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they offered (heir sin-offering and their bumt-offering (n'wo »n» ruNipm)' vatlikrenah oti caelleh, the verb vattikrenah is the plural foominine, and refers to the offerings; and what .Aaron suggests is, That the Ministrations already performed had called down upon him the judgments which had been inflicted ; and that for this reason he feared they had profaned the services Of the day, and therefore that he did not presume to go on to finish them, but had burnt the goaf, instead of reserving it to be eaten, according to the Orders, Which he should have observed, if their officiating had been so conducted, as to give him rcasdn to think if would have been accepted in the sight of the Lord. This, indcod, seems a reasonable excuse, and we find Moses was contented with it ;m and pressed him no further fo finish the remaining offices of that day's service.
It may be here asked, what so great crime were Nadnb and Abihu guilty of, that they paid so dear a price as to lose their lives by an immediate vengeance? But flic answer is easy; the great end and purpose 6f the Mosaic dispensafion was, to separate unto God a chosen people, who should be careful to obey his voice indeed, and who, instead of being like other nations, following and practising, as parts of their religion, What men might invent, set up, and think proper and reasonable, should diligently and strictly keep to what Gon had enjoined, without turning therefrom to the
1 The verb mp in the conjugation hero used, has this tense. Jcr. xxxii. 23 m Lcvitic. x. 20.
right hand or ,to the left, or without adding to the word .which was .commanded them, .or diminishing ought 'from it. tUut herein these young men greatly failed; God had as yet given no law for offering in•cense in censers; all that hud been commanded about it was, that Aaron should burn it upon the altar of incense every morning and every evening." Afterwards he ireoeived further directions;° so that these men took upon (hem to begin and introduce n service into religion, which was not appointed, they offered :chut the Jlord commanded them not.f Now, if this had been suffered, it would have opened a door to great irregularities; and tin* Jewish religion would in a-little time have been, not what God had directed, but have abounded in many human inventions added toil. Aaron and his sons were sanctified to minister in the priest's office,* for this end, that they should remember the commandments of the Lord to do them, not that they should seek after their own heart.' They could not have taken upon themselves the offices of their priesthood, if they had not been called of Goo to them;' and as they were culled of God to them, it was their indispensable duty to be faithful to him that appointed them in all his house,1 in every part of the dispensation commit ed to them. This, said Moses, is that which the Loito spake, saying, I will be.sanctified in them that come nigh me, and
before all the people J will be glorified." They then only sanctified and glorified God, when they dispensed to his people, as parts of his religion, what he had commanded; but when they varied from it, or performed or enjoined, as part of it, what he commanded not, then they assumed to themselves a power which belonged not to them; then they spake and acted of themselves, and he that in these points speaketh of himself, seeketh not God's, but his own glory.*
God had directed, that the Israelites should keep the passover at its appointed season ;y and accordingly they prepared for it against the fourteenth day of the month at even, in order to observe it according to the rites thereof.1 But on the fourteenth day a doubt arose about the persons who had touched the dead bodies of Nadab and Abihu, whether they were fit to keep the passover ;* Moses enquired of God about them, and received an order, that all persons hindered by such an accident, or that were on a journey, should keep the passover a month after their brethren.k We have no account of any thing done more, until the first day of the second month; so that we have here sixteen days interval, in which space, I imagine, the laws recorded in Leviticus, from the beginning of the xith chapter to the end of that book, were given, except the laws contained in the three last chapters; for these were given to Moses, not at the door of the
tabernacle, but upon the mount.' The son of Sheloniiih, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan, was itoued for cursing and blaspheming about this time.'1
On the first day of the second month, A. M. 2514. Moses was commanded to take the number of the congregation by a poll of every male, of twenty years old and upwards,* excepting the Levites who were not to be here numbered.1 And in order to taking tins poll, twelve persons were named to be princes of (lie tribes of their fathers ;• and they assembled their tribes, and gave in upon this first day of the month, each the names and number of the persons in Hie tribe over which he was set.1' After this Moses received a command to appoint the order, in which the host of the Israelites was to march and encamp.1 In I lie next place he was directed to take the number of the Levi tes; and to appoint to their several families their respective services, and to set apart the whole tribe for the ministry of the tabernacle.k In the more ancient times, the first-born of every family was to be the minister of religion;' but in the Jewish institution (ion thought fit to dismiss the first-born from this service, and to direct the Levites to be dedicated to him, instead of them.1" As many Lev lies as were over and above the first-born of the Levilcs, who, by being the first-born, were before this institution holy unto Hie
Lord; so many of the firstJ-borif of tfte other tribe* Were discharged from attending upon the service of the tabernacle. Accordingly, (here bring twenty and1 two thousand Levitt's," (hose Were accepted instead of so many of the first-born males of the children of Israel. The whole, number of the first-born of tire1 Israelites were twenty-two thousand^ (wo hundred, threescore and thirteen.0 The wholfe number of the Levi(es were, of the sons of Gershon, seven thousand! five hundred ;<■ of the sons of Kohuth, eight thousand1 six hundred ;q of the sons of Merarij six thousand? two hundred;' in till twenty-two thousand three hnndretl; and ye( we are (old (hat (here were two hundred threescore and thirteen of the first-born of the children of Israel more than the Levites;" that is, more titan there were Levites to be accepted instead' of them. Hut (his difficulty is easy to be accounted for; because many of (he Levites were the first-born of their families, namely, three hundred of them; so that there remained twenty-two thousand only, who were not first-born, and might therefore be accepted instead of the first-born of the other tribes; and thus we must understand the 3°lh verse of the iiid. chapter of Numbers. All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered, at the commandmeat of the. Iard, throughout their families; all the moles from a month old and upward, icerc twenty and two thousand.' All that were numbered, i.e. in
n Numb. ill. 39. v • Ver. 43. » Ver. «t.
* Ver. 28. 'Ver. 34. "Ver. 4. 'Ver. 39.