Numbers viii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Looketh. This candlestick stood on the south side, with one branch extending towards the altar of incense, on the east; and the other to the west, so as to give light to the loaves of proposition, on the north, Exodus xxv. 31. (Calmet) — It was intended to illumine the holy of holies, where a sort of feast was prepared for God, and where no windows were found. (Menochius) — Hebrew simply, “When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against,” upon, or near to “the candlestick.” (Haydock) — The lamps might be separated from the branches and stem of the candlestick. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 7. Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification. This was the holy water, mixed with the ashes of the red cow, (Numbers xix.) appointed for purifying all that were unclean. It was a figure of the blood of Christ, applied to our souls by his holy sacraments. (Challoner) — Purification, (lustrationis) or “expiation.” The water, mixed with ashes, was taken and sprinkled round about the houses, and upon those persons who wished either to be cleansed from some defilement, or to advance in virtue and purity. We use salt instead of ashes. Theocritus (Idyl. xxiv. 100,) puts these words in the mouth of Tiresias, “then mixt with salt, according to the law, with a green branch sprinkle the honoured and pure water, and sacrifice to the supreme Jupiter a hog, if you wish to gain the victory over your adversaries.” — Flesh, to remind them that they must cut off all superfluous thoughts, the roots of which they will however never be able to destroy entirely, as St. Gregory (Mor. v. 3,) says, “The flesh always produces superfluities, which the spirit must always cut away with the sword of solicitude.” See Leviticus xiv. 8., and xxi. 5, 10. (Haydock) — The priests serving in the temple were obliged to cut their hair every month; and the Levites probably observed the same regulation, to acknowledge, that they who approach to God, must be pure and detached from earthly cares, (Calmet) and particularly from the works of sin; to remind them of which, they were to be sprinkled with water, their garments washed, and they were to offer two oxen by the hands of Aaron, and to be lifted up or offered to God, to serve in his court. (Tirinus)

Ver. 10. Upon them. Some of the princes performed this ceremony, to testify that they gave up the Levites to serve God, (ver. 15,) and would not be answerable, if they were guilty of any irreverence or neglect. (Calmet) — They offered them as a sort of sacrifice for the people, (Menochius) and gave their approbation to them, setting them at liberty, ver. 14., and 20. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 11. A gift. Hebrew, “he shall heave them as a heave-offering before the Lord.” Some assert, that Aaron lifted each of them towards the four quarters of the world; (ver. 21,) or he made them go up towards the altar, and on each side. This ceremony was performed whenever a Levite was taken into the ministry, 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 34.

Ver. 12. Thou, Moses, though the Hebrew here seems to refer it to Aaron, “he shall.” But the Septuagint and Arabic agree with the Vulgate, and the context shews that Moses is the person (Calmet) who had chiefly to officiate. Aaron also performed his part, ver. 11. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Mine. Free from the burdens of the state, and employed in singing and keeping the doors of the sanctuary. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Into, or “towards, about;” for the priests alone could enter in. Hebrew, “the Levites shall go in (or be admitted) to do the service of the tabernacle,” and to remove it, &c., ver. 19. (Haydock)

Ver. 21. Lifted. Hebrew tenupha, Exodus xxix. 24. Perhaps only a few were received at once. (Menochius) — Prayed. Hebrew means also “to expiate, or redeem,” as ver. 19.

Ver. 25. Serve, in any laborious functions, as the original imports.

Ver. 26. Ministers. Hebrew, “to watch over,” (Calmet) direct, and “train up their brethren,” Samaritan. (Grotius)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The seven lamps are placed on the golden candlestick, to shine towards the loaves of proposition: the ordination of the Levites: and at what age they shall serve in the tabernacle.

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, *saying:

2 Speak to Aaron, and thou shalt say to him: When thou shalt place the seven lamps, let the candlestick be set up on the south side. Give orders, therefore, that the lamps look over-against the north, towards the table of the loaves of proposition, over-against that part shall they give light, towards which the candlestick looketh.

3 And Aaron did so, and he put the lamps upon the candlestick, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

4 Now this was the work of the candlestick, it was of beaten gold, both the shaft in the middle, and all that came out of both sides of the branches: according to the pattern which the Lord had shewn to Moses, so he made the candlestick.

5 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

6 Take the Levites out of the midst of the children of Israel, and thou shalt purify them,

7 According to this rite: Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification, and let them shave all the hairs of their flesh. And when they shall have washed their garments, and are cleansed,

8 They shall take an ox of the herd, and for the offering thereof, fine flour tempered with oil: and thou shalt take another ox of the herd for a sin-offering:

9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the covenant, calling together all the multitude of the children of Israel:

10 And when the Levites are before the Lord, the children of Israel shall put their hands upon them:

11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites, as a gift in the sight of the Lord, from the children of Israel, that they may serve in his ministry.

12 The Levites also shall put their hands upon the heads of the oxen, of which thou shalt sacrifice one for sin, and the other for a holocaust of the Lord, to pray for them.

13 And thou shalt set the Levites in the sight of Aaron and of his sons, and shalt consecrate them, being offered to the Lord,

14 And shalt separate them from the midst of the children of Israel, to be mine.

15 And afterwards they shall enter into the tabernacle of the covenant, to serve me. And thus shalt thou purify and consecrate them for an oblation of the Lord: for as a gift they were given me by the children of Israel.

16 *I have taken them instead of the first-born that open every womb in Israel:

17 For all the first-born of the children of Israel, both of men and of beasts, are mine. From the day that I slew every first-born in the land of Egypt, have I sanctified them to myself:

18 And I have taken the Levites for all the first-born of the children of Israel:

19 And have delivered them for a gift to Aaron and his sons out of the midst of the people, to serve me for Israel in the tabernacle of the covenant, and to pray for them, lest there should be a plague among the people, if they should presume to approach unto my sanctuary.

20 And Moses and Aaron, and all the multitude of the children of Israel, did with the Levites all that the Lord had commanded Moses:

21 And they were purified, and washed their garments. And Aaron lifted them up in the sight of the Lord, and prayed for them,

22 That being purified, they might go into the tabernacle of the covenant, to do their services before Aaron and his sons. As the Lord had commanded Moses touching the Levites, so was it done.

23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

24 This is the law of the Levites: From twenty-five years old and upwards, they shall go in to minister in the tabernacle of the covenant.

25 And when they shall have accomplished the fiftieth year of their age, they shall cease to serve:

26 And they shall be the ministers of their brethren in the tabernacle of the covenant, to keep the things that are committed to their care, but not to do the works. Thus shalt thou order the Levites touching their charge.



1: Year of the World 2514, Year before Christ 1490.

16: Exodus xiii. 2.; Numbers iii. 13.; Luke ii. 23.