Numbers 4:13
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it.

King James Bible
And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:

Darby Bible Translation
And they shall cleanse the altar of the ashes, and spread a purple cloth thereon;

World English Bible
"They shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it.

Young's Literal Translation
and have removed the ashes of the altar, and have spread over it a garment of purple;

Numbers 4:13 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

From thirty years old - In Numbers 8:24, the Levites are ordered to enter on the service of the tabernacle at the age of twenty-five years; and in 1 Chronicles 23:24, they were ordered to commence that work at twenty years of age. How can these different times be reconciled?

1. At the time of which Moses speaks here, the Levitical service was exceedingly severe, and consequently required men full grown, strong, and stout, to perform it; the age therefore of thirty years was appointed as the period for commencing this service, the weightier part of which is probably here intended.

2. In Numbers 8:24, Moses seems to speak of the service in a general way; the severe, which was to be performed by the full-grown Levites, and the less laborious work which younger men might assist in: hence the age of twenty-five is fixed.

3. In David's time and afterwards, in the fixed tabernacle and temple, the laboriousness of the service no longer existed, and hence twenty years was the age fixed on for all Levites to enter into the work of the sanctuary. The rabbins say that the Levites began to learn to do the service at twenty-five, and that having been instructed five years, they began the public service at thirty, and thus they reconcile the two periods referred to above. We may well suppose that the sons of the prophets continued a considerable time under instructions before they were called fully to exercise themselves in the prophetic office.

Until fifty years old - This was allowing twenty years for public severe service; a very considerate and merciful ordinance. A preacher who devotes his whole time and strength to the service of the Church of God from twenty to fifty or sixty years of age, should be then excused from his severer labor, and maintained at the charge of the sanctuary. This would not only be a great comfort to a worn-out servant of God, but also of great use to the work of the ministry, which, to be faithfully and effectually performed, requires all the powers of the body and mind of man. Old faithful ministers are to be highly respected for their work's sake, and to be supplied with all the necessaries and comforts of life; but how little can they do in the public ministry of the word, however willing to work, when their eye waxes dim and their bodily strength fails! See Numbers 8:25. Both for their own sakes, and for the good of the Church, they should be excused from a labor to which they must be almost every way inadequate. But notwithstanding this comparative inactivity, their counsels, advice, and experience will always be considered as a treasure to the Church of Christ

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The embers of the sacred fire seem to have been removed in the grate, which was carried apart from the brazen altar; both being covered from view by purple cloths.

Numbers 4:6-9,11,12 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue...

Exodus 27:3-5 And you shall make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basins, and his meat hooks, and his fire pans...

Exodus 39:1,41 And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place...

Leviticus 6:12,13 And the fire on the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning...

Library
The Warfare of Christian Service
'All that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle.' NUM. iv. 23. These words occur in the series of regulations as to the functions of the Levites in the Tabernacle worship. The words 'to perform the service' are, as the margin tells us, literally, to 'war the warfare.' Although it may be difficult to say why such very prosaic and homely work as carrying the materials of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial vessels was designated by such a term, the underlying suggestion is
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Cross References
Exodus 27:1
"Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.

Numbers 4:12
"They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

Numbers 4:14
Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

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