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Numbers 3:7-8

Context
3:7 They are responsible for his needs 1  and the needs of the whole community before the tent of meeting, by attending 2  to the service of the tabernacle. 3:8 And they are responsible for all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and for the needs of the Israelites, as they serve 3  in the tabernacle.

Numbers 3:25

Context

3:25 And 4  the responsibilities of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting included the tabernacle, the tent with its covering, the curtain at the entrance of the tent of meeting,

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, 5  the curtain, and all their service. 6 

Numbers 3:36-39

Context

3:36 The appointed responsibilities of the Merarites included the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, its posts, its sockets, its utensils, plus all the service connected with these things, 7  3:37 and the pillars of the courtyard all around, with their sockets, their pegs, and their ropes.

3:38 But those who were to camp in front of the tabernacle on the east, in front of the tent of meeting, were Moses, Aaron, 8  and his sons. They were responsible for the needs 9  of the sanctuary and for the needs of the Israelites, but the unauthorized person who approached was to be put to death. 3:39 All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered by the word 10  of the Lord, according to their families, every male from a month old and upward, were 22,000. 11 

1 tn The Hebrew text uses the perfect tense of שָׁמַר(shamar) with a vav (ו) consecutive to continue the instruction of the preceding verse. It may be translated “and they shall keep” or “they must/are to keep,” but in this context it refers to their appointed duties. The verb is followed by its cognate accusative – “they are to keep his keeping,” or as it is often translated, “his charge.” This would mean whatever Aaron needed them to do. But the noun is also used for the people in the next phrase, and so “charge” cannot be the meaning here. The verse is explaining that the Levites will have duties to perform to meet the needs of Aaron and the congregation.

2 tn The form is the Qal infinitive construct from עָבַד (’avad, “to serve, to work”); it is taken here as a verbal noun and means “by (or in) serving” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 36, §195). This explains the verb “keep [his charge].” Here too the form is followed by a cognate accusative; they will be there to “serve the service” or “work the work.”

3 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct (epexegetically) followed by its cognate accusative. It would convey “to serve the service of the tabernacle,” but more simply it may be rendered as “serving.” Their spiritual and practical service is to serve.

sn The Levites had the duty of taking care of all the tabernacle and its furnishings, especially in times when it was to be moved. But they were also appointed to be gate-keepers (2 Kgs 22:4; 1 Chr 9:19) in order to safeguard the purity of the place and the activities that went on there. Their offices seem to have then become hereditary in time (1 Sam 1:3); they even took on more priestly functions, such as pronouncing the benediction (Deut 10:8). See further R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 348-49.

4 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) here introduces a new section, listing the various duties of the clan in the sanctuary. The Gershonites had a long tradition of service here. In the days of David Asaph and his family were prominent as musicians. Others in the clan controlled the Temple treasuries. But in the wilderness they had specific oversight concerning the tent structure, which included the holy place and the holy of holies.

5 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.”

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

7 tn Heb “and all their service.” This could possibly be a hendiadys: “and all their working tools.” However, the parallel with v. 26 suggests this is a separate phrase.

8 tc In some Hebrew mss and Smr “and Aaron” is not in the verse. The omission arose probably by scribal error with such repetitious material that could easily give rise to variant traditions.

9 tn Here again the verb and its cognate noun are used: keeping the keep, or keeping charge over, or taking responsibility for the care of, or the like.

10 tn Here again the Hebrew has “at the mouth of,” meaning in accordance with what the Lord said. So also in v. 51.

11 tn The total is a rounded off number; it does not duplicate the precise total of 22,300. Some modern scholars try to explain it by positing an error in v. 28, suggesting that “six” should be read as “three” (שֵׁשׁ [shesh] as שָׁלֹשׁ [shalosh]).



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