Levite Priesthood Established

(A)Now these are the records of the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. (B)These then are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the (C)anointed priests, whom he [a]ordained to serve as priests. (D)But Nadab and Abihu died in the presence of the Lord when they offered [b]strange fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai; and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests [c]in the lifetime of their father Aaron.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, (E)Bring the tribe of Levi forward and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. They shall perform the duties for [d]him and for the whole congregation in front of the tent of meeting, to do the (F)service of the tabernacle. They shall also take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, along with the duties of the sons of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. So you shall (G)assign the Levites to Aaron and to his sons; they are exclusively assigned to him from the sons of Israel. 10 So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons that (H)they may [e]keep their priesthood, but (I)the [f]layman who comes near shall be put to death.”

11 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Now, behold, I (J)have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every (K)firstborn, the firstborn of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. 13 For (L)all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I fatally struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from the human firstborn to animals. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord.”

14 Then the Lord spoke to Moses (M)in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, 15 [g](N)Count the sons of Levi by their fathers’ households, by their families; every male from a month old and upward you shall count.” 16 So Moses counted them according to the [h]word of the Lord, just as he had been commanded. 17 (O)These, then, are the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 18 And these are the names of the (P)sons of Gershon by their families: Libni and Shimei; 19 and the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram and Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel; 20 and the sons of Merari by their families: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their fathers’ households.

21 Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites and the family of the Shimeites; these were the families of the Gershonites. 22 Their numbered men, in the counting of every male from a month old and upward, their numbered men were 7,500. 23 The families of the Gershonites were to camp behind the [i]tabernacle westward, 24 and the leader of the fathers’ households of the Gershonites: Eliasaph the son of Lael.

Duties of the Levites

25 Now (Q)the duties of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting included the tabernacle and (R)the tent, its covering, and (S)the curtain for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 and (T)the curtains of the courtyard, (U)the curtain for the entrance of the courtyard which is around the tabernacle and the altar, and its ropes, according to all the service [j]concerning them.

27 Of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, the family of the Izharites, the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites; these were the families of the Kohathites. 28 In the counting of every male from a month old and upward, there were 8,600, performing the duties of the sanctuary. 29 The families of the sons of Kohath were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle, 30 and the leader of the fathers’ households of the Kohathite families: [k]Elizaphan the son of Uzziel. 31 Now (V)their duties included (W)the ark, (X)the table, (Y)the lampstand, (Z)the altars, the utensils of the sanctuary with which they minister, the [l]curtain, and all the service [m]concerning them; 32 and Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was the head of the leaders of Levi, and he had the supervision of those who performed the duties of the sanctuary.

33 Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites and the family of the Mushites; these were the families of Merari. 34 Their numbered men in the counting of every male from a month old and upward: 6,200. 35 And the leader of the fathers’ households of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail. They were to (AA)camp on the northward side of the tabernacle. 36 Now the appointment of duties of the sons of Merari included the framework of the tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, its bases, all its equipment, and all the service concerning them, 37 and the pillars around the courtyard with their bases, their pegs, and their ropes.

38 Now those who were to (AB)camp in front of the tabernacle eastward, in front of the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, performing the duties of the sanctuary for the obligation of the sons of Israel; but (AC)the [n]layman coming near was to be put to death. 39 All the numbered men of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron counted at the [o]command of the Lord by their families, every male from a month old and upward, were (AD)twenty-two thousand.

Firstborn Redeemed

40 Then the Lord said to Moses, “(AE)Count every firstborn male of the sons of Israel from a month old and upward, and [p]make a list of their names. 41 And you (AF)shall take the Levites for Me—I am the Lord—instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites in place of all the firstborn among the cattle of the sons of Israel.” 42 So Moses counted all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, just as the Lord had commanded him; 43 and all the firstborn males, by the number of names from a month old and upward for their numbered men, were (AG)22,273.

44 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 45 (AH)Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites in place of their cattle. And the Levites shall be Mine; I am the Lord. 46 (AI)And as [q]a redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the sons of Israel who are in excess of the number of the Levites, 47 you shall take (AJ)five shekels apiece, per head; you shall take them in (AK)terms of the shekel of the sanctuary ((AL)the shekel is twenty [r]gerahs), 48 and you shall give the money, the redemption price of those who are in excess among them, to Aaron and to his sons.” 49 So Moses took the redemption money from those who were in excess of the number of those redeemed by the Levites; 50 from the firstborn of the sons of Israel he took the money in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, 1,365. 51 Then Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and to his sons, at the [s]command of the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 3:3 Lit filled their hand
  2. Numbers 3:4 I.e., prohibited
  3. Numbers 3:4 Lit before the face
  4. Numbers 3:7 Lit him and the duties of the whole congregation
  5. Numbers 3:10 Or perform
  6. Numbers 3:10 Lit stranger
  7. Numbers 3:15 Lit muster, and so throughout the ch
  8. Numbers 3:16 Lit mouth
  9. Numbers 3:23 Lit dwelling place, and so throughout the ch
  10. Numbers 3:26 Lit of it
  11. Numbers 3:30 In Ex 6:22, Elzaphan
  12. Numbers 3:31 I.e., the veil between the Holy Place and Most Holy Place
  13. Numbers 3:31 Lit of it
  14. Numbers 3:38 Lit stranger
  15. Numbers 3:39 Lit mouth
  16. Numbers 3:40 Lit take up the number
  17. Numbers 3:46 Or ransom
  18. Numbers 3:47 A gerah is about 0.025 oz. or 0.7 gm
  19. Numbers 3:51 Lit mouth

Duties of the Kohathites

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Take a [a]census of the [b]descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers’ households, from (A)thirty years old and upward, even to fifty years old, everyone who can enter the service of ministry to do work in the tent of meeting. This is the work of the [c]descendants of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things.

“When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down (B)the veil of the curtain, and cover the (C)ark of the testimony with it; and they shall place a (D)covering of [d]fine leather on it, and spread over it a cloth of pure [e]violet, and insert its carrying poles. Over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall also spread a cloth of violet and put on it the dishes, the pans, the sacrificial bowls, and the jugs for the drink offering; and (E)the continual bread shall be on it. And they shall spread over them a cloth of scarlet material, and cover the same with a covering of fine leather, and they shall insert its carrying poles. Then they shall take a violet cloth and cover the (F)lampstand for the light, (G)along with its lamps, its tongs, its trays, and all its oil containers, by which they attend to it; 10 and they shall put it and all its utensils in a covering of fine leather, and put it on the carrying [f]bars. 11 Over the golden altar they shall spread a violet cloth, and cover it with a covering of fine leather, and they shall insert its carrying poles; 12 and they shall take all the utensils of service, with which they serve in the sanctuary, and put them in a violet cloth and cover them with a covering of fine leather, and put them on the carrying [g]bars. 13 Then they shall clean away the [h]ashes from the (H)altar, and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 They shall also put on it all its utensils by which they serve in connection with it: the firepans, the forks, shovels, and the basins, all the utensils of the altar; and they shall spread a cover of fine leather over it and insert its carrying poles. 15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them by the poles, so that they will not touch the holy objects (I)and die. These are the [i]things in the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.

16 “Now the responsibility of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest is (J)the oil for the light, the (K)fragrant incense, (L)the continual grain offering, and (M)the anointing oil—the responsibility of all the [j]tabernacle and everything that is in it, with the sanctuary and its furnishings.”

17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 18 “Do not let the tribe of the families of the Kohathites be eliminated from among the Levites. 19 Rather, do this for them so that they will live and (N)not die when they approach the most holy objects: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each of them to his work and to his load; 20 but (O)they shall not come in to see the holy objects even for a moment, or they will die.”

Duties of the Gershonites

21 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 22 “Take a [k]census of the sons of Gershon [l]also, by their fathers’ households, by their families; 23 from (P)thirty years old and upward to fifty years old you shall [m]count them: all who can enter to perform service, to do the work in the tent of meeting. 24 This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, in serving and in carrying: 25 they shall carry (Q)the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering and (R)the covering of fine leather that is on top of it, and the curtain for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 and (S)the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain for the entrance of the gate of the courtyard that is around the tabernacle and the altar, and their ropes and all the equipment for their service; and everything that is to be done [n]by them, [o]they shall perform. 27 All the service of the sons of the Gershonites, that is, all their loads and all their work, shall be performed at the [p]command of Aaron and his sons; and you shall assign to them as a duty all their loads. 28 This is the service of the families of the sons of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting; and their duties shall be [q]under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

Duties of the Merarites

29 As for the sons of Merari, you shall count them by their families, by their fathers’ households; 30 from (T)thirty years old and upward, even to fifty years old, you shall count them, everyone who can enter the service to do the work of the tent of meeting. 31 Now this is the duty of their loads, for all their service in the tent of meeting: the boards of the tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, and its bases, 32 and the pillars around the courtyard and their bases, their pegs, and their ropes, with all their equipment and with all their service; and you shall assign by names of the men the items [r]that each is to carry. 33 This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service in the tent of meeting, [s]under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.”

34 So Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of the congregation counted the sons of the Kohathites by their families and by their fathers’ households, 35 from (U)thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who could enter the service for work in the tent of meeting. 36 Their numbered men by their families were 2,750. 37 These were the numbered men of the Kohathite families, everyone who was serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron counted according to the [t]commandment of the Lord [u]through Moses.

38 And the numbered men of the sons of Gershon by their families and by their fathers’ households, 39 from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who could enter the service for work in the tent of meeting— 40 their numbered men by their families, by their fathers’ households, were 2,630. 41 These were the numbered men of the families of the sons of Gershon, everyone who was serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron counted according to the [v]commandment of the Lord.

42 And the numbered men of the families of the sons of Merari by their families, by their fathers’ households, 43 from (V)thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who could enter the service for work in the tent of meeting— 44 their numbered men by their families were 3,200. 45 These were the numbered men of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron counted according to the [w]commandment of the Lord [x]through Moses.

46 All the numbered men of the Levites, whom Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of Israel counted, by their families and by their fathers’ households, 47 from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, everyone who could enter to do the work of service and the work of carrying in the tent of meeting— 48 their numbered men were (W)8,580. 49 According to the [y]commandment of the Lord [z]through Moses, they (X)were counted, everyone by his serving or carrying; so these were his numbered men, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 4:2 Lit sum
  2. Numbers 4:2 Lit sons
  3. Numbers 4:4 Lit sons
  4. Numbers 4:6 Meaning of the Heb uncertain, and so throughout the ch
  5. Numbers 4:6 Or bluish; LXX hyacinth in color, and so throughout the ch
  6. Numbers 4:10 Or frame
  7. Numbers 4:12 Or frame
  8. Numbers 4:13 Or fatty ashes; i.e., soaked with fat
  9. Numbers 4:15 Lit burden...of the sons
  10. Numbers 4:16 Lit dwelling place, and so throughout the ch
  11. Numbers 4:22 Lit sum
  12. Numbers 4:22 Lit also them
  13. Numbers 4:23 Lit muster, and so throughout the ch
  14. Numbers 4:26 Or to them
  15. Numbers 4:26 Lit so they shall serve
  16. Numbers 4:27 Lit mouth
  17. Numbers 4:28 Lit in the hand
  18. Numbers 4:32 Lit of the duty of their loads
  19. Numbers 4:33 Lit in the hand
  20. Numbers 4:37 Lit mouth
  21. Numbers 4:37 Lit by the hand of
  22. Numbers 4:41 Lit mouth
  23. Numbers 4:45 Lit mouth
  24. Numbers 4:45 Lit by the hand of
  25. Numbers 4:49 Lit mouth
  26. Numbers 4:49 Lit by the hand of