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Numbers 1:50

Context
1:50 But appoint 1  the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, 2  over all its furnishings and over everything in it. They must carry 3  the tabernacle and all its furnishings; and they 4  must attend to it and camp around it. 5 

Numbers 3:6

Context
3:6 “Bring the tribe of Levi near, 6  and present 7  them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. 8 

Numbers 3:31

Context

3:31 Their responsibilities included the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the utensils of the sanctuary with which they ministered, 9  the curtain, and all their service. 10 

1 tn The same verb translated “number” (פָּקַד, paqad) is now used to mean “appoint” (הַפְקֵד, hafqed), which focuses more on the purpose of the verbal action of numbering people. Here the idea is that the Levites were appointed to take care of the tabernacle. On the use of this verb with the Levites’ appointment, see M. Gertner, “The Masorah and the Levites,” VT 10 (1960): 252.

2 tn The Hebrew name used here is מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת (mishkan haedut). The tabernacle or dwelling place of the Lord was given this name because it was here that the tablets of the Law were kept. The whole shrine was therefore a reminder (הָעֵדוּת, a “warning sign” or “testimony”) of the stipulations of the covenant. For the ancient Near Eastern customs of storing the code in the sanctuaries, see M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King, 14-19, and idem, The Structure of Biblical Authority, 35-36. Other items were in the ark in the beginning, but by the days of Solomon only the tablets were there (1 Kgs 8:9).

3 tn The imperfect tense here is an obligatory imperfect telling that they are bound to do this since they are appointed for this specific task.

4 tn The addition of the pronoun before the verb is emphatic – they are the ones who are to attend to the tabernacle. The verb used is שָׁרַת (sharat) in the Piel, indicating that they are to serve, minister to, attend to all the details about this shrine.

5 tn Heb “the tabernacle.” The pronoun (“it”) was used in the translation here for stylistic reasons.

6 sn The use of the verb קָרַב (qarav) forms an interesting wordplay in the passage. The act of making an offering is described by this verb, as was the reference to the priests’ offering of strange fire. Now the ceremonial presentation of the priests is expressed by the same word – they are being offered to God.

7 tn The verb literally means “make it [the tribe] stand” (וְהַעֲמַדְתָּ אֹתוֹ, vÿhaamadtaoto). The verb is the Hiphil perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive; it will take the same imperative nuance as the form before it, but follow in sequence (“and then”). This refers to the ceremonial presentation in which the tribe would take its place before Aaron, that is, stand before him and await their assignments. The Levites will function more like a sacred guard than anything else, for they had to protect and care for the sanctuary when it was erected and when it was transported (see J. Milgrom, Studies in Levitical Terminology, 8-10).

8 tn The verb וְשֵׁרְתוּ (vÿsherÿtu) is the Piel perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive; it carries the same volitional force as the preceding verb forms, but may here be subordinated in the sequence to express the purpose or result of the preceding action.

9 tn The verb is יְשָׁרְתוּ (yÿsharÿtu, “they will serve/minister”). The imperfect tense in this place, however, probably describes what the priests would do, what they used to do. The verb is in a relative clause: “which they would serve with them,” which should be changed to read “with which they would serve.”

10 tn The word is literally “its [their] service.” It describes all the implements that were there for the maintenance of these things.



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