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Numbers 1-4 Common English Bible (CEB)

First census

The Lord spoke to Moses in the Sinai desert in the meeting tent on the first day of the second month,[a] in the second year after they left the land of Egypt: Take a census of the entire Israelite community by their clans and their households, recording the name of every male, 20 years old and above, who is eligible for military service in Israel. These you and Aaron will enlist in their military units. Take with you one man from each tribe who is the head of his household. These are the names of the men who will assist you:

from Reuben, Elizur, Shedeur’s son;

from Simeon, Shelumiel, Zurishaddai’s son;

from Judah, Nahshon, Amminadab’s son;

from Issachar, Nethanel, Zuar’s son;

from Zebulun, Eliab, Helon’s son;

10 from Joseph’s sons:

from Ephraim, Elishama, Ammihud’s son;

from Manasseh, Gamaliel, Pedahzur’s son;

11 from Benjamin, Abidan, Gideoni’s son;

12 from Dan, Ahiezer, Ammishaddai’s son;

13 from Asher, Pagiel, Ochran’s son;

14 from Gad, Eliasaph, Deuel’s son;

15 from Naphtali, Ahira, Enan’s son.

16 These are the ones appointed from the community, chiefs of their ancestral tribes and leaders of the divisions of Israel.

17 Moses and Aaron took these men who were selected by name 18 and they assembled the entire community on the first day of the second month. They registered them by their clans and their households, recording the name of each male 20 years old and above. 19 Moses enlisted them in the Sinai desert just as the Lord commanded him.

20 There were the descendants of Reuben, Israel’s oldest, registered by their clans and their households. Every man 20 years old and above eligible for military service was individually recorded by name. 21 Those enlisted from the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.

22 There were the descendants of Simeon, registered by their clans and their households. Every male 20 years old and above eligible for military service was individually recorded by name. 23 Those enlisted from the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.

24 There were the descendants of Gad, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 25 Those enlisted from the tribe of Gad were 45,650.

26 There were the descendants of Judah, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 27 Those enlisted from the tribe of Judah were 74,600.

28 There were the descendants of Issachar, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 29 Those enlisted from the tribe of Issachar were 54,400.

30 There were the descendants of Zebulun, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 31 Those enlisted from the tribe of Zebulun were 57,400.

32 From Joseph’s descendants there were the descendants of Ephraim, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 33 Those enlisted from the tribe of Ephraim were 40,500.

34 There were the descendants of Manasseh, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 35 Those enlisted from the tribe of Manasseh were 32,200.

36 There were the descendants of Benjamin, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 37 Those enlisted from the tribe of Benjamin were 35,400.

38 There were the descendants of Dan, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 39 Those enlisted from the tribe of Dan were 62,700.

40 There were the descendants of Asher, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 41 Those enlisted from the tribe of Asher were 41,500.

42 There were the descendants of Naphtali, registered by their clans and their households. The men 20 years old and above eligible for military service were recorded by name. 43 Those enlisted from the tribe of Naphtali were 53,400.

44 These are the ones who were enlisted by Moses, Aaron, and the twelve chiefs of Israel, each from his own household. 45 All the Israelites 20 years old and above eligible for military service in Israel were enlisted by their households. 46 All those enlisted were 603,550. 47 But the Levites, belonging to their own ancestral tribe, weren’t enlisted along with them.

The Levites’ exclusion from the census

48 The Lord spoke to Moses: 49 You must not enlist the tribe of Levi, nor should you take their census along with the Israelites. 50 Rather, assign the Levites to the covenant dwelling, to all its equipment, and to everything that belongs to it. They will carry the dwelling and all its equipment, perform its religious ceremonies, and camp around the dwelling. 51 When it’s time to break camp, the Levites will take down the dwelling; and when it’s time to make camp, the Levites will set up the dwelling. Any other person who approaches will be put to death. 52 The Israelites will camp each in their own place under the banner of their own military unit. 53 But the Levites will camp around the covenant dwelling so that God’s anger will not strike the Israelite community. The Levites will guard the covenant dwelling.

54 The Israelites did everything exactly as the Lord commanded Moses.

The wilderness camp’s arrangement

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: The Israelites will camp each under the banner with the symbol of their household. They will camp around the meeting tent some distance from it.

The camp’s east side

On the east side toward the sunrise will be the banner of Judah’s camp with its military units. The chief of the people of Judah is Nahshon, Amminadab’s son. His military unit and those enlisted in it are 74,600. Those camping on one side of him are the tribe of Issachar. The chief of the people of Issachar is Nethanel, Zuar’s son. His military unit and those enlisted in it are 54,400. On the other side, the tribe of Zebulun: the chief of the people of Zebulun is Eliab, Helon’s son. His military unit and those enlisted in it are 57,400. All those enlisted in Judah’s camp with their military units are 186,400. They will march first.

The camp’s south side

10 On the south side will be the banner of Reuben’s camp with its military units. The chief of the people of Reuben is Elizur, Shedeur’s son. 11 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 46,500. 12 Those camping on one side of him are the tribe of Simeon. The chief of the people of Simeon is Shelumiel, Zurishaddai’s son. 13 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 59,300. 14 On the other side, the tribe of Gad: the chief of the people of Gad is Eliasaph, Reuel’s son. 15 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 45,650. 16 All those enlisted in Reuben’s camp with their military units are 151,450. They will march second.

The camp’s center

17 The meeting tent and the Levites’ camp will march in the center of the camps. They will march in the same order as they camp: each in position under his banner.

The camp’s west side

18 On the west will be the banner of Ephraim’s camp with its military units. The chief of the people of Ephraim is Elishama, Ammihud’s son. 19 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 40,500. 20 On one side of him is the tribe of Manasseh. The chief of the people of Manasseh is Gamaliel, Pedahzur’s son. 21 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 32,200. 22 On the other side, the tribe of Benjamin: the chief of the people of Benjamin is Abidan, Gideoni’s son. 23 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 35,400. 24 All those enlisted in Ephraim’s camp with their military units are 108,100. They will march third.

The camp’s north side

25 On the north will be the banner of Dan’s camp with its military units. The chief of the people of Dan is Ahiezer, Ammishaddai’s son. 26 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 62,700. 27 Those camping on one side of him are the tribe of Asher. The chief of the people of Asher is Pagiel, Ochran’s son. 28 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 41,500. 29 On the other side, the tribe of Naphtali: the chief of the people of Naphtali is Ahira, Enan’s son. 30 His military unit and those enlisted in it are 53,400. 31 All those enlisted in the camp of Dan are 157,600. They will march last under their banners.

32 These are the enlisted Israelites by their households. The total enlisted in the camps with their military units is 603,550. 33 But the Levites weren’t enlisted among the Israelites, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 34 The Israelites did everything exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses: they camped under their banners and they marched by their clans and by their households.

Aaron’s sons

These are the descendants of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. These are the names of Aaron’s sons: Nadab the oldest, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of Aaron’s sons, who are the anointed priests and ordained to the priesthood. Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they made an unauthorized offering to the Lord in the Sinai desert. They didn’t have any sons. Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.

The Levites’ first census

The Lord spoke to Moses: Bring near the tribe of Levi and place them before Aaron the priest. They will assist him. They will perform duties for him and for the entire community before the meeting tent, doing the work of the dwelling. They will be responsible for all the equipment of the meeting tent and the duties on behalf of the Israelites when they do the work of the dwelling. You will give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They have been assigned as a gift to him from the Israelites. 10 You will appoint Aaron and his sons to be responsible for the priesthood. Any other person who approaches will be put to death.

11 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12 I claim the Levites from the Israelites in place of all the oldest males who open an Israelite womb. The Levites are mine 13 because all the oldest males are mine. When I killed all the oldest males in the land of Egypt, I reserved for myself all the oldest males in Israel, both humans and animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.

14 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Sinai desert: 15 Enroll the Levites by their households and their clans. You will enroll all the males over one month old. 16 Moses enrolled them according to the Lord’s word as he was commanded. 17 These were Levi’s sons by name: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 18 These were the names of Gershon’s sons by their clans: Libni and Shimei. 19 Kohath’s sons by their clans: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 20 Merari’s sons by their clans: Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of Levi by their households.

21 To Gershon belonged the clans of Libni and Shimei. These were the clans of the Gershonites. 22 Their enrollment, according to the number of males over one month old, was 7,500. 23 The clans of the Gershonites were to camp behind the dwelling on the west side. 24 The chief of the household of the Gershonites was Eliasaph, Lael’s son. 25 In the dwelling, the Gershonites were responsible for the meeting tent, the tent with its covering, the screen for the entrance of the meeting tent, 26 the curtains of the courtyard, the screen for the entrance of the courtyard surrounding the meeting tent and the altar, and its cords—all these structures.

27 To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites. These were the clans of the Kohathites. 28 The number of males over one month old, who would perform duties for the sanctuary, was 8,600. 29 The clans of the Kohathites were to camp on the south side of the dwelling. 30 The chief of the household representing the clans of the Kohathites was Elizaphan, Uzziel’s son. 31 They were responsible for the chest, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the equipment of the sanctuary with which they would minister, and the screen—all these furnishings. 32 The head chief over the chiefs of the Levites was Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest. He was supervisor over those performing the duties of the sanctuary.

33 To Merari belonged the clans of Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of the Merarites. 34 Their enrollment, according to the number of males over one month old, was 6,200. 35 The chief of the household representing the clans of the Merarites was Zuriel, Abihail’s son. They were to camp on the north side of the dwelling. 36 The Merarites were assigned responsibility for the frames of the dwelling, its bars, pillars, bases, and all its equipment—all these items— 37 and the pillars of the courtyard all around, their bases, pegs, and cords.

38 Those camping in front of the dwelling eastward (that is, before the meeting tent on the east side) were Moses, Aaron, and his sons, who performed the duties of the sanctuary as service for the Israelites. Anyone else who approached would be put to death. 39 The total enrollment of the Levites, all the males over one month old whom Moses and Aaron enrolled by orders from the Lord, according to their clans, was 22,000.

Levites rescue the oldest male Israelites

40 The Lord said to Moses: Enroll all the oldest males of the Israelites over one month of age and record their names. 41 Take the Levites for me, in place of all the oldest sons of the Israelites, for I am the Lord, and the cattle of the Levites in place of all the oldest cattle of the Israelites. 42 Moses enrolled all the oldest males of the Israelites as the Lord commanded. 43 All the oldest males over one month old, recorded by name according to their enrollment, were 22,273.

44 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 45 Take the Levites in place of all the oldest Israelites and the cattle of the Levites in place of their cattle. The Levites are mine; I am the Lord. 46 To rescue the 273 remaining oldest Israelites over and above the number of Levites, 47 you will receive five shekels each. You will receive them according to the sanctuary shekel of twenty gerahs to the shekel. 48 You will give the money for their rescue to Aaron and his sons.

49 So Moses took the money from those rescued over and above the ones rescued by the Levites. 50 He took the money from the oldest of the Israelites, 1,365 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moses gave the money for those rescued to Aaron and his sons according to the Lord’s word, as the Lord commanded Moses.

Second census and the Levites’ duties

The Kohathites’ duties

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: Take a census of the Kohathites from among the Levites by their clans and their households, from 30 to 50 years old, all who are eligible for service to do the work of the meeting tent. These are the responsibilities of the Kohathites in the meeting tent: the most holy things.

When it’s time to break camp, Aaron and his sons will enter and take down the screening curtain, and they will cover the chest containing the covenant with it. Then they will place a covering of fine leather[b] on it. They will spread a whole cloth of blue over it, and they will set its poles in place. They will spread a blue cloth on the presentation table and place on it the plates, the dishes, the bowls, and the container for the drink offering. The usual bread will be on it. They will spread on them a red cloth, cover it with fine leather, and set its poles in place. They will take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand used for light, its lamps, its extinguishers, its trays, and all the containers for oil that are used in its service. 10 They will place it and its equipment in a covering of fine leather, and then place it on the carrying frame. 11 They will spread a blue cloth on the gold altar and cover it with fine leather. 12 They will take all the service equipment used in the sanctuary, place it in a blue cloth, and cover it with fine leather. Then they will place it on the carrying frame. 13 They will remove the ashes from the altar and spread a purple cloth on it. 14 They will place on it all the equipment used for servicing it, the censers, the meat fork, the shovels, the bowls, all the equipment of the altar. They will spread a covering of fine leather over it and then set its poles in place.

15 Aaron and his sons will finish covering the sanctuary and all the equipment of the sanctuary when it is time to break camp. After that the Kohathites will enter to carry it, but they will not touch the sanctuary, lest they die. These are the objects in the dwelling that the Kohathites are to carry. 16 But Eleazar son of Aaron the priest will have oversight of the oil for lighting, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering, and the anointing oil, as well as oversight of the entire dwelling and everything in it related to the sanctuary and its equipment.

17 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 18 You must not let the tribe of the Kohathite clans be eliminated from the Levites. 19 This is what you must do for them so that they stay alive and don’t die when they approach the most holy things. Aaron and his sons will enter and assign each of them his work and his load. 20 But they may not enter to look at the sanctuary even for a moment, lest they die.

The Gershonites’ duties

21 The Lord spoke to Moses: 22 Take a census of the Gershonites also, by their households and their clans. 23 You will enroll those from 30 to 50 years old, all who are eligible for service to do work in the dwelling. 24 This is the duty of the Gershonite clans for work and for carrying the load: 25 They will carry the fabric of the dwelling, the meeting tent with its covering, the outer covering of fine leather, the screen for the entrance of the meeting tent, 26 the curtains of the courtyard, the screen of the entrance at the gate of the courtyard that surrounds the meeting tent and the altar, their cords, and all their equipment for their work. They will do everything that needs to be done with these objects.

27 All the duties of the Gershonites for carrying their load and for their work will be at the command of Aaron and his sons. You will assign to them the responsibility to carry their load. 28 This is the work of the Gershonite clans in the dwelling. Their responsibility will be under Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

The Merarites’ duties

29 You will enroll the Merarites by their clans and their households. 30 You will enroll those from 30 to 50 years old, all who are eligible for service to do work in the meeting tent. 31 This is what they are responsible to carry as their work in the meeting tent: the frames of the meeting tent, its bars, pillars, and bases; 32 the pillars of the courtyard all around, with their bases, pegs, cords, and all the equipment used with them. You will list by name the objects they are required to carry. 33 This is the duty of the Merarite clans for all their work in the meeting tent under the supervision of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest.

Summary of the census

34 So Moses, Aaron, and the chiefs of the community enrolled the Kohathites by their clans and their households, 35 those from 30 to 50 years old who were eligible for work in the meeting tent. 36 Their enrollment by their clans was 2,750. 37 These are the enrolled of the Kohathite clans, all who worked in the meeting tent and whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the Lord’s command through Moses.

38 The enrollment of the Gershonites by their clans and their households, 39 those 30 to 50 years old who were eligible for work in the meeting tent: 40 their enrollment by their clans and their households was 2,630. 41 These are the enrolled of the Gershonite clans, all who worked in the meeting tent, and whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the Lord’s command.

42 The enrollment of the Merarite clans by their clans and their households, 43 those 30 to 50 years old who were eligible for work in the meeting tent: 44 their enrollment by their clans was 3,200. 45 These are the enrolled of the Merarite clans, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled according to the Lord’s command through Moses.

46 All the enrolled Levites whom Moses, Aaron, and the chiefs of Israel enrolled by their clans and their households, 47 those 30 to 50 years old who were eligible to do the work and to carry the load of the meeting tent: 48 their enrollment was 8,580. 49 Each was enrolled by the Lord’s command through Moses to work and to carry his load. Each was assigned just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 1:1 April–May, Iyar
  2. Numbers 4:6 Or dolphin skin; see also 4:8, 10-12.
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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