« AnteriorContinuar »
Ovoiaot NOLOU; and likewise the purification of the Temple, xabaprouos tov izpov, 1 Macc. 4: 52–59. 2 Macc. 10: 1–8. John 10: 22. It is mentioned by Josephus, Antiq. XII. 7, 6—7. by the name quta, because the Jews lighted their houses with many candles on those days, as indications of the return of peace and joy. Consult Josephus contra Apion II. 39.
OF SACRED PERSONS.
$361. OF THE Jews, AS CONSIDERED A HOLY PEOPLE.
The posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were selected and set apart to preserve and transmit the true religion. They were, in this way, consecrated to God, and on this ground, were called Holy, bui77, and were considered, as sustaining the relation of priests to the Supreme Being, and as being entitled to be called a sacerdotal pation or nation of priests, Exod. 19: 6. Lev. 11: 44, 45. 19:2. 20:26. Deut. 7: 6. 14: 2, 21. 26: 19. 28: 9.
Being thus set apart or sanctified, it was very frequently urged upon them to maintain a purity of heart and conduct, corresponding with their calling and the title which they bore, and as they were called a Holy people, to be the possessors of holiness. [Accordingly we find such exhortations addressed to them, as the following ; sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy, for I am the Lord, your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them; I am the Lord, which sanctify you.”] Lev. 19: 2. 20:7, 8, 26. 11: 45. Exod. 22: 20, 21. etc.
But the more recent Jews, inflated with the title of Holy peo
362. PERSONS EMPLOYED IN RELIGIOUS DUIÉS.
ple, despised and hated all other nations, and denominated them profane and sinners, Eph. 2: 14, 15. 1 Thess. 2: 15, 16. comp. Tacitus, Hist. V. 5. Matt. 9:10, 11. Luke 5: 8. Gal. 2: 15–17.
The Holiness of the Jewish nation, as the word is to be understood in its original application, i. e. their separation and consecration to the worship of the true God, was a thing, that continued or was perpetual, although it was often the case, that there existed at the same time a great corruption of morals. This accounts for the fact, that the Rabbios sometimes denominate the most wicked of the Hebrew kings holy. That is to say, they give such a sense to the term, as to make the words holy and Israelite mean the same thing.
This appellation came at length into use among Christians, who are denominated by the Apostles, not only disciples, uaontain not only brethren, adehqon, and those who are in the same way, i. e. partakers in the same religious feelings, but are likewise frequently denominated holy or saints, dylov, Acts 9:41. 26: 10. Rom. 1: 7. 8:17. 12: 13. 15: 25, 26. 16:2, etc.
RSONS OFFICIALLY EMPLOYED IN DISCHARGING RELIGIOUS
- We have spoken, in another place, of the Levites, as being the servants of God in a civil or political capacity, i. e. the servants of God, considered, as the king or ruler of the state. We shall speak of them here, as his servants or ministers in the publick ordinances of religion. The Lévites were a class of persons, substituted in the place of the first born, who were originally priests hy birth, but in the age of Moses yielded their right in this respect, and were ever after to be redeemed from serving at the altar, Num. 3: 5—13, 40---51. 8:16-19.
From this TRIBE, (that of Levi,) Aaron and his posterity were consecrated to the priesthood, to whom a nearer access was given to the throne of God in the Holy of holies, which, in truth, is intimated in the usual name for priest, viz. 707, [a word, which is applied to men, who have access to the king, for instance to the sons of David, 2 Sam. 8: 18. comp. I Chron. 18: 17. &c.]
The rest of the Levites performed those religious duties, which were of an inferiour kind, but for the more menial em
$363. THE SERVANTS ALLOTTED TO THE SANCTUARY.
ployments, such as bringing water and splitting wood, they were allowed servants, who were assigned for the labours of the Sanctuary.
· The high priest sustained the highest office in the tribe, and ranked, as the head both of priests and Levites. Separate duties were allotted to all these, viz, to the medial servants, the Levites, the priests, and the high priest, and the duties of one were not allowed to interfere with those of another.
§ 363. OF THE SERVANTS WHO WERE ALLOTTED TO THE SANCTUARY.
With respect to the servants, who, subsequently to the time of Moses, were employed about the Sanctuary, and later still were occupied in performing the menial offices, connected with the Temple, it may be remarked, that they had their origin, as a separate class in the community, from a religious practice among the Hebrews, viz, of devoting by a vow themselves, a son, or a servant to services of such a kind. It was in reference to this practice, that the Law was enacted, which is recorded in Leviticus 27: 1--8, and which fixed the price, at which a person, who had thus devoted himself, might be redeemed.
In the time of Joshua, the number of the persons, who were employed in the capacity of servants in performing the religious ceremonies, was increased by the accession of the Gibeonites, the Beerothites, the Kepbirites, and the inbabitants of Kirjath-jearim, who were compelled to labour in the same menial occupations, Jos. 9: 23-29. Their number was increased likewise in the age of David and Solomon.
After the Captivity they constituted a very considerable class of the people, and were called, (by an honourary name, that was anciently applied to the Lévites,) NETHENIMS, b?, (the same with Dan,) a word, which signifies given or devoted, i. e. to the service of the Temple and Sanctuary, Num. 3: 9. 8:17, 19. 18: 6. Their employment, however it may have been esteemed originally, was eventually considered so respectable, that we find them, after the Captivity, mentioned immediately after the Levites, and as it would seem, placed, in a measure, above the other Israelites, Ezra 2:54, 58. 8: 20. Neh. 10: 29. 11:3.
§ 364. OF THE CONSECRATION OF THE Levites.
The Lerites were solemnly separated from the rest of the Israelites, and qualified for their official duties by a singular rite.
I. Having washed and shaved the whole body, they brought a bullock with a meal-offering and oil to the altar for a holocaust, and another bullock for a sin-offering.
II. They were then sprinkled with water by Moses.
III. The leading men of the Israelites laid their hands upon them, and by this ceremony substituted them in their own place, or in that of their first born. . IV, The Levites, in the presence of the priests, prostrated themselves before God or the sacred Tabernacle, in signification, that they offered themselves to his service.
V. Finally, they placed their hands upon the bullocks, and then slew them.
With these ceremonies, the Levites and their posterity were set apart to the service of God, of the priests, and of the Tabernacle, Num. 8: 5—22. comp. Acts 13: 2, 3. They were not obliged by law to wear any particular sort of dress. There was this exception, however, viz. that the musicians and singers, in the time of David and Solomon, and also those, who bore the Ark of the Covenant, were clothed in a robe of white linen, 1 Chron. 15: 27. 2 Chron. 5: 12. comp. Josephus, Antiquities VIII. 3. 8. XX. 9. 6.
8 365. OF THE DUTIES OF THE LEVITES.
It was the duty of the Levites, to render such assistance to the priests as was required, to keep guard round the Tabernacle, and subsequently round the Temple. In the journey through the Arabian wilderness, it fell to them to transport the different parts of the Tabernacle, and the various sacred utensils, that pertained to it. It was their duty, furthermore, to see, that both the Tabernacle and the Temple were kept clean, and to prepare supplies for the Sanctuary, such as wine, oil, incense, &c. They had the care of the sacred revenues, and subsequently to the time of David, were required to sing in the Temple and to play
365. OF THE DUTIES OF THE LEVITES.
upon instruments, and, in the more recent periods of the Jewish state, it fell to them likewise to slay the victims for the altar, in as much as the Hebrews, having for a time discontinued it, had become ynskilful in the performance of this service. There were also certain civil offices, which they were required to perform, but these do not come into consideration here.
The Levites, in consequence of their descent from the three sons of Levi, viz. Kohath, Gershon, and Merari, were divided into three families. These families bore separate and distinct parts of the Tabernacle and of the furniture, which belonged to it, during the march of their countrymen through the Arabian desert. This laborious service was exacted from them, from the thirtieth to the fistieth year of their age. But from twenty five to thirty, and subsequently to the fiftieth year, the employments, which they were expected to attend to, were of a less arduous nature, such as keeping watch, and the like, Num. 3:1-36. 4: 1, 30, 35, 42, 46-49. 8: 23–26. It appears, that, in later times, they commenced the performance of the less difficult duties at a still earli. er period, viz. at twenty years of age, 1 Chron. 23: 24, 27. 2 Chron. 31:17. Ezra. 3: 8.
After the erection of the Temple in Palestine, as the Levites had much less to do than previously to that time, David divided the thirty eight thousand of them into four classes, as follows. Twenty four thousand were assigned as assistants to the priests, four thousand were employed as porters, four thousand were musicians, and six thousand judges and genealogists, 1 Chron. 23: 3— 5, 24–32. 24: 20–31. 26: 1-28.
The musicians, who were subjected to a minor division into twenty four classes, performed the services, which were allotted to them, alternately. One class was employed a week, and then its place was occupied by another.
The stations, that were guarded by the men, whose business it was to watch the Temple, were not all occupied by the same number, some being guarded by, six, some by four, and others by two persons only. They were relieved every sabbath day by others taking their place, 1 Chron. 26: 17-19. 2 Chron. 23: 4, 2 Kgs. 11: 5. The different classes and ranks of Levites had their appropriate heads or over-seers.