The generations of Aaron and Moses - Though Aaron and Moses are both mentioned here, yet the family of Aaron alone appears in the list: hence some have thought that the word Moses was not originally in the text. Others think that the words תלדות ואלה veelleh toledoth, these are the generations, should be rendered these are the acts, or transactions, or the history of the lives, as the same phrase may be understood in Genesis 2:4; Genesis 6:9. However this may be, it is evident that in this genealogy the family of Aaron are alone mentioned, probably because these belonged to the priesthood. Moses passes by his own family, or immediate descendants; he gave no rank or privilege to them during his life, and left nothing to them at his death. They became incorporated with the Levites, from or amongst whom they are never distinguished. What a strong proof is this of the celestial origin of his religion! Had it been of man, it must have had the gratification of some impure passion for its object; lust, ambition, or avarice: but none of these ever appear during the whole of his administration amongst the Israelites, though he had it constantly in his power to have gratified each. What an essential difference between the religion of the Pentateuch and that of the Koran! The former is God's workmanship; the latter is a motley mixture of all bad crafts, with here and there a portion of heavenly fire, stolen from the Divine altar in the Old and New Testaments, to give some vitality to the otherwise inert mass.
The “generations” (see Genesis 2:4) now given, though entitled those of Aaron and Moses (Aaron standing first as the older brother), are those of Aaron only. The personal dignity of Moses, though it gave him rank as at the head of his tribe, was not hereditary. He had, and desired to have Numbers 14:12; Exodus 32:10, no successor in his office but the distant prophet like unto himself Deuteronomy 18:18. Aaron was the ancestor of a regular succession of priests.
They reasoned that, being descendants from the eldest sons of Jacob, the chief authority which Moses usurped belonged to them, and, with Korah, they were resolved to obtain the office of the priesthood. These three became very zealous in an evil work. They influenced two hundred and fifty men of renown to join them, who were also determined to have a share in the priesthood and government. God had honored the Levites to do service in the tabernacle, because they took no part in making and worshiping the golden calf, and because of their faithfulness in executing the order of God upon the idolaters. 4aSG 28.1
To the Levites was assigned the office of erecting the tabernacle, and encamping around about it, while the hosts of Israel pitched their tents at a distance from the tabernacle. And when they journeyed the Levites took down the tabernacle, and bore it, and the ark, and the candlestick, and the other sacred articles of furniture. Because God thus honored the Levites, they became ambitious for still higher office, that they might obtain greater influence with the congregation. “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” 4aSG 28.2
Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and two hundred and fifty princes who had joined them, first became jealous, then envious, and next rebellious. They had talked in regard to Moses’ position as ruler of the people, until they imagined that it was a very enviable position, which any of them could fill as well as Moses. And they gave themselves up to discontent, until they really deceived themselves, and one another, in thinking that Moses and Aaron had placed themselves in the position which they occupied to Israel. They said that Moses and Aaron exalted themselves above the congregation of the Lord, in taking upon them the priesthood and government, and that this office should not be conferred on their house alone. They said that it was sufficient for them if they were on a level with their brethren; for they were no more holy than the people, who were equally favored with God's peculiar presence and protection. 4aSG 28.3Read in context »
Exalted and Solemn Character of God's Work—Many have failed to realize the sacredness of the work in which they are engaged. Its exalted character should be kept before the workers, both by precept and example. Let all read the directions given by Christ to Moses, requiring every man to be in his place and to do the part of the work to which he was appointed and set apart. If in putting up or taking down the tabernacle any man was found out of his place, or ventured upon any officious action, in handling the sacred ark or bearing it, that man was put to death.—Manuscript 29, 1895. PM 59.2Read in context »
Thoroughgoing sanitary regulations were enforced. These were enjoined on the people, not only as necessary to health, but as the condition of retaining among them the presence of the Holy One. By divine authority Moses declared to them, “The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee; ... therefore shall thy camp be holy.” Deuteronomy 23:14. Ed 38.1
The education of the Israelites included all their habits of life. Everything that concerned their well-being was the subject of divine solicitude, and came within the province of divine law. Even in providing their food, God sought their highest good. The manna with which He fed them in the wilderness was of a nature to promote physical, mental, and moral strength. Though so many of them rebelled against the restriction of their diet, and longed to return to the days when, they said, “We sat by the fleshpots, and when we did eat bread to the full” (Exodus 16:3), yet the wisdom of God's choice for them was vindicated in a manner they could not gainsay. Notwithstanding the hardships of their wilderness life, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes. Ed 38.2
In all their journeyings the ark containing the law of God was to lead the way. The place of their encampment was indicated by the descent of the pillar of cloud. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When it lifted, they pursued their journey. Both the halt and the departure were marked by a solemn invocation. “It came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered.... And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.” Numbers 10:35, 36. Ed 38.3Read in context »
The building of the tabernacle was not begun for some time after Israel arrived at Sinai; and the sacred structure was first set up at the opening of the second year from the Exodus. This was followed by the consecration of the priests, the celebration of the Passover, the numbering of the people, and the completion of various arrangements essential to their civil or religious system, so that nearly a year was spent in the encampment at Sinai. Here their worship had taken a more definite form, the laws had been given for the government of the nation, and a more efficient organization had been effected preparatory to their entrance into the land of Canaan. PP 374.1
The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God's created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy. God was the center of authority and government, the sovereign of Israel. Moses stood as their visible leader, by God's appointment, to administer the laws in His name. From the elders of the tribes a council of seventy was afterward chosen to assist Moses in the general affairs of the nation. Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes. Under these were “captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens,” and, lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties. Deuteronomy 1:15. PP 374.2
The Hebrew camp was arranged in exact order. It was separated into three great divisions, each having its appointed position in the encampment. In the center was the tabernacle, the abiding place of the invisible King. Around it were stationed the priests and Levites. Beyond these were encamped all the other tribes. PP 374.3Read in context »