Numbers 17–19: A Follow-up to a Tragic Incident

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 67–68

You will be able to understand Numbers 17–19 more completely when you read thinking about what happened in Numbers 16. The real issue in chapter 16 was that a group of men felt they should be able to perform certain priesthood ordinances that were assigned to only the priests, which at this time were Aaron and his sons. This rebellion resulted in the rebels’ death. Many who followed the rebels also died.Note that the punishment of death inflicted as a result of serious sin was the Lord’s way of teaching ancient Israel, and us, that serious or continuous sin may result in spiritual death, since fully repenting is much more difficult.Numbers 17 tells how the Lord provided a miracle for those who survived so they could know that God chose Aaron and authorized him to perform the priesthood ordinances of their day.Numbers 18 describes additional duties that belonged only to Aaron and his sons who were ordained to the priest’s office. Numbers 18 also describes duties that belonged to other Levites, showing the difference between the priest’s office and all other duties of the Levitical priesthood.Finally, Numbers 19 explains rules and commandments concerning what to do with dead bodies, which surely was an issue after the events in Numbers 16.