Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
Numbers 4:4-20, 24-28, 31-33
4. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:
4. Istud erit opus filiorum Cehath in tabernaculo conventionis Sancti sanctorum.
5. And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
5. Veniet autem Aharon et filii ejus quando transferenda erunt castra, et deponent velum tentorii, et operient illo arcata testimonii.
6. And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.
6. Potentque super illam operimentum pellis taxram, et expandent pannum totum hyacinthinum desuper, et imponent vectes ejus.
7. And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:
7. Et super mensam panum hyacinthinum expandent pannum hyacinthinum, ponentque super eum scutellas, et cochlearia, et crateras, et opercula operimenti: et pants ille jugis super eam erit.
8. And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.
8. Et expandent super ilia pannum vermiculi coccini, operientque ilia opertorio pellis taxaeoe, postea imponent vectes ejus.
9. And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:
9. Tollent praeterea pannum hyacinthinum, et operient candelabrum luminaris, et lucernas ejus, et forcipes ejus, et receptacula ejus, et omma vasa olei ejus quibus ministrabunt ei.
10. And they shall put it, and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar.
10. Ponentque illud cum omnibus vasis ejus in opertorio pellis taxaeae, et portent super vectes ejus.
11. And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
11. Super altare autem aureum expandent pannum hyacinthinum, et operient illum operimento pellis taxaeae, ponentque vectes ejus.
12. And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar:
12. Tollent quoque omnia vasa ministerii quibus ministrabunt: in sanctuario, et ponent in panno hyacinthino, operientque illa operimento pellis taxaeae, et ponent super vectes.
13. And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:
13. Auferent et cinerem ab altari, et expandent super illud pannum purpureum.
14. And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it.
14. Ponentque super illud omnia vasa ejus quibus ministrant, receptecula, fuscinculas et scopas, et crateras, cuncta vasa altaris: et expandent super illud operimentum pellis taxaeae, et imponent vectes ejus.
15. And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
15. Quum autem finen fecerit Aharon et filii ejus operiendi santuarium, et omnia vasa sanctuarii quando transferenda erunt castra, tum postea venient filii Cehath ut portent: ne contingant sanctuarium et moriantur: istae sunt onera filiorum Cehath in tabernaculo conventionis.
16. And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.
16. Praefeetura autem Eleazar filii Aharon sacerdotis est oleum luminaris, et suffimentum aromaticun, et minha jugis, oleumque unctionis, atque praefectura totius tabernaculi, et omniran quae sunt in eo, in sanctuario et vasis ejus.
17. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
17. Loquutus est autem Jehova ad Mosen et Aharon, dicendo:
18. Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:
18. Ne excidatis tribum familiarum Cehath e medio Levitarum.
19. But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:
19. Sed hoe facite illis, tum vivent et non morientur: quando accesserint ad sanctitatem sanctitatum, Aharon et filii ejus venient, et constituent illos, quemque super opus suum, et super onus suum.
20. But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.
20. Ne ingrediantur ut videant quando operient sanctitatem, et moriantur.
24. This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:
24. Istud erit opus familiarum Gersonitarum ad ministrandum et ad portandum
25. And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
25. Portabunt cortinas tabernaculi, et tabernaculum conventionis, operimentum ejus, et operimentum pellis taxmaeae, quod super illud est superne, et aulaeum ostii tabernaculi conventionis.
26. And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.
26. Cortinas item atrii, et aulaeum ostii portse atrii, quod est juxta tabernaculum, et juxta altare per circuitum, et funes eorum, et omnia vasa operis eorum, et quaecunque facta sunt pro illis: et ita ministrabunt.
27. At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens.
27. Secundum sermonem Abaton et filiorum ejus erit universum ministerium filiorum Gersonitarum, juxta omnia onera eorum, et juxta omnem culture eorum: et deponetis apud eos in custodiam universa onem ipsorum.
28. This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the priest.
28. Istud erit ministerium familiarum filiorum Gersonitarum in tabernaculo conventionis: et custodia eorum erit per manum Ithamar filii Aharon sacerdotis.
31. And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,
31. Haec autem erit custodia oneris filiorum Merari, pro ministerio eorum in tabernaculo conventionis, tabulae tabernaculi, et vectes ejus, et columnae ejus, et bases ejus.
32. And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.
32. Columnae item atrii per circuitum, et bases earum, et clavi earum, et funes earum, cum omnibus instrumentis earum, et omne ministerium earum, et per nomina numerabis vasa custodiae oneris eorum.
33. This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
33. Hoc erit ministerium familiarum filiorum Merari, juxta omne ministerium eorum in tabernaculo conventionis per manum Ithamar filii Aharon sacerdotis.
4. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath. He assigns their various offices to the Levites: firstly, lest their promiscuous sedulity should beget confusion; secondly, lest ambition should stimulate certain of them, 203 from whence disputes and contentions might arise. We know how confusedly men work unless a certain rule is prescribed to them, lest they should run about in an aimless hurry; and whilst each individual desires to anticipate others, an unworthy emulation ensues, which afterwards vents itself in quarrels. If, therefore, this had not been prevented, the Levites would soon have made disturbances in their duty, and contentions would have taken place between them. God, then, comes forward, and by His own authority confines them all within their proper bounds, and restrains their foolish passions. That a more honorable office is assigned to the sons of Kohath than to the others, proceeds from God’s gratuitous favor; and thus all pride was suppressed, lest any should boast of his dexterity, or industry, or other gifts. The charge of the Holy of holies is, therefore, entrusted to the sons of Kohath; not that they should handle any part of it, but only that they should carry on the march its vessels, when packed by the priests; for God commands the sons of Aaron to come and take down the sanctuary, and carefully cover the veil, the altar, and other sacred vessels with their proper covers, before the sons of Kohath laid a finger upon them, that thus the reverence of the people for holy things might be increased; and besides, that when the other tribes should see even the Levites forbidden from touching the sanctuary, they might be reminded of their unworthiness and humbled the more. Moreover, all cause of envy was removed when the other Levites heard that a perilous duty was entrusted to the sons of Kohath, for God threatens them with death if they touch any forbidden thing: and lastly, admonishes the priests, the sons of Aaron, lest by their carelessness they should destroy their brethren; for, if they should leave anything uncovered, they would be the cause of their destruction.
24. This is the service of the families of the Gershonites. The tasks which He enjoins upon the sons of Gershon, as well as the sons of Merari, are apparently mean and laborious, for it was a hard and also a servile work to carry the curtains and the tabernacle, together with its coverings, the boards, too, and the bars, and the pillars. But hence we learn that in God’s service nothing is to be despised, but that each and every part of our duty should be cheerfully performed, inasmuch as it ought abundantly to satisfy us, that God should have deigned to choose us as ministers of His sanctuary, so that neither weariness nor pride should ever hinder us in our duty.
“D’ s’avancer, ou ingerer:” to put themselves forward, or to interfere. — Fr.