Numbers 8 The Voice (VOICE)
8 The Eternal One told Moses,
Eternal One: 2 Tell Aaron that when he sets up the seven lamps, they should illuminate the area in front of the lampstand.
3 Aaron did just that, arranging the lamps so that they shed light in front of the lampstand across from the presence table, exactly as the Eternal One had instructed Moses. 4 The lampstand itself was made entirely out of hammered gold, its stem and all the petals, in keeping with the pattern the Eternal had given to Moses.[a]
5 The Eternal One continued.
Eternal One (to Moses): 6 Separate the Levites from the other Israelites, and make them ritually pure 7 by sprinkling the cleansing water on them, making sure their entire bodies are clean-shaven and their clothes are washed. Then they’ll be appropriately pure. 8 After that, tell them to select a bull-calf along with the prime flour-oil combination (the grain offering). You, too, select another bull-calf for use as a sin offering. 9 Get the Levites to the congregation tent, and have them stand in front of it. Gather all the other Israelites, too, 10 so that when you present the Levites before Me, the Israelites can lay hands on them to indicate that they are the substitutes for all Israel’s firstborn. 11 At that point, Aaron shall present the Levites as an offering lifted up to Me, so that the Levites will work on behalf of all the Israelites in service to Me. 12 Next, the Levites can lay their hands on the bulls’ heads, one of which is going to be a sin offering to Me, and the other will be a burnt offering to cover the Levites, hiding their sins and protecting them from My presence. 13 Finally, make clear that the Levites are to assist Aaron and Aaron’s sons, lifting them up in front of and for Me to demonstrate that they are that kind of offering. 14 In this way, you will show how the Levites are distinct from all other Israelites. They belong directly to Me.
15 After all of this, the purification and presentation as an uplifted offering, they will be ready to do congregation tent maintenance and work. 16-17 Indeed, they are uniquely designated for Me among the Israelites. Those Levites substitute for the Israelites’ firstborn children and animals, which I am within My rights to demand since I killed all the Egyptian firstborn on My peoples’ behalf and so consecrated all Israelite firstborn as My own. 18 But see, I am willing to accept this representative group—that the Levites, from among the Israelites, will be Mine, 19 given to Aaron and his sons from the Israelite people to do whatever is required concerning the congregation tent: maintaining its service and covering Israel’s sins for them so they don’t make Me send a plague to them because they overstepped the bounds of My sanctuary.
20 Everyone did as ordered—Moses, Aaron, and all the Israelites gathered there—handling the Levites exactly as the Eternal One had instructed Moses to be sure was done: 21 the Levites washed their clothes and purified themselves, Aaron presented them as an uplifted offering in front of the Eternal, and Aaron covered them in front of Him so they would look pure. 22 From then on, they were all set to do what they were supposed to in maintenance and work on the congregation tent, under the direction and supervision of Aaron and his sons. Just as the Eternal had instructed Moses concerning the Levites, so it was done.
23 The Eternal One continued.
Just like in Leviticus 4:23, the language of 8:24 suggests that the priestly duty is associated not only with divine service but with divine war. Certain Levites of certain ages would maintain sacred space and behavior as Israel prepared to conquer the land.
Eternal One (to Moses): 24 This is how it shall be for the Levites: Those who are 25 years or older shall do whatever is necessary for the congregation tent, 25 but when they reach 50, they shall retire and leave the work to the younger ones. 26 They can still help out in the fraternity of Levites occasionally, but they shouldn’t do any of the priestly work. This is the way you should handle the matter of the Levites and their role.
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