NUMBERS CHAPTER 18.
Concerning the Maintenance of
Priests and Levites.
the office of the priests
and levites. —
V. 1. And
the Lord said unto Aaron, for the fact of his priesthood was now practically
unchallenged among the children of Israel, Thou and thy sons and thy father's
house with thee, the entire family in all its descendants, shall bear
the. iniquity of the Sanctuary, they were to consider themselves responsible
for the removal of any defilement which might come upon the Tabernacle and its
equipment while it was being used for purposes of worship:
and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood,
whatever impurities and imperfections still clung to them in the work of their
calling. It was for the removal of these sins as they resulted from the natural
sinful condition of men that the animal
atonement had been ordered by God, Lev. 16, 16ff.
V. 2. And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi,
the tribe of thy father, bring thou with thee, causing them to come near to
the Sanctuary with him. for the purpose of ministering, that they may be
joined unto thee, and minister unto thee, in the position of assistants in
the worship of Jehovah; but thou and thy sons with thee shall minister before
the Tabernacle of "Witness, as being
actually in charge of the sacrifices and of
the various acts of atonement connected with the offerings. V. 3. And they
shall keep thy charge, observe and do those things which they were directed
to do by the priest, and the charge of all the Tabernacle, in the matter
of transporting the Tabernacle and its appointments and performing such other
offices as were connected therewith;
only they shall not come nigh the vessels of the Sanctuary, those inside
the Tabernacle, and the altar, of incense, that neither they, nor ye
also, die; for every person that
approached these without proper command and authority risked immediate death, as
the people had now repeatedly seen. V. 4. And they shall be joined unto thee,
and keep the charge of the Tabernacle of the Congregation for all the service of
the Tabernacle; and a stranger, a layman not belonging to the tribe of Levi,
shall not come nigh unto you. Cp.
chap. 1, 53; 3, 7. V. 5. And ye shall keep the charge of the Sanctuary and
the charge of the altar, this special function was limited to the priests
alone; that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel. V. 6.
And I, behold, I have taken your brethren, the Levites, from among the
children of Israel; to you they are given as a gift for the Lord to do the
service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Cp. chap. 3, 9; 8, 16. 19. V.
7. Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for
everything of the altar, all the service connected with the golden altar of
incense, where the priests were daily employed, and within the veil, for
the high priest entered into the Most Holy Place once every year, on the great
Day of Atonement, Lev. 16, 2; and ye shall serve. I have given your priest's
office unto you as a service of gift, out of free grace and mercy, to
stimulate all the greater diligence; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall
be put to death, since this service was the exclusive duty of the family of
Aaron. In a far better and higher sense it is true that we Christians have been
given the rights of the universal priesthood of the New Testament by God's free gift in Jesus Christ, whence it follows that we should appreciate
this blessing all the more highly.
the priests' share of the sacrifices. —
V. 8. And the
Lord spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have
given thee the charge of mine heave-offerings of all the hallowed things of the
children of Israel, whatever they set aside for the Lord, either by the Law
or in the form of a free-will offering; unto thee have I given them by reason
of the anointing and to thy sons by an ordinance forever. These were
priestly revenues, chap. 5, 9. V. 9. This shall be thine of the most holy
things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat-offering of
theirs, and every sin-offering of theirs, and every trespass-offering of theirs
which they shall render unto Me shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons.
Falling to the lot of the priests out of the sacrificial fire, they were to be regarded
as being strictly set apart from profane and common use. V. 10. In the most
holy place, in the place reserved for that purpose in the court of the
Tabernacle, Lev. 6, 9. 19; 7, 6, shalt
thou eat it; every male shall eat it; it shall be holy unto thee. The burnt
offering is not included in this list, since only the hide of such sacrifices
became the portion of the priests. V. 11. And this is thine: the
heave-offering of their gift, all the offerings of the people that were made
in this manner, with all the wave-offerings of the children of Israel; I have
given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a
statute forever; every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it. Lev.
22, 2-13. V. 12. All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of
the wheat, the first-fruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them
have I given thee. Cp. Deut.
26, 2. 10; 8, 8; Lev. 19, 23. 24. V. 13. And whatsoever is first ripe in the
land, which they shall bring unto the Lord, chap. 15, 19; Ex. 22, 29; 23,
19; 34, 26; Lev. 2, 14, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thine
house shall eat of it. V. 14. Everything devoted in Israel,
consecrated to God by a vow, shall be thine, Lev. 27, 28. V. 15. Everything
that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which
they bring unto the Lord, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine,
Ex. 13, 2; 22, 29; Lev. 27, 26; nevertheless the first-born of man shalt thou
surely redeem, and the firstlings of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem, Ex.
13, 13; 34, 20. V. 16. And those that are to be redeemed from a month old
shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels,
after the shekel of the Sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Cp. chap. 3, 47; Lev. 27, 2 ff. V. 17. But
the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat
thou shalt not redeem; they are holy. Being clean animals, they could be
consecrated as sacrifices to the Lord. Thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon
the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet
savor unto the Lord, Lev. 3, 2. 5. V. 18. And the flesh of them shall be
thine; as the wave-breast and as the right shoulder, the heave-shoulder, are
thine. V. 19. All the heave-offerings of the holy things which the
children of Israel offer unto the Lord have I given thee, and thy sons and thy
daughters with thee, by a statute forever; it is a covenant of salt forever
before the Lord unto thee and to thy seed with thee, an indissoluble
covenant, an inviolable agreement. Cp. Lev. 2, 13. In this manner the priesthood
of Aaron and his family was once more firmly established in Israel, to serve the
people in upholding the fellowship between them and Jehovah.
of tithes. — V. 20. And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them, Aaron in this case representing the entire priesthood, chap. 26, 62; Deut. 12, 12; 14, 27; Josh. 14, 3. I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel; to the covenant God they were to devote their services, and He would, in turn, provide for all their needs. V. 21. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, Lev. 27, 30-33, for their service which they serve, even the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The tithes of all the income among the children of Israel were the Temple revenue; out of these the Levites and priests received their salaries. V. 22. Neither must the children of Israel, those that did not belong to the tribe of Levi, henceforth come nigh the Tabernacle of the Congregation, lest they bear sin and die, since such unauthorized approach was an act of presumption which was punished in that manner. V. 23. But the Levites shall do the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity, be responsible and make atonement for all the sins of which they would be guilty in connection with their service. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. V. 24. But the tithes of the children of Israel which they offer as an heave-offering unto the Lord I have given to the Levites to inherit; therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. V. 25. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, v. 26. Thus speak unto the Levites and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, which was to be their regular income, upon which they should be able to depend, then ye shall offer up an heave-offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. So the Levites also were obliged to set aside ten per cent. of their income for the Lord, this amount being given to the priests. V. 27. And this your heave-offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshing-floor and as the fullness of the winepress, like grain or wine which they themselves had harvested. V. 28. Thus ye also shall offer an heave-offering unto the Lord of all your tithes which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord's heave-offering to Aaron, the priest, for the tithe of their tithe was consecrated to the Lord. V. 29. Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave-offering of the Lord, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. V. 30. Therefore thou shall say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, as the revenue due to the priests, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshing-floor and as the increase of the wine-press, as though they had harvested this in fields belonging to them. V. 31. And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households; after paying their own tithes they were at liberty to do this; for it is your reward for your service in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. In this way the Levites were relieved of the cares and worries of every-day life, and could devote themselves exclusively to their ministry in observing the statutes of Jehovah. V. 32. And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, of enjoying their income with their own families, when ye have heaved from it the best of it, if only this provision were observed; neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel by disregarding these ordinances, or by bringing the gifts of the Sanctuary into an unclean place, lest ye die. If so much depended upon the precepts of the types and the shadows of things to come, how much more does it behoove us Christians to observe the will of the Lord in all respects!