Numbers 8

Setting Up the Lamps

1 The LORD said to Moses,
2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, see that all seven light up the area in front of the lampstand.’ ”
3 Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the LORD commanded Moses.
4 This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the LORD had shown Moses.

The Setting Apart of the Levites

5 The LORD said to Moses:
6 “Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean.
7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves.
8 Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering.[a]
9 Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community.
10 You are to bring the Levites before the LORD, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them.
11 Aaron is to present the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the LORD.
12 “Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the LORD and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites.
13 Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the LORD.
14 In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.
15 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting.
16 They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman.
17 Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself.
18 And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel.
19 From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”
20 Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the LORD commanded Moses.
21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD and made atonement for them to purify them.
22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the LORD commanded Moses.
23 The LORD said to Moses,
24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting,
25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.
26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”

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 39

  • 1. Exodus 25:37; Leviticus 24:2,4
  • 2. S Exodus 25:18,36">Ex Exodus 25:18,36; Exodus 25:18
  • 3. S Exodus 25:9
  • 4. Leviticus 22:2; Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 52:11
  • 5. Numbers 19:9,17; Numbers 31:23
  • 6. S Leviticus 14:9; Numbers 6:9; Deuteronomy 21:12
  • 7. S Genesis 35:2; Leviticus 14:8
  • 8. S Genesis 35:2
  • 9. Leviticus 2:1; Numbers 15:8-10
  • 10. Leviticus 4:3
  • 11. Exodus 40:12
  • 12. Leviticus 8:3
  • 13. S Leviticus 3:2; Acts 6:6
  • 14. S Exodus 29:24; Leviticus 7:30
  • 15. S Exodus 29:10
  • 16. Leviticus 4:3; Numbers 6:11
  • 17. Leviticus 1:3
  • 18. S Exodus 29:36
  • 19. S Exodus 29:24
  • 20. S Numbers 3:12
  • 21. S Exodus 29:24
  • 22. Exodus 40:2
  • 23. Numbers 1:20
  • 24. S Numbers 3:12
  • 25. S Exodus 4:23
  • 26. S Exodus 22:29
  • 27. S Exodus 13:2; Luke 2:23
  • 28. S Numbers 3:12
  • 29. S Numbers 3:9
  • 30. S Numbers 3:7; Numbers 1:53
  • 31. Numbers 16:46
  • 32. ver 7; S Genesis 35:2
  • 33. Numbers 16:47
  • 34. ver 12
  • 35. ver 11
  • 36. 1 Chronicles 23:3
  • 37. S Exodus 38:21; Numbers 4:3
  • 38. S Numbers 4:3
  • 39. ver 11

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "purification offering" ; also in verse 12

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

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