Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
The day. The second of the second month, the year after the Hebrews left Egypt. We might read this chapter immediately after the 10th of Leviticus.
Covered. Destined to carry some parts of the tabernacle. (Calmet) --- The Septuagint use a term which, according to Hesychius, denotes the chariots in which people of quality travelled, Lampenes. (Menochius)
Four. The sons of Merari were not very numerous, (chap. iv. 44,) and they had the heaviest parts of the tabernacle to carry. The metal alone would weigh 274,875 Roman pounds, of 12 ounces each; not to mention the pillars, &c. If 100 waggons carried each 3000 pounds, and every man 50, they would not carry one half; so that the people must have furnished them with many more waggons besides these four of the princes. (Jansenius) (Calmet) --- Abulensis thinks the Merarites carried all that was not laid on the four waggons. (Menochius)
Serve in removing the most sacred vessels of the sanctuary, chap. iv. 4. --- Shoulders, out of respect. Yet the ark itself was placed on a cart, (2 Kings vi. 3.; Haydock.) improperly. (Du Hamel)
That day. About that time; the ceremony lasted at least twelve days, ver. 84. (Tirinus)
Altar of holocausts, the dedication of which continued seven days, Exodus xxix. 36. (Menochius)
Dish, (acetabulum.) Hebrew kaharath. See Exodus xxv. 29. This present of the prince of Juda weighed five Roman pounds. It was of silver, and consequently could not be used in the sanctuary, but in the court, (Calmet) at the altar of holocausts. (Tirinus)
Mortar. Hebrew caph, which the Vulgate commonly renders phiala, "a cup," (Menochius) may signify a spoon for incense, as it generally accompanies the censer, 3 Kings vii. 20. It means literally "the palm of the hand." The high priest took his hands full of incense on the day of expiation, Leviticus xvi. 12. But on other occasions, a spoon was probably used to throw incense on the altar, or on the coals which were burning in the censers. (Calmet)
Buck-goats, (hircos). The same as the he-goats given by Nahasson. The presents of all the 12 princes are equal; and Moses mentions them in detail with equal honour. They give them according to the order in which they encamped. Juda, with his two tribes, first; then Ruben, &c.
Oracle of God, whose majesty appeared, in the form of a bright cloud, upon the propitiatory, or mercy-seat. (Haydock) --- Moses is allowed to enter in quality of God's messenger, to announce his will to the people; or perhaps he heard the mandates of God, standing without the veil. (Du Hamel)