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ever, were not to be presented till the Nazarite term was over, making him liable to the opposite imputation of niggardliness, if his vow should be for a long period, and especially if it should be for life. The shorter the time specified in it, the sooner would he be able to exhibit himself to the priests and people in all the glory he had coveted.*
In the benediction which Aaron was directed to pronounce upon the people, as often as there should be occasion for any such form of address, it is very probable, that there was, in the way of antithesis, some reference to idolatrous forms which had prevailed. But all that at the present day we can see is, that use was to be made of the opportunity, to remind them whose blessing it was for which they must look, the name Jehovah being the leading name in each clause; a circumstance which is also expressly adverted to in the last verse.t
The donations of the princes of the several tribes, on twelve successive days, enumerated in the seventh chapter, have been commonly understood as having been made immediately after the dedication of the Tabernacle; but, I think, erroneously. No such inference can be safely made from the first verse of this chapter; for the word "day,” is freely used for time in general, and indeed the interpretation, which should here put on it the most literal sense, is contradicted by what we presently after read of the presentation having occupied twelve days. On the other hand, the need for some of the articles presented, did not arise till the separate services of the Levites had been assigned.* Some expressions used, denote that that service had already been arranged, and the census already made;t and the offerings of the several princes were made from Judah to Naphtali, in the order in which their respective tribes were, at the beginning of the second month, arranged around the Tabernacle.
* In Lev. xxv. 5, we have seen a reference to the Nazarite institution as already existing. For authorities showing that rites resembling those of Jewish Nazariteship were practised among the Egyptians and other ancient nations, see Spencer, “ De Legibus” &c., lib. 3, cap. 6, diss. 1, $$ 1,3. Compare a fragment of Chæremon the Stoic, in Porphyry, “ De Abstinentiâ,” lib. 4, § 6.
# Numb. vi. 22 - 27. Compare Psalm iv. 6; lxvii. 1.
The offerings of all the princes were, no doubt by previous concert, the same; consisting of plate and incense for the use of the Tabernacle. I Each prince also, in his tribe's behalf, brought an ox, and each two princes a wagon, for the transportation of the sacred edifice. Of these, four wagons, each with its yoke of oxen, were assigned to the family of Merari, to whom belonged the conveyance of the more bulky parts of the structure, and two wagons to that of Gershon, who had charge of its hangings; while that of Kohath needed none, “because the service of the sanctuary, belonging to them, was, that they should bear upon their shoulders.” || Thus, in all respects, care was taken to interest the tribes in their place of common worship, as their common property. And the accompanying ceremony, including the presentation of victims for the different kind of offerings, I was apparently intended to be a solemn individual recognition by each tribe of that common place of worship as its own; a relation, too, in which all stood on a footing of dignified equality. To this end, through twelve successive days, the princes appeared, followed each, it is likely, by a procession of his tribe, to lay its rich offering upon the common altar; and further to cement the union, each day of the momentous celebration was made a day of festivity for the
* Numb. vii. 7, 8.
#vii. 2, 5.
| vii. 84-86. I vii. 87, 88.
whole, by the rich Feast Offering which made part of the tribute."
The last verse of the seventh chapter, should, I think, be detached from that connexion, and made part of the narrative at the beginning of the eighth chapter, to which it is merely the introduction. This passage appears to be an account of the first lighting of the lamp in the Holy Place, which was henceforth never to go
That apartment being without windows, its gorgeous furniture would not be visible to those authorized to enter it, till the lamp had first been lighted. The event was of sufficient interest to deserve a special commemoration, and the influence which the arrangement of the only light would have on the effect intended to be produced on the minds of beholders, entitled this to be the subject of a special direction. The seven lights were, as it seems, to compose one cluster, all turned inwards towards the centre of the room.
The arrangement for the Tabernacle service being now all completed, and the Levites prepared for their appointed work, they are directed to be set apart for it by proper ceremonies of consecration. These ceremonies are simple, consisting merely in the ablution of those who were to be dedicated, accompanied by the offering of two young bullocks, the one for a Sin Offering, the other for a holocaust. A little change is now made in the provision respecting their term of service. It had been before decreed, that they should serve at the Tabernacle from the age of thirty to that of fifty years. The number thus furnished had, perhaps, appeared to Moses, on reflection, too small; or those excluded from it, for want of a little more age, had been ambitious of the honor, and solicited their share in it; or it was thought fit to distinguish the Levitical office from the more dignified one of priests, which is believed to have been entered on at the age of thirty. At all events, the rule now introduced was, that, at twenty-five years of age, the Levites should henceforward enter on the appropriate duties of their tribe, and after the age of fifty be subject to no other demand, than to “minister with their brethren in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, to keep the charge, and do no service.” *
It is not unlikely, that, among the donations of the twelve days, oil had been brought by the princes or others, for the use of the lamp. (Compare Lev. xxiv. 2.) But of this we do not read, unless ng up in the 14th and corresponding verses will bear that sense, which I think it scarcely will. See however Psalm lxvi. 15. # Numb. viii. 5 - 22.
| iv. 3.
The first relation in the ninth chapter is clearly retrospective, being an introduction to the record of the rule prescribed for such as had been prevented from keeping the passover at the proper time.t It should accordingly be translated in the same manner with several others in the book ; † “ The Lord had spoken unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season, in the fourteenth day of this month.'” On this first occasion of keeping the passover, which occurred after the Exodus, it appears, that, in consequence of regulations which had been meanwhile enacted, a new question arose,
* Numb. viii. 24 - 26. I have given above what seems to me the most probable view, resulting from a comparison of these two texts, which, however, some commentators propose to reconcile by understanding the service referred to in iv. 3, to be the special service of conveying the Tabernacle and its furniture, which, say they, required full strength, and was therefore committed to the most mature and robust portion of those designated for the general service of the Tabernacle in viii. 24. The Alexandrine version has in iv. 3, a reading which avoids the discrepance in the reckoning of years. | Compare ix. 1-5, 6-14.
| E. g. i. 47.
which now had to be settled. 6. There were certain men who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day ; and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day; and those men said unto him, Wherefore are we kept back that we may not offer an offering to the Lord, in his appointed season among the children of Israel ?'” Moses suspended the question, till he should “hear what the Lord will command," and received the direction, that whoever was unavoidably hindered from keeping the festival at its proper time, on the fourteenth day of the first month, should observe it on the same day of the second, which, probably, on this occasion, immediately followed the days occupied by the twelve princes in making their offering. And in this, as in other respects, it is added, that the same rule should have force for the stranger, (that is, the circumcised stranger, the proselyte, *) “as for him that was born in the land.”
In connexion with the preparations for the approaching decampment, we have now a repetition of the statement respecting the signal by which the encampment and the marches were regulated. As the first removal of the Tabernacle had not yet taken place, the passage must be regarded as a remark inserted by Moses, after the course of operations described in it had occurred, - in which case it seems a natural preface to his record, which follows, of the first movement, — or as, possibly, an interpolation by some later hand.f
* Ex. xii. 48.
† The passage has some bearing upon the theory of the miraculous character of the appearance of cloud and flame. At verse 19 it is said, that “ when the cloud tarried long upon the Tabernacle, many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not.” But, from verse 23, it would appear that this command, which they so observed, was given through Moses' instrumentality; that is, that it