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Numbers 8 (The Message)

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1 God spoke to Moses: 2 "Tell Aaron, Install the seven lamps so they will throw light in front of the Lampstand." 3 Aaron did just that. He installed the lamps so they threw light in front of the Lampstand, as God had instructed Moses. 4 The Lampstand was made of hammered gold from its stem to its petals. It was made precisely to the design God had shown Moses. Purifying the Levites 5 God spoke to Moses: 6 "Take the Levites from the midst of the People of Israel and purify them for doing God's work. 7 This is the way you will do it: Sprinkle water of absolution on them; have them shave their entire bodies; have them scrub their clothes. Then they will have purified themselves. 8 "Have them take a young bull with its accompanying Grain-Offering of fine flour mixed with oil, plus a second young bull for an Absolution-Offering. 9 Bring the Levites to the front of the Tent of Meeting and gather the entire community of Israel. 10 Present the Levites before God as the People of Israel lay their hands on them. 11 Aaron will present the Levites before God as a Wave-Offering from the People of Israel so that they will be ready to do God's work. 12 "Have the Levites place their hands on the heads of the bulls, selecting one for the Absolution-Offering and another for the Whole-Burnt-Offering to God to make atonement for the Levites. 13 Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and present them as a Wave-Offering to God. 14 This is the procedure for setting apart the Levites from the rest of the People of Israel; the Levites are exclusively for my use. 15 "After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a Wave-Offering to God, they can go to work in the Tent of Meeting. 16 The Levites have been selected out of the People of Israel for my exclusive use; they function in place of every firstborn male born to an Israelite woman. 17 Every firstborn male in Israel, animal or human, is set apart for my use. When I struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, I consecrated them for my holy uses. 18 But now I take the Levites as stand-ins in place of every firstborn son in Israel, 19 selected out of the People of Israel, and I have given the Levites to Aaron and his sons to do all the work involved in the Tent of Meeting on behalf of all the People of Israel and to make atonement for them so that nothing bad will happen to them when they approach the Sanctuary." 20 Moses, Aaron, and the entire community of the People of Israel carried out these procedures with the Levites, just as God had commanded Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves and scrubbed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a Wave-Offering before God and made atonement for them to purify them. 22 Only then did the Levites go to work at the Tent of Meeting. Aaron and his sons supervised them following the directions God had given. 23 God spoke to Moses: 24 "These are your instructions regarding the Levites: At the age of twenty-five they will join the work force in the Tent of Meeting; 25 at the age of fifty they must retire from the work. 26 They can assist their brothers in the tasks in the Tent of Meeting, but they are not permitted to do the actual work themselves. These are the ground rules for the work of the Levites."
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