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NUMBERS - CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
This is an unusual text, in that God spoke directly to Aaron. The usual method of instruction was, "The Lord spake unto Moses. . ." or " unto Moses and Aaron." In this instance, God addressed Aaron as the head of the priestly lineage.
"Thy father’s house," refers to the Kohathites, who had charge of the sanctuary and its sacred things.
"Bear the iniquity," from nasa and avon, "lift up and bear away the perversity," or to bear the responsibility for the iniquity. This defines the priests’ position as the intermediary between God and Israel. The sins of the people were not placed upon the priests; they bore the sins before God with the appropriate sacrifices necessary for atonement and redemption and cleansing. This position included the entire tribe of Levi.
The text is very precise in designating only the priests, descendants of Aaron, as those who were to officiate in the sacrificial offerings. The role of the Levites, other than Aaron’s sons, was to relieve the priests of the drudgery and routine of the Divine service, freeing the priests to devote their time to the sacrifices.
None of the Levites except Aaron’s sons the priests were to "come near" to the altar to offer sacrifice, nor to enter the sanctuary, under penalty of death.
Aaron and his sons were to regard the priestly office not as a duty but as a gift from the God of grace.
"Service," abodah, also translated "labor, ministry, office."
"Gift," mattanah, a thing bestowed upon one, not earned nor bought.
This illustrates the gifts of ministry and service God bestows upon His children today, Eph 4:11-16; Ro 12:6-8
Verses 1-7 define the charge given to Aaron and his son. Verse 8 begins a list of the provisions God appointed for their maintenance.
"Charge," mishmereth, "a thing to be watched," here the "keeping" for the use of Aaron’s sons.
The provision for the priests and their families included:
1. The Heave Offerings, see Ex 29:22-28; Le 7:32 This included the right shoulder from the Peace, Sin, and Trespass Offerings, along with the bread (meat) offerings which accompanied them.
2.The Wave Offerings, those offerings "waved" before the Lord as a token of His ownership; Ex 29:22-28; Le 7:32-34
3. The "best" of the grain, oil, and wine, consisting of the firstfruits of the harvest, see Ex 23:16-19; Le 23:10-14. These were to be offered as a Wave Offering unto the Lord.
4. the firstborn of the animals, see Ex 13:2, 12-15. Exceptions to this were the firstborn children, and the firstborn of the unclean’ beasts. These were to be redeemed.
This was to be a perpetual ordinance in Israel, to provide for the priests the sons of Aaron and their families,
"Covenant of salt," see comments on Le 2:13; read also 2Ch 13:5; Eze 43:24.
No territory was allotted to the tribe of Levi, when Israel entered and possessed the Land of Promise. Instead, they were assigned forty-eight cities throughout the portions assigned to the other twelve tribes, see Joshua chapter 21. This included the "suburbs" of these cities, the pasture land outside the city walls, see Nu 35:2-5. The dimensions given here are obscure, but they seem to imply that the boundaries were to be drawn approximately one thousand .cubits (1500 feet) distance from the city wall, and approximately two thousand cubits (3000 feet) in length.
The Levites were the special possession of Jehovah. But in another sense, Jehovah was the special Possession of the Levites. And since the whole earth belongs to the Lord (Ps 24:1), the Levites’ portion was more desirable than that of any of the other tribes. This is a promise claimed by the faithful of other times, as well, see Ps 16:5; La 3:24.
The Lord claimed for Himself the tithe of the Land, Le 27:30-34. In this text, He assigns this to the Levites, as their portion.
Paul describes God’s provision for the Levites as a picture of the means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel, 1Co 9:13, 14.
Once more God warns that none but the Levites were to approach the Tabernacle to minister and serve therein.
The Levites were required to offer the tithes of what the people brought to them, to the sons of Aaron, the priests. The Levites were to regard the tithes they received as though they were the produce of the threshingfloor, the winepress, and the livestock. The tithes were offered as Heave offerings. These were the special portion of the priests, for their service in the Tabernacle.
"Reward," sakar, hire or wages. There is no thought of a special bonus above and beyond one’s duty.
The priests were to be free to eat of these holy offerings, after they had been offered as Heave Offerings to the Lord, with no fear of displeasing the Lord.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany