Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Numbers 8

Numbers viii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Looketh. This candlestick stood on the south side, with one branch extending towards the altar of incense, on the east; and the other to the west, so as to give light to the loaves of proposition, on the north, Exodus xxv. 31. (Calmet) --- It was intended to illumine the holy of holies, where a sort of feast was prepared for God, and where no windows were found. (Menochius) --- Hebrew simply, "When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against," upon, or near to "the candlestick." (Haydock) --- The lamps might be separated from the branches and stem of the candlestick. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 7. Let them be sprinkled with the water of purification. This was the holy water, mixed with the ashes of the red cow, (Numbers xix.) appointed for purifying all that were unclean. It was a figure of the blood of Christ, applied to our souls by his holy sacraments. (Challoner) --- Purification, (lustrationis) or "expiation." The water, mixed with ashes, was taken and sprinkled round about the houses, and upon those persons who wished either to be cleansed from some defilement, or to advance in virtue and purity. We use salt instead of ashes. Theocritus (Idyl. xxiv. 100,) puts these words in the mouth of Tiresias, "then mixt with salt, according to the law, with a green branch sprinkle the honoured and pure water, and sacrifice to the supreme Jupiter a hog, if you wish to gain the victory over your adversaries." --- Flesh, to remind them that they must cut off all superfluous thoughts, the roots of which they will however never be able to destroy entirely, as St. Gregory (Mor. v. 3,) says, "The flesh always produces superfluities, which the spirit must always cut away with the sword of solicitude." See Leviticus xiv. 8., and xxi. 5, 10. (Haydock) --- The priests serving in the temple were obliged to cut their hair every month; and the Levites probably observed the same regulation, to acknowledge, that they who approach to God, must be pure and detached from earthly cares, (Calmet) and particularly from the works of sin; to remind them of which, they were to be sprinkled with water, their garments washed, and they were to offer two oxen by the hands of Aaron, and to be lifted up or offered to God, to serve in his court. (Tirinus)

Ver. 10. Upon them. Some of the princes performed this ceremony, to testify that they gave up the Levites to serve God, (ver. 15,) and would not be answerable, if they were guilty of any irreverence or neglect. (Calmet) --- They offered them as a sort of sacrifice for the people, (Menochius) and gave their approbation to them, setting them at liberty, ver. 14., and 20. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 11. A gift. Hebrew, "he shall heave them as a heave-offering before the Lord." Some assert, that Aaron lifted each of them towards the four quarters of the world; (ver. 21,) or he made them go up towards the altar, and on each side. This ceremony was performed whenever a Levite was taken into the ministry, 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 34.

Ver. 12. Thou, Moses, though the Hebrew here seems to refer it to Aaron, "he shall." But the Septuagint and Arabic agree with the Vulgate, and the context shews that Moses is the person (Calmet) who had chiefly to officiate. Aaron also performed his part, ver. 11. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Mine. Free from the burdens of the state, and employed in singing and keeping the doors of the sanctuary. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Into, or "towards, about;" for the priests alone could enter in. Hebrew, "the Levites shall go in (or be admitted) to do the service of the tabernacle," and to remove it, &c., ver. 19. (Haydock)

Ver. 21. Lifted. Hebrew tenupha, Exodus xxix. 24. Perhaps only a few were received at once. (Menochius) --- Prayed. Hebrew means also "to expiate, or redeem," as ver. 19.

Ver. 25. Serve, in any laborious functions, as the original imports.

Ver. 26. Ministers. Hebrew, "to watch over," (Calmet) direct, and "train up their brethren," Samaritan. (Grotius)