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Numbers 8

Listen to Numbers 8

The Seven Lamps

1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand."
3 And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the LORD commanded Moses.
4 And 1this was the workmanship of the lampstand, hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.

Cleansing of the Levites

5 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
6 "Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them.
7 Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the 2water of purification upon them, and 3let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves.
8 Then let them take a bull from the herd and 4its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, 5and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering.
9 6And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting 7and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel.
10 When you bring the Levites before the LORD, the people of Israel 8shall lay their hands on the Levites,
11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the LORD.
12 Then the Levites 9shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer 10the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD to make atonement for the Levites.
13 And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as 11a wave offering to the LORD.
14 "Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and 12the Levites shall be mine.
15 And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a 13wave offering.
16 For they are 14wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. 15Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself.
17 16For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself,
18 and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel.
19 17And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and 18to make atonement for the people of Israel, 19that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary."
20 Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them.
21 And 20the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and 21Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them.
22 And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.

Retirement of the Levites

23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
24 "This applies to the Levites: 22from twenty-five years old and upward they[a] shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting.
25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more.
26 They minister[b] to their brothers in the tent of meeting 23by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties."

Numbers 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

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

Verses 1-4 Aaron himself lighted the lamps, thus representing his Divine Master. The Scripture is a light shining in a dark place, ( 2 Peter. 1:19 ) the tabernacle, which had no window, would have been without the lamps. The work of ministers is to light these lamps, by expounding and applying the word of God. Jesus Christ is the only Light of our dark, sinful world; and by his atonement, by his word and the Holy Spirit, he diffuses light around.

Verses 5-26 Here we have directions for the solemn ordination of the Levites. All Israel must know that they took not this honour to themselves, but were called of God to it; nor was it enough that they were distinguished from others. All who are employed for God, must be dedicated to him, according to the employment. Christians must be baptized, ministers must be ordained; we must first give ourselves unto the Lord, and then our services. The Levites must be cleansed. They must be clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Moses must sprinkle the water of purifying upon them. This signifies the application of the blood of Christ to our souls by faith, that we may be fit to serve the living God. God declares his acceptance of them. All who expect to share in the privileges of the tabernacle, must resolve to do the service of the tabernacle. As, on the one hand, none of God's creatures are his necessary servants, he needs not the service of any of them; so none are merely honorary servants, to do nothing. All whom God owns, he employs; angels themselves have their services.

Cross References 23

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew he; also verses 25, 26
  • [b]. Hebrew He ministers

Chapter Summary


In this chapter orders are given for the lighting the seven lamps of the candlestick, Nu 8:1-4; and for the consecration of the Levites to their office, by a purification of them, Nu 8:5-8; by a separation of them from the children of Israel, and the imposition of their hands on them, and of the hands of the Levites on the offerings offered for them, Nu 8:9-15; and being thus given to the Lord, and claimed as his, instead of the firstborn of Israel, they are given to Aaron and his sons to do service in the tabernacle, Nu 8:16-22; and their age at which they were to enter into service and cease from it is fixed, Nu 8:23-26.

Numbers 8 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.