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Numbers 8:11-13 New English Translation (NET Bible)

11 and Aaron is to offer[a] the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, that they may do the work[b] of the Lord. 12 When[c] the Levites lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, offer[d] the one for a purification offering and the other for a whole burnt offering to the Lord,[e] to make atonement for the Levites. 13 You are to have the Levites stand before Aaron[f] and his sons, and then offer them as a wave offering to the Lord.


  1. Numbers 8:11 tn The Hebrew text actually has “wave the Levites as a wave offering.” The wave offering was part of the ritual of the peace offering and indicated the priest’s portion being presented to God in a lifted, waving motion for all to see. The Levites were going to be in the sanctuary to serve the Lord and assist the priests. It is unclear how Moses would have presented them as wave offerings, but the intent is that they would be living sacrifices, as Paul would later say in Rom 12:1 for all Christians.
  2. Numbers 8:11 tn The construction emphasizes the spiritual service of the Levites, using the infinitive construct of עָבַד (ʿavad) followed by its cognate accusative.
  3. Numbers 8:12 tn The clause begins with a vav (ו) on the noun “the Levites,” indicating a disjunctive clause. Here it is clearly a subordinate clause prior to the instruction for Moses, and so translated as a circumstantial clause of time.
  4. Numbers 8:12 tn The imperative is from the verb “to do; to make,” but in the sentence it clearly means to sacrifice the animals.
  5. Numbers 8:12 sn The “purification offering” cleansed the tabernacle from impurity, and the burnt offering atoned by nullifying and removing the effects of sin in the Levites.
  6. Numbers 8:13 tc The Greek text adds the Lord here: “before the Lord, before Aaron.”
New English Translation (NET)

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