Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Numbers 4-7

Numbers chapter four describes the duties and responsibilities of the various sub-tribes of the Levites. The Kohathites were responsible for "the care of the most holy things." First, Aaron and his sons are to take down the curtains and cover the holy things, then the Kohathites are to do all of the carrying, though "they must not touch the holy things or they will die" and they "must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die." The Gershonites wre responsible for carrying the curtains, the Tent of Meeting, and the curtains, cloths, etc. The Merarites were responsible for carrying basically all of the structural elements of the tabernacle, the frames and tent pegs and bases. From age 30 to 50, the Kohathites numbered 2750, the Gershonites 2630 and the Merarites 3200, totalling 8580.

Chapter five addresses the issue of the purity of the camp. Any who are diseased or discharging, as described in Leviticus, are sent outside of the camp. The LORD instructs them in giving restitution to those who are wronged, generally adding one fifth to the value in recompense, and atonement sacrifices. There is a test to be performed by the priest if a man suspects his wife of unfaithfulness, involving

Chapter six describes "a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite." A Nazirite would dedicate him or herself to living separately from the rest of the tribe, and refraining from the fruit of the grapevine, shaving or going near dead bodies (to the extent of avoiding becoming unclean if a close relative dies). "Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD. At the end of the year, he must make a sacrifice and shave off his hair, among other things. The chapter finishes with the high priestly blessing.

Chapter seven details the offerings made by the various tribes at the dedication of the tabernacle. Each of the twelve offered the same offering. And then Moses entered the Tent of Meeting and spoke to the LORD.

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • The test for an unfaithful wife reads uncomfortably like the medieval customs of dunking to see whether a witch would drown or not.
  • The blessing is probably the best known text from this book, and is frequently used as a benediction still today.
  • I'd be surprised to learn that there's a more repetitive chapter in the Bible than Numbers 7. Day by day, the representatives of the twelve tribes bring their offering, consisting of
    one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering.

    And the text presents the list for each of them. So it's in there twelve times. And then, there's a list of the totals, which are, of course, 12 times the individual offerings.

Psalms 21

A psalm of praise. The psalmist praises the LORD, for the joy that the king has in the victories the LORD has given him. There is no supplication here, just joyful acknowledgment of the LORD's grace.

Psalm 21
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!

2 You have granted him the desire of his heart
and have not withheld the request of his lips.

3 You welcomed him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.

5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.

6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

7 For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.

8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.

9 At the time of your appearing
you will make them like a fiery furnace.
In his wrath the LORD will swallow them up,
and his fire will consume them.

10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.

11 Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed;

12 for you will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.

13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength;
we will sing and praise your might.

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