Numbers 8:2 MEANING

Numbers 8:2

(2) When thou lightest the lamps.--Better, When thou settest up the lamps. (Comp. Exodus 25:37.) The golden candlestick was placed against the south wall of the Tabernacle, opposite to the table of shewbread, so that its seven branches were parallel to that wall, with its branches east and west, and consequently the seven lamps, one of which rested upon each of the seven branches, threw their light in front of the candlestick, i.e., towards the north wall, by which arrangement the furniture of the holy place was more effectually lighted than it would have been had the candlestick been placed facing the entrance, with its branches north and south.

Over against.--Or, in front of.

Verse 2. - When thou lightest the lamps. The command to light the lamps had been given generally ("they shall light the lamps thereof") in Exodus 25:37, and the care of them had been specially confided to Aaron and his sons ("from evening to morning") in Exodus 27:21. The actual lighting of the lamps for the first time by Moses is recorded in Exodus 40:25. In the face of these passages it is incredible that the lamps had not been regularly lighted by Aaron for more than a month before the offering of the princes. The seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick. It is somewhat uncertain what this expression, here repeated from Exodus 25:37, means. The Targums give no explanation of it; the Septuagint merely renders verbally, κατὰ πρόσωπον τῆς λυχνίας φωτιοῦσιν; the Jewish expositors seem to have thought that the light was to be thrown inward towards the central shaft; most modern commentators, with more probability, understand it to mean that the lamps were to be so placed as to throw their light across the tabernacle towards the north side.

8:1-4 Aaron himself lighted the lamps, thus representing his Divine Master. The Scripture is a light shining in a dark place,Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him,.... It being his work to light the lamps, though, as Ben Gersom observes, it was not incumbent on an high priest alone to do this, for it also belonged to the sons of Aaron, who were common priests, Exodus 27:21; though it is probable that as this was the first time of lighting them, it might be done by Aaron himself, his sons attending and assisting him; in which he was an eminent type of Christ, the great High Priest, who lights the lamps in all his golden candlesticks, the churches, Revelation 1:20, and from whom they have all their light and all the supplies of it:

when thou lightest the lamps; which was done at evening, Exodus 30:8; pointing at the great light set up by Christ, the light of the world, in the evening of it, in the last days:

the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick; the Targum of Jonathan is,"at the same time of thy lighting the lamps over against the candlestick, there shall be seven lamps giving light: three on the west side and three on the east side, and the seventh in the middle:''and in the like order Jarchi places them, who observes, that the three eastward looked over against the middlemost, the wicks that were in them; and so the three westward, the tops of the wicks were over against the middlemost: and he also observes, that the middlemost lamp was no other than the body of the candlestick, and so all the rest of the lamps were over against and looked to that; and this is the sense of Maimonides (m), and other Jewish writers; but the truer meaning of the phrase is, that the seven lamps gave light, as they were to do, to that part of the holy place that was opposite to the candlestick, the north part of it, where stood the shewbread table, the candlestick being in the south, Exodus 40:22; that the table of the Lord might have light, as it was proper it should; and the priests might see to set on and take off the bread, which otherwise they could not, there being no window in the place; See Gill on Exodus 25:37.

(m) Hilchot Beth Hacbehirah, c. 3. sect. 8.

Courtesy of Open Bible