KJ: Speak unto Aaron, and
say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light
over against the candlestick.
BN: Speak to Aharon, and tell him, When you light the lamps, the seven lamps must create light in front of the Menorah
I have also retained Menorah, both with a capital M, and in preference to "candlestick", which most translators give; it rather demeans this sacred object to call it a mere candlestick, don't you think?
The meaning of this is not obvious from the Yehudit, let alone the translations. I think that the thought behind it is that they are using candles, which project from the holders, rather than a wick at the summit of a candle inside the holder; and as we all know, candles wobble, and the light goes with the wobble; so make sure the wobble is to the front, the congregation-side.
8:3 VA YA'AS KEN AHARON EL MUL HA MENORAH HA ELAH NEROTEYHA KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH
KJ: And this work of the
candlestick was of beaten
gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten
work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made
BN: And this is how the Menorah was made: beaten work of gold, as far as its base, and its flowers were of beaten work; according to the design which YHVH had shown Mosheh, so he made the Menorah
I do rather like the idea of the cave on Mount Sinai suddenly transformed into Taliesin or Perry Green, and YHVH and Mosheh sitting over a cup of tea and a set of drawings. All artists have models, influences, sources - I wonder if YHVH, being omniscient, thought Fabergé rather than Cartier.
8:5 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶלמֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר
KJ: And the LORD spake unto
BN: Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:
8:6 KACH ET HA LEVIYIM MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL VE TIHARTA OTAM
KJ: Take the Levites from
among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.
BN: Take the Leviyim from among the Beney Yisra-El, and purify them.
Why is it necessary to cleanse-purify them? Laws have already been given to deal with both physical uncleanliness (blood, semen, leprosy, eczema, et al) and moral uncleanlinness (incest, adultery, theft, murder); so this has to be something very specific. If they have come here on pilgrimage, rather than in flight, we would expect a cleansing ceremony (see my previous notes on wudhu and ghusl); ditto if they have come for a covenant renewal ceremony. Is this then an equivalent for the commoners of the special rites we have witnessed for the priests? 8:7 VE CHOH TA'ASEH LAHEM LE TAHARAM HA ZEH ALEYHEM MEY CHATAT VE HE'EVIYRU TA'AR AL KOL BESARAM VE CHIBSU VIGDEYHEM VE HITEHARU
KJ: And thus shalt thou do
unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them
shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and somake themselves
BN: And thus you shall do to them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification on them, and let them cause a razor to pass over all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and cleanse themselves.
A total shaving, full-body. And yet, did we not have a sense from the laws of Nazirut that the hair has sacred value, and a person dedicated in that manner does not shave any part of the body? So a distinction has been made between the ritual purity of a Kohen, and the specific dedicated-purity of a Nazir; so, now, a distinction is being made between the ritual purity of a Levi and a Kohen.
8:8 VE LAK'CHU PAR BEN BAKAR U MINCHATO SOLET BE LULAH VA SHAMEN U PHAR SHENI VEN BAKAR TIKACH LE CHATAT
KJ: Then let them take a
young bullock with his meat offering, even fine
flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin
BN: Then let them take a young bullock, with its meal-offering of fine flour mingled with oil, and a second young bullock for a sin-offering. 8:9 VE HIKRAVTA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY OHEL MO'ED VE HIKHALTA ET KOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL
KJ: And thou shalt bring
the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather
the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:
BN: And you shall present the Leviyim before the tent of meeting; and you shall assemble the entire congregation of the Beney Yisra-El.
We are not told that the congregation also needs to be clean, so that they are in a fit state to sanctify the Leviyim, but as this has already been made clear, right down to the blemishes, we can understand it as implicit. In today's world it would be a simple blessing: "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam, asher kidshanu bemitsvotav ve tsivanu al netilat yadayim - blessed are you, YHVH our god, who set us apart through his commandments, and instructed us to wash our hands". 8:10 VE HIKRAVTA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY YHVH VE SAM'CHU VENEY YISRA-EL ET YEDEYHEM AL HA LEVIYIM
KJ: And Aaron shall offer
the Levites before the LORD for an
offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the
BN: And Aharon shall offer the Leviyim before YHVH for a wave-offering from the Beney Yisra-El, that they may undertake the service of YHVH.
Given that a wave-offering literally meant an offering that was held up, and waved about like a flag so that YHVH could see it, it makes for a rather comic imagining to think of the Leviyim as a wave-offering! Does anyone have any idea how they might have done this? 8:12 VE HA LEVIYIM YISMECHU ET YADEYHEM AL ROSH HA PARIM VA ASEH ET HA ECHAD CHATAT VE ET HA ECHAD OLAH LA YHVH LECHAPER AL HA LEVIYIM
KJ: And the Levites shall
lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin
offering, and the other for a burnt
offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.
BN: And the Leviyim shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks; and offer the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering, to YHVH, to make atonement for the Leviyim.
Atonement for what? Once again we see the act of sacrifice in the Latin meaning of the word: it is not about giving something up, it is about sacre-ficere: making sacred. Atonement thus means pure, clean, untainted, indefiled, whole. It is not necessarily about the sin; much more about the cleanliness, about being At-One.
8:13 VE HA'AMADETA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY AHARON VE LIPHNEY VANAV VE HENAPHTA OTAM TENUPHAH LA YHVH
KJ: And after that shall
the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and
thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an
BN: And after that the Leviyim shall enter into the service of the tent of meeting; and you shall cleanse them, and offer them for a wave-offering.
Or perhaps something is waved as a substitute, an allegorical waving of the Leviyim. Given that we are - or appear to be from the previous chapters - in the fifty days of the Omer, are they in fact waving their sheaves of barley (cf Leviticus 23:9-11 "Then the Lord spoke to Mosheh, saying, 'Speak to the Beney Yisra-El and say to them, When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the Kohen. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Shabat the Kohen shall wave it.")? The only problem with this being that here it is the Leviyim, there the Kohanim.
8:16 KI NETUNIM NETUNIM HEMAH LI MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL TACHAT PITRAT KOL RECHEM BECHOR KOL MI BENEY YISRA-EL LAKACHTI OTAM LI
KJ: For they are wholly
given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every
womb, even instead of the
firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
BN: For they are wholly given to me from among the Beney Yisra-El; rather than taking every first-born of the Beney Yisra-El who opens the womb, I have taken them to me.
As we were told previously (Numbers 3:12), the Leviyim stand in place of the sacrifice of the first born, a substitution that began with a ram at the Akeda, and then the Pidyon ha-Ben - what I do not understand is why the Pidyon ha-Ben is still in place today, if the Leviyim became its replacement? Is it perhaps because, with the destruction of the Temple, the Leviyim could no longer serve in that role and therefore the Pidyon, which had presumably ceased, was reinstated?
8:17 KI LI CHOL BECHOR BIVNEY YISRA-EL BA ADAM U VA BEHEMAH BE YOM HAKOTI CHOL BECHOR BE ERETS MITSRAYIM HIKDASHTI OTAM LI
KJ: For all the firstborn
of the children of Israel are mine, both man and
beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I
sanctified them for myself.
BN: For all the first-born among the Beney Yisra-El are mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Mitsrayim I set them apart as holy for myself.
This verse requires us to go right back to the Exodus story, and specifically to the plagues. There it was noted that the plagues appeared to be symbolisms of an existing Egyptian ritual, and that they were connected to the pilgrimage to Sinai; this verse gives considerable weight to that thesis, by making a clear connection between the sacrifice of the first-born in Mitsrayim (Egypt), not as a plague, but as an act of sanctification that would redeem all future first-born and simultaneously priestify the Leviyim as their surrogates. Even now the purpose of the pilgrimage is still being fulfilled.
Verse 19 will endorse this still further; YHVH has given the Leviyim "so that there shall be no plague among the Beney Yisra-El through the Beney Yisra-El coming near to the sanctuary".
8:18 VE EKACH ET HA LEVIYIM TACHAT KOL BECHOR BIVNEY YISRA-EL
KJ: And I have taken the
Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.
BN: And I have taken the Leviyim instead of taking all the first-born among the Beney Yisra-El.
Repeating the words of Numbers 3:12to which I alluded, above.
8:19 VA ETNAH ET HA LEVIYIM NETUNIM LE AHARON U LE VANAV MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL LA'AVOD ET AVODAT BENEY YISRA-EL BE OHEL MO'ED U LECHAPER AL BENEY YISRA-EL VE LO YIHEYEH BIVNEY YISRA-EL NEGEPH BE GESHET BENEY YISRA-EL EL HA KODESH
KJ: And I have given the
Levites as a gift to
Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of
the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an
atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the
children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
BN: And I have given the Leviyim as a gift to Aharon and his sons from among the Beney Yisra-El, to undertake the service of the Beney Yisra-El in the tent of meeting, and to make atonement for the Beney Yisra-El, that there be no plague among the Beney Yisra-El, through the Beney Yisra-El coming near to the sanctuary.
The Yehudit text is problematic here; the seeming doubling of ETNAH with NETUNIM. The Leviyim are clearly not being given to Aharon and his sons, they are Aharon's sons; what is being given to them is the Levitical status; they are actually being given to the people.
8:20 VA YA'AS MOSHEH VE AHARON VE CHOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL LA LEVIYIM KE CHOL ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH LA LEVIYIM KEN ASU LAHEM BENEY YISRA-EL
KJ: And Moses, and Aaron,
and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites
according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did
the children of Israel unto them.
BN: Thus did Mosheh and Aharon, and all the congregation of the Beney Yisra-El to the Leviyim, according to everything that YHVH had instructed Mosheh regarding the Leviyim, so the Beney Yisra-El did to them.
Note again that throughout this chapter they are ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL - a congregation, in the religious sense of that word.
8:21 VA YIT'CHAT'U HA LEVIYIM VA YECHABSU BIGDEYHEM VA YANEPH AHARON OTAM TENUPHAH LIPHNEY YHVH VA YECHAPER ALEYHEM AHARON LETAHARAM
KJ: And after that went
the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before
Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the
Levites, so did they unto them.
BN: And after that the Leviyim went in to undertake their service in the tent of meeting before Aharon, and before his sons; as YHVH had instructed Mosheh concerning the Leviyim, so they did to them.
8:23 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר
KJ: And the LORD spake
unto Moses, saying,
BN: Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying
8:24 ZOT ASHER LA LEVIYIM MI BEN CHAMESH VE ESRIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH YAVO LITSVO TSAVA BA AVODAT OHEL MO'ED
KJ: But shall minister
with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge,
and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their
BN: But they shall continue to minister with their colleagues in the tent of meeting, to ensure that everything is maintained correctly; but they shall not undertake any religious duties. Thus you shall make clear to the Leviyim regarding their duties.