Numbers 8

Chapter 8

The Lampstand. 1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to shine to the front of the lampstand.’ ” 3 Aaron did this. He set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 4 This is how the lampstand was made: it was made from hammered gold from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made according to the pattern that the Lord had shown to Moses.

Purifying the Levites. 5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Separate the Levites from the other people of Israel and purify them.[a] 7 Do the following to purify them: Sprinkle the water of expiation upon them, and have them shave their entire body and wash their clothes. This will purify them. 8 Let them take a young bull and its cereal offering of fine flour mixed with oil. You shall also take another young bull for a sin offering. 9 You shall present the Levites before the tent of meeting. You shall also gather together the whole assembly of the people of Israel. 10 You shall present the Levites before the Lord, and all the people of Israel will lay their hands upon the Levites.[b] 11 Then Aaron will present the Levites to the Lord as a wave offering of the people of Israel so that they may carry out the work of the Lord. 12 The Levites will lay their hands upon the heads of the young bulls. You will offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites.

13 “You shall have the Levites stand before Aaron and his sons to present them as a wave offering to the Lord. 14 Thus you will separate the Levites from the people of Israel, and the Levites will be mine. 15 After this the Levites can go in and serve the needs of the tent of meeting, when you have purified them and offered them as a wave offering. 16 They are to be wholly dedicated to me from among the people of Israel. I have reserved them for myself as a substitute for all those who open the womb, the firstborn of the people of Israel. 17 All the firstborn of the people of Israel belong to me, both human and animal. I sanctified them to myself on the day that I killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt. 18 But I have taken the Levites as a substitute for all the firstborn of the people of Israel. 19 I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to perform the work of the people of Israel in the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, so that no plague may come upon the people of Israel when the people of Israel approach near the sanctuary.”

20 So Moses and Aaron and all the assembly of the people of Israel did to the Levites what God had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, that is what the people of Israel did to them. 21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Aaron presented them as a wave offering to the Lord, and made atonement for them to purify them. 22 Then the Levites went in and performed the work of the tent of meeting under the authority of Aaron and his sons. They did to the Levites the things that the Lord had commanded Moses concerning them.

23 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “The Levites will go in to perform the work of the tent of meeting from the age of twenty-five years old. 25 Then, when they are fifty years old, they will stop performing that service. They will work no more. 26 They may assist their brothers in carrying out the duties of the tent of meeting, but they themselves are not to perform that work. This is how you will establish the responsibilities of the Levites.”

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 8:6 Purify them: through a complex ritual (see Ex 29) the priests were made holy whereas the Levites were cleansed for ministry.
  2. Numbers 8:10 The laying on of hands does not bestow any special power on the Levites, but makes of them an offering in the name of the people.

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