Leviticus 24:1-9 “Tend The Holy Place”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church of Manhattan KS, 26 Feb 2017


v     Some years ago, I went on a mission trip which had me away from my family for weeks. My dear wife wanted to help me remember her while I was gone, so she took a teddy bear and sprayed some of her perfume on the stuffed animal, and packed it in my bags. I remember discovering the teddy bear in my suitcase as I unpacked at my destination. As soon as I opened the bag, the smell of Paula’s perfume immediately made me think of her, and I realized she was behind the fluffy memorial. I remember feeling a little sheepish pulling the fragrant stuffed animal out of my bag in front of my roommate, wondering what he would think! But when I missed my wife on that trip, I’d pull out that teddy bear, and the smell of her perfume reminded me of our relationship even when we couldn’t see each other.

v     This morning our topic is memorials of our relationship with God.

v     The first nine verses of Leviticus 24 describe the use of the three pieces of furniture that were in the Holy room of the tabernacle of Yahweh, namely: the table of showbread, the lampstand, and the incense altar, and I believe that all three of these pieces of furniture offered a kind of memorial of the relationship (or covenant) between God and the Israelite people, and furthermore, I believe that they symbolize realities in our relationship with God as the church here and now.

v     The nine verses are broken into two sections which are very much parallel in form, verses 1-4 describing the service of the lampstand, and verses 5-9 describing the service of the showbread, so first let’s look at the…


The Menorah Tahurah: Lampstand of Purity (or of Pure Gold)

1 Now Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the children of Israel that they get clari­fied, pressed olive oil to you for the lamp, in order to offer up light continuously; 3 Aaron must arrange it continuously before the face of Yahweh from evening until morning outside of the veil of the testimony in the Tent of Meeting. It is a lasting statute for y’all’s generations - 4 He must arrange the lamps upon the lampstand of purity continuously before the face of Yahweh.

v     The word “gold” is not in the Hebrew here, although the word “gold” does occur in the phrase in a few other places in the O.T., and it is simply referred to as “the lampstand” in dozens of other places in scripture. This phrase here – literally “The Lampstand of the Pure” – is only to be found here and in Exodus 31:8; 39:37 (the account of the making of it). And it is a different word for “pure” than the word used to describe the clarified oil in verse 2.

v     The Hebrew word for lampstand is “Menorah,” and you have probably seen images of this stand with its seven candles or oil lamps. In the description of the menorah in Exodus 25:31-40 it is certainly made of gold: "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower—and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be one hammered piece of pure gold. You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it. And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” (NKJV, cf. Ex. 37:17ff – the making of it)

v     The whole nation participated in this ceremonial statute by delivering lamp oil to Aaron and his high priest successors. It had to be pressed (JFB “cold-drawn”) from olives beaten with a mortar in a pestle and clarified – I expect through a filter of some sort (“double-strained” ~Matthew Henry)[1].

v     The lampstand didn’t use candles like we use today, but rather used seven oil lamps mounted on the stand, so each lamp had a reservoir that could be filled with oil and a wick that would draw the oil up and be lit to give light. The medieval Rabbinic scholar Rashi wrote that filling the reservoirs with half a cup of oil would be enough for each to burn all night.

v     According to the literal meaning of the end of verse 2, what these lamps were to do was to “make light go up before the LORD.” (The Hebrew verb is alah “go up” not “burn,” and the object is singular “light” – not lamps.)

v     What does this signify?

Ø      Some Bible scholars have interpreted the light as representing God and the Holy Spirit. For instance, John Calvin wrote in his Harmony of the Pentateuch, “the candlestick, shining with its seven lights, reminded the people that, in their worship of god, they should look attentively to the light of heavenly doctrine…Divine illumination and the grace of the Holy Spirit were… the truth of this symbol… [T]he direction of the Spirit should shine from heaven in a perpetual flow.”

Ø      Certainly light does represent God in the Bible, but I see some problems with this interpretation because this menorah was fueled by God’s people[2] and lit by the priest and shone from the people into the presence of the LORD, not so much from God to the people. Furthermore, God needs no help making light, and the lights He created – like the sun and the shekinah-glory cloud – were much brighter than any oil lamp. So I believe that this lamplight repre­sented the people of Israel reflecting the light and life of God in our dim and derivative human way, much as we will see in the next few verses that the bread represented the physical presence of the people, and as we saw earlier that incense offered up on the altar in the same room of the tabernacle represented the prayers of the people of God. (We will also see that incense offered up as a memorial to God in v.7, and Acts 10:4 uses this same language of “memorial” to describe the prayer of a believer.)

Ø      Keil & Delitzsch wrote in their commentary: “[I]n the oil of the lamps of the seven-branched candlestick, which burned before Jehovah, the nation of Israel manifested itself as a congregation which caused its light to shine in the darkness of this world; and that in the shew-bread it offered the fruits of its labour in the field of the kingdom of God, as a spiritual sacrifice to Jehovah. The offering of oil, therefore, for the preparation of the candlestick, and that of fine flour for making the loaves to be placed before Jehovah, formed part of the service in which Israel sanctified its life and labour to the Lord its God, not only at the appointed festal periods, but every day…”

v     The priest was to arrange/tend/order/burn the lamps from evening until morning so that this light would keep shining. The verb in Hebrew is orek, which is also the root for what was to be done with the bread later on (to order the bread into a patterned arrangement, although most English translations translate the word “rows” in v.6).

Ø      Numbers chapter 8 indicates that at least part of the arrangements that had to be done with this lampstand was to arrange the lamps so that they threw their light to the front of the stand.

Ø      Exodus 30:7-8 explains further, “Aaron shall burn on it [the altar of incense in the Holy Place] sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” (NKJV) So it seems that it only took two visits during the day to tend – one in the morning and one in the evening.

Ø      The point was for the lamps to be kept always burning – never to go out, not even at night, so if the priest set everything up just right before he went to bed, the lamps could burn on their own all night long and he could get some sleep. But God does not sleep, therefore the light must never go out. This was a reminder to God’s people that God is always aware of what’s going on with them, even when we are asleep. God doesn’t blip in and out of His attention to you; it is unceasing with never a moment that He is not thinking of you.

v     From another perspective, not only does our light shine before God to remind Him that we are always His people, our light also “shines before men that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). The menorah gave light within the temple itself.

Ø      Remember, you are a priest in the New Testament, so part of your calling is to offer your life energies to God – to offer yourselves a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12), and part of your calling is to shine the light of God to others[3], no matter how weak you are at it.

Ø      The Apostle Paul referred to this second calling in 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, comparing shining light with spreading the truth about Jesus to other people: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

v     Finally, this lamp-tending was to be a “lasting/perpetual statute throughout your generations” – “until the Messiah should come, the true light, which would put out all such typical ones, and by his Gospel spread light in all his churches throughout the world…” ~John Gill

v     Jesus has made all Christians into priests in His service, and as we see it was the duty of the Levitical priest to keep light shining in the tabernacle before the presence of God, so we too can

Ø      offer our life energy before God, symbolizing that we are His people under His constant watch-care and in His service ready to do His will day or night,

Ø      and we can shine to other people the light of the knowledge which God has given us about the person of Jesus by sharing what we know about Jesus with others!

Ø      Now let’s move on to the second section of this passage, the section on ….

The Twelve Loaves (vs. 5-9)

5 You must also get fine flour and bake it into twelve bread-loaves – two bags per one bread-loaf, 6 and you must place them in arrangements of twos (six being the arrangement) upon the Table of Purity before the face of Yahweh. 7 Then you must put clarified frankincense on top of each arrangement, and instead of the bread it will be [used] for a memorial burnt-offering for Yahweh. 8 From Day of Rest to Day of Rest he shall arrange it [the bread] to be a lasting covenant before the face of Yahweh continuously from the children of Israel. 9 It [the covenant] will also be for Aaron and for his children so that they shall eat it [the bread] in a holy place because it is a holy thing [among] holy things belonging to him from among the burnt-offerings of Yahweh. This is a lasting statute.

v     For a little background on the showbread loaves, let me read Exodus 25:23-30: “You shall also make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its width, and a cubit and a half its height. {Show dimensions with hands} And you shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold all around. You shall make for it a frame of a handbreadth all around, and you shall make a gold molding for the frame all around. And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings on the four corners that are at its four legs. The rings shall be close to the frame, as holders for the poles to bear the table. And you shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them. You shall make its dishes, its pans, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring. You shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.” (NKJV)

v     In v.5 we see that these were not small loaves. Each one contained two[4] bags of flour – over 10 pounds per loaf of challah – each loaf enough to feed two people for a whole day (Ex. 16:22). There are no further instructions explicitly given in the Bible as to how to make these loaves for the Table of the Presence, but it seems to be unleavened bread made with salt and some kind of liquid[5]. Jewish tradition indicates each loaf may have been like five feet long[6] - longer than the table itself, so the ESV may have the right description that the loaves had to be “piled” on the table, in two piles, not merely laid in “rows.”

v     The wording of v.8 (literally “to the Day of the Sabbath to the day of the Sabbath”) indicates that the bread was changed out once a week on the Sabbath Day.

Ø      That is also what 1 Chronicles 9:32 indicates: “And some of their brethren of the sons of the Kohathites were in charge of preparing the showbread for every Sabbath.” (NKJV)

Ø      1 Samuel 21:6 indicates that it was “hot” bread straight out of the oven that was cooked and placed by the priests each Sabbath day[7]. (And it was this bread that the priest gave David and his men when they were running for their lives from King Saul and starving.)

v     The numbers seem to be significant with the bread. Twelve loaves are to be made, and verse 6 says they are to be arranged in two rows (or piles) of six loaves each. Why twelve loaves? Why two arrays? Why even put bread out on a table all week to sit and go stale before it can be eaten?

Ø      v.8 explains that these 12 special loaves of bread were covenantal in nature and came from the people of Israel to sit in the presence of God.

§         I believe the ESV was correct to follow the KJV tradition here in rendering the preposition “from” instead of following its parent Revised Version which rendered it “in behalf of” or the NASB which rendered it “for.”

§         This preposition explains a lot about what is going on. 12 loaves of bread is coming “from” the people and is arranged before the presence of God.

§         The number and source of the bread indicates that the bread represents the people of God – the 12 tribes of Israel – and by extension, the disciples of the 12 disciples. It represents us[8].

§         And the symbolism of the continual, regular, perpetual presence of it there in front of God indicates a contract or covenantal relationship with God which never changes or goes away and which is always on His mind because it is always in His presence.

v     Why was it arranged in two piles of six loaves each?

Ø      K&D suggested that the size of the table (1 cubit by two cubits) naturally suggested that arrangement.

Ø      I have to wonder if there might be something symbolic to it, such as the fact that there will be two groups among God’s people:

§         the elect and the unregenerate,

§         the sheep and the goats,

§         the wheat and the tares,

§         those on the narrow path that leads to eternal life, and those on the broad path that leads to destruction.

§         I feel like this could be too much allegorization, so I’ll just leave that as a suggestion.

v     Next, in v.7 white frankincense that has been clarified (like the lamp oil) to be laid on top of the bread and then burned on the altar of incense across the room as though it were a substitute for the bread itself being burned. What was going on there?

v     Jesus purposefully referred to Himself as bread:

Ø      Matthew 26:26 Jesus said, "Take, eat; this represents My body."

Ø      John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Ø      Jesus also said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)

Ø      Now consider this. Where is Jesus right now? Luke 22:69 “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Our light and our bread who is one of us, united with us by a human body, now that the earthly temple no longer exists, stands in the holy presence of God in heaven, continuing to represent us, never sleeping, never failing to remind God to show favor to us! Jesus is the fulfillment of that light and that bread in the Holy Place. He is in the real holy place in heaven and He remains perpetually before the presence of God representing us, the people of God!

Ø      Hebrews 9:1-14 “Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant… Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services… It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption… how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (NKJV)

Ø      Hebrews 7:24-26 “But He [Jesus], because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens…” (NKJV)

v     In the last verses, some of the subjects and objects are not specified except by pronouns, so there can be some confusion as to what is meant.

Ø      The “it” that will be the memorial burnt-offering in v.7 is feminine, referring to the feminine “frankincense,”

Ø      but the “it” in v.8 which Aaron is to arrange in order is masculine singular, referring to the masculine singular “bread” (or perhaps generally to the whole shebang of the lamps & loaves).

Ø      Then when you get to v.9, it’s even more confusing because there are different pronouns referring to what belongs to Aaron and his sons, what they must eat, and what is so holy, and some of the manuscripts of this verse have different genders and numbers of pronouns referring to different things.

§         The Septuagint, in particular, has different pronouns, but I am going to ignore it because the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Dead Sea Scrolls seem to support the reading of the Hebrew Masoretic text.

§         So the Hebrew text says that the thing which belongs to Aaron and his sons is feminine and singular, whereas the thing which they are to eat and which is to be so holy is masculine and singular.

§         The nearest feminine singular referent[9] is the word “covenant” from v.8, and the nearest masculine singular referent previous to this pronoun is the word “bread” in v.7 (although the modern English versions refer it to the nearest subsequent masculine singular pronoun, “statute,” and therefore translate the last sentence as, “this is the prescribed statutory due/portion/or share.)

§         I prefer to preserve the parallel with v.7 where the same pronoun after the verb obviously refers to the bread[10], and to preserve the standard form of the phrase “It is a lasting statute” which has been used as a closing statement throughout Leviticus (3:17; 6:18,22; 7:34,36; 10:9,15; 16:29,31,34; 17:7; 23:14,21,31,41; 24:3). However, neither way of translating it contradicts anything else in the Bible.


v     At any rate, like the lamps, the bread

Ø      Is no longer to be set out in an earthly temple because Jesus, the ultimate reality to which the shadows of the law pointed is our heavenly bread who lives for us in the heavenly presence of God.

Ø      The bread nevertheless is a picture of God’s people being in God’s presence and being remembered by Him at all times.

Ø      It also was a symbol of God’s people offering themselves to obey God with their physical bodies – and that service is generally to other people, such as feeding the hungry – spiritually and physically.


Comparative translations of Leviticus 24:1-9

When a translation adds words not in the Hebrew text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Hebrew word or departs too far from the grammar form of the original Hebrew, I use strikeout. And when a version omits a word which is in the Hebrew text, I insert an X. (Sometimes I will place the X at the end of a word if the original word is plural but the English translation is singular.) I occasionally use colors to help the reader see correlations between the various editions and versions when there are more than two different translations of a given word. Hebrew text that is colored purple matches the Dead Sea Scrolls, and variants between the DSS and the MT are noted in endnotes with the following exceptions: When a holem or qibbutz pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a vav, when a hireq pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a yod (the corresponding consonantal representation of the same vowel), or when the tetragrammaton is spelled with paleo-Hebrew letters, I did not record it a variant. Dead Sea Scrolls which contain Leviticus 24 are 11Q1 paleoLeviticusa  (Verses 9-14), and 4Q24 Leviticus b (Verses 2-9ff)







1 Καὶ ἐλάλησεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

1 Now Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

 1וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:

2 Ἔντειλαι τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ καὶ λαβέτωσάν μοι ἔλαιον ἐλάινον καθαρὸν κεκομμένον εἰς φῶς καῦσαι λύχνον διὰ παντός.

2 Charge the children of Israel, and let them take for thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to burn a lamp continually,

2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp[s] to burn continually.

2 “Command the children of Israel that they get clarified, pressed olive oil to you for the lamp, in order to offer up light continuously;

2 צַו אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד[A]:

3 ἔξωθεν τοῦ καταπετάσ­ματος ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ τοῦ μαρτυρίου καύσουσιν αὐτὸν Ααρων [καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ] ἀπὸ ἑσπέρας ἕως πρωὶ ἐνώπιον κυρίου ἐνδελεχῶς· νόμιμον αἰώνιον εἰς τὰς γενεὰς ὑμῶν.

3 outside the veil in the tabernacle of witness; and Aaron [and his sons] shall burn it from evening until morning before the Lord continually, a perpetual statute throughout your generations.

3 Without X the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.

3 Aaron must arrange it continuously before the face of Yahweh from evening until morning outside of the veil of the testimony in the Tent of Meeting. It is a lasting statute for y’all’s generations -

3 מִחוּץ לְפָרֹכֶת הָעֵדֻת בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן[B] מֵעֶרֶב עַד-בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה תָּמִיד חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם:

4 ἐπὶ τῆς λυχνίας τῆς καθαρᾶς καύσετε τοὺς λύχνους ἔναντι κυρίου ἕως τὸ πρωί.

4 Ye shall burn the lamps on the pure lamp-stand before the Lord till the morrow.

4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.

4 He must arrange the lamps upon the lamp-stand of purity continuously before the face of Yahweh.

4 עַל הַמְּנֹרָה הַטְּהֹרָה[C] יַעֲרֹךְ אֶת-הַנֵּרוֹת לִפְנֵי יְהוָה תָּמִיד[D]: פ






5 Καὶ λήμψεσθε σεμίδαλιν καὶ ποιήσετε αὐτὴν δώδεκα ἄρτους, δύο δεκάτων ἔσται ἄρτος εἷς·

5 And ye shall take fine flour, and make of it twelve loaves; each loaf shall be of two tenth [parts].

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth [deals] shall be in one cake.

5 You must also get fine flour and bake it into twelve bread-loaves – two bags per one bread-loaf,

5 וְלָקַחְתָּ סֹלֶת וְאָפִיתָ אֹתָהּ שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה חַלּוֹת שְׁנֵי עֶשְׂרֹנִים[E] יִהְיֶה הַחַלָּה הָאֶחָת:

6 καὶ ἐπιθήσετε αὐτοὺς δύο θέματα, ἓξ [ἄρτους τὸ ἓν] θέμα, ἐπὶ τὴν τράπεζαν τὴν καθαρὰν ἔναντι κυρίου.

6 And ye shall put them in two rows, [each] row [containing] six [loaves], on the pure table before the Lord.

6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six [on] a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.

6 and you must place them in arrangements of twos (six being the arrange­ment) upon the table of purity before the face of Yahweh.

6 וְשַׂמְתָּ אוֹתָם שְׁתַּיִם מַעֲרָכוֹת שֵׁשׁ הַמַּעֲרָכֶת עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן הַטָּהֹר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה:

7 καὶ ἐπιθήσετε ἐπὶ τὸ θέμα λίβανον καθαρὸν [καὶ ἅλα], καὶ ἔσονται εἰς ἄρτους εἰς ἀνάμνησιν προκείμενα τῷ κυρίῳ.

7 And ye shall put on each row pure frank­incense [and salt]; and these [things] shall be for loaves for a memorial, set forth before the Lord.

7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

7 Then you must put clarified frankincense on top of each arrangement, and instead of the bread it will be [used] for a memorial burnt-offering for Yahweh.

7 וְנָתַתָּ עַל-הַמַּעֲרֶכֶת לְבֹנָה זַכָּה[F] וְהָיְתָה לַלֶּחֶם לְאַזְכָּרָה אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה:

8 [τῇ] ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων X X X προθήσεται X ἔναντι κυρίου διὰ παντὸς ἐνώπιον τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ διαθήκην αἰώνιον.

8 On the sabbath-day X X X they shall be set forth X before the Lord continually before the children of Israel, [for ] an everlasting covenant.

8 X [Every] Sabbath X X X X he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel [by] an everlasting covenant.

8 From Day of Rest to Day of Rest he shall arrange it [the bread] to be a lasting covenant before the face of Yah­weh continuously from the children of Israel.

8 בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת[G] יַעַרְכֶנּוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה תָּמִיד מֵאֵת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּרִית עוֹלָם:

9 καὶ ἔσται Ααρων καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτοῦ, καὶ φάγονται αὐτ ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ· ἔστιν γὰρ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων τοῦτο αὐτῷ ἀπὸ τῶν θυσιαζομένων τῷ κυρίῳ, νόμιμον αἰώνιον.

9 And they shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat them in the holy place: for this is their most holy portion of the offerings made to the Lord, a perpetual statute.

9 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in [the] holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire [by] a perpetual statute.

9 It [the covenant] will also be for Aaron and for his children so that they shall eat it [the bread] in a holy place because it is a holy thing [among] holy things belong­ing to him from among the burnt-offerings of Yahweh. This is a lasting statute.

9 וְהָיְתָה לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו וַאֲכָלֻהוּ[H] בְּמָקוֹם קָדֹשׁ כִּי קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הוּא לוֹ מֵאִשֵּׁי יְהוָה חָק-עוֹלָם: ס


[1] “beaten with a pestle in a mortar, and not ground in a mill, that so it might be quite clear; for being bruised and beaten, only the pulp or flesh of the olive was broken, but being ground in a mill, the stones were broken and ground, and so the oil not so pure” ~John Gill

“[P]repared from olives which had been cleansed from leaves, twigs, dust, etc., before they were … beaten, i.e., obtained not by crushing in oil-presses, but by beating, when the oil which flows out by itself is of the finest quality and a white colour.” ~Keil & Delitzsch (who also saw in the new apparatus of oil delivery to the lampstand in Zecheriah’s vision chapter 4 a New Testament application of the holy Spirit to the Church represented by the lampstand.)

[2] John Calvin said, nevertheless, that it was looking for too much analogical correspondence to find meaning in the fact that the people were the ones who offered the oil.

Matthew Henry was probably quoting some from Calvin’s commentary when he wrote, “[T]he blessed Spirit of grace is represented by seven lamps of fire before the throne (Rev. 4:5), for there are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit, 1Cor. 12:4. While fitting, these additional meanings seem to me to go beyond reasonable hermeneutics.

[3] “This was symbolical of the light which ministers are to diffuse through the Church.” ~ Jamieson, Faucett & Brown
“Ministers are as burning and shining lights in Christ's church… Thus it is the work of the ministers of the gospel to hold forth that word of life, not to set up new lights, but, by expounding and preaching the word… Christ's ministers should provide new bread for his house every sabbath day, the production of their fresh studies in the scripture…” ~Matthew Henry

[4] I have to agree with Calvin, “[W]hy He required two tenths, rather than one, I know not…” and I was amused when He went on to say “…nor do I think it any use more curiously to inquire.”

[5] “[I]t must naturally have been unleavened, as the unanimous testimony of the Jewish tradition affirms….” ~K&D

[6] Gill quotes Menachot, c. 11. sect. 4 indicating that each loaf was ten hands' breadth long, 5 broad, and 7 fingers high.

[7] “So the priest gave him [David] consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away. (Cf. Matt. 12:4)

[8] Cf. John Calvin, Harmony of the Pentateuch, 2nd Commandment: “Nor can it be doubted but that He commanded them to be twelve in number with reference to the twelve tribes, as if He would admit to His table the food offered by each of them… the bread, seasoned by the smell of the incense, would renew the memory of the children of Israel, so that they should be of sweet savour before God.”

K&D: “a practical memento of the congregation before God, the laying out of these loaves assumed the form of a bloodless sacrifice, in which the congregation brought the fruit of its life and labour before the face of the Lord, and presented itself to its God”

John Gill: “answerable to the twelve tribes, as the Targum of Jonathan, which were typical of the spiritual Israel of God”

Gordon Wenham: “It seems likely that the two piles of six loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel…”

Matthew Henry: “Even after the revolt of the ten tribes this number of loaves was continued (2Chr. 13:11), for the sake of those few of each tribe that retained their affection to the temple and continued their attendance on it.”

Again, JFB turn the meaning around: “This bread was designed to be a symbol of the full and never-failing provision which is made in the Church for the spiritual sustenance and refreshment of God’s people.”

[9] Rashi preferred the feminine singular “burnt/fire-offering” from further back and said that it represented the loaves interchanged with the frankincense, but he agreed with my assessment of the second pronoun that it referred to “bread.”

[10] K&D relate it to “The process of laying these loaves before Jehovah continually”

[A] This is an almost exact repeat of Exodus 27:20  ואתה תצוה את־בני ישׂראל ויקחו אליך שׁמן זית זך כתית למאור להעלת נר תמיד׃ (just without the emphatic subject and with the main verb in the imperative rather than imperfect form, although that would not really make a difference in meaning; English translations would be the same).

[B] The Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) & the Greek Septuagint (LXX) add “and his sons,” but the Dead Sea Scroll (DSS - 4Q24) does not support these extra words, furthermore, the extra words would force the verb to be plural, but it is singular – even in the SP, which indicates to me that the extra words were not original, so I will stick with the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). The assumption that Aaron’s sons would help could go without saying, so it doesn’t necessarily change the practical upshot of the command either way. The LXX continues changing the singular verbs into plurals in all the subsequent verses down to v.8 to indicate Aaron’s sons helping.

[C] The word “gold” is not in the Hebrew here, although the word “gold” does occur in the phrase describing this lampstand in a few other places in the O.T., and it is simply referred to as “the lampstand” (without the word “pure” or “gold”) in dozens of other places in scripture. This phrase here – literally “The Lampstand of the Pure” – is only to be found here and in the account of the making of it – Exodus 31:8 & 39:37. And it is a different word for “pure” than the word used to describe the clarified oil in verse 2. In the description of the menorah in Exodus 25:31-40 it is certainly made of gold (cf. Ex. 37:17ff – the making of it). Numbers chapter 8 indicates that at least part of the “arrangement” that had to be done with this lamp­stand was to arrange the lamps so that they threw their light to the front of the stand. Numbers 4:9 also mentions wick-trimmers and oil containers that were used in the arrangement of this lampstand.

[D] This whole verse is missing in the defective Cairo Geniza manuscript (which also omits the word קָדָשִׁים in v.9), although, since it is a repeat of the previous verse, not much is missed by the omission. Meanwhile, LXX renders the main verb 2 pl (“y’all”) instead of singular like all the other manuscripts. The singular matches the singular subject (Aaron) as opposed to the plural (Aaron and his sons) which was inserted for explanation in the LXX in the previous verse. Curiously, the SP & LXX substitute “until morning” for the word “continually” at the end of this verse, which is not a contradictory meaning. This substitution is not supported by the DSS (4Q24 – which doesn’t have space for the extra letters), so I will not include them in my translation, but all the same, since the substituted words were from the previous verse, there is no harm done.

[E] These are big loaves of bread if they are made with over 10 pounds of flour each!

[F] Although the LXX adds “and salt,” this addition appears to be spurious because it is not in the SP, and the spacing of the DSS does not support the addition. Was salt supposed to be added to every sacrifice? Yes (Lev. 2:13), but it does not appear to have been explicitly stated here in the original.

[G] The repetition of the phrase “during the Sabbath day” occurs in the SP and in the DSS, but not in the LXX or Syriac. The fact that these translations did not carry it through does not raise much question as to whether the duplication in the Hebrew was original.

[H] Manuscripts    MT    SP   LXX    11Q1     4Q24                                       POSSIBLE ANTECEDENTS:

What will belong  fs      fs       np      obliterated obliterated                           Masculine Plural = “burnt-offerings”

What they eat        ms    fs       np        ms        ms                                            Feminine Plural = “loaves”

What is most holy ms    fs       ns         ms        obliterated                               Masculine Singular = “bread,” “statute/portion/share/due”

                                                                                                                        Feminine Singular = “covenant,” “row,” frankincense,” “memorial”