Rev. Tom Park, Assistant Professor of Theology at Concordia University Irvine, joins host Rev. AJ Espinosa to study Numbers 8.
Numbers 8 starts by talking about menorahs, the lampstands that you seen around Advent and Christmas when Hanukkah is celebrated. Only, these menorahs are a little different: they have seven lamps which can be pointed in different directions within the dark Tabernacle. What’s that about? Why are there seven lamps, anyway?
The chapter continues with the dedication of the Levites. We already read about this in chapters 3 and 4, but remember that Numbers “started over” in chapter 7. This time, we get details we didn’t have before. The Levites are offered as a “wave offering.” What does it mean that people are presented as a sacrifice? This prefigures our Lord Jesus, who was both consecrated and offered up as the ultimate firstborn. He is the firstborn of God, and He is also the firstborn of the dead, the first “wave” of the resurrection.
Thy Strong Word is a daily in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Rev. AJ Espinosa and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.
The Seven Lamps
8 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.” 3 And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the Lord commanded Moses. 4 And this was the workmanship of the lampstand, hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.
Cleansing of the Levites
5 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 6 “Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. 7 Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. 8 Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. 9 And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. 10 When you bring the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, 11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the Lord. 12 Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites. 13 And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as a wave offering to the Lord.
14 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. 15 And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. 16 For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17 For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18 and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. 19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.”
20 Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. 21 And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22 And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.
Retirement of the Levites
23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they[a] shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister[b] to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
- Numbers 8:24 Hebrew he; also verses 25, 26
- Numbers 8:26 Hebrew He ministers