodus 35:4-29), they showed the same generosity in its dedication.


Verses 1-9: This chapter points back a month to when "the tabernacle" was completed and dedicated, the first day of the second year of the Exodus (Exodus 40:2). Moses distributed "oxen" and "wagons" to the Levitical families of the Gershonites and Merarites, but none to the Kohathites (3:16-39; 4:1-33), because they were to carry the sacred objects "upon their shoulders" (4:15).


Verses 7:1 - 9:15: The events recorded here precede the ones of chapters 1-6.


Numbers 7:1 "And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them;"


"Had fully set up the tabernacle": According to (Exodus 40:17), the tabernacles was raised up on the first day of the first month of the second year. Thus, the tabernacle was set up 11-1/2 months after the Exodus from Egypt.


Every item in the tabernacle was anointed and dedicated to the service of God. Even the anointing oil that was used was holy.


Exodus 30:25-28 "And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be a holy anointing oil." "And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony," "And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense," "And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot."


The following is a little further expansion on this.


Exodus 40:9 "And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that [is] therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy."


Numbers 7:2 "That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who [were] the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered:"


"The princes of Israel": The leaders of the 12 tribes were those named (in 1:5-15), who oversaw the numbering of the people. The order of the presentation by tribe of their offerings to the tabernacle was the same as the order of march given (in 2:3-32).


This is speaking of those who had been chosen to be the princes over each of the tribes. They were head of the tribes, at the time of the numbering. Each tribe had given what they should to God for use in the tabernacle. The following is just one example of what they brought.


Exodus 35:27 "And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;"


Numbers 7:3 "And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle."


Before the tabernacle, as it is afterwards explained, where he had now taken up his habitation.


"Six covered wagons, and twelve oxen": According to the number of the twelve tribes, of which they were princes. Two oxen for each wagon, which were to carry the tabernacle, and its vessels, from place to place. And which wagons were covered, not only to hide the things to be put into them from the sight of the people. Not only because they were sacred, but to preserve them from the rain, dust, and the like. And no doubt, but as they were made of the best materials, so they were covered with rich coverings for the honor of the vessels put into them. Being the presents of princes, and in which they joined, and could not be ordinary carriages. The word is rendered "litters" (in Isa. 66:20). And by some, "coaches"; the Targum of Jonathan is, "six wagons yoked," or drawn with a yoke of oxen. And Aben Ezra says, it signifies a kind of oxen which drew wagons. But the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and Ben Gersom interpret it "covered", as we do.


"A wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox": Two princes joined in the present of one wagon, which shows it could not be a common wagon, but rich carriage. And ornamented, as the Targum of Jonathan adds. And each prince presented an ox, so that there was a yoke of them for each wagon.


"And they brought them before the tabernacle": The Targum of Jonathan says, Moses would not receive them, and therefore they brought them before the tabernacle. And so, says Jarchi, Moses received them not at their hands, until it was declared to him by the mouth of the Lord what he should do, as follows.


These covered wagons were needed for transporting the things of the tabernacle. This is a good example of God sending exactly what was needed to do a certain job. The most important thing in giving, is to make sure we give from a free heart.


Exodus 25:2 "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering."


Numbers 7:4 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


Out of the tabernacle, before which the wagons and oxen were brought.


In this case, Moses was not sure whether to accept this gift for the tabernacle, and he needed an answer from God. The LORD answers Moses.


Numbers 7:5 "Take [it] of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service."


The present of the wagons and oxen, by which it appears that this freewill offering of the princes was according to his mind and will. And what they were influenced and guided to by his Spirit, and was well pleasing in his sight, and acceptable to him.


"That they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation": Be made use of, and employed in carrying the tabernacle. And the things of it, from place to place, when the Israelites journeyed.


"And thou shalt give them to the Levites": To ease them, whose business it was to bear and carry the several parts of the tabernacle, and the vessels of it.


"To every man according to his service": Whether lighter or heavier, for such difference there was in the three divisions of the Levites. And according as their work was, they had more or fewer wagons and oxen given them, as it follows (Num. 7:7).


The boards and the heavy parts of the tabernacle, that had to be carried from place to place would require covered wagons and oxen to pull the heavy load. The LORD instructs Moses to receive the offering, and give them to those who are called to carry the heavy burden of the tabernacle. The person in charge of the burdens, will receive the wagons and the oxen.


Numbers 7:6 "And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites."


"The wagons and the oxen": These were to be used in the transportation of the tabernacle. According to (verse 9), the sons of Kohath did not receive a cart because they were to carry the holy things of the tabernacle on their shoulders.


The Levites are a large tribe. We will see that Moses gives them to specific people of the Levites in the ministry of carrying the tabernacle and setting it up.


Numbers 7:7 "Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service:"


The eldest son of Levi.


"According to their service": Which was to bear and take care of the curtains, coverings, hangings and rails of the tabernacle. And which, when carrying from place to place, it was proper they should be covered from being exposed to rain and dust. And being so many as they were, must be heavy, burdensome, and cumbersome. And therefore, two wagons with two yoke of oxen were given them, to ease them.


Two wagons would be plenty to carry the curtains and the furniture of the tabernacle. The tribe of Gershon was in charge of them.


Numbers 7:8 "And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest."


All the remaining wagons and oxen, which were double the number given to the Gershonites.


"According unto their service": Being much heavier than theirs, having all the boards, pillars, sockets, pins; cords, etc. to bear and carry. Thus, Moses was directed of God wisely to dispose of those carriages, in proportion to the services each was employed in. And in a spiritual way, as the day, duty, and service of the people of God be, he proportions grace and strength to them to answer thereunto.


"Under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest": Under whose care, inspection, and direction, were both the Gershonites and Merarites (Num. 4:28). And by whom were delivered, according to the instruction of Moses, the several wagons and oxen, to them.


It was necessary for the tribe of Merari to have four wagons, because the boards to the tabernacle were large, heavy, and bulky. This is not showing favoritism to this tribe. This is necessary for the carrying of the material of the tabernacle. Ithamar, the son of Aaron we remember, was in charge of this. He supervised their service.


Numbers 7:9 "But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them [was that] they should bear upon their shoulders."


Being all disposed of to the sons of Gershon and Merari: the reason of which follows.


"Because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders": As the ark with the mercy seat, and cherubim, the showbread table, the candlestick, and the two altars. Though in later times we find the ark was sometimes not only carried by the priests, but upon a cart (Joshua 3:17).


We remember the sons of Kohath were in charge of the holy things. It would not be right for them to be handled with animals, or on a cart. They are hand-carried by the members of the tribe chosen to carry them. There would be no need for wagons, or oxen. They used poles run through sockets to carry the heavier items.


Verses 10-88: The gifts of the dedication offering from each tribe were presented in sequence on the first 12 days of the month. Each leader brought identical gifts to Yahweh, including a "silver charger" and a "silver bowl", both fill with flour and oil as a "meat offering"; a gold spoon filled with "incense"; three animals as a "burnt offering"; a young goat as a "sin offering; and an impressive number of animals as "peace offerings". The fact that each of the identical offerings is listed separately suggest:


(1) A congregational pattern of worship;


(2) The significance of the gifts from each tribe;


(3) The delight of each tribe as its gifts were honored.


Numbers 7:10 "And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar."


The altar was dedicated by pouring anointing oil over it. The blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on it as well. The offerings from the princes were brought to be offered. Whether they were actually offered on this particular day, or on another day, we have no way of knowing.


Numbers 7:11 "And the LORD said unto Moses, They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar."


For before this was said to him, even what follows, Moses knew not, as the same writer observes. How they should offer, in what order, whether according to their birth. Or whether according to the journeying of their camps, or whether they should offer together. Or one after another, one day after another; this affair is set in a clear light.


"They shall offer their offering each prince on his day": One on one day, and the other on the next, and so on successively for twelve days running. And this was ordered for the greater solemnity of the service, and that it might be taken notice of. And each have the honor and credit of it. And this was done, not according to the order of their birth, but as their standards were fixed. First Judah, and those under him, and so the rest in course.


"For the dedicating of the altar (see Num. 7:10).


This would cause you to believe the offerings of the princes occurred on several days. They brought it to be offered earlier, but rather than rush the whole thing through, they took a special time for each to make his offering.


Numbers 7:12 "And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:"


"The first day": I.e., the first day of the first month. The gifts of the leaders to the tabernacle were given over 12 successive days.


Now, we see the prince who represented the tribe of Judah, Nahshon, offered his offering on the first day.


Numbers 7:13 "And his offering [was] one silver charger, the weight thereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them [were] full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


Or dish, like one of those used in the showbread table to hold the bread in. Only they were of gold, this was of silver, and belonged to the altar of burnt offering. The use of which might be to hold the meat offering in. As it may seem from the latter part of the verse, or the wave breast or heave shoulder, which belonged to the priest.


"The weight thereof was a hundred and thirty shekels": Which were sixty one ounces, four drachms, one scruple, and seventeen grains.


"One silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary": The standard that was kept in the sanctuary. This was a lesser vessel, and was either for holding the drink offering, or receiving the blood of the sacrifices. Its weight was thirty three ounces, five drachms, and three grains.


"Both of them were full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering": Which always attended other sacrifices after mentioned. Part of which was burnt on the altar of burnt offering, and the rest were the perquisites of the priests.


This offering is of great value. You remember, that 5 shekels of silver was the redemption price of the firstborn. The silver charger weighed 5 pounds' troy weight. The silver bowl weighed just under 3 pounds. We have touched before on the fact, that the meat offering is made up of the makings of bread. Jesus is the Bread of life. He is also the Meat offering. All of the offerings symbolize Jesus in some way. "Silver" has to do with redemption.


Numbers 7:14 "One spoon of ten [shekels] of gold, full of incense:"


Its weight was according to the shekels, its matter of gold. It weighed four ounces, one drachm, and nine grains.


"Full of incense": This looks as if this spoon was designed for the golden altar of incense, which might be at this time also dedicated. But Jarchi understands it as for the altar of burnt offering, and observes, we never find incense belonging to a private person. Nor to the outward altar (the altar of burnt offering), but this only, and which was temporary.


"Gold" symbolizes the purity of God. The spoon would weigh 50 dwt. of gold. The incense is to be burned, and rise to heaven. This symbolizes the prayers of the saints that rise to heaven.


Exodus 30:7-8 "And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it." "And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations."


Numbers 7:15 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


Of three years old, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem.


"One ram": Of two years old, as the same Targums.


"One lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering (of which see Lev. 1:3).


These burnt offerings were a shadow of better things to come. Jesus was a male with no blemish. The difference being, that the blood of animals cannot do away with sin, it can just cover the sin. The blood of Jesus, the perfect Lamb sacrifice, abolished sin for all who would believe. Jesus was God the Son.


Numbers 7:16 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


Though these offerings of the princes were by way of thanksgiving. And to express their joy and gladness at the erection of the tabernacle, its altars, and the service thereof. Yet as this might not be without sin, which attends the best and purest performances of men, a sin offering was required. Teaching us to look to Christ, who was made an offering for sin, for the taking away the sins of our holy things.


The burnt offering and the peace offering consisted of more than one animal to be sacrificed. The sin offering consisted of just one animal.


Numbers 7:17 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab."


So that here were all sorts of offerings on this occasion. Meat and drink offerings, burnt offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings. And for the latter were brought:


"Two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year": The reason why so many were brought and used for this sort of sacrifice was, because with these a feast was made, of which not only the priests partook, but the princes. And as many of their friends and acquaintance as they thought fit to invite.


"He that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon": Of the tribe of Judah. Judah having had the precedence assigned to it. The prince or head of that tribe was the first admitted to offer as its representative. And his offering, as well as that of the others, is thought, from its costliness, to have been furnished not from his own private means, but from the general contributions of each tribe. Some parts of the offering, as the animals for sacrifice, were for the ritual service of the day. The peace offerings being by much the most numerous, as the princes and some of the people joined with the priests afterwards in celebrating the occasion with festive rejoicing.


The number two speaks of agreement. The number five speaks of the grace of God. Nahshon offered for his whole tribe.


Numbers 7:18 "On the second day Nethaneel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, did offer:"


See (Num. 1:8).


Nethaneel represented the tribe of Issachar.


Numbers 7:19 "He offered [for] his offering one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:13).


This is the same offering Nahshon made for the tribe of Judah.


Numbers 7:20 "One spoon of gold of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See (note on Num. 7:14).


This is the same offering also.


Numbers 7:21 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:22 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:23 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Nethaneel the son of Zuar."


See (note on Num. 7:17).


These offerings were on the second day. They were all made for the entire tribe. Nethaneel represented the tribe of Issachar.


Numbers 7:24 "On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun, [did offer]:"


See (Num. 1:9).


Each of the tribes had their special day. Eliab represented the tribe of Zebulon.


Numbers 7:25 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:26 " One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See (note on Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:27 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:28 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See (note on Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:29 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Eliab the son of Helon."


See (note on Num. 7:17).


Again, this is the very same offering that the other two had made. Each prince offers for his tribe he represented.


Numbers Chapter 7 Questions


1. What did Moses anoint?


2. What happened to everything that was anointed?


3. Who offered in the tabernacle?


4. How many covered wagons did they bring?


5. How many oxen did they bring?


6. Was this an acceptable offering?


7. What would the covered wagons be used for?


8. Who would use the wagons?


9. Two wagons and four oxen go to whom?


10. What were they responsible for transporting of the tabernacle?


11. Why did Merari get twice as many of each?


12. What was the reason Kohath did not get any?


13. How was the altar dedicated?


14. Who offered first?


15. What tribe did he represent?


16. How much did the silver charger weigh?


17. How much did the silver bowl weigh?


18. What was brought for a meat offering?


19. What does the meat offering symbolize?


20. How much gold was brought?


21. What did they do with the incense?


22. What was brought for a burnt offering?


23. What is the difference in the blood of these animals sacrificed, and the blood of Jesus shed?


24. What was brought for a sin offering?


25. What was brought for a peace offering?


26. Who was Nahshon's father?


27. Who offered on the second day?


28. What did he offer?


29. Who offered the third day?




Numbers Chapter 7 Continued

Numbers 7:30 "On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben, [did offer]:"


See (Num. 1:5).


We remember, that Reuben was the oldest of the twelve sons of Jacob, and his mother was Leah. His tribe is led by Elizur. They brought their offering to the tabernacle.


Numbers 7:31 "His offering [was] one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13)


Numbers 7:32 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:33 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:34 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:35 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


Since all of the offerings are the same from each tribe, we will not go into their meanings again here. I will remind you, that each of the sacrifices and offerings shadow the great sacrifice of Jesus. Each offering and each sacrifice symbolize the Lord in some special way.


Numbers 7:36 "On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of Simeon, [did offer]:"


See (Num. 1:6).


We see again, that each of the tribes have chosen a prince to represent them. To represent the tribe of Simeon, is Shelumiel, the son of Zurishaddai. The name "Zurishaddai" means rock of the Almighty.


Numbers 7:37 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:38 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:39 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:40 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:41 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


"Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai": See (Num. 1:6).


Numbers 7:42 "On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad, [offered]:"


See (Num. 1:14).


This is the tribe of Gad led by Eliasaph, the prince. He brings the same offering as each of the rest of them. Take note, that it did not seem to matter the size of the tribe, they all gave the same.


Numbers 7:43 "His offering [was] one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty [shekels], a silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:44 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:45 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:46 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:47 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


The name "Deuel" means known of God. "Eliasaph" means God is gatherer. We must remember as we go through this lesson, that all of these families began with the family of Jacob. They are all descendants from the 12 tribes of Israel. God loved them, and made them His people.


Numbers 7:48 "On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, prince of the children of Ephraim, [offered]:"


See (Num. 1:10).


We must notice that this is 7 days of offerings. One of these days, whether this one or another, fell on the Sabbath. It appears, they offered on the Sabbath, as well as on the other days. We also must notice, that this tribe of Ephraim is actually descended from Joseph. Ephraim and his brother both, got separate tribes when Levi was removed from the 12 for service to the Lord. Elishama was the leader of the tribe of Ephraim.


Numbers 7:49 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:50 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:51 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:52 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:53 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


This again, is the same offering as the other tribes. "Ammihud" means people of splendor.


Numbers 7:54 "On the eighth day [offered] Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, prince of the children of Manasseh:"


See (Num. 1:10).


Ephraim and Manasseh were brothers. Their father was Joseph. We explained above, how they got two tribes, instead of one. "Gamaliel" means reward of God. "Pedahzur" means a rock has ransomed.


Numbers 7:55 "His offering [was] one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:56 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:57 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:58 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:59 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


"Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur (see Num. 1:10).


Perhaps these offerings are mentioned over and over, so we will remember the different offerings.


Numbers 7:60 "On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, prince of the children of Benjamin, [offered]:"


See (Num. 1:11).


Benjamin was the youngest of the twelve, and was the brother of Joseph. Their mother was Rachel, the beloved of Jacob. The tribe of Benjamin is led by prince Abidan.


Numbers 7:61 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:62 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:63 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:64 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:65 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


Abidan the son of Gideoni (see Num. 1:11).


The name "Gideoni" means warlike. "Abidan" means father of judgement.


Numbers 7:66 "On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, prince of the children of Dan, [offered]:"


See (Num. 1:12).


Dan's tribe was still very prominent here. He is not mentioned in Revelation, as part of the twelve tribes. His great sins had removed him from the list. Ahiezer was the leader of their tribe here.


Numbers 7:67 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:68 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:69 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:70 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:71 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


"Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai": See (Num. 1:12).


The only thing that is changing on all of these offerings are the people who offer. "Ammishaddai" means people of the Almighty.


Numbers 7:72-73 "On the eleventh day Pagiel the son of Ocran, prince of the children of Asher, [offered]:" "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:74 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:75 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:76 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:77 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Pagiel the son of Ocran."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


"Pagiel the son of Ocran": See (Num. 1:13).


"Pagiel" means accident of God. "Ocran" means muddler.


Numbers 7:78 "On the twelfth day Ahira the son of Enan, prince of the children of Naphtali, [offered]:"


See (Num. 1:15).


Ahira was the prince of the tribe of Naphtali.


Numbers 7:79 "His offering [was] one silver charger, the weight whereof [was] a hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


Numbers 7:80 "One golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense:"


See notes on (Num. 7:14).


Numbers 7:81 "One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:15).


Numbers 7:82 "One kid of the goats for a sin offering:"


See notes on (Num. 7:16).


Numbers 7:83 "And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this [was] the offering of Ahira the son of Enan."


See notes on (Num. 7:17).


Ahira the son of Enan (see Num. 1:15).


"Enan" means having eyes. "Ahira" means brother of wrong.


Verses 84-88: This summary of all the gifts during the 12 days marks the significance and solemnity of this signature week in the life of Israel.


Numbers 7:84 "This [was] the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold:"


These the presents they made, and the offerings they offered when the altar first began to be made use of. After it had been anointed and sanctified for sacred service.


"In the day when it was anointed": This shows that it was not the precise and exact day of the setting up of the tabernacle, and the anointing of the altar, that the above presents and offerings were brought. Since they were twelve successive days in bringing. But that the sense is, that about that time, or quickly after it was anointed, the princes dedicated it in the manner before described.


"Twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold": According to the number of the princes, and the tribes they were princes of. A noble instance both of devotion and piety, and of liberality and generosity. And is a standing example on record to all princes and great personages in all successive ages, to promote religion and godliness, by their own personal conduct and behavior. And to encourage and support it by their generous benefactions and donations. The sum total of what they contributed is in this and the following verses given.


There were twelve tribes, and each of them brought a charger of silver. Each brought a bowl of silver. Each brought a spoon of gold. The gifts of the prince were for their whole tribe.


Numbers 7:85 "Each charger of silver [weighing] a hundred and thirty [shekels], each bowl seventy: all the silver vessels [weighed] two thousand and four hundred [shekels], after the shekel of the sanctuary:"


See notes on (Num. 7:13).


"All the silver vessels weighed two thousand and four hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary (which amounted to 1,139 ounces and four drachms).


The 130 shekels of silver for each charger, and the 70 shekels of silver for each bowl means each tribe brought 200 shekels of silver.


Numbers 7:86 "The golden spoons [were] twelve, full of incense, [weighing] ten [shekels] apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary: all the gold of the spoons [was] a hundred and twenty [shekels]."


Which points at the use those spoons or cups were of, namely, to carry incense in them, such as were used on the day of atonement.


"Weighing ten shekels apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary (see notes on Num. 7:14).


"All the gold of the spoons was twenty shekels; which amounted to forty nine ounces, five drachms, scruples, and eight gains.


This is the same as the verse above. Each tribe gave exactly the same amount. To get the total, you just multiply by twelve. Then there were 120 shekels of gold, that was given by all twelve tribes.


Numbers 7:87 "All the oxen for the burnt offering [were] twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin offering twelve."


According to the number of the princes and their tribes, and so:


"The rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve": Which were also for the burnt offering.


"With their meat offering": Which always went along with the burnt offering.


"And the kids of the goats, for a sin offering, twelve": Thus, the twelve princes, and by them the twelve tribes, expressed their faith in Christ. The antitype of those sacrifices, and their hope of his coming into the world to be a sacrifice for sin, and of their atonement, reconciliation, peace, pardon, and salvation by him (see Acts 26:6).


This speaks of the total number given by all 12 tribes.


Numbers 7:88 "And all the oxen for the sacrifice of the peace offerings [were] twenty and four bullocks, the rams sixty, the he goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty. This [was] the dedication of the altar, after that it was anointed."


Each prince bringing two:


"The rams sixty, the he goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty": Five of each being brought by every prince. So that the whole number of beasts for peace offerings only, which were to feast with, were two hundred and four.


"This was the dedication of the altar after that it was anointed": This clearly shows, that it was not the precise day the altar was anointed the dedication was made. But some little time after, even, that the first prince brought his presents and offerings for the dedication of it.


Again, this is the total given by all 12 tribes. All of this together, was nothing like the amount Solomon used in the temple in Jerusalem. The difference is that these people had come out of captivity in a foreign land. Solomon and David his father, were extremely wealthy. They had much more to give.


Numbers 7:89 "And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that [was] upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him."


"He spake unto him": With the completion of the tabernacle, the Lord communicated His Word to Moses from the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (see Lev.1:1; Num. 1:1).


"From off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim": Upon the ark in which the law was, called the testimony, was the mercy seat. Over that were placed two cherubim shadowing it, and between these was the seat of the divine Majesty, which he had now taken. And from hence the voice of him speaking, was heard; which, as it follows upon the presents and offerings of the princes, may be interpreted. Of the divine approbation and acceptance of them, since it was promised by the Lord to Moses. That upon their building a tabernacle for him he would dwell in it. And upon the making a mercy seat with the cherubim over the ark, he would there meet with Moses, and commune with him. All which being done to his mind he fulfils his promise. Though it seems that at this time Moses did not go into the most holy place, only into the tabernacle of the congregation, the outward sanctuary, the court of the tabernacle. And there he heard the voice, as Jarchi observes, coming out of the most Holy Place, and from the mercy seat there. Which was so loud, clear, and distinct, as to be well heard and understood by him. He supposes the voice went out from heaven to between the two cherubim, and from thence to the tabernacle of the congregation.


"And he spake unto him": What he spoke is not said, unless it is what follows in the next chapter.


The presence of God in the tabernacle, was in the Holy of Holies. He stayed above the mercy seat, between the two cherubims. God had promised the people of Israel, if they would obey him, He would be their God. His presence in the tabernacle shows His approval of their offerings. Moses does not see the face of God. He sees smoke, or a cloud. The voice comes out of that cloud.


Numbers Chapter 7 Continued Questions


1. Who was the oldest of Jacob's sons?


2. Who was his mother?


3. What does the author remind us about the offerings?


4. The name "Zurishaddai" means what?


5. Who led the tribe of Gad?


6. What does the name "Deuel" mean?


7. Where did all of these tribes begin?


8. Did the offerings stop for Sabbath?


9. Ephraim, actually, is from what tribe?


10. When did Ephraim and Manasseh get two tribes?


11. Who was the leader of the tribe of Ephraim?


12. What does "Ammihud" mean?


13. Ephraim and Manasseh were _____________.


14. Who was their father?


15. What does "Gamaliel" mean?


16. What does "Pedahzur" mean?


17. Why are these offerings mentioned over and over?


18. Benjamin was the ____________ of the twelve, and was the ___________ of Joseph.


19. What does the name "Gideoni" mean?


20. Where is the tribe of Dan obviously omitted?


21. What does "Ammishaddai" mean?


22. "Pagiel" means _____________ of God.


23. What was the total weight of the silver, that all 12 tribes brought?


24. Where was the presence of God, in the tabernacle?


25. What did God's presence, in the tabernacle, tell the people?





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Numbers 8



Numbers Chapter 8

Verses 1-4: The "candlestick" was a seven-branched flowering lampstand, which symbolized the life-giving power of God. In shape, it is closely related to Late Bronze Age designs (sixteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C.). Aaron was to position the seven oil lamps placed at the end of each branch of the lampstand so that they "give light over" [they are to light the area in front of the lampstand] "against the candlestick". When one understands the design of the Holy Place, this becomes significant. The light would shine over the table of showbread, where the 12 loaves of bread, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel, were located (Lev. 24:5-9). Light and fire represent the continuous life-giving presence and blessing on God's people.


Moses had given the artisans of Israel detailed instructions on how to build the "candlestick" (Hebrew, menorah; Exodus 25:31-40), and they had fully complied (Exodus 37:17-24). This section contains instructions concerning the placement of the "seven lamps" of the candlestick. To situate each oil lamp so that its light was "over against of the candlestick", that would maximize visibility in the otherwise dark room, allowing the press to see both the incense altar and the table of showbread (Exodus 25:37; Lev. 24:2-4).


Exodus (25:32-40), recorded the instructions for the making of the golden lampstand and (Exodus 37:17-24), reported its completion. Here, as a part of the dedication of the tabernacle, the 7 lamps of the lampstand were lit.


Numbers 8:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


Whether immediately after the offerings of the princes, or at another time, is not certain. Aben Ezra thinks it was in the night God spake unto him, because then the lamps were lighted and burning.


We remember from the last lesson, that the LORD spoke to Moses from above the mercy seat.


Numbers 8:2 "Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick."


It being his work to light the lamps, though, as Ben Gersom observes. It was not incumbent on a high priest alone to do this, for it also belonged to the sons of Aaron, who were common priests (Exodus 27:21). Though it is probable that as this was the first time of lighting them, it might be done by Aaron himself, his sons attending and assisting him. In which he was an eminent type of Christ, the great High Priest. Who lights the lamps in all his golden candlesticks, the churches (Rev. 1:20). And from whom they have all their light and all the supplies of it.


When thou lightest the lamps": Which was done at evening (Exodus 30:8). Pointing at the great light set up by Christ, the light of the world, in the evening of it, in the last days.


"The seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick": The Targum of Jonathan is, "at the same time of thy lighting the lamps over against the candlestick. There shall be seven lamps giving light. Three on the west side and three on the east side, and the seventh in the middle. The true meaning of the phrase is, that the seven lamps gave light, as they were to do, to that part of the holy place that was opposite to the candlestick. The north part of it, where stood the showbread table, the candlestick being in the south (Exodus 40:22). That the table of the Lord might have light, as it was proper it should. And the priests might see to set on and take off the bread, which otherwise they could not, there being no window in the place (see notes on Exodus 25:37).


The lighting of the lamps and keeping them lit, was the function of the high priest and the priests. "Seven" means spiritually complete. Jesus is the Light of the world. The light in the tabernacle symbolized His Light. The candlestick, many times, symbolizes the church. This would mean that the Light of Jesus should shine out to the entire church. It reminds me of the candlestick being in each of the seven churches in Revelation. The "candlestick" also, symbolizes Jesus. The Light of the gospel of Jesus Christ is what causes us to walk with Him. When Jesus comes and dwells within us, His light opens our understanding. We were spiritually blind, but now we see. The light in the tabernacle shone on the bread. The Bread also, symbolizes Jesus. He is the Bread, or Word of God. This Light then, is not only giving physical light in the tabernacle, but is giving forth that spiritual Light which gives life.


Numbers 8:3 "And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses."


As God had taken up his residence in the most holy place, as appears by the voice speaking from off the mercy seat (Numbers 7:89). And sacrifices were begun to be offered in the outward court on the altar of burnt offering. As was the placing of the showbread on the showbread table, and burning incense on the golden altar of incense. Which could not well be done until the lamps were lighted, and therefore orders were given for the lighting them, which was accordingly done by Aaron.


"As the Lord commanded Moses" (Exodus 25:37).


Aaron, acting as high priest, lights the lamps. Jesus is the High Priest, who is the Light. The light gets very dim in our churches today. Sometimes it appears it will go completely out. Jesus will Light up the church again, if we will let Him come in.


Numbers 8:4 "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 showed Moses, so he made the candlestick."


As it is also said to be (see notes on Exodus 25:31; and 25:36).


"Unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work". Of which (see Exodus 25:31).


"According unto the pattern which the Lord had showed Moses": When on Mount Sinai with him.


"So he made the candlestick": That is, ordered it to be made, and took care that it was made exactly to the pattern he had of it. Otherwise Bezaleel was the artificer; and so the Targum of Jonathan here expresses him by name.


The "gold" symbolized God. Jesus (the Light), is God the Son, or God the Word.


Exodus 25:31-32 "And thou shalt make a candlestick [of] pure gold: [of] beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same." "And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:"


We could go on with this description, but you can read it in the rest of (Exodus chapter 25). The idea is that there was a candlestick with 6 extra flutes, three on each side. All together there were 7 places of burning.


Verses 5-26: This ceremony set apart the Levites to the service of the Lord. Their dedication was a feature of the overall description of the dedication of the tabernacle.


Verses 5-22: Here the "Levites" were dedicated "as a gift to Aaron and to his sons". They would assist the priests in "their service in the tabernacle". The dedication process included having water sprinkled on them, shaving their entire bodies, and washing their clothes, all symbols of cleansing. They were presented in a manner similar to an "offering".


The dedication of the Levites was to take the place of the firstborn (verses 16-17; Exodus 13:2). The sin offering and the burnt offering "make an atonement for the Levites", whereas they in turn "make an atonement for the children of Israel". The Levites were "to do the service of the tabernacle and the congregation" (verse 15), and are said to be wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel" (verses 16, 18), that is, to the Lord. Israel would be protected from the "plague" through the ministry of the Levites. Mass death often was the result when men provoked God's anger (Exodus 12:13; 30:12; Num. 16:46, 48; Joshua 22:17; compare Num. 25:9). Because men who are defiled by sin dare not approach the holy God lest judgment break forth (Exodus 19:10-24).


Numbers 8:5 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


This is a break from the message of the candlestick.


Numbers 8:6 "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them."


"Cleanse": In contrast to the priests who were consecrated (Exodus 29:1, 9), the Levites were cleansed. According to (verse 7), this cleansing was accomplished by first, the sprinkling of water; second, the shaving of the body; and third, the washing of the clothes. This cleansing of the Levites made them pure so they might come into contact with the holy objects of the tabernacle. Similar requirements were given for the cleansing of the leper in (Lev. 14:8-9).


The entire Levitical tribe was not to be the ministers in the sanctuary, and they were not dedicated in the same manner as Aaron and Aaron's sons. In a sense, these Levites are like the congregation. They are cleansed, like water baptism. They may not be called to minister in the church, but they serve God. God is constantly showing in types and shadows, the Christians and their relationship to God. The Levites shadow the congregation. They are separated out from the world. They are baptized in water and cleansed. They are set aside for God's purpose. Only one of the three tribes of Levi actually become priests in the tabernacle.


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."


Literally, "sin water:" i.e., water to cleanse from sin. No doubt taken from the laver of the sanctuary, which was used by the priests for purification before they went into the tabernacle to minister (compare Num. 5:17; Exodus 30:18).


"Sprinkle water of purifying upon them": The "sprinkling" of so large a body of men could have been only general, but tokens of individual purification are specified (compare also Lev. 14:8).


"And Let them shave all their flesh": Literally, cause the razor to pass over all their flesh. A different word is used in (Lev. 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, and so make themselves clean": The bodies of the priests were washed at their consecration (Lev. 14:8-9). And those of the lepers at their cleansing (Lev. 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; compare Gen. 35:2).


This sprinkling is very much like many protestant churches do. They sprinkle the water on their heads to purify them. The shaving and washing of their clothes are an outward cleansing. The key to this is "make themselves clean". This outward cleansing could be symbolic of doing away with the filth of the world.


Hebrews 9:10 "[Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation."


Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."


Numbers 8:8 "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."


Of two years old, as the Jewish writers gather from the other in the next clause, being called the second. Though the wise men say one of three years old is fit for such a sacrifice. Nay, others say, if four or five years old. But the decision is according to the wise men.


"With his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil": Which always went along with a burnt offering, and consisted of three tenth deals of fine flour, and half an hin of oil (Num. 28:12).


"And another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering": Which was the offering for the sin of the whole congregation of Israel, through ignorance. And this being for all the Levites, and they being instead of the firstborn of Israel, such an offering was required. And though there was no particular sin charged upon them, but it became necessary for their perfect cleansing and expiation.


We know the animal above, was to be the substitute for their sins. They put their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, and transferred their sins to it. Jesus is our Substitute.


Romans 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"


2 Corinthians 5:21 "For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."


Numbers 8:9 "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:"


"The whole assembly of the children": Since the Levites took the place of the firstborn, who had acted as family priests among the people of Israel (see verses 16-18), all of the congregation of Israel showed their identification with the Levites by the laying on of their hands.


This is to be a public declaration of their faith. The entire 12 tribes of Israel will witness the separation of the Levites for God's service.


Numbers 8:10 "And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:"


From the door of the tabernacle, to the altar of burnt offering, where the Lord was in some sense present to accept the sacrifices offered to him.


"And the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites": As were used to be put upon sacrifices, for the Levites were themselves offered for an offering of the children of Israel, as is expressed in (Num. 8:11). By which rite they signified that they voluntarily parted with them, and gave them up to the Lord, and transferred their service to them, in which they were to serve in their stead. These, according to some Jewish writers, were the firstborn of Israel that laid their hands on the Levites. A type of the general assembly and church of the firstborn. Or rather the princes and heads of the tribes, who represented the whole body. Some think by this rite is signified the consent of the people in the designation and appointment of the ministers of the word to their work and office. But what in the New Testament seems to answer to this is, the laying of the hands of the presbytery on ministers of the word (1 Tim. 4:14).


In this laying on of their hands, they have lain their responsibility to serve God on the Levites. The firstborn belonged to God to serve Him. The families bought them back with 5 shekels of silver. Now this is showing their responsibility to serve is transferred to the Levites.


Numbers 8:11 "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."


Or "wave" them, as a wave offering, which was moved to and fro, backwards and forwards. Not that they were actually so waved and moved to and fro by Aaron (which could not be done by him). Though it is possible he might make such a motion himself, and they might do the like after him, thereby signifying that they belonged unto the Lord of the whole earth. And some think this testified their readiness to serve the Lord. To which may be added their constant employment in his service, being always in motion. Doing one piece of service or another continually. As the people of God, and especially the ministers of the word, should be always abounding in the work of the Lord. Ainsworth supposes that the troubles and afflictions of the ministers of God are figured hereby.


"For an offering of the children of Israel": To the Lord, hereby devoting them to his service.


"That they may execute the service of the Lord": For them, in their room and stead, do what otherwise they must have done (see Num. 3:7). With this compare (Isa. 66:20).


They are the substitutes for the firstborn. The Levites belong to God, in place of the firstborn belonging to Him. They are dedicated to do service to God.


Numbers 8:12 "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."


Or "on the head"; on the head of every one of them, as Aben Ezra. Thereby, as it were, transferring their sins to them. For these were to make atonement for them, as the latter part of the verse shows. And this was a figure of the imputation of sin to Christ, and taught that doctrine, and led the faith of the offeror to the sin bearing and sin atoning Savior.


"And thou shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord": That is, shall order to be offered. For not Moses, but Aaron, offered these offerings, as Aben Ezra observes. Of which this is a proof, that Aaron is said to make the atonement for them (Num. 8:21). For which purpose these sacrifices were offered, particularly the first. And the latter by way of thanksgiving for atonement made by the former: so it follows.


"To make an atonement for the Levites": Who could not be admitted to service until their sins were expiated. As no man is worthy to be employed in the work of God, but such for whom reconciliation for their sins is made by the blood and sacrifice of Christ. By which they are purged from dead works to serve the living God.


The Levites transferred their sins on to the head of the animals. Their sins will be burned up with the bullocks.


Numbers 8:13 "And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them [for] an offering unto the LORD."


After atonement was made for them, as Aben Ezra observes. Then they were presented to Aaron and his sons, to whom they were given to their ministers, and assistants to them.


"And offer them for an offering unto the Lord": Or, and "waved them", etc., as before. That is, order them to be waved. Not by Moses, but Aaron did this, and indeed was done already. And therefore should rather be rendered, as by Bishop Patrick, after thou hast offered, or waved them.


The Levites are God's. They are His in every way. They will now serve in whatever capacity God sees fit.


Numbers 8:14 "Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine."


By sprinkling the water of purification upon them. By offering sacrifices for them. By presenting them before the Lord, with the hands of the people of Israel put upon them. By offering and waving them before the Lord, and by setting them before Aaron and his sons, as their ministers.


"And the Levites shall be mine": In a special and peculiar manner devoted to his service, and by him given to his priests for that purpose. So the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan,"and the Levites shall minister before me."


This is in a different sense than the Israelites in entirety. The other Israelites, except for the Levites, have a private life. The Levites do not. They are the property of God.


Numbers 3:45 "Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I [am] the LORD."


Numbers 8:15 "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."


Not into the sanctuary, where only the priests entered, much less into the most holy place, where only the high priest went, and that but once a year. In neither of which places the Levites had anything to do, but into the court of the tabernacle.


"To do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation": To watch there, and to assist the priests at the altar of burnt offering. To take down the tabernacle and bear the vessels of it, and set it up, as occasion required.


"And thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering": Cleanse them by sprinkling the water of purifying on them, and offer them by waving them as before. And indeed this is no new thing which is here observed, but what was already done. And therefore should be rendered, "when thou shalt have cleansed them", or "after thou hast cleansed them" etc.


Some of the Levites carry the curtains of the temple, when they move. Others carry the boards, when they move. Some such as Aaron and his sons, work in the ministry of the tabernacle, and handle the holy things. They are an offering unto God.


Numbers 8:16 "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."


All of them, entirely, and most certainly. Or because of their being twice given, first to the Lord by the children of Israel, and then by the Lord to Aaron and his sons, as Chaskuni. Though Jarchi interprets it of the different parts of their service they were devoted to. Given for bearing and carrying the vessels of the sanctuary, and given for the song, or to be singers in the temple.


"Instead of such as open, every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel have I taken them unto me" (see notes on Num. 3:12 and 3:13).


This is a repeat of an earlier statement. I believe anyone contemplating going into the ministry should take careful note of this. This is saying, that once you are dedicated to the service of God, you no longer have a private life. You belong to God 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. You no longer make decisions about your life. You are under the total control of the Lord. You follow His instructions in all avenues of your life. He is your Lord.


Numbers 8:17 "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."


Not only in common with other of his creatures, but in a special respect on account of his signal deliverance of them. They were his, as Jarchi expresses it, by the line of judgment, or rule of justice and equity. Because he protected them among the firstborn of the Egyptians, saved them when he slew theirs, as follows.


"In the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt": Both of men and beasts.


"I sanctified them for myself": Claimed them as his own, and set them apart for his own use. Or ordered them to be set apart (see Exodus 13:2).


The last of the ten plagues that came on Egypt, was the death of the firstborn. The Hebrew firstborn were spared, because there was blood applied over the doors of their homes. They were in effect, bought with that blood. Their lives were spared by the blood of the lamb over the door. Those spared belonged to God from that moment on. "Sanctified" means set aside for God's purpose. All Christians are bought with the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). We are not our own, we belong to God.


Numbers 8:18 "And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel."


Gave up his right in the firstborn, and instead of them took the Levites for his use and service (see Num. 3:12).


Now we see again, the substitution of the Levites for the firstborn.


Numbers 8:19 "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."


"A gift to Aaron": The Levites were given by God to assist the priests.


"No plague" (see note on 1:53).


The servile work that the Levites did is, in a way, atonement for what all of Israel should have been doing. They would not keep the law of God in the way He expected. This is the Levitical tribe doing it for them. All of the Israelites were bound to be holy, but the Levites became holy for them.


Numbers 8:20 "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."


The several parties concerned in the consecration of the Levites. These;


"Did to the Levites according unto all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them": Which, as Jarchi notes, is said to the praise of them that did it, and of what was done by them. Everything was done that was ordered, and in the manner in which it was prescribed. Moses sprinkled, or ordered to be sprinkled, the water of purification on them, and set them before the tabernacle, and before the Lord. The children of Israel laid their hands on them, and Aaron waved them, offered the sacrifices for them.


This just means that Moses carried God's wishes out in detail pertaining to the Levites.


Numbers 8:21 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.


From sin, by the sprinkling of the sin water, or water of purification on them (Num. 8:7).


"And they washed their clothes": That they might have no defilement about them, neither in their bodies, nor in their garments.


"And Aaron offered them as an offering before the Lord": A wave offering, as in (Num. 8:11).


"And Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them": By offering the sacrifices for them (Num. 8:12).


They purified themselves, and were purified by the ceremonial washings as well. When they were prepared, God presented them before the Lord.


Numbers 8:22 "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."


Into the court of the tabernacle, being at the door of it when the above rites and ceremonies of their consecration were performed.


"To do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation, before Aaron and his sons": In their presence, and by their order, as they should direct them.


"As the Lord had commanded Moses, so did they unto them": Aaron and his sons did to the then present Levites according to the command of God by Moses. They exactly observed every detail of it, and complied with it. And this the sons of Aaron did continually to the sons of the Levites, as Aben Ezra remarks. In all succeeding ages; when the Levites were consecrated to their service. The same things were done unto them that are here ordered.


The Levites had different jobs to do. This just means they reported to Aaron, to perform the tasks God had set out for them to do.


Verses 23-26: The Levites began serving in the tabernacle at age 25, but not until age 30 were they allowed to carry the tabernacle (4:3). The five years of service probably prepared them for the task, similar to a mentoring period. The age was lowered to 20 during the time of David (1 Chron. 23:25).


Numbers 8:23 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


We are being reminded that these are not Moses' wishes, but are orders spoken to Moses by the LORD. At the same time, he gave the instructions about the consecration of the Levites. The time of their entrance on their service, and of leaving it, was fixed.


"Saying": As follows.


Numbers 8:24 "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:"


"Twenty and five years old": The Levites were to begin their service in helping the priests at age 25. However, in 4:3 the age of commencement is 30. A rabbinic suggestion was that the Levites were to serve a 5-year apprenticeship. A better solution can be discovered by noting the differing tasks in the two chapters. Numbers chapter 4 dealt with the carrying of the tabernacle, while here they helped in the service in the tabernacle. A Levite began serving in the tabernacle at 25 and carrying the tabernacle at 30. In both cases, his service ended at age 50. David later lowered the age to 20 (see 1 Chron. 23:24, 27; compare Ezra 3:8).


We read earlier, that their actual serving began when they were thirty years old, and lasted until they were fifty years old. I believe the difference here is possibly, that they were in training from the time they were 25 until they were thirty. Then at the age of thirty, they started the actual performance of their ministry. The word "wait" is a giveaway to that.


Numbers 8:25 "And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service [thereof], and shall serve no more:"


The heavy service of it.


"And shall serve no more": By bearing and carrying the vessels of the sanctuary upon their shoulders, as Jarchi interprets it. This, according to the Jewish writers, was only in force while the tabernacle was in the wilderness, and was moved from place to place. But when it had a fixed habitation, and that laborious service of bearing and carrying the vessels of it ceased. Years made no difference in the Levites, or disqualified them for service. For it is said, that the Levites were not bound by this law, but in the time of the tabernacle; but when it was at Shiloh. And at Jerusalem, where there was no bearing and carrying upon the shoulder. The Levites were not rejected on account of years, only for their voice, when they had lost that, and could not sing.


Some of this service required a great deal of stamina. The carrying of the heavy boards would be one example. A person tires more easily after the age of fifty. Perhaps that is why the time for their service to cease is given as 50 years.


Numbers 8:26 "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."


Into the court of the tabernacle, being at the door of it when the above rites and ceremonies of their consecration were performed.


"To do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation, before Aaron and his sons": In their presence, and by their order, as they should direct them.


"As the Lord had commanded Moses, so did they unto them": Aaron and his sons did to those present Levites according to the command of God by Moses. They exactly observed every detail of it, and complied with it. And this the sons of Aaron did continually to the sons of the Levites, as Aben Ezra remarks. In all succeeding ages; when the Levites were consecrated to their service. The same things were done unto them that are here ordered.


This is speaking of them not having other jobs. They work for the LORD. Some of them are like caretakers of the tabernacle.


Numbers Chapter 8 Questions


1. Where was the LORD, when He spoke to Moses?


2. The _______ lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.


3. Who was responsible for the lights?


4. _________ is the Light of the world.


5. Who does the "candlestick" symbolize?


6. What happens, when Jesus comes and dwells within us?


7. The "Bread" in the tabernacle symbolizes what?


8. What, besides physical light, does the Light bring?


9. Who lighted the lamps?


10. The work of the candlestick was of __________ _______.


11. The _________ symbolizes God.


12. Describe the candlestick.


13. Who, of the Levites, was Moses to cleanse?


14. What is this cleansing like?


15. What is God constantly showing in the types and shadows?


16. They sprinkled the water on their heads to _________ them.


17. Why did they put their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal?


18. What is verse 9 speaking of?


19. What had they done to the Levites, when they laid their hands on them?


20. They are substitutes for the _____________.


21. What happened to the sins of the Levites?


22. What is the difference in the Israelites all belonging to God, and the Levites belonging to God?


23. Why should a person going into the ministry think seriously, before doing it?


24. What was the last of the ten plagues in Egypt?


25. How was the firstborn of the Hebrews saved?


26. Why is the age of service here 25, instead of 30 years?


27. Some of the work required a great deal of ____________.





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Numbers 9



Numbers Chapter 9

Verses 1-14: The call from the Lord to keep the Passover led to an inquiry from those whose uncleanness kept them from obeying. This request led to an amplification of the requirement by the Lord. This was the second Passover.


This epistle concluded the section (7:1 - 9:14), relating events that took place before the census of (1:1). The issue at stake was what to do with "certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man". Could they celebrate "Passover" The answer is "yes," but one month later. But it is added that if "the man ... is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover", he "shall be cut off". It is a threat of sudden death at the hands of God (Lev. 17:4, 9; 20:6, 18; 23:29; Num. 15:30-31; 19:13). Note in the New Testament the need for observing Christ's Passover as the true paschal lamb (see in the book of John).


John 6:53 "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."


This is the very thing we are doing when we take communion. We eat the unleavened bread in memory of Jesus sacrificing His body on the cross for us; taking our sins upon His body, nailing the sins of the world to the cross.


Verses 1-5: This second "Passover" would still follow the ordinances established by the Lord when the Israelites were in Egypt (Exodus 12:1-16; Deut. 16:1-2).


Numbers 9:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,"


"The first month": The events recorded in these verses precede the beginning of the census in chapter 1, but follow the dedication of the tabernacle in chapter 7.


This gives a specific time, which precedes much that we have already been reading.


Numbers 9:2 "Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season."


Though this ordinance was enjoined the people of Israel, and observed by them at the time of their coming out of Egypt, and had been since repeated (Lev. 23:5). Yet without a fresh precept, or an explanation of the former, they seemed not to be obliged. Or might not be sensible that they were obliged to keep it, until they came into the land of Canaan (Exodus 12:25). And therefore a new order is given them to observe it.


"At his appointed season": And what that season is, is next declared.


Passover is to celebrate the night the Hebrews were spared from the loss of their firstborn in Egypt. Death passed over the houses that had the blood of a lamb over the door. At the very same time every year, they were to remember that night, and be thankful to God. The Passover had been made an ordinance forever, but we do not read where they kept it during their wilderness wanderings. All of this was a type and shadow of our Passover Lamb (Jesus Christ).


1 Corinthians 5:7-8 "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:" "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth."


Numbers 9:3 "In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it."


"At even": The time between the end of one day and the beginning of the next. See (Exodus 12:6).


The law did not leave any room for excuses for not keeping the Passover. Notice (at even). This Passover was a shadow of the great Passover, when the Lamb of God shed His blood for all mankind. The Jewish day began at approximately 6 in the evening and continued to 6 the next evening. This is how Jesus ate Passover with His disciples just after 6. He was captured and tried during the night. At 9 A.M. in the morning, He was Crucified. At 3 that afternoon, He commanded His Spirit to leave His body. He was the Passover Lamb before 6 on the very same day He had eaten with the disciples. All of these things happened between 6 P.M. and 6 P.M. He was even in the tomb before 6 P.M. This day is a day God had set aside for this purpose. To vary the day, is to disbelieve. This 14th day in their first month is very similar to our April. Our date varies, because the Jews month changes with the full moon.


Numbers 9:4 "And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover."


The time now drawing nigh for the observation of it. It being now almost a year since their coming out of Egypt.


That very first Passover should be fresh in their minds. They should remember well the Passover which brought them new life. Moses tells the people to keep Passover.


Numbers 9:5 "And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel."


No mention is made of keeping the feast of unleavened bread seven days, only of the Passover. Which indeed was only enjoined at this time, though the feast of unleavened bread used to follow it, and did in later times. But perhaps it would not have been an easy matter to have got the flour to make it of, sufficient for so large a body of people. For seven days together in the wilderness; though they might be able to furnish themselves with what was enough for one meal from the neighboring countries. And especially from Midian, where Jethro, Moses's father, lived. And which was not very far from Sinai, where the Israelites now were.


"According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel": Which is observed to their honor. Though Jarchi gives this as a reason why this book does not begin with this account, as the order of things seems to require. Because it was to the reproach of the Israelites, that all the forty years they were in the wilderness they kept but this Passover only. The reason of which was, because of the omission of circumcision during that time. Through the inconveniences of travelling, and the danger of circumcision in it, without which their children could not eat of the Passover (Exodus 12:48).


This was the first remembrance of that Passover. They did as Moses commanded.


Verses 6-13: The ritual uncleanness of these men presented a problem for them on the day of Passover. Here is an example of Yahweh making a new provision for the good of people in particular situations (something seen again in chapters 27 and 36 regarding the daughters of Zelophehad). This was especially important here, because a person who ignored his opportunity to keep the Passover would be "cut off" from the community (Exodus 12:15). However, the Lord's gracious exceptions were never to be taken as reasons to disregard His commands.


Numbers 9:6 "And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:"


"Defiled": Ceremonially unclean because of contact with a dead body. See (note on 5:2).


Many believe the two men to be Mishael and Elizaphan, who had just recently buried Nadab and Abihu. Those who touched a dead body were considered unclean for seven days.


Numbers 9:7 "And those men said unto him, We [are] defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?"


To Moses, who was the chief magistrate, though Aaron was the high priest. Jarchi says, they were both sitting together when the men came, and put the question to them. But it was not proper to speak to one after another. For if Moses knew not, how should Aaron know? Says he; the more difficult matters were brought to Moses, and he gave answers to them.


"We are defiled by the dead body of a man": They had touched it, or had been where it was, or at the funeral of it, and so were defiled. This they knew was their case by a law before mentioned, and which they speak of. Not as a sin purposely committed by them, but as what had unhappily befallen them. And they could not avoid; and express their concern, that upon this account they should be deprived of the ordinance of the Passover and as this confession shows an ingenuous disposition, so what follows. A pious, religious, and devotional frame of mind.


"Wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel?" They speak very honorably of the ordinance of the Passover; they call it "an offering of the Lord". The Passover lamb being a slain sacrifice; and this offered to the Lord, by way of thanksgiving. For, and in commemoration of, their wonderful deliverance out of Egypt. And done in faith of Christ the Passover, to be sacrificed for them. And it gave them much uneasiness that they were debarred by this occasional and unavoidable uncleanness, that was upon them, from keeping it. And what added to it was, that they could not observe it on the day which the Lord had appointed. And when the whole body of the children of Israel were employed in it. For it is no small pleasure to a good man to observe every ordinance of God in the manner and at the time he directs to. And his people in general are attending to the same. And the rather they were urgent in their expostulations, because it is said, this was the seventh and last day of their pollution, when they should be clean at evening. And the Passover was not to be eaten until the evening, and therefore so earnestly expostulate why they should be kept back from it.


They had been out of the camp, because of their uncleanness. They did the right thing, coming to inquire what they should do.


Numbers 9:8 "And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you."


Where they were. Aben Ezra says, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.


"And I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you": As it was a singular case, of which there had been no instance before. Moses would not determine anything about it himself, but would inquire of the Lord his mind and will concerning it. And for that purpose, very probably, went into the most Holy Place, where the Lord had promised to meet him and commune with him. From off the mercy seat, about any matter of difficulty he should inquire about (Exodus 25:22).


It appears, there had been no ordinance pertaining to this specific thing at this time. Moses inquired of God, what should be done.


Numbers 9:9 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


From between the cherubim, after he had laid the case before him, and he gave him an answer.


When Moses inquired of the LORD, He answered him immediately.


Numbers 9:10 "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or [be] in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the LORD."


"Any man ... of your posterity": This word from the Lord was not only for the current situation, but it was a continuing ordinance for Israel. If a man was unable to eat the Passover because of uncleanness or because he was away from the land, he could partake of the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month.


Even these things of separation do not exempt a person from keeping Passover. The handling of this situation set a pattern for generations to come. They were setting a precedent.


Numbers 9:11 "The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, [and] eat it with unleavened bread and bitter [herbs]."


The mouth Iyar, as the Targum of Jonathan, which answers to part of our April and part of May. So that there was a month allowed for those that were defiled to cleanse themselves. And for those on a journey to return home and prepare for the Passover, which was not to be totally omitted, nor deferred any longer. And it was to be kept on the same day of the month, and at the same time of the day the first Passover was observed. Still the more to keep in mind the saving of their firstborn; and their deliverance out of Egypt at that time. An instance of keeping such a Passover we have in (2 Chron. 30:1).


"And eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs": In the same manner as the first Passover was eaten (Exodus 12:8). Only no mention is made of keeping the feast of unleavened bread seven days, which some think those were not obliged unto at this time. Only to keep the feast of the Passover.


The only adjustment God made for them, was a one month delay of observing. The very same requirements, of unleavened bread and bitter herbs, are to be eaten.


Numbers 9:12 "They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it."


None of the flesh of the Passover lamb, what was left was to be burnt with fire (Exodus 12:10).


"Nor break any bone of it": The same was enjoined (see note on Exodus 12:46).


"According to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it": As when observed in its time, excepting the feast of unleavened bread, which followed the first Passover. And those rites which were peculiar to the Passover, as kept at their first coming out of Egypt; as the sprinkling the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, eating it in haste, etc.


This text is alluded to in (John 19:36).


This symbolizes the body of the Lord Jesus. Jesus had no broken bones, so the bones were not to be broken in this sacrifice.


Exodus 12:46 "In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof."


John 19:36 "For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken."


Every aspect of the Passover was to be kept, but one month later.


Numbers 9:13 "But the man that [is] clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin."


"Cut off": If any Israelite did not keep the Passover at the appointed time and was not unclean or away from the land, he was to be "cut off", which implies that he was to be killed.


The person that would do such a thing as this is, in effect, denying God. This is the basis of their lives. Those who do not observe this in remembrance of what God did for them, are truly not His. The blessings are not for him. This is like denying Christ, and the great sacrifice He made for us. The way to life is through the blood of Jesus.


Hebrews 10:28-29 "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:" "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"


Numbers 9:14 "And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land."


Foreigners living with the Israelites were allowed to celebrate the Passover but had to follow the prescribed rites (including circumcision; Exodus 12:48).


"One ordinance" means that strangers were not to improvise, nor were they to incorporate Israel's rites with their own. They were to do all the things required of the Hebrew people.


A non-Israelite who wished to participate in the Passover would be required to be circumcised.


Exodus 12:48-49 "And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." "One law shall be to him that is home born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you."


This is the same thing as the church. If a person desires to take communion with you, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Communion" is a remembrance of His shedding His blood and giving His body, that we might be saved.


Verses 15-23: See (Exodus 40:34-38). The cloud, the visible symbol of the Lord's presence, was continually sitting above the tabernacle. The movement of the cloud was the signal to Israel that they were to travel on their journey.


This event goes back to the first day of the second year (Exodus 40:2). This passage elaborates and develops Exodus 40:34-38), in a poetic fashion. God would perfectly guide and lead them into the Promised Land, "at the commandment of the Lord they pitched ... and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed" (verses 18, 20). Up to this point they "kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses (verse 23).


Numbers 9:15 "And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, [namely], the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning."


"Tabernacle was reared up": The presence of the Lord arrived when the tabernacle was completed and raised up on the first day of the first month of the second year after they had come out of Egypt.


The fire and the smoke were an outward sign to let the people know that God was with them. The presence of the LORD was in the smoke.


Deuteronomy 5:24 "And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth."


Hebrews 12:29 "For our God [is] a consuming fire."


This is the very same fire that was in the middle of the wheel in Ezekiel.


Numbers 9:16 "So it was always: the cloud covered it [by day], and the appearance of fire by night."


"Cloud ... fire": The presence of the Lord which was seen in the cloud by day became a fire that was seen at night (compare Lev. 16:2).


God's presence was with them day and night.


Exodus 13:21 "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:"


As long as God's children were in the wilderness, His presence remained with them day and night.


Numbers 9:17 "And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents."


Or went up from it, higher than it was before, yet not out of sight, but hung as it were hovering in the air over the tabernacle, but at some distance from it. This was done by the Lord himself.


"Then after that the children of Israel journeyed": As soon as they saw the cloud moving upwards, the Levites took down the tabernacle, and each took their post assigned them in the carriage of it. And the priests blew their trumpets mentioned in (Num. 10:2). And the whole camp moved and marched on in their journey.


"And in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents": When it stopped and remained without any motion, it was a signal to the children of Israel to stop also. And to set up the tabernacle, and pitch their tents about it by their standards. And according to the order of encampment which had been given them.


They were led of God. It would be so much better for Christians today, if we would realize that the Spirit of God will lead us now, if we will follow. God never changes. We are the ones that change.


Numbers 9:18 "At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents."


Or "mouth of the Lord". Not that there was any command in form given, or any audible voice heard, directing when to march. But the removal of the cloud was interpretatively the order and command of God for them to move also.


"And at the commandment of the Lord they pitched": Their tents. When the cloud stopped, they understood that as a signal to them, as a token of the will of God that they should stop likewise. It was to them as an authoritative command, which they obeyed.


"As long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle, they rested in their tents": Whether a longer or a shorter time, as is after expressed.


The cloud would rise, so that the entire group could see and follow. When it was time for them to stop and set the tabernacle up, the cloud would descend upon the spot. It left no doubt, what the wishes of God were.


Numbers 9:19 "And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not."


Or years, for days are sometimes put for years. And in some places the cloud tarried several years; or however. If it stayed but a month or a year in any place, as in (Num. 9:22);


"Then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not. They not only kept watching when it would move, or set sentinels for that purpose to observe it, but they kept the charge, order, or commandment, which the tarrying of the cloud was a token of. And did not attempt to proceed in their journey until they had an intimation so to do by its motion. And all this while, likewise, the tabernacle being up, they observed all the precepts and ordinances of the Lord in the service of it.


It appears that no one questioned the leading of the cloud and fire. It was apparent enough to all of them that this was God leading them. They had actually heard the voice of God from the mountain, when He first spoke the 10 commandments. It had frightened them so badly, they asked Moses to speak to God for them. This cloud and fire (visible to all), reassured them of God's presence. When the cloud stopped, it was time for them to stop.


Numbers 9:20 "And [so] it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed."


Or "days of number", which were so few that they might be easily numbered. The Targum of Jonathan interprets them of the seven days of the week. As if the sense was, when the cloud rested a week on the tabernacle.


"According to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents": During these few days, be they a week, or more, or less.


"And according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed": When it removed from the tabernacle.


The ordering of the march was not from Moses, but God. This causes me to believe God would rest them from this desert journey a time, and then carry them again.


Numbers 9:21 "And [so] it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and [that] the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether [it was] by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed."


The whole night, during which time they rested in their beds.


"And that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed": Whether it was by day or night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Whether at morning or midnight. For sometimes, as Aben Ezra observes, they travelled in the night. Whenever their sentinels gave notice that the cloud was taken up, even though at midnight, they arose and prepared for their journey. And by this it is evident, that the appearance by day and night was the same body called the cloud, though beheld in a different view. In the daytime as a cloud, in the nighttime as fire.


You would think it would be too dark for them to travel by night, but the fire was so bright, it gave light to this near 3 million people. This is not just an ordinary fire or Light. God is the source of all Light. He could cause as much light as was needed to shine. It would, probably, have been cooler to travel at night. Whatever the reason, they moved when God commanded, night or day.


Numbers 9:22 "Or [whether it were] two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed."


Sometimes it tarried but half a day, sometimes a whole day, sometimes two days, at other times a whole month, and even a year. A full year, as the Targum of Jonathan and Aben Ezra. Or a longer time, as the Vulgate Latin version, for in one place it tarried eighteen years, as Maimonides says; some say nineteen years, as in Kadesh-barnea.


"Remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not": So that, as the same writer observes, it was not because the children of Israel lost their way in the wilderness and wandered about, not knowing where they were. Or which way they should go. Hence the Arabians call the wilderness, the wilderness of wandering. Nor that they were so long wandering in it as forty years, but because it was the will of God that should stay so long at one place, and so long at another. Whereby their stay in it was protracted to such a length of time, according to his sovereign will.


"But when it was taken up they journeyed": Though they had continued ever so long, and their situation ever so agreeable.


It appears, there was no certain number of days they moved, or stayed in one place. If God had a purpose for them staying in one place for over a year, they stayed. One of the most vivid examples of this in the New Testament, was the moving of Paul from place to place. Paul went where God sent him, and stayed as long as God wanted him to. Most ministers today follow the guidance of God. They will not go to minister in a place, unless they feel God sent them. They will not stay in a place, if they feel God wants them to leave. The true Christian should make Jesus his Lord, as well as his Savior. When He is Lord, He controls his moves.


Numbers 9:23 "At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses."


"Commandment ... commandment": The text emphasizes that Israel obeyed the Lord at this point in her experience. Throughout the wilderness wanderings, the Israelites could only journey as the cloud led them. When it did not move, they stayed encamped where they were.


The only times they went where the cloud did not lead them, they met with terrible defeat. I say once more, we should find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then walk in that will. Any other life we lead, will be a failure. They followed the commandments of God spoken through Moses. We must follow the commandments of God.


Numbers Chapter 9 Questions


1. What does Passover celebrate?


2. Why was the Hebrew firstborn not killed?


3. How long were they to celebrate Passover?


4. Who is the Christian's Passover Lamb?


5. When was it to be celebrated?


6. How could Jesus eat Passover with the disciples, and yet, be the Passover Lamb that same day??


7. To vary the day, is to ___________.


8. Their first month is similar to our _________.


9. Why should the first Passover be fresh in their minds.


10. Why were there some men who could not take Passover?


11. Many believe the men to be ____________ and _____________.


12. Who had they recently buried?


13. Was this excuse sufficient to exempt them from Passover?


14. What did Moses do, when they told him of the matter?


15. When would they take Passover?


16. Why was it important that they not break any bone of the Passover lamb?


17. Those who refuse to keep Passover are, in effect, doing what?


18. He that despiseth Moses' law died without mercy under _______ or _________ witnesses.


19. When a stranger practiced Passover, what must he do first.


20. "Communion" is a remembrance of what?


21. How did the people know God was in the tabernacle?


22. The cloud covered it by ________, and the fire by ________.


23. What will lead the Christians now, if we will follow?


24. Who ordered the march?


25. How often did they move?


26. They went where the cloud _________ them.





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Numbers 10



Numbers Chapter 10

Verses 1-10: Israel was also to be guided by the blowing of the two silver trumpets made by Moses. Both a call to gather and a call to march were communicated with the trumpets.


"Two trumpets of silver" were used to coordinate the movements of the tribes on their march through the wilderness. The cloud would guide them, but the trumpets would give more precise means of control. They actually complete and complement the means of divine guidance given (in 9:15-23). Trumpets like these were used in ancient Egypt from the sixteenth to the eleventh centuries B.C. in warfare and to summon people to worship. With the tabernacle in the middle of the camp, and the tribes situated in battle formation, the silver trumpets declared that God's people were in the army of the great King, preparing for a holy war of conquest. The trumpets are pictured on the arch of Titus in Rome.


Numbers 10:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"


When the following directions concerning the trumpets were given is not certain. It may be at the time when the order of the camps of Israel was fixed, and is here recorded before the journeying of them, which was one use they were to be put unto (Num. 10:2).


"Saying": As follows.


This is a break in the past message.


Numbers 10:2 "Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps."


"Trumpets": According to a Jewish tradition, these instruments were between 12 and 20 inches long and had a narrow tube that was flared at the end.


"Of a whole piece": The same description is given concerning the cherubim above the mercy seat. See (Exodus 25:18; 37:7).


These trumpets of silver are the same type of trumpet that will be blown, when the Lord blows the trumpet in the sky, to call us to heaven. "Silver" means redemption. That trumpet will call us to our redemption from this earth. These trumpets, in verse 2 above, are for the redeeming of the people as well. He assembles them for worship. He also blows those trumpets to cause them to follow Him. Notice, these trumpets were of one piece. They are not put together. There is only one redemption, and that is found in Jesus. By two, a thing shall be established.


Verses 3-4: "Blow with them ... one": The first function of the trumpets was to gather the people to the tabernacle. When both trumpets were blown, all adult males of the congregation were to gather. If only one trumpet was blown, the leaders were to come.


Numbers 10:3 "And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."


With both the trumpets, in an even and continued sound, that is, the sons of Aaron.


"All the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation": To hear what was to be said unto them. Blowing both the trumpets together was a token that the whole congregation was called to meet together at the tabernacle. The door of which was the usual place of assembling. Especially on religious counts, for there also the Lord met them (Exodus 29:42).


The location that it is blown, shows us the spiritual value of the blowing of the trumpet. They assembled at the door of the tabernacle to hear from God. When they blow with both trumpets, all the people are to gather.


Numbers 10:4 "And if they blow [but] with one [trumpet], then the princes, [which are] heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee."


With only one of them, or but once, with one sounding. And that an even one as before.


"Then the princes, which are the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee": And they only or alone, as Aben Ezra. By this token, or by this difference of blowing both trumpets, or only one. It was, easily known when the whole congregation or when the princes only were to meet Moses at the same place, the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And all are to attend divine service, and the ministry of the word. Even the whole church of God, and all the members of it, high and low, rich and poor, princes and people.


This blowing of one trumpet is just for the leaders to come. It is interesting, to me, that all believers in Christ are "princes". We rule with the King (Jesus), as His subordinates.


Matthew 25:21 "His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."


Revelation 20:6 "Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."


Numbers 10:5 "When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward."


"Shall go forward": The second purpose of the trumpets was to give a signal indicating that the tribes were to begin their march. The exact difference between the blowing for the gathering at the tabernacle and for the march is not known. Jewish tradition said the convocation sound was a long steady blast, while the advance signal was a succession of 3 shorter notes.


The blowing of the trumpet to move the camp and the blowing of the trumpet to assemble, were undoubtedly different sounds from the same trumpet. The camps on the east were the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. It appears, they have the first place in the march, as we studied earlier.


Numbers 10:6 "When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys."


Another "tara-tan-tara".


"Then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey": The camps of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, which were encamped on the south side of the tabernacle (Num. 2:10). And, as Josephus says, at the third sounding of the alarm, that part of the camp which lay to the west moved, which were the camps of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin (Num. 2:18). And at the fourth sounding, as he says, those which were at the north, the camps of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali (Num. 2:25). Which, though not expressed in the Hebrew text, are added in the Septuagint version, as they are to be understood.


"They shall blow an alarm for their journeys": For the journeys of the said camps, as a signal or token when they should begin to march.


The second blowing of the trumpet for moving the people was sounded, and those on the south moved. These were made up of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. If all of the people moved at the first blow of the trumpet, there would be utter confusion. This is orderly.


Numbers 10:7 "But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm."


At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and not to move in separate camps or bodies one after another.


"You shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm": Blow with an even and uninterrupted sound, and not with a broken and quavering one. By which the congregation and camps were distinguished from one another. The same certain sound being given to each constantly, whereby they knew which were called to motion (see 1 Cor. 14:8). According to Ben Gersom blowing was a voice drawn out, and joined or continued. An alarm, a voice not joined, but broken.


As we said earlier there was a different sound from the trumpet for the gathering of the people, and for the alarm. The alarm was a shrill continuous sound, and the call to assemble was a different tone and shorter blasts from the trumpet.


Numbers 10:8 "And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations."


"For an ordinance": The blowing of the horns was to be a perpetual ordinance in Israel, calling the people to worship or to war.


Aaron and his sons (the priests), were the ones with authority to blow the trumpets. These silver trumpets were used for religious purposes. Even in the case of an alarm, it would have come from them. In the beginning, they had great authority over all aspects of the lives of the Israelites.


Numbers 10:9 "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies."


That enters in to invade it, to besiege cities, and distress the inhabitants of it.


"Then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets": A "tara-tan-tara" with both of them, to call the several tribes together to join against the enemy. Or to call them to fasting and humiliation, to repentance and prayer. And to seek the Lord in the exercise of these, and cry for help and assistance, for victory and salvation. For, as Ben Gersom observes, by this alarm their hearts would be broken and become contrite, and they would return to the Lord. And he would have mercy on them when they pray unto him. For such a sound makes a man's heart shake and tremble, according to (Amos 3:6; see Jer. 4:19). This is a third use of the trumpets. And in a mystical sense it may be observed, that saints are in a militant state. And have many enemies that come in to them to oppress them, sin, Satan, and the world. And the Gospel calls and encourages them to fight, furnishes them with armor, and assures them of victory. And directs them where to fight and with whom, and bids them endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ.


"And ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God": For a book of remembrance is written for them that fear God, humble themselves before him, and pray unto him.


"And ye shall be saved from your enemies": As Israel from their temporal, so the people of God from their spiritual enemies, being made more than conquerors through him that loved them.


When the trumpet was blown for the purpose of war, the priests blowing it showed God's approval of the battle, and they would not lose. When God was with them in war, they did not lose.


Numbers 10:10 "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I [am] the LORD your God."


When they should return from the enemy's country conquerors, or have vanquished the enemy that came against them into their own land. And so would fix a day of rejoicing, like the days of Purim, and the seven days when Hezekiah rejoiced, as Aben Ezra observes. And so any time of rejoicing on