But you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister to it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The tabernacle of testimony.—The testimony (sometimes described as the two tables of the testimony (Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:29) denotes in the first instance the tables of the law which were directed to be placed in the ark (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21). Hence the ark is described as the ark of the testimony (Exodus 25:22; Exodus 26:33), and the tabernacle as the tabernacle of the testimony (Exodus 38:21), and the tent, including the outer covering of the mishkan, or wooden building, is called the tent of the testimony (Numbers 9:15). Also the veil which separated the holy place from the most holy is called the veil of the testimony (Leviticus 24:3).
And shall encamp round about the tabernacle.—The tent of meeting was like a royal palace, and the Levites served as a guard of honour round about it, to protect it from every sort of desecration.Numbers 1:50-51. The tabernacle of testimony — So called here, and Exodus 38:21, because it was made chiefly for the sake of the ark of the testimony, which is often called the testimony. The stranger elsewhere is one of another nation, here one of another tribe. That cometh nigh — So as to do the offices mentioned Numbers 1:50.Exodus 32:26-29, though reference to their future office appears previously in Leviticus 25:32 ff, and they had already acted as assistants to the priests (compare Exodus 38:21). Exodus 38:21 because it was made chiefly for the sake of the ark of the testimony, 2 Samuel 7:2, which is oft called the testimony, as hath been observed before.
and over all the vessels thereof; the candlestick, table: and altars, as Aben Ezra notes:
and over all things that belong to it; the vessels of vessels, as the same writer calls them; for the candlestick, shewbread table, and the two altars of incense and burnt offering had vessels appertaining to them:
they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; carry them from place to place when needful:
and they shall minister unto it; by taking care of the instruments of it and the vessels in it, but not by doing any part of the priestly office in it, as offering sacrifice, burning incense, and the like:
and shall encamp round about the tabernacle; they were a sort of camp or army of themselves, and their station was around the tabernacle, which was a kind of royal palace to God the King of kings; so that as they were the king's legion, and to be numbered alone, as Jarchi observes, in Numbers 1:49, so they were a guard about his palace, and were placed between that and the camp of Israel.But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)50. the tabernacle of the testimony] Better the dwelling, &c. The Heb. mishkân, denoting the place where Jehovah’s presence dwelt among His people, is used in the Hexateuch by P only. The rendering ‘tabernacle’ confuses it with ’ôhel ‘tent.’ See note on Numbers 1:1.
The ‘testimony’ or ‘witness’ refers to the stone tablets of the decalogue, which were placed in the ark and were a testimony or witness to the ethical character of Israel’s God and the ethical character which He desired to see in His people. Similar expressions are ‘the ark of the testimony’ (Exodus 25:22), the ‘tablets of the testimony’ (Exodus 31:18), the ‘veil of the testimony’ (Leviticus 24:3). On the significance of the various names of the Tabernacle see the writer’s Exodus, p. lxxxvii.Leviticus 24:11) by name, and had the whole congregation gathered together by them and enrolled in genealogical tables. התילּד, to announce themselves as born, i.e., to have themselves entered in genealogical registers (books of generations). This entry is called a פּקד, mustering, in Numbers 1:19, etc. In vv. 20-43 the number is given of those who were mustered of all the different tribes, and in Numbers 1:44-47 the total of the whole nation, with the exception of the tribe of Levi. "Their generations" (Numbers 1:20, Numbers 1:22, Numbers 1:24, etc.), i.e., those who were begotten by them, so that "the sons of Reuben, Simeon," etc., are mentioned as the fathers from whom the mishpachoth and fathers' houses had sprung. The ל before שׁמעון בּני in Numbers 1:22, and the following names (in Numbers 1:24, Numbers 1:26, etc.), signifies "with regard to" (as in Isaiah 32:1; Psalm 17:4, etc.).
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