BIBLE STUDY SERIES #329, 330 and 331

15 March, 1998

LEVITICAL SERVICE - PART VIII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We have reached the last verses of Numbers 6, which contain the beautiful Aaronic Blessing with which we close each of these Bible Studies on our own radio programmes. Today, I want to read again those verses from the passage in Numbers 6:22-27, but with these, I want to incorporate some notes taken from The New Bible Commentary, and other references.

Under the heading "Arrangements for the Religious Life of the Camp", the concluding portion of Numbers 6, from verse 22 on is included by The New Bible Commentary with the succeeding passages of scripture up to Numbers 9:14, for purposes of a general comment, after which a note particularly applying to the last portion of Numbers 6 is given. The general note states this: "In Exodus arrangements were made for the establishment of the tabernacle as the centre of the religious life of Israel. In Leviticus regulations were laid down for many different types of offerings and also for the special services of the priests and Levites. Our present section deals with particular aspects of the religious life of Israel during the long wilderness journey. It contains five sub-divisions. The first of these is a beautiful formula of blessing. Unfortunately, in our English bible it is buried at the end of a long chapter of an entirely different nature. The second is an account of the offerings made by the leaders of the different tribes at the beginning of the journey. These included particular sacrifices for the tribes, and also materials which were needed for the service of the tabernacle. The third is the account of the lighting of the lamps in the candlestick in the tabernacle, showing the beginning of its use to bring light to the minds and hearts of the people. The fourth is an account of the specific preparation of the Levites for their work in the service of the tabernacle. The fifth is an account of the first great memorial Passover, one year after the event which the Passover memorializes, and a statement of new regulations in connection with it."

Following this, notes pertaining to each verse of the passage follow in the New Bible Commentary, and these run to the best part of a page of fine print. However, they are worthy of our attention. Under the heading "The formula for Blessing the Congregation", The Commentary says this: "This brief section presents a formula for the priests to use in blessing the congregation. Verses 22 and 23 introduce it, and verse 27 gives a concluding promise. The blessing itself consists of three verses, 24-26. It is one of the most beautiful and best-known sections of the book of Numbers. Those who deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch generally divide these five books into documents, claiming that more primitive passages are found in the early documents, and that the later ones, which are supposed to be more spiritual and less anthropomorphic, were written at a much later time. They place this section in the latest document which they call 'P'. Therefore it is worth noticing that, with all its spirituality, the blessing contains statements which are markedly anthropomorphic, e.g., the Lord make his face shine upon thee, the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee (25, 26). This illustrates the fact that anthropomorphism is not inconsistent with spirituality. In fact, true spirituality must recognize the personality of God, and personality can hardly be described to a human being in terms other than those drawn from human life. The blessing consists of three verses, and there is a noticeable progress in them. Verse 24 is rather general: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. Keep (Heb. shamar) would be better rendered in modern English as 'guard' or 'protect'; it refers to physical well-being, and prevention of trouble from external sources. It is the first and lowest stage of our prayer for divine help. Many people never get beyond this stage. It is a vital stage, but the Christian must go past it into the next two. The second verse of the blessing takes us a step higher: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The expression is definitely in the spiritual realm, and involves a more personal relationship with God, but is still rather general in nature. The Lord causes the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust. The Lord shows His countenance to all the world. Here the prayer is that the Lord's face shall shine upon the one who is blessed, and that he shall be the recipient of favour from the Almighty. We might say that this verse is fulfilled most truly through the death of Christ on Calvary's cross, where God showed forth His love to a world lost in sin, where the shining of the face of our wonderful God was most clearly made manifest, and where He showed favour to all who believe in the name of Christ. This second verse, then, marks the step into distinctive Christianity. The third verse goes yet a step higher: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. The word that both AV and RV render here as countenance is exactly the same as the word which they translate face in the previous verse. This third verse has a specific individual reference: 'The Lord lift up His face upon you.' Not merely that the face of the Lord shine out upon all the world and show it favour, and that you be included in that upon which it shines, but that He very specifically lift up His face toward you, and give particular attention to your individual welfare. If there be question as to this interpretation of the first part of the verse, there can be no question as to the meaning of its latter half, and give thee peace. The word here translated 'give' is not the ordinary Hebrew word for 'give'. Rather it means 'set', 'place', or 'establish'. 'May the Lord establish peace for you' would be a more exact rendering. The word translated 'peace' (Heb. shalom) does not mean simply 'cessation of hostility'. It indicates 'completeness', 'perfection', or 'well-being'. This, of course, includes cessation of war as one of its factors, but only one. 'The Lord give you that complete harmonious development, that perfection in every direction, that you need.' It is a wonderful blessing, one which can well be taken by every believer, and applied as his prayer to God for blessing upon himself, and upon those to whom he may have the opportunity of presenting God's message." That is the end of the quotation.

Notes in The Companion Bible indicate the view that the Aaronic blessing reflects trinitarian aspects of God, in that the word "Jehovah" in verse 24 means "The Father", the source of all blessing, in verse 25, "The Son", the channel of all blessing, and in verse 26, "The Spirit," the Witness of all blessing.

These verses form the actual blessing with which we, of the British-Israel-World Federation, close each of these British-Israel broadcasts. It may be sufficient for our present remaining time, simply to mention why we use this blessing, and think that it forms a beautiful termination to each broadcast and meeting. We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe on good evidence that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world form the main body of the descendants of those ancient tribes of Israel who were led through The Exodus from Egyptian bondage and the Sinai wilderness experiences by Yahweh (Jehovah) under the immediate supervision of Moses. We see in their various present-day national groupings the out-working of the prophetic pronouncements of the aged Patriarch, Jacob (Israel) found in Genesis 48 and 49 upon each of his sons, and on Ephraim and Manasseh his grand-sons, the sons of Joseph. We believe that this being the case, it is entirely appropriate, and fitting that, in departing each gathering of such people in particular, we should pronounce that beautiful blessing which closes Numbers 6. We shall just conclude this present programme, therefore, by reading those mighty words found in this Aaronic blessing recorded in Numbers 6:22-27:

22. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
23. Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
24. The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
25. The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
26. The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
27. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

May The Almighty grant the blessings contained within this beautiful and most appropriate portion of His mighty word to us this day, and in the days and years hereafter. Amen.

22 March, 1998

TRIBAL GIFTS - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We had reached the last verses of Numbers 6, which contain the beautiful Aaronic Blessing with which we close each of these Bible Studies on our own radio programmes. Today, I want to move ahead to the next chapter of Numbers.

Numbers 7 comprises, essentially, the detailed report of the magnificent offerings which the twelve tribes of Israel brought to the Tabernacle by the hands of the princes of each of these tribes, in order to present that which was required of each tribe by The LORD. The Companion Bible notes of these offerings that "Though their offerings were the same as the others, yet each is recorded separately." Now we might ask why this was done, and one might speculate that the solemnity on each tribe's special day of offering deserved to have its own entry particularlised in the records of the nation. There will be more to it than even this, however, as we will see. The Word of The Almighty never employs "vain repetitions", and so we shall be reading each entry, although not all can be accommodated in one short study. Let us read the first section of the chapter.

1. And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them;
2. That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered:
3. And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle.
4. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
5. Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt give them unto the Levites, to every man according to his service.
6. And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites.
7. Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according to their service:
8. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
9. But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders.

The New Bible Commentary gives us something of the background of this chapter. It notes of the words "on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle", verse 1, that "This chapter does not chronologically follow the preceding ones, since the military census (Nu. i. 1) was taken at the beginning of the second month of the second year, and the tabernacle was set up at the beginning of the first month (Ex. xl. 17). Exodus gives the divine instructions for building the tabernacle, and describes its erection in accordance with these directions. Along with these directions, God also gave precise instructions for the priests, which are preserved in the book of Leviticus. Numbers continues the history, usually presenting it in chronological order, but sometimes arranging it logically instead of chronologically. Although the events of this chapter preceded those in the earlier chapters of the book, it is placed here because it includes the bringing of materials needed for transporting the tabernacle and we are here concerned with preparations for journeying away from Sinai." Continuing with a sub-heading referring to the wagons and the oxen, the Commentary states: "The twelve leaders of the tribes offered the six covered wagons and the twelve oxen needed for transporting the tabernacle. The cost was equally divided among them (3). Verses 4-9 tell how the wagons were divided among the Levites, not equally, but according to their service. The sons of Gershon, whose service was described in Nu. iv. 25-26, received one third of the wagons and oxen (7). The sons of Merari, having the heaviest materials to carry (cf. iv. 31-32), received twice as many (8). The sons of Kohath received none at all (9), since it was their duty to carry the sacred vessels from the interior of the tabernacle upon their shoulders (iv. 1-15). At this point it is well to read the account in 2 Sa. vi. 3-7 of the death of Uzzah, a direct result of forgetting this requirement and carrying the ark on a wagon. God desires His work to be done in accordance with the directions of His Word." Incidentally, I might interject here that we did read that account of the death of Uzzah in II Samuel last September, in connection with the study of the latter part of Numbers, Chapter 1.

Keil and Delitzsch contribute further to assist us in their notes on this Scripture. Concerning the placement of the chapter, they point out that "This presentation took place at the time when Moses, after having completed the erection of the tabernacle, anointed and sanctified the dwelling and the altar, together with their furniture (Lev. viii. 10, 11). Chronologically considered, this ought to have been noticed after Lev. viii. 10. But in order to avoid interrupting the connection of the Sinaitic laws, it is introduced for the first time at this point, and placed at the head of the events which immediately preceded the departure of the people from Sinai, because these gifts consisted in part of materials that were indispensably necessary for the transport of the tabernacle during the march through the desert. Moreover, there was only an interval of at the most forty days between the anointing of the tabernacle, which commenced after the first day of the first month (cf. Ex. xl. 16 and Lev. viii. 10), and lasted eight days, and the departure from Sinai, on the twentieth day of the second month (chap. x. 11), and from this we have to deduct six days for the Passover, which took place before their departure (chap. ix. 1 sqq.); and it was within this period that the laws and ordinances from Lev. xi. to Num. vi. had to be published, and the dedicatory offerings to be presented. Now, as the presentation itself was distributed according to vers. 11 sqq., over twelve or thirteen days, we may very well assume that it did not entirely precede the publication of the laws referred to, but was carried on in part contemporaneously with it. The presentation of the dedicatory gifts of one tribe-prince might possibly occupy only a few hours of the day appointed for the purpose; and the rest of the day, therefore, might very conveniently be made use of by Moses for publishing the laws. In this case the short space of a month and a few days would be amply sufficient for everything that took place."

On the gift of wagons and oxen, they continue, "The presentation of six waggons and twelve oxen for the carriage of the materials of the tabernacle is mentioned first, and was no doubt the first thing that took place. The princes of Israel, viz. the heads of the tribe-houses (fathers' houses), or princes of the tribes (see chap. I. 4 sqq.), 'those who stood over those that were numbered,' i.e. who were their leaders or rulers, offered as their sacrificial gift six covered waggons and twelve oxen, one ox for each prince, and a waggon for every two." These, "waggons", after consideration of linguistic argument concerning ancient Greek references, are concluded to be two wheeled vehicles. Detailing the distribution of these gifts, Keil and Delitzsch note that the Gershonites had less weight to carry, in the coverings and curtains of the dwelling and the hangings of the court, than the Merarites, who must "take charge of the beams and pillars...". "The Kohathites received no waggon because it was their place to attend to 'the sanctuary'..."the holy things which had to be conveyed upon their shoulders, and were provided with poles for the purpose... ."

You may remember the poles which were thrust through rings provided with certain sacred pieces of furniture within the Holy, and the Most Holy portions of the Tabernacle, and how these pieces were to be wrapped by the Aaronic Priests before even the Kohathites were permitted in to lift and carry them on the march to the new location of the encampment as these Tribes of Israel moved in the estimated two or three million strong procession through the Wilderness of Sinai. They were to break camp whenever the signal was given, and follow the great column of cloud by day and fire by night which clothed and hid The LORD as Yahweh (Jehovah) their God and national "husband" led His people on their journey towards their home in The Promised Land.

Before we close, perhaps I ought, once again, to remind you that we, of the British-Israel-World Federation, see the descendants of these same ancient tribes of Israel to be found in the main, today, in the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world. We realise that this concept may be new to you if you have not heard our messages in the past, but we do find quite compelling evidence which we feel to be persuasive, and which leads us to this conclusion. Do contact us if you would like to learn more of this viewpoint.

We shall continue with our studies next week.

29 March, 1998

TRIBAL GIFTS - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our sequence of Bible Studies, beginning at Genesis 12 several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has led us down the generations of his progeny to the Sinai Wilderness camp of the Tribes of Israel, directed by God, and with Moses as the national leader. We had reached Numbers 7:9, at a point wherein each of the princes (or leaders) of the Tribes of Israel, by way of an offering before The LORD, had brought an ox and they had co-operated in pairs to supply a wagon, so that there were twelve oxen and six wagons supplied for the use of those who were entrusted with the task of moving the structure of the Tabernacle whenever the camp was ordered to prepare for a march to a new location in the wilderness of Sinai. Today we move on to Numbers 7:10, to consider their individual tribal gifts, each to be presented in a dedicatory ceremony on a succession of days, one day appointed to each prince on behalf of his tribe. We will read of these gifts in a long passage with much repetition, although God never records such repetitious passages without a reason, and we do well to respect His Word in such matters. We begin at the mention of the day when the Tabernacle had been assembled, anointed and sanctified. The altar next mentioned is, as noted in the Thompson Chain Reference Bible AV margin, a "brazen altar", probably made of copper or bronze covered boards at the sides, and filled with earth, on which the burnt sacrifices were to be consumed.

10. And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar.
11. And the LORD said unto Moses, They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar.
12. And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:
13. And his offering was one silver charger, the weight thereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them were full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
14. One spoon of ten shekels of gold, full of incense:
15. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
16. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
17. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

Here Nashon, the Prince of the Tribe of Judah, the lead tribe on the march, and the one which was posted on the east of the entrance to The Tabernacle makes his offerings; and these will be matched, in turn, by each of the other princes.

18. On the second day Nethaneel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, did offer:
19. He offered for his offering one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
20. One spoon of gold of ten shekels, full of incense:
21. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
22. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
23. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
24. On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun, did offer:
25. His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
26. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
27. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
28. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
29. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Eliab the son of Helon.

So Judah's offerings were immediately followed on the next two successive days by those from the Tribes of Issachar and Zebulun. These tribes complete the tribal array set up on the east of the square surrounding The Tabernacle. They form up first when departing on marches from one camp to the next. Let us see how the successive tribes are called to give their offerings.

30. On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben, did offer:
31. His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
32. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
33. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
34. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
35. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur.
36. On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of Simeon, did offer:
37. His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
38. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
39. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
40. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
41. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
42. On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad, offered:
43. His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, a silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
44. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
45. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
46. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
47. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel.

So Reuben, Simeon and Gad are called upon to offer their tribal gifts in successive days, and these are the tribes which form the southern side of the square defensive dispositions about the Tabernacle.

48. On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, prince of the children of Ephraim, offered:
49. His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
50. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
51. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
52. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
53. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud.
54. On the eighth day offered Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, prince of the children of Manasseh:
55. His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
56. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
57. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
58. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
59. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
60. On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, prince of the children of Benjamin, offered:
61. His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
62. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
63. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
64. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
65. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni.
66. On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, prince of the children of Dan, offered:
67. His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering:
68. One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense:
69. One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering:
70. One kid of the goats for a sin offering:
71. And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.

The pattern holds true. Here we have the Tribes on the west side of the square encampment following the set pattern. We shall leave the final side until next week. There will be some useful study notes pertaining to our summing up and some points which have numeric significance which we will be mentioning, and comments found in several commentaries which we may use on the next study. Again, we mention that God never uses words in useless repetition, so let us bear with the process. It is only after all is accomplished that results may be truly seen. How often in life is this true. We find a reward if we don't stop short of the goal. Doubtless that is the reason that Christ said, in Matthew 10:22, (and in almost the same words in Matthew 24:13, and Mark 13:13), that "he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

May I leave with you for the week this thought. We are to bring our offerings at appointed times in our own lives, and the whole body of Christ's followers may benefit from that which we present. Even those who live at great distances from us, and whose acquaintance we do not as yet personally enjoy may find help in what we offer to Our LORD in personal dedication.

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