Page images

priests and the Levites, with their families, were maintained.

Provision, also, was made by the divine direction, when the Israelites should take possession of the promised land, for the residence of the tribe of Levi, by allowing them forty-eight cities, with a very considerable extent of land around them for their use; thirteen of which cities were to belong to the priests.

It was indispensable that the priests and Levites should be thus comfortably supported, while discharging their many, laborious duties, for they received no lands of inheritance in Canaan, as all the other tribes did, being separated from them for the peculiar service of the Lord.

Promulgation was made by Moses, at this time, of certain other ordinances, respecting the removal from the camp of unclean and diseased persons ; restitution in case of fraud; offerings of holy things; the bitter waters of jealousy; the Nazarite and his vow; and the form of blessing the people by Aaron and his sons.

Among these various and important transactions, there was one which must not be passed over in silence. Offerings of great value were presented by the princes of Israel, the heads of the house of their fathers, and princes over the different tribes, for the service of the tabernacle, and as sacrifices to the Lord.

They first brought six covered wagons, and twelve oxen, which Moses was directed by the Lord to accept, and give to the Levites according to the nature of the duties that they had to perform. Thus, two wagons and four'oxen only were given to the Gershonites, with which to convey the curtains, coverings, and hangings of the tabernacle; for although these articles were cumbersome, they were light : while the Merarites, who had a much heavier load to carry, the boards, bars, pillars and sockets, received, for their share, four wagons and eight oxen.

The Kohathites had none; because they were required to bear upon their shoulders, the sacred things which it was their lot to carry.

Other offerings were also made. They were for the dedicating of the altar. Twelve successive days were occupied in presenting them; each prince, as the representative of the tribe over which he had authority, bringing them before the altar, as gifts and sacrifices to the Lord.

On the first day, Nahshon of Judah came. His offering was a large silver charger, (a dish or deep bowl,) and a smaller silver bowl; both of which were full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meatoffering : a golden spoon full of incense : one young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt-offering: one kid of the goats for a sinoffering: and for a sacrifice of peace-offerings, two


oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five lambs of the

first year.

The other princes came, in their turn; each bringing his offering on their respective days, and each being like that which has just been described.

It seems to have been a national tribute of gratitude to God; and a public acknowledgment, by the sacrificial offerings, of the dependence of the Israelites on his mercy for the pardon of sin, and procuring the divine favor, through a future and prefigured Redeemer.

The Lord now has need of richer and more abundant offerings; not, indeed, the blood of the beast slain in sacrifice, (for the great propitiatory sacrifice has, once for all, been offered up,) but the willing tribute of the heart; the service of the head, the tongue, and the hands; the liberal contribution of the gold and the silver; in promoting the cause of his Son, our Saviour, throughout the world. Temples to him must be crected in every land, and altars dedicated in every heart. The ministry of his word, and the missionaries of the cross, must be sent forth in increasing numbers, and sustained in their labors. The Sacred Oracles must be published, and distributed to the millions who are yet destitute of them. The work is a vast one. The means needed for its accomplishment are vast also. The rulers and the people, the old and the young, you and I, are called upon for our offerings. They should be cheerfully and bounteously made. Shall we dare to refuse them?


The departure from Sinai. General features of the regions

between Sinai and Canaan.

Moses again went into the tabernacle, and "heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy-seat, that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims.” It was the voice of God, giving him some additional directions concerning the service of the tabernacle, and a command for the consecration of the Levites.

This command was immediately carried into effect. The Levites, having been sprinkled with the water of purifying, performed the ceremonial ablutions which were required, and taking with them their offerings, were brought by Moses before the tabernacle. The whole assembly of the children of Israel were convened, to have a part in the solemnity. Certain persons, selected for the purpose as the representatives of the people, placed their hands



the heads of the Levites. It was a religious ceremony, to denote that the whole nation now gave up, and dedicated this one tribe to the peculiar service of God, and bound themselves to provide for their support.

Aaron, then, "offered the Levites before the Lord, for an offering of the children of Israel ;" and the bullocks were offered up in sacrifice; one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering, to make an atonement for the Levites. Thus, they were publicly set apart, and consecrated to God, for the duties of their office.

Every thing was now prepared for the further progress of the Israelites towards the promised land. The magnificent dwelling place of the Most High was completed ; and his glorious presence occupied its holiest apartment. His laws and ordinances were promulgated; the rites of his worship established ; a priesthood consecrated; and the regulations fixed for the order of encamping, and the marching forward from one stage to another.

The sublime and awe-inspiring scenes of Sinai had accomplished the moral design for which their Author had employed them. The time for leaving them was at hand. New regions were now to be explored, and other conditions of human life to be passed through. Nature, under different aspects, was to inculcate still further her lessons of instruction. She was to aid the discipline, severe indeed,

« PreviousContinue »