In my ESV Bible, part of my reading plan for this month March is the chapters on Numbers.
My perceptions on the book of Numbers is that this book is boring. And that is was just all about census here and there. And I find it irrelevant. And I am wrong. As I read over Numbers again, I realized new things I never realized before.
So Numbers 8 is all about setting up the seven golden lampstands, cleansing of the Levites and retirement of the Levites.
And the most striking part and yet I think over look by many is this verse:
Numbers 8:7 Thus you (Moses) shall do to them to cleanse them (Levites): sprinkle the water of purification upon them and let them go with a razor over all their body and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves.
So the above verse is about the cleansing rites of the Levites so that they can start serving in God’s tabernacle. These cleansing rituals also symbolizes their separation from the rest of the tribe of Israel.
So sprinkling with water of purification is like a modern day taking a shower. Washing their clothes is modern day laundry. Truly, cleanliness is next to godliness.
But shaving one’s hair is part of the cleansing rite?!
In Egyptian priesthood traditions, I’ve learned they shave all of their hair to be clean and fit for service to their false gods. And Egyptians shave their hair to avoid boils. (Not sure about that?) But for Levites to shave their body hair, I find it weird.
In previous chapters prior to Numbers 8 is Numbers 6 which was all about Yahweh’s law for Nazirite vow. In the Nazirite vow, people can’t shave their body hair cause their body is devoted to Yahweh. And here we are in Numbers 8, Yahweh ordering the Levites to shave their body hair to be fit for priesthood service. It may seem contradicting on the surface but I realized it is not entirely the same law. In addition to that, newly cleansed lepers should also shave their body hair. So are Levites and cleansed lepers the same?
Yahweh made the Nazirite vow to any Israelite wishing to devote himself or herself to Yahweh; therefore making them set apart for Yahweh. But here in Numbers 8:7, the Levite men are already set apart because they already belong to the tribe of Levi. Interesting realization I got.
And it made me wonder, whether I wanted to wax or pluck my body hair, its alright with Yahweh.
The cleansing rites for Levites are to make holy/sanctify the Levites. So ladies and gentlemen, take a bath and wash your clothes because these are next to holiness.
And from Numbers 8:23-26, Levites are only to serve in the tabernacle for 25 years. They start from age 25 years old to 50 years old. And when Levites retire by age 50, they can serve as guards but no longer do real service to the tabernacle. If I think about it, Yahweh made the Levites have early retirement. What an easy life? There are really such perks to being set apart for Yahweh.