*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
This is it, that belongeth to the Levites. The age is here prescribed when the Levites should begin and end the execution of their office. God commands them to commence in their 25th year and grants them their dismissal in their 50th; and for both these provisions there is very good reason. For, if they had been admitted in early youth, their levity might have greatly detracted from the reverence due to sacred things: not only because those, whose manhood is not yet mature, are generally given to pleasure and intemperance, but because either by negligence, or levity, or want of thought, or ignorance and error, they might have made many grievous mistakes in the service of God; and, whilst they were by no means fitted to exercise their charge until they should have attained prudence and gravity, so also, lest they should fail from old age, it was right that they should be seasonably dismissed; for as we have before said, their duties were laborious, and such as demanded bodily strength. If, however, any should choose to make an application of this to the pastoral office, it should be generally remembered, that none should be chosen to it except such as have already given proofs of their moderation, and float those who diligently devote themselves to it should not be unreasonably pressed upon, nor should more be required of them than their ability can bear; for some foolishly count their years, as if it were a sin to choose a pastor before his 24th year, although he might be otherwise fully provided with the necessary qualifications.
Twenty and five years old and upward - The permanent limit as distinguished from the temporary Numbers 4:3, Numbers 4:23, Numbers 4:30, though David found it necessary to extend the period of the Levites' service by causing it to commence at 20 years of age 1-Chronicles 23:24-28. This rule continued in force from the time of David downward (compare on 2-Chronicles 31:17; Ezra 3:8).
From twenty and five years old - See the note on Numbers 4:3, where the two terms of twenty-five and thirty years are reconciled.
This is it that belongeth unto the Levites,.... The fixed and settled time for their service, as is after related:
from twenty and five years old and upward, they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; in Numbers 4:3; the time for the Levites entering on the work of the tabernacle is fixed to thirty years and upward, which Jarchi reconciles thus; at twenty five years old the Levite goes in to learn the rites of service, and he learns five years, and when thirty years of age he services; the same is observed by others (w); but what Aben Ezra proposes seems much better; at thirty years of age a Levite entered into the service of bearing and carrying burdens; and at twenty five years of age he entered into the service of the tent or tabernacle, where he was employed in lighter service, such as opening and shutting the doors of the sanctuary, keeping out strangers and unclean persons, and singing the songs of the sanctuary; but was not concerned till thirty years of age in carrying the vessels of the sanctuary on the shoulders, as the Kohathites; or in taking down and setting up the tabernacle, loading and unloading the wagons, as the Gershonites and Merarites; which is the business assigned unto them, and spoken of in Numbers 4:22, where the age of thirty years, and upward, is mentioned, as the time of their entrance on it, Numbers 4:23.
(w) Ben Gersom in loc. Bartenora in Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.
from twenty and five years old, &c.--(Compare Numbers 4:3). They entered on their work in their twenty-fifth year, as pupils and probationers, under the superintendence and direction of their senior brethren; and at thirty they were admitted to the full discharge of their official functions.
*More commentary available at chapter level.