View Numbers 18 in the note window.
The Work of the priests and Levites, ver. 1 - 7.
The maintenance of the priests, ver. 8 - 20.
Of the Levites, ver. 21 - 24.
The portion they are to pay to the priests, ver. 25 - 32.
1: Shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary - Shall suffer the
punishment of all the usurpations, or pollutions of the sanctuary, or the
holy things, by the Levites, or any of the people, because you have
power from me to keep them all within their bounds. Thus the people are
in good measure secured against their fears. Also they are informed that
Aaron's high dignity was attended with great burdens, having not only
his own, but the people's sins to answer for; and therefore they had no such
reason to envy him, if the benefits and dangers were equally considered.
The iniquity of your priesthood - That is, Of all the errors committed by
yourselves, or by you permitted in others in things, belonging to your
2: Unto thee - About sacrifices and offerings and other things,
according to the rules I have prescribed them. The Levites are said to
minister to Aaron here, to the church, (Nu 16:9), and to God,(De 10:8). They shall not contend with thee for superiority, as they
have done, but shall be subordinate to thee. Thy sons with thee - Or,
both to thee, and to thy sons with thee: Which translation may seem to
be favoured by the following words, before the tabernacle, which was the
proper place where the Levites ministered. Besides, both the foregoing
words, and the two following verses, entirely speak of the ministry of the
Levites, and the ministry of the priests is distinctly spoken of,(Nu 18:5).
3: They charge - That is, that which thou shalt command them and
commit unto them.
5: The sanctuary - Of the holy, and of the most holy place.
6: To you they are given as a gift - We are to value it as a great
gift of the divine bounty, to have those joined to us, that will be
helpful and serviceable to us, in the service of God.
7: The altar - Of burnt - offering. Within the veil - This phrase
here comprehends both the holy and the most holy place. As a gift which
I have freely conferred upon you, and upon you alone; and therefore let no
man henceforth dare either to charge you with arrogance in appropriating
this to yourselves, or to invade your office.
8: I have given them - Not only the charge, but the use of them for
thyself and family. By reason of the anointing - That is, because thou
art priest, and art to devote thyself wholly to my service.
9: Most holy - Such as were to be eaten only by the priests, and
that in the sanctuary. Reserved - That is, such sacrifices or parts of
sacrifices as were not burnt in the fire. Render unto me - By way of
compensation for a trespass committed against me, in which case a ram
was to be offered, which was a most holy thing, and may be particularly
10: In the most holy place - In the court of the priests, where there
were places for this use, which is called the most holy place, not
simply and absolutely, but in respect of the thing he speaks of because
this was the most holy of all the places appointed for eating holy things,
whereof some might be eaten in any clean place in the camp, or in their own
13: Whatsoever is first ripe - Not only the first - fruits of the oil
and wine, and wheat now mentioned, but all other first - fruits of all other
grains, and all fruit trees. Clean - And none else, because these were
first offered to God, and by consequence given to priests; but for those
which were immediately given to the priests, the clean and unclean might
eat of them.
14: Devoted - Dedicated to God by vow or otherwise, provided it be
such a thing as might be eaten: for the vessels or treasures of gold and
silver which were dedicated by Joshua, David, or others, were not the
priests, but appropriated to the uses of the temple.
15: Of men - Which were offered to God in his temple, and to his
service and disposal.
16: Those that are to be redeemed - Namely, of men only, not of
unclean beasts, as is manifest from the time and price of redemption here
mentioned, both which agree to men; the time, (Nu 18:16), the price,(Nu 3:46,47), but neither agree to unclean beasts, which were to be
redeemed with a sheep, (Ex 13:13), and that after it was eight days old.
17: Holy - Namely, in a peculiar manner, consecrated to an holy use,
even to be sacrificed to God. (De 15:19).
18: The flesh - All the flesh of them, and not only some parts, as in
19: A covenant of salt - A durable and perpetual covenant; so called
here and (2Ch 13:5), either, because salt is a sign of incorruption, as
being of singular use to preserve things from corruption: or, because it is
ratified on their part by salt, which is therefore called the salt of
the covenant, for which the priests were obliged to take care, that it
should never be lacking from any meat - offering, (Le 2:13). And
this privilege conferred upon the priests is called a covenant because
it is given them conditionally, upon condition of their service, and care
about the worship of God.
20: In their land - In the land of the children of Israel. You
shall not have a distinct portion of land, as the other tribes shall. The
reason of this law, was, partly because God would have them wholly devoted
to his service, and therefore free from worldly incumbrances; partly,
because God had abundantly provided for them otherwise, by tithes and
first - fruits and oblations; and partly that by this means being dispersed
among the several tribes, they might have the better opportunity for
teaching and watching over the people. I am thy part - I have appointed
thee a liberal maintenance out of my oblations.
21: The tenth - For the tithes were all given to the Levites, and
out of their tithes the tenth was given to the priests.
22: Nigh - So nigh as to do any proper act to the priests or
23: Their iniquity - The punishment due not only for their own, but
also for the people's miscarriage, if it be committed through their
connivance or negligence. And this was the reason why the priests withstood
King Uzziah, when he would have burnt incense to the Lord.
24: An heave - offering - An acknowledgment that they have all their
land and the fruits of it from God's bounty.
Note the word heave - offering, which is for the most part understood of
a particular kind of offerings heaved or lifted up to the Lord, is here
used for any offering.
26: Ye shall offer up an heave - offering - They who are employed in
assisting the devotions of others, must be sure to pay their own as an
heave - offering. Prayers and praises, or rather the heart lifted up in
them, are now our heave - offerings.
27: As though it were the corn - It shall be accepted of you as much
as if you offered it out of your own lands and labours.
28: To Aaron - And to his children, who were all to have their share
29: Your gifts - Not only out of your tithes, but out of the other
gifts which you receive from the people, and out of those fields which shall
belong to your cities. Offer - To the priest. As many gifts, so many
heave - offerings; you shall reserve a part out of each of them for the
priest. The hallowed part - the tenth part, which was the part or
proportion that God hallowed or sanctified to himself as his proper portion.
31: Every place - In every clean place, and not in the holy place
32: Neither shall ye pollute the holy things - As you will do, if you
abuse their holy offerings, by reserving that entirely to yourselves, which
they offer to God to be disposed as he hath appointed, namely, part to you,
and part to the priests.