The Menorah. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to Aaron and say: “When you set up the menorah-lamps,a have the seven lamps throw their light in front of the menorah.”* 3Aaron did so, setting up the menorah-lamps to face the area in front of the menorah, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 4This is the construction of the menorah: hammered gold,b from its base to its bowls* it was hammered; according to the pattern which the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the menorah.
Purification of the Levites. 5The LORD said to Moses: 6Take the Levites from among the Israelites and cleanse them.* 7This is what you shall do to them to cleanse them. Sprinkle them with the water of purification, have them shave their whole bodies and wash their garments, and so cleanse themselves. 8Then they shall take a bull from the herd, along with its grain offering of bran flour mixed with oil; and you shall take another bull from the herd for a purification offering. 9Bringing the Levites before the tent of meeting, you shall assemble also the whole community of the Israelites. 10When you have brought the Levites before the LORD, the Israelites shall lay their hands upon them. 11Aaron shall then present the Levites before the LORD as an elevated offering from the Israelites, that they may perform the service of the LORD. 12The Levites in turn shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, offering one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering to the LORD, to make atonement for the Levites. 13Then you shall have the Levites stand before Aaron and his sons, and you shall present them as an elevated offering to the LORD; 14thus you shall separate the Levites from the rest of the Israelites, and the Levites shall belong to me.c
15Only then shall the Levites enter upon their service in the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and presented them as an elevated offering. 16For they, among the Israelites, are totally dedicated to me; I have taken them for myself in place of everyone that opens the womb, the firstborn of all the Israelites.d 17Indeed, all the firstborn among the Israelites, human being and beast alike, belong to me; I consecrated them to myself on the day I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.e 18But I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn Israelites; 19and from among the Israelites I have given to Aaron and his sons these Levites, who are to be dedicated,f to perform the service of the Israelites in the tent of meeting and to make atonement for them, so that no plague may strike among the Israelites should they come too near the sanctuary.
20This, then, is what Moses and Aaron and the whole community of the Israelites did with respect to the Levites; the Israelites did exactly as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning them. 21When the Levites had purified themselves* and washed their garments, Aaron presented them as an elevated offering before the LORD, and made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22Only then did they enter upon their service in the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. Exactly as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so it was done with regard to them.
Age Limits for Levitical Service. 23The LORD said to Moses: 24This is the rule for the Levites. Everyone twenty-five years old or more shall join the personnel in the service of the tent of meeting.g 25But everyone fifty on up shall retire from the work force and serve no more. 26They shall assist their fellow Levites in the tent of meeting in performing their duties, but they shall not do the work. This, then, is how you are to regulate the duties of the Levites.
* [8:4] Bowls: lit., “blossom,” a designation for the blossom-shaped cups holding the lamps of the menorah.
* [8:6] Cleanse them: in the language of the Pentateuch only the priests were “consecrated,” that is, made sacred or set aside for the Lord, in an elaborate ceremony described in Ex 29 and in this chapter. The Levites were “cleansed,” that is, made ritually clean for their special work.