Numbers 4

Chapter 4

Delineation of Duties. 1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 “Count the number of the Kohathites from among the sons of Levi by their clans and their families. 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years old who go in to minister in the tent of meeting.[a]

4 “This is the ministry of the Kohathites in the tent of meeting: tending to the most holy things. 5 When the camp is being moved, Aaron and his sons will take down the veil and cover the Ark of Testimony with it. 6 They are then to put on the sheep skins, cover it with a blue cloth, and put the poles in place.[b] 7 They will spread a blue cloth over the table for the shewbread. On it they will place the dishes and spoons and bowls and jars for the drink offerings. The bread of offering will remain on it. 8 Over these they will spread a scarlet cloth and cover it with sheep skins. You will then put the poles in it. 9 They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand used for the light, its lamps, its tongs, its snuffers, and all of its oil dishes, all the things used in its ministry. 10 They will put it and all of its vessels within a hide of sheep skin and they will put it upon a litter. 11 They will spread a blue cloth upon the golden altar and cover it with a covering of sheep skins and put its poles in it.[c] 12 Then they are to take all the implements with which they minister in the sanctuary, and they are to cover them with a blue cloth and with a covering of sheep skin and put them on a litter. 13 They are to empty all the ashes[d] out from the altar and spread a purple cloth on it. 14 They are to put all the utensils with which they minister upon it, the censers, the forks, the shovels, and the basins. They are to take all of the utensils with which they minister and spread a sheep skin upon them. They will also put in its poles.

15 “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all of the vessels of the sanctuary, when the camp is ready to set out, the Kohathites will come forward to carry it, but they will not touch anything that is holy, lest they die. These things in the tent of meeting are the responsibility of the Kohathites.

16 “Eleazar, the son of Aaron, has the responsibility for the oil for the light, the sweet incense, the daily meat offering, and the oil for anointing. He shall also oversee care for the tabernacle and everything in it, the sanctuary and its vessels.”

17 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 18 “Do not let the clan of the Kohathites be cut off from among the Levites. 19 Do these things for them so that they may live. Otherwise they will die when they come near to the most holy things. Aaron and his sons will go and appoint each one of them to their ministry and their responsibilities, 20 only they are not to go in and watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die.”

21 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 22 “Count the number of the sons of Gershon by their clans and their families. 23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years old who go in to minister in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the ministry of the clan of the Gershonites, their service and responsibility. 25 They will carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering, the covering of sheep skin that is over it, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains for the courtyard, the screen for the entrance to the courtyard that surrounds the tabernacle and the altar, their cords, and all of their accessories. They will do all that needs to be done with these things. 27 All the service of the Gershonites, what they are to carry and what they are to do, will be under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You are to assign them responsibility for what they are to carry. 28 These things in the tent of meeting are the responsibility of the families of the Gershonites. Their service will be under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the priest.

29 “Count the number of the Merarites by their clans and their families. 30 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years old who go in to minister in the tent of meeting. 31 This is their responsibility and service for the tent of meeting: the boards of the tabernacle with their bars, their pillars, their sockets, 32 the pillars surrounding the courtyard, their sockets, their pins, their cords, and all their accessories. You will assign the things that they are charged to carry by name. 33 This is the service of the clan of the Merarites. All of their service in the tent of meeting will be under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron, the priest.”

34 Counting the Adult Levites. Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the assembly counted the Kohathites by family and by clan, 35 those who were from thirty to fifty years old and who went in to minister in the service of the tent of meeting. 36 By families there were two thousand, seven hundred and fifty. 37 This was the number of those in the families of the Kohathites who ministered in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron counted, fulfilling the commandment of the Lord given to Moses.

38 The sons of Gershon were counted by families and clan 39 counting those who were from thirty years old to fifty years old and who went in to minister in the service of the tent of meeting. 40 Counted by family and clan, there were two thousand, six hundred and thirty of them. 41 This was the number of the families of the sons of Gershon, all of whom served in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron counted, fulfilling the commandment of the Lord.

42 The Merarites were counted by families and clan, 43 those who were from thirty years old to fifty years old and who went in to minister in the service of the tent of meeting. 44 Counted by families, there were three thousand, two hundred of them. 45 This was the number of the families of the Merarites whom Moses and Aaron counted, fulfilling the commandment of the Lord given to Moses.

46 Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all of the Levites according to families and clans 47 who were from thirty years old to fifty years old, everyone who could enter to do the work of ministry and who served carrying the tent of meeting. 48 There were eight thousand, five hundred and eighty of them. 49 They were counted as the Lord had commanded Moses, counting all of those dedicated for service and carrying, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 4:3 This was the period during which the Levites served God in the temple of King David (see 1 Chr 23:3). The length of the period varies in different passages (see Num 8:24-25; Ezr 3:8). The institution certainly evolved.
  2. Numbers 4:6 For these objects used in worship, see Ex 35–38.
  3. Numbers 4:11 The gold altar is the altar of incense (Ex 30:1-10).
  4. Numbers 4:13 Empty all the ashes: the altar of holocausts. See Ex 27:1-8.

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