“YHWH said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to burn the lamps before YHWH from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before YHWH must be burned continually.”-Leviticus 24:1-3
In verses 2 and 3, we’re given instructions concerning how the MENORAH is to be attended to.
The last few words in verse 2 have the Lord instructing Aaron that he is to “burn the lamps continually“.
Other translations will say “burn the lamps ALWAYS” or “burn the lamps FOREVER”.
However, immediately after, verse 3 tells us that the lamps are to “burn from evening to morning”, which is obviously a set duration that implies that there will be a period of time when the lamps will NOT be burning.
How to resolve this apparent contradiction?
Well, like with many other Bible difficulties, the problem is instantly resolved once we take a look at the original Hebrew.
The Hebrew word that is usually translated as “continually” or “always” is TAMID.
When this word is used as an adjective or an adverb it does NOT mean “continually” or “always“.
It means “regularly”.
In this particular context, it would probably be best to read the verse as “burn the lamps daily“.
Now let’s take a look at verse 3.
“Aaron is to burn the lamps before YHWH from evening till morning, continually.”
This is exactly how most Bibles will render verse 3 and it doesn’t make much sense.
I mean how can the MENORAH only be burning during the hours of darkness AND “continually” at the same time?
Some commentaries will go so far as to say the MENORAH was kept alit 24/7 because according to them the Scripture clearly says the MENORAH was to burn “continually“.
They are just trying to make it match up with the word for the previous verse that also is translated as “continually” or “always”.
TAMID does NOT mean “continually“.
It means “regularly“.
Hence, when the Hebrew is correctly translated, the problem is easily resolved.
The verse should be rendered as follows:
“Aaron is to burn the lamps before YHWH from evening till morning, regularly.”