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1-2 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take a census of the Kohath division of the Levite tribe. This census will be of all males from ages thirty to fifty who are able to work in the Tabernacle. These are their sacred duties:

“When the camp moves, Aaron and his sons will enter the Tabernacle first and take down the veil and cover the Ark with it. Then they will cover the veil with goatskin leather, cover the goatskins with a blue cloth, and place the carrying poles of the Ark in their rings.

“Next they must spread a blue cloth over the table where the Bread of the Presence is displayed, and place the dishes, spoons, bowls, cups, and the Bread upon the cloth. They will spread a scarlet cloth over that, and finally a covering of goatskin leather on top of the scarlet cloth. Then they shall insert the carrying poles into the table.

“Next they must cover with a blue cloth the lampstand, the lamps, snuffers, trays, and the reservoir of olive oil. 10 This entire group of objects shall then be covered with goatskin leather, and the bundle shall be placed upon a carrying frame.

11 “They must then spread a blue cloth over the gold altar, cover it with a covering of goatskin leather, and insert the carrying poles into the altar. 12 All of the remaining utensils of the Tabernacle are to be wrapped in a blue cloth, covered with goatskin leather, and placed on the carrying frame.

13 “The ashes are to be removed from the altar, and the altar shall be covered with a purple cloth. 14 All of the altar utensils are to be placed upon the cloth—the firepans, hooks, shovels, basins, and other containers—and a cover of goatskin leather will be spread over them. Finally, the carrying poles are to be put in place. 15 When Aaron and his sons have finished packing the sanctuary and all the utensils, the clan of Kohath shall come and carry the units to wherever the camp is traveling; but they must not touch the holy items, lest they die. This, then, is the sacred work of the sons of Kohath.

16 “Aaron’s son Eleazar shall be responsible for the oil for the light, the sweet incense, the daily grain offering, and the anointing oil—in fact, the supervision of the entire Tabernacle and everything in it will be his responsibility.”

17-19 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Don’t let the families of Kohath destroy themselves! This is what you must do so that they will not die when they carry the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in with them and point out what each is to carry. 20 Otherwise they must never enter the sanctuary for even a moment, lest they look at the sacred objects there and die.”

21-23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Take a census of the Gershonite division of the tribe of Levi, all of the men between the ages of thirty and fifty who are eligible for the sacred work of the Tabernacle. 24 These will be their duties:

25 “They will carry the curtains of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle itself with its coverings, the goatskin leather roof, and the curtain for the Tabernacle entrance. 26 They are also to carry the drapes covering the courtyard fence, and the curtain across the entrance to the courtyard that surrounds the altar and the Tabernacle. They will also carry the altar, the ropes, and all of the accessories. They are fully responsible for the transportation of these items. 27 Aaron or any of his sons may assign the Gershonites’ tasks to them, 28 but the Gershonites will be directly responsible to Aaron’s son Ithamar.

29 “Now take a census of the Merari division of the Levite tribe, all of the men from thirty to fifty who are eligible for the Tabernacle service. 30-31 When the Tabernacle is moved, they are to carry the frames of the Tabernacle, the bars, the bases, 32 the frames for the courtyard fence with their bases, pegs, cords, and everything else connected with their use and repair. Assign duties to each man by name. 33 The Merari division will also report to Aaron’s son Ithamar.”

34 So Moses and Aaron and the other leaders took a census of the Kohath division, 35 including all of the men thirty to fifty years of age who were eligible for the Tabernacle service, 36 and found that the total number was 2,750. 37 All this was done to carry out the Lord’s instructions to Moses. 38-41 A similar census of the Gershon division totaled 2,630. 42-45 And of the Merari division, 3,200. 46-48 Thus Moses and Aaron and the leaders of Israel found that the total of all the Levites who were thirty to fifty years old and who were eligible for the Tabernacle service and transportation was 8,580. 49 This census was taken in response to the Lord’s instructions to Moses.

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