וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר 8:1
Numb. 8:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
דַּבֵּר אֶל־אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹת אֶל־מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנֹורָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרֹות 8:2
Numb. 8:2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘In your lighting the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light to the front face of the lamp stand.’”
וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן אַהֲרֹן אֶל־מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנֹורָה הֶעֱלָה נֵרֹתֶיהָ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה 8:3
Numb. 8:3 And Aaron did so; he lit up its lamps to the front face of the lamp stand, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
וְזֶה מַעֲשֵׂה הַמְּנֹרָה מִקְשָׁה זָהָב עַד־יְרֵכָהּ עַד־פִּרְחָהּ מִקְשָׁה הִוא כַּמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר הֶרְאָה יְהוָה 8:4
אֶת־מֹשֶׁה כֵּן עָשָׂה אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה
Numb. 8:4 And this was the handiwork of the lamp stand: One piece of gold from its base to its flower; beaten work it was. Like the vision that the Lord had shown Moses, so he had made the lamp stand.
Once more we are told that the Lord had instructed Moses visually as well as verbally.
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר 8:5
Numb. 8:5 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
קַח אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם מִתֹּוךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְטִהַרְתָּ אֹתָם 8:6
Numb. 8:6 “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and you shall cleanse them.”
Numb. 8:7 “And you must do this to them for their cleansing: Sprinkle the water of purification on them, and they shall pass a razor over their entire flesh and they shall wash their garments and cleanse themselves.”
What is the water of purification, the translation of the seventh and eighth words, מֵי חַטָּאת? This mysterious substance has not been mentioned to this point in the Torah. A water of cleansing for the purification of impurity is mentioned in Numb. 19:9 and elsewhere. I must assume that this is what the scribe is referring to. He has once more revealed his tendency to describe a process or statute that has not as yet been revealed to Moses or the priests or Levites. Presumably Moses knows of it (although the Lord tells him of it in the later chapter), but the water requires the slaughter of a red heifer, a procedure that hasn’t been revealed as yet, and won’t be until that later chapter.
Then we have a startling operation. The Levites are to shave their entire body, presumably removing all their hair. Does it include the head and face? It would seem so to me. If I’m right, what does this mean? If removing the hair is permitted, then why are we prohibited from cutting our head hair including our beard? Obviously, this calls for more investigation. [Return to Numb. 19:9]
וְלָקְחוּ פַּר בֶּן־בָּקָר וּמִנְחָתֹו סֹלֶת בְּלוּלָה בַשָּׁמֶן וּפַר־שֵׁנִי בֶן־בָּקָר תִּקַּח לְחַטָּאת 8:8
Numb. 8:8 “And they shall take a bullock calf and its meal offering, fine flour mingled with oil, and you shall take a second bullock calf for a sin offering.”
Numb. 8:9 “And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and you shall assemble the entire congregation of the children of Israel.”
Picture this: 8,580 Levites (see Numb. 4:46 to 4:48) standing before the tent of meeting, and something like one-half to one million or more children of Israel surrounding them. A staggeringly awesome image!
וְהִקְרַבְתָּ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וְסָמְכוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־יְדֵיהֶם עַל־הַלְוִיִּם 8:10
Numb. 8:10 “And you shall present the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites.”
וְהֵנִיף אַהֲרֹן אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם תְּנוּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיוּ לַעֲבֹד אֶת־עֲבֹדַת יְהוָה 8:11
Numb. 8:11 “And Aaron shall lift up the Levites, a wave offering from the children of Israel, before the Lord, so they shall be established to do the service of the Lord.”
וְהַלְוִיִּם יִסְמְכוּ אֶת־יְדֵיהֶם עַל רֹאשׁ הַפָּרִים וַעֲשֵׂה אֶת־הָאֶחָד חַטָּאת וְאֶת־הָאֶחָד עֹלָה לַיהוָה 8:12
Numb. 8:12 “Then the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks, and the one shall be offered for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites.”
According to v. 8:8, the bullock for the sin offering was the one brought by Moses, and the one for the burnt offering was brought by the Levites.
וְהַעֲמַדְתָּ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם לִפְנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְלִפְנֵי בָנָיו וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה לַיהוָה 8:13
Numb. 8:13 “So you shall set the Levites before Aaron and before his sons and you shall offer them, a wave offering to the Lord.”
Here we find that the Levites are being offered as a wave offering to the Lord. They are thus dedicated to Him.
וְהִבְדַּלְתָּ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם מִתֹּוךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיוּ לִי הַלְוִיִּם 8:14
Numb. 8:14 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, so the Levites will be Mine.”
וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן יָבֹאוּ הַלְוִיִּם לַעֲבֹד אֶת־אֹהֶל מֹועֵד וְטִהַרְתָּ אֹתָם וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה 8:15
Numb. 8:15 “Then after this the Levites shall go in to service the tent of meeting when you will have cleansed them and offered them, a wave offering.”
Numb. 8:16 “For they will be wholly dedicated to Me from among the children of Israel. Instead of the openers of every womb, the first born male of all from the children of Israel, I take them for Myself.”
כִּי לִי כָל־בְּכֹור בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה בְּיֹום הַכֹּתִי כָל־בְּכֹור בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּי אֹתָם 8:17
Numb. 8:17 “For every first born male among the children of Israel is Mine, both man and beast. On the day I smote every first born male in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for Myself.”
וָאֶקַּח אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם תַּחַת כָּל־בְּכֹור בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל 8:18
Numb. 8:18 “And I will take the Levites instead of every first born male among the children of Israel.”
מֹועֵד וּלְכַפֵּר עַל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶף בְּגֶשֶׁת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ
Numb. 8:19 “And I will deliver the dedicated Levites to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel to do the service of the children of Israel in the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the children of Israel, so there will not be a plague among the children of Israel because of the children of Israel coming near to the sanctuary.”
This series of verses is very interesting and potent. The Lord is rather plainly saying here that the children of Israel were to have been the ones doing the service of the sanctuary. Instead the Lord substituted the Levites. The rabbis speculate about the reason for this substitution. The claim is that following the incident of the golden calf at Mt.Sinai, Moses asked who was for the Lord and who was not. Only the Levites stepped forward (Exod. 32:26). Thus they were indicating their dedication to the Lord, and would then be chosen for the sanctuary service.
וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וְכָל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לַלְוִיִּם כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה לַלְוִיִּם כֵּן־עָשׂוּ 8:20
לָהֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Numb. 8:20 So Moses did, with Aaron and the entire congregation of the children of Israel, to the Levites. According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses about the Levites, so the children of Israel did to them.
וַיִּתְחַטְּאוּ הַלְוִיִּם וַיְכַבְּסוּ בִּגְדֵיהֶם וַיָּנֶף אַהֲרֹן אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וַיְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם אַהֲרֹן לְטַהֲרָם 8:21
Numb. 8:21 So the Levites purified themselves and they washed their garments, and Aaron offered them, a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them for their cleansing.
וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן בָּאוּ הַלְוִיִּם לַעֲבֹד אֶת־עֲבֹדָתָם בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד לִפְנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְלִפְנֵי בָנָיו כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה 8:22
אֶת־מֹשֶׁה עַל־הַלְוִיִּם כֵּן עָשׂוּ לָהֶם
Numb. 8:22 Then after this the Levites came to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and before his sons. As the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר 8:23
Numb. 8:23 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
זֹאת אֲשֶׁר לַלְוִיִּם מִבֶּן חָמֵשׁ וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה יָבֹוא לִצְבֹא צָבָא בַּעֲבֹדַת אֹהֶל מֹועֵד 8:24
Numb. 8:24 “This is what pertains to the Levites: From age twenty-five years and up shall one come in to assemble a host on the service of the tent of meeting.”
וּמִבֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה יָשׁוּב מִצְּבָא הָעֲבֹדָה וְלֹא יַעֲבֹד עֹוד 8:25
Numb. 8:25 “And from age fifty years shall one be relieved from the service assembly and not serve anymore,
וְשֵׁרֵת אֶת־אֶחָיו בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד לִשְׁמֹר מִשְׁמֶרֶת וַעֲבֹדָה לֹא יַעֲבֹד כָּכָה תַּעֲשֶׂה לַלְוִיִּם בְּמִשְׁמְרֹתָם 8:26
Numb. 8:26 but he may serve his brothers in the tent of meeting to be an observer of the office, but he shall not do any service. Thus shall you do regarding the Levites in their charges.”
Torah Commandments in this Chapter
349. The Levites shall be dedicated to the Lord in place of the
first born of the children of Israel. V. 8:16, 8:18
350. There shall be a plague among the children of Israel if any
of them comes close to the Tabernacle sanctuary. V. 8:19
351. A Levite shall serve in the tent of meeting from age twenty-five
up to age fifty. V. 8:24, 8:25
352. After age fifty, a Levite may be only an observer in the tent of meeting. V. 8:26