And thus shall thou do unto them, to cleanse them,.... Or order Aaron to do unto them; the cleansing of the Levites was the work of Aaron, either by himself or by his order; in which he was a type of Christ, who is the refiner and purifier of the sons of Levi, Malachi 3:3,
sprinkle water of purifying upon them; or "water of sin"F14מי חטאת "aquas peccati", Montanus; "aquam peccati", Piscator, Drusius; "the sin water", Ainsworth. ; water which purifies from sin, in a ceremonial sense; and this was water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer, which was the purification of persons deified by the dead, as Jarchi observes; and though the law concerning the red heifer, and of making the water of purification, is not made mention of till afterwards, Numbers 19:1, yet it was very probably given before; and the Jews sayF15Seder Olam Rabba, c. 7. p. 22. , it was on the second of Nisan, or the first month, which was the day after the tabernacle was erected, that Eleazar the priest burnt the red heifer and sprinkled all Israel; this only "sanctified to the purifying of the flesh", Hebrews 9:13, in a ceremonial sense, but was typical of the blood of Christ, which "purges the conscience from dead works"; that so men may be fitted and qualified, as the Levites were, "to serve the living God", Hebrews 9:14,
and let them shave all their flesh; the hair of their bodies, in all parts thereof; even the beard, as Aben Ezra notes, some say; yet not the corners of it; but the whole hair of the body, everywhere, was to be shaved off; to denote the most perfect purity, and a removal of all superfluity of haughtiness and excrescences of the flesh from them: so the Egyptian priests used to shave their whole body every third day, lest there should be anything filthy in those that served the godsF16Herodot. Enterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37. : this cleansing of the Levites was after the same manner as lepers were cleansed: and Jarchi observes, from one of their writers, that because the Levites gave an atonement for the firstborn, who committed idolatry, which is called the sacrifices of the dead, and the leper is called a dead man, they were obliged to shaving as the lepers; but Ben Gersom gives a better reason for the shaving of them; that it was to put them in mind that they should forsake material (or corporeal) things, and employ themselves in the service of God; see Acts 6:2 2 Timothy 2:4,
and let them wash their clothes; and much more their bodies, as Chaskuni, after the manner of those who were polluted by touching a dead body; typical of the saints having their bodies washed with pure water, and their garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, Hebrews 10:22,
and so make themselves clean; the Targum of Jonathan adds, in forty seahs of water; and according to the sense of that paraphrase, both the bodies and clothes of the Levites were dipped in water.