And I have given the Levites [as] a gift to Aaron and
sons, from among the children of Israel
Or I have given the Levites that were given; that is, the Lord gave to Aaron and his sons the Levites, that were first given to him; as they were, when brought before him, and the children of Israel laid hands on them, and they were offered before the Lord, ( Numbers 8:10 Numbers 8:11 ) ; to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the
to do what otherwise they must have done, watch and guard the tabernacle, carry the sacrifices to the priests, assist them at the altar, take down and set up the tabernacle, and carry it, and the vessels of it, from place to place: and to make an atonement for the children of Israel;
not by offering sacrifices for them, which was the work of the priests, but by being now offered themselves, ( Numbers 8:10 Numbers 8:11 Numbers 8:13 ) ; that they themselves might be the atonement of their souls as Aben Ezra expresses it, as well as they were by their service hereafter a means of preserving the Israelites from death; which may be interpreted of making an atonement, which Phinehas is said to do by his deed, though no sacrifice was offered, ( Numbers 25:7 Numbers 25:8 Numbers 25:13 ) ; which sense seems to be confirmed by what follows: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the
children of Israel come nigh to the sanctuary;
by approaching nearer than they should, touching what they ought not, intruding themselves into service they were not called to, or doing it amiss, not being instructed in it, or inured to it as the Levites were. The phrase, "the children of Israel", is five times used in this verse, to denote the love of God to them, as Jarchi observes.