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of the tabernacle, and pitched their tents around it; the tents of Moses, Aaron and the priests, occupying the most honourable place, fronting the entrance to the tabernacle, or rather to the court which contained it. The Jewish writers say that the circumference of the entire encampment was about twelve miles ; a statement which would seem sufficiently moderate when we recollect the hollow square in the centre, and consider the vast extent of ground required for the tents of two millions of people. This regular and admirable arrangement of so vast a host, under their ensigns, around the tabernacle, must have given a most striking and impressive appearance to the camp, as viewed from the hills. We know the effect which the view of it produced upon one person, who did view it from the hills, and then broke forth in rapture, exclaiming, “ How goodly are they tents, O Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.” (Num. xxiv. 5, 6.)
NORTH.-FOURTH DIVISION-CAMP OF DAN: 157,600.
COURT OF THE
SOUTH.--SECOND DIVISION-CAMP OF REUBEN: 151,450.
Aaron, the priests which were anointed,
whom he consecrated to minister in the 1 The sons of Aaron. 5. The Levites are given to the priests for the service of the tabernacle, 11 in
priest's office. stead of the firstborn. 14 The Levites are num
4 And Nadab and Abihu died before bered by their families. 21 The families, number, the LORD, when they offered strange fire and charge of the Gershonites, 27 of the Kohath before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, tes, 33 of the Merarites. 38 The place and charge and they had no children: and Eleazar and of Moses and Aaron. 40 The firstborn are freed Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in by the Levites. 44 The overplus are redeemed.
the sight of Aaron their father. These also are the generations of Aaron and 5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Moses in the day that the Lord spake with saying, Moses in mount Sinai.
6 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and pre2 And these are the names of the sons sent them before Aaron the priest, that they of Aaron; Nadab the 'firstborn, and Abihu, may minister unto him. Eleazar, and Ithamar.
7 And they shall keep his charge, and 3 These are the names of the sons of the charge of the whole congregation before ? Heb, whose hand he filled. 8 Levit. 10.). Chap 26.6). Chron. 24. 2.
1 Exod, 6. 23.
the tabernacle of the congregation, to do in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me the service of the tabernacle.
all the firstborn in Israel, both man and 8 And they shall keep all the instru- beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD. ments of the tabernacle of the congregation, 14 | And the LORD spake unto Moses in and the charge of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Sinai, saying, do the service of the tabernacle.
15 Number the children of Levi after the 9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto house of their fathers, by their families: Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly every male from a month old and upward given unto him out of the children of Israel. shalt thou number them.
10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and 16 And Moses numbered them according his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's to the Sword of the LORD, as he was comoffice: and the stranger that cometh nigh manded. shall be put to death.
17 •And these were the sons of Levi by 11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and saying,
Merari. 12 And I, behold, I have taken the Le- 18 And these are the names of the sons vites from among the children of Israel in- of Gershon by their families; Libni, and stead of all the firstborn that openeth the Shimci. matrix among the children of Israel: there- 19 And the sons of Kohath by their fafore the Levites shall be mine;
milies; Amram, and Izehar, Hebron, and 13 Because all the firstborn aré mine; Uzziel. for on the day that I smote all the firstborn 20 And the sons of Merari by their fami• Exod. 13.2. Levit. 17. 36. Chap. 8. 16. Luke 2: 23.
6 Gen, 46. 11. Exod. 6. 16. Chap. 26. 57. 1 Chron. 6. 1.
6 Heb. mouth.
lies; Mahli, and Mushi. These are the , about, and the cords of it for all the service fami of the Levites according to the house thereof. of their fathers.
27 | And of Kohath was the family of 21 Of Gershon was the family of the Lib- the Amramites, and the family of the Izenites, and the family of the Shimites: these harites, and the family of the Hebronites, are the families of the Gershonites.
and the family of the Uzzielites: these are 22 Those that were numbered of them, the families of the Kohathites. according to the number of all the males
, 28 In the number of all the males, from a from a month old and upward, even those month old and upward, were eight thousand that were numbered of them were seven and six hundred, keeping the charge of the thousand and five hundred.
sanctuary 23 The families of the Gershonites shall 29 The families of the sons of Kohath pitch behind the tabernacle westward. shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle
24 And the chief of the house of the southward. father of the Gershonites shall be Eliasaph 30 And the chief of the house of the the son of Lael.
father of the families of the Kohathites shall 25 And the charge of the sons of Gershon be Elizaphan the son of Uzziel. in the tabernacle of the congregation shall 31 And their charge shall be the ark, and be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, thereof, and the hanging for the door of the and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith tabernacle of the congregation,
they minister, and the hanging, and all the 26 And the hangings of the court, and service thereof. the curtain for the door of the court, which 32 And Eleazar the son of Aaron the is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round | priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstkeep the charge of the sanctuary.
born among the children of Israel; and the 33 f Of Merari was the family of the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstMahlites, and the family of the Mushites: lings among the cattle of the children of these are the families of Merari.
Israel. 34 And those that were numbered of 42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD them, according to the number of all the commanded him, all the firstborn among males, from a month old and upward, were the children of Israel. six thousand and two hundred.
43 And all the firstborn males by the 35 And the chief of the house of the number of names, from a month old and upfather of the families of Merari was Zurielward, of those that were numbered of them, the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the were twenty and two thousand two hundred side of the tabernacle northward.
and threescore and thirteen. 36 And 'under the custody and charge of 44 | And the LORD spake unto Moses, the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the saying, tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the 45 Take the Levites instead of all the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and firstborn among the children of Israel, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth the cattle of the Levites instead of their thereto,
cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am 37 And the pillars of the court round the Lord. about, and their sockets, and their pins, and 46 And for those that are to be redeemed their cords.
of the two hundred and threescore and 38 | But those that encamp before the thirteen of the firstborn of the children of tabernacle towards the east, even before the Israel, which are more than the Levites; tabernacle of the congregation eastward, 47 Thou shalt even take five shekels shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the sanctuary shalt thou take them : (*the shecharge of the children of Israel; and the kel is twenty gerahs :) stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to 48 And thou shalt give the money, wheredeath.
with the odd number of them is to be re39 All that were numbered of the Le- deemed, unto Aaron and to his sons. vites, which Moses and Aaron numbered 49 And Moses took the redemption money at the commandment of the Lord, through of them that were over and above them that out their families, all the males from a were redeemed by the Levites : month old and upward, were twenty and two 50 Of the firstborn of the children of Isthousand.
rael took he the money; a thousand three 40 And the LORD said unto Moses, hundred and threescore and five shekels, Number all the firstborn of the males of the after the shekel of the sanctuary: children of Israel from a month old and 51 And Moses gave the money of them upward, and take the number of their that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his names.
sons, according to the word of the LORD, as 41 And thou shalt take the Levites for the LORD commanded Moses.
-7 Heb. the office of the charge. 8 Exod. 30. 13. Levit. 27. 25. Chap. 18. 16. Ezek. 45. 12. 12. “ I have taken the Levites... instead of all the firstborn,” &c.-In memory of his avenging the cause of the Israelites upon the Egyptians 'by destroying their firstborn, it pleased God to direct that all the firstborn males should be set apart to himself (Exod. xiii. 12—16); and as the services of the Levites had not then been appropriated, it appears, in the first instance, as if it had been intended that the firstborn should occupy the position which was afterwards assigned to them. But God at the same time provided the opening for the future substitution of the Levites, by allowing the firstborn to be redeemed. Accordingly, when the Levites had signalized their zeal in the affair of the golden calf, the distinction of being consecrated to the Lord's service was transferred to the whole tribe of Levi, instead of being assigned to the firstborn of every tribe. The substitution was, in the first instance, formally made, as we see in this chapter: the firstborn of all the tribes, and the whole tribe of Levi, being respectively numbered, the former were found to exceed the latter by 273; the Levites were then understood to be taken in exchange for an equivalent number of firstborn, who of course paid no ransom; but there being no living substitutes for the surplus number of firstborn, they were redeemed at the rate of five shekels for each, the produce going to the use of the sanctuary. Besides serving as a memorial of God's judgment upon the Egyptians, the consecration of the firstborn was, in fact, a sort of recognition of the patriarchal usage, which assigned the priestly functions to him; and even the fine of redemption was a sort of declaration of his prior claim or obligation to perform those duties which the Lord saw fit to transfer to the tribe of Levi. The memorial and recognition did not, however, cease with the act of personal substitution, which seems to have cleared the redemption fine only in the instance before us. The previous law on this subject is repeated in chap. xviii., and seems to have been still in force in the time of our Saviour. (See Luke ii. 23.)
15. “ From a month old and upward.”—The males in the other tribes were numbered from twenty years old and upwards. The cause of the distinction is obvious. The general numeration was chiefly for military purposes, and therefore only comprehended those supposed to be fit for war; but the Levites being exempt from military service, the distinction was not necessary, and all the males above a month old were numbered. The result displays remarkably the very inferior numbers of this tribe ; for with all this advantage of nearly an hundred per cent. in the calculation, its numbers only reach to 22,000, being about 10,000 less than the males above twenty in Manasseh, which was, at this census, the smallest of the secular tribes. It should be observed that the total number stated in verse 39 is less by 300 than is obtained by casting up the component numbers as given in verses 22, 28, and 34. The mistake is doubtless in one of the items, but it is not agreed in which. It probably arose from one letter being mistaken for another of similar form, but different numerical value, which is a fruitful source of many errors in numbers found in the present Hebrew text and propagated in translations.
17. “Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”—These were, as the text informs us, the sons of Levi, and ancestors of the three sub-tribes, to which Moses found it convenient to assign distinct departments of service about the tabernacle. This distinction had a particular reference to the migratory state of the Israelites at the time these regulations were established ; and their duties, of course, underwent considerable modification when the nation became settled in Canaan, and particularly after the Temple was built. David and Solomon, in particular, made a new and different arrangement of their duties and distribution of their numbers, as we shall hereafter have occasion to notice. Their duties, as defined here and elsewhere in the Pentateuch, were to act as general assistants to the priests in various capacities. They set up the tabernacle, took it down, and conveyed it from place to place. They also formed its guard when stationary ; and although they might not themselves offer sacrifices, they rendered important services by killing, flaying, and preparing the victims; for the duties in sacrifice to which the priests alone were competent seem to be only those of sprinkling the blood, and laying on the altar the parts to be consumed. In the distribution of duties to the three families, we perceive that the Kohathites had the charge of removing the most sacred and precious things of the sanctuary. This was doubtless intended as an honourable distinction, for
which they were probably indebted to the circumstance that the priestly family was taken from this division of the Levitical tribe.