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Numbers 8-10 Listen
Let there be light in the Tabernacle (Numbers 8:1-4)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.
3 And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.
4 And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.
In Numbers 7 (see notes) we saw the beginning of the dedication ceremony for the Tabernacle. The leaders of the 12 Tribes of Israel brought gifts for the dedication. Now the priests and Levites go to work in their newly-established Tabernacle; they begin with the lighting of the lampstand by Aaron. This is the lampstand (aka candlestick) in the Tabernacle tent described in Exodus 25:3140 (see notes) and constructed in Exodus 37:17-24 (see notes). The Hebrew word for this candlestick is "menorah," the term often used to refer to it by Jews today.
5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
8 Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.
9 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:
10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:
11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for AN OFFERING OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THAT THEY MAY EXECUTE THE SERVICE OF THE LORD.
12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.
13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.
14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
17 For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.
18 And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
20 And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.
21 And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.
22 And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.
23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
25 And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
26 But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.
Now it's time to consecrate the Levites. The first step was to get ceremonially sprinkled and then shave them all over. Yes, I said all over (verse 7). Verse 8 specifies the offerings to be made on behalf of these Levites at their consecration ceremony. Then we have a component of the ceremony still used today for consecration into Christian ministry, the laying on of hands. The whole congregation of Israel did so (verse 9). That's a lot of hand laying. Then the Levites lay their hands on the sacrifices to make atonement for themselves (verse 12). These Levites were consecrated to the Lord instead of the firstborn of all the Tribes (Numbers 3, see notes). Now notice the included age for service in the Tabernacle. Verse 24 says, "...from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:" You will recall from Numbers 4 (see notes), that on Tabernacle-moving day, those Levites charged with that responsibility had to be at least 30 years old for that task, and not older than 50. So, serving in the Tabernacle required one to be only 25, but moving it 30. At a later period, when the sanctuary was permanently established on Mount Zion, David employed the Levites from age 20 (I Chronicles 23:24-25, see notes). In that passage it is expressly stated that he did so because the Levites no longer had to carry the dwelling and its furniture. This remained the standard.
We find the consecration service for the priests (Aaron and his sons) in Leviticus 8 (see notes). Remember, not all Levites were priests - only Aaron's descendants. It is interesting to note that the priests were sprinkled with blood, but the Levites with water.
1 And the LORD spake 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,
2 Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.
3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
4 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.
5 And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
6 And 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:
7 And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?
8 And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.
9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD.
11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
13 But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
Now we come to the first anniversary mark of leaving Egypt (verse 1), and it's time to observe Passover. If you live in the camp, you must keep the Passover on the designated day.That is so, unless you were defiled in some way or out of town; then you observed it after the complication was rectified on the fourteenth day of the following month. Click here for further information on Passover observance. The Passover Feast is the only one of the festivals that had provisions for rescheduling to accommodate those who were forced to miss the one held on the actual observance date. We see that King Hezekiah exercised this rule in II Chronicles 30 (see notes).
Here's that phrase "even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people" for those who declined to observe this special feast of Israel. In other words, you observed it (Jew or not) or they kicked you out of the camp - no freedom of religion there.
It is interesting that this passage also includes the non-Jewish "stranger" in the Passover observance (verse 14). However, there was a particular stipulation for the stranger in Exodus 12:48 (see notes), "And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." To which the stranger might reply, "No thanks; I had a big meal before I left home."
There's an interesting deduction that might be made regarding circumcision and Passover. In the initial instructions given to the Hebrews regarding observance of Passover in Exodus 12:48 (see notes), they were adamantly instructed, "no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." That is reinforced in this passage prior to the observance of their first Passover out of Egypt. We are not told in scripture that the Hebrews observed another Passover during the 38 years of wilderness wandering, but it appears that perhaps they did not, based upon Joshua 5:1-9 (see notes). In that passage Joshua is instructed to have a mass circumcision prior to entering Canaan. We are told in that passage that they did not circumcise for those 38 years of wilderness wandering. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that they did not observe Passover during that time either, because to do so would have been a violation of Exodus 12:48 along with these instructions in Numbers 9.
When the cloud moved, they moved (Numbers 9:15-23)
15 And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.
16 So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
17 And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
18 At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
19 And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.
20 And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the LORD they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the LORD they journeyed.
21 And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
22 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.
23 At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
The cloud over the Tabernacle was the sign of God's dwelling among them; it is known to Bible students as the Shekinah Glory. When it stayed put, they stayed put. When it moved, they moved. May I emphasize again, the Israelites were never lost; God's presence was among them and instructed them exactly where to go and when to go there. Read the article on the Shekinah Glory located to the right of this window or click here to view it in a separate window.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.
7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.
8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.
9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
How do you signal some two million or so people? You do so with these two silver trumpets - different sound patterns for different events (war, meetings, moving, etc.). Only the priests blew the trumpets (verse 8). You can imagine that blowing those trumpets must have been a much-envied responsibility. They also used these trumpets to signal new months and special festival days. The calendar during that period of time was based upon observation and not calculation. The priests declared the appropriate time for these events with the blowing of the big ol' silver trumpets. For more information on the observational calendar see the information box to the right or click here.
11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
12 And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
13 And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
14 In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
15 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
16 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon.
17 And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.
18 And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur.
19 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
20 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
21 And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.
22 And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud.
23 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
24 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.
25 And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
26 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.
27 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
28 Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward.
Here's the day everybody's been waiting for - moving day! Finally, we're going to Canaan - to the land God promised. It's been a little over 13 months since they left Egypt, and quite a bit has been done. They are now organized into armies; their Tabernacle has been built and their unique style of worship established. They have their leaders appointed and their priests assigned. It's been boot camp for this last year, but now it's time for their first assignment. The cloud over the Tabernacle moves. Verse 13 says, "And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses." Notice the order in which they traveled in verses 14-28 - specific tribes in their specific places. Compare that order to the encampment chart (see chart) and notice the organized way in which they broke down their camp and moved out.
How long did the wilderness journey last...exactly?
|Numbers 10:11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.||They broke camp to head for Canaan in year 2, month 2, day 20.|
|Deuteronomy 1:3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;||They are prepared to go into Canaan in year 40, month 11, day 1.|
The lapsed time was 38 years, 8 months, 11 days
Hobab heads back to Midian (Numbers 10:29-36)
29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.
30 And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.
31 And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.
32 And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the LORD shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.
33 And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.
34 And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
35 And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
36 And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.
Since Israel had been encamped at Mount Sinai (aka Mount Horeb) next to the homeland of Moses' wife's family in Midian, Hobab, his brother-in-law, had been living among them. He declined an offer to travel on into Canaan with them, but Moses makes an additional appeal to him. We're not told whether this second appeal is successful, but the "Kenites" (descendants of Hobab) are mentioned on numerous occasions in Judges, I and II Samuel and II Chronicles, indicating their presence among the Israelites. So, perhaps this second appeal by Moses was effective.
Moses had some standard words he used to signal time to travel and time to rest. Look at verses 35-36, "And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel."