Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Now, as the priests and Levites were properly the officers and ministers of state under God, as king of Israel; the Israelites paying through their hands one-tenth to him, was agreeable to the custom of almost all nations to pay one-tenth as revenue to their kings. Whilst we here see, that their evil in preferring a mortal to the Almighty, was punished by a double portion of taxes; viz, a tenth to Jehovah, and a tenth to Saul.

It only remains now to offer a few observations concerning the numbers of the Levites. The first notice we have of them, is in the second year after their return from Egypt, or in the year of the world 2515, and 1489 years before Christ; when all the males, from a month old and upward, are stated to have been twenty-two thousand three hundred ;* but Moses, contenting himself with round numbers (a mode of reckoning which is sometimes adopted by other writers of Scripture,) states the total number of the Levites only at twenty-two thousand.b Of these there were fit for the service of the sanctuary, or between the age of thirty and fifty, eight thousand five hundred and eighty persons.

The next account that we have of them is about thirty-eight years after, or just before they entered Canaan, in the year of the world 2553, and before Christ 1451; when the number of males, from a month old and upward, had increased to twenty-three thousand ; not one of whom was born at the time of their former numbering." About four hundred and thirty-six years after they entered Canaan, or in the year of the world 2989, and before Christ 1015, they were again numbered by David a little before his death, when the males from thirty years old and upward, were found to be advanced

a

a Num. iii. 22. 28. 34.
< lb. iv. 2. 35, 36. 40. 44. 46, 47, 48.
VOL. I.

Rr

bIb, üi. 39.
d Ib. xxvi. 57. 62. 64, 65.

to thirty-eight thousand, of whom twenty-four thousand were set over the work of the Lord, six thousand were officers and judges, four thousand were porters, and four thousand were musicians. But if we were to

suppose the same proportion to exist between those come of age, and those a month old, as was found to be the case at their coming out of Egypt, the tribe must have been much more numerous ; for the proportion in that case would stand thus :-As, when there were eight thousand five hundred and eighty males between thirty and fifty, there were found to be twenty-two thousand three hundred of a month old and upward; so, when there are thirty-eight thousand males between thirty and fifty, there should be ninety-six thousand four hundred and thirty-three of a month old and upwards. Thus stood the proportion before the death of David; but after that we have no complete enumeration of them. There are, however, some detached hints, both before and after David's time, which it may be worth while to collect. Thus, when David was made king four thousand six hundred Levites are mentioned on the occasion.b At the bringing up of the ark there were eight hundred and sixty-two,' some of whom carried it, others acted as musicians, others as door-keepers. After the ark was brought up from Obededom, and placed under the tent which David had made for it at Jerusalem, we find the establishment divided ; a part of the Levites being appointed to it at Jerusalem, and a part to the tabernacle of the congregation, which was still stationed at Gibeon. It is needless to repeat in this place what was formerly said concerning the courses appointed for the Temple; so that we have nothing more concerning the Levites till after the revolt of the ten tribes; when those, who resided in Israel, having resisted the offers of Jeroboam, to become favourers of idolatry, were obliged to flee to their brethren of Judah and Benjamin, among whom they might enjoy the worship of God. Thus did matters remain till towards the Captivity, when Judah also, having corrupted his way, felt the effects of the divine vengeance, and for seventy years was removed to Babylon. We are not acquainted, indeed, with all the effects which this dispensation had on the Jews and on the world; but this we know, that very few in comparison took advantage of the permission that was allowed them by Cyrus, to return to their land; for, out of the many thousands of Levites that must have existed, only three hundred and forty-one, according to Ezra, or three hundred and fifty, according to Nehemiah, came along with Zerubbabel. A few more, indeed, are mentioned in Neh. xii. 24–26, but they are very trifling: and, in 1 Chron. ix. 14—33, we have a document apparently out of place, but evidently referring to the times after the Captivity. Thus do we see that many chose rather to remain at Babylon than return to Judea; and it is painful to observe, that even of those who did return, there were several whose hearts were not right with God, who formed alliances in marriage with the people of the land, and thereby corrupted both their morals and their genealogies. But they do not appear to have been totally insensible, for they reformed this abuse; and, as a token of obedience, signed with Nehemiah the national covenant, and dwelt at Jerusalem to influence others by their authority and example.s

a 1 Chron. xxiii. 3, 4, 5.
& Ib, xv. 15-24.

bi Chron, xü. 26.
e Ib. xvi. 37, 38.

c Ib. xv. 5–10.
f Ib. xvi. 41, 42.

a

[ocr errors]

a 2 Chron, xi, 13, 14; xiii. 9. b Ezra ii. 40-42.

Compare 1 Chron. ix. 14, with Neh. xi. 15. i Xeh. x. 9-13.

& lb, xi. 15-19.

• Neb, vii, 43-45. · Ezra x. 23, 24.

SECTION V.

The Stationary Men and Nethinim.

The twenty-four courses of the former; the reasons for their appointment ;

their duties at the Temple : the duty of that part of the course that staid at home. The Nethinim—who they were; their employment; their numbers.

[ocr errors]

a

After treating of the priests and the Levites, it naturally follows that we speak of the third class of ministers in the Temple, viz. the stationary men (Toyo "VIX,) or, Israelites of the station : a name which is not known, indeed, in Scripture, but which is frequently mentioned in the Jewish writings. They were divided into twenty-four courses, in the same manner as the priests and Levites; though it is by no means certain whether every course was a twenty-fourth part of the Jewish nation, exclusive of the Levites. The reasons, however, for their appointment were as follow:

1. That a decent number of persons should always be present during the Temple service: and they were so precise on this point, that even in their synagogues, they would not begin prayers, or the reading of the law, till they could count ten men at the least.

2. There were daily sacrifices appointed to be offered for the whole nation; now, as the law required that the persons offering, should be present at their sacrifice, and as it was impossible for all the Jews to be really present, these were appointed to appear as their representatives.

3. These stationary men had always a chief person who presided over the course, called “ the President of the Station,” whose office it was to bring the persons who had been under any uncleanness, from the Court of the Women, where they usually attended, into that part of the gate Nicanor, which was next the Court of Israel, that they might thus be near enough to lay their hands on the head of the animal to be slain for their atonement. This arrangement was judged necessary; because, the gate Nicanor being accounted of equal sanctity with the Court of the Women, they might stand in it before their complete purification, and yet be able to comply with the law. The usual time for this part of the president's duty was, when the priests that went into the Holy Place to offer incense, rang the Megrupitha, great bell, or gong, which lay near the steps of the porch.

a Godwin's Moses and Aaron, b. i. ch. 5.

6 Lev. i, 3 ; iii. 2. 8.

4. There is another duty assigned to the stationary men by some writers, viz. that they laid their hands on the head of the daily sacrifice, as the offering appointed for all the people; but the Jews deny that this was the case. For Maimonides asserts," that “ there was no laying on of hands upon the sacrifices of the whole congregation, unless in two cases. The one was upon the scape-goat, and the other upon the bullock that was offered for the whole congregation, when they sinned from ignorance, and the thing was hid from the eyes of the assembly.” Further, we may remark, that there were divers sacrifices, from attending on which the stationary men were excused; although the sacrifices were for the whole congregation. Thus Maimonides in the abovementioned treatise, tells us, that 6 they never made a station at the morning sacrifice, all the eight days of the feast of dedication; nor at the evening sacrifice on those

; days when there was an additional sacrifice added to the daily.”

During the week of their attendance, these stationary

.

• Corban, perek 3.

« AnteriorContinuar »