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“Take the Levites from among the Israelites and purify[a] them. And do this[b] to them to purify them: Sprinkle water of purification[c] on them; then have them shave[d] all their body[e] and wash[f] their clothes, and so purify themselves.[g] Then they are to take a young bull with its grain offering of fine flour mixed with olive oil; and you are to take a second young bull for a purification offering.[h]

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Footnotes

  1. Numbers 8:6 tn The Piel of טָהֵר (taher) means that Moses was “to purify” or “to make ceremonially clean” the Levites so that they could enter the sanctuary and do the work prescribed for them. Whatever is “unclean” is not permitted in the sanctuary at all.
  2. Numbers 8:7 tn Or, more literally, “and thus you shall do.” The verb is the imperfect tense of instruction or legislation. Here it introduces the procedures to be followed.
  3. Numbers 8:7 tn The genitive in this expression indicates the purpose of the water—it is for their purification. The expression is literally “the waters of sin.” The word “purification” is the same as for the “sin/purification offering”—חַטָּאת (khattaʾat). This water seems to have been taken from the main laver and is contrasted with the complete washing of the priests in Lev 8:6.
  4. Numbers 8:7 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect with a vav (ו) of sequence. This verb, and those to follow, has the force of a jussive since it comes after the imperative. Here the instruction is for them to remove the hair from their bodies (“flesh”). There is no indication that this was repeated (as the Egyptian priests did every few days). It seems to have been for this special occasion only. A similar requirement was for the leper (Lev 14:7-9).
  5. Numbers 8:7 tn Heb “flesh.”
  6. Numbers 8:7 tn Or “let/have them wash”; the priests were given new clothes (Lev 8:13), but the Levites simply washed their own.
  7. Numbers 8:7 tn The verb is a reflexive (or possibly passive) in this verse, indicating the summary of the process. The ritual steps that have been prescribed will lead to this conclusion. The verb could be treated as a final imperfect (being a perfect with vav [ו] consecutive), and so translated “that they may….” The major difference here is that the ritual made the Levites “clean,” whereas the ritual for the priests made them “holy” or “sanctified” (Lev 8:12).
  8. Numbers 8:8 sn The first sacrifice was for the purification of the Levites. The second animal, which Moses was to take, would be used for the purification of the tabernacle from all pollution.
New English Translation (NET)

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