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(0.12) (Exo 31:1)

sn The next unit describes the preparation of skilled workers to build all that has been listed now for several chapters. This chapter would have been the bridge to the building of the sanctuary (35-39) if it were not for the idolatrous interlude. God called individuals and prepared them by his Spirit to be skilled to do the work for the tabernacle. If this were the substance of an exposition, it would clearly be a message on gifted people doing the work – close to the spiritual lesson of Ephesians 4. There would be two levels of meaning: the physical, which looks at the skilled artisans providing for a place to worship Yahweh, and the spiritual, which would bring in the Spirit-filled servants of God participating in building up his kingdom.

(0.12) (Exo 34:1)

sn Nothing is said of how God was going to write on these stone tablets at this point, but in the end it is Moses who wrote the words. This is not considered a contradiction, since God is often credited with things he has people do in his place. There is great symbolism in this command – if ever a command said far more than it actually said, this is it. The instruction means that the covenant had been renewed, or was going to be renewed, and that the sanctuary with the tablets in the ark at its center would be built (see Deut 10:1). The first time Moses went up he was empty-handed; when he came down he smashed the tablets because of the Israelites’ sin. Now the people would see him go up with empty tablets and be uncertain whether he would come back with the tablets inscribed again (B. Jacob, Exodus, 977-78).

(0.12) (Lev 4:3)

sn The word for “sin offering” (sometimes translated “purification offering”) is the same as the word for “sin” earlier in the verse. One can tell which rendering is intended only by the context. The primary purpose of the “sin offering” (חַטָּאת, khattat) was to “purge” (כִּפֶּר, kipper, “to make atonement,” see 4:20, 26, 31, 35, and the notes on Lev 1:4 and esp. Lev 16:20, 33) the sanctuary or its furniture in order to cleanse it from any impurities and/or (re)consecrate it for holy purposes (see, e.g., Lev 8:15; 16:19). By making this atonement the impurities of the person or community were cleansed and the people became clean. See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:93-103.

(0.12) (Num 1:50)

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).

(0.12) (Num 3:6)

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).

(0.12) (Num 8:1)

sn This chapter has three main sections to it: the lighting of the lamps (vv. 1-4), the separation of the Levites (vv. 5-22), and the work of the Levites (vv. 23-26). Many modern scholars assume that the chapter belongs to P and was added late. But the chapter reiterates some of the Mosaic material concerning the work of the Levites in the new sanctuary. For the chapter to make sense the historical setting must be accepted; if the historical setting is accepted, the chapter is necessary as part of that early legislation. For more reading, see M. Haran, “The Nature of the’ohel mo‘edh in the Pentateuchal Sources,” JSS 5 (1960): 50-65, and “The Priestly Image of the Tabernacle,” HUCA 36 (1965): 191-226; and C. L. Meyers, The Tabernacle Menorah.

(0.12) (Num 8:19)

sn The firstborn were those that were essentially redeemed from death in Egypt when the blood was put on the doors. So in the very real sense they belonged to God (Exod 13:2,12). The firstborn was one who stood in special relationship to the father, being the successive offspring. Here, the Levites would stand in for the firstborn in that special role and special relationship. God also made it clear that the nation of Israel was his firstborn son (Exod 4:22-23), and so they stood in that relationship before all the nations. The tribe of Reuben was to have been the firstborn tribe, but in view of the presumptuous attempt to take over the leadership through pagan methods (Gen 35:22; 49:3-4), was passed over. The tribes of Levi and Simeon were also put down for their ancestors’ activities, but sanctuary service was still given to Levi.

(0.12) (Num 16:10)

sn Moses discerned correctly the real motivation for the rebellion. Korah wanted to be the high priest because he saw how much power there was in the spiritual leadership in Israel. He wanted something like a general election with himself as the candidate and his supporters promoting him. The great privilege of being a Levite and serving in the sanctuary was not enough for him – the status did not satisfy him. Korah gave no rebuttal. The test would be one of ministering with incense. This would bring them into direct proximity with the Lord. If God honored Korah as a ministering priest, then it would be settled. But Moses accuses them of rebellion against the Lord, because the Lord had chosen Aaron to be the priest.

(0.12) (Num 31:18)

sn Many contemporary scholars see this story as fictitious, composed by the Jews during the captivity. According to this interpretation, the spoils of war here indicate the wealth of the Jews in captivity, which was to be given to the Levites and priests for the restoration of the sanctuary in Jerusalem. The conclusion drawn from this interpretation is that returning Jews had the same problem as the earlier ones: to gain a foothold in the land. Against this interpretation of the account is a lack of hard evidence, a lack which makes this interpretation appear contrived and subjective. If this was the intent of a later writer, he surely could have stated this more clearly than by making up such a story.

(0.12) (Deu 12:14)

sn This injunction to worship in a single and central sanctuary – one limited and appropriate to the thrice-annual festival celebrations (see Exod 23:14-17; 34:22-24; Lev 23:4-36; Deut 16:16-17) – marks a departure from previous times when worship was carried out at local shrines (cf. Gen 8:20; 12:7; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 35:1, 3, 7; Exod 17:15). Apart from the corporate worship of the whole theocratic community, however, worship at local altars would still be permitted as in the past (Deut 16:21; Judg 6:24-27; 13:19-20; 1 Sam 7:17; 10:5, 13; 2 Sam 24:18-25; 1 Kgs 18:30).

(0.12) (Jer 17:13)

sn As King and Judge seated on his heavenly throne on high the Lord metes out justice. For examples of this motif see Jer 25:30; Ps 11:4; 9:4, 7 (9:5, 8 HT). As the place of sanctuary he offers refuge for those who are fleeing for safety. Ezek 11:16 and Isa 18:1-4 are examples of passages using that motif. Finally, the Lord has been referred to earlier as the object of Israel’s hope (Jer 14:8). All of these are relevant to the choices that the Lord has placed before them, trust or turn away, and the threat that as all-knowing Judge he will reward people according to their behavior.

(0.12) (Joh 2:20)

tn A close parallel to the aorist οἰκοδομήθη (oikodomhqh) can be found in Ezra 5:16 (LXX), where it is clear from the following verb that the construction had not yet been completed. Thus the phrase has been translated “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years.” Some, however, see the term ναός (naos) here as referring only to the sanctuary and the aorist verb as consummative, so that the meaning would be “this temple was built forty-six years ago” (so ExSyn 560-61). Ultimately in context the logic of the authorities’ reply appears to fit more naturally if it compares length of time for original construction with length of time to reconstruct it.

(0.11) (Num 5:2)

sn The word צָרוּעַ (tsarua’), although translated “leper,” does not primarily refer to leprosy proper (i.e., Hansen’s disease). The RSV and the NASB continued the KJV tradition of using “leper” and “leprosy.” More recent studies have concluded that the Hebrew word is a generic term covering all infectious skin diseases (including leprosy when that actually showed up). True leprosy was known and feared certainly by the time of Amos (ca. 760 b.c.). There is evidence that the disease was known in Egypt by 1500 b.c. So this term would include that disease in all probability. But in view of the diagnosis and healing described in Leviticus 13 and 14, the term must be broader. The whole basis for the laws of separation may be found in the book of Leviticus. The holiness of the Lord who dwelt among his people meant that a high standard was imposed on them for their living arrangements as well as access to the sanctuary. Anything that was corrupted, diseased, dying, or contaminated was simply not compatible with the holiness of God and was therefore excluded. This is not to say that it was treated as sin, or the afflicted as sinners. It simply was revealing – and safeguarding – the holiness of the Lord. It thus provided a revelation for all time that in the world to come nothing unclean will enter into the heavenly sanctuary. As the Apostle Paul says, we will all be changed from this corruptible body into one that is incorruptible (1 Cor 15:53). So while the laws of purity and holiness were practical for the immediate audience, they have far-reaching implications for theology. The purity regulations have been done away with in Christ – the problem is dealt with differently in the new covenant. There is no earthly temple, and so the separation laws are not in force. Wisdom would instruct someone with an infectious disease to isolate, however. But just because the procedure is fulfilled in Christ does not mean that believers today are fit for glory just as they are. On the contrary, they must be changed before going into his presence. In like manner the sacrifices have been done away in Christ – not what they covered. Sin is still sin, even though it is dealt with differently on this side of the cross. But the ritual and the regulations of the old covenant at Sinai have been fulfilled in Christ.

(0.09) (Exo 26:37)

sn In all the details of this chapter the expositor should pay attention to the overall message rather than engage in speculation concerning the symbolism of the details. It is, after all, the divine instruction for the preparation of the dwelling place for Yahweh. The point could be said this way: The dwelling place of Yahweh must be prepared in accordance with, and by the power of, his divine word. If God was to fellowship with his people, then the center of worship had to be made to his specifications, which were in harmony with his nature. Everything was functional for the approach to God through the ritual by divine provisions. But everything also reflected the nature of God, the symmetry, the order, the pure wood, the gold overlay, or (closer to God) the solid gold. And the symbolism of the light, the table, the veil, the cherubim – all of it was revelatory. All of it reflected the reality in heaven. Churches today do not retain the pattern and furnishings of the old tabernacle. However, they would do well to learn what God was requiring of Israel, so that their structures are planned in accordance with the theology of worship and the theology of access to God. Function is a big part, but symbolism and revelation instruct the planning of everything to be used. Christians live in the light of the fulfillment of Christ, and so they know the realities that the old foreshadowed. While a building is not necessary for worship (just as Israel worshiped in places other than the sanctuary), it is practical, and if there is going to be one, then the most should be made of it in the teaching and worshiping of the assembly. This chapter, then, provides an inspiration for believers on preparing a functional, symbolical, ordered place of worship that is in harmony with the word of God. And there is much to be said for making it as beautiful and uplifting as is possible – as a gift of freewill offering to God. Of course, the most important part of preparing a place of worship is the preparing of the heart. Worship, to be acceptable to God, must be in Christ. He said that when the temple was destroyed he would raise it up in three days. While he referred to his own body, he also alluded to the temple by the figure. When they put Jesus to death, they were destroying the temple; at his resurrection he would indeed begin a new form of worship. He is the tent, the curtain, the atonement, that the sanctuary foreshadowed. And then, believers also (when they receive Christ) become the temple of the Lord. So the NT will take the imagery and teaching of this chapter in a number of useful ways that call for more study. This does not, however, involve allegorization of the individual tabernacle parts.

(0.09) (Lev 12:4)

tn The initial seven days after the birth of a son were days of blood impurity for the woman as if she were having her menstrual period. Her impurity was contagious during this period, so no one should touch her or even furniture on which she has sat or reclined (Lev 15:19-23), lest they too become impure. Even her husband would become impure for seven days if he had sexual intercourse with her during this time (Lev 15:24; cf. 18:19). The next thirty-three days were either “days of purification, purifying” or “days of purity,” depending on how one understands the abstract noun טֹהֳרָה (toharah, “purification, purity”) in this context. During this time the woman could not touch anything holy or enter the sanctuary, but she was no longer contagious like she had been during the first seven days. She could engage in normal everyday life, including sexual intercourse, without fear of contaminating anyone else (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 73-74; cf. J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:749-50). Thus, in a sense, the thirty-three days were a time of blood “purity” (cf. the present translation) as compared to the previous seven days of blood “impurity,” but they were also a time of blood “purification” (or “purifying”) as compared to the time after the thirty-three days, when the blood atonement had been made and she was pronounced “clean” by the priest (see vv. 6-8 below). In other words, the thirty-three day period was a time of “blood” (flow), but this was “pure blood,” as opposed to the blood of the first seven days.



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